Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne Is a Masterful Time-Wipe

No one mashes science, philosophy and superheroes as well as Grant Morrison. And his years-long run on Batman, the most iconic human superhero of all time, is an object lesson in how to make smart comics sell like cakes. So of course I reviewed Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne hardcover for Wired. It’s a time-traveling classic for longtime loyalists and late adopters alike. Bow to Batman.

Review: Batman Swoops Through Time in Grant Morrison’s Masterful Return of Bruce Wayne

Writer Grant Morrison has redefined cerebral comics narrative for decades.

It would be difficult to jump into the middle of Morrison’s storied run on the Batman mythology in the sublime Batman and Robin or the hotly topical Batman, Inc. without getting somewhat disoriented or discouraged, especially if you’re a newcomer to the writer’s sprawling concerns.

But in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, out Wednesday in a 224-page hardcover edition that retails for $30, a time-traveling Dark Knight offers a perfectly accessible entry point to Morrison’s prodigiously challenging storytelling. The six-issue miniseries can function as a standalone classic.

All you need to know is that a presumed-dead Bruce Wayne has been hurled back in time by evil immortal Darkseid in the apocalyptic Final Crisis storyline, and now must make his inexorable way back. Of course, there’s never any doubt that he will.

“He can survive anywhere,” Superman says in the first issue as he tracks the confused, battered Batman through time with the help of Green Lantern, Booster Gold and Rip Hunter. “Surviving is what he does.”

How the world’s greatest detective achieves the temporally impossible is what matters to the relentlessly inventive Morrison, who, as always, seizes the opportunity to make amazing metafiction. Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne gives the Scottish scribe the chance to seamlessly submerge the Dark Knight mythos throughout the ages.

Whether Bruce Wayne appears as a brawling caveman, puritanical witch hunter, misunderstood pirate, avenging cowboy, noir patsy or lonely cyborg witnessing the heat death of the universe, the Dark Knight fights and fits every incarnation like a weaponized Bat-glove.