Sunday, May 30, 2010
Batman "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" (Review)
Citizen's Grade: Impressive.
What is so interesting about these volumes (Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and the 3 volumes of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive) is that the story is based around Bruce Wayne, not Batman. A lot of twists and turns in what is basically a down-to-earth detective story.
Bruce Wayne: Murderer?...Bruce Wayne finds the dead body of his girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild, in Wayne Manor just as the police arrive. Promptly charged for murder by the Gotham City Police Department, both Wayne and his bodyguard, Sasha Bordeaux, are imprisoned, leaving the Batman Family to work the crime and absolve them.
However, the investigation is complicated when evidence is uncovered suggesting that Vesper knew who Batman was, thus giving Bruce a motive for the crime that only the Batman Family would ever be able to see. Driven to near-breaking point by his frustration at being forced to constantly act like Bruce Wayne rather than Batman, Bruce escapes from jail and announces his intention to no longer live as Bruce Wayne, but to be only Batman.
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive (3 Volumes). With Batman free, the Batman Family continues to investigate the circumstances of the crime. Many start to doubt Bruce's innocence. Oracle (with some assistance from Black Canary) recovers a disk proving the journal entries from Vesper's apartment had been altered. This means Vesper did not know Batman's identity.
Meanwhile, Batgirl; upon uncovering Vesper's corpse, realizes that Vesper was killed using a nerve strike and careful beatings, not the 'spur-of-the-moment' move on Bruce's part that the "evidence" suggests. Nightwing and Alfred discover that an infiltration of the Batcave is possible and ties in with the police's timely entrance at Wayne Manor. After the group reviews the evidence; and Nightwing and Batgirl stage how the murder took place, Nightwing is now convinced that the Bruce he knows wouldn't have committed the murder and decides their next move is to focus on gathering evidence that would not compromise Bruce's secret identity.
At the same time, Batman launches his own, independent, investigation into his framing and steadily uncovers a conspiracy against Bruce Wayne after a run-in with David Said of Checkmate (a secret Government organization watching Superheros and Villains). A confrontation between himself and Catwoman prompts Batman to realize how important his Bruce Wayne identity is. A meeting with the detective who comforted him after his parents' deaths serves to reinforce the importance of Bruce Wayne in Batman's life; as far as the detective is concerned, it was Bruce Wayne's life that was forever defined by the death of his parents...and the detective is also convinced that, whatever Bruce Wayne became that night, he did not become a killer.
After returning to the Batcave and apologizing for his past actions, Batman reveals to the Batman Family who the murderer is. Ties to then-President Lex Luthor and No Man's Land makes for a great series from a different perspective than is usually told in The Batman comics.
These volumes prominently feature the writing skills of Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker (currently writing Captain America), Chuck Dixon, & Geoff Johns. Artists include Scott McDaniel, Steve Leiber, and Phil Noto.