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Batman: Bruce Wayne Murderer?

Show of hands – who wants a Batman Review? You DO? Hmmm…you may want check out another blog. How many reviewers do you know who always get off track & criminally abuse the words: Like, Totally, Actually, So, Okay & Well?

I DO actually (see there I go!) have a minor in “Comp Lit” from IU. That’s where they hid the film studies program back in the day when I went there. I got a certificate & everything. *giggle* I guess that makes me a certified critic – of movies at least.

But I’m keenly aware that I’m no expert – I still have truckloads of things to learn about comics. And I struggle to do REAL critical writing – I’m just too yakkity. I swear if I had a super power I would be “Easily Distracted Girl”.

So if you want a professional in-depth review, you are going to have to go somewhere else. If you want fun feedback from an honest-to-goodness happy fan – welcome to my world.

Oh! And that, of course, is the last line in the inaugural Batman Beyond. It’s a killer closing tag line to be sure. Got me all ready for more… However nothing can beat the original Batman: The Animated Series from the 90’s though. The girls & I are watching that on DVD right now. I’d forgotten how innovative & superbly done that show was. Mark Hamill is the BEST Joker!

Sorry!!! Do you think if I draw you a roadmap we can find our way back to the original topic?

Let’s talk about Batman: Bruce Wayne Murderer?

If you want to make a case for waiting for the reprint in trade rather than trying to get all the issues – this is a good example. This story arc was covered in, like, what? 10 different titles? Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but point made. The story just wouldn’t have the same impact if told out of sequence or with parts missing.

It could be just me, but when DC & Marvel do these mega-gi-normous crossovers I have a heck of a time getting all the issues, and then getting them in the right order. I know they are trying to promote readership of other titles, but to me, it’s just a big hassle. Does that make me a bad fan? Or just a complete moron?

Nah, I think it just means I have a full & rich life outside of comics (I’m sure I’ll have more to say on THAT someday). I DO love my single issues, but there are times I want my continuity & I don’t want to hunt, gather & forage month to month for it.

When all the pieces are pulled together in paperback form – “Bruce Wayne Murderer?” makes for one gripping murder-mystery.

Anyway…..on to the story… The tale takes place a while after Gotham went to heck-in-a-hand-basket in No Man’s Land. Batman is patrolling with bodyguard turned crime fighting partner Sasha Bordeaux. Upon returning home one night they discover the savaged body of Bruce Wayne ex-girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild.

The frame is flawless – police arrive just in time to catch the scene at its most incriminating. Bruce & Sasha are immediately arrested. And that’s really all I want to say about the plot. As you might suspect the rest of the voyage is about finding out what REALLY happened at Wayne Manor that evening & what happens to Bruce & Sasha. So I’m going to jump into what I think makes this a top-notch story.

First off – throw aside the notion of this being a comic, this is just a good mystery period. It’s got it all – A brutal, despicable crime, the loyal unwavering gal pal, our dark hero, friend turning on friend as the clues are revealed. It’s juicy!

There were two aspects of the story that intrigued me – one, Bruce & Sasha’s stay in prison & how it affects them & two, how solving the mystery unbalances Bruce’s protégés (current & prior).

First – Bruce in jail. This just killed me! WE know he’s Batman – HE knows he’s Batman, but caged & with the world watching his every move – he is utterly TRAPPED as Bruce Wayne (which totally sets the stage for how this particular trade ends – but I’m not telling-nyah!).

What an interesting psychological dilemma for a man so driven to control the situation around him. This is a guy who’s bent on never again being a victim. The extreme effort it takes for him to maintain self-control & show restraint is so palpable it practically jumps out of the book. Man! I think I wanted Bruce to go all Batman on folks as much as he did.

And Sasha’s frustration was JUST as tangible for me. Not only did she have the same survival issues as Bruce, but layer into that her struggle against an encroaching sense of abandonment.

Her devotion is absolute. But isolated in prison her loyalty exists in a vacuum. For a long time she has NOTHING to cling to but her own visceral belief that this man is not a killer. She relates that at some point every bodyguard must decide if they can “take a bullet” for those they have chosen to protect. And, though beaten down physically & emotionally on all fronts, she stands firm.

Now compare her attitude with what’s going on outside the prison walls. Take the people close to Batman – Barbara, Dick, Alfred, Tim et al….individuals groomed by a master detective – and provide them with facts & clues that are pretty darn incriminating. It is fascinating to see not only WHO has doubts but the shades & degrees of doubt that creep into Bruce’s comrades.

Dick served as an excellent focal point for a lot of the great discussions in the book. His heart to heart with Barbara, the impassioned wrestling of loyalty between to the former & current Robin & the ultimate throw-down between Nightwing & Batman all contribute to making this a substantial story.

Here’s the catch – the story in this book ends without finding out whodunit. ACK!

Jeff & Sarah got this book for me as a gift (Thank you guys! XOXO) I brought this for reading during my daughter’s basketball tournament (lots of sitting around between games you know). When I got to the end & realized the pages were over but the story wasn’t I darn near called Jeff on the spot to curse him for getting me hooked on this great mystery.

I showed some restraint (I waited until I got HOME to call *smile*) & found out there was more to the story. If you prefer not to hunt down the single issues – and my hat’s off to those of you who do fancy the hunt – you can pick up the trail in “The Fugitive” which tells the rest of the saga in three parts. (The Rothes got me THOSE books for my birthday – aren’t they too good to me?)

I am soooo glad I read the rest, but I’ll throw on a tiny disclaimer. When you set up a mystery that well; when you build a frame that tight – it is nearly impossible to come up with a TOTALLY satisfactory way to explain everything.

But ultimately the pleasure of this read for me was the journey, not the destination (I think I just stole that from an 80’s rock ballad – Oh No Wait! It’s Aerosmith, right?). The first part is totally worth the read. As for the rest – I guess that’s up to you….

Thanks for listening!

Later!

COMING SOON! I went to a small con in Chicago with the gang this weekend – hope to have something written about our adventures soon. We had a great time as always!

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