Where in Time is Bruce Wayne?

Batman and Robin #10

Let’s review a bit. Back at the end of the “Final Crisis” series, Darkseid hit Batman with his big shock-and-awe weapon — the Omega Effect. Everyone assumed it killed him, but Tim Drake — now calling himself Red Robin — has been insisting that instead, Batman was teleported somewhere in the past. Dick Grayson has taken over Batman’s identity, with Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, becoming the new Robin. The Bat Family is keeping Bruce Wayne’s death a secret — officially, he’s just being an eccentric recluse and never goes out in public. Since Dick learned last issue that the corpse he believed belonged to Bruce Wayne was actually just a defective clone, he now thinks Tim may be on to something.

So in this issue, Damian starts taking interest in the financial dealings of Wayne Enterprises, while Dick-as-Batman gets a visit from a masked man called Oberon Sexton who has evidence that assassins are stalking Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, Alfred Pennyworth has realized that if Bruce Wayne was displaced in time, he’d try to send a message to them somehow — and Wayne Manor is a really old mansion situated on top of an ancient cave system, offering a time traveler lots of space to leave clues for the future. And so Alfred has begun to notice subtle clues in the paintings of the Wayne family over the centuries. While Alfred does research on the Wayne patriarchs on the Bat-Computer, Dick and Damian do some snooping around the mansion to see what they can turn up. Damian expresses worries that if Bruce comes back, he’ll no longer get to be Robin — did his mother Talia do something to his mind while he was recuperating from his spinal surgery? Is that why he suddenly tries to kill Dick? And what does Dick find once he falls into the basement?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent mystery to start off “The Return of Bruce Wayne.” And mysteries within mysteries — what’s wrong with Damian? Who is Oberon Sexton? Where is the missing Wayne portrait? What does “Barbatos” mean? This is beginning with a lot of stuff to really get the interest piqued, and I can’t wait for the next issue.

Secret Six #19

The Six are on a mission to track down the fate of a kid who got inducted into the Church of Brother Blood, with Black Alice posing as a cultist wannabe. Bane is willing to let the cultists kill Alice, but Ragdoll gets uncharacteristically heroic and leads the rest of the team in her rescue. And this, in turn, leads to Alice getting a crush on Ragdoll. Which is mostly unexpected and creepy and worrisome. Meanwhile, former Six member Cheshire meets up with a bunch of paramilitary kidnappers — and Cheshire being the scary destructive poisonous assassin she is, she wipes ’em out without too much trouble… up until the REAL kidnappers make it to the scene. And back with the Six, they go to make their report to the extremely wealthy father of the kid who’d been abducted by the Church of Blood — and it turns out that the old coot has a really, really nasty surprise in store for Catman…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, great characterization and dialogue, excellent action, and a few brutal twists of the knife. DC should let Gail Simone write more of their comic books.

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