Attack of the Cave-Bat

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1

Holy cow, Bruce Wayne is stuck in the distant past?! Why didn’t anyone tell us about this?!

Okay, okay, Batman being stuck in the past wasn’t really much of a secret. Apparently, after Darkseid hit him with the Omega Effect during the “Final Crisis” series, he got shot clear back to prehistory, where he met up with Anthro the First Boy on Earth (just before he dies of old age), and drawing a few superhero symbols on a cave wall. Now Batman, addled and amnesiac from his time trip, meets up with Anthro’s tribe just before they’re attacked by a rival tribe of cavemen led by Vandal Savage. They kill numerous people and capture Bruce, staking him out on the ground overnight. But he’s rescued by Anthro’s grandson, one of the survivors of the attack, who’s gone and suited himself up with an actual domino mask. Batman then attacks Savage, wearing a giant bat skin as a cape and cowl, and then he kicks Savage’s butt with a whole lot of gadgets from his utility belt. But by the time Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter make a time-travel trip to retrieve him, Batman has disappeared again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a weird, weird book — a caveman Robin who makes his own domino mask? It’s even slow-moving, in an odd, first-issue kind of way. But once Bruce Wayne dons the dead bat skin as a costume, it’s all weird in the best, most awesome way possible.

Astro City: The Dark Age – Book Four #4

The final issue of this miniseries has the Pale Horseman killing people for real and imagined crimes, while the Street Angel and Quarrel try to stop him. Charles and Royal Williams are still tracking down Aubrey Jason, the man who killed their parents, but he’s now stealing some of the Pale Horseman’s power to shore up his own rapidly vanishing lifeforce. Will they be able to work with the Silver Agent to stop him, when they blame the Agent for their parents’ deaths almost as much? And is there still a way for the brothers — or Astro City — to pull a happy ending out of this dark, bleak story?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It is a dark, bleak story, crammed full of more shadows than you’d expect, but it ends on the right note, with the Pale Horseman and Aubrey Jason getting the proper comeuppance, and all done with the right amount of heroism. And then the epilogue makes it all even cooler. Low-key, calm, quiet, but still cool.

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