Batman? In the Wild West? I smell a crossover!
The fourth installment of Grant Morrison’s trippy time travel tale takes the Dark Knight to the time of cowboys, horses, and gun fights. And when a DC fan thinks wild west, only one name comes to mind. Everyone’s favorite disfigured bounty hunter, and star of the silver screen (*shudder*) Jonah Hex! (If you said Bat Lash, I will end you!)
Surprisingly enough, the latest chapter in the story of Bruce Wayne’s journey back to the present is the best one yet. No incomprehensible dialouge, no situations that make you feel like you missed the first half, and most important, there is no mention of the confusing JLA rescue mission and subplot in the present. Morrison gives us a pretty straight story about Batman in a western setting. Not as awesome as it could be, but not bad either.
Bruce is now in his fourth time period as he attempts to reclaim him memory and identity, as well as return to the present. Granted, he’s not actually in the Old West, since Gotham is (last time I checked) an East Coast city, but that’s neither here nor there. The setting allows for legendary DC cowboy Jonah Hex to make an appearance as the bounty hunter contracted to hunt down and kill the mysterious stranger who has recently appeared. Also making a cameo is DC’s resident immortal megalomanic, Vandal Savage. Savage’s inclusion makes perfect sense, since he has existed in DC’s history since the stone age.
At this point, the MacGuffin of this tale is a small box, first seen in Issue 3’s pirate adventure. What is inside has been slowly, but not completely disclosed. We know it contains papers from the pirate era, a book, and an unknown object. As Bruce makes his latest time jump, we last see him unconscious and clutching the book from inside the small box. But that will pick up in Issue #5, which according to the cover, lands Bruce in a 1940s setting. This is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most.
Issue 4 also contains some excellent imagery, thanks to artist Georges Jeanty. Without giving too much away, just imagine Batman in a duster and cowboy hate, standing in the middle of an Old West street, in the rain, at night, facing off against a slew of gunfighters. Yes. It looks as great as it sounds. Especially when the gunfight draw involves batarangs.
The quality of this issue encourages me to finish the series. There are only two left, one of which take place in my favorite era, so I feel compelled. Plus, the curiosity of how the world will react to the return of the one true Bat will also keep me turning the pages in the coming months.
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 is on comic shop shelves now.