Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Only two weeks removed from the prehistoric Batman story, DC has released the second issue of Return of Bruce Wayne today, an issue where Bruce tackles the Puritan age. This chapter picks up immediately where we left off, and shines a little more light on the mystery that permeates Grant Morrison's Bat titles.
Bruce awakens by the unnamed woman, and quickly springs up as the large octopus monster is about to attack. As he grabs a sword, he tells her to run, and then bravely and foolishly attacks the monster. The monster though, is way more powerful than him, and knocks him unconscious, leaving the girl to rescue Bruce. Bruce once again awakens, this time to the sound of an unknown tongue, and he sees that he's in cave. The woman, and her pet ferret, have been nursing Bruce back to health, and her attempts appear to have been fruitful. Bruce opens his eyes, and notices some familiar charms hanging from the woman's neckless: The symbols of Superman and Wonder Woman. He attempts to speak, but he's still disoriented though, so the woman tells him to quiet, as she says something almost prophetic: "A Great Dark God has set his hand upon you. But stay with me and I'll love you. Until the end of time..."
Booster Gold, Skeets, Rip Hunter, Hal Jordan, and Superman arrive at Vanishing Point, the end of time, where they are attempting to learn any evidence as to Bruce's whereabouts, but they are limited to ten minutes there, ten minutes before the station is lost in the end of time itself. Their guide at Vanishing Point is biorganic archivist, a mysterious creature with long ears coming from it's head, a glowing left eye, and whose body appears to be covered in a curly fur. Superman asks the archivist if he can continue to trace Bruce's omega trail, so they can locate the lost hero. The archivist tries to explain the difficulty of this feat, going on to talk about time's ability to move forward and backwards, creating multiple vibrations of time. Rip chimes in about a track of time that is perpendicular to theirs: Cube Time. Archivist detects an infestation of something called hyperfauna, and a picture of the octopus monster appears on his screen. Superman realizes that then are essentially playing hide and seek with Bruce, who is a needle in a cosmic haystack as he puts it.
Back is the Puritan timeline, Bruce has taken the identity of a man named Mordecai, a devout man of God, and an ivestigator of sorts for the small village of Gotham. He's currently visiting upon a Mistress Tyler, who had a bat nailed to her door with a large knitting needle. Miss Tyler believes the bat was an omen put on her by a woman named Annie, who she believes works for the devil in the woods. Bruce isn't so sure though, and begins to take notice of random clues, such as Miss Tyler's large needles that she uses, her missing iron ladle, and her missing husband's clothes which have been mended. All of this points to Miss Tyler murdering her husband, and as Bruce says these things, a man named Malleus appears, and demands that Miss Tyler be taken away for her crimes as a which, only problem being that he has no evidence of witchcraft.
Miss Tyler is being tortured by the Malleus, drowning in a small lake. But Bruce/Mordecai storms in, and demands she is released for with crimes, saying that if she must be prosecuted, prosecute her for murdering her husband. Malleus is not happy about this, and says that Mordecai was sent to them to help rid them of witches, yet he won't let any executions take place. Bruce says that he has saved his fire for foes who've earned it, and he heads off into the woods.
In the woods, Bruce meets Annie, the woman that previously saved him, who lives all alone due to being shunned by the community for thinking she's a witch. She says that Malleus is terrified of "witches" since they can discover his true name, an identity who he wants no one to know. Bruce tries to rationalize their fears, explaining that when people are scared, they turn to explanations that are hard to be explained. Bruce becomes distracted though, as he begins to wonder why his memories only stretch back ten days, but Annie tells him not to ponder it, and kisses him.
Later, Bruce is getting his portrait drawn by an artist named Martin Van Derm, whose job is to document the Gotham community in illustrations. Bruce instructs Martin to pay close attention to every detail, highlighting the sketchbook Mordecai was holding in the pages of Batman and Robin #10. As the two make small talk, Malleus storms in, and begins to inquire of Bruce/Mordecai, asking why he talks so strange, and why he feels the need to have a portrait made. Bruce brushes off the verbal jabs, but Mordecai was there for a more important reason: The Dragon, or devil they believe, has been spotted in the woods, so Bruce, Mordecai, and two others run off into the woods.
In the woods, a man relates his sighting: A dragon with seven heads and ten horns, similar to the picture painted in the book of Daniel and Revelations. Malleus sees this as evidence of the devil, but Bruce is still not convinced, saying that the creature probably has descended from Earth, and not from Hell. This infuriates Malleus, who sees it his duty to protect Gotham from the devil. He begins to rant about a supposed eclipse that is set to occur, an eclipse that will let the devil walk in the day. The word eclipse seems to strike a chord with Bruce, as he vaguely recounts the eclipse that occurred in his last life, leading him to the present.
Bruce runs off to find Annie, and tells her that the woods are not safe, as the creature he encountered when he appeared is stalking the area. He then is struck with another revelation: He realizes that he's not Mordecai, Mordecai was the man that was killed when he appeared; Annie just dressed Bruce in his clothes. Annie confesses that Bruce is not from the church, and says that she "called," and Bruce came. He demands to be taken to the location where he was found, and Annie leads him to some ancient caves, caves that were once inhabited by people called Miagani, which means Bat-People. Bruce comes to realize the bats as a theme of sorts, and he also recognizes the caves, "from another life" he puts it. He now understands that Annie somehow summoned him and the dragon, which made them both appear, killing Mordecai. She says that she asked the heavens to send her an "angel" to rescue the native people from the settlers, so she wouldn't have to fight alone. Bruce once again warns her that they must leave, since the creature is running amok. As the words leave his mouth, the octopus monster emerges from the bottom of the cave, and attacks again. He tells Annie to once again flee, saying that monster is his responsibility since he brought it there.
Annie runs back into the village, to warn that the dragon is attacking. Malleus though, sees this as an opportunity to capture Annie, alleging that she used the lord's name in vain, and deeming her a witch. Him and his men begin to take a frantic Annie to the burning post, as she tries to warn them of Bruce/Mordecai's danger.
In the cave, Bruce is fighting off the monster, cutting off a few tentacles, and then throwing a flaming torch into it's mouth. With the creature down, Bruce goes for the kill shot, and then yells to Annie that something is wrong.
At Vanishing Point, there is three minutes left until the end of time, an event that even Superman couldn't survive. Just at this crucial moment, The Archivist shuts off, and begins to speak of the point in time Annie died at. Archivist then apologizes to Rip Hunter, saying though, that he can't be stopped after what he's been though to get there. He touches his head with a wirey finger, revealing the face of Bruce. "It's not over yet." he says, "So you'll all just have to trust me."
Superman begins to yell back at him: "You've been booby-trapped! Darkseid turned you into a doomsday weapon and aimed you at the 21st century.If you go back, you'll kill everyone."
He warnings are fruitless though, as Bruce takes control of the time sphere, and leaves them stranded.
Back at the village of Gotham, Annie is being hung by Malleus, citing her crimes as a witch. She tells him he'll pay though, as she knows his real name: Nathaniel Wayne. She curses him and all his kin until the end of time, and is then dropped to her death.
A last scene of the Puritan age reveals that Gotham was fruitful after Mordecai killed the monster, and he became somewhat of a legend in the community. But it gives the ominous warning that the devil was not done with Gotham...
Bruce emerges from a large body of water, loudly yelling Annie's name. He stumbles onto the sand of a beach, right under the boot of Blackbeard the pirate.
The second chapter of this Bruce Wayne mystery brings a lot of new points and questions. How is Annie connected to the larger picture of events? Why did he have those charms of Superman and Wonder Woman? Why was Nathaniel Wayne so desperate to conceal his identity from the village of Gotham? How is Bruce at Vanishing Point, and why did he leaves his friends there? I'm sure these questions will be lingering throughout the whole series.
Another interesting note is that we now know Darkseid will have Bruce destroy the world somehow, which is why Superman and co are so desperate to stop him, yet we don't how Bruce can destroy an entire world on his own.
It seemed though, at Vanishing Point, Bruce already knew the situation, and he told his friends to trust him. So whatever craziness ensues within the next four issues of the game changing series, I'm going to do just that. Trust Batman.