Unlike a regular review, I’m not even going to list the writers or artists involved in these “1 shots.” Each story is decent, and the art on each book fits. There’s not much wrong here, but nothing great either.
Each of these issues would have gotten 3.5 out of 5 ridiculously unemotional reunions. But…
Editorial screwed the pooch here in so many ways I think I lost count!
First off, these four books shipped the same week as Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5 (of 6) which, as its numbering suggests, isn’t even the final chapter of that story! In fact, SPOILER ALERT it ends with a crazy tech-ed out Bruce Wayne stepping through a time portal into the Hall of Justice, with half of DC’s heroes fixing to throw down with him in a fight. Pick up these one shots, though, and Bruce is back. BACK back. As in, of his right mind, wearing a costume, and running about. It’s jarring. All the moreso if you don’t know which book to read first.
Guess what. You won’t know what book to read first.
“But what do you mean, read first? Aren’t these one shots?” In name, only. These are, in fact, the first four (maybe?) in an eight issue mini series. Batman and Robin is ABSOLUTELY the first issue here, because if – like me – you read Red Robin first, you learn that Bruce and Tim are working together, and you begin to wonder how long its been going on and whether or not you should go back and read some of the issues you missed to find out just how long he’s actually been back. But don’t worry. It just started in B&R. And then the story continues in Outsiders, and then on to Batgirl. Except…
Outsiders tells you that Catwoman is the next volume, while Batgirl ALSO tells you that Catwoman is the next volume. And Catwoman CLEARLY comes after Batgirl. So, the question then is “Does Batgirl come between Outsiders and Catwoman, or is it SO superfluous that it’s not even PART of the not-a-mini-series?
You know what WON’T help you figure it out? The covers. Each cover in this series of “1 shots” links with the others to form a single image, as seen above. Except, Outsiders, which is DEFINITELY the third installment in the story, doesn’t even fit in as one of the first four covers for the super-image, as the fourth slot CLEARLY goes to Ra’s Al Ghul, which didn’t even come out this week.
Bravo, DC, for getting one over on Marvel. Last year, when Captain America’s return was universally spoiled by royally shit-tastic editorial decisions and shipping snafus, we all thought things had gotten as bad as they could. I’d argue that DC has managed to top Marvel’s clusterfuck with this neat little train wreck, if only by erroneously calling these “1 shots.”
Disregard reading order. Disregard the covers. Disregard the reveal as it relates to the story of Bruce’s actual return. Put all of that aside, and consider this. You walk into the comic store to buy your books for the week and – not currently a fan of Batgirl, the Outsiders, or Batman and Robin – you buy Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5 (of 6) and Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Red Robin. Once home, you sit down to read your books. Once finished with Red Robin, you don’t even HAVE the other “1 shots” to read out of order! You’re stuck in the middle of a story, with no warning whatsoever, and no salvation but a trip back to your LCS. Infuriating, no?
None of this is even addressing the hideous plot point of a supersuit that mimics the powers of the major members of the Justice League, mainly because I’m not sure who’s to blame for that. It may be a holdover from the final chapter of Grant Morrison’s tale of Bruce’s return, or it may be completely the concoction of Fabian Nicieza for this story. Whoever’s to blame, it’s a godawful idea. If Bruce can make such a suit, why not use it more often? Worse yet, what if he does use it more often, thereby making him a nigh unstoppable force? Either way, it’s a plot contrivance that shouldn’t have been allowed to exist because of the catch-22 it creates: a Bruce who can use it but doesn’t is a fool; a Bruce who does use it is overpowered and will likely then be written as a fool to allow for defeat. But again, I don’t yet know if this can be pinned on the writings teams here, so it’s an entirely tangential bitch. For now.
DC editorial gets 5 out of 5 Stephanie Brown slaps across the face for the way they’ve executed this most epic of fails