Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne This book picks up where the concluding issue of Final Crisis left off, with Bruce Wayne stranded in the caveman days. Now he makes his way forward through time toward the 21st century in this six-parter. In issue two he stopped off for an adventure involving some witch hunting Puritans, and he is moving on to a pirate's life for one issue, and then to the old west. It's interesting to see the bat-guy in all these different historical settings. History is retro.
Interestingly, Bruce has amnesia, yet his resourceful instincts aren't lacking. He is being pursued through time by Superman, Rip Hunter, Green Lantern, and Booster Gold. They have to somehow intercept Bruce before he unknowingly serves as Darkseid's weapon to destroy the 21st century, whatever all that means. I'm still not clear what Bruce was doing near the end of time unless maybe he was trying to pinpoint a position in time in order to return there and save an accused witch from hanging. Who knows? I don't totally get it, but I think I'm supposed to buy a zillion cross-overs before I do, including the forthcoming Time Masters: Vanishing Point mini-series, and several issues of Batman and Robin. It's all about marketing, but I'm not taking the bait.
On the positive side, the cover art by Andy Kubert is exceptional. The Sprouse and Story art team did a great job on the first issue, but the Frazer Irving interior on the second didn't do much for me. I don't care for what I call the "sketchy" look, but I suppose it works well for the 17th century mood. For super heroes though, Iriving is not my favorite. In all, I would grade this series a B- but it does have potential.
JSA All-Stars The Johnny Sorrow story arc finally concluded and with some very interesting plot twists. Now we know why he appeared to be in love with Stargirl. It's great to see Atom-Smasher back with a JSA-related team. It will be interesting to see Al and Courtney's relationship develop, assuming it will. Romantic tension is good for a series. We need more of a human element in today's comics.
I won't be missing Magog or Damage at all. I'm not sure why some characters with no JSA links to their origin are even on this team (i.e, Lightning, King Chimera, Judo-master). I wouldn't mind if they took a hike and Power Girl, Cyclone, Hour-Man, Sand, and Stargirl were returned to the mainline team. But these characters are why I keep reading. I don't care for the art though. While I don't know the lingo to be a good art critic, the lines just seem jagged and choppy to me. My grade: B-
Justice Society of America It's twenty years into the future and the neo-Nazi fourth reich has taken over America. All super heroes have been stripped of their powers. It's the day of Batman's execution in a prison camp where several heroes are incarcerated and Mr. Terrific, Clark Kent, and others are plotting their great escape.
I LOVE this book! But what's going on? Is this someone's dream, the future of an alternate reality or parallel earth, or a failure that the JSA will travel back in time to "fix"? The next issue (#39) should be concluding this arc since the JSA-JLA crossover is coming up. So I'll be buying both titles for a while.
This series has made Bill Willingham one of my favorite writers. The art team of Jesus Merino and Jesse Delperdang is outstanding. My grade: A
DCU: Legacies This ten-part series which retells the history of the DC Universe is off to a great start. What could be better than a Len Wein story with the art team of Kubert and Kubert? Paul Lincoln narrates the start of the Golden Age with an appearance by Crimson Avenger and an exciting team-up of Sandman and the Atom who prove themselves to be heroic in character as well as in braun. A backup story features the Spectre and Dr. Fate with art by J. G. Jones. I like the way Inza was incorporated into the story and the art has a definite retro feel. My grade: A
The Torch This series concludes with its final issue in early June. Will the Torch survive and why does Thomas Raymond have the Horton cells? One of the highlights of this series for me was to see the original Torch and Toro team up with the Johnny Storm Human Torch for one issue (# 5). I can't wait for the conclusion. My grade: A+
Captain America: 1940s Newspaper Strip. This forthcoming 3-part series by Karl Kesel explores the newspaper strip that never was. With a story reflective of a 40s newspaper strip, I'm hoping for an age appropriate story that I can share with my kids. I'm also hoping for a fun read.
Project Superpowers, Chapter Two I continue to read this, but I'm a little behind. My grade: B+