Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? Or just misunderstood?

Over the weekend I read a buddy's copy of Bruce Wayne: Murderer?, the first in a four volume crossover that, near as I can tell, was the last decent Batman event.

It's old enough that I'm pretty sure most of y'all have the basic idea of what happens by now. Vesper Fairchild gets murdered in Wayne Manor, Bruce is discovered with the body and the evidence that he did it looks pretty strong, he gets arrested and continues acting all cracked out, leaving the "Bat Family" (ugh) to solve the case.

What's cool about this setup is that it brings Batman himself almost into the background. A lot of crossovers like this seem really awkward when assembled together because each individual title is trying to serve its own readers (that is, focusing on Robin, or Nightwing, or whoever's book it is) while participating in the larger Batman-focused story at the same time, and it ends up totally shoe-horned. But a big part of the conceit of this story is watching the characters from each of these disparate titles responding to the crisis in their own way. So the crossover element is actually a natural, necessary element of the tale, which is really refreshing.

Also nice is that the writing talent is pretty consistently strong here. Chuck Dixon seems to be The Man In Charge, writing what seems like every other issue, and he's given to overwriting and melodrama here and there ("His life is a story of tragedies"?), but he's a competent writer for the most part and he's backed up here by Greg Rucka, Devin Grayson, Kelley Puckett (whose Kinetic series was the highlight of DC's defunct Focus line, for me), and Ed Brubaker, who writes the only two chapters that take Batman's point of view and brilliantly teases out just what's going on in Bruce Wayne's head; an important part of the story is his silence and refusal to explain himself to anyone, and the unnerving uncertainty this creates - but it would be meaningless, really, if we had no idea what he was thinking at all. Brubaker's first-person narration is spot-on and the closing pages here are really chilling.

I've read this crossover once before, and I remember it getting weaker and weaker as it went on, totally jumping the tracks by the end, but this installment is really strong, making interesting characters out of almost all of the supporting cast. Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and Alfred in particular are all strikingly written - it gets me curious about reading some of the corollary titles, which I suppose was the entire point, from the business perspective.

A few other things from over the weekend:

Fabio Moon pointed this out, which as a regular Fanboy Rampage reader I find hilarious:

Favorite new rap rhyme, courtesy of Fatlip: "You's a idiot, missin' what the facts is / Missin' the point like a bald-headed cactus!"

Favorite confirmation of my suspicions: Matt Fraction talks a few details about his upcoming series with Gabriel Bá, Cassanova, at his blog.


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