PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

Behind Blue Eyes: Bruce Wayne: The Road Back Home Oneshots

The Leap: Bruce Wayne is launched into a bold new era where there is the promise of a more proactive stance, rather than simply policing the excesses of his rogues gallery.

Outside of the ongoing story of a rich orphan punishing the victims of poverty, what is a Batman for? The series of Bruce Wayne: The Road Home oneshots ushers in a powerful new era for the Batman.


Bruce Wayne: The Road Home (oneshots)

Publisher: DC Comics
Length: 22 pages (each)
Writer: Fabian Nicieza, Mike W. Barr
Price: $2.99 (each)
Publication Date: 2010-10
Amazon
No one bites back as hard on their anger/ None of my pain and woe can shine through…

-- The Who, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’

Remember Knightsend?

Way, way back when. It was Bruce Wayne returned from the Wars. It was the reassertion of the Batman identity, what that identity truly meant far away from the ultra-violent perversion stand-in Batman John Paul Valley made of it.

But that’s not what anyone really remembers. Not the story, not really. Rather the emotional shape of the work lies at the heart of the memory. It is Bruce Wayne standing on that precipice, doubting that he would be able to reclaim the identity. It is Nightwing, it is Tim Drake’s Robin, Catwoman. It was allies and enemies shaped by the necessity of a world in which the Batman existed.

But for all the pure joy of Knightsend for all the radical reassertion of the Batman mythos, wasn’t the great undoing of the previous summer’s Knightfall (which saw the Batman fail for the first time, against a seemingly infinite tide of villains) something of a missed opportunity?

Wasn’t Knightsend a chance to define what the Batman is for? Rather than the the almost ridiculously simple tale of a rich orphan punishing the victims of poverty who turned to crime, what might the Batman be, if it could be used for something rather than against it?

But the opportunity to define the character was lost. Batman collapsed back into a newer darker self (after another brief hiatus, this time handing the mantle to Nightwing’s Dick Grayson). Once again shuffling off friend and ally alike.

It would be another 15 years before the debate could be tabled again. Another fifteen years before Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel. Before Batman R.I.P.. And yet even then, the full story of what a Batman’s for couldn’t yet be told. The coincidence of Bruce Wayne appearing in Batman R.I.P. while concurrently appearing in DC’s Final Crisis mega-event needed to fully explained, coordinated. A linear story needed to be imposed and applied. It would be a further two years until Batman R.I.P.: The Missing Chapter.

from Batman--The Return of Bruce Wayne #5

And with those years elapsing, almost in a blink, the haunting, melodic theme of Batman: R.I.P.’s chapter ‘Miracle on Crime Alley’ became ever more distant. “Hang around for years and you get to see the layout”, the Gotham Gargoyles whisper, “The people make the city and the city makes the people”. And later in that same chapter Bat-Mite offers, “Something… happened here a long time ago. Call it a miracle on Crime Alley. From the sad graveyard, ashes of a little boy’s worst nightmare, something unforeseen arose, didn’t it?” And in the backdrop, the legendary Mark of Zorro plays on the movie screen of Bruce’s memory. “This will remind you that I have been here once, and can return”, Zorro declares as he gestures to the Z carved into a nearby wall.

These oneshots aren’t about Bruce Wayne having returned. They aren’t about him testing his former allies. They aren’t stories about him proving himself against his children grown older.

These are stories about the promise that not yet but soon, we’ll all know what a Batman’s for.

They are the promise of Lifehouse the legendary rock opera that The Who never made. The rock opera about the mythic, vital energy of rock music, and the Guru who would eventually ensure that there would never be another day without rock.

These oneshots are sublime.

They are the last half hour before the Oscars, the 15 minutes of fame before the Nobel is finally announced. They are a life’s work, more than a life. The life of a character far older than ourselves. They are the hope of a character far older than ourselves, reaching forward into tomorrow. They are about, what a Batman is for. A Batman freed from having to clean away the Pandora’s Box he opened simply by existing in the world.

Did you ever think it could feel like this? How could you?

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.