Review by Frank Plowright
The events of Bruce Wayne, Murderer? precede this collection. A woman named Vesper Fairchild is murdered, and as she’s a former girlfriend of Bruce Wayne, the killing occurred in his house, and clues implicating him have been planted, there’s only one man in the frame.
You wouldn’t know that for much of this volume, which reprints issues of comics featuring Batman’s associates who have their own problems. These consume them to such an extent that only a passing page or two can be devoted to what’s going on with Bruce Wayne amid Blue Beetle’s heart condition or Robin’s school friends in trouble. It makes for a disjointed affair, with a considerable number of creators involved. By the end of the book there’s been no significant progress regarding the who and why aspects of the case. Some readers may sense padding.
We then have a big staged bust-up in which Batman alienates all of his allies on very spurious reasoning indeed. Those who might consider this a button-pushing, plot-extending contrivance have their ammunition with its speedy retraction in volume two. Over-wrought doesn’t begin to describe it. “Bruce Wayne is a mask I wear, that I’ve been wearing since I was a child, but it’s become a liability. It’s over!” Cue dropped jaws all round “You can’t… you can’t… mean that”, blurts Nightwing. “If there is no Bruce Wayne, then who is Dick Grayson the adopted son of? Who raised me? Can you answer that?” It is, sadly, almost laughable, and it’s courtesy of Ed Brubaker, who’d become a fine writer.
So is there anything worth reading here? Well, not much, really. Devin Grayson has Superman drop by for a word with Batman. Their interaction works well and is nicely drawn by the team of Roger Robinson and John Floyd. ‘Resolutely ordinary’ covers most of the remainder. Matters improve in volume two.
In 2014 DC remastered the Murderer and Fugitive material, creating a larger version of the former and shifting all but a Batgirl episode from this content into it. That’s now found in the single volume Bruce Wayne, Fugitive along with the previous volumes two and three. Chapters are re-arranged to provide a greater sense of progress and coherency.