Batman: Bruce Wayne – Fugitive Vol. 2

I suppose if you’re more familiar with a particular Batman villain, this cover is a pretty big spoiler.  I was fortunate enough to not catch on to who exactly that was reflected as Batman’s shadow, which I’m more than a little happy about. Half the fun of this storyline is the mystery; why would I want it ruined for me before I’ve even read the book?

Volume 2 continues the storyline from the past two Batman trades.  Batman is on the run from the law after being arrested for murdering Vesper Fairchild.  Having overcome his childish brooding, Bruce finally accepts help from his family in tracking down who framed him.

Given the past two trades, I really wanted to like this book.  As it stands, I felt it was a bit…lackluster.

The first half of the trade largely focuses on Batman as he searches for those responsible for selling tainted heroin that’s been killing its users.  Fairly quickly it becomes a rather convoluted affair.

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Um…and I care about this why?

Look, I’m not trying to be unfair. As its own storyline it would be totally acceptable, but this is all going down smack dab in the middle of the investigation into who framed Bruce for murder.  Eventually this drug storyline circles back and ties into the original plot, but there’s too many twists and turns to make it feel wholly necessary.  It simply stretches out for a little too long. I was dying to know how the original story would play out. Don’t just throw a seemingly random separate story into the mix! It broke up the flow of the comic, and a part of me never got fully back into it after that.

We do eventually return to the main story at hand, as Bruce reunites with his team to provide a pretty succinct and thorough explanation of exactly who framed him and why.

It turns out it was a two-fold job.  Lex Luthor hired an assassin to ruin Bruce Wayne’s reputation.

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Of course, this was strictly a personal matter, and had nothing to do with Bruce’s secret identity, which everyone is still pretty certain Lex knows nothing about.  It just so happens that the assassin Lex hired for the job was none other than David Cain, aka (Batgirl) Cassandra’s  father and the man who taught Bruce how to fight.  Cain puts two and two together and realizes that Bruce and Batman are one and the same, and decides to kill two birds with one stone by framing Bruce with the perfect set-up, and orchestrating the perfect motive for him to have killed Vesper.

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Bruce and Cain get into a pretty brutal fight, with Batman ultimately winning out by proving that he’s not the same as Cain.  Cain gives in, and willingly turns himself over to the police with a full confession.

The comic closes on this point, but I know there’s another trade in the series, so not everything’s wrapped up.  Sasha is still in prison, and while he’s been cleared of murder charges, Bruce did escape from prison and has been on the run for months.  I’m sure these issues will be covered in that culminating trade.

While I still like the story, I admit parts of this volume felt a bit overworked.  The entire drug angle in the first half was unnecessarily drawn out, and there were too many new players introduced in the latter half to keep straight.  The story just didn’t feel as tightly bound as it did earlier on.  I’d still highly recommend it, but keep in mind that by this point in the story the comic seems to lose its way just a little. I’m hoping it gets back on track by the next volume.

All I know is, yay! Bruce didn’t kill anybody!

As though we ever doubted him.

-Jess

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