One thing that Batman is renowned for is that he does not kill.
Fans have screamed outrage at the likes of Zack Snyder for his vision of The Dark Knight in Batman V Superman and the characters non-lethal MO is arguably one of his most notable traits.
So what happens when the character is thought to be a murderer? How will this change public perception and does it destrothe character’s reputationon?
That’s what Bruce Wayne: Murderer is here to answer.
Throughout this review, I will be discussing the graphic novel in full detail so there will be heavy spoilers. It may be worth skipping to the score for now if you want to go in with fresh eyes but it’s entirely up to you.
You have been warned!
With that out the way let’s dive into Batman: Bruce Wayne: Murderer!
The Death Of Vespa Fairchild
We follow Sasha, Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard, dealing with the fact that her employer has been framed for murder and she is the only one that knows he is innocent. Sasha is privy to both aspects of Bruce’s life and could clear his name in an instant (if it didn’t also mean giving away his one big secret).
It’s one hell of a predicament for the newly introduced character and it’s a smart move to show the majority of things from her perspective in the opening issue.
The book expertly showcases the ins and outs of a GCPD investigation and every page feels fresh because of it. Rarely covered outside of Gotham Central, the book wonderfully depicts how the Police operate within Gotham and early on they become the main antagonists of the work which is an inspired choice.
Fans of the No Man’s Land and Knightfall arcs will fall in love with the omnibus style of storytelling that is present here. Similar to those books, every chapter is told from a different Bat-family member’s POV and it’s great to get an alternative view of the events depending on which character we are following.
My favourite is that of Barbara Gordon who uses her intelligence and knowledge of the law to pass the bar and become Bruce’s attorney. It’s a smart move to keep Barbs so close to the case and instantly showcases that Bruce has a good chance even though the odds are heavily stacked against him.
Typically Bruce tries to go it alone but it’s great to see his allies working alongside him to clear his name and save his secret.
Bruce Behind Bars
With the wealth that the Wayne name carries, Bruce doesn’t exactly have it easy. Forced to keep up the persona of a bumbling billionaire, he is beaten, bullied and pushed to the brink of insanity.
The prisoners take glee from beating him and his inability to fight back puts him in a position of vulnerability like never before.
All eyes are on him and so when he does finally snap and beats the living hell out of them it’s a bittersweet moment. Whilst we want to see Bruce show the inmates what he’s truly made of, it also signifies to the press that this is a man capable of extreme violence and makes his plea of innocence seem even less likely.
Bat Outta Hell
With Bruce moving no further forward with the case whilst locked behind bars, the Billionaire escapes and decides to investigate the apparent death on his own terms.
In a bold move, Batman drops the ‘Bruce’ persona entirely, exclaiming that ‘Wayne is no more.’ It’s a brash decision that causes a lot of conflict amongst the Bat Family, especially for those with a deep-rooted connection to the character.
It pains Nightwing to witness him throw his life away and the two battle back and forth because of it. Batman lays down the law rather firmly and confirms that Bruce is a persona and nothing more. With that side of his life now in jeopardy there is no need for it and it’s a really thought provoking take that many Bat fans will love to see play out on the page.
Batman bests his sidekick and heads off into the night to continue his work but that doesn’t mean the confrontations are over and when Superman joins the debate, the stakes rises exponentially.
The Man Of Steel
Batman and Superman argue back and forth and eventually, the Blue Boy Scout comes round to Bruce’s way of thinking, allowing him to continue his crusade against Gotham’s underbelly. However, the bridges between The Bat and the rest of The Bat Family are clearly burnt and the mid section of the story deals with Bruce going it alone.
What’s most baffling is that Sasha still remains locked up and Bruce seems to not care in the slightest, something that is completely out of character for the Caped Crusader. Rather than clearing her name he is happy just to drop the facade and go about his business which some readers may be angered by.
The latter part of the book deals with the Bat Family continuing their investigation of the case but overall it feels inconsequential. There is a mutant mobster and zombie story thrown in for some apparent reason and neither seem to really aid the plot. Instead, they get in the way and cause nothing more than a distraction.
Nightwing finds a breadcrumb in the close that may help to prove Bruce’s innocence but it fails to feel like the eureka moment that readers would expect for a final page.
Whilst I know that Batman: Fugitive will continue the story, I’m not that excited to pick it up and of the run continues at this level I will only be able to view it as a failure.
Bruce Wayne: Murderer has an excellent premise and early on it really cashes in on it and develops the plot and characters in an interesting way.
However, where the book fails is that it diverts heavily from this plot from the mid section onwards and feels like the murder case becomes an after thought.
Overall though the work is an enthralling read that sees Bruce truly pushed outside of his comfort zone. The premise alone will be interesting enough to keep you hooked and that’s why it gets a…