Batman: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I had already read some parts of the Batman series entitled Bruce Wayne: Fugitive that were contained in the Birds of Prey comic book series. I already had the gist of things – Bruce Wayne and his bodyguard Sasha Bordeaux had been accused of murdering Vesper Fairchild, a former love interest. I also knew that somehow, Bruce Wayne had escaped from authorities and was continuing to operate as Batman, making absolutely no effort to clear his name, much to the chagrin of his friends. I also knew that this particular storyline was rather long and spanned a great many different series. Not exactly being one of deep pockets, I decided to pass on this tale until a friend of mine leant me their trade paperback collection of Batman: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive.
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive: Volume One collects the following portions of the tale: Batman: Gotham Knights issues 27-28, Batman issues 601 and 603, Birds of Prey issues 41 and 43, Batgirl issues 27 and 29 and Nightwing 68-69. The editor is nice enough to give a little introduction, explaining the events taking place just prior to the story arc. Our story begins with Batman, fighting crime in the streets of Gotham as if nothing had ever happened. Superman attempts to help him, but he wants no part of it. In fact, Batman is accepting no help from anyone close to him and has in fact changed all codes accessing the Batcave. Luckily, Alfred has one back-up code which allows for Batman’s family and friends to gain entry and discover clues that could clear Bruce Wayne’s name. In a side story, a retired detective requests Batman’s presence at the hospital. His dying wish is to give Batman the only case he had left unsolved – the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents.
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive: Volume Two compiles Detective Comics issues 768-772, Batman: Gotham Knights issue 31 and Batman issue 605. In this volume, we discover that a new drug is killing people all over Gotham. In attempting to discover who is behind this lethal drug, Batman runs into Checkmate, a covert ops agency. As it turns out, they are both on the same mission. Meanwhile, Sasha Bordeaux has been sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Vesper Fairchild. While in prison, Sasha is presented with an offer that could get her a better sentence or possibly a release, so long as she gives up the whereabouts of Bruce Wayne. After a visit from Alfred Pennyworth, Sasha decides that her loyalty to Bruce Wayne is still as important as it was when she was first arrested. She refuses the offer. Batman later approaches his friends and family members, apologizing for his former behavior and asking for help in finding the real killer of Vesper Fairchild.
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive: Volume Three compiles Detective Comics issues 773-775. Batman: Gotham Knights issue 32, Batman issues 606-607, and Batgirl issue 33. This final volume of the series finds Sasha Bordeaux still in prison, where she learns that the killer of Vesper Fairchild has come forward and Bruce Wayne is now cleared of all charges. Since she has already been convicted of the crime, Sasha is forced to file an appeal based upon new evidence, but she still has to stay in prison until all issues have been resolved. Enter Checkmate – the organization has taken interest in Sasha Bordeaux and her abilities. Wanting to make her a part of their covert team, Checkmate arranges for her “murder” in prison and provides her with plastic surgery and a new life as a covert operative. Batman doesn’t buy the murder and searches incessantly for Sasha, fighting Checkmate at every turn. He also finds himself protecting the very man who framed him for murder while he tells his tale to the Grand Jury.
The Bruce Wayne: Fugitive series was designed to create a new and improved Batman. The Batman of old had become a very cold individual, scorning relationships for the better of his cause. The new Batman could show some compassion for his friends and family, thus allowing Bruce Wayne to actively seek out a relationship outside of his crime fighting circle. And yet, somehow, I didn’t buy it. Maybe that’s because, in recent years, writers of the Batman series have gone right back to the cold Batman style. Yes, Batman continues to harbor relationships with his friends and family. However, he continues to remain a tad reserved in his attitude towards them.
The artwork in this series was incredibly diverse, having been created by numerous artists. At times the artwork was incredibly realistic and at other times, the art was rather cartoonish, putting me off a bit. I am not a huge fan of the cartoon-like style being presented in many serious DC Comics today. The way I see it, if the subject matter is serious, the artwork should reflect the seriousness of the events going on. A cartoon-like style is not going to cut it – maybe in TV Land, but not in a comic book.
The whole Checkmate thing was annoying, although I now understand why it had to play out the way it did. I actually found myself invested in the story of Sasha Bordeaux – a shame how things worked out between her and Bruce Wayne. I did enjoy the murder enactment by Nightwing, Batgirl, etc. I found the search for clues and the acting out of the incident to be rather intriguing.
For the most part, the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive series is entertaining. Had I spent a fortune buying all of the comic books in the series, I would have been rather disappointed, but reading it in trade paperback format was much more satisfying…and a great deal more pleasant for the pocketbook.
For more about Batman, check out the following links:
Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed: Batman Issues 291-294
Bataman in the Seventies
Batman: The Long Halloween
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