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Friday, September 24, 2010

BATMAN: BRUCE WAYNE: The Road Home: Reading Order, & Reviews: Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Batgirl, Outsiders, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Oracle, Ra's Al Ghul

These occur after Return of Bruce Wayne #6
 Nicieza was interviewed at Newsaroma[link]
Nicieza: If a reader wants to buy individual issues, they should feel free to do so, and hopefully enjoy a solid self-contained issue, but if they want to read all 8, then yes, there is definitely an order:
1) Batman & Robin
2) Red Robin
3) Outsiders
4) Batgirl
5) Catwoman
6) Gordon
7) Oracle
8) Ra's al Ghul
Batman and Robin #16,  and Batman: The Return- from the solicits seems to be After  The Road Home

REVIEWS of individual issues are below, they are in the reading order listed above.  
RATING  Over All : 3.5" out of 5
It's a decent storyline but some parts could have been left out completely.  It's important to note that they DON'T have any welcome home sentiment. For instance, Red Robin gives Bruce a hug for being back in Red Robin #17, not in any of these issues. They mostly have a, "Is that..who I think it is", none have the hugs and kisses stage in them.

 1.)Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: 
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together}
Title: "Outside Looking In"  Writer: Fabian Nicieza Art of internal pages: Cliff Richards Covor Art: Ian Hannin Letters Dave Sharpe Editor: Mike Marts Asst. Editor Janelle Siegel

Rating 3.9 out of 5

A really great start to The Road Home storyline.  The writer, Fabian Nicieza, captured the banter between Dick Grayson(Batman) and Damian(Robin) perfectly, but the art seemed really lacking. It looked like you were looking through a unfocused camera lens, so that you can hide wrinkles.  Nicieza is a great writer so this didn't effect the enjoyment of the story.  This issue doesn't feel like a stand alone issue. You are left with a definite need to continue into the issue of The Road Home: Red Robin.

SPOILERS:If you don't want to be spoiled, skip  down to next review in blue.

This storyline started with controversy before it even came out.  The DC Blog site had released some preview panels of the art inside Batman and Robin. Then was surprised that it contained the F-Bomb. They quickly removed the imaged from their site, and a little later the release date for the book was pushed back a week. They made changes pretty quickly.  My cynical side makes me think they did it intentionally to get publicity, BUT... they already had the publicity from the delay of the Morrison's books, Return of Bruce Wayne #6 and Batman & Robin #16, which weren't released till after The Road home.

Whats wrong with that? Well.... Morrison's books has the actual return of Bruce Wayne to the present time line... Yet... he was already in Gotham for The Road Home. It caused quite a ruckus on many many forums and blogs.

Having the stories out of sync is a little irritating, but I got over it, because it was Fabian Nicieza in charge of The Road Home, and he IS a great story teller.  There have been reassurances by him that having Bruce in Gotham won't ruin the Morrison's storyline. So... I felt pretty confident and read these stories, and I can assure you, at least at this point, they don't seem to touch what Morrison is doing.

Getting past the controversy...we are rewarded with ...a sorta... new player in Gotham, if you don't know who it is by now, I don't want to spoil it for you. The suit he wears is fantastic and there is buzz on the forums, such as: where did the mystery man get this suit? Where did he get the powers? Why  hasn't he used it before? and ...Will he continue to use it?
There is also the ongoing story line of Viki Vale uncovering the secrets identities of the Bat-family, it continues to some degree in all the issues of The Road Home.

As I've mentioned above, the storyline doesn't seem to be a stand alone issue, you'll feel like wanting to get the next issue in this  storyline The Road Home: Red Robin.

2.)Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: 
Title: "The Insider"  Writer: Fabian Nicieza Pencils of internal pages: Ramon Bachs Inks: John Lucas Colors: Guy Major Letters Dave Sharpe Editor: Mike Marts Asst. Editor Sean Ryan 
 Rating 3.9 out of 5

This issue is also great, with spot on characterization. Even though it says at the end that it is continued in Outsiders, after I read Outsiders,  Outsiders felt really unneeded to any storyline.  You could probably skip from this issue to the Ra's Al Ghul issue and not miss any real major story line, you would only miss the reunions with the characters in the title.
The art in this issue is somewhat better then the Batman and Robin issue. It is more... expressive, but the suit looked better in the previous issue.  There has been some buzz on the forums that Tim didn't seem to express any emotions toward Bruce being back and the writer, Fabian Nicieza had this to say:

Quote from Fabian Nicieza from a post on CBR(link) :
 Just a note for those misreading this issue as "Bruce's return seeming anticlimactic or unemotional," please be aware that the events of The Road Home ALL take place AFTER ROBW#6.
Every issue in the Road Home storyline were written with the expectation they'd be on sale after ROBW#6, and were taking into account that certain reunions -- specifically Tim and Bruce -- would have been handled in that issue as we were told.

What you see as a "lack of emotion" is actually the two characters having had days to have come to terms with Bruce's return, and only the unfortunate shipping schedule has made that a confusing message.

But just in case there's not enough emotion to cover the Tim/Bruce reunion in ROBW#6, check out RED ROBIN #17 in November for a nice moment between the two...
- fabian

Some readers opinion of the issue seemed to hurt, just a little, from not having Morrison's storyline being told.  I personally wasn't effected by it, because I figured it was told somewhere else. 

SPOILERS:If you don't want to be spoiled, skip down to next review in blue. 

In this issue the mystery man, codenamed Insider,  infiltrates The Council of Spiders. They kill people just for sport. The first target they give him is Red Robin.  Pru shows up in this issue and is more of a distraction then a help.  She seems to be holding secrets that will be reveal in the Ra's al Ghul issue.

3.)Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: 
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together}
Title: "Inside Interference"  Writer: Mike W. Barr Penciller: Javier Saltares Inkers: Rebecca Buchman & Walden Wong Colorist: Pete Pantazis  Letters Dave Sharpe Batman group Editor: Mike Marts Editor Harvey Richards
RATING 2.5 out of 5 

I really felt nothing for this issue. It wasn't much of a issue. It didn't make me want to check out the series.  Maybe I just didn't know enough background on the characters to care about them. It can be considered a stand alone issue, but I think it's not needed to pull The Road Home storyline forward and you could skip it. 

SPOILERS:If you don't want to be spoiled, skip  down to next review in blue.

This issue has a couple of pages of Vicki Vale in it but she doesn't do anything that really moves her storyline along either.

 The part in the book where the mysterious stranger from the other The Road Home issues, uses his suit and was able to take down each of The Outsiders was cool, but not cool enough to buy the book.

As FHIZ, a poster on CBR commented (link)
...the entry in the white casebook was like "The Outsiders seem to have lost their way." Then the end of the Outsider's book is basically "Yep, still lost, screw'em"
One poster said it would have some bearing on the Batman Inc storyline by showing how Batman may choose who should, or should not, be branded with the Batman logo.

4.)Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: 
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together}
No Title  Writer: Bryan Q. Miller Artist : Pere Perez Colorist: Pete Pantazis  Letters Dave Sharpe Batman group Editor: Mike Marts Editor Sean Ryan
RATING 4.5 out of 5

This was the best issue, so far.  Bryan Q Miller is a awesome storyteller. He really knows this character and her relationship to Bruce. This is tied into The Road Home story line, but it is kinda adjacent to the other stories being told.  At the end it says "to be continued to" The Road Home: Catwoman, but that issue doesn't connect to this issue anymore then any of the others. You don't have to read Batman & Robin, or Red Robin, for this issue, or visa-versa, so it is the closest issue to being a stand alone story.

However, I really love Stephenie's character when it is in Bryan Q Miller's hands and this was a joy to read, don't miss it.

 SPOILERS: If you don't want to be spoiled, skip to down next review in blue.

This issue has the Mystery man that is in the other issues, but it also has Stephanie's and Bruce's first meeting since Bruce came back from the Dead {or not really being dead}. Which really makes it worth the cover price just to see it.
Oracle confronts Vicki Vale in this issue and I have a feeling it will be expanded on in The Road Home: Oracle issue.
I don't want to spoil too much but Bruce mentions Cassandra Cain...the previous Batgirl, and says, "Cassandra followed orders, did precisely what I asked her to do in the event of my death or disappearance."

I'm enjoying this storyline and I'm looking forward to the next installment with Catwoman. After reading these issues... I'm starting to feel better about The Batman Inc series coming up, which I've had my misgivings about it.


5.)Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: 
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together} 

Title :Lifting the Vale Writer: Derek Fridolfs Artist : Peter Nguyen 
Colorist: John Kalisz Letters: Dave Sharpe Batman group Editor:Mike Marts Asst Editor: Janelle Siegel 
Rating 3 out of 5
It was kinda disappointing...Meh issue.  It can be a stand alone issue and can be passed over, it doesn't really move the story line in Red Robin. 
SPOILERS: If you don't want to be spoiled, skip down to next review in blue.  

It was mostly about the Sirens stealing information from Vicki on what she knows. Selina is concerned that Vicki will attract the wrong element.

 I thought Oracle got all the information from Vicki in The Road Home: Batgirl. Since I've read that one too, this one seems like over kill.

I was expecting the Bruce and Selina reunion, but after reading this, I see that Morrison has the dibs on that one, because  this issue didn't have much of a between Bruce and Selina.  I guess I expect more fire from these two, and it felt meh...
She finds out its him, they touch, he leaves...Meh...

6) Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: 
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together} COMMISSIONER GORDON
 Title  Gotham's Finest  Storytellers:  Adam Beechen and Szymon Kudranski Colorist: John Kalisz  Letters Dave Sharpe Batman group Editor: Mike Marts Asst.Editor:  Janelle Siegel.
RATING 3.9 out of 5

This was really good. Very moody art, which was great,  and Beechen made Gordon shine.  I hate to say it is a stand alone issue, because I'm not sure of its relevance in the next set of issues. It has a lot of Vicki Vale in it and this may have some relevance in the next issue.

SPOILERS: If you don't want to be spoiled, skip down to next review in blue.  

The criminal element in Gotham has found out that Vicki Vale has the goods on Batman and the rest of the Bat-family.  The criminal element WANTS that information. 
Commissioner Gorden has Vicki under protective custody and he plans to keep her that way. Did I say this was a really good issue?  It is. 

There is a section where it shows that Bruce couldn't pull the wool over Barbara's eyes, which is great, but I wonder what the heck they are going to cover in The Road Home:Oracle issue, since she already knows.

This also kinda brings home the... "Does Gordon know Bruce is Batman?"  A question that is bandied about on the threads. In this issue you are left with "Does Gordon know that the Insider is Batman?"
It's not really answered, you think he does, but ...does he?


7) Bruce Wayne - The Road Home:  
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together}  
Writer: Marc Andreyko, Artist: Agustin Padilla, Color Art: Brian Buccellato, Letters: Dave Sharpe, Editor: Janelle Seigel, Batman Group Editor: Mike Marts

I would skip it unless you had extra money.  The previous one with Commissioner Gordon shines in comparison. It also has a speed bump when it came to Oracle knowing the Insiders identity. It has choppy dialogue. It has a cliffhanger ending which would make you want the next issue, but this issue is not necessary for the whole of the story. 

SPOILERS: If you don't want to be spoiled, skip down to next review in blue.  
Oracle helps The Insider  in protecting Vicki Vale from The Seven Men of Death by sending The Birds of Prey as a decoy.  Well...Ah sorta...she actually sends The Reserve Birds of Prey.  I ...didn't know ...that Ragman and ManBat were part of the 'Birds of Prey' and  I was... hoping that Batgirl would make it to the team but this is a sloppy way of adding her.  This team includes Manhunter, ManBat, Ragman, Batgirl, Hawk, and Dove.  The fight scenes are sloppy, and sometimes I can't tell whose fighting who, and how they are fighting or how they are taking the bad guys out.
What's the Speed Bump?  One of Oracle's Caption says, "...and what about "the Insider," huh? Wow, he feels familiar." Next Caption says, "I mean, he's Bruce, right? But how is that possible? Bruce is dead, Then again so were Superman, Green arrow,...."
SOO....Oracle didn't know ...that Bruce was ALIVE. {see my eye twitch}
Despite the fact that the JLA is heavily trying to look for him...AND ...she is information gal for  the hero world.
Dick and Damian know he is a live.  It's NOT a secret in the Hero world. Dick even told Gordon in one of the Batman and Robin books that he was only filling in the shoes until the original is back.  
I can understand not knowing Bruce is back in the right time, but for Oracle to not know he is Alive means that the writer didn't do his research.  

8) Bruce Wayne - The Road Home:  
{All covers are by Shane Davis, they connect together}  

Writer: Fabian Nicieza, Penciller: Scott McDaniel, Inker: Andy Owens, Color Art:Guy Major, Letters: Dave Sharpe, Asst Editor: Janelle Seigel and Harvey Richards, Batman Group Editor: Mike Marts

Kind of a disappointing ending. It was well written, but I guess I just wanted more from ol' Ra's.  This issue would definitively be needed for the whole story of Vicki Val's investigation. The story is wrapped up in this issue, but I think that is the reason I didn't like it. It was too pat of a ending. 

 It's a good story and well written but for me it was too pat of a ending for a storyline that has been underlining the Red Robin and Streets of Gotham issues for over a year.  It felt like the story had only just begun and now "Voila" it's over. (yes..Choppa that was for you).
 Ra's Al Ghul is the one who hired the Men of Death. Not because he wants the information that Vicki Vale has attained, but because he wants to shut her up. Bruce Wayne is Ra's to kill and no one else's.  As Ra's people track and chase Vicki, Ra's reflects on another worthy opponent from centuries ago, but he can't remember his name.

Major spoilers:
Also I was wanting more of a fight between Bruce and Ra's, there was hardly a confrontation. Ra's just basically shrugged and walked off saying "Until the Next Time we Duel, Detective...".  
Vale finally gets confirmation that Bruce is Batman and realizes that she was only doing this because she felt "neglected." 
Also... it didn't tell anything about the suit, where it came from, or if it will be used in the future. 


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