Page 45 Review by Jonathan
Hmm, much like FINAL CRISIS you may find this needs a couple of readings to completely understand what's going on, although that isn't necessarily a bad thing as this is also a most enjoyable romp. Without giving too much away it seems that far from being killed by Darkseid's Omega Beams at the climax of FINAL CRISIS, Bruce was in fact contaminated with Omega Energy and quite intentionally thrown back through history to Palaeolithic times. As he gradually slips forward through different time eras he's accumulating more Omega Energy than Stephen does caffeine on a Wednesday sorting the customer orders, until he reaches the modern era where Darkseid intends him to detonate like a bomb wiping out all existence. Still Bruce being Bruce, and despite suffering from nearly complete amnesia, he'll undoubtedly come up with a plan to save himself, and everyone else. As Superman observes, surviving is what Batman does.
What follows then is a reverse detective story in a sense, as clues Bruce has left for himself (how he's done this finally becomes clear in the last part of the story) to find throughout time gradually restoring his memories, and allowing him to come up with a very ingenious way to foil Darkseid's plan. Along the way we have cameos from Vandall Savage (twice, in different time eras), Blackbeard the Pirate, Jonah Hex, Doctor Simon Hurt of the Black Glove, and most of the JLA who are trying to understand where - or more precisely when - Bruce is, so they can help rescue their friend without him destroying everything. This last point is key, because there comes a moment when Bruce has to remember the first truth of Batman in order to finally save himself, that in fact he was never alone.
Morrison mixes in some nice little touches of hard sci-fi to the story for good measure, particularly when the heroes are gathered looking for clues of Batman's whenabouts (more unabashed neology I'm afraid, Morrison tends to have that effect on me) at Vanishing Point, the temporal space station moored at the end of all time (no, there isn't a restaurant) operated by the Linear Men.
And the distinctly different art contributions from everyone helping delineate the different time periods are all excellent, my favourite probably being Frazer Irving's in puritan times which very much reminded me of his contribution to parts of Morrison's outstanding SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY.
Overall it's another very good Bat-book from Morrison, which has some of the zany feel of his BATMAN & ROBIN works in places as Grant has fun with some of the characters, but is actually much closer in tone to his BATMAN R.I.P. and the other immediately preceding books.