Grant Morrison is joined by all-star artist Ryan Sook in the penultimate issue of THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE! In this story, Bruce Wayne finds himself in the hard-boiled streets of Gotham City’s past. Will his adventure as a private investigator help him take one step closer to the present day?

Variant cover by RYAN SOOK

Price: $3.99
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.8%
Avg Rating: 4.1
Users who pulled this comic:


  1. I think I’m really going to enjoy this.  I’m a huge fan of Ryan Sook and I love detective Batman.

  2. Finally!

  3. This really needs to be good after all that delay. 

  4. The last issue was terrible, a huge step down from the quality of the previous 3. With all this delay, I’m really hoping some quality will make up for the last one.

  5. Can’t wait to see Ryan Sook’s work on this, am a huge fan as well.

  6. Wooo! I’ve been looking forward to Film Noir Batman more than any of the other Batmen-Thru-Time.


  8. I was so looking forward to cowboy Batman ( blame Red Dead Redemption for that ) when that unmitigated disaster of a book came out. I hate wasting money on bad books. This issue promises to be good. Here’s hoping.

  9. I don’t care about the delay, but I am concerned about the train wreck if this, Batman & Robin, and Batman, Inc. don’t all sync up. DC has about 10 bat books that are effected by Bruce Wayne’s Return, so they are not going to wait patiently as Morrison gets all his ducks in a row.

  10. I haven’t really been enjoying the series, I should have dropped it after issue 1, now I’m just collecting the set 🙁

  11. He looks like The Spirit here.

  12. Okay, at this point can everybody see how ridiculous it was for DC to rush out issue 4? What was DC thinking? Two and a half months between issues, but they had to get a replacement artist for issue 4…AND they had to rush the guy (Jeanty’s art looked the worst it’s ever looked). I don’t understand Bat-editorial sometimes. The issues that NEED to be out so the story can move forward…those issues get pushed back indefinitely. But issues that could stand being delayed (Batman 700, RoBW 4) are hurried out the door with rushed/replacement art.

    Lastly, at the risk of sounding like a jerk, I’d just like to put out a public service announcement: Maybe some of you guys should reread a few of the previous issues before Wednesday so you can appreciate what’s going on better. The delays on Morrison books have been bad, but still, you need to have the backstory fresh in your mind, or else your confusion is your own fault. With Batman & Robin 14, some people were confused about where Pyg came from…but he was broken out of jail on the last page of B&R 13. The previous issue of Return of Bruce Wayne had a lot of information, particularly about the Dr. Hurt "Thomas Wayne" and where he was going next. So, if you don’t remember that stuff, go back and reread that issue for your own sake. It will help your experience; you won’t be frustrated and confused on Wednesday.

    Besides, I think RoBW 4 was pretty good; the art was off-putting, but once you get into the story on its own terms, and stop wishing it was YOUR idea of a Cowboy Batman…it’s a pretty good "Man with No Name" version. And the captions toward the end, which serve as the journal entry of a Wayne ancestor, there’s some really poetic, interesting information in there. He basically tells you about the construction of Wayne manner. Give it a reread if you hated it last time.

  13. This whole series has been surprisingly good. I miss Bruce to tell you the truth 

  14. I was a little down on this for a while, what with all the delays, but then I saw the preview…yes, I’m totally up for this. PI Batman should kick so much ass. :’D

  15. Sook-eh!

  16. Finally, this bullshit is coming out. Should’be been out 2-3 months ago.

    I’m pulling it but I am hesitating. Not sure if I want to continue buying a series where extreme lateness seems to be okay. But it’s Morrison so…..

    Also, sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but look at the preview for this issue and see who’s doing the art. Not gonna get Sook for all 32 pages folks. 

  17. "Bullshit" shouldn’t be on your pull list.

    And if you are buying "bullshit", I hope you are an iFanboy member. Remember it is the "price of one bad comic book a month."

  18. @tnc Seriously bro.  This shits out of control.  You need to get off this lateness thing.  Late comics are irritating, but you seem to get legitimately angry about it.  Why?  Why get angry about something you have 0 control over?

    That aside, I’m really looking forward to this book.  I have a feeling this will be one of the best.

  19. I’m angry because this has been a very sub par mini series and having this extremely late every issue isn’t making this slog of a read easier.

    Seriously, could be the worst thing Morrison has written in a long time. 

  20. I hear ya TNC, but still gonna buy it aren’t cha?  To see what happens?  I know Sook isn’t on all the pages, but hopefully art like his can placate you and make it worth the wait.  I mean if it is entirely ruined for you due to the wait, then just don’t buy it I’d say.  If the product ends up to be all that, and esp if I dig the art, then it makes up for the wait in my mind.

  21. God, I love Sook. This should be great.

  22. While I have definitely enjoyed this story, these covers have continually sold my on each book.

  23. @Franktiger: If this wasn’t integral to Morrison’s bat-mythos and if it doesn’t go right into Batman & Robin/Batman INC then I would stop buying it. Plus since it’s the 5th issue out of 6…..I might as well finish it. That doesn’t mean I have to like it though.

    I hope I do though; I really thought this series had a lot of potential. But so far it has had sloppy writing and subpar art. Which is shocking considering who the talent is for each issue.

  24. @TNC…i think the problem with this series is that they tried to do too much in only 6 issues. You could have spent 2-3 issues on each time jump. Not enough time was taken with something so important to the DCU. 

    and the production delays are inexcusable. Something of this level should have been priority 1 at the company.  

  25. @wally: Exactly. DC had the opportunity to make a return of a character right. Considering how Marvel just totally destroyed the impact of Steve Roger’s return by having 4-5 separate titles showcase his return before the final two issues of his mini series came out.

    But instead DC dropped the ball and let this go to production hell. This is why I am so in favor for the less page count. It’ll give the artists less work to do and hopefully get things done quicker. Because this was delayed as hell, other Morrison work (and some other DC titles) have been delayed as well. I know I am a bit crank when it comes to lateness but this mini-series shows all of the problems with lateness for all to see. 

  26. But each issue had a diffrent artist. I could understand why a book is late when the same artist is drawing it all. There is no excuse for a book like this to be late!

  27. What happened to #4?

  28. @patch11001: It came out about 2 1/2 months go. It was bought and read by many who responded with a variety of opinions. It was discussed on many comic websites throughout the internet.

    Excited for this. I really dug 1-3. #4 left me a tad underwhelmed, largely due to how rushed it felt. I have no problem waiting for a book if the final product delivers.

  29. @SamMorgan: Late books are not always the fault of the artist.

  30. @conor: Well it can’t be Morrison since he’s already doing scripts for Batman INC.

    @SamMorgan: Another good point. For example; Ryan Sook had 7 months (probably more if he was called to do it before it was even announced) and he still couldn’t finish this issue. Even with the help of delays from other artists he couldn’t finish his job. That’s just sad.

  31. @TNC: That’s an assumption.

  32. TNC:  no offense, and you certainly have a right to gripe, but if you were like Didio over at DC, or Quesada at Marvel, you might be one annoying boss to have. 

    I mean just imagine it if you were Didio overseeing this book:

    TNC:  Hey Ryan, hurry your ass up there, we don’t want to be late on this book!

    Sook:  Ok, ok, I’m doing the best I can, don’t rush me, I want to make it look right!

    TNC:  To hell with making it look right, could care less what you want, to hell with your artistic standards as a superstar comic book artist, we just gotta put it out or else the masses will gripe and complain that we’re always late!  Get a move on or else you’re fired!

    Sook:  Well then screw it, I’ll just scribble here and scribble there….DONE! (even though it looks like shit to me and I’m unhappy with it, and I resent you now as my EIC for making me put out crap or stuff I’m not completely satisfied with, so I’m not gonna want to work for you or with you again any time in the near future, but it’s done to appease those few who’ll moan about my being too slow an artist at the expense of my artistic standards and the quality of my work.)

    TNC:  Great job, but why do the sales on this book suck?  Why am I hearing new complaints that the quality of the book is subpar, even though we got it out on time?  I don’t care if the artist is unhappy and dissatisfied with the work, I want the fans to be happy, but they aren’t.  And now Ryan won’t call me back cus his fans think he sucks for putting out sub-standard work, like McNiven is doing on Nemesis and Leinil Yu I hear will be doing on Superior, but I don’t care what they think about the artist, I just want the book to be on time!

    Ever watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares?  It’s analogous to bad chefs putting out food in a timely manner at the expense of the quality of their dishes, and they always end up having the food sent back.  I know all this is simply a matter of preference and opinion, so I don’t blame you, but just wanted to shed a different perspective on it.

  33. I suppose it’s time, to go back to #4. I got a few pages in, but had to stop as the art was so godawful, and seemed to be extremely rushed.

    I’ve loved one through three though. 

  34. If it follows the pattern, this one should be worth the wait.  The odd numbers of the series have been good so far.

  35. @Franktiger: Hey I know this job is time consuming. Trust me I can’t draw to save my life so I can’t imagine how stressful it is. But… the end of the day, this is a job. And an artist job is to get things not only looking good (or do the best they can do) but ALSO get things done on time.

    It’s a business first for creators just like any other job. The companies advertise and put out the release dates for these issues so people can order them a head of time. If it’s not there when it is suppose to, then the company loses money. Eventually the book will come out, but it still makes a company look bad.

    Can you think of any other job where someone can delay their part of the process and not get fired? Or at least get no type of punishment out of it? If the comic companies business model didn’t including previews, solicitations, and advertisements of future issues; then artists taking their time I guess would be fine. It could come out anytime they want. But because they want people to buy their stuff they set a endgame for the artists.

    Again, I know being a comic artist is a tough job; I’m not saying it isn’t. But you have to manage your time wisely and make sure you can take this job and finish it on time. Again, Sook had a very good amount of time to finish this (him and his inkers, colors, etc as well) and even had his time extended since other artists delayed the release of this issue. Even with all of this time, him and his team STILL couldn’t finish the issue in time and had to get a 2nd artist to finish the last 1/4th of the issue. That’s not good, we can’t just think that is and forget about it. 

  36. Teaching.


    Writing & the arts.

    Morrison is a comic book rock star. No one is going to fire him.

  37. I know what you’re saying, but being an artist in the strictest, most ideal sense of the word isn’t just a job, it is a lifestyle; and for anyone who espouses to the idea that what he does is his life or that his life is what he does, forcing a person like that to put out work that he simply isn’t satisfied with, or that falls short of his standard, is undermining that person’s integrity and everything that person represents.  Being an artist is about heart and soul, not time tables or deadlines; but yes, comic book creating is a business, and businesses must be pragmatic to make money, so in a practical sense, comic book companies have to balance between the creative freedom of their artists and writers, and their business obligations; and this I’m sure is what people like Quesada or Didio cultivate as a skill to ultimately become EIC of their respective companies.

  38. Projects are late in just about every business in existence, from Defense to software to publishing to movies and television, etc. Sometimes the people at the ground level drop the ball, sometimes the people running things promise totally irrational timelines. Quality businesses keep close to promised deadlines, but sometimes there are delays that can’t be managed around. This has to be particularly tough for industries where projects often come down to 1 or 2 people. You could swap out Morrison or throw the second half of the comic to Mark Bagley to finish the art on a Tuesday, but not only will that produce a shitty comic, but it will piss off the talent. Better to make the end product better, especially with a little delay being meaningless as far as trades are concerned.

  39. I stoked to read this

    Sure the delays been annoying but what can ya do?
    In fact, I’d rather ROBW#5, #6 as well as B&R#15 and #16 come out on the same day so I only have to make one trip to the store. 😛

  40. GEEEZZZZ, you guys would complain to your own mother about being born late!

  41. yup 

  42. A general trend on here is to speculate, anticipate and bitch about comics that haven’t been read.

    There are more comments on books made before the release date than anything else.

    There are much fewer comments once the book is out.

    There are even fewer comments on reviews.

    We don’t want to talk about the book.

    We want to talk about the idea of the book.

  43. yup

  44. @Franktiger: That’s a really great way of putting it. I mean look, I would be pissed if my favorite artists had to churn things out like they were machines. Then losing all of the artistic value of each page (or cover) because it had to be rushed.

    But I’m not asking for artists to rush the hell out of their work. I’m asking for artists to train themselves better to make better use of time management. We all have to practice to do anything in life to be better at. I practice writing all the time to be a much better, and clearer writer. But when it comes to school projects or even when I’m doing a deadline (that I put on myself) for; I pace myself to write the best damn article I can do.

    That’s all I’m asking. Just let me see artists do the best they can do, but still within reason. Again this is a business and there are deadlines. You have to meet deadlines or you’re going to get in trouble. I also get what @JimBilly4 is saying; but the thing is that people like that do get fired for not meeting deadlines. Yes, some deadlines can be a bit ridiculous with other jobs. But if a video game designer wants something done or a military officer wants plans for his next strategy. You bet your ass the people in charge of doing that is going to get punished. 

  45. fucking flip flop 

  46. @TNC – right, I mean in what I do, a whole lot depends on things being done in an expeditious manner, but if its more appropriate to take my time on certain things, then I’m not willing to sacrifice my integrity to meet some compulsory obligation or deadline before my standards are met; but practically speaking, my job does depend on my being efficient in what I do, which I agree, does take and improve with practice and years of experience, but when you can consider what you do as taking on an art form, just as writing may be considered an art form, sometimes there’s a component of that in your heart and soul that you can’t ever really put a deadline on.  You adapt it so to fit the practicalities of the world, like you do with your projects, but there’s something deep down in artists that is intangible, something you can’t really put a timeline on that the art form depends on, you know?

    Dustin Nguyen, one of my hands down fave artists recently posted a message saying he spent all this time on a piece of art work, but when he found something that he didn’t really like about it, he scrapped it altogether and started over, but because he spent all that time and ended up doing that, he was frustrated, but despite that there was something inside him that refused to compromise as an artist before he felt his work was just right, that something that motivated him to push forward no matter how much time he wasted and no matter how much time it would take to get it right by his standard as an artist, that’s what I’m talking about.

  47. @scorpion–i totally agree…unfortunately it seems like if you don’t review a book by 10:01am on Wednesday the conversation is over, so i’ve stopped trying to rush my reading to talk about it on here. 

    @TNC—-as a creative professional i can say that the first thing you learn about working is how to meet deadlines, and streamlining your process/style etc to meet whatever deadline you are given. If i know i only have 2 weeks to do soemthing, i go for a smaller concept/execution that i can pull off in that time frame. 

    I’ve hired illustrators before for my projects and they can all be slow. They’re artists, and take their time. Its frustrating. Maybe if editors instituted financial penalties against page rates for late work, you’d see less work turned in late. 

  48. You’d think when DC announces a new biweekly 6 issue mini-series, that the majority of the book should already be in the can. It’s only 6 issues, look at Brightest Day and Generation Lost, two 26 issue series that have had no problem coming out on time. What gives?

    I think some of these "slow" artists are really wasting their time playing Halo or  playing poker online instead of working. I really do. 

  49. Wasn’t going to get this (skipped #s 3 and 4 due to how abysmal #2 was), but the preview I saw over on CBR has convinced me. I want it bad.

  50. OMFG!! The store where I bought this opened 5mins late! I gave the employee a spanking because someone NEEDS to be held responsible for delays!!

  51. Without a doubt, the best issue of the mini. Both Sook and Perez did excellent work on art duties, but I was excited to read this since we’re starting to see the grand Batman mystery that has been apart of G Mo’s run start to pull together. Not only was Film Noir Batman trying to decipher all his time traveling madness with all the clues that he had on his person from his adventures, but we readers are seeing the curtains pulled on the mysterious Dr Hurt. I loved the hell out of this…expertly written to the end.

    “It always starts with a dame.”

  52. @IroncladMerc: It was never announced as bi-weekly, just standard monthly.

  53. Wow, this was fantastic!  I really enjoyed it.  Still don’t understand it, but enjoyed it nonetheless (I started reading at Batman RIP, but pretty much have no clue what is going on with the whole Thomas Wayne and Doctor Hurt thing… though this issue was the closest I’ve come to understanding a fraction of it…)

  54. I think the third issue was by far the best. Story was understandable and the art was great. The second issue was terrible because everyone looked the same. I enjoyed the first issue because it got me intrigued but the rest of the series killed that. The delays killed this series. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have to wait so long between bad issues.

  55. This issue was fantastic! Right up there with 1, 2, and 3. And, as if you didn’t already know, its damn meaty. So get your re-reading glasses on! Also, Perez does a wonderful job of imitating Sook for the last stretch of the book. I think there was a credit error. Should read: Sook 1-22, Perez 23-32.

  56. Don’t give up on the reviews, wallythegreenmonster. Don’t rush them either. I’ll check your reviews and other users should give more love to the reviews.

  57. This felt like an important part of Mr. Morrison’s story.  Very worthwhile.  I enjoyed it.

  58. Loved it. Completely loved it.

  59. Okay let’s start with:

    THE GOOD: When Morrison was on top of his game with the dialogue, it worked really well. He has a good knack with Noir, 1920ish tone here. Definitely loved the opening narration by Bruce. The revelation that the scientist in Batman #700 is integral was pretty neat. Knew he had to have some type of importance to the overall narrative. The coloring was really fantastic and I loved how it enhanced some of Sook’s pencils.

    THE BAD: Where to start? The overall mystery is getting a bit too confusing to figure out, even for a Morrison book. I think he’s putting too much even at this point for us to figure out every little piece of info. Plus it would be nice if Morrison could just finally tell us whether Black Glove is telling the truth about the Waynes (and he is indeed Thomas himself). Because Morrison contradicts himself a few times here and it’s driving me mad. Sooks pencils are good in some places; but the delays make really no sense if you think about it. Most of the characters are sitting, standing, or slightly walking from panel to panel. So what caused the delay here? In fact, when a fight did happen, Sook decided not to show most of it. So I seriously want to ask Ryan Sook: What’s the deal?

    THE UGLY: Perez might be a good artist in his own right. But his style is not even close to match Sook’s. Bruce looks like a completely different person once his pencils come into play. Heck, since he has a different inker working for him; the entire aesthetic of the issue completely changes. Totally took me out the rest of the issue. Plus, that looked a lot like Frazier Irving’s handywork on the final page which also could explain some of the lateness here.

    There is a good comic book here, as I mentioned with what I like. But even taking out the lateness aspect of it there are just too many problems to count. Even if Sook did finish the issue; his pencils are a bit stiff and there’s really nothing that stands out except for some really great coloring by Villarrubia. But when you get to Perez’s pencils; it’s a completely different looking comic book. I fear how all of this is gonna end, but thanks to DC and their ‘The Road Home’ one-shots we already know how it ends.


  60. OMG. He tied it to the R.I.P story line. That was so great.

  61. @TNC: I’m not sure what to believe until you can post a 3rd review. 😉

    ps – seriously, Perez’s pencils were so jarring that they threw you off? I have never seen such a faithful transition in play. It is worth acknowledging. CBR even seems to think so.

  62. Question maybe someone can answer: What year is this?  Looks like the 1940s.  But doesn’t that make Bruce Wayne like 70-80 years old?

  63. This was fantastic.

    I’ve re-read most of Morrison’s Batman run recently and it really helps because it’s so dense.  Great stuff.

    And the art was very good – the transition from Sook to Perez was smooth and unjarring in my opinion.


  64. Sook’s stuff is just great, the transition to Perez not so bad; but Morrison’s writing is getting to the point where it is just esoteric to me now.

  65. Man I just love this stuff. So excited to have the curtain pulled back bit by bit. The art on this was incredible…on par with Sprouse’s work in issue 1. 


  66. After reading a bunch of stuff online I have come to the conclusion Doctor Hurt is Bruce Waynes evil twin brother, Thomas Wayne JR!

  67. Why do I keep buying this book? The gap between issues isn’t helping my comprehension of the mystery, which seems wholly dependent on having the tiny details of story lines from two years ago at your fingertips. This miniseries has been abysmal, the worst flavor of Grant Morrison storytelling, wherein it seems to me like he’s the only one who could possibly figure out what’s happening issue to issue. Art, 3 stars; Story, 1 star.

  68. This was fantastic. 

  69. @williamkscurry—you could go back and read them in one sitting. I was having the same problem as you with this and Brightest Day. I have a new appreciation after doing that. 

  70. Good God I hope the end of this makes sense.

  71. I just finished reading this and I’ve got to say it was incredible. The way Morrison is weaving in all of the RIP clues about the Waynes is just brilliant. Yes it’s a little confusing but I think that it still makes a lot of sense and we have to remember that the story isn’t finished yet. I think the next issue of this and also Batman and Robin should go a long way to sorting out Dr Hurt (unless Morrison continues to move the story along elsewhere).

    What’s really impressive is that now Morrison is finally paying off the stuff about Dr Hurt being the devil and/or Bruce’s dad from way back in RIP. What we can deduce now is that Hurt is incredibly long-lived and worships/works for some form of elemental evil (I think he think’s it’s the devil but actually it’s Darkseid, the incantations definitely hint at this) and there’s a very good chance that he actually is Bruce’s father. The potential impact of this is totally staggering and I really hope DC have the balls to see it through.

    Also, someone else hit it on the head earlier in the thread. Dozens of posts bitching and speculating as to the reasons for lateness and then a paltry few actually ‘discussing’ the issue. It’s a damn shame.

  72. One other observation is that Morrison is being deliberately oblique with regards to the time period of the story. SUre it looks like the 40’s but if the Waynes have just been murdered and we’re going by current continuity it would make this story happen in the early 80’s (I would guess Bruce is about mid 30’s). At the start of the issue a comment is made that "Retro is in this year" which kind of sets up the classic tailoring and cars and most tellingly the time-travel professor is wearing a ‘Have a nice day’ T-Shirt which is certainly anachronistic if it’s the 40’s. Also the XXX video stores in the last issue point to this.

    Just a neat touch that gives a nod of the head to Batman’s legacy but also places the story a little closer to our own time.

  73. @jedeyeSniv—also don’t forget that at the end that guy had a 70s era Super 8 camera, although there were allusions that they were time travelers as well. 

  74. @JedeyeSniv – Not only did he tie this back to RIP, he tied it back to the Crime Bible/Religion of Crime stuff from Final Crisis. When I saw the red hand "Mark of Cain" on their robes I was quite impressed. This may indeed indicate Darkseid is behind the whole Black Glove thing too. Love him or hate him, Morrison definitely paints a big picture.

  75. I guess the 6th issue of this is moot, we already know Bruce has already returned in the Road Home one-shots. Why did they do this? Shouldn’t this series have been finished and out before any of the Road Home one-shots? This is the same thing that happened with Captain America.

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