Batman: The Return (one-shot) – Grant Morrison

3 out of 5

A palate-whetter, told via Grant Morrison in his Big and Bold mode, then murkied up by the hefty hand of David Finch and colorist Peter Steigerwald.

This 4.99 bumper issue is really just a crossing over point – introducing a reason to continue reading Batman and Robin (they’ll be protecting Gotham); introducing artist David Finch’s take on the character (very wide; lots of costume wrinkles), who was to start writing / drawing a main Batman title; and introducing string-pulling, James Bond-y Batman, Inc. baddie Leviathan, behind some kind of kidnapping caper Bats foils across this issue’s introductory action sequence.

That 4.99 doesn’t get you a longer story – not that it’s really needed – but rather script pages and some inking and design examples.  The inking (Batt, Ryan Winn) is fascinating: while it seems, at first, that the inks just fully mimic Finch’s pencils, a closer look shows how many decisions had to be made where to just drop black or to maintain some fine lines for a grey effect – it’s a heckuva lotta work, and though I’m not a fan of Finch’s style (as seen above and below), he’s a damned talented dude as well, all the same.  The script shows off a little more careful careful detailing and, I think, a more mature tone for our opening pages than artist David Finch gives them – dropping scene details in the former case so he can grit and murk things up (doubled down on murk via Steigerwald), and adding Blood! and Testoserone! in the latter case, which feels like it messes up the point of that lead-in, but oh well.  The issue moves super effectively quick through the various setups, and keeps intact Damian’s and Tim’s banter, and Bruce’s taciturn nature, now with the smirk of getting ready to launch Inc.

Not necessary, but an appreciated half-step to send the different titles on their way and warm us up for Batman, Inc.