Jul 2, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 494: Batman #700, August 2010
"No matter when.
No matter where.
No matter how dark."
Though not technically a part of the "Return of Bruce Wayne" storyline, this anniversary issue of Batman offers a tiny little primer on time travel stories to get us ready for the convolutions of the "Return" story.
Well, maybe that's overstating things. It's a nice story for an anniversary, as it intertwines past, present, and future Batmans (Batmen?) in an adventure, though the locked room at the center of the story is not really a hard one to figure out. So much can be done with a time travel device. But, oftentimes, in depth story is not what an anniversary issue is about. It's about celebration, about seeing where a title has been and where it has the potential to go. With younger titles, it's also about relief to have made it this far, but very few hit the milestones that titles like Batman, Detective Comics, Action Comics, and all the old guard do.
For me, the best parts of this issue are the end bits that, while not partaking of the main storyline, offer visions and interpretations of what Batman has, and will, mean. The "And Tomorrow" chapter, illustrated by David Finch (who, I'll admit, is just a bit too Image-y for my tastes), gives tantalizing glimpses into possible future Batmen, heroes who may be part of the lineage, but also may be alternatives to one another. It's lovely to see the Batman and Robin of the 853rd century again, and Terry McGuinness - though isn't the presence of old Bruce there a bit of a giveaway? I'm not sure where the other two versions of the Bat that we see, one in a futuristic mega-city, one in a post apocalypse, come from, if they're canonical future versions or just extrapolations from Morrison's mind, but they demonstrate that Batman, or the idea of Batman at least, can function in the most diverse settings. "No matter when, no matter where." It's telling that the final pages bring us back to the present and picture everyman Commissioner Gordon shining the Bat Signal into the darkness, showing us that, regardless of the darkness of the costume and the character, Batman is hope and light.
But don't tell Bruce that. He'd just growl at us.