- Life is treasure enough for men like us, that's what I tell myself.
Synopsis for "The Bones of Bristol Bay"
On the shore of Bristol Bay, the dreaded pirate Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch has just sunk the ship of the vigilante known as the Black Pirate. Two men came out of the drink - a young man who won't speak, and a defiant black-haired fellow. Blackbeard rounds on the black-haired man, accuses him of being the Black Pirate, and demands that he take him to the fabled treasure of the Miagani, in the caves above Gotham Town. When the black-haired man says he is not the Black Pirate, Blackbeard pulls out the accouterments of the Black Pirate, which were also pulled off the ship. At the appeal of the young man, Blackbeard and the black-haired man agree to go to the caves.
On the way, the young man, who introduces himself as cabin boy Jack Loggins, tells them that when the Pilgrims came over, the last of the Deer People joined their one-time brothers, the Bat-People, in the caves of Gotham. Blackbeard wonders at the possibility of ransoming Loggins, but the black-haired stranger shoots this down, pointing to the callouses on Loggins hands and the general state of his clothes.
On the way down, the black-haired stranger notices the drawings he made, all those years ago. Loggins meanwhile recounts the lore of the perils they are soon to face: The Whistling Demon, The Breath of The Bat, The Bridge of Bones and The River of Night. Blackbeard tells him to shut up, but the stranger works out the first trap - a set of hidden people armed with darts, who aim by echolocation.
Soon they reach the second trap: the Breath of the Bat - methane from dissolving bat droppings. The stranger orders them to douse their torches, but one man scuffs his shoe on a flint stone, causing a spark which almost kills them all.
Meanwhile, in the present day, Batman and Robin are investigating in Bludhaven. Wonder Woman has put the Justice League on Black alert - when Batman makes his way to the present, something terrible will happen. Red Robin recounts how the current Batman found the cape of the original in a cave, 11,000 years old by radiocarbon dating. A set of strange holes in the hood match to a brainwashing helmet in Command-D in Bludhaven. The word is out - Batman is alive, and the world is doomed...
Back in the past, Loggins corners the stranger, and admits that he is Jack Valor, grandson of John Valor, the original Black Pirate. Valor hands over the costume of the Black Pirate, but Blackbeard rounds on the two and wants to know what they are talking about. The stranger makes a grand show of falling into the river.
They make the rest of the walk to the Bridge of Bones in silence. At the edge, they are attacked once by the darts of the Bat-People. And on the other side of the bridge, he appears - the Black Pirate. Blackbeard takes aim, but somehow misses, and the two men begin their duel in earnest. Meanwhile, the First Mate, Hands, grabs "Loggins" and crosses the Bridge of Bones.
Just as the Black Pirate defeats Blackbeard, Hands puts up the shout - surrender or the boy dies. However, within seconds of the challenge, two of the pirates are dead by Miagani darts, leaving only Blackbeard and Hands. The Black Pirate demands that the two retreat. Then Jack Valor introduces the Black Pirate to the last of the Miagani Tribe. They recognize him, and let him into the most sacred part of their cave, which is guarded by a statue of their patron spirit, "the Lord of Night and the Dark Sun", who is supposed to guard them against the day they call the "All-Over". At the back of the cave is the cape of the Lord of Night - the cape that Batman was wearing when he came back in time. The Black Pirate is struck by his memories.
At dawn the Black Pirate emerges from the cave with Jack Valor. Jack explains that he inherited the "Black Pirate" identity from his grandfather, and is unsure if he will continue with it. As an eclipse starts, the Black Pirate hands back the cloak and gives Jack the task of telling the Wayne family of Gotham what happened this day, as well as a commandment before disappearing: "Don't ever stop fighting."
Blackbeard was reported hanged two months later. According to Jack's diary, he continued with the Black Pirate identity for many years, saving lives, including the woman who became his wife. They moved to Philadelphia and he left the costume behind. However, he did not visit the Wayne family until years later. They took his diary and placed it in a capsule, along with something he swore never to tell another living soul about.
And yet, though Valor did his duty, he felt on the way back as though something terrible would one day rise from his actions...
By the late 19th century, a group of Gotham criminals had incurred the ire of the caped mystery horseman. So they hired the deadliest gunman in the Americas to defend them: the man known as Jonah Hex...
Appearing in "The Bones of Bristol Bay"
- Justice League of America (Cameo)
- Jack's wife & child
- The Van Derms
- Chuck & Lucky
- Jonah Hex
- This issue contains a preview of the graphic novel Jonah Hex: No Way Back.
- This story may be a reference to Detective Comics #205, in which Batman, on a time-travel journey, fights a group of Indians in the Batcave in the past.
- Bruce Wayne's escape from Blackbeard is a time-honoured "protect the secret identity" move.
- Gotham's sky was red when Jack Valor visited the Waynes. Red skies are traditionally associated with "Crises".
- Jonah Hex gives the crooks a telling-off for being men of superstition rather than reason. In other words, he is berating them for being a "superstitious and cowardly lot."
- Cover gallery for the Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne series
- Images from Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne Vol 1 3
- Batman Recommended Reading
- Batman (Volume 1)
- Batman (Volume 2)
- Batman (Volume 3)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 1)
- Batman and Robin (Volume 2)
- Batman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Batman: Gotham Knights (Volume 1)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Volume 1)
- Batman: Streets of Gotham (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
- Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 1)
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2)
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 2)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)