Comic Book / Bruce Wayne: Fugitive

Bruce Wayne: Fugitive is a storyline that ran through the Batman titles in 2002.

After the events of Batman: No Man's Land and Officer Down, it seemed that things were looking up for Bruce Wayne, especially as he was starting to rekindle his romance with Vesper Fairchild, a radio personality whom broke off with Bruce prior to NML. However, things quickly fell apart as Bruce would find Vesper dead in Wayne Manor with him as the main suspect. Even worse, the Bat-family has found evidence that Vesper discovered Bruce's identity and he killed her to preserve it. However, it seems that Bruce won't have any of that and is dedicating himself to being Batman 24/7 after escaping prison. Can the Bat-family figure out the truth of Vesper's death and if they can, can they convince Bruce to come back?

Bruce Wayne: Fugitive started out in a special one-shot called Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a 10-cent comic book - before starting the storyline properly with Bruce Wayne: Murderer?. Bruce Wayne: Fugitive began with Batman #600 and, despite the event running for five months through the various Bat-titles, a few of them actually skipped around as only a handful of stories focused on the crime being solved.

The storyline was collected soon after in three volumes, all under the banner Bruce Wayne: Fugitive.

The story provides examples of the following:

  • Ambiguous Situation: While going over the clues, when it's made to light that Lex Luthor put in the hit, Bruce reassures Tim that he's certain that he doesn't know Bruce and Batman are one and the same. The ending doesn't clear it up at all.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: In The 10-Cent Adventure, Bruce is seen purchasing a gun. Everyone thinks that he used it to kill Vesper. He bought it to overcome his distaste of them.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bruce is cleared of all charges and David Cain is put behind bars. However, Bruce has lost two people dear to him — the aforementioned Vesper and his bodyguard, Sandra Bordeaux, who ends up Faking the Dead to become an agent of Checkmate.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Batman reveals his intentions on abandoning the identity of Bruce Wayne, Nightwing takes it hard. When Batman refuses to listen, Nightwing ends up starting a fight that ends in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Nightwing.
  • Chalk Outline: Shown from time to time.
  • Clear Their Name: Bruce Wayne decides that being Wayne is a hindrance and decides to forgo that identity and be Batman 24/7. This forces the Bat-family to solve this crime on their own.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Invoked and Subverted. When the Bat-family gets a hold of Vesper's laptop, it's revealed that she had discovered Bruce's identity and they figured that Bruce killed her and erased the data, which Oracle rediscovered, to hide the fact. It's subverted because she was killed by David Cain, Batgirl Cassandra Cain's father, who knew his identity and planted he evidence to throw the others off the trail.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The entire reason the story is kicked off. President Lex Luthor, angry at Bruce for pulling out of his defense contracts to the US Government, decides to get rid of him by having one of his men hire an assassin to frame him. The person hired David Cain, none of them realizing Cain knew Bruce was Batman. David did it to get back at Bruce for taking in Cassandra.
  • False Confession / Taking the Heat: Bruce's bodyguard, Sasha Bordeaux, is asked to sign a confession to say that Bruce did indeed murder Vesper. Sasha refuses and takes the bullet for her boss.
  • It's a Small World After All: Luthor had a government agent hire David Cain to put the hit out on Bruce Wayne. Bruce suspects that hiring someone who knew Bruce Wayne and Batman were one and the same was completely dumb luck.
  • Name of Cain: The Trope itself kind of gives away who the true killer is.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Happens at the end of the Fugitive storyline, by Batman towards David Cain.
  • President Evil: Lex Luthor is the one who hired Cain and it happened during Luthor's tenure as the President.
  • Prison Episode: A good deal of Murderer takes place in prison.
  • Spotting the Thread: The main clue that leads Bruce and the others to Cain is the fact that Vesper was paralyzed used by a special nerve strike that only three other people used.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: In the final part, David Cain is locked up, broken over his estrangement with his daughter Cassandra and hasn't eaten anything for two weeks. Batman comes to him to warn him that Deadshot has been hired to kill him. After David makes it clear that he has no intention of defending himself when Deadshot comes, Batman tells him that he's either a fool or a coward. When David asks what kind of coward would face certain death without hesitation, Batman says "One who knows it's easier to die than change."
  • Suspicious Spending: A video tape of Bruce buying a gun is found.
  • That Man Is Dead: After escaping prison, Batman decides that he's not going to be Bruce Wayne anymore. It takes encounters with Superman, Catwoman, and a dying police officer who wanted to solve the Wayne Murders to rein back on that idea.
  • Villainous B.S.O.D.: When Batman and David Cain duel in the Batcave, the fight is stopped when Batgirl drops in and quickly unmasks, taking the fight out of David.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Batman tangles with an elite black-ops team:
    Team leader: You don't know who you're dealing with.
    Batman: Deren, Robert. Age twenty-three. Gave a kidney to his diabetic sister two years ago. Probably needs the other one.
    Wilson, Scott. Thirty-four. Football knee injury.
    Kellerman, Dana. Twenty-nine. Took shrapnel in the shoulder during the Gulf War. Still takes pain-killers for it.
    Goldman, Eli. Thirty-one. Allergic to penicillin. Joint wounds are slow to heal and prone to infection.
    Baithswaine, Gregory. Twenty-eight. Perfect medical record. So far.