The Batman’s Grave #4 is a high-action, violent issue, so if you’re looking for a little “BANG!” and “POW!” to spice up your life, this might be the issue for you!
Alright, so my introduction is a little misleading. My inclusion of “BANG!” and “POW!” should make any Bat-fan think of Batman ’66, but there’s nothing of the sort found here. This is, however, an extremely action-heavy issue. I wasn’t lying when I said that. In fact, I would say 80-90% of this issue is action, so there’s not much to sink your teeth into here as far as the plot is concerned… But the action? It’s damn good!
Warren Ellis is four issues into this run, and I still don’t have a complete idea of what the actual story is. In some ways, that’s a bad thing. When you’re a third of the way through a book, you should be able to speak to what the general concept is, and I can’t – at least as far as the main plot is concerned. It’s clear that this is a character piece though, so perhaps that is what’s meant to drive the plot, but nothing has hooked me yet. I’m intrigued and curious, but I can’t necessarily say that I’m excited about each coming issue. That being said, the skill and quality of this book is still top-notch!
If you’re looking for pure entertainment or an engaging plot, then I suspect that you’ll find The Batman’s Grave rather unsatisfying. For me, however, I look at stories from multiple angles and can find appreciation in a number of aspects. Where the plot might be falling a little short, everything else is excellent from a technical aspect. Now, I understand this may not resonate with some of you. There’s a good chance you’re coming to comics for fun, bombastic stories. That’s perfectly fine. I don’t necessarily need that in a book, and I am perfectly fine – and often prefer – slower, character-focused stories. The only caveat is that there needs to be a strong pay-off by the end, and I need to eventually feel something.
Technically speaking, this book is executed incredibly well! In one of my previous reviews, I lavished praise on Warren Ellis for his ability to write. From the careful way he approaches his story, to his actual sentence structure and word choices, to the depth and nuances of his characters. There are so many elements to his scripts that are excellent. But for this review, I’m going to spend my time praising Bryan Hitch!
First off, I just want to say that’s it’s so nice to see a writer trust his artists enough to allow him to take the lead. That’s clearly what Ellis does with Hitch here. If you’re going to designate nearly an entire issue to action, you’re completely putting that book’s fate in the hands of your artist. Thankfully, we all know that Hitch is more than capable of delivering.
As you probably suspect, The Batman’s Grave #4 is an incredibly fast read because there’s hardly any dialogue. With that in mind, I do encourage you to slow down when going through this issue so you can really take the art in. If you just blow through it, it’s going to feel unsatisfying. If you take your time, however, you’ll realize just how brutal and kickass the action that Hitch has created really is.
And that’s the key here. In a time where comics – a visual medium – seem so keen to skip the visually entertaining aspects of their stories (as noted in King’s, and even Tynion’s recent debut, of Batman), it’s refreshing to get a fully choreographed, fleshed out fight that flows from panel to panel incredibly well. And better yet, it’s not an easy fight for Batman. Hitch pits him against four criminals, and, despite his skill, he makes the fight challenging. The bout kind of reminded me of fight scenes from Netflix’s Daredevil. You see Batman hurting. You see him getting tired. And yet, you see him endure.
I’m also excited to say that there’s a nice, fluid energy to the panels. Sometimes artists struggle to create an energy or flow, and their panels can look “stagnant.” This book doesn’t suffer from that. Hitch will change the perspective of the same fight in a way that a film will insert cuts to accentuate the action. I think it’s this technique that almost makes panels feel as though they snap or whip around with each punch. Seriously, it’s great!
I feel as though the colors also help with this to a degree. The fight starts with Batman releasing gas into the room to help hide his location and get the upper hand. This also allows the colorist, Alex Sinclair, the opportunity to play with shadows and lighting as well, creating a tone for the book since there isn’t much in the way of dialogue to establish that. And as cool as all of the action is in this issue, my favorite panel is the one featured above of Batman’s silhouette as he breaks into the room.
As good as I think this issue is though, I do suspect that many readers will find it lackluster due to the lack of plot. I’m sure a majority will flip through the issue in a matter of five minutes – if that – then move on to the next issue, which does this book a huge disservice. So, again, take your time when reading this. Slow down to really take in the panels and artwork, and if you do, you’ll probably find that you’ll enjoy this much more! And once this story is collected, this is going to feel like an epic, high-energy fight that will surely stand out when everything is said and done.
- You’ve been wanting a solid, brutal fight scene.
- Ellis giving Hitch the spotlight for an issue sound epic.
- Batman breaks some bones here!
The Batman’s Grave #4 doesn’t do much to help the title establish and drive the core plot, but it does deliver some incredible art and action. Will you enjoy the issue? That depends on your ability to appreciate art. For the most part, this almost a silent issue, so if diving into action panels isn’t your thing, then you probably won’t like the issue.