We’re just past the halfway point, and The Batman’s Grave is really starting to pick up some momentum!
I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been relatively patient with The Batman’s Grave concerning its pacing. If any other book reached the halfway point and hadn’t really picked up by now, I’d probably be destroying it in reviews, however… I knew that this would be a different beast. This isn’t just some book with an ordinary writer and artist, this book has Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch behind it.
What does that mean? Well, if you’re asking this question, then I’m positive you haven’t read my past reviews for this title, but it has everything to do with the technicality of writing a script and executing sequential art. The fact that these two men have a reputation for delivering stellar work time and time again doesn’t hurt either. Simply put, they know how to craft an engaging story, and they know how to do it well. Funny… I’ve written three reviews this week, and in each review, I’ve touched on this very subject.
With The Batman’s Grave, Warren Ellis has been slowly crafting a mystery, feeding small pieces of it to us issue by issue. We still haven’t figured out the key player, or where, exactly, this story is headed, but it’s clear the plot is revving up none-the-less.
This chapter picks up where issue #6 left off. Batman and Gordon are at the house of a murdered police officer. The officer is a little on the paranoid side, and has extensive security measures integrated into his home – all of which were defeated by whoever murdered him. Based on what Batman and Gordon are able to gather from the crime scene, the victim was able to upload footage and data to a remote source that could help our heroes finally discover who is behind all of this and way… They just need to find the source of that upload.
Following the murder of the officer and an attack on Gordon at Arkham Asylum, it becomes clear that whoever is behind this, is targeting police. The messages are more than clear. With that in mind, Batman warns Gordon to keep the GCPD on alert. But they’re not the only ones who receive a message. Batman receives one as well when a bomb is planted on the Batmobile and detonates.
Overall, there’s still not a huge amount of plot progression for this issue, which I’m sure will bother some readers, but you can definitely see the pieces falling into place. That alone is helping build suspense and tension, while also creating some excitement as Batman moves closer and closer to figuring out this mystery.
Characterization continues to be a strong element for this story as well. I absolutely love the scenes between Batman and Alfred, and you really get to see the two work together as a unit. There are a couple of instances where the two bounce ideas or assumptions off of each other, or they’ll explore different leads of their case for the sake of efficiency.
There’s also incredible humor found in this issue. Whether it’s Gordon’s response to the Batmobile exploding, Batman walking past the bus stop, or Alfred making a ride-sharing joke, it’s some great work. I’ve come to expect some strong zingers from Alfred, and Ellis and Hitch never let me down!
Gordon is also a great asset here. It’s clear that Batman and Gordon have immense respect for one another, and seeing the two men work together is a real treat. And it’s not like we don’t get to see Batman work with Gordon or Alfred in other titles (well, Alfred isn’t in the main continuity anymore because DC had to go and kill him…), but it is different here. Batman doesn’t come off as this superior force throwing around orders under Ellis’ pen. Instead, he views the people around him as his peers. He knows the value that Alfred and Gordon bring to the table, and he utilizes that. It’s subtle, but it is different.
The teams’ work does eventually bring Batman to the recent killer’s location. While he isn’t the big bad, he is the latest pawn, and every operative Batman encounters provide more information to the overall story. This guy, in particular, seems as though he’ll have quite a bit of information, and Batman is going to do whatever it takes to get it out of him… It’s just a shame that we’ll have to wait until next month before we get those details.
Bryan Hitch delivers the art for the issue, and as expected, he does a stellar job. He’s considered one of the greats for a reason, and it’s because his sequential storytelling and page composition are stellar. Hitch also does a great job of making Gotham feel like a lived-in city. His art depicts a certain energy and character depending on what’s being featured, and that does a lot to round-out and ground Ellis’ script, while also bringing it to life. It’s just incredible work all around.
- You want a well-written, well-executed comic.
- You enjoy seeing Gordon and Alfred work with Batman.
- Alfred’s dead in the main continuity, so you need to get your fix of him here.
Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch continue to deliver an exercise of excellence with The Batman’s Grave. The sheer skill and finesse of their craft is highly appreciated and respected, and with more and more layers and elements coming into play, the suspense and stakes of the book continue to grow each and every month. This is an incredible story, and I really just wish I could get my hands on the trade already!