At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch continue to deliver solid work with The Batman’s Grave.
The Batman’s Grave #10 continues to pull all of the various plot threads together as Batman sets his sights on Scorn to bring him down. I’ve seen readers complain that this book is a little “boring,” and that there’s not enough action and that the stakes aren’t big enough. If I’m being completely honest, that’s what I like about this book. I feel as though too many writers shoot for the biggest, boldest, earth-shattering story that will change the entire universe, and sometimes I just want a good story. Which is exactly what That Batman’s Grave is.
As I’ve claimed before, this story will work much better as a trade. Ellis uses a lot of nuances when writing his scripts, and when you have such a tight, meticulous story, small revelations can mean a great deal in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, when you consume stories like this on a monthly schedule, it can be easy to forget certain details over time, and not fully realize their impact when it needs to set in.
Because of this, I can understand why some people may not be overly excited by this particular issue. Ellis and Hitch aren’t afraid to take their time and let moments breathe. For example, there are a good four or five silent pages that recap everything Batman has endured over the last few days by showcasing the toll it’s taking on him physically. The scenes feature Batman in the shower – Bryan Hitch knows how to please certain audiences – and you can see his physical exhaustion. While in the shower, he has flashes of the various bouts from the past few days, before discovering his head has been bleeding and he blacks out.
As much as I enjoyed the impact of that moment though, I must say that it’s Alfred that steals the issue. Aside from the fact that Alfred is gone in the main continuity and I miss seeing him, Ellis and Hitch execute him really well. And I want to stress this. If you’re missing Alfred, this is the book you should be reading. Not because it simply gives you Alfred in some token scenes, but because it really explores the relationship between Bruce and Alfred. You’ll get to the point where you want to read the next issue because you enjoy spending time with these two characters.
Beyond Bruce and Alfred’s relationship, Alfred still gets a chance to shine on his own. As Scorn speeds up his assault, he begins to target not only the police but anyone who has supported the police financially. This includes Gotham’s billionaire, Bruce Wayne. And to execute this kill, Scorn sends Cornelius Stirk.
In a somewhat predictable move, Stirk breaks into Wayne Manor while Bruce is patrolling the street as Batman. It’s up to Alfred to handle the situation, and, well, it’s a bit of a journey. Alfred approaches the encounter with utmost confidence, which is kind of badass. Then things start to take a slight turn, and all I kept thinking was, “I can’t do this again. Ican’tdothisgain.”
I don’t want to give anything away – you really deserve to experience this book – but the remainder of the scene – as well as the aftermath – is executed incredibly well. Ellis and Hitch have such a strong grasp of these characters, and it makes for one hell of a read. From here, Batman continues his pursuit of Scorn, but realizes that he won’t be effective if he just continues to chase Scorn. So, instead, he decides to make a personal attack against him.
Scorn is driven by the death of his parents by police. So, what does Batman do? He changes the narrative. He has the police publicly announce that the case involving Scorn’s parents, Lee and Gail Anthony, was reopened due to new evidence surfacing. With this evidence, the police have determined that Lee Anthony murdered Gail Anthony, then committed suicide by cop.
Now, this may feel anticlimactic, but I find it incredibly shocking. We know this is an outright lie. Batman is purposely slandering the names of Scorn’s parents to draw Scorn out. The more pressure Batman puts on Scorn, the sloppier Scorn gets, potentially making it easier to stop him. But, Batman and the GCPD’s actions here will definitely push Scorn even further over the edge, and that makes me think that we’re in one hell of a ride for the final two issues!
I’ve already said quite a bit to praise Hitch’s art. This is one of those rare books where the writer and artists trust each other to the point that the storytelling is so intertwined – as it should be – and that makes for a fantastic reading experience. I love all of the quiet moments we get throughout The Batman’s Grave, and I wish we could get more of this in other titles. Granted, Hitch is better at sequential storytelling than a lot of artists, and that has to be recognized.
I also love the world-building Hitch creates in characterization or in the background. I often use the words “subtle” and “nuance” when reviewing this title. Many times you see these attributes in the script, but not necessarily in the art. This book manages to bring those elements to both. Ellis has it in his scripts, and then Hitch takes it even further with his art.
- Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch are masters of their craft.
- Batman finally takes the fight to Scorn.
The Batman’s Grave is a smart book. It takes its time, and some readers may not enjoy that on a monthly release schedule, but there is no denying the quality of this title. It’s just a shame that more people aren’t reading it or talking about it. The book deserves your attention because Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch are delivering masterclass work. So, if you’re not reading the floppies, plan to read the trade when it’s released. You won’t be disappointed.