For more, read our preview of the issue.
If we’re lucky, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch will create Batman stories forever. The action in The Batman’s Grave is well-choreographed and brutal, the attention to detective details is absorbing, and the pacing will have you hanging on to every panel. It’s great storytelling wrapped in a Batman blanket and I can’t get enough. In the last issue, Batman brutally beat down bad guys in a clinical sort of way. This week, he’s off to Arkham Asylum to do a little detective work. Expect more broken bones, people!
This issue opens with James Gordon with a bit of a pep in his step thanks to getting some intel he knows Batman doesn’t have. It’s a nice moment that shows a bit of history between the two as well as a realistic take on Gordon needing an ego boost after Batman mops the floor with him on details. This is just the first of many great character interactions with Batman as he enters Arkham and encounters a variety of characters. We’re talking the head of Arkham himself to the grunts who mop the floors. Every interaction has a bit of air between the characters where you’ll be wondering what Batman and the other person facing him might be thinking. This issue, and the series as a whole, is an expert example of how giving characters space without captions filling the page or a 9-panel grid can actually open up the book for interpretation and expand the story within the story.
This issue is another example of how well crafted the detective elements come into play. More than once I stopped and noted something to ensure I was following the subverted plots going on. This makes the action more rewarding–and there’s plenty of it–thanks to the complexity of the story underneath it all.
The action continues to be brutal and surgical, so if you like Batman smashing skulls you’ll love this. I continue to marvel at how Hitch is able to draw your eye to the placement of a hand — you move along to the next panel and you can see how Batman pulled and punched in a natural way. A few times I had to go back and follow the movements so as to follow the well thought out choreography and really appreciate the work being put in to make the action flow. Props must go to Alex Sinclair’s colors, which do a lot to make rooms feel warm or cold throughout this issue. You get a literal temperature of the room thanks to Sinclair’s work here.
This series continues to prove a high budget TV show would work if given plots that seem thin, but are in fact detailed in their production and sub plotting. Hitch and Ellis continue to amaze me at how layered you can make a comic while on the surface it all looks so simple.
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