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'Batman: Fortress' #1 feels mature and cinematic
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‘Batman: Fortress’ #1 feels mature and cinematic

Batman vs. an alien threat, who ya got?

One of the most iconic Batman stories of my youth was Batman vs. Predator. It was raw, felt dangerous, and perfectly exemplified the coolness of sci-fi for anyone growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. Enter Batman: Fortress #1, a new series by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson that’s out this week. It’s not using licensed aliens this time, but an alien threat that is ominous and attacking all of Earth. Of course, Batman is the only person standing in their way of total domination.

Or so it seems in the first issue. This first issue is largely setup for the oncoming threat, so don’t expect a ton of answers. Instead, Whitta and Roberson are exploring the beginning moments of some kind of threat. Think of Stephen Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and how weird things were happening–in this case power is lost in Gotham–and familiar characters like Alfred, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon aren’t sure what is going on. We as the audience just know it’s probably bad, and there’s anxiety around Batman unsure about how big a threat he’s facing.

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It’s not made clear if this story is outside of canon, although it is obvious it’s not taking place at the same time as other DC Comics right now. There’s also a look and feel to the book through dialogue and art that feels more akin to the movies. Alfred and Bruce have a unique and clearly close relationship while villains like Penguin aren’t quite their comics selves. There’s an adult modern feel to the narrative that is more akin to the cinematic universe.

It is made obvious other heroes aren’t around. Superman is a key character Batman is actively looking for, which does make one wonder if he’s somehow related to the alien threat. He is an alien himself, after all.

Batman: Fortress #1

Never touch the pearls.
Credit: DC Comics

In one particular scene, there’s a great set of captions by Whitta explaining how Batman doesn’t care about looters. It’s not his job to protect property and it makes a lot of sense. Batman is also clever in this story as he battles the fallout of humans reacting to uncertainty as well as dealing with A-lister villains.

There’s a lot of dialogue in multiple scenes allowing the characters to come alive through their words. Somewhat surprisingly Batman uses phrases like “Call ’em” and more casual words like “that’ll” in his speech. It makes him feel a little less certain than we’re accustomed to, but it also sounds more human and natural.

Robertson draws a heck of a dark book with great use of shadow for drama and atmosphere. It’s a dark book and that ties into the story too, but it has a shadowy noir feel because of it as well. Diego Rodriguez colors the issue, giving Batman a slight blue looking costume. Props to Robertson for apparently designing a new batmobile that you won’t see coming.

Letters by Simon Bowland are good at keeping the word balloons easy to read even when they’re practically covering a third of a panel. Clearly, Robertson was aware of the amount of dialogue as word balloons never look unnaturally placed.

Batman: Fortress #1 captures a modern and adult feel for the way Batman speaks and thinks. It also sets up an ominous threat that feels challenging and way above what Batman usually combats. The heavier use of dialogue and lack of substantial answers does lessen some of the excitement, but the book feels certain in its approach and just needs a bit of patience as the story unfolds in the next issue.

'Batman: Fortress' #1 feels mature and cinematic
‘Batman: Fortress’ #1 feels mature and cinematic
Batman: Fortress #1
Batman: Fortress #1 captures a modern and adult feel for the way Batman speaks and thinks. It also sets up an ominous threat that feels challenging and way above what Batman usually combats. The heavier use of dialogue and lack of substantial answers does lessen some of the excitement, but the book feels certain in its approach and just needs a bit of patience as the story unfolds in the next issue.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.5
Good character writing by Whitta
A noir looking book steeped in shadow
The ominous threat of aliens is unmistakable
The heavier dialogue supplies character work, but also slows things down
Doesn't quite hit the hook of the series just yet
8.5
Great
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