Batman: Fortress is a compelling series for anyone tired of continuity, or who wants to see Batman face a threat where the stakes seem higher than ever. Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson set up a scenario where an unknown alien threat is messing with Earth and all the spacefaring heroes are nowhere to be seen. The first issue showed how the series not only feels cinematic, but can take big swings too. In Batman: The Fortress #2, out today, those big swings take center stage as Batman and the Justice League take the fight against the alien threat.
As the cover and preview show, Batman takes to a jet as the alien threat is high up above the Indian Ocean. By Batman’s side is Hawkman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman. Early on, Whitta makes it clear Superman and all Green Lanterns are mysteriously absent, but with the threat costing lives by the minute the Justice League must act.
The alien threat has taken out all power sources but hasn’t said a peep about what they want from Earth. That sends the Justice League and a bunch of the world’s armies at the giant floating egg with an attack that hopefully returns a response. Much of this issue is that conflict, which spurs some major losses for the heroes, and puts Batman in an even tougher position by the end of the issue.
To say this book takes some big bold swings would be an understatement. From major deaths to character wrinkles like Flash coming off as a predator or Aquaman being afraid of heights, this issue goes hard. That’s exciting since anything can happen and characterizations can even be wildly different from continuity. This series lives by its own rules which you don’t often see with DC Comics titles. Hardcore fans may find these characterizations off-putting, but if you let go of what you know and run with it you can see it’s a unique perspective.
If you like Robertson’s style you’ll love this issue, which mostly takes place during the day — a stark contrast to the first issue set mostly at night. Colors by Diego Rodriguez lift up lighting throughout the issue, whether it’s fire or explosions. Known for adult-themed superhero books like The Boys, it’s cool to see him get to enact his level of violence with mainline heroes like this. Robertson draws a mean jet, too, which is good since there are a lot of them in this issue. Details on the surface of the water and the Batplane all look sharp as well.
Two blips in the art did throw me off, however. One involves a sequence looking backward, where I think you’re intended to read the panels left to right, but upwards which is slightly confusing. The other is a minor panel of Batman’s face that looks much too gaunt compared to his face in other pages.
As far as the story goes, this issue does move rather slowly, but has a lot of answers in its final scene. This scene allows Robertson to have fun with weird alien shapes while Whitta reveals the cause for the conflict. It ends up paying off readers who were patient with the first issue.
Batman: The Fortress #2 is the kind of edgy DC Comics story you daydreamed about as a kid. The bottom line is it’s bold and cinematic. It makes bold choices with characterization and the level of violence while setting up a situation where Batman is truly running out of options. It also continues to feel cinematic and may even be setting the stage for a Batman vs. Superman battle that makes a lot more sense than the film to boot.
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