The Batman’s Grave #1 – Review
First, I have to say that I love when we refer to him as “The Batman.” I also love when high-profile writers, known for different takes on characters try on one of the iconic characters. Warren Ellis is amazing on his own, but pairing him once again with Bryan Hitch, well, you know I’m gonna read it.
Batman’s Grave #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Kevin Nowlan
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Cover Art: Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover: Jeehyung Lee
The World’s Greatest Detective must try to inhabit the mind of a murder victim to solve a case-without filling the empty grave next to those of his parents. Can Batman imagine the life of a corpse with a half-eaten face without dying himself?
Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, one of the most legendary creative partnerships of the modern age, reunite in this maxiseries about life, death and the questions most are too afraid to ask.
It’s about time that I read a Batman story where he’s a detective! Like I said, when a high-profile writer gets hold of an iconic character, it’s something special. This first issue doesn’t feature a costumed villain. It’s Batman trying to figure out a crime scene. Of course, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch give us a classic Batman stopping street level criminals.
The murder mystery rides a subtext of Alfred bracing himself for the inevitable night when something kills Batman. From the opening narration where Alfred tends to three headstones, two for Bruce’s parents and one for their son to eventually use, we see this knowledge that Alfred will bury Bruce Wayne. He self-medicates with alcohol. He confronts Bruce with the irony that he could simply use his millions to contribute to ways to help the poor of Gotham City and keep them from resorting to crime.
It’s an argument that many have made. There is a part of Bruce’s psyche that he believes that Joe Chill and other criminals made the choice to resort to crime. It’s no coincidence that Bruce escapes the conversation by saying that he’s going to work this case by thinking like the victim. Batman simply can’t think like a killer because he’s not a killer. By continuing his war on criminals, he remains the victim of a crime that happened decades before. Alfred sees that it’s leading him closer and closer to that empty grave next to his parents.
The artwork is exquisite as anyone would expect from Bryan Hitch. What is amazing is the amount of effort that is put into the environments. This is a room in Wayne Manor. This a little one-room apartment in one of the poorest sections of Gotham City. Even an alley feels like a real place, dirty and cluttered. Alex Sinclair keeps the colors muted but not dark. The garden at Wayne Manor isn’t lush and emerald green. Although it’s manicured and well-tended, it is still a dreary place.
What keeps it form being a perfect comic book? The conclusion at the end takes a broad leap of deduction. Alfred voices the argument that Bruce Wayne’s money could do more good than Batman’s war on criminals. This shows the reader how bad Batman is at what he sets out to do. It wouldn’t surprise me if this gets drummed home by Warren Ellis in later issues. It also wouldn’t surprise me if poor, dead Vince Stannik has figured this out in his journal. Stay up on this series, especially if you’re a fan of Batman.
Final Rating: 9.0 (out of 10)