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The Batman’s Grave #1 (DC Comics)
Naturally DC’s got another Batman title ready to go, but The Batman’s Grave mixes up the formula in a lot of ways. For starters, the creative team of Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch make this series stand out from the other Batman titles in interesting ways, and the story is a slightly darker, detective driven tale. Focusing more on the mystery solving side of the character than the superhero side, Batman’s Grave is a good twist on the Dark Knight that may not be completely necessary, but it is pretty intriguing.
While on patrol, Batman comes across a police scanner feed and begins to investigate a mysterious murder in an apartment. The victim is found lying dead on his fold out couch, his entire place cleaned and devoid of fingerprints or other DNA. On the walls however, are five years worth of newspaper clippings detailing the career of the Batman. As he begins to investigate this man’s mysterious demise, Batman has to wonder what role, if any, he played in this man’s death, and if it will happen again.
As I mentioned before, Batman’s Grave is way more in the vein of a Batman mystery than a Batman superhero story, and it’s a pretty refreshing change of pace from the Batman stories we’ve been getting for the past few years. At the same time, there are a few moments where Warren Ellis’ script comes off a little strange, namely in his inner monologue for Bruce Wayne/Batman. Having Bruce refer to himself as “The Batman” when he’s not in costume is a little odd, as are his interactions with Alfred, who is far more argumentative with Bruce than he’s ever been.
Bryan Hitch’s rested on his laurels as an artist in recent years, but with Batman’s Grave he’s back to his usual self. The cinematic style is back in full force, and very few of his panels look stiff and awkward like his previous work on JLA. After so many years of being somewhat unimpressed by his style on recent books, Batman’s Grave is a great return to form for one of the artists who changed the look of comics in the early and mid 00’s.
Batman fans looking for a really cool mystery will find a lot to like with Batman’s Grave, and it’s nice to see a creative team decide to really dig into the Dark Knight’s detective skills. While it remains to be seen how the rest of this miniseries will shape up, I’ll be checking in on the next few issues to see if it lives up to the potential set in this first issue.