“I can’t think like a killer, Alfred. I can only think like the victim.”
There are decades upon decades of stories that feature the Batman and his most important supporting character, Gotham City. The Batman’s Grave, a 12-issue maxi-series, may retread some aspects of Bruce Wayne’s public life and alter ego, but it does so in an insightful, and sometimes gut punching, manner. The debut, written by Warren Ellis of Planetary and The Authority fame and penciled by Bryan Hitch who made himself a superstar of superhero comics with The Ultimates, sets up an interesting murder mystery for Batman to solve.
Another important supporting character here is Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce’s butler who clearly is exhausted from Batman’s nightly excursions and the inevitable pain that will be his resulting death from the work. It’s in this “father and son” relationship that the book really finds its ground, and again, while it’s something we’ve seen before in Batman lore, the emotional groundwork resonates.
At this comics' heart is a murder mystery with Bruce attempting to discover who killed a lonely man living a sad life in his tiny apartment. The final panel makes for an excellent clincher to make sure readers return. Ellis and Hitch are old partners as a creative team, responsible for the creation of the popular super hero team, The Authority. It’s clear that they haven’t missed a step with this new take on the Caped Crusader, especially with Hitch supplying some of the best art work of his entire career.
Ellis’ dialogue is clearly his own here, as in most of his works you can always hear the curt, straight forward writer letting his thoughts out onto the page. The opening line quoted at the start of this write-up clearly shows Warren's understanding of Bruce as a character. Though the concept of Batman may be steeped in shadow, Bruce is completely unable to place himself into the shoes of a murderer, which is either a conscious choice or simply impossible for him to do. It speaks volumes and is a nice character beat.
If you’re looking for a stand alone Batman story that combines one of the greatest dynamic duo’s in comics’ history, give The Batman’s Grave a read. We’re certainly looking forward to reading the twelve issue series all in one go.
Published by DC Comics
On October 9, 2019
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Bryan Hitch
Inks by Kevin Nowlan
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Letters by Richard Starkings
Cover by Bryan Hitch & Alex Sinclair