Batman: Fortress #1 Review: Lights Out For Gotham

Batman: Fortress ironically enough is the second mini-series in recent memory that features the Dark Knight fighting in a Gotham City that loses power, but whereas Jock's Batman: One Dark Knight focuses on a more personal story featuring the Caped Crusader dealing with one villain, Whitta and Robertson's story examines a threat overtaking the whole world. With the opening salvo of this eight-issue long maxi-series, it's clear that both the writer and the artist have a firm grasp on all things Batman and use this to tell a solid and intriguing first chapter.

Whitta clearly has a good understanding of the characters of Gotham City that he's working with here, as the dialogue between Gotham's inhabitants, especially when it comes to Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock, really does well at showing where each person stands on a blacked-out Gotham. Where Whitta tends to stumble in this story is more with Batman's inner monologue, which has always been a key part of Bruce Wayne's fight for justice but feels a bit long in the tooth here. I'm all for Bruce Wayne commenting on the troubles that are inherent in our modern society, but it felt somewhat out of place considering the circumstances. 

As mentioned earlier, this series focuses on not just Batman running through a blacked-out Gotham City but also having to handle the chaos from some of his main villains that have escaped from Arkham Asylum as a result. We get brief flashes of the Dark Knight taking down both Penguin and Joker, which are neat action bits, though again, Whitta falls into the trap of making the quick bout between Batman and Joker once again dip into the question of whether Bruce should kill the Joker and it does feel like ground that has been better tread elsewhere. While never explained, there is something quite unnerving about the Penguin attempting to drown a woman in the sea and that worked in terms of pushing how scary Cobblepot can be. On top of this, the Earth losing power is clearly being caused by something not of this Earth, and the mystery of Superman's location are interesting hooks for sure.

Where Fortress' writing really shines is in its character exchanges, with the history between Batman, his allies, and his enemies seeming as natural as slipping into a warm bath; it's familiar and welcoming with the backdrop of a far more foreign overture to Bruce's typical adventures. 

Darick Robertson's art is the shining star of Batman: Fortress, with Robertson having talked in the past about his love of all things Batman and it truly shines through in this new series. With Robertson being a legendary artist in the realm of comic books, having worked on the likes of The Boys, Transmetropolitan, and X-Men, it's clear he possesses an amazing handle on the Dark Knight and company. The action scenes work well but Robertson's work with emotions here really helps the issue shine – capturing the darkness of Bruce Wayne outside of the cape and cowl, the insanity of the Joker, and the overall exhaustion of Commissioner Gordon.

Batman: Fortress doesn't break the wheel in terms of revealing new hidden truths about Bruce Wayne or unforeseen secrets about the history of Gotham City, but what it does do is tell an enjoyable story of the Dark Knight facing a problem that isn't usually in his wheelhouse and sometimes, that can be enough.

Published by DC Comics

On May 24, 2022

Written by Gary Whitta

Art by Darick Robertson

Colors by Diego Rodriguez

Letters by Simon Bowland

Cover by Darick Robertson