The Batman’s Grave #3 – Warren Ellis, Writer; Bryan Hitch, Penciller; Kevin Nowlan, Inker; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Ray: This is one of the strangest Batman series I’ve read in a while, because it’s essentially two comics in one that don’t particularly click together. Sometimes it’s a stage play in the Batcave as Bruce and Alfred play off each other, other times it’s a silent ballet of violence as Batman takes on random villains in extended multi-page fight scenes. It feels like a strange sandwich at times, which is a shame because the dialogue in the framing segments is excellent. I don’t know if Ellis knew that DC would be killing off Alfred shortly, because this almost feels like it’s scolding them for that decision based on how entertaining their banter is. Alfred pokes holes in Bruce’s tough exterior, prods him on how he can be better at his job, and shares the frustrations only he can. The main case this issue, involving the murder of a mob-connected businessman, leads to Batman casing out a murder scene and finding major inconsistencies in the evidence.
And then a jacked-up henchman who looks a lot like Bane but says nothing drops down from the rafters and attacks, and the next half of the issue is devoted to the two of them smacking each other around until Batman manages to set off an explosion and escape. The issue seems to be building up a mystery around the identity of this villain, but he just seemed like a random Alpha Mook to me. The central mystery turns out to involve a shady psychiatrist, and the scenes involving Bruce’s unique detective skills are strong. I particularly like the way he puts himself in the place of victims and perpetrators to interpret and predict their moves. It feels very Batman, more than anything else in the issue, but a lot of the things surrounding it feel like a distraction. Ellis has always been an offbeat writer, and it feels like this comic is half him spotlighting his writing, half spotlighting Hitch’s brilliant art. But I’m not sure they work as a single comic.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.