The Batman’s Grave #5 – Warren Ellis, Writer; Bryan Hitch, Artist; Kevin Nowlan, Inker; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The pacing of this series continues to be rather strange, but when it’s on it works surprisingly well. Now that Dr. Hellfern has been captured, it’s time in Batman’s Grave #5 for Batman to pay a visit to his new home – Arkham Asylum. After being summoned there by Jim Gordon via the Bat-signal, he’s greeted by Jeremiah Arkham – a morally ambiguous figure at the best of times. Here he seems on the surface to be reliable – he’s a kindly man who takes his patients’ welfare seriously. But there are some cracks under the surface. He won’t let anyone refer to him as anything but Jeremiah, and he keeps insisting that he has a room prepped for Batman when he finally admits he needs help. It almost feels like he’s trying to goad him into proving himself insane. But he cooperates when Batman and Gordon need to interrogate Flamingo for information on the mysterious new villain group known as the Scorn Army.
That’s when things take a surprising turn, as Flamingo turns out not to be the threat. It’s agents of the Scorn Army, undercover in Arkham working as orderlies. That turns the issue into a tense, action-packed fight scene reminiscent of high-intensity martial arts movies in close quarters like “The Raid”, as Batman and Gordon fight their way out.
I’m not quite sure about the portrayal of the relationship between the two of them here – feels a little too caustic at times, but then the same could be said about Alfred. Maybe that’s just Warren Ellis’ writing aesthetic. But Batman’s Grave #5 has one last great twist as it becomes clear the main target of the villains isn’t Batman, but Gordon. Ellis seems to be building to a slow-burn confrontation between Batman and this new cult of enemies, but when the title does show off its action chops, it delivers some of the best action on the stands.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.