Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Bryan Hitch
Published by DC Comics
Warren Ellis continues his Batman limited series in a fashion where detective novel meets eulogy.
Batman is tasked with investigating the apparent suicide of a corrupt politician.
Of course, there is more at play as detective work goes hand and hand with Alfred’s constant plea for Bruce to provide Gotham P.D. with the resources to do the work of the Batman.
Alfred fears an early grave for the Dark Knight and provides heartfelt wisdom with his cautionary appeal for Bruce to lead a normal life.
The idea of Bruce not being able to keep this up forever is an element that is rather unsettling because no one wants to think of a world without Batman. Here, Warren Ellis makes the argument more informative than merely throwing the bare facts in the reader’s face that their hero is mortal. Alfred jokes about using cocaine to keep long hours, much to Bruce’s dismay.
In return, Alfred mentions the stimulant Bruce keeps in his utility belt to stay away. In the real world, a crime-fighting vigilante would require pharmaceutical aid.
Again, it’s a stark reminder applied in narrative form to augment the conversation.
Ellis and Bryan Hitch always work well in tandem. This time, they took turns driving the story. A crime scene investigation turns deadly when an unknown assailant gets the jump on Batman and takes him to the woodshed. There is no dialog and no pow, boom, or crash word balloons to boost the gravity of the situation. Hitch’s artwork is allowed to speak for itself with detailed visuals of physical struggle and darkened atmosphere blanketing the page.
After the tense battle, Ellis retakes the wheel and takes Batman into the mind of the victim in an attempt to piece together the details he missed in his prior investigation. The use of facts, medical history, financial records, and the victim’s dexterity made for a compelling read. It’s not a process that comes naturally to Bruce, which makes it more rewarding when evidence is found in discovery.
The Batman’s Grave doesn’t have a central villain or a storyline that will eventually lead to a dangerous plot to destroy Gotham. It’s much more. The delicacy of Ellis and Hitch’s approach to the subject of Bruce’s extracurricular activity is the book’s overarching theme. Each outing has gotten more difficult for Batman. If that trend continues, well, we’re only in the third issue. Nine more investigations with increasing danger make a strong case that Alfred might have the right idea after all.