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‘The Batman’s Grave #12’ (review)

Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Bryan Hitch
Published by DC Comics

 

Over the last twelve months, Warren Ellis has been teasing the idea that Batman might finally make it to the grave.

Examining cases from a murderer’s and victim’s perspective while Alfred urges retirement has put the Dark Knight’s crime-fighting exploits into question.

Scorn’s war on Gotham City’s criminal justice system comes to ahead as Batman believes he must adopt a criminal profile to defeat what is essentially his evil doppelganger.

Bryan Hitch’s detailed artwork is the MVP of this series. However, Warren Ellis doesn’t have much to say. Often, Hitch’s illustrations do most of the talking as word balloons are few and far between.

This final chapter is the most egregious account of a near-silent narrative from Ellis.

Little is spoken, bringing a surprising act from Batman as he taunts Scorn by making fun of his dead parents. Yep, you read that right.

It seems a little harsh that Batman would use the tragedy that defined him to insult someone else.

Then again, this is something a bad guy would do, which is the objective here. An explosion severely injures Batman, and Alfred is frantically concerned for his health, leading to an ambiguous conclusion that is a little too on the nose.

On the one hand, an ambiguous ending doesn’t matter because the story isn’t canon. On the other hand, a story where readers have spent $48.00 over twelve issues deserves a definitive ending.

While open-ended conclusions can increase a story’s overall creative ingenuity, this ending here is poorly executed. I’m not sure if the allegations against Ellis over the summer affected his work here, but his voice faded with each installment as Bryan Hitch did the heavy lifting. Speaking of Hitch, his stellar artwork in this series is an excellent example of the kind of visual excellence he could bring to a mainline Batman book. If anything else, his work here proves he deserves the opportunity.

Ultimately, Ellis and Hitch produce an intriguing concept that starts strong enough but hits the wall halfway through and never recovers. Much like this issue, The Batman’s Grave is a series you’ll forget by the turn of the final page.

Rating: C

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