Over the course of the past 80 years, Batman has pretty much done everything under the sun, Comic books, television shows, cartoon, and major motion pictures have seen the Dark Knight be a masked vigilante, a warrior against incoming invasions, a member of the Justice League, an astronaut, an urban legend and most importantly, a detective.
However, Batman's detective skills usually seem to find their way to the storytelling back-burner, even though the character first appeared and still stars in a series called Detective Comics. The Batman's Grave #1 is a reminder as to why we refer to Batman as the World's Greatest Detective.
Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch are the team behind The Authority, a comic that basically redefined the comic book superhero genre. With topical stories and complex heroes and villains facing off against end of the world scenarios informed from conspiracy theories and fringe science, The Authority made superhero comics feel like blockbuster cinema. The impact of that comic reverberated around the superhero genre, directly informing or inspiring many of the next decade's greatest titles.
While The Authority helped birth the "widescreen comics" movement." Since this period, styles and storytelling methods have changed and adapted with the times, but the practice of making the act of reading a comic feel like going to a big screen spectacle is still alive, even if its not quite as prominent as it once was.
The Batman's Grave #1 isn't an immediate return to the "widescreen comics" style, but it does lay down the groundwork to do so. This issue, the first of a 12-part maxi-series, taps into current pop culture tropes, specifically from TV crime procedurals, and applies them to a character who has never really been subjected to them. The Batman's Grave digs into the unqiue methods Batman uses to solve cases. To achieve that effect, Ellis and Hitch employ a rather unique visual representation of Bruce Wayne's forensic skills which blends elements from the television show Hannibal and standard Sherlock Holmes-esque sleuthing.
The execution of The Batman's Grave #1 is second to none. Ellis hasn't lost his touch when writing broad ideas funneled through nuanced characters. His take on Alfred and his rather catty perspective on his surrogate son's crusade against crime are especially well-conceived and bluntly realistic. Hitch hasn't gone full "widescreen" in this issue, but there are some gorgeous big panels when they are needed for effect.
This comic is especially effective in its print format. When compared to the version available digitally, the page turns of the print version are far more effective in unmasking the story's visual story reveals (and boy are there some doozies).
The Batman's Grave#1 may not be for every Batman fan, but for readers who are looking to see the Dark Knight actually do some detective work in a well written, gorgeously illustrated book by some of the most talented creators in the industry, then this book is for you. This comic is for every Batman fan. If you have been aching to see more of the most overlooked aspect of Batman explored, this comic scratches that itch in astounding fashion. The Batman's Grave celebrates the Cape Crusader's most important attribute by showing us why he's known as the World's Greatest Detective.