Can the Dark Knight Stop an Invasion of Earth?
The lights are out in Gotham City. Something sinister is afoot. As the Dark Knight wrestles with the unfolding enigma, the situation grows worse! Suddenly the entire world is plunged into Blackout. What can it be? To solve this potentially cataclysmic dilemna, the Dark Knight must look to the skies for answers. Aliens?
First up, let me say I absolutely love both covers for this issue. Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez are responsible for the artwork of Cover A, found below. Batman is standing before his monitor array, shoulders slightly hunched, watching as the worldwide drama unfolds before him. An excellent foreshadowing the apocalyptic events about to occur wthin the pages of the issue.
The variant cover, by Doaly, is brilliant in a different way. We all know that Batman lives for his city, his heart beats for Gotham. The pollution, corruption, and seething evil are the adrenaline that pumps through his veins and keeps him sharp, alert, and ready for action. Doaly masterfuly captures this theme by literally merging Gotham into Batman! The whole right side of his bust is the city. He is truly one with Gotham. Brilliant! Interestingly, the right side of the brain is the more visual side. It processes information at a more intuitive level. Perhaps why the artist chose the right side of Batman to be Gotham. Gotham is what he sees, it is what povides him his intuition for danger. But then again, maybe I’m reading way too much into the piece. Either way, it’s an epic piece of art.
For the few weeks prior to the release of this new limited issue Batman series, I must have seriously been living under a rock, because I only found out about it a few days prior to its release on 24 May. Of course I wasted no time and immediately ordered it online (since there are no local comic book stores anywhere near my area).
The story starts with a citywide blackout in Gotham. Attempting to take advantage of the darkness and lack of security systems, a gang of dimwitted thieves break into Wayne Manor in an attempt to nick as many valuables as possible. Including, apparently, a fifty grand salt shaker!
But of course, Bruce and the ever-present Alfred, foil their plans.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon is having troubles of his own. Not only does the power loss mean all communications between cops is down, but the Bat Signal isn’t working! He has to jury-rig it with car batteries!
Back at the Batcave, Alfred reveals that break-ins and Gotham with no power are actually the least of their troubles. It seems Gotham isn’t the only city with no power! It’s spreading. Worldwide!
One of the things I’m loving about returning to the Batman universe is seeing the evolution of the Batcave over time and spotting pieces of Batman’s artifact collection that we’ve all come to know and love. And Fortress #1 doesn’t disapoint. The good old T-Rex, which first appeared in Batman #10 on 7 Feb, 1942, makes a sneaky appearance in the background of one panel.
The giant penny, which first appeared in World’s Finest Comics #30 in 1947, makes an appearance.
While on the subject of the Batcave, Fortress definitely brings it on the tech front. Batman’s control station is freakin’ awesome! It bristles with an acceptably cool overabundance of monitors and desktop delights. It’s a visual feast. I was very impressed.
Returning to the story for a moment, the very clever power loss plot mechanic enables the, albeit, short appearance of a handful of Batman’s arch-enemies. The security at Arkham Asylum has shut down. Oh dear! Enter Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin and the maniacally dangerous fiend, The Joker!
My one criticism of this first installment, and it’s only small, is the rather expedient nature in which Batman rounds up these cunning foes. Perhaps a bit too quick? But then again, this story has a different, perhaps otherworldly, premise, so it was probably for the best not get carried away with these tiny subplots. But being a fan of The Joker, I always wanna see more of him!
It is while the bad guys are being rounded up that another potential subplot reveals itself. Batman inquires on a few occasions, where is Superman? He seems strangely missing during what can only be described as a global catastrophe.
Picture if you will, ALL power EVERYWHERE going out! I tried to and couldn’t even begin to imagine the scale of such a disaster. I was truly terrified at the thought! Kudos to Gary Witta, the writer, for imagining such a scary notion. But does the mention of the caped crusader mean he’ll make an appearance in this story? Is he, being of alien origin himself, somehow linked to this global phenomena? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Before ploughing into my conclusions I have a couple honourable cool moments to mention. First up is Commissioner Gordon’s passing reference to The Purge movie franchise. A very nice little “real world” touch.
Next up is a funky Alfred moment. When discussing the Wayne-owned satellite feeds, Alfred suggests the satellites be called Batellites. I really like this sudden moment of humour during what is shaping up to be a calamitous time in history.
Batman gifting Alfred a souvenir T-shirt commemorating the blackout is a corny, but very cool, final touch of levity. Made me chuckle!
Overall, I reckon this is an awesome introduction to a new series. Old villains return with a bang, however briefly. The citywide, then worldwide power outage is a truly scary prelude of things to come. We can only imagine the horrors about to unfold. Gary Witta’s writing is tight and inspired, and backed up by some great artwork. I especially enjoyed seeing the Batcave control station in action. Watching Batman and Alfred watching the dire worldwide events unfold on the multiple screens turns the control station into a vital character. And of course the appearance of Fido in the Batcave is noteworthy. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Until next time…