When all the lights in Gotham go out, you want the superhero who’s at home in the shadows to keep you safe. That’s how Batman: Fortress #1 begins, and the darkness only grows from there. Brought to you by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson, Batman: Fortress is an eight-issue limited series that shouldn’t be missed.
Fortress promises to tell a large-stakes story on a global scale, but its compelling first issue is all about how Batman handles one of his darkest nights yet. So, while it may be unwelcomed by a hero known to work best after the sun goes down, for the sake of the rest of us, let’s shed some light on Batman: Fortress #1.
Short version: He’s Batman. He’s undaunted.
At first it seems like a regular citywide blackout on any other night. That’s usually enough to bring out some would-be burglars, but it’s nothing for a veteran hero like Bruce Wayne to worry about…until Alfred informs him that the power outage is worldwide.
An alien ship hovering in the atmosphere is disrupting communications and electricity across the globe. (Of course, the Batcave has backup power to run scans and investigate what’s causing the blackout. I told you, he’s Batman.) Bruce deems it a hostile attack against the planet. So where is Earth’s steadfast defender? Why hasn’t Superman swooped in to save the day when he’s needed the most? The M.O.S. is MIA.
Meanwhile in Gotham, the GCPD finds a clever way to light the Batsignal. Not because the Dark Knight isn’t aware of what’s happening, but more as a warning to wannabe criminals to stop what they’re doing because he’s on his way. But when Batman starts his patrol of the streets, he chooses to leave the looters be in a striking panel that reveals how well Whitta and Robertson understand the hero.
Big screen TVs and other such shiny objects are worthless to Batman, who doesn’t give a batarang about looting. “These places all have insurance,” he monologues. “Not my job to protect their profit margins.”
The page highlights the real reason he’s out night after night—it’s the innocent people that he really cares about. “This is why I dress up as a bat,” he says.
Speaking of dressing as a bat, I have to give a quick shout-out to Darick Robertson’s gray and black Batsuit and its yellow utility belt. Simple. Classic.
Alarmingly, Batman’s problems are just beginning. The cells at Arkham Asylum opened when the power went out, so the Dark Knight concentrates on finding his rogues gallery somewhere in Gotham. As in, his entire rogues gallery. They’ve been unleashed on the unsuspecting citizens and the clock’s ticking. Batman spends the bulk of the night searching for the escaped super-villains in memorable, action-packed scenes. He saves countless lives.
After the exhausting first night of the blackout, the World’s Greatest Detective still has the biggest mystery yet to solve. Where is Superman? The Batcave computer can’t locate him, and it can only be bad news if Superman is absent when an interstellar threat looms. It’s time to call in the rest of the Justice League and start fighting back against the apparent invaders…in the next issue.
While the puzzle surrounding Superman drives the overall plot, Batman: Fortress #1 makes it clear that it’s Batman who’s the star of the show. This quick peek into his crimefighting philosophy is an intriguing one. The witty book also throws out quips with Bruce Wayne’s dry humor here and there, masterfully rounding out his personality. Also, Alfred, who’s still alive in this out-of-continuity book. There’s a lot of Alfred here and that’s always a good thing.
All in all, this is a strong start to a standalone series that promises to forever change how we think about the Last Son of Krypton. In other words, Bat-fans, this is a book your fortress shouldn’t be without.
Batman: Fortress #1 by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson is now available in print and as a digital comic book.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.