OK, normally I try to limit myself to one issue at a time, and I won’t let myself read the next issue until after I’ve written up the previous one, but I have been enjoying this mini-series a little too much to let that slide a bit. Besides, these two issues read better as one long one.
Issues: Batman: Fortress #6&7, October/November 2022
Writer: Gary Whitta
Artist: Darick Robertson
The Plot: Batman and his team plot their break into the Fortress of Solitude.
Commentary: OK, if I am being honest, so far the back half of this eight issue mini-series has not worked as well for me as the front half. It’s not bad or anything, but it could be a heck of a lot better. The problem for me is the actual break-in to the Fortress isn’t as interesting as the other things Batman has been doing. This is still very much a Superman story with Batman in the lead. And there are some good points along the way. Whitta’s script shows Batman’s superpowered allies one by one being eliminated, none fatally, but all in ways to essentially make the powerless. Alien squirrel Green Lantern D’ayl’s ring loses its charge, Luthor’s powersuit’s strength enhancer burn out lifting a large metal door long enough for everyone to get through, and Jackson Hyde was subdued for a period by some kind of alien cocoon.
I’m still not sure why Batman took Emiko Queen over her brother Oliver unless it was so she can make a comment when Jackson refers to the others as white people since she’s Asian.
And there are still some nice character moments. Luthor, thinking he’s about to die at one point, confesses what looks like is a measure of respect to Batman only to turn it at the last minute, something Batman agrees with. Luthor stops to explain first why Superman isn’t very smart, but then later clarifies when he says Superman isn’t stupid but simply his intelligence is not in proportion with his other powers. And there’s a very nice moment when Krypto the Superdog shows up.
There’s also an over reliance on Phantom Zone tech to act as deterrents. Yes, it makes sense that Superman would use those, but they seemed to be connected to half the traps and puzzles. Likewise, the fact it took two issues to get this far seems to suggest more pacing issues. I like how Whitta writes Batman’s interactions with the rest of the DC Universe, and most of the character work has been pretty good, but at the same time, his action sequences leave a bit more to be desired.
The second of the two issues ends with the answers Batman may have been looking for as to why the aliens want Superman, where Superman is, and a philosophical clash between Luthor and Batman over what to do with that knowledge. Luthor thinks he can use it to lord over Superman. Batman thinks Superman should not be judged by what his ancestors did and he had no part in.
What will come of all this? Well, there’s only one issue left, and Superman hasn’t offered an explanation yet for how much he did and didn’t know. A good conclusion could make this whole series work a lot better for me even if I have largely enjoyed the issues that have come so far.