Graveyard shift is the sixth volume in Batman New 52 and follows the phenomenal Zero Year story arc (Secret City and Dark City). This one is more similar to the older modern age collected editions where it’s new different stories rolled into one, all Batman related though as Graveyard Shift is no crossover arc. There are seven separate stories in Volume 6 Graveyard Shift – Bright New Yesterday, Tomorrow, Resolve, Nowhere Man, Gotham Eternal, Meek and Cages. None of the stories connect with each other nor do they follow chronology as they are based at the beginning (Zero Year), middle and end (Eternal) of New 52.
Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift collects Batman #0, #18-#20, #28, #34 and Batman Annual #2.
|Book Name||Graveyard Shift|
|Book Series||Batman, New 52|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Trade Paperback|
|Writer(s)||Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV|
|Artist(s)||Greg Capullo, Alex Maleev|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
|Notable Villains||Will o’ The Wisp, Clayface, Anchoress|
|Chronology Previous||Zero Year – Dark City|
Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift Review
If you’re reading Batman New 52 in order, like I did, then this might be a bit of an awkward stop start moment and Graveyard Shift does not continue the Owls, Death of the Family or Zero Year Storylines. It could be missed if you wanted to or even bought first so you can read the individual storylines as you go along. Either way, that’s the premise here. As it’s a collected edition, it will be reviewed as a whole with the individual storylines reviewed as well. Let’s start with Bright New Yesterday.
Included as part of Batman #0, Bright New Yesterday is a Red Hood storyline where Bruce is very early on in his career and looks at how he is falling short and how to improve. If you’ve read Secret City you’ll be familiar and also wonder why this wasn’t in Secret City from the start rather than here. It’s a very short story and done before Danny Miki took over, the artwork’s great but not as consistent. It’s a decent enough storyline, well paced and Red Hood One is once again a stellar no hold’s barred villain, the only thing wrong if you can even call it ‘wrong’ is that it’s starting a storyline that’s already finished in Zero Year.
Bright New Yesterday is a foreboding adventure where we see how Batman came to the conclusion of adding more gadgets, refining his strategy and works on his attention to detail as Red Hood One outsmarted him and deduced his disguise.
Written by James Tynion IV, Tomorrow is another foreboding issue, and a pretty major one too. One of my favourite issues from Graveyard Shift in terms of the symbolism but definitely not the artwork – I found it scruffy and lacking detail and there’s something about Tim Drake I just didn’t like. However, there’s some special imagery in this book that may make the hair on the back of your neck tingle as you see Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd and Dick Grayson respond to the first ever use of the Bat Signal.
It’s a short and simple story and not really part of anything else despite appearing like a Zero Year tie in. Even though all 4 of them become Batman’s biggest allies the most interesting part is how different they all are. It’s also quite tragic to see Jason Todd as a youngster knowing full well what’s going to happen to him one day and how obvious it was even before he put on a costume that it was going to happen. A good story but artwork lets it down just a little bit in my opinion.
In Graveyard Shift there are a few moment where Batman is grieving the loss of Damian in his own way and how others try to help him get past it, the first is Harper Row in the next story “Resolve“. Batman is
going all out with his anger and rage and running himself into the ground Knightfall-esque. I’m not a big fan of Harper or Cullen as characters and to me they don’t bring anything new to the table, I was also not overly impressed with the way Harper was drawn in a few of the panels with over the top facial expressions and dramatic speeches. However, I did appreciate the side of Batman which can come back from time to time which is over doing it and going it alone when he really could do with help.
This is one of the better stories of Bruce dealing with the loss of Damian though, if you’ve read Incorporated it is probably worth it just for that.
Next up is Nowhere Man which is a two part Clayface storyline which I found to be absolutely excellent. Clayface is back and now he’s evolved to the next level and his shapeshifting abilities enhanced to the point where he needs very little contact to mimic someone else…in this case it’s Bruce Wayne. The bulk of the story is Bruce Wayne trying to clear his own name as Basil Karlo has done some bad things while impersonating him. Once again though, Bruce’s anger over the loss of Damian spills over as Clayface taunts him and forces Batman to break cover as he unleashes frustration towards the captured Karlo. Once again this is a Damian theme storyline and so is the next.
Ghost Lights is a Batman/Superman supernatural storyline as the pair investigate disappearances near a small building. This is the second James Tynion IV written story and you can tell as it doesn’t follow Snyder’s tone – it’s also drawn by Alex Maleev and not Capullo which again adds to the disjointed experience of a collected edition by different writers and artists. I really like it for what is is though, a standalone storyline fighting a supernatural being with the help of a great, great friend. I did feel like Will o’ The Wisp was defeated a little too easily and how the beast ignored Batman for most of the fight seemed little daft.
Ages unfortunately was not a very good issue that has a fair few questionable plot directions and another flash in the pan villain in The Anchoress. At times I felt like a twist was about to happen either with some of the big names in the Asylum but it never materialised. It’s a forgettable issue that will probably never be continued by anyone else, the artwork was also so-so
with nothing standing out demanding your attention. The major plot hole for me is Batman went in there to test the new Tartarus wing which is meant to be impossible to escape from and yet all hell broke loose as soon as he stepped in there – The Anchoress has apparently been waiting for Batman to return for a long time but as we all know he goes in there as often as the inmates do – the whole premise of The Tartarus wing wasn’t thought through very well which does come through when reading. Still, it’s only a small issue so it’s not like it ruins Graveyard Shift.
The Meek has stand out artwork and a gripping storyline akin to the old Legends of the Dark Knight series. Although the context may confuse readers reading Batman New 52 in collected edition order it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that The Meek is a return to form of Batman’s detective skills tracking down a killer, following clues and closing the case. The Meek himself is a forgettable villain but readers will enjoy the pacing of the this issue.
Lastly, Gotham Eternal is a Batman: Eternal tie-in with Batman and Bluebird tracking down the new Kingpin – Selina Kyle. Readers not clued up will be very confused with what’s going on and somewhat disappointed with what Selina has become not knowing the context. This is not a great issue even with the context as it’s got Harper Row in it again who has miraculously gained some excellent fighting skills despite training herself at home. Not only that, in the earlier issue Batman was dead against her joining him and now brings her along. Context can sometimes be important and in this case it is completely missing with no hints from the writer to pick up said issue to get up to speed.
Batman Volume 5: Graveyard Shift is an OK book overall with some good stories and some bad stories. Not a classic which will be re-read. Those who just want to read a good Batman book can skip this without consequence but collectors such as myself will probably be disappointed (only because Batman New 52 has been that good) with this entry.
Graveyard Shift Image Gallery
Last update on 2021-04-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API