Writer: Gary Whitta
Art: Darick Robertson, Diego Rodriguez, and Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 27th, 2022
With the future of the planet resting on their shoulders, Batman and Lex Luthor must gather a group with the aptitude to bust into the Fortress of Solitude. However, with a nationwide blackout and the Justice League neutered, what hodgepodge of heroes will this unlikely duo be able to put together? Let’s dive into Batman: Fortress #5 by Gary Whitta and find out!
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If you’ve been following my reviews of Batman: Fortress, you’d notice that I’ve been digging the run so far. It’s been unique, interesting, and balanced with some clever twists. At the very least, it’s grabbed my attention giving this fan something in the Batman category to look forward to each month. Nevertheless, part of the way through Batman: Fortress #3 and into issue #4, the story began to flatline. We haven’t seen much from the alien invaders now, we don’t know what’s happened to Superman, and we don’t know what the alien invaders want other than a few speculations. So, we hoped to get some of those answers by now… at least gradually. But Instead, we spent the last issue developing an idea, and ultimately this issue of Batman: Fortress getting a team together… or at least I think.
Realistically, the story opens with 7 to 9 dedicated pages to a Jackson Hyde relationship that had no connection to the story whatsoever. Sure, Batman needed Jackson in order to complete his mission (which you’ll see later in the story) BUT Whitta forcefully spends a third of the issue showcasing his relationship with another man that he tosses to the side by the 7th page anyway. Now, before I get attacked by readers of the article and fans of Batman: Fortress, I could understand the focus if it had any point, reasoning, or purpose behind joining Batman’s team, the invasion, or even his powers. But it didn’t. It was thrust into the issue for no reason.
Secondly, this week’s issue was about getting a team together. Why was a third of Batman: Fortress #5 dedicated to this? And lastly, no romantic relationship of any kind was necessary in the comic because it has nothing to do with the overall premise of the story. Regardless of whether or not it mattered in the story, Whitta obviously wanted fans to know Jackson is gay which could have been done without that much page count in the first place. It’s that simple. And frankly, longtime fans know that anyway which is again what made it unnecessary. When Emiko or D’Ayl entered the story, we didn’t get a relationship rundown from them, did we? Why not? Does anyone know D’Ayl’s romantic history? And is it needed in the story? No.
Nevertheless, the writing gets worse. Batman later finds Emiko literally killing thugs on the street and stealing their money only to overlook his moral code and invite her to his team. This isn’t Jason Todd or any of the other Robin’s who he deems as family. Heck, Batman even makes reference to her killing those people before recruiting her. Sure, times are tough and you need to put a team together to save the day. And, Batman has worked with killers before. Yet, even when he works with those killers and villains, his premise and moral compass never change.
After those past team-ups, he makes an effort to take them in. Batman will get Justice. However, not here. It’s almost as if he shrugs it off and looks past these two dead guys on the street. And again, why was this in the story? Did people need to know Emiko is a killer before she joins this ragtag group? Did we need to see Batman’s moral code jeopardized in order to complete this mission? No! What good did it do to the issue? Plus, she’s never really referenced again in Batman: Fortress #5.
Lastly, Batman: Fortress #5 ends with a trivial conversation between Batman and Lex that was forced, almost fake, and uncharacteristic of both Lex and Bruce. Ultimately, the conversation was there to showcase President Luthor’s new battle suit. So, the Luthor angle spirals this reviewer back to where this review began. I started reading this series and absolutely loved it. However, with the forced dialogue, the uncharacteristic displays, weird motives that don’t connect to the purpose of the story, and unnecessary scenes that outweigh the purpose and direction of the plot and theme of the narrative, I’m out! I don’t know what this story has become or where it’s even going anymore.
Readers, I don’t think Batman: Fortress is ever getting to the fireworks factory. Where is the action? Where is the covert mission to break into the Fortress? Where is this amazing team you’re getting together Batman? Instead, we get unnecessary romance, Batman placing his moral code to the side, Green Lantern rodent jokes, and another uncharacteristic conversation between Lex and Batman that dribbles over from prior issues. Whitta is really dragging this puppy out. Readers get no intensity, no action, and a plot that’s stalled out. At what point do you throw in the towel? Well, for this reviewer, it’s right now. I’ve more than lost interest in this series. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!