This is a story told completely with the art, there is no dialog, no captions, no thought balloons. We open with a young woman working in a factory putting heads on wooden angel figures. When she applies too much pressure to the figure a wing breaks off and she is fired. The young woman returns home to where Grandmother is rocking an infant while a little girl watches on. The infant is obviously sick and the woman goes to get medicine but the pharmacy is closed and the shopkeeper will not reopen to help her. The woman goes home and the infant dies.
At the cemetery a man approaches the young woman with an opportunity for a new life and job in Gotham but it is not what it seems. The family is smuggled in trucks and then taken by armed gun men who leave the young woman left in the dirt while they drive off with the girl and grandmother to work as slave labor in a factory.
At the factory the girl is getting sick from cold and malnutrition. The grandmother tries to escape but is discovered and stabbed as she tries to get out of a window, she falls into an alley and disappears. We learn that The Penguin is behind the factory when the guard goes to tell him about the missing grandmother and Penguin stabs him with an umbrella for bringing the specter of The Batman down on them.
The grandmother stumbles through the streets bleeding until Batman swoops in and picks her up, she hands him a crumbled piece of paper as she dies . The paper is an ad for the factory and Batman goes to investigate. We get a scene of the young girl praying for an angel to save them, and her prayers are answered as Batman drops onto the roof. Batman takes the girl to a hospital and after confirming she is going to receive the treatment she needs Batman returns to the factory to shut it down.
Batman frees the laborers and begins taking the guards down hard. Batman is soon outnumbered and the guards shoot multiple nets at him and capture him. The issue ends with a guard telling Penguin that Batman is captured as we see Batman in a cage.
Right up front I need to tell you that it got really misty reading this issue. Alex Maleev’s art is absolutely gorgeous. The heartbreaking anguish of the family when the infant dies, the desperation of the mother and grandmother as they struggle to save the young girl and the anger on the face of Batman as he realizes what is going on in his city feels real and pulls my heart apart.
The storyline isn’t necessarily something we haven’t seen before, the plight of an immigrant family and even slave labor has been covered in several movies and even an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, but rarely have I seen it done in this way and done this well.
If I had any faults with the issue it is tying Penguin into it, I feel that having him be the one pulling all of the strings is being over done but it is such a small part in this issue that it doesn’t really have an effect on the story, maybe next issue will delve deeper into it but we’ll just have to see when that issue comes out.
Overall this issue is fantastic, the art is incredible and credit should be given to writer Gregg Hurwitz for crafting a great story and trusting that it could be told in this way.
Batman: The Dark Knight #26:
Reviewed by Adam Martin