Review by Ian Keogh
A Lonely Place of Dying occurs relatively soon after the death of Jason Todd, Dick Grayson’s replacement as Robin when he assumed the Nightwing identity with the Teen Titans. Jason’s death weighs heavily on Batman, affecting his effectiveness as a crime fighter, resulting in more injuries than usual. Meanwhile someone kept disguised from readers hears voices telling him to kill Batman, Dick has left the Titans for a period of recovery, while someone who seems to know he’s Nightwing is trying to track him down.
While released as a Batman graphic novel, co-plotters Marv Wolfman and George Pérez were also writing Teen Titans, and the story crosses over to feature that cast, although minimally, with Nightwing the priority. The purpose is to introduce Tim Drake, a resourceful thirteen year old who’s figured out Batman and Robin’s secret identities, and to underline that Batman can’t be everywhere at once, so he needs Robin. The rationale behind that is somewhat shaky, as even if it’s accepted he needs someone, there’s no reason it has to be Robin, and a far stronger argument could be made for a full adult partner who didn’t require training and monitoring. Ignore that, however, and this is a page turner with some nice pieces of characterisation that still reads well in the 21st century.
Mental deterioration is a feature, although not in the obvious way, as Batman is contrasted with the villain of the piece. A final revelation about that is good (although don’t think too hard about the technology involved) and the different cast members are sympathetically treated, the story relying as much on detection skills as physical ability.
All the art is polished and professional even if there’s little to connect the styles of Jim Aparo, fluid and graceful, with Pérez, measured and detailed, so there is a variance in the way the assorted pages look. A halfway house occurs with Pérez laying out one chapter for Tom Grummett to pencil.
DC have now let this collection slip out of print, combining the five chapters with the story of Jason Todd’s death in A Death in the Family, where it raises the tone considerably.