Review – Batman: The Scottish Connection
Writer: Alan Grant
Artist: Frank Quitely
Publisher: Titan Comics & DC Comics
Originally Published: 1998
Steeped in Scottish legend, this startling tale – the first Batman graphic novel set in the UK – places Batman in unfamiliar territory, providing a new perspective on the Dark Knight.
Writer: Alan Grant
Bruce Wayne comes to the Isle of Mists off the Western Coast of Scotland to take part in the internment of one of his ancestors, a possible Templar Knight. Noticing that corners from this and three other graves are broken off Bruce decides to return that night as Batman. He fights with some local thugs and is almost killed but for the timely engagement of the foes by a mysterious woman.
She tells him the tale of Highland Clearances when crofters were cleared off the land by rich owners and packed onto ships for the new country. The next day, Bruce contacts Oracle and she tracks down leads that lead to the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel. There Batman is confronted by Fergus Slith a descendant of the crofters who seeks revenge on the cruel McDubh clan.
Grant sets the bar low for himself in this simple and by the numbers book. For fans of Batman, it doesn’t really add any mythos or glory and he turns Alfred into an annoying tourist chirping away with crass Scottish traditional songs and slang. The additional mystical crystal and diagram that turns ordinary men into Supermen are not needed and the story would be almost identical without it.
For fans of Scottish landmarks, it’s a tickbox whistlestop tour of some of Scotland’s more famous buildings and places.
Artwork: Frank Quitely
Quitely’s stunning artwork looks at home in his native Scotland here and his passion for the scenery and history of Scotland sines throughout. Also, if you have ever wondered what Bruce Wayne wears under a kilt, it’s a Batsuit. The Plague Mask villain is a boney, sharp-angled man with a traditional Scottish Plaid outfit. He’s underused and Batman doesn’t seem himself in this book bested several times by low-level goons.
Batman and Scotland should be a match made in heaven but I feel both writer and artist almost slept their way through the creation of this script and artwork. Back in the 90s, these types of one-shot books were being churned out due to the demand for content. I’d love to see a 21st-century version of this story told over possibly five issues to flesh out the back story and add plot points beyond Batman being hit on the head a few times.
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