Ricky Church reviews All-Star Batman #1…
“My Own Worst Enemy” part one! Superstar writer Scott Snyder explodes into an all-new Batman series alongside legendary artist John Romita Jr., reimagining some of the Dark Knight’s greatest villains. First up: Two-Face! Batman must take Two-Face to a destination out of Gotham City, but the duplicitous villain has a two of spades up his sleeve. Every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide is on their tails with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before!
After the end of his massive run on The New 52’s Batman, Scott Snyder returns to the adventures of the Caped Crusader in his new series All-Star Batman with legendary artist John Romita Jr. The first issue of the series doesn’t waste any time on the premise, immediately throwing readers in the thick of it as Batman faces attacks from all sides. It’s a high-octane ride that doesn’t let up and has several awesome Batman moments while reflecting on some deeper issues.
Snyder quite literally tosses readers into the middle of the action as Batman faces off against a couple small time foes. Its an opening that is both funny and shows how dangerous and effective Batman can be when cornered. From there, Snyder takes us back with some flashbacks leading up to these events, a couple of which are slightly jarring since they’re in quick succession and again throw readers in the middle of a situation, but with less success than the opening pages. However, it still doesn’t detract too much from the story.
Once it gets into Batman and Two-Face’s philosophical discussion, All-Star Batman #1 starts picking up again. Snyder writes a very intriguing take on the iconic villain, showing a more reflective and philosophical Two-Face. Apart from just wanting to escape Batman’s custody, Two-Face also wants to prove a point to Batman that people are just downright ugly creatures waiting to cut loose. His mere presence is enough to corrupt someone and if Snyder continues probing into Two-Face’s psyche like this, it could very well end up being the most interesting take on the villain we’ve seen in comics in a while.
John Romita Jr.’s art is well done, displaying some very animated panels. His character movements are sleek and the opening action scene is well choreographed. At a couple points the panels change to black and white, reflecting Two-Face’s world view as well as seeing things from his point of view with the revelation his damaged eye is colourblind. His take on Two-Face is also interesting, seeming to be a modern (and better) version of Tommy Lee Jones from Batman Forever.
His visuals are very stylistic, helped in large part to Danny Miki’s inks. Miki adds a lot of definition to Romita’s lines, but doesn’t overpower them either while Dean White’s colours really make the visuals pop. It’s very rare we see Batman in the daylight and that can either be a positive or negative effect, but White makes it work well with Batman and the other colourful villains really standing out. The combined work of all three artists makes one particular panel of Batman wielding a chainsaw the most visually arresting of the book due to how ominous he appears.
All-Star Batman also features a back-up tale written by Snyder with art done by Declan Shavley and Jordie Bellaire. This tale is a much more intimate affair and while it is separate from the main plot, it’s an interesting look at Duke’s training under Batman and hints at one Batman villain who has often appeared one-note. Snyder has done well reimaging either classic or underutilized villains in the past so his take on this one should prove fascinating.
While the start of All-Star Batman may confuse some with the way the flashbacks are handled, its overall a great book with a lot of excitement and good characterization of Two-Face. The philosophical battle between Batman and Two-Face is one of the issue’s best aspects and should be a standout piece of the story once its concluded. Snyder injects some new energy into Batman and the fact that this is something different is exciting, but his writing combined with the art from Romita Jr., Miki and White makes All-Star Batman a series to watch out for in the next few months.