Thursday, 11 August 2016

All-Star Batman #1 Review (Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr)

Harvey Dent’s split personality might be cured if only the Dark Knight can get him somewhere fast before his evil side dominates. Except Bruce is too late - Harvey’s taken a hit out on him and every crazy is crawling out of the woodwork to claim the reward. It’s a race against time on the road trip to hell for Two-Face and the Goddamn Batman! 

Heh, just kidding, there’s no Goddamn Batman moment in All-Star Batman - if only! Where’s nutty ol’ Frank Miller when you need him, eh?

Scott Snyder returns to Batman without his usual partner-in-crime Greg Capullo for a new series with the new art team of John Romita Jr, Dean White, Danny Miki, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire - with even more to follow! After the disappointing end to his more-good-than-bad New 52 Batman run with that Bloom nonsense, I was hoping All-Star would be a return to form… and unfortunately it’s not. 

Thankfully the status quo is reinstated with Bruce back as Batman and Gordon back as Commissioner (including full ‘tache and glasses) with nary a Mecha-Batsuit in sight. Good - let us never speak of that again! This time around, Snyder’s turned his attention to Two-Face, one of the few famous Batman rogues he’s yet to tackle, and he’s a tough one to write - I can’t recall any great Two-Face comics. 

Except Snyder’s basically done a ground-up revision of the character and it feels very flawed and contrived. He has to give Harvey so much he’s never had before to make him appear threatening now: Two-Face apparently has scads of gory info on everyone who’s anyone in Gotham as well as access to the top gangs’ cash reserves?! How…? Snyder’s Two-Face seems less like a character and more like the embodiment of the plot elements needed to make this story work.

Also, instead of being good and evil from one moment to the next, Harvey now goes through periods of good and evil. Wouldn’t he kill himself during one of his good phases after realising what he’s like when he’s Mr Hyde-ing it up? And since when is there a magic location that’ll somehow cure him!? 

There’s really no part of this issue that wowed me. Batman fights a couple of B-listers, ordinary people stupidly believe that Two-Face, a known liar and crook, will make good on his cash reward and act like idiots, and what the hell is Batman holding on the cover?! That’s the most unwieldy Batarang I’ve ever seen - unless it’s bat-themed climbing gear?! I’m sure it fits real snug into his utility belt…! 

The backup is even worse. Batman and Duke discover cut-up victims in a textile factory or something? There’s no story, it was just included to underline that Duke, the main character from the terrible We Are Robin series, is the new Robin who’s also black. Le sigh. Diversity is fine but can we not forget that the reason most people read superhero comics is for entertainment rather than pat themselves on the back for being PC? The backup does have a curious panel though where Batman talks about someone he once tried training and failed - and it’s not Jason Todd! Hmm… 

John Romita Jr and Declan Shalvey’s art is fine, Dean White and Jordie Bellaire’s colours are better, and Scott Snyder’s no-hitter streak continues. All-Star Batman #1 is a disappointing start that tells me to trade-wait this title rather than pick up the monthlies (or bi-weeklies, whatever the daffy schedule is on this one!). 

Oh well. Anyways, congrats to Declan and Jordie on their engagement!

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