All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)
STORY : Scott Snyder
ART : John Romita Jr. (pencils), Danny Miki (inks) & Dean White (colours)
Post his swan-song over on the main Batman book before the big DC Rebirth rebootage, Scott Snyders not done with the Dark Knight and picks up in this newly launched title that takes part of its name from a very controversial and divisive limited series by one Frank Miller – and the inaugural adventure is basically the start of an “epic chase” as Batman tries to get Two-Face safely to X-place in one-piece. THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW, so consider yourself warned.
The basic premise of this first arc is that Two-Face uses information he’s collected over the years and even until more recently using networks/some such during his time as D.A., said information making him one of the most untouchable and thus powerful people in Gotham. Now for reasons unclear, something about him getting too powerful and so while he’s in police custody, Batman has a plan to get him to some special house where the power of the evil-side of Two-face will be pushed back and Harvey Dent gets saved. Or something like that. And as you can imagine, plans don’t go quite as planned…
I’m gonna just say it. I didn’t enjoy this. At the end of this first issue and the first four issues of the new ongoing Batman book, I’ve elected to drop all the Bat-books exept Detective Comics which is the only one I’m finding worth reading. Why you ask?
Well while I gave the others several issues to draw me in, this one comic had so much “meh” all over it that I don’t even want to waste my mind and time reading more. There are enough good comics out there.
We have a Batman who is more yakky and almost joke-y than any Bruce-Batman I’ve known would be in the middle of a fight, I don’t imagine him quoting “fun facts” to any villain On top of that suddenly Two-face is not just a semi-split-persona deal but a full-blown being fighting for control of his mind? Since when? The way Harvey appeals to Bruce, it actually made me make a what-the-fuck face as I read it, I could feel the expression on me – apart from which, even I knew before Harvey even said anything that this plan was going to lead to people hunting them and trying to stop Batman and get their hands on Harvey, this story thereby making Batman a little stupider and less of a detective than he should be by default. On top of that you have crap like the impossible speed at which Batman sets up a decoy in a fight scene behind a diner and the reveal/hinting of even Batmans closest allies having secrets and the reveal of who shot his Bat-plane down and the unecessary melodrama and intrigue that it seems to have thrown up for the future… that was an eye-roller. And the worst of them, a moment so bad I’ve scanned, cropped and posted it below: Batman. In broad fucking daylight. In less-than-waist-high-tall-grass. Acting like a Jurassic Park raptor and vanishing. What. The fuck.
Finally, the art… the colours were fantastic, nice and bright where needed and more somber at other moments and a nicely balanced palette that played well in the scenes both action and non-action. The inks were pretty crisp considering the more scratchy result of JRJ’s normal pencilling style. But the basic pencils themselves… I was underwhelmed. For some reason I’ve found that over time I like JRJ’s layouts quite a bit, but his design-work, his expressions and just his general style is not to my taste. I’ve not enjoyed it for a while now so that was a negative for me too.
THE LAST WORD:
A mediocre book at best. If you like Batman, read his team-activity in the Detective Comics ongoing, between him and Batwoman and the team it’s a decently solid enough book for now and FEELS like a Batman story despite it being quite different to the norm.
This book however has not only borderline terrible story-telling, it’s almost like Snyders telling an alternate Batman story, not one starring the Bruce/Batman of the main DCU. And for a writer who’s written the protagonist for as long contuniously as he has to mischaracterise and tell such a mediocre story at a height of his popularity amongst many hardcore fans, it’s disappointing.
Also that cover… wow that looks pretty pathetic. Pretty much ANY of the variant covers solicited for this title would have looked better.
Don’t waste your time. Read something else. DC still has a few good books and there are lots of other great comics out there until more good Batman options come around.
STORY SCORE: 4 / 10
ART SCORE: 4 / 10
OVERALL SCORE: 4 / 10