Wednesday, 17 August 2016

All-Star Batman #1 - DC Comics

ALL-STAR BATMAN No. 1, October 2016
Supposedly inspired by a road trip across the Southwest with his nine-year-old, this “first arc” of “All-Star Batman” by Scott Snyder is arguably far closer to being an unmitigated confusing mess of “in continuity” causality than “a no-holds-barred journey” which takes Batman and Two-Face on a “high-octane, high-stakes” adventure across the state. Indeed, the vast majority of its audience must have been shaking their heads in utter bemusement as the twenty-four page periodical’s wonderfully dramatic opening sequence suddenly lurches back in time to “twenty two minutes ago”, then “two hours ago”, then “two weeks ago”, and then “twenty minutes ago” etc etc… It certainly soon becomes difficult to chronologically work out just which version of the Caped Crusader the action is following, and why he’s planning on travelling nearly five hundred miles north with Harvey Dent in the Batwing.

Fortunately the New York-born writer does at least live up to his post-publication promise of incorporating plenty of “villains I’ve never used” before into the “thrill-a-minute” action, with both Firefly and Killer Moth making an impressive entrance, courtesy of manhandling the Dark Knight straight through the interior of a prefabricated fast food restaurant. Unhappily, the same cannot be said for Black Spider, a multiple mechanically-armed hired gun who perhaps somewhat contrivingly confronts a chainsaw-wielding Batman in the middle of a wheat field; “But know that I’ve got some upgrades since we last met, Batman. Every tarsus on these legs is semi-automatic. Bottom line: You’re outgunned seven to one.”

Perhaps this book’s greatest enticement however, is the excellent artwork of one “of the best in the business”, John Romita Junior. Moodily sketched with plenty of well-defined shadows, and similar in style to his pencilling on the “gritty street-level stories of… Spider-Man and Daredevil”, even the American illustrator’s more sedentary sequences, such as Batman and a golden-armoured Duke Thomas talking to Commissioner Gordon after an acid rain storm, forces the eye to linger on the intricate detail of every panel… Whilst the tense, restrained yet dynamically nervous motion the Inkpot Award-winner imbues his figures with when the armed customers of Auggie Mac’s Diner encircle Batman in an effort to stop him capturing Two-Face, makes the shock of the titular character being suddenly shot in the back all the more impactive.

Flawed as the script to “My Own Worst Enemy” is though, Snyder’s penmanship for this comic’s secondary tale, which vaguely starts recounting Duke Thomas’ introduction to “a condensed version of all” Batman’s training, is arguably even worse, with Declan Shalvey’s woefully wooden one-dimensional drawings looking especially poor as a result of directly following on from “JRJR”. In fact Editor Mark Doyle may well have thought with hindsight that the $4.99 publication was probably a superior quality product without including “The Cursed Wheel”, and that the book’s Irish artist would have been put to better use simply pencilling additional variant covers…
The regular cover art of "ALL-STAR BATMAN" No. 1 by John Romita Junior


  1. Hmm. I had been sitting on the fence as to whether trying this when it gets collected, but given your take, which i give a lot of credence, and the diminishing returns in terms of quality of Snyder's Batman work, I may pass.

    Thanks for posting it Simon.


    1. Cheers Leon. I thought this one might interest you. I'll be in it for the first five issues as JRJR is drawing the entire story-arc :-) I too though dislike Snyder's Batman, so that'll probably be it, and perhaps I can finally go back and finish reviewing the previous series of Batman ;-)