Wednesday, 1 February 2017

All-Star Batman #2 - DC Comics

ALL-STAR BATMAN No. 2, November 2016
The second best-selling title of September 2016, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, Issue Two of “All-Star Batman” must have driven its 137,748 readers into a frothing frenzy with its over-the-top thrill-a-minute narrative that essentially takes “a wrecking ball to Batman’s world”. True, the titular character’s “train ride from hell” alongside Harvey Dent has the Caped Crusader matching muscles with Killer Croc, King Shark and Amygdala all within the space of just a couple of pages. But Scott Snyder doesn’t seem even remotely interested in explaining just how the three seemingly unstoppable heavily-muscled monstrosities, at least one of which has a “devolved human brain”, came to catch the Dark Knight by surprise on top of a freight train… 

Indeed, the New York-born writer, and indisputably in-form John Romita Junior, don’t even appear overly-eager to justify just why Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego is riding aboard the timber-laden locomotive in the first place. They certainly don’t bother clarifying where within their “assassin-infested landscape” poison experts Cheshire and Copperhead, or Anatoli Knyazev a.k.a. the Beast, miraculously appear from, nor how the already groggy super-hero seemingly just shrugs off a toxic crossbow bolt perforating his guts; “I’ll admit, Bats, you made it farther than I expected. But now you got what? Maybe one minute before you go belly up? I warned you about betting against me.”

By far the most disconcerting plot development however, is Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock’s storming of Wayne Manor alongside a horde of Gotham City’s finest, and their subsequent determined demolition of “the clock in study” in order to breach the entrance to the Batcave. This genuinely troubling sequence, which depicts Alfred Pennyworth being casually cast aside by the police as “Batman’s closest ally… until tonight” supposedly “break[s] under [the] pressure of Two-Face’s blackmail” and attempts to arrest Bruce for being the Dark Knight, is undeniably dramatic. Yet additionally seems to completely rewrite the Commissioner’s long-standing relationship with his jurisdiction’s foremost masked vigilante and unwavering sense of honesty. 

Equally as perplexing is Snyder’s script for this publication’s secondary story “The Cursed Wheel”. Rather disappointingly pencilled (and inked) by Declan Shalvey, who somehow manages to make even the Caped Crusader’s silhouette appear unconvincingly wooden, this seven-page tale depicts a rather incautious cowled crime-fighter leaving his latest protégé, Duke, to the tender mercies of Victor Zsasz in the basement of the serial killer’s latest victim.
The regular cover art of "ALL-STAR BATMAN" No. 2 by John Romita Junior

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