Saturday, 11 March 2017

All-Star Batman #3 - DC Comics

ALL-STAR BATMAN No. 3, December 2016
Featuring a genuinely vicious battle between the titular character and KGBeast, this thirty-page periodical must have genuinely assaulted the senses of its 106,905 strong audience, at least for its opening third. For whilst Anatoli Knyazev’s scintillatingly savage attack upon Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego rather enthusiastically seems to produce more blood than even the two large-sized combatants could realistically carry inside them, Scott Snyder’s script does sadly start to fizzle out just as soon as Duke arrives to rescue the Caped Crusader and transport him to a secret medical centre hidden beneath a walnut farm.

Indeed, in many ways “My Own Worst Enemy” is ‘a game of two halves’, with the Dark Knight’s initial fisticuffs against the trained Russian assassin utterly eclipsing the rather dialogue-heavy later introduction of genius inventor Harold Allnut, and Batman’s bizarre recollection as to how, as a rebellious child, Alfred Pennyworth sent him to an upstate home for “struggling children” in Innsmouth, where he would first meet Harvey Dent… Certainly, the magazine never seems able to match its opening pulse-pounding pace once Knyazev has unceremoniously dispatched the entire Royal Flush Gang (“aka: Mess”) with a micro-bomb, and shakily stomped back to his pick-up truck.

Sadly, John Romita Junior’s breakdowns for this comic somewhat similarly become ‘flawed’ once the Beast’s mercenarily murderous machinations have been brought to an ignoble end, with the Inkpot Award-winner’s pencilling of a badly bruised Bruce and hot-headed Duke lacking many of the artist’s characteristic techniques, such as numerous hatchings and rather rectangular physiques. In fact, it isn’t until Batman and his “good ally” are travelling “up the pipeline” in the ‘Bat-Hovercraft’ that the New Yorker’s illustrations once again seem to carry a life of their own.

Regrettably, there is also little enjoyment to be found within this book’s secondary story “The Cursed Wheel” either, despite the tale following Duke Thomas’ investigation into the serial killer Victor Zsasz. Woefully drawn by Declan Shalvey, whose panels predominantly resemble those found inside an amateur fanzine rather than a genuine “DC Comics” publication, this short’s script is disconcertingly based upon the premise that the supervillain who “carves a tally mark somewhere on himself for every victim” would obligingly allow “baby bird” to live despite having catastrophically caught him unawares at the end of the adventure’s previous instalment...
The variant cover art of "ALL-STAR BATMAN" No. 3 by Declan Shalvey

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