|ALL-STAR BATMAN No. 6, March 2017|
Admittedly, not everything is wrong with the Harvey Award-winner’s writing. For example, he wonderfully tricks the reader at the start of “Ends Of The Earth” by fooling them into believing it was a young Bruce Wayne who “had to memorize a poem for a school assignment” when it was actually Victor Fries. Yet such bookish cleverness isn’t enough to tie down any perusing bibliophile with the rest of the dialogueless drivel the New York author has on offer within this twenty-three page periodical, especially when the former cryogenics expert’s plan is supposedly thwarted by the titular lead having earlier infected himself with a virus which “hidden… in his body, his blood” would “when his skin was exposed… become airborne…”
Just as off-putting as the narration style though has to be Mark Simpson’s disconcerting and oft-times somewhat confusing artwork. There’s a lot to admire in Jock’s early frames as the Batman stoically stalks through an Alaskan blizzard, some “three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle”. Whilst the Scots-born illustrator’s renderings of Freeze’s carbon-bonded ice zombies are as chillingly well-conceived as the biologically tough creatures are apparently immune to the effects of batarangs. But as soon as the action abates, and Nora’s husband settles down to the sedentary telling of “over fifty years worth of dreamers, all hoping to be woken up one day to a better world”, the scratchy drawing style starts to appear wooden, angular and downright unattractive.
Sadly, there’s little to like with this magazine’s secondary story, “The Cursed Wheel” either, despite Snyder’s attempt to throw his audience straight into the action by having Batman and Duke facing one of the Riddler’s explosive conundrums right from the opening splash-page. Featuring the typically colourful and characterful visuals of Francesco Francavilla, this short-lived crossword game using an apartment block and its aghast occupants makes little sense whatsoever due to its rushed pace and inaccessible over-reliance upon its fanbase having previously read up on Thomas’ journey as the Dark Knight’s latest side-kick; “You need to be patient. You’re doing great work, but you’re only half-way through the wheel."
|Script: Scott Snyder, Artist: Jock, and Colors: Matt Hollingsworth|