Advance Review: All-Star Batman #2
By Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, Dean White, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands
All-Star Batman #2 continues the story of Batman hitting the road with Two-Face as they attempt to find a once and for all cure for Harvey Dent. This is part of Snyder’s first arc titled “My Own Worst Enemy” where he will team with the creative juggernauts of Romita, Miki, White, and Wands to tell the story of Batman and Two-Face on a road trip. This issue keeps up the frenetic pace of the first issue, with every panel packed with action and appearances of villains all trying to thwart Batman. The real threat to Batman in his quest to save Harvey Dent does not come from any of the assassins sent to off him, but from within his own small trusted network of allies. The first issue featured a betrayal of a close ally to Batman and this issue foreshadows another betrayal all thanks to Two-Face and his manipulation of Gotham and all of it’s inhabitants, good and bad.
Scott Snyder knows how to write a good comic book, and he sure knows how to write a fantastic Batman book. This series is filled with huge risks like setting up a story line where Batman is outside of Gotham, Batman attempts to cure a bad guy, and all this happens while attempting to establish Duke Thomas as a legitimate hero next to Batman. Snyder accepts these risks and just delivers another complex Batman story that adds more depth and layers to our beloved caped crusader. What really makes this story work is the pacing, with the present events between Two-Face and Bats broken up with future events and past events that carry a lot of significance.
All-Star Batman #2 shows Batman at his best, he literally is facing every assassin and villain from Gotham. Two-Face has offered a huge cash reward to anyone who can stop Batman from taking Two-Face to their final destination and has also threatened to reveal all of his secrets and information he has on everyone to the world if Batman is successful in reaching the location. We see Batman outsmart and defeat several assassins while atop a speeding train. Once the train stops, the real action picks up, as even bigger and badder guys want their chance to stop Batman. The guest cameos are from Killer Croc, King Shark, Amygdala, Cheshire, Copperhead, and many more.
The most impressive thing Snyder is building here is the will and determination of Batman to see through the awfulness of Two-Face to Harvey Dent and still pursue helping to save him with a cure. This bond and relationship between Dent and Bruce Wayne is also being revealed in some small flashback panels that are building toward revealing the extent of their friendship. Maybe it is compassion Snyder is revealing in Batman or just an attempt to finally rehabilitate a bad guy successfully. It is also the hopefulness and determination batman posses to see this through despite all the obstacles because he thinks it will work. You can honestly say, Snyder is showing a new side to Batman and you are not sure how this arc will end.
This arc features the fantastic creative team of John Romita Jr. on pencils, Danny Miki on inks, and Dean White on colors, and Steve Wands on letters. Romita Jr. provides a fresh character design on some classic characters that goes against the overdone gritty and hard looks we have seen lately. His approach to Killer Croc for example focuses more on texture and color detail than anything else. The panel layouts really help keep up the frenetic pacing we get in this story and keep the reader focused on where we are and what is happening during the non stop action. The impeccable chromatic colors of White and lines featured are really beautifully done in this issue. As mentioned earlier, the character designs are less gritty and Killer Croc really stands out with the use of colors in a new fresh way. The issue has White utilizing a more subtle use of colors that is really stunning amidst the action and chaos surrounding Batman in his journey. A great example of that is in the first page opens with Gordon and Bullock sitting in a cop car with every other panel alternating between red and blue to show the cop lights encasing the scene. Even the restrained use of red really makes it impactful when we finally see Two-Face or some blood trickling off of Batman during a fight sequence.
At the end of the issue we are treated to a second installment of “The Cursed Wheel” arc featuring Duke Thomas and Batman doing some detective work around 2 victims from Zsasz. Snyder teams up with Declan Shavely on pencils and inks, Jordie Bellaire on colors, and Steve Wands again on letters. More is revealed around Duke and his past, and also Batman’s training of Duke to be a crime detective and hero. The training surrounding the wheel is still somewhat of a mystery and it is exciting to see where Duke will wind up once his training is complete. This story shows some discord between Duke and Batman, that leads to someone getting put in harm’s way. These little stories that follow the main story are nice little accompaniments that help to add depth and understanding to Duke and his relationship with Batman. They, in and of themselves, could be a stand alone series with the complex issues Snyder introduces to Duke regarding his past and training. Having these installments alongside the main story allow some more depth and nuance to be added to Batman and Duke dynamic.
Comic fans can rejoice because All-Star Batman is truly delivering the great comic we all hoped it would be. When Snyder announced he was leaving Batman and not teaming up with Greg Capullo anymore, fans were worried there would be no more inventive and creative stories featuring Batman. All-Star Batman is proving to everyone that this is where we can look to find the great stories featuring Batman and other Gotham favorites. The nuanced and beautiful art is balanced with terrific restrained writing that delivers a great story. The best part about All-Star Batman is that you do not know what Snyder is going to do next and what surprises lay in store for Batman. That type of uncertainty and excitement around comics is why everyone should add this to your pull list.