By Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands
It is a rare thing when a comic can surprise readers in a single issue. When you are reading a familiar story, with familiar heroes, and there are only so many stories that can happen. Yes, that is usually true, but then you pick up an issue like All-Star Batman #10 and it reminds you of the power of inventive story telling. This issue has Bruce facing off against Hush in an adventure that involves stolen treasure, pirates, and the Batmobile driving onto the field of a baseball game. While the action takes place, we are also shown some panels of back story that take place in London. The main Hush/Pirate story does have the vibe of a placeholder story even though this is the first part of “The First Ally” arc. This is almost like an episode in the middle of a season that does not further the main story of the season, but spends a lot of time fleshing out characters and relationships. That is what this is, it does not reinforce or further the main plot along, but does give the readers more insight into our characters to build our investment for future stories.
Do not let the comparison of All-Star Batman #10 to the Nikki and Paulo episode of LOST fool you, this is a good book. Besides, who can really come at Scott Snyder? Not this reviewer, but this does not feel like his “A work”, especially coming after his last issue. The pairing of Snyder with Albuquerque is the real highlight of the issue. The pacing, the panels, the interlocking pirate/Batman story with the London throwback panels really give this book some life. Albuquerque is pulling massive weight in this book as he is doing pencils, inks, and cover art and a variant cover art. The shame of this book is we only get one panel of Albuquerque drawing Batman in his full glory, in his batsuit kicking butt.
The story comes together even more with colors from Bellaire. The glowing effect from the shadowing and colors create an eerie aura across the pages. The London backstory is a chase sequence that takes place atop the roof tops. The detailed artwork of Albuquerque is really highlighted by Bellaire’s colors and allows for the story to really stand out. The art focuses all on the characters and there is little to no background or detailed work done outside from the main characters which helps to draw the reader’s focus.
The story from Snyder does take a shift from the previous arc, which does feel needed after the emotional roller coaster the readers have been through. However, this issue does feel a little underwhelming when it is stacked up against the previous issues. There is still a lot to love in this issue, especially the aforementioned twist at the end of the story. The twist comes at the perfect point, the story feels predictable and then, BAM it hits you with perfect timing. This issue feels a little off because Batman is not the main focus of the story, instead he is a vehicle used to develop other characters around him; Alfred and Hush mostly. It is always great to see Batman work around his villains, always one step ahead, and not be inside his brain seeing the doubt and the calculations that swirl underneath his cowl of cool and confidence.
All-Star Batman #10 may not have been the issue that we wanted, but maybe it is the issue that we needed. Not every issue has to reveal life altering facts about Batman or have a huge action sequence with one of his big bad guys for it to be a compelling book. Maybe we as readers have gotten spoiled with Batbooks as of late, but this book has a purpose. This issue’s slower pace and thoughtful setup serve as a basis to prop up future storylines for the next arc.