By Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Rafael Scavone, Sebastian Fiumara, Lee Loughridge, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands, and Trish Mulvihill.
This is the third part of the “The First Ally” arc, and we still need to learn: who is Nemesis? What is Alfred hiding? And why does Batman love pirates so much? Scott Snyder is back at it again in All-Star Batman #12 with artist Albuquerque. This issue does a lot to progress the current arc that is shining the light on Alfred’s history, showing his past in the military and rebelling against his father and family demands. Batman has found himself again at odds in a sinking ship, facing down a barrage of bullets while trying to save innocent people from a watery grave. This issue is fast paced and full of action, while also hitting you in the soft bits with some fatherly narration from Alfred regarding his affection for Bats.
All-Star Batman is one of those rare dream projects where a popular character is given to a popular creators with very little limitations, a real rare gem in the comic industry. Snyder gets to write about Batman without the limits of a wider universe of different arcs to uphold, or limitations on certain characters he can use. This type of literary freedom is often dreamed of by creative teams, but is only given to those who can properly yield the power. Snyder has proven himself worthy to don the cowl of Batman and write new stories that will delight and entertain the devoted masses of Batman fans. All-Star Batman #12 is another great notch in Snyder’s utility belt, with this issue really taking some chances with far-fetched action sequences and something of a rewrite on Alfred’s history; it all really fits in with Snyder’s previous work in All-Star Batman.
Snyder is joined this issue with Albuquerque on pencils, inks, and cover. We have seen him on past All-Star Batman issues of the “The First Ally” arc and this whole arc has really been shaped by his art style and panel layouts. It would be hard to imagine Briar or Hush in this story reimagined by another artist. The grainy and raw style of Albuquerque is a great pair to Snyder’s enthusiastic approach to this arc; it is a little over the top, but all done in true Batman style. There is actually dialogue where Batman says “Listen up, people! As of this moment, you have a new captian…Captain Batman!” and instead of it registering as a bad play on Captain Phillips, it is exciting and gives the moment a true Batman drama flare that can only come from a comic.
There is something truly charming about the pairing of Albuquerque’s pencils with colors from Bellaire. At first glance the lines and details appear crude, but upon further inspection there is an elegance to the style of Albuquerque that will often go unnoticed. There is a beautiful detail amidst the dizzying strokes, a frenetic nature to his work, which helps to create urgency and action in every panel. The colors from Bellaire really pair well with this style, adding richness in color and shadowing to the detail. Then there is the clever dialogue provided by Snyder, using an almost emoji style dialogue at times, or perhaps it is that certain things can be expressed in grunts or noises like an onomatopoeia. It all comes together beautifully in this book and provides for unforgettable Batman moments.
This book also has the B-story running along, another tale from Batman’s past titled “Killers-In-Law” from writers Albuquerque (the same one who did art on the aforementioned story) alongside Scavone. This story follows Batman’s attempt to take down the Russian arm dealers within their own family. He infiltrates the family as he wins over the daughter of the crime boss, Princess Vik. She is a cold-blooded killer and he, being Batman, is half-infatuated, half-revolted by her and we see a sort of cat and bat scenario play out that reminds us of his relationship with Selina Kyle. We see Batman almost as a rookie; he is still inexperienced and makes mistakes along the way in his single-handed attempt to destroy some cargo en route to Gotham. However, this story provides an inside look into the thoughts and planning Batman takes in this mission, something we do not always get to see.
Art in this story is from Fiumara with colors from Loughridge and Mulvihill. The art is a deep contrast to the first story, there’s a lot of deep and dark colors, with Batman appearing more looming with deep, dark exaggerated lines. Batman appears as a black shadow, apart from red eyes, that is darting around taking down opponents left and right. There is a sleek elegance to this art style, one that contrasts with the unrefined, rookie Batman in this story. He is still adapting his style, he is not yet the same Batman we see in the first story, so sure of himself and testing his limits. This Batman is a cautious one, still learning how much he can handle and what he can do. This story is a nice complement to the bombastic nature of “The First Ally” and really helps add perspective to the Batman character, especially with the first story being really heavy with Alfred backstory.
All-Star Batman #12 continues to set itself apart from other books with the continuing methodology of the writing and art always bending and adapting to the nature of the story. We only can expect the best from this all-star creative team and they continue to deliver with each and every book. The writing style continues to impress with the many twists and turns one writer can produce for the same group of characters, yet never gets old. Snyder and Albuquerque are leaving the readers with a lot to look forward to as they are on the verge of ending this current arc. There are still so many questions left unanswered, that it’s a guarantee you’ll be picking up All-Star Batman #13 next month. Every month this book comes out, there’s something to impress us readers and let us feel that much closer the caped crusader and his world.