By Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands
All-Star Batman #14 is here and this book marks an end to the series. Don’t worry, Scott Snyder’s voice will still be heard throughout DC and Batman; he has his current Metal run and through this series he has created new lanes and ideas for DC creators to express ideas. Yes, Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman run is ending, and he goes out with a bang and a ‘Yarg, matey’ because he is doubling down on the pirate theme.
This issue marks the finale of “The First Ally” arc, with the culmination of the Alfred and Briar story. Snyder is really creating some heavy backstory for Alfred, and it might be divisive among the Bat fans. Briar is training Alfred to be a killing machine, lending some similarities to the Ra’s al Ghul and Batman relationship. Briar unveils his newest student, Nemesis, and who is actually beneath the helmet is really unbelievable. The student then tests their abilities against an injured Bats. The series comes to a close with an emotionally gripping ending that really brings the heart of All-Star Batman to a focus.
Throughout this arc there has been the continued concept of pirate adventures running throughout. This issue continues the theme with skull shaped mountains on islands, black planes with skulls and crossbones on it, and sword fights. Art from Albuquerque really brings this swashbuckling tale to life, with panels that show movement and urgency with great fight sequences and emotionally conveying faces. The story’s emotion is conveyed even more through the colors from Bellaire and letters from Wands; there’s a dark and menacing feel in the initial pages’ palette with dark and somber tones that slowly allows some lighter hues to creep in as the story unfolds.
The story of Batman and Alfred is one that has been central to many of the All-Star Batman books, but especially this last arc “The Last All.” Some people may not like some of this new, grittier backstory for Alfred – he’s even at one point is called a “White Knight.” Yeah, it is hard to imagine a world where Alfred was once a badass kicking butt and living a life similar to Batman. Alfred is usually the voice of reason, the one to talk Bruce down from his crazy ideas while encouraging him to live a more ‘normal’ life. Giving him this super capable side, a guy who can handle himself physically, but then decides to continue on his family’s legacy as a butler to the Wayne family makes him even more tragic and perhaps shows his own input and influence to Bruce’s fascination with crime fighting.
This issue marks an end to Snyder’s All-Star Batman series, a great concept where the writer crafted the story to reflect the artist and their capabilities. It was a fitting end to the series as this book really did show off the capabilities of the artists on this creative team; Snyder really knows how to step aside with the story and allow the pages to speak for themselves. This series did introduce a lot of new backstory since issue #1 to the Batman legacy. From Bruce Wayne’s childhood friendship with Harvey Dent to the current introduction of Alfred’s badass history. Snyder has taken a lot of liberties to add to the Batman story. With this being the last installment, it is fitting and pretty necessary reading material for any Batman fans or avid comic readers. It is the end to a beautifully crafted series, but the many added details and relationships from Snyder will certainly pop up in future books under different titles. This series is just another to add to the growing mythos of a beloved character. If there is any current writer to trust with adding to a mythos of a superhero, it’s Snyder you want doing it.