By Scott Snyder, Jock, Matt Hollingsworth, and Steve Wands
All Star Batman #6 starts a brand new story with writer Scott Snyder taking Bats on a new adventure in Alaska to take on Mr. Freeze. This story, titled “Ends of the Earth”, has Snyder teaming up with comic artist legend, Jock, who you may know from other Bat-classic tales like Batman Noir: Black Mirror, and Death in the Family. Snyder and Jock come together to weave a beautifully twisted tale of love and desperation and how far people will go to help the ones they love. Mr. Freeze desperately attempts to bring about a new modern-day ice age by melting a one of the oldest ice cores in the world. All of this is an effort to have back his Nora, who has been in cryogenic stasis. Whose love will win out, the love Freeze has for his precious Nora, or the love Batman has for justice?
It is so exciting to see Mr. Freeze take on Batman, and even more so knowing Snyder is crafting the tale. This villain has been under utilized as of late, maybe passed over for more sinister villains along the lines of Joker and The Riddler. The potential is there for a really terrifying and moving story and Snyder and Jock really come together to realize this.
As you read each page, you feel the cold coming off every page and panel. The creative team blanketed this book with lots of white, light blues, and harsh lines. Jock along with Hollingsworth on colors and Wands on letters delivered a book that is eerie with the use of perspective yet still intimate with the panel layout. Full splash pages are used intermittently with close face shots of Mr. Freeze to really portray the control he has over the action. That theme of hopelessness and isolation within the severe cold runs throughout the issue through both art and writing, but the subtlety of the story allows it to be a subtext to the larger story of Mr. Freeze against Batman.
The beauty of All Star Batman #6 is the haunting nature of the story. Not only does the story stay with you long after you close the book, but the concoction of type, letters, colors, and layouts from this team really give this book a long-lasting effect on a reader. There is a pure intention to place letters in certain parts of the art, like the color, size and styles of print that make this book feel special. Jock along with Hollingsworth and Wands really delivered a unified vision for this book that felt fitting of the story.
The pure perfection of this story is not around Mr. Freeze trying to melt an ice core, but really around the dedication and devotion Batman has to battling his villains. Snyder has done great things with Batman and set the bar high with other writers who take on the caped crusader, but this book is set apart because there is not build up to the action. We do not have issue upon issue of build up or back story to give the action panel and confrontation between Mr. Freeze and Batman a climatic feel. We garner all of that from just the little jewels of narrative provided by Snyder throughout the story. Little jewels like a passing joke Batman makes about how his voice sounds strange after many hours of silence, and how he developed specially designed weapons just for Mr. Freeze mere hours ago on no sleep. All of these passing narratives allow the reader to form a complete picture on what caused the build up, and we are so familiar with Snyder’s Batman that it is comfortable for the reader to do so.
Snyder has built trust with his readers, and he continues to earn their trust and admiration with All-Star Batman #6. Just when you think Batman stories have peaked, this book allows you to be surprised, moved, and impressed all over again. This is the first issue of the All-Star Batman series with a new creative team and this issue shows the true diversity of stories we are going to see, from John Romita Jr. with Snyder showcasing Batman and Two- Face on a road trip to Jock and Snyder going to Alaska to show Bats taking on Mr. Freeze, we can only wait with bated breath for the next story.