ALL-STAR BAT­MAN

Mad Bats

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW!

Pub­lisher DC Comics

Writer scott snyder

Artist John romita Jr

Thanks to the bril­liant Re­birth, there are a lot of Bat­man books on shelves right now – so many it can be tough to choose which one to buy. The main Bat­man book? Jus­tice League? De­tec­tive Comics? Maybe one of the spin-offs. Bat­man Be­yond? Bat­man ’66? Gotham Acad­emy? Ac­tu­ally, what about the vil­lains? Death­stroke? Har­ley Quinn? Cat­woman? You get the point. To buy them all, you’d need to take a se­cond mort­gage out on Wayne Manor.

Thank DC, then, for putting out All-Star Bat­man, which ful­fils the prom­ise of its ti­tle by putting writer Scott Snyder and artist John Romita Jr to­gether, al­low­ing them to make full use of the enor­mous Gotham City sand­box. Snyder and Romita Jr are util­is­ing so many char­ac­ters it of­ten feels like you’re read­ing five books at once. Talk about value for money.

The ge­nius premise of the first arc sees Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) telling ev­ery­one in Gotham that he and Bat­man are go­ing on a (track­able) road trip to­gether. If they get where they’re go­ing, ev­ery dark se­cret of ev­ery Gotham res­i­dent will be up­loaded on­line. If some­one takes down Bat­man on the way, the killer will be re­warded with un­told riches. Cue ev­ery vil­lain Bat­man’s ever faced try­ing to cash in.

It’s a high con­cept wor­thy of a block­buster movie, so it’s ex­tremely sat­is­fy­ing to see it play out like one. Imag­ine Mad Max: Fury Road if it starred Bat­man with a chain­saw and you’re about half­way to the en­ter­tain­ment lev­els reached in the first three is­sues. Snyder clearly has a well-worn Bat-vil­lain en­cy­clopae­dia in his desk. It’s the only way to ex­plain the sight of the KGBeast fac­ing off against the Royal Flush Gang (re­mem­ber them?) for the right to kill Bat­man. It’s a mo­ment played for laughs, and it sure gets them.

But it’s not all old news/ char­ac­ters. Snyder also in­cor­po­rates the new Robin, Duke, into the nar­ra­tive, re­veal­ing key char­ac­ter el­e­ments, and hand­ing him some of the arc’s fun­ni­est lines (the bit in­volv­ing his favourite band’s name is worth the cover cost alone…).

This is an im­pos­si­bly fun book, stuffed with stand-out mo­ments. Ev­ery time you think the se­ries has hit its peak, it sur­prises you with a new Bat-gad­get, ob­scure vil­lain or hi­lar­i­ous one-liner from a Bat­man who’s half-grumpy, half-smug, and all snark. As you’d ex­pect given the premise, there’s a lot of well­chore­ographed ac­tion, but Snyder also finds time for qui­eter flash­back mo­ments, which go deep into Bruce and Harvey’s re­la­tion­ship/back­story, all beau­ti­fully ren­dered in wa­ter­colours by Romita Jr.

So, if you only buy one Bat­man book, buy All-Star Bat­man. Be­cause it’s ba­si­cally all of them. Sam Ashurst

Snyder says we can ex­pect All-Star’s pace to in­crease when it gets to­wards the end: “It kind of ca­reens to­wards a cliff.”

A high con­cept wor­thy of a movie

Looks like ev­ery­body’s go­ing through a pur­ple patch.

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