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.