All Star Batman #1 review

Batman and Two-Face are on a road trip. In the Batplane. Batman's trying to take Two-Face somewhere to end the menace of the coin-flipping maniac once and for all. 
That's Good Two-Face. Bad Two-Face, meanwhile, has put the word out that if Batman succeeds, he'll release all his blackmail material into the world - and he has stuff on everyone. If someone kills Batman and frees Two-Face, they'll win the fortunes of Gotham's three biggest crimelords. 
It's quite an offer and the first people to take advantage in this debut issue are retooled versions of Killer Moth, Firefly and Black Spider. It won't surprise you to hear that none of these guys are much of a threat, but perhaps someone a lot closer to Batman is...

... oh, I do like a nice Traitor Within the Legion storyline, or in this case, a Judas in the Batcave. 'Judas' works for me, with 30 pieces of silver equating to Dent's double-sided Liberty dollar and the apparent traitor probably thinking of the greater good.  

There are lots of things I like about the first story in this issue (I know! Hang fire...). Two-Face's thematically grisly attack on Gotham; Duke at Batman's side; the wonderfully naturalistic dialogue of the diner folk; a splendid feint in a cornfield. 

I'm not so sure of writer Scott Snyder's new take on Two-Face as an information broker - it feels more like a Calculator play, and Two-Face works just fine as an agent of chaos, someone who can turn on you in an instant. But Snyder has written enough work that I've enjoyed loads that he deserves time to convince me. 

I am sure that I don't like the structure of this issue. If you've read the comic, and are a regular on this blog, you'll likely have guessed what got to me. 
While a bit of timeshifting allows for an exciting in media res opening, the regular flipping back and forth stops me relaxing into the story - I'm constantly aware of the structure when I should be sucked into the frame. If anyone can give me the advantages of This Sort of Thing, there's a nice Comments spot below. 

John Romita Jr's pencils work better here than they did in Superman, there's something about his stony-faced folk that suits the story. 
Heck, has Commissioner Gordon ever had such buns of steel? He also has a beard, which is weird. He looks most unlike himself, though less so than during his Bat-Bunny phase. I think he's going through a midlife crisis. 
Speaking of weird, I'm all for new ways of introducing a flashback, but has anyone else ever done a 'flashback backpack'? 
Can anyone tell me what's happening in this centre panel? My eye can't separate the action out. 

And I'm not at all keen on the new designs for Killer Moth and co, they're too tubular, too similar in feel.  

Still, I liked the illustrations - inked by Danny Miki - more than not, especially on the page which sees colourist Dean White apparently try a new technique. 
I hope this look spreads through to fill a whole issue. There's good work, too, from letterer Steve Wands, who chooses a UK comics style-font that makes me feel warm and fuzzy

The issue's back-up, also written by Snyder, focuses on new Not-Robin Duke's training. He and Batman discover that a carpet warehouse has become a murder scene. Before we see the worst horror, there's a...
... which does bring in an intriguing concept - Bat-training as colour wheel. I have no idea where this is going, but colour me intrigued. There's also a mystery. 
I'm actually more excited about this than the main story, whose stated aim of including all sorts of bat-villains in one story has me afraid of a Hush-style melange. But again, Snyder is a terrific writer, and he's being edited by terrific editors Mark Doyle and Rebecca Taylor, so fingers crossed.  Plus, the final page villain is one of my favourites. 

Drawing the back-up are illustrator Declan Shalvey and colour artist Jordie Bellaire (as they're now engaged I shall think of them as bat-rothed). They produce stylish pages with a pleasantly Norm Breyfogle vibe, the highlight being a spread of the Batcave positively throbbing with spooky bats.  

This issue comes with several covers, at least digitally. The main one isn't bad, though I'm puzzled by Romita's depiction of batarang as razor-bow. 
Romita, Miki and White also get a variant, a nice film poster treatment, though the chains and Batman's apparently open utility belt have me worried...
Shalvey and Bellaire's image appeals to my love of warped perspective and symmetry.
As for Jock's, there's a savagery that recalls the best of Bill Sienkiewicz's Moon Knight. 

So, there's plenty of good in this issue, but if ...
... continues to be a thing, I may not become a regular reader. 


  1. yeah sorry mart from the looks of this we still have to flashback to whole acid rain attack so there may be more flashbacks to come, just my opinion. Also when will Duke get a codename an what is this different thing he is doing with Duke

    1. I assumed the acid rain think was over, having been established. I hope so.

      I hope Duke doesn't get stuck with that flash forward name, Lark... far too effete.

    2. maybe that was Snyder having a Lark with us but seriously love me some Gentleman Ghost but this new looks kinda concerns on 1 hand it looks snazzy on the other it lacks the flair of usual look plus why did Spoiler alert take out the Batplane

  2. Sometimes that type of time-jumping works for me, and sometimes it doesn't. I thought this week's [i]Deathstroke Rebirth[/i] did a great job with it... but then, Priest is an old hand at that sort of thing.

  3. I abhor Deathstroke. Please don't make me read Deathstroke!

    1. I haven't liked him since Wolfman was writing him in Teen Titans...until this issue came out. It's good stuff. But life's too short to read something you don't want to!

    2. I didn't even like him then, but Priest is very good, and you aren't known for terrible choices, I shall report back!

    3. Good luck -- I hope you like it!

    4. Well, I don't feel I wasted my time but I shan't be continuing. I really do not like the character! The flashbacks were the most interesting part, and I'm interested to see if there's a Rebirth Jericho and (was it?) Ravager? I'm never into superheroes and villains being around real world conflicts. Then again, this comic has Clock King! Hmmmm.

    5. That was about what I expected -- it's a good book, but if you have no affection for the character (even a dormant affection like mine), it's not going to connect. Yeah, Grant was Ravager, who died in battle with the Titans in their second issue, prompting Slade to pick up his contract with HIVE. It's interesting to me that in his first appearance, Slade was blantantly manipulated by the engineered death of his son. Grant's probably still dead these days; I'm not sure if Jericho has shown up post-Flashpoint or not.


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