“He keeps going, even when there’s no more road. When he has gone over the cliff and is falling… falling. But even falling he simply refuses to hit the ground.”
Scott Snyder continues to entertain with yet another explosive entry into his prolific oeuvre of Batman. Two Face continues to dangle at the end of Batman’s rope. With countless assassins and bounty hunters at his heels, our hero is more desperate than ever. Little did he know, the odds against him are growing as quickly as the supporting cast. Making use of the “deep bench” that is Batman’s rogue gallery, Snyder scares up some hilariously obscure villains to block the odd couple’s path. Unfortunately, none of these villains make much of an impression due to their brief appearances. But as obstacles for the travelling act of Batman and Two Face the alternating adversaries make for a fun read. Some of the polish has faded from the exquisite debut thanks to repeated use of the same tropes and plot twists, but with an 80’s-inspired script and some of John Romita Jr.’s best work All-Star Batman #2 is a must read.
Despite Two Face’s best efforts the game remains unchanged. Batman and his captive are making their way to a mysterious location said to help Harvey Dent cast out his gangster alter ego. Though the two are further down the mile marker, the plot remains stagnant for the issue. Much like last month’s #1, Batman is beat down, seemingly at the end of his line, before recovering in typical superhero fashion. Pepper that with a few colorful villains and both issues of All-Star Batman start to look oddly similar. There are twists and turns featuring some of Batman’s greatest allies, which also resembles revelations from the debut. Luckily, Scott Snyder is one of the best writers in the business. Having crafted some of the most intricate Batman stories in recent memory it’s exciting to see him explore so simple a premise. Gone are his long, operatic monologues and introductions. Instead he’s placed swashbuckling action and adventure at the forefront.
In the final pages of All-Star Batman #2, Snyder and artist Declan Shelvey craft another great bookend for the story. Duke has had a tough time proving himself as a worthy addition to the Batfamily. Here we finally find him in the thick of danger at Batman’s side. Using his own deductive skills, Duke is shaping up to be one of Scott Snyder’s greatest contributions to the Batcanon. The tone of All-Star Batman #2’s backstory, “The Cursed Wheel,” can be likened to Snyder’s Detective Comics run: teasing a dark and tense mystery for comics’ greatest investigator. A quiet yet perfect companion to the thrilling pages that preceded it.
There are villains aplenty in All-Star’s current arc, “My Own Worst Enemy”. There are so many some of Gotham’s greatest criminals are relegated to just one panel or page. It can be a bit frustrating to have so many interesting characters pass by without so much as a scene or cliched threat. But to his credit, when Snyder focuses on a particular character he’s capable of truly enticing the reader. KG Beast specifically stands out in his brief cameo with witty wordplay and tense dialogue. But Snyder is nobody’s fool. The lackeys coming out of the woodwork can’t hold a candle to the development he’s putting into Two Face.
The New 52 was not kind to the morally-skewed attorney. His most important story being a filler-arc in Peter Tomasi’s Batman and Robin. Snyder is looking to make Two Face an A-lister once again with John Romita Jr’s excellent new costume. Colorist Dean White makes Harvey Dent’s scarred face both grotesque and magnetic. Couple that with Romita and inker Danny Miki’s volcanic design and Two Face becomes a visual treat. The art team gets a lot of designs and set pieces to play with: from an armored car to a musty sewer. Killer Croc is especially captivating thanks to White’s exquisite coloring on his numerous scales. It’s inspiring to see an art team excel at the seemingly impossible endeavor of illustrating a Batman story set in broad daylight.
Not as malicious or powerful as some other Bat-villains, he’s armed himself with knowledge. The “information” he’s accrued serves as the deus ex machina of this story. Two Face has everyone’s secrets, and he’ll reveal them all if he isn’t rescued. Snyder gives him enough tools to make for a truly compelling villain without raising a fist. While he may not be among Batman’s most vicious villains he’s certainly capable of manipulating them into doing his bidding.
Throwing a cavalcade of villains at Batman and watching what happens has become old hat over the years. But with some of comics’ greatest creatives at the helm, All-Star Batman #2 is a success. Bruce is desperate, tired, and on the run. Allies and enemies alike are trying to keep Batman from helping Harvey Dent become himself again. Though the story seems to borrow heavily from the previous issue the pages continue to entice with colorful characters and interesting set-pieces. Having the entire story take place during the light of day helps Snyder get across that this is not his New 52 Batman run. His work with Greg Capullo made for a weighty and poetic exploration of one of fiction’s best protagonists. After Rebirth was unveiled, one of the greatest announcements was Snyder’s return to Batman by way of DC’s All-Star title. Here, he’s invested in creating a memorable, exciting Batman story unlike any he’s told in the past. Almost serving as an homage to the kind of blockbuster storytelling that’s absent from modern Hollywood mediocrity. Tom isn’t the only “king” on Batman. He and Scott Snyder share that throne, and if they continue to tell stories like All-Star Batman, long may they reign.
- Fun and Entertaining
- High-Octane Action
- In-depth Characterization of Two Face
- Reused Devices and Tropes