The fifth installment of this series is also the conclusion to the My Own Worst Enemy arc concerning Two Face/Harvey Dent. And I liked it a lot, the way everything was tied up neatly, including the vital loose threads. For what it's worth, it's been an audaciously fun ride! Everything was fast-paced and the few parts that were humorous were campy and never bashful about being so. I liked the presence of KG Beast and the tug of war happening between Batsy and Two Face as well as Two Face and Harvey Dent themselves. But even with all the topsy-turvy shenanigans going on, Snyder still managed to deliver a character-centric story that has some impact, and it's in the moments he can craft that when All Star Batman truly shines.
This final piece to the Two Face arc was not perfect but it had brilliant markings. It held enough gravitas, sure, but if you start nitpicking at each layer you will come to realize that it was a flawed conclusion even though Snyder and co did a fine enough job with the landing. This series overall was offbeat and experimental which was why I opted to forgive some oversight and weak plot devices here and there, especially since this issue had a share of those. My enjoyment didn't lessen at all once I start inspecting these flaws because for the last four issues I was vigorously entertained and amused which means something. Snyder wrote a Batman story that actually made me giggle here and there, and in comparison with his grim and poignant run when he was still the writer for the flagship Bat series, this for me was a refreshing angle to experience concerning his writing for the character.
John Romita Jr.'a art style is not for everyone, but for an action-packed and gimmicky adventure story with lots of fight sequences and landscape shots, his style worked pretty well to complement the punches that Snyder never hesitated to pull for every issue. The breadth of the illustrations for All Star Batman is remarkable; very dynamic and colorful and so easy to get lost in, most notably those lush flashback sequences about Bruce and Harvey's childhood. That unforgettable action scene on the train as well as the steamboat escapade for this issue were definitely easy stand-outs and Romita Jr.'s rendition of the scenes contributed to that memorable factor. I wouldn't say he's a favorite artist but I enjoyed the body of work he produced for this series alone.
That being said, I wanted to point out the increasingly unbelievable feats of physical strengths that Batman displayed for My Own Worst Enemy. The attacks he had to endure and soldier on have been massive and should have taken a toll on him, but Batman was still walking and kicking ass and I don't think that I can buy into that crap because Bruce Wayne is no Sups or Diana. He's a normal guy who has just undergone extensive training but even he should have limits. He has ruptured and fractured so many parts of his body so I don't understand how he can still stand up! At no point was this inhuman invincibility was addressed though, so let's chalk it up to simple oversight or casual negligence. It's not that important unless you dwell on it anyway.
But I want to talk about the two dangling threads which were introduced in the first two issues then abandoned later on and finally resolved here in the last installment. I'm referring of course to the reason why Alfred shot the bat-plane in the first issue and why Gordon and the rest of the GCPD are in the Wayne Manor right now and are apparently going to investigate a possible 'man-cave' underground. Both are consequential of each other as it turns out. Let me just show you this page of Alfred being uncharacteristically flippant and weird. Seriously, I don't recognize this Alfred. He's too easily rattled:
Gordon fared better, canon characterization-wise, because he got to me witty in those few pages he appeared in. His dialogue with Alfred subtly hinted that he knows Batman is Bruce Wayne but he's still tiptoeing around it for the sake of discretion and I like it because it shows Gordon is a competent and smart enough detective to figure out the real deal, but also upholds that he should keep Batman's identity a secret. So now we know why Alfred shot down that plane and then when the GCPD arrived underground, they didn't find the batcave at all but just some ordinary 'man-cave'. Gordon had a little laugh with that deception yet was relieved that Batman's secret gets to live another day. So those loose threads were tied up in a sort of anticlimactic yet acceptable way.
And now we come to the main event which was Two Face's treachery regarding the cure:
And Batman flipping the chessboard on him all along:
Good stuff. Two Face thinks he had the upper hand but Batman has it all along. I liked the angle that they were childhood friends but it didn't really contribute anything that meaningful in the story except maybe the fact that Bruce becomes privy about Harvey's daddy issues and how his abusive father would use a coin toss to determine whether or not to beat up Harvey. But the twist about that cure was a good one, I can give Snyder that. I like the fact that Batman modified it so that Two Face and Harvey are locked in a permanent battle of dominance. He's essentially stuck at being dissociative. It's a little cruel but also poetic.
The next villain arc is going to be about Mr. Freeze. That should be promising.
And yes, I know my review of this issue may have come off as lazy and rushed but I've been in a weird place in my life right now that not even reading and reviewing Batman cheers me up. I promise that my next reviews would be on-point again and less scattered. I'm slowly getting the feeling that I've been subpar in my analyses and insights ever since I came back from my trip. It must be mental fatigue, I don't know. Anyway, things will look up soon for tomorrow with my review of King's issue #5.