Tuesday, April 4, 2017

All Star Batman by Scott Snyder issue #2

I liked this issue. Sure, it still had the same format concerning a non-linear approach to the narrative such as time skips, which I maintain was problematic during its debut. Luckily enough, for this second issue, Snyder was able to utilize the style better to suit the storytelling, giving him a good advantage to make most of the plot threads presented. His Batman even cracks me up because he made the silliest joke ever imaginable and I don't even want to repeat it because it's so rare for Bats to have a sense of humor. Still, I would also argue that if Batman ever had a sense of humor, he would be a total cornball. And Snyder just proved me right.

The real selling point of this issue was the fact that we finally get more nuanced moments between Batman and Two-Face. Sure, most of the time they bickered their way through the issue like a couple of dum-dums, but the interaction was very believable and even a little sad. There's an unspoken camaraderie between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent that we are too quick sometimes to gloss over to make room for punching and stabbing and whatnot, and yet the friendship itself was effectively rendered in that one page of art for this issue which featured an ambiguous flashback. I must admit it was beautiful to look at, and I need to see what happens in that flashback because I can smell some genuine bromance brewing. My radar is hardly wrong. 

The narrative flows better in My Worst Enemy Part 2 even if there were panels of dialogue here between Alfred and Duke that sort of slowed down the well-oiled machine of the issue's pacing. They didn't necessarily ruined the fun, though, because they at least gave good commentary concerning the relationship between Batman and Two-Face. I suppose my gripe for that scene is mostly just me becoming a little embittered about Duke Thomas in general. I'm trying my very best to like the kid, but no one is making it easy for me at the moment, so I'll just continue to ignore him until he proves worthy of my attention.

John Romita Jr. is an artist I knew best from the Kick Ass comics, and his art works best for action sequences very well especially for this second issue which featured exciting confrontations on the roof of a speeding train where Batman had to face an array of cameo villain characters who all want to set Two-Face free. The dialogue and most of the fight scenes were balls-out hilarious! How can it not be when you have Killer Croc, King Shark and Amygdala in one scene? These muscular beasts all have an axe to grind with Batsy and they were not afraid to make him their punching bag. My favorite moment had to be this panel which never fails to make me snicker because there is just something campy about it that I rarely get to see in modern Batman.

As I've said, what I like about this issue is the pacing which kept me engaged the entire time. We have Bats and Two-Face never getting along as a bunch of bad guys try to interrupt their quality time and make Bats suffer---but in the most entertaining Western way possible. Most importantly, there's a real story developing and progressing as we move further along the line. The time skips make more sense now too and a very good way to build up the suspense because it has a future scene stamped with Two Days From Now and it featured Gordon and the rest of GCPD staking out the Wayne Mansion for reasons I think will soon come to light as we find out what happens in Batman's mission to take Two-Face upstate. I have no problem whatsover with this foreshadowing because I always find the small moments of conflict between Batman and law enforcement to be a given in comics, and it certainly makes things more tense and realistic whenever the GCPD don't always have Batman's back, even Gordon who should be allowed to voice against his caped crusader ally every now and then. Speaking of tension and conflict...

I really appreciated that scene among the Penguin, Black Mask and Great White as they all hired a common assassin to take out Batman. I won't reveal the identity of said mercenary, but I sure hope he would become a consistent player who will keep stalking Batman and Two-Face for the rest of the issues. Said dude's cool attitude is also quite growing on me so I want to see him again.

This series in entirety is 30+ pages long for every issue and this is where that backup story The Cursed Wheel comes along. Nothing about it has yet to impress me, really, aside from the artwork done by Declan Shalvey. Other than that, the characterization for Batman here seemed almost like he was the Batman I knew and loathed a little during the first few issues of Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi. He was aloof, dismissive and even outright uncaring about anyone but the crime he must solve. He's not exactly showing his best foot forward here, especially if he truly wants to establish a good partnership with Duke Thomas whose motives to fight crime and join Batman were at least given some context here. I also enjoyed reading this panel below:

That right there summarizes my small complaint about Duke Thomas as a character and I'm glad Snyder was self-aware enough to address what I believe are most readers' grievances about him. I can't help but smirk a little when even Batman himself admits that perhaps he also thinks Duke is not cut out for this line of work but keeps him around for reasons he would not discuss as of yet. I don't know, it may be a tad petty of me to take cheap pleasure that Duke was knocked down a peg here, but it's not like I have any reason to like him or root for him at the moment. I just don't know what to feel about the character. Soon enough, Snyder might just turn The Cursed Wheel into a legitimately compelling Duke-centric story next to its mystery case, and I hope he can convince me to perceive his original character in a better light once it's all over. Fingers crossed but I don't have the highest hopes.

Overall, this second issue was a vast improvement from its debut because it's just tons of fun without necessarily sacrificing good storytelling. I'm more than eager to see what's in store for Batman and Two-Face as they continue with their road trip.


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