Thursday, April 6, 2017

All Star Batman by Scott Snyder issue #3

Things seemed to have settled down for All Star's Batman third issue where the dust has cleared for a bit and the action has to take a backseat to make way for some overdue exposition and narrative focus. For that alone, I think this issue feels more grounded and understandable as it also allowed Snyder's writing for the characters and the plot itself to shine. I definitely feel as if I'm back in familiar territory regarding his style of approach when it comes to crafting a beguiling Batman story. I thought it was pretty entertaining, of course, all those crazy shenanigans of Batsy fighting of hired muscle and other kooky mercenaries so he can travel upstate and save Harvey Dent buried somewhere within the malicious persona of Two-Face.

But the core strength in Snyder's writing are the small nuances of characterization that personally make his stories worthy of prolonged emotional investment in. If All Star Batman becomes a resonant piece that is not just all about spectacle and explosion, then I'm most certainly going to keep looking forward for the next installments. This issue had some great humorous moments in it still in spite of it having a more serious tone. Romita Jr.'s art continues to grow on me, and since his earlier illustrations portrayed fast-paced ass-kicking, it's commendable to see how his style can adapt when it comes to more subdued scenes.

Standout scenes here that I liked are anything with hired assassin KGBeast whose identity I didn't even reveal in my last review for the series. All you need to know is that he's an absolute doll and even though Batsy and Two-Face were able to get away from him for now thanks to Duke, I'm certain KG my man will make his surprise appearance later on. Another scene I enjoyed was that over-the-top Penguin scene since it reminded me so much of Gotham's own version played by Robin Lord Taylor. I can totally picture that version opening a personalized umbrella that breathes fire and turns annoying extras into a burnt crisp, which is exactly what Snyder's Penguin did here during that amusing scene. I don't know why I don't have a screenshot of that moment here. Damn.

There is also that unexpected yet sensible appearance of the Talons who are sporting new colors that can only be described as flashy. Does the color change have anything to do with who they are? I feel that maybe they are a bunch of freelancers and don't serve the Court of Owls but Two-Face. Anyway, I'm mentioning the standout scenes first before I tackle the main attraction later. The last standout scene was the welcome appearance of Harold Allnut. This character is someone I recognize easily from Hush whom I recall had sold out Batman to Tommy Elliot with the promise of getting a voice since he's mute. Originally, he used to work for Penguin's crew before Batman decided to give him a new purpose leaning more on the righteous path. He's certainly talking here in this issue and I think his role is essential, considering he's a mechanic genius which can explain how Bruce is able to maintain the inner workings of the Batcave. Harold's participation can be a believable reason for that.

So let's get to the main story for this issue. In that wonderfully drawn flashback sequence, we find out that Bruce and Harvey know each other in childhood when they were both sent to a facility that I think deals with troubled children. Bruce had just lost his parents, and apparently Harvey has an abusive father who liked to beat him up by the whim of a coin toss. They reconnected as adults later on when Harvey became a District Attorney and Bruce became Batman. It took them a while to realize who they are to each other, but at that point it didn't seem to matter. Or does it? Two-Face remembers Bruce from childhood which is telling since Harvey and Two-Face don't know the same things as each other. They are completely disassociated from each other's memories, so the fact that Two-Face can remember this piece of Harvey's childhood can possibly mean HE was the one Bruce met as a child.

It's getting really fascinating and nerve-wracking at this point, especially that cliffhanger at the end where Two-Face administers the 'cure' that Batman will supposedly use to restore Harvey. Two-Face proclaimed that perhaps that 'cure' will instead make him permanent and not Harvey Dent---before he pours it all over Batman's eyes. So I don't know what the fuck that would entail but I'm excited to know soon! I also like the idea of Bruce and Harvey going way back. I feel as if it's a key to something.

The Cursed Wheel backup story, fortunately, has received some more grounded storytelling as well. This is shaping out to be Duke-centric piece which I don't mind at all because I want to be given a reason to like this character and so far being able to see him attempt to be a detective and follow the trail was great. It's making him more real while hopefully fleshing out his personality. That flashback scene about his mom waking him up in the middle of the night to tell him about a murder was rather awkwardly handled though, but other than that, the story is finally picking up steam, and Declan Shalvey's art is becoming rather engrossing to look at. This was a satisfying installment overall so I will give it a much higher rating than the first two.


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