Wednesday, April 19, 2017

All Star Batman by Scott Snyder issue #4

Snyder's All Star Batman continues to be a worthwhile adventure, and the definition of which is that it's bat-shit insane! Still forty pages per issue, Snyder's series is packing a lot of heat and gimmicks balanced out by his sincere storytelling with emotional weight. All Star Batman is shaping out to be a thrilling bombastic ride that can get campy when it wants to be and, much like KG Beast, won't give a fuck if shit starts falling apart as long as it's for the sake of chaos and fun. I'll tell you who was not falling apart though and that's no other than Batman who had suffered so many physical attacks and injuries that I have no goddamn clue how he still manages to kick ass. Well, he's Batman. I suppose that explanation alone should suffice, amirite?

To recap, Two Face poured acid into Batsy's face mask. So his vision is impaired pretty badly. But hey, he's Batman.

I won't be doing a blow-by-blow description of the action sequences that happened for this issue because I shall maintain from here on out that one should experience All Star Batman's craziness firsthand because no amount of explanation can truly capture the spectacle that Snyder and Romita Jr. had produced for every issue. Granted, this issue wasn't as uneven as the first two which is an improvement because now there's an actual clear plot we can follow, and characters' actions and motivations do make sense in the long run---except for those distractingly colorful Talons. Fuck those guys. Also, check out them PECTORAL SPEAKERS!

That was, hands-down, my most favorite moment of this issue! Second only to that heartfelt dialogue piece between Batman and Duke which I will tackle later on. I mean, pectoral speakers, guys! That's All Star Batman in a nutshell. If you ever want to sell this wacky series to friends, just flip through the pages which illustrate the most ridiculous gadgets Batman had ever packed here in the series alone and we're all good to go! Nothing will ever beat that long-ass batarang from issues ago though. That shit can reap damage like a motherfucker! Ah, there are so many fun memories I can associate with All Star Batman already. But this mind-boggling yet entertaining series is not all just giant monsters beating the shit out of Batman and Penguin burning random people using his umbrella that apparently can shoot out fire in such fine precision, oh no. This series also has a central character conflict which is all about Harvey Dent and Two Face's ongoing rivalry as to which part of him has more claim over the other. 

My Own Worst Enemy is an episodic arc that builds up this tension between the two fragile sides of Dent; his earnest do-gooder persona and the twisted malicious alter ego who wants to destroy whatever goodness is left in Dent. Batman serves as the mediator, expressing a hopeful desire to save his friend from completely losing himself to the darkness. This was why he was willing to endure through brutal lengths just to ensure he can save Harvey Dent from Two Face---even if that means tying him at the back of one of his personal jetliners while he has some insightful dialogue exchange with his current protégé Duke.

I thought that this is one of the most brilliant writing achievements Snyder had put in paper. It worked both ways too in showing Batman's insight and investment on the conflict as well as Duke's own sympathetic angle in regards to the shit going down with his parents (who were still suffering the effects of Joker's toxin back in Endgame). Here we understand that Bruce is someone who believes in people and the goodness that they are and the greatness they can still become. He asserts that everyone has a potential to be redeemed even probably the worst of mankind. Nothing is ever black and white and even the most depraved and morally unethical may even do the right thing if they try hard enough to change their ways. Bruce appreciates the irony of holding onto such a notion, but it's by trusting in the humanity of people that gets him up every night to fight crime after all. This was in relation to Harvey's complicated relationship with his abusive father and to a lesser extent, Duke's staunch belief that his parents can escape the poison that is still hijacking their biology. Bruce expresses the same kind of optimism over Harvey's identity crisis. He wants to believe his friend is not beyond saving because life is all about second chances and unexpected miracles after all.

This fourth issue also concluded the side-story at the end of every issue entitled The Cursed Wheel which wrapped up in a flat note, if you ask me, but at least I no longer find myself that detached to Duke anymore. I think the side-story did a fine enough job establishing him as competent and driven by himself, and that his heart is in the right place even if he tends to make haste and commit small errors along the way. He can learn and grow especially since Batman chose him for a reason, and I have a lot of faith in Bruce's judgment so I'll give Duke more chances to prove himself. I hope to see more of the artist Declan Shalvey's work though.

I think more people should read All Star Batman as long as they consider it a standalone series since it's more effective that way!


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