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All Star Batman #1 Review

Script by Scott Snyder

Pencils by John Romita, Jr.

Inks by Danny Miki

Colors by Dean White

Letters by Steve Wands

Reviewed by Max Mallet

I’m trying something different.” 

DC Comics

All-Star Batman #1

Scott Snyder, crafting sentence and story.  John Romita Jr., penciling persons and landscapes. Batman, in the daytime, wielding a chainsaw in a cornfield.

If you expect more of the same from Scott Snyder’s run on Batman in the New 52, then hold onto your capes and cowls, folks!  Because you’re in for a wild ride (literally and figuratively) with All Star Batman #1.  One of Batman’s most storied rogues has dirt on Gotham’s heroes and villains alike, and puts a bounty on Batman.  The reward: the fortunes of Gotham’s three wealthiest crime bosses.   Chaos ensues as Batman takes said rogue north of Gotham in a presumable attempt to rehabilitate them, introducing readers to several of the Dark Knight’s lesser-known adversaries along the way.

Within the first few pages, All Star Batman is instantly more whimsical than any single issue of Snyder’s New 52 Batman series.  Pivotal characters are introduced via title cards – in similar fashion to the way the Suicide Squad movie introduced us to the members of that motley crew.  Snyder and John Romita Jr. (pencils) introduce us to Batman with a literal wink as the bloodied super-hero picks himself off of the floor.  He’s still the Batman you know, dispatching foes with intellect, gadgetry and brute force – but there’s something more playful about this story and the action.  Mood fluctuates from playful to sinister – the former applies to what’s currently happening and the latter applies to past events.  The darker moments of the issue would have little place in the pages of other titles, but they don’t come anywhere close to the bleakness of choice moments in stories like Death of the Family or Zero Year

At one point, Batman not so subtly reminds the readers that he’d be a mainstay on Jeopardy (as if Bruce needs the money) as he drops pertinent knowledge about moths while in the heat of hand-to-hand combat.  In this way, Snyder’s writing is instantly familiar, combining fierce intelligence with occasional humor and a penchant for multiple flashback sequences.  The story doesn’t rely on formula, serving more as a joyride than a tour de force in this first issue.  More stones remain unturned than overturned by the last page, but there’s plenty of action and mystery to satiate the legions of Batman fans that wait in the wings (ahem) of the next noteworthy Snyder story arc.

Romita’s artwork might take a little adjusting to, given what Greg Capullo accomplished in the previous Batman run, but it still works here.  The mood is noticeably lighter through much of the issue, as the accomplished artist gives the readership a lot of Batman-in-the-daytime action.  It’s refreshing to see DC’s moneymaker outside of his comfort zone, with colorist Dean White trading in the concrete-and-rain atmosphere that encompasses Gotham for the sprawling gold and green fields of Middle America.  The art throughout births many fresh Batman moments, including sure-to-become-iconic villain takedowns.  It’s a new aesthetic, but it still looks like a Batman book.

Verdict

Buy *this* Issue.  If you read Snyder’s previous work on New 52 Batman, then you likely enjoyed it because you have eyes and are literate.  You therefore owe it to yourself to check out his continuing work on a Batman title.  It’s brimming with lots to like.   With names like Snyder and Romita Jr. attached to it, this was always going to be the outcome.  

The problem is the $4.99 price point.  It’s longer, but not twice as long as other Rebirth #1s, so it’s frankly disappointing that the price tag is nearly double that of other DC Rebirth issues. All Star Batman is monthly instead of bi-monthly, but it still doesn’t match the value of other DC Rebirth titles on a dollar-to-page ratio. The price tag will not fall with next month’s issue.  That makes it hard to recommend buying this title on an issue-to-issue basis instead of waiting to buy the trade.

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