All Star Batman #2 Review

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Posted September 14, 2016 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Scott Snyder

Art by: John Romita Jr, Danny Miki, Dean White

Publisher: DC Comics

Perhaps the most striking aspect of All Star Batman is the extent to which it doesn’t feel like a DC book. Of course, it stars two widely recognized DC characters, so obviously the creative team can’t fully divorce themselves from the universe. To be fair, despite my enjoyment of the book’s structure and vibe, I do really enjoy the fact that it’s a story about Batman. It’s refreshing to be reading a DC book that manages to differentiate itself from the rest of DC’s line up of books.

That said, the book may go a little bit too deep in terms of the disjointed narrative. I don’t think it’s entirely clear the order in which events are happening, at least the first time through. Normally my second and third reads of a book I’m reviewing involve looking for minute details to comment on, but here my second read was just for comprehension. I can’t say for certain that this will be everyone’s experience, but usually I’m not thrown off by a non-linear narrative.

Despite it being initially confusing, I did end up quite enjoying the narrative structure when I went back to the book. I praised it in the last issue, and I think the sequencing does actually add impact to the individual scenes in this book. In part, I think this can be chalked up to Romita Jr’s page structures. The book cuts at logical intervals, and the layouts add a ton of gravitas to the issue.

While I did quite enjoy this issue, I did get the sense that Snyder is trying to jam a little bit too much into this issue, and the writing suffers a bit as a result. There are a couple scenes that are overwritten, although I can see there being an excuse for over-explaining and monologuing nonsensically. The scene that really bugged me, however, was a scene between Alfred and Duke in the Batcave. Snyder is doing some really cool things with Two-Face, and this exchange seemed a bit heavy handed.

Regardless, I still think that the use of Two-Face here is absolutely incredible. The interactions between him and Batman are still engrossing, and the subtle development of both characters is really awesome to read. And it’s not only the dynamic between those two that makes Two-Face interesting. In fact, I would say that it’s his internal dynamic that makes the conflict interesting. That element of the book does feel like it’s shaping up to be a bit of a slow burn, but as long as the writing maintains this quality I don’t mind that whatsoever.

This may not apply to everyone reading this book, but I’m really impressed with the character’s Snyder is choosing to include. We haven’t really seen any A-listers show up outside of the two leads, and that’s rather refreshing as well. It emphasizes the fact that this is a slightly smaller character Batman story. I kind of wish Snyder would lean into that a little bit more, but the simple fact that it doesn’t feel like a world ending threat is something I enjoy.

Plot wise, the fact that the cliffhanger from the first issue wasn’t addressed is odd, but the book is still very much in set up mode. The plot certainly moves forward, but this issue serves more to intensify my desire for answers than anything else. The fact that I am really looking forward to having some questions answered is certainly a testament to how well the book has built suspense thus far.

There are some specifics I really want to talk about – mostly things I want to praise – but I feel like that would be treading into spoiler territory, which I want to avoid. I’m going to say Snyder has some interesting ideas about Batman’s relationship with his non-superhero allies, and I’m excited to see those developed over the course of this story. We’ll probably get into spoilers on the Comics Dash podcast though, so look out for that.

I briefly mentioned Romita’s art earlier, but a lot of my sentiments are very similar to the last issue. I still think that this is career-best work for him, despite a few panels that look a little bit awkward. His action scenes in particular are incredible – his style allows him to capture the kinetic motion with which Batman moves and fights. The action sequences become even more exciting as a result.

And I would be remiss to not mention Dean White’s colors. The story seems to go out of its way to take place during the day, and outside of a city, so the colors are incredibly vibrant. Really, it’s the contrast with the grays and blacks of Batman’s costumes that makes the color scheme really stand out. He’s really the one dark spot on an otherwise bright background. I also do want to make note of a flashback page that looks absolutely stunning, specifically because of the color work.

The Cursed Wheel, in Brief

In the first issue, I actually felt that this had potential to be a more interesting story than “My Own Worst Enemy.” Now, I’m not so sure. I really like the idea of delving into the Batman sidekicks, and getting some actually development for Duke. Those elements are still here, but I found the whole affair to be a bit overwritten. It simply doesn’t have enough page space to avoid it and still get things accomplished, but I would really like to see Snyder writing this as a separate story. That said, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire are both doing absolutely incredible work.

I think I may have come across as being a bit more down on this book than I actually am. In part, that’s because I’m trying to skirt around spoilers – there are things I want to praise but want to avoid specifically calling out. I think that the downsides actually stick out more than they would in other books, simply because of the creative team attached to it. This story does feel like it’s going to read better in trade, but the quality of the writing and art is high enough that I’m willing to live with the slow burn.


About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.