In Secret – “All-Star Batman” #1 (Review)
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: John Romita Jr. & Danny Miki
Scott Snyder only recently wrapped up his New 52 work with DC’s Batman, but to the enjoyment of many, and yet the dismay of some, he’s back writing for the character in All-Star Batman. Paired with penciler John Romita Jr. this departure from the mainline Batman Rebirth story has no shortage of star power on the creative team. Snyder’s intent with All-Star is to re-imagine several of Batman’s highest profile villains in somewhat brief, rotating arcs.
The debut carries with it that familiar Snyder tone, the one where Batman is somehow just slightly darker than usual while also possessing a shorter fuse than usual. The scenes are set almost entirely outside of Gotham, which gives this premiere its own unique feeling. The dry, golden farmland and off-the-highway diner where much of the action goes down can’t be further from the dreary and pathological criminality that resides in Gotham. Typically, I don’t like seeing Batman leave the city limits, since his character is so irremovably intertwined with Gotham, but to my surprise this Batman on the farm aesthetic works pretty well. Call it an agricultural revolution. Snyder took a chance in presenting his debut arc in this manner, but having just spent half a decade with the character, it’s no wonder he sought a drastically different arc.
In this first showdown, it’s Harvey Dent, aka Two Face, that has Batman scrambling to save the innocent, though it’s the Bat himself who is in the most danger. Two Face’s plans retread the familiar territory that often accompanies his character, that being the duplicity of man, the “skeletons in the closet”. He’s showing Batman, and everyone paying attention, that he isn’t so different. They all hide another side to themselves. He just wears his on his face. Essentially what Snyder is setting up here in his first arc is a road trip story, but rather than starring two buddies, it’s Batman and his former ally Dent on a trek that seems inevitably explosive. If you liked what Snyder did before with the Bat, you have plenty to get excited about. His vision for the Dark Knight has returned, now with a slightly grimmer disposition, and it’s all to be presented in oft-shifting arcs that run the gamut of the best rogues gallery in comic books.
There’s plenty of room for multiple Batman story-lines in the lives of devotees, so if you find yourself already invested in Tom King’s mainline or the continuing Detective Comics, don’t set Snyder’s new run aside. It might prove to be the best of them all.