Monday, August 15, 2016

All-Star Batman #1

 Five bucks for thirty-two pages....? Oy.

 I'm not much of a fan of Scott Snyder, so I'm probably not the target audience for this latest "Rebirth" title. I am, however, a fan of Batman, and a fan of John Romita, Jr, so I'll give it a go.

 ALL-STAR BATMAN #1 probably seems like a clever story, unless you were one of the handful of people who saw the Samuel L. Jackson/Colin Farrell S.W.A.T. film a decade or so ago. Because this story arc features the exact same plot.

 Batman, in his gajillionth attempt to "cure" Harvey Dent of being Two-Face (Who is presented here as a totally separate personality afflicting poor, innocent Harvey Dent), abducts Harvey in a bid to take him somewhere as-yet-unspecified, where he can presumably, wrongheadedly, be helped. Two-Face, for his part, must have seen S.W.A.T., because he puts the same plan in motion as that film's imprisoned drug Kingpin: He'll make whoever frees him (And kills Batman, something the aforementioned drug kingpin, in Snyder's defense, wasn't trying to accomplish in the film.) will become filthy rich. Obscure villains with horrifically bad new costume designs come out of the woodwork to collect the bounty, but so do ordinary Gotham citizens. (Just like in the film!)

 There's a lot of action in this issue (Some of it rendered in an almost-impossible to decipher manner by John Romita Jr., whose art gets rougher and rougher every time I see it.), but Snyder leans very heavily on the hated "Ten minutes ago", "Twenty minutes ago", "Thirteen minutes ago" captions, which I hate. Stuff like that is OK for your occasional PULP FICTION kind of slippery story, but I really, really dislike it as a narrative device in general.

 The story seems to be heading in an "Everything you thought you knew was wrong..." direction, with the implication of a traitor in the Bat-family, and a possibly unknown-until-now Bat-protege. (The Bat-family is already overly large and unwieldy, with Batgirls and Robins out the wazoo, and Snyder manages to cram in yet another recent addition, Duke-who-has-no-codename. Considering how few pages comics have these days, supporting characters are at an all-time-high.)

 There's a short back-up story that centers around Duke's training, which brings the page count up to 32. Five bucks for thirty-two pages...ouch. I don't know how anyone can afford floppies anymore. The only thing that keeps me in this hobby are free review copies and 52% off collections at In-Stock Trades. If I had to pay full price for such quick reads, I would hate myself.

 This wasn't a bad issue, aside from my disbelief at how Batman is portrayed. (The way he talks, the scene where he winks at the civilians, the way he uses a knife on an enemy....not the Batman I know.) As lukewarm as I am about Snyder, the running-the-gauntlet plot is one that I'm always a sucker for, so I'll probably be back when this is eventually collected.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.