Two-Face has never been scarier in the high concept first issue of All-Star Batman #1 as writer Scott Snyder coming off a 5 year run on the main Batman title teams up with legendary artist John Romita Jr. to spin a Batman story that is part The Purge, part a road trip comedy, and puts the famous Harvey Dent Dark Knight quote on its head as Batman tries to find the good in him one final time. With his background drawing Wolverine, Daredevil, and even Kick-Ass, Romita’s art style is definitely more suited for Batman and Superman and inker Danny Miki doesn’t cramp on his signature blocky, yet dynamic pencils while making the non-linear story relatively easy to follow. Colorist Dean White’s palette dips from idyllic small town greens and browns to sickly greens and moody greys as Batman and Duke Thomas try to save Gotham from Two-Face’s acid rain and finally blacks and reds when Two-Face tries to get people all around the world to show Batman their by hunting him down in exchange for a great fortune.
In both All-Star Batman’s plot and art, Snyder and Romita Jr strike a great balance between darkness and levity. This is a comic where Batman shares fun facts about the genus Lepidoptera (Moths for all us non-entomogloists) and fist bumps Duke after a job well done, and it is also a comic where Alfred shoots down the Bat-Plane remotely while citizens of a non-descript American town pull a gun on Batman after he saves them from some insect themed villains. Batman exists between hope and despair and defeat and triumph, and Snyder continues this dichotomy in All Star Batman #1. It fits in with his whole non-killing crime philosophy as the Joker and other villains are sure to escape Arkham Asylum and continue the cycle of violence, but he’s there to stop them until Gotham becomes too overrun by villainy.
Along with the riveting Batman on the run plot line, Snyder and Romita succeed in showing a new side of Two-Face the character. Almost gone are the duality gimmicks (Except for his trusty coin.), and in their place, Two-Face is the ultimate x-factor in Gotham City as he has files on all the criminals and villains from his time on the D.A. and can use this information to start a crime wave as soon as possible. This original angle makes All-Star Batman an intriguing read along with the fact that Batman wants to rehabilitate Two-Face instead of throwing him in Arkham again. He chooses the path of redemption instead of punishment, but this leads to shots and threats from the townspeople. But, even after this, Romita and Miki draw Batman in a resolute way as he drags Two-Face to the back of semi truck and then starts driving it like it’s a new Tumbler. Swagger filled Batman is fun to read as Romita and Miki make sure readers get a front seat view of the latest martial arts moves and clever gadget use with art that isn’t a jumbled mess.
And as an added bonus, there is a backup story by Snyder with art from Declan Shalvey and colorist Declan Shalvey It is fitting that comics’ best colorist is a key collaborator on a comic featuring the color preferences of Gotham City crime fighters. Snyder once again deepens the Batman mythos by interesting a test called the “Cursed Wheels” that acts as a kind of final exam for young vigilantes, who want to team up with Batman. Cursed Wheels also sounds like synesthetes’ dream as Snyder, Shalvey, and Bellaire match a color with each Batman family member as Batman tries to determine if Duke can take the next step in being a real hero. The backup is mostly a character study, but there is some creepy imagery on the last page to hook you.
All-Star Batman #1 is a beautiful marriage of yet another unique take on a classic villain from Scott Snyder with a suspenseful premise (Batman on the run with no technology) and powerful art from John Romita Jr. Right now, it is DC’s flagship Bat-book.
Story: Scott Snyder Pencils: John Romita Jr. Inks: Danny Miki Colors: Dean White Backup Art: Declan Shalvey Backup Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review