By Alisha Weinberger
If you thought the first issue of All-Star Batman was jarringly fast-paced, then don’t get your hopes up for a breather in issue #2. Snyder throws us in the deep end again, this time there is no whimsical introductory dialogue amongst diner patrons, just concentrated betrayal and unforgiving violence.
Opening up with a close up of Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock debating the worth of Batman’s latest crusade: escort Two-Face 500 miles outside of Gotham, with the risk of every bit of dirt and corruption be publicly exposed if he isn’t stopped. This is not the first time we’ve seen a reluctant Gordon, after all Batman does take heroism to the extreme. It is only understandable that his closest friend and one of the few people who know his true identity would sometimes advise against his choices. Yet most of the time, the caped crusader doesn’t often heed the commissioner’s advice, and Snyder shows us the consequences of this. Jim Gordon is usually thought of as the boy scout of Gotham’s finest, rarely do we see him having to make a tough decision. He simply does everything he can to aid Batman. But this can’t be entirely realistic, in a city brimming with crime and moral dilemma, even Gordon (a working man without money and gizmos) makes questionable decisions. In this case: deciding to publicly prove the link between Batman and Bruce Wayne to stop him. Does this mean Gordon has something to hide? Or does he fear the worst for his city if Batman actually succeeds? I’d like to think the latter but that is still to be determined.
Part two of “My Own Worst Enemy” is comparably more dialogue intensive, but Snyder does so with reason. Only reaching 171 miles out of the 500 needed by the end of the issue, a plot involving Batman and Two-Face moving in a straight line for miles outside a major city could potentially drag on. However, Snyder’s chronologically disjointed storytelling, constantly switching between Gotham in the recent past or future and Batman in the present keeps readers engaged, and is a clever narrative device that establishes the gravity of Bat’s mission. He is being attacked both on the homefront and on the road by a volley of villains, and there’s nothing he can do but keep going. For once,we get to see Batman truly shine out of his element, and actually be challenged. The result is gritty to say the least. Let’s just say there’s a brutal fight on a speeding freight train that involves Killer Croc and the ears of Bat’s cowl actually being concealed knives.
The artwork is as gorgeous and colorful as the previous issue. Ironically the most striking panels weren’t the fight sequences but the opening conversation between Bullock and Gordon. Alternating blue and red, the initial three panels establish their setting without actually having to show us they’re in a police cruiser. The page composition is getting progressively more dynamic. Cramming more panels with less gutter space, contributing to the frenetic pace of the issue.
All-Star Batman #2 is a definitive pickup for the action and art alone. Even if you didn’t pick up the previous issue. More so for the fact that issue two doesn’t directly start where issue one left us, that is a closing panel featuring The Gentleman Ghost. This is the only complaint I have so far. As I mentioned with a plot like this, a quick pace is necessary, but it would have been nice to see a fight between Batman and The Gentleman Ghost. But maybe readers are just being spoiled by the numerous villain appearances so far.