Comic Review – All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor Spoilers

“I just wanted to say… I’m so sorry I had to do it.” – *******

Another new DC Rebirth Comic this week! It’s another Batman run DC are kicking off with All-Star Batman #1, written by Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr., Danny Miki and Dean White for the main story, and Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire on the backup story, with Steve Wands lettering both parts. I wasn’t sure what to expect with All-Star Batman as opposed to more traditional Batman comics. The only version of this to come out before was All Star Batman and Robin in 2005-2008, and all I know about that is Dick Grayson gets abandoned in the Bat Cave and has to eat rats to stay alive. What I got here was a comic where Scott Snyder, who lead the outstanding New 52 Batman run, really strutting his stuff.

All star batman cover

Cover art by Romita Jr., Miki & White

Snyder has been let loose to do what he does best: character interaction. The plot of issue #1 focuses on the relationship between Batman and Two Face, interestingly quite a line is drawn between Two Face and Harvey Dent in this case. The two are off to ‘burn out’ Two Face once and for all. Two Face of course isn’t too keen of the idea and has put a huge bounty on the both of them. It isn’t all talking though, we get a wonderfully over-the-top fight scene as mercenaries try to bring the Bat down. Batman manages to switch things up and the whole thing takes on a cheesy horror movie-esque feel to it while Bats takes on his attackers.

There’s more to the relationships than only Batman and Two Face though, we get an additional story attached to the main one, from Duke Thomas’s perspective where he and Batman try to save victims of Zsasz. There’s again a focus on their relationship, emphasising that this is not Duke as Robin, it is not Batman and Robin (Damian still holds that title) but something ‘new’. It feels like the pair of them are finding their feet a little with this relationship. While I always like the idea of Batman having a side-kick or similar I’m not sure DC know quite where this one is going. I hope they do and it’s only the character’s uncertainty but I can’t quite tell what it’s meant to be yet.

All star interiors

Art by Romita Jr., Miki, White & Wands

As for the art, overall it was solid. Romita Jr. and Miki team up to create stunning moments, particularly in the fight scenes and a certain silhouette of Batman with a chainsaw looks awesome, though if I’m honest while the over the top imagery suits the big panel images it sometimes looked off in some of the smaller interactions. White’s colours for the main story are somewhat subdued and more of a desaturated palette, which works well to show the passing of the time of day throughout the start of the road trip, and makes the field scenes look particularly impressive. In the back up story, Shalvey’s art is a nice contrast to the brighter outdoor aesthetic in the main arc, with a more ominous feel that is simultaneously highly detailed, particularly with the contrast of the geometric shapes forming ‘The Cursed Wheel’ and the crime scene. Bellaire’s vibrant colours help to further distinguish the back up not only from the main story but from different scenes in the same short tale, with dim Batcave clashing nicely with the bright colours on the Batcomputer.

Speaking of smaller interactions, can Romita Jr. draw hands? There were less examples of actual hands than I was expecting as so many of them are covered by chunky gloves or armour. While gloved or armoured they do look good, though naturally a lot of the detail in the fingers and joints is simplified somewhat. There is one trucker with very stubby fingers, but they are used well in gesture when they are in panel, covered or not. Romita can, though didn’t get to show off properly in this issue, which is why they’ll get a 7.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I like how different this feels to the main Batman run. I am a huge fan of Snyder’s past work on Batman so I have high hopes for this. It looses a point for some of the art and the uncertainty over Batman and Duke, but those are issues I’m sure many will disagree on. If you like them this would be a 9.5, though in my opinion it drops to:

Score: 8.5 Stilling Cuts out of 10

Comic Review – The Flash #1 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

More DC reviews! It feels genuinely great to be picking up a large number of DC Comics again, and hopefully the quality and momentum will continue past all of these first issues in the new post-Rebirth era. Speaking of momentum, this week I picked up The Flash #1 from the same creative as the The Flash: Rebirth issue with Joshua Williamson on writing duties, art from Carmine Di Giandomenico, colours by Ivan Plascencia and letters from Steve Wands (with the cover by Karl Kerschel). The Flash: Rebirth indicated that at least part of the ongoing Rebirth story will be taking place in the pages of The Flash, but typically the character is one of the more unique and interesting in superhero comics, so that is reason enough to check it out!

The Flash

Cover art by Karl Kerschl

Despite being the fastest man alive, Barry Allen can’t be everywhere at once. He speeds around Central City saving lives, but ends up late to a crime scene for his day job as a forensic scientist. He tries to solve a murder case, but ends up being late to meet Iris West and her nephew Wally. And before that is finished, a series of incidents crop up in the city, so he rushes off and tries to deal with a burning building full of people and a besieged STAR Labs transport at the same time. But is he is fast enough to do both? Probably not, as that wouldn’t be particularly satisfying drama. But who is The Black Hole? And what is happening to Barry’s friend, Detective Heart?

Following on from The Flash: Rebirth, Williamson continues to write a Barry Allen here with a great deal of heart, desperately trying to help as many people as he can despite being stretched to his limits. In fact, he’s even called on this flaw by Iris, albeit from the perspective of him always being late and absent minded. And she doesn’t even know he is The Flash  (I think, I’m struggling to keep the New 52 and pre-New 52 timelines straight in my head, especially now as they start to meld them together). The characterisations and the strong supporting cast are handed deftly by Williamson, leading into what will hopefully be an interesting and dynamic story. The ongoing Rebirth narrative takes a back seat in this first issue, paid lip service to in the opening pages as a concern that Barry and Wally (old Wally West) will both be addressing over time, with the help of Batman (a team up I particularly enjoyed in The Flash: Rebirth). Which works for me, as I think that plot and this book will both be served best by a slow unravelling of the mystery rather than as a focus.

The Flash 2

Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, colours by Ivan Plascencia, letters by Steve Wands

You can’t really have a good Flash book without being able to describe the art as kinetic and dynamic, and unsurprisingly those are two words I can comfortably apply here to Di Giandomenico’s slightly heavy line-work and expressive action and motion. Scenes where we see the comic book hero actually saving lives and fighting crime (shock!) are really excellent here, with Barry somehow managing to battle all the major elements in some form or another in the process. But it’s the scenes where The Flash speeds in and out of a burning building, with multiple shots of him in the same panel running around and saving people, that really stand out in this issue. This is all highlighted by the vibrancy of Plascencia’s colours (especially in the burning building), with even the calmer dialogue-driven scenes boasting a bright palette that is in keeping with the tone of both this book and the character himself.

Heart. Kinetic. Dynamic. Those are things I expect from The Flash and this creative team delivers on all three. Another DC ongoing that I’m happy to be sticking with. Pick this up at your local comic book shop or digital comics platform now!

Score: 8 Speedsters out of 10