I’m the first to admit that Scott Snyder is a gifted writer. His take on Batman the last seven or so years has been innovative, captivating, and high-quality. His talent doesn’t end there, however. You need to read his seminal series, American Vampire, as well as his excellent short story collection, Voodoo Heart.
All Star Batman is a new series in which Snyder will team up with the most gifted of artists for each story arc. The first couples Snyder with industry icon John Romita, Jr. The inaugural issue introduces a new conflict with Two-Face, a character Snyder has never tackled before (to the best of my knowledge).
I’ll be honest — the $4.99 price tag turned me off almost immediately. It’s a little longer than the average comic book, and the cover is a little thicker, but otherwise there is no discernible difference. It struck me as a cash grab on the part of DC. Trust me, I looked through all the variants to see if any were priced regularly — there weren’t. I settled on the awesome Jock cover you see below.
The book is made up of two different story lines. One features Batman forcing Two-Face on a “road trip” of sorts; the other focuses on Duke, his new partner, and the on-the-job training Duke must undergo. Frankly, both are overwritten and needlessly muddled. Snyder has always shown a penchant for putting too much on the page, but this issue set a new precedent. I don’t mind lots of dialogue, numerous time shifts, or even differing narrative techniques, but only if it works to the benefit of the story. Snyder did all of these things in All Star Batman #1, but it only served to distract and confuse me. I’m sure by the arc’s end all will make sense, but I think writers need to also honor the fact that these titles are released monthly and a single issue needs to stand on its own to some degree. A fantastic example of doing it well is this week’s Superwoman #1.
Also, if I’m being totally truthful, I’ve never been a huge fan of John Romita, Jr. I find his figures squarish and I just don’t find it pleasing to the eye. I understand he’s considered among the best of comic book artists, but I personally don’t find his angles or panel placement all that creative or his drawings pleasurable to perceive.
With the inflated cover price, convoluted story, and overwritten dialogue, I really can’t recommend this issue. It would perhaps be a better idea to wait for the collected edition. You’ll save both money and frustration in doing so.