Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SPOILERS: Batman Annual #1

Years ago, a young Victor Friese is walking along a frozen lake with his mother, talking about a snow man building competition, which Victory is very excited about. Victor wants to make a big exciting snowman, but his mother reels him back in, telling them that they'll build his face out of an apple grown from their own tree, to make the snow man have a personal touch. Victor agrees, and looks back to his mom, finding nothing. He approaches the apple, finding a large hole in the ice, where his mother fell into the freezing water below.

In Arkham, shortly after Freeze was sent back there after Jason Todd defeated him (Red Hood and the Outlaws #9) the doctor working with Freeze asks him what happened next. Freeze tells the doctor that the ice preserved his mother until help arrived. The doctor asks if it preserved her like it preserved Nora, a line of questions Freeze doesn't want to answer. Freeze then asks for the special alcohol wax (so it can't be frozen) crayon the doctor is writing with, taking it by force after snapping the doctor's neck. Freeze uses the crayon to coat some of the wires in his cooling cell, rapidly lowering the temperature to his cell and those around it. Guards burst into Freeze's room, where he uses one of the cooling tubes to blast super cold coolant at them, instantly freezing them, allowing him to take on of the guards' finger, as he grabs a mouth full of the stuff on his way out of his cell.

Freeze is met with more guards in the halls of Arkham, putting his hands up, allowing them to get close to him so he can spit out the super cold coolant. He uses the finger he plucked from one of the past guards to open a storage facility where he finds his containment suit, as outside a get away vehicle he had arranged for shows up right on time.

Later in the night, Freeze crashes the truck into the Iceberg Casino, where he meets the Penguin. It seems Penguin was in possession of one of Freeze's gun, who he hands over to Victor after a bit of intimidation, telling his cold "friend" to make it look like a real robbery so he wouldn't be charged with helping a criminal, allowing Freeze to... well, freeze some of his men... As Victor leaves the Casino, he vows to find his wife, and get revenge on the man who stole her from him.

Six years ago, Bruce Wayne has just returned to Gotham after a "vacation" and is being introduced to a young Doctor Friese by Lucius Fox. Friese is studying cryogenics for Wayne Enterprises, but Bruce thought he had already ordered the cryo preserved bodies to be transferred to the labs at Gotham University, seeing that he thought the program was moving away from "frozen mummies" and headed to new direction. Victor pleads with Bruce that he can accomplish both, as the two end on somewhat of a tense moment. After Bruce and Lucius leave, Victor approaches his wife Nora's body, promising a way to bring her back.

In the Wayne Enterprises lab, Freeze approaches what he believes to be Nora's body, only to find it be someone completely different, as he curses Bruce Wayne, believing he had the body moved to spite him. Nightwing and Robin appear behind him, telling Freeze that Burce hasn't been down in the lab in months, let alone anyone. Freeze tells them to give over the info as to where his wife is, and they'll have no problem, but this is Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne we're talking about, so that doesn't go over too well.

The three begin to duke it out. Freeze manages to "chill out" Damian's hands, and gets a jump on Dick spreading some ice through out the floor, to encase part of his body in it. Damian manages to break free of the ice, attempting to attack Freeze, who grabs his hand. He holds up Damian's hand as it begins to rapidly cool, telling Dick he'll crush it in his fist if he doesn't tell him where Nora is. Bruce intervenes on the intercom, telling Freeze to meet him on one of the upper floors where they'll settle their issues man to man.

As Freeze ascends in the elevator, we flash back to when Victor had his accident. You watch "Heart of Ice?" imagine that happening, but Bruce shutting Victor down, and Victor throwing a chair being the cause of the chemical spill.

Freeze finds Nora's body in the floor he was directed to, but soon Batman shows up. Turns out, Freeze was going to use the compound he created for the Court of Owls to bring people back from cryostasis/life on Nora, but Batman won't let him. Here's where things get crazy. During Batman and Freeze's fight, Batman reveals that Nora isn't Victor's wife, she was a woman who became deathly ill in 1943, and was the first person to undergo experimental cryofreezing. While Victor worked in the Wayne labs, with his mental state, he fell in love with Nora, telling a lie to himself that what he does time and time again is for nobel love.

The fight ends with Batman sticking Freeze with the compound he created for the Owls, raising his body temperature, thus incapacitating him, once and for all that night.

We flash back one more time to Victor's childhood. He's pushing his mother along the same frozen lake in her wheel chair. She's clearly not all there. She begins to talk about the snow man building contest, asking where the apple is. She then remembers, telling her son she has the apple, referring to her bandaged, bloodied hands that seem to be from self inflicted wounds, or, "carving the apple" essentially. Victor says "I see mother," gives her a kiss, and in an act of what he believes to be mercy, pushes her into a hole in the ice, telling her to rest.


So yeah, this was pretty dark. Snyder and Tynion took the Paul Dini origin that Mr. Freeze needed and updated it, with some new twists and turns. I have to say, I really like the twist with Nora. It turns Freeze into a real crazy person, rather than a guy who just got a bum deal. I don't know... it just works, and adds an extra layer to the character which I enjoy.

Jason Fabok's art was pretty great. I keep saying he needs a full time gig, and he apparently is teasing one on his blog, saying he has a big project coming after the JLI annual, so we'll have to see... hopefully it's in Gotham. But to actually speak about his art, it was somewhat different than what I was expecting. Fabok was mentored by David Finch, and judging by his past interiors on the first volume of Batman: The Dark Knight, I was expecting this to look rather Finch like... it does in some aspects, but you can see Fabok has his own twist on his art. The difference is welcome in my book.

What I kind of took away from this was the semi-false advertising of it being a Night of the Owls tie in... It really isn't. The Court, nor the Talons where anywhere to be seen, and only referenced two or so times. It's no where near as bad as the The Dark Knight #9 Tim Drake cover, but I would have liked to have seen the Owls connections explained a bit more, because I'm still kind of confused as to how Freeze's stuff and that implant in the Talon's teeth work... oh well


1 comment :

  1. This is top stuff from Scott and his ever expanding Team Batman.

    I don't get hung up on the timeline thing as much as some, so it makes it more enjoyable at times, I guess.
    And I am assuming Freeze was used for that "Perfect Formula" to wake the Talons up after they have been on ice for so long. The Court doesn't want them deteriorating or anything like Alton in Dark Knight #9. That's what I got out of it. I feel like The Court was and will continue to use the tooth cap thing simply for traditions sake, it not being Freeze's idea.