Wednesday, December 28, 2016

SPOILERS: All-Star Batman #5

The first arc comes to an end with literal cliffhanger and all!

The Spoilers: 

The short end of the first half of this issue, which is mostly action, is that Batman, Duke and Two Face get away, leave the mobsters and beast on the boat.

The meat of the issue is when they get to the old Arkham house and find the cure that Harvey had left, only it doesn't work as much as a cure, but more as a submission. It will allow whichever side is more powerful inside him to take over the other, permanently, so naturally there's a risk that Two-Face could come out the winner.

As a contingency, Harvey, not Two-Face was the one that seeded the clouds with acid rain at the start of the arc and has put the same "cure" in it, so unless Batman gives him the cure, it will also rain down on Gotham and make people either really good or really bad. At the same time, Gordon and his men are breaching the cave, though Gordon pulls Alfred aside to get him to call Bruce and have him fix whatever it is that he needs to fix.

To give Batman more stakes, Two-Face pulls out a phone he'd left and calls Aflred, that's when Bruce finds out that it was Alfred who shot him down, and we find out the dirt Two-Face has on him. Way back near the beginning, Alfred put out a hit on him… just him, in an effort to save Bruce, but pulled it back nearly immediately. That said, he used funds that had been allocated for the Batcave, Harvey got those records, something something later, and that's how he knew about the Batcave.

So all the drama out the way, Two Face/Harvey basically goes "Human nature, huh!?" and Bruce just starts beating the shit out of him, eventually giving him the cure though… Not the intended cure, one he had as a back up that will allow whichever side of Harvey is stronger to fight for control, but not erasing the other, ever. Of course, he doesn't tell Harvey this until after he disables his trap over Gotham.

KGBeast comes back and so does the mob. Beast is about to turn on the mob but Batman saves them from him, plunging off a cliff, but caught by Duke. They're helped back up and with Harvey out for the count, Bruce and Duke start the trek back home. Also, the stuff with the cave, all the police find is basically a safe room, Gordon joking suggesting that theirs a mechanism that prevents anyone who's not Batman from getting to the batcave.

Two months, two weeks and two days later, Bruce just straight up trolls Penguin, Black Mask and Great White by ringing their doorbell with a KGBeast mask.

The Opinion:  

Lots of stuff goes down in this issue, and it's a lot to keep track of especially when it goes full on Harvey and Two Face at the same time. Had to reread the last half twice just to make sure I kept track of whose plan was was being discussed. Over all, it was a great finish to an arc that has Snyder does what he does bets in the Batworld, and that's really digging into the villains and their reflection on Batman, so naturally with Two Face, all that duality and human nature stuff came up a lot.

I liked the reveal with Alfred. Ideas like that have been floated around before, so it shouldn't really come as an out of character sort of thing. I'm not wild how it was portrayed visually. Batman readers are smart. Could have done without the superimposed Joker face in the background. Feel like it would have been more effective if they just had Alfred and Bruce keep it at "him" and let the readers figure it out.

Speaking of the art, we had multiple inkers on the issue, and the inks really didn't hold up well in the climactic scene outside with the rain. Many panels looked real muddy and the figures weren't very well defined. Unfortunate that it happened at such a key scene in the issue... but it was 30 pages with no back up, so there was that.

Overall, great arc. Cool to see Snyder tackle a classic Bat villain that isn't the Joker. And as someone who had recently come around the JRJR's art in recent years, this arc really helped pushed me further into really appreciating it. Not sure where this book is going for the next couple of one and done issues, but I'm real curious to see.

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