After a grand tour through some of the greatest villains in Batman’s rogues gallery Scott Snyder is ready to start his next big arc of All-Star Batman. This new arc, titled “The First Ally,” is going to be diving deeper into Batman’s history, specifically when it comes to Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred has not had the brightest of times during the course of Snyder’s Batman run. Bruce’s father figure has been put through the ringer since Snyder came on board. Right now Bruce and Alfred’s relationship is on very rocky ground as Alfred has done things that turned out to be very bad decisions for Bruce’s life as Batman. Now with Snyder placing a focus on Bruce and Alfred will things start returning to the good family relationship the two shared? Or will the new “First Ally” character create an even bigger rift between the two? Let’s find out with All-Star Batman #10.
Writer: Scott Snyder (The First Ally); Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone (Killers-In-Law)
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque (The First Ally); Sebastian Fiumara (Killers-In-Law)
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire (The First Ally); Trish Mulvihill (Killers-In-Law)
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime in the past in London a thief is running across rooftops with the police chasing after him.
In the present, Alfred and Batman are chasing after Hush, with Alfred being the one driving the Batmobile, in Miami. Hush has his pilot fly over Marlins Park while the National Anthem is being played. The crowd becomes excited when they see the Batmobile drive into the stadium. Alfred activates the injector seat and sends Batman flying towards Hush’s helicopter. Batman is able to grab the bottom of Hush’s helicopter before he falls.
A little later Batman and Alfred have Hush tied up to a table to question him about what the dangerous underworld thing Hush placed a bid on as Bruce Wayne. Hush says he won’t tell Batman anything, especially since he knows Batman won’t kill him. Batman says that he has a code both as Bruce and Batman that he lives by and since Hush does not abide by that it is time Hush started looking like Thomas Elliot again.
Hush doesn’t think Batman can do that. Batman says Hush is right that he can’t but Alfred, a trained military doctor, can return Hush back to what he is scared of being: himself. Hush tries to get Batman to rethink his decision but Batman says Hush can scream all he wants since the floor they are in is a soundproof room inside a Wayne Hotel.
Later that night in their hotel room, Bruce says Tommy talked and asks Alfred if he is okay. Alfred says he is fine, he was just thinking how the last time they were in Miami there was a lot of construction but now the city’s skyline can be seen clearly.
Bruce reveals that what Tommy told him was that what everyone is after is the Genesis Engine. Alfred is surprised that the Genesis Engine is real. Bruce mentions that the same scientist that created the KGBeast developed a prototype in Siberia, which was stolen and is being brought to Miami. Alfred believes every criminal in the city will be after. Bruce tells Alfred to wait to hear where it is headed.
In the past, we return to the thief who continues to evade the police that are chasing him on the rooftops. The thief tells the cops that he could run all day. He is suddenly cornered but instead of turning himself in the thief jumps off the rooftop and onto the top of a bus. As the thief rides the top of the train he flips the cops off but ends up hitting a traffic light.
In the present Bruce and Alfred head to Fort Dexter, a secretly built facility in the ocean for rich buyers to purchase stolen treasure and where the Genesis Engine is being auctioned off. The property is supposedly owned by descendants of Blackbeard’s who Hush as Bruce Wayne contacted to bid on the Genesis Engine.
Bruce enters the facility without any problem and goes into a room with other rich people. Mr. Thatch comes on a video screen and welcomes Bruce to his place. Bruce presents Thatch with a painting of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Thatch thanks Bruce for the gift. He then says they are a higher brand of criminal and reveals he knows he has been in contact with Thomas Elliot. Everyone turns their guns on Bruce thinking they are Thomas since Thatch does not want Batman after them.
Bruce uses the “painting” he brought as shield from all the bullets and is able to deflect some of the bullets to a chandelier hanging over the rich guys. Bruce uses this as a distraction to enter a hallway and is lead by Alfred over a communicator to where Thatch is located.
Bruce enters the room and finds Thatch heavily cut up with a sword through his mouth. Bruce takes a closer look and sees a hole in his chest that makes it look like he was tortured by getting his heart squeezed by his killer. Hearing this from Bruce, Alfred realizes this mystery is about him.
In the past the police capture the thief and take off his mask to reveal a younger Alfred as the person they’ve captured. End of main story.
The Good: After Batman’s cross country adventures Scott Snyder has taken a step back to tell a different type of story in All-Star Batman #10. This new story is instantly had a different feel to it as Snyder choose to highlight the relationship between Bruce and Alfred. The past sequences while not clear at first, also added to the present day story as it related to Alfred’s direct involvement in Bruce’s current Batman adventure.
Seeing Bruce out as Batman without really hiding his presence has been a different direction to take the character. While Snyder isn’t making Batman laugh and smile, it has taken some adjusting to seeing the Dark Knight not constantly working in the shadows. At the same time, this difference does help All-Star Batman set itself apart from all the other Batman ongoings as we are seeing Bruce working differently.
The opening chase sequence highlighted this difference as Batman did not care if he was giving his presence away. This made being put in the middle of a story already in progress even more exciting. Having Alfred be the one to drive the Batmobile made the entire opening sequence feel different and more of a spectacle when Batman jumped out to capture Hush.
Hush involvement in this story also made things even more personal as Snyder used the character’s history to its fullest extent. In many ways, this puts an end to a long running Batman sub-plot as Bruce finally put an end to his old friend Thomas Elliot posing as him in public. This created a sense of finality to Thomas’ story while leaving things open for the Hush character to return in a different form than what we’ve seen the last few years.
Bruce using Alfred’s history as a military doctor to get Hush to hand over the information they needed was a creative way to use Alfred in an active role for Batman’s latest adventure. Snyder added some depth to Alfred’s use by showing how he isn’t able to calmly able to handle the aftermath as Bruce normally does. The scene between the two looking over Miami was a good way to get over how much history there is between the two and how different they are in terms of their experiences hardening them.
This nicely took us to the second half of the main story as we get to see Bruce go into his rich, playboy mode by visiting a private island. Seeing how Thomas’ history as Hush completely came back to bite Bruce in the ass was a perfect way to get over how Thatch and the other rich people bidding for the Genesis Engine aren’t stupid. It made for an exciting ending that built a clear mystery on who killed Thatch and furthers the danger level of the Genesis Engine.
It’ll be intriguing to see if this killer is connected with the flashback of Alfred’s past in London. With how much attention Snyder placed on the flashback it is clear whoever this “First Ally” that this arc is named after has a connection to Alfred. How that adds to what we already know about Alfred and affects his relationship with Bruce will be fun to see play out.
The new back-up story “Killer-In-Law” had a great start. Like the previous one involving Duke, this one had a completely different tone with Bruce infiltrating the Russian mob. The way he conducted his infiltration allowed us to see a different side to Bruce as we got to see his brawler style of fighting come out to the forefront. With this looking to be more of a Bruce Wayne story I’ll be very interested to see where Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone go with the story moving forward.
The artwork throughout All-Star Batman #10 was strong. Albuquerque once again injects plenty of life to the main story with his style of art making Snyder’s story feel even more personal. The scene with Bruce and Alfred tying Hush up to a surgical table was fantastic. Albuquerque did a fantastic job turning Hush to be an overconfident villain to a cowering person ready to hand over all the information Bruce wants with a flip of a switch. Similarly, the opening chase sequence and Bruce dodging gunfire was a fantastic way to add some action to the main story that was dialogue heavy.
Sebastian Fiumara did an equally good job with the art for the “Killers-In-Law” back up. Fiumara got across how dangerous the world Bruce has enter is. I particularly enjoyed how Fiumara showed Bruce tapping into his primal brawler instinct to get the mob to buy into the person he is impersonating.
The Bad: The only small complaint I have for All-Star Batman #10 is the lack of development in the new Thatch character. Given that the character is a descendent of Blackbeard I was expecting to see more of the character before he was killed. Seeing the character killed off so quickly felt like a waste of potential to integrate a Blackbeard-esque character to Batman’s world. Things can still change as this is only the first part of the “First Ally” arc but for now it did feel like a waste of an intriguing new character.
Overall: All-Star Batman #10 does an excellent job kicking off “The First Ally” arc with multiple intriguing plotlines, including a fun back-up story. Giving us a conclusion of the long-running Hush plotline of the character posing as Bruce Wayne was very satisfying and perfectly set-up the story Scott Snyder has in store for us next involving Alfred Pennyworth’s history. That along with some incredibly artwork from Rafael Albuquerque and Sebastian Fiumara made All-Star BAtman #10 a must-have for Batman fans.