Scott Snyder has continued to deliver the type of Batman story fans have come to expect from him with All-Star Batman. This opening story has driven home how much of a threat Two-Face is not only to Gotham City but to Batman himself. Seeing Batman facing off against some of his deadliest villains while also possibly having his greatest secret revealed to the city he protects has been gripping. All of this has added up to an opening story that leaves you guessing as reader. This guessing makes me excited to dig into the next chapter with All-Star Batman #3. So with that said let’s not wait anymore and see what happens next in All-Star Batman #3.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: John Romita Jr. (My Own Worst Enemy) and Declan Shalvey (The Cursed Wheel)
Inker: Danny Miki (My Own Worst Enemy)
Colorist: Dean White (My Own Worst Enemy) and Jordie Bellaire (The Cursed Wheel)
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Years earlier a young Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent watch the clouds pass by above them. Harvey starts talking about a new invention he heard about. It’s a computer in the form of a contact lens that allows the user to pull up any information they want or personalize the world for only their eyes. Bruce says all he wants to do right now is relax.
In the present Batman and Two-Face lay on the ground both bleeding profusely. The KGBeast attacks Batman with his sword but Two-Face is able to get Batman out of the way. Before KGBeast can reveal what he is after some men that were after Batman stand up.
Not wanting anyone to interfere with what he has planned KGBeast swiftly kills everyone in the area except for Batman and Two-Face. As KGBeast does this Batman notices all the weapons he has and bullets are not piercing him.
Batman tries to attack KGBeast with some help from his bat-knuckles. Unfortunately even with the added striking power KGBeast barely flinches from Batman’s attacks. KGBeast grabs Batman by his cape and hits Batman with his gun arm.
Just as he is about to kill Batman the KGBeast is hit by some gunfire, which just barely damages his mechanical arm, from Two-Face. KGBeast turns his attention to Two-Face and quickly nails him in the scarred side of his face with Chinese stars.
Batman and Two-Face are unable to move from all the blood loss and damage they’ve sustained. KGBeast uses his sword to pick them both up by the rope they are tied together with. Before finishing them off KGBeast talks about sea-steading, a private island where anyone can do anything without any law.
Just as KGBeast finishes his explanation he is nailed by a car driven by Duke. This sends KGBeast flying several yards away from Batman and Two-Face.
Duke uses this as a chance to quickly put Batman and Two-Face in the car he is driving. As they drive away Two-Face’s condition worsens. Batman gives Duke directions on where to drive them to help save Two-Face’s life.
KGBeast recovers in time to be confronted by the Royal Flush Gang, who are looking for Batman. Not having the time for them KGBeast throws an explosive at the Royal Flush Gang that quickly takes them all out. KGBeast then goes to his car to chase after Batman and Two-Face.
At a gas station Penguin, Black Mask and Great White Shark hold a meeting to talk about how they won’t be able to pay their hired assassin what he wants. Penguin tells Black Mask and Shark that he has things covered.
Some hunters suddenly interrupt the meeting and make a dig at Penguin’s appearance. Penguin doesn’t take kindly to their interruption and proceeds to burn them alive with his umbrella flamethrower.
Back with Batman, Duke and Two-Face the trio arrive at a farmhouse. Inside they are able to get Two-Face to a person who helps heal Two-Face’s injuries. After the person is done with the procedure Batman introduces him to Duke as Harold Allnut, a mute inventor who has helped Bruce create a lot of his Batman equipment.
Using sign language, Harold asks Bruce how bad things are getting outside. Bruce admits things are looking good and asks for some transport. Harold says he will see what he can do.
Duke then approaches Bruce to reveal that Commissioner Gordon called the house to let them know the GCPD have a file that’s going to self-decrypt. He says that once it does it will provide everyone the link to Bruce Wayne and Batman being the same person. Bruce doesn’t care at the moment and says they will continue moving on.
Duke then talks about how the cure Bruce is after is the same type of cure used after the last Joker attack. Duke reveals that tests showed the cure only worked for a short while and people reverted back to how Joker left them. Bruce says he knows all about the test results but still believes it will help Harvey. Duke wants to know why Bruce believes it will work but doesn’t get a response. As Duke walks away Bruce stops him.
Bruce explains that when he was a kid when Alfred wasn’t sure how to control his anger over his parent’s deaths he took young Bruce to a summer home set up by the Arkham family. There he met Harvey who he only knew as ‘Boy 2A’ and learned about Harvey’s backstory including how he tied up his abusive father. Bruce goes on to say that during that summer he and ‘Boy 2A’ became like brothers and it changed his life.
Bruce mentions that when he met Harvey years later they didn’t initially recognize each other as the boys who bonded over that summer. He goes on to say that when they did find that fact out the two decided to reopen the Arkham house to be a good place for children. Unfortunately before that happened Harvey got turned into Two-Face.
Bruce gives Duke a chance to turn back after finishing his story but Duke says he just wanted to hear why Bruce was going so far. Bruce calls Duke a good ally.
20 minutes later Duke and Batman are driving Two-Face through an underground tunnel. As they drive through the tunnel a group of Talons from the Court of Owls attack them. As Batman gets Duke and Two-Face out of the way the Talons destroy the vehicle they were driving.
Two-Face, having finally recovered, laughs at Batman for sugarcoating the story he told Duke earlier. Two-Face then taunts Batman for not thinking about how it was Two-Face that he was talking to all along and not Harvey. He then question Batman for not thinking of the cure he was after as something for Harvey but to turn Batman into Two-Face. Two-Face then taunts Batman for trying to make the world the way he wants it to be.
Two-Face throws acid on Batman’s face. As Batman is suffering Two-Face, calling him “Bruce,” asks what he sees out of his lenses now. End of main story.
The Good: For a character like Batman who has defeated every possible villain in the DC Universe he has been put up against it is hard to see how he gets challenged anymore. That is where Scott Snyder steps in by throwing things at all sides to block Batman’s path to “save the day” as he normally does. This feeling that anything will happen within the pages of All-Star Batman #3 is what makes you as a reader feel like you are reading something special.
One of the biggest things that Snyder accomplished with the first two issues of All-Star Batman was to create an air of unpredictability to the series. With an entire state after Batman as he transported Two-Face the weight of what Harvey has done. The little layers Snyder adds by having Duke revealed that part of the information has unleashed on the world is the link between Bruce and Batman is big. It is a good reminder at how much Batman is up against. This revelation also further established how narrow Bruce’s focus is as he ignores what Duke says and continues to focus on getting Two-Face to the destination he was originally taking him to.
Seeing both Batman and Two-Face start the issue heavily injured and covering the street with their blood was a good way to give us a reason for Batman’s current focus. Because for as much as Batman wants to be able to do on his own he knows he is in a situation where he can’t be everywhere at once. The threat Two-Face has created for him with all of his villains after him has put Batman up against a wall that all he can do is play defense. Even when Batman is fighting KGBeast in this issue it is clear he is being the one on the defense.
It helps that Snyder established how dangerous KGBeast is by having Batman and Two-Face witness him killing several armed people with little effort. Seeing how effortless all of it was for KGBeast made you realize that what Batman and Two-Face are up against is not a person. The KGBeast is an unfeeling creature who is only looking to kill whatever he is hired to kill.
This dangerous aura that KGBeast oozes gives both Batman and Two-Face a reason to team-up for a short bit. And seeing how even with them both teaming up they could do very little to makes you wonder how Batman will actually be successful in what he is looking to do. Because Duke hitting KGBeast with a car will likely not work twice.
For all the great action that we see the most compelling part of All-Star Batman #3 was the details we got from the flashback sequences. Snyder firmly establishes the relationship that Bruce and Harvey once had. And the way he does it does not go against what we already know about the two. Instead he gives us a piece of history that fits perfectly in place with Bruce’s history.
Making the flashback sequence take place right after Bruce’s parents were killed also worked to establish that it wasn’t just Alfred that helped Bruce through this period. With such a traumatic thing happening to a young kid it takes more than one person to help them through it. And for as good a person Alfred is he probably wasn’t prepared himself to help Bruce out alone.
So for Bruce finding a brother-like figure in Harvey who he only knew as Boy 2A back then gave us positive character development for a character that has been around for decades. Also having it so that neither Bruce nor Harvey knew each other’s name during this time made how quickly we saw them become like brothers more affective. This made it so Snyder can just focus on the kids getting to know one another without worrying about each other’s built-in history.
This flashback also furthers how much Bruce blames himself for what happened to Harvey in his turn to become Two-Face. Because as Bruce mentions, he and Harvey were set to create a place to help kids before he turned into Two-Face. That little bit of history makes you feel even more for how hard Bruce is pushing himself to believe that the cure he is after will work on Harvey.
Additionally, Snyder having Bruce explain this history to Duke furthers the growing partnership between the two. Duke forcing this out of Bruce also works to further show how Duke isn’t just going to do everything Bruce says. He needs to be given a reason to follow Bruce. This little development in their relationship continues the trust they are trying to establish during Duke’s training period.
Ending the issue with the Talons from the Court of Owls attack Batman and Duke gave us yet another player to have to worry about in a positive way. Because as we have seen since the initial Court of Owls story arc they are an organization that has lost more than they have gained since becoming known to Batman. So for Snyder, the person that brought them into Batman’s mythos, to add them to the story makes sense as Two-Face can give them the power they once held against Gotham City and Batman himself.
The ending of the main story was also a little brutal to watch with Two-Face pouring acid on Batman’s face. Snyder gave Two-Face the perfect dialogue for this sequence as it showed us how far gone he is. How Batman comes out of the other side the same man will be hard to figure out.
As for the back-up story, it hasn’t been a truly standout story especially as it is paired with such a fascinating main story. What it does do well though is further developing Duke as one of Batman’s allies. Duke needs to slowly integrate himself into Batman’s network and this back-up gives us just enough of him without feeling like Snyder and other Batwriters are shoving him down our throats. In the end this slow burn process will go a long way to making him a major player like Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne before him.
While I know that John Romita’s art style can be divisive with fans I believe he is the right fit for this opening story arc. With how much brutality there has been with the fights Batman has gotten himself involved in Romita brings that intensity to each scene. Romita effectively showed us how deadly KGBeast was during his fight with Batman and Two-Face. And seeing how injured Batman was following this fight made his words to Duke even more effective. Because even with the state he is in Batman is still willing to go on.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: All-Star Batman #3 was another fantastic read in what is the must-read Batman comic book DC Comics is publishing. From beginning to end Scott Snyder and John Romita make you want to just continue to read whatever Batman story they have in mind. It’s to the point that when I reached the end of the comic I was disappointed there wasn’t more. That is how compelling this Two-Face arc is and shows how well executed this story is. If you aren’t reading All-Star Batman than you are for sure missing out on one of DC’s best comic books.