All-Star Batman #4 Review

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All-Star Batman has thus far delivered on all fronts. Scott Snyder has effectively created a Batman comic book that feels like a big event that comes out once a month. This latest Two-Face plotline has delivered on both an action and emotional level. Now with Two-Face having the upper hand after getting some help from The Court of Owls we have been left wondering if Batman can come out on top. Let’s find out exactly what happens next with All-Star Batman #4.

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: John Romita Jr. (My Own Worst Enemy); Declan Shalvey (The Cursed Wheel)

Inker: Danny Miki (My Own Worst Enemy)

Colorist: Dean White (My Own Worst Enemy); 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: At a farmhouse a person is yelling out for help from the basement.

Elsewhere Two-Face and a group of Talons have Batman pinned down. Two-Face continues to pour acid on Batman, which is now burning to his cowl and causing him to lose his vision. Batman gets Two-Face off him by hitting him with a device out of his chest’s bat symbol.

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Click for full-page view

Two-Face and Talons launch another attack on Batman and Duke. Batman activates the echolocation feature in his suit to detect the Two-Face and Talons location. With this Batman is able to fight off the Talons with Duke’s help.

Out of patience, Two-Face decides to make his exit but not before opening one of the pipes in the sewers so he can drown Batman. As the water begins to rise Two-Face exits the sewers to go above ground.

Back in the sewers Batman and Duke are overwhelmed by the Talons who have tied their legs together. Things get worse as Duke’s visor gets cracked and is unable to breathe. Batman tells Duke to load his song at max volume. Batman redirects the sound through his suit to send a powerful blast that knocks out the Talons.

Back above ground Two-Face is trying to call someone to pick him up but is knocked out by one of Duke’s clubs. Batman asks Duke if he knows where they are as he cannot see and his echolocation system is out of commission. Duke says the only thing he sees is a tiny airport. Batman tells Duke that they are going to take Two-Face there and fly one of the planes to the drop off.

As they walk to the airport Batman starts to think back to his childhood. His memory flashes back to when he was awoken by Harvey and shown something inside a box.

Duke brings Batman back to the present who is asking Batman if he can see since they are now in the air. Batman ignores the question and asks Duke if he has Two-Face’s coin. Duke says he does.

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Click for full-page view

Duke then asks Batman to elaborate on the details he left out from his childhood story of his time with Harvey. Batman reveals that when they were kids he and Harvey made a pact to kill each others target. For Batman it was Joe Chill and for Harvey it was his father and they ended up planning the entire thing out. He continues on to say that one day Harvey’s father’s coin arrived at Arkham as a two-tailed coin as a message that he will change moving forward.

Batman says that at the time he tried to convince Harvey that his father wasn’t going to change and he would still torture him. Harvey decided to ignore Bruce and think good of his father’s promise. Batman ends his story that now he sees things differently from how the coin ended up scarred.

Duke says he understands and hands the coin over to Batman. Just as Batman grabs a hold of it someone lands on top of their plane and knocks him out.

Sometime later Batman, Duke and Two-Face have been tied up by KGBeast inside an abandoned riverboat casino. KGBeast reveals his plan to finish his island resort where he will hunt Batman freely for the next year or two.

Penguin, Great White Shark and Black Mask interrupt KGBeast villainous rant to mock Batman and Two-Face for their actions. Penguin then shows Two-Face a video recording from the Harvey Dent side of his personality. Harvey reveals that in case Batman failed and Two-Face escaped that he planted a tracking device on himself. He continues to say he gave the tracker to Penguin to find him and that if Two-Face didn’t give over the codes to everything he has on everyone they will kill him, which he would be fine with.

Two-Face laughs at how Harvey was able to stop him but decides not to hand over the codes. Instead he prefers to allow Harvey to suffer even more.

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Click for full-page view

Before the villains can get something out of Two-Face there is an explosion that rocks the riverboat. Following the explosion people begin shooting everyone inside. KGBeast protects the other villains and launches his own counter fire.

With all the shooting going around them Batman uses it as an opportunity to set himself, Duke and Two-Face free.

As they make their way through all the shooting Batman has a hard time seeing with his eyes and asks Duke what he sees. Duke says all he sees are an unknown army of people. Two-Face smiles and mocks Batman for what he said earlier about people being brave and strong.

Batman keeps asking Duke what he sees as an army of angry people get ready to attack the riverboat. End of issue.

The Good: Every time I’ve read a Batman comic from Scott Snyder I’ve been amazed at how he continues to challenge the person wearing the costume. Whether it was Dick Grayson in Detective Comics or Bruce Wayne in Batman and All-Star Batman, Snyder finds ways to make you feel think of how Batman will overcome the villain they are fighting and save Gotham City. This latest Two-Face story has been no different with Snyder yet again finding a way to leave my jaw on the floor.

All-Star Batman #4 is a great example of how Snyder continues to evolve Batman in his fight against crime. For Snyder it is not just about Bruce’s fighting and detective abilities but also how he prepares for every situation. Since the beginning of his run Snyder has worked on further developing Batman’s arsenal by focusing on Bruce’s engineering skills. It’s through these skills that Bruce has been able to develop arsenal that makes sense for him to use as he gets older and his enemies’ tactics evolve.

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Click for full-page view

Seeing Batman employ his echolocation system was a surprise but something that as a reader I believed he would employ if someone tried to blind him. It brought something unique to Batman’s latest fight against the Talons, who he has defeated many times already during Snyder’s run. This furthers the idea of how Batman is prepared to fight in any situation without making him invincible.

Even with Batman showing off his adaptability Snyder still made sure he found different ways to challenge him and make the reader think of how he will accomplish his mission. This was on display not only with how Two-Face tried to drown Batman and Duke but also with the ending. Seeing the massive crowd of angry people motivated not to allow Two-Face to reveal all their secrets is a powerful image. It’s the type of image that sets the stage for Snyder to keep us as readers guessing what comes next.

Two-Face part of the story was equally fantastic. Snyder’s ability to show us the difference between the Two-Face and Harvey Dent side of the character has been engrossing. I’ve especially grown to appreciate how Snyder has grounded Harvey through his childhood with Bruce. That connection of two kids that didn’t know each other by name until they were adults is a great turn. Through these scenes we are able to witness a character that is both filled with anger and hope. Seeing how Harvey ended up being the kid that tried to give hope a chance as he wanted to believe his father had change was heartbreaking with the knowledge of how things turned out.

In understanding this side of Harvey it made him getting yet another “win” against his Two-Face persona feel satisfying. With Two-Face causing so much chaos in his life it was good seeing Harvey actually have back-up for his plan. Even if those plans may have lead for greater danger for Batman it does give further complexity to the Two-Face character as a whole.

All of this planning led to a strong ending that had both Harvey and Two-Face’s plans collide. The chaotic air around the entire situation creates an interesting challenge for Batman that is hard to know how he will get himself and Duke out of. It’s the type of scenario is something that you want to just experience than overthink it with theories of how things will turn out.

Click for full-page view

Click for full-page view

While I did not write a synopsis for it, I did enjoy the back-up story starring Duke. In general, Snyder has done a great job developing Duke as a character. Snyder isn’t afraid to show how much of a rookie Duke is in both the main and back-up story. At the same time we continue to see how he does have the potential to be a great hero. Hopefully he will be getting an official superhero name soon to go along with his costume.

John Romita Jr continues to deliver some of his best work to date. He provides so much energy to the action sequences that make you feel the impact of every shot. Seeing Batman fighting during the daytime has been a different setting for the character and Romita is doing an excellent job showcasing what that looks like. He did an especially good job with the final shot with how he was able to make the chaotic nature of the mob come off the page.

The Bad: Nothing.

Overall: All-Star Batman #4 is yet further proof that Scott Snyder is hands down one of the best modern day Batman writers. His understanding of the character and his world is second to none. This latest Two-Face story is yet another example of how Snyder finds new ways to challenge Batman that feels fresh. John Romita Jr. deserves just as much credit for executing the chaotic nature of Snyder’s story with his artwork.  If you’re a Batman fan than All-Star Batman is a must buy.

2 Comments

  1. This comic loves throwing everything at the wall and I kind of wish it would slow down. This story is ripe for a 10 issue + run but it’s trying to do it all in 5 and it feels really rushed. (That’s not a critique of this issue in particular – more a general issue with this story)

    • I agree that it is going quickly. Though I think with how his previous work on Batman focused on a very small group of Batman villains that now Snyder wants to go all in and open the door wide with the villains he is using for All-Star Batman. I’m enjoying the pace as the series feels like reading a big event, especially since it is once a month rather than bi-monthly like the other Bat-titles. Interested to to see how this plays into a bigger story he is possibly setting up.

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