All-Star Batman #5 Review

Last we saw of Batman and Duke they were placed right in the middle of a mob ready to kill them in order to save Two-Face. Not only that but they had KGBeast, Penguin, Black Mask and Great White right behind him also looking to take out Batman, Duke and Two-Face. Those are some heavy odds for even Batman to take on, not to mention he is already heavily injured. With so much against him can Batman and Duke get out of the mess they’ve put themselves in and stop Two-Face once in for all? Let’s find out with All-Star Batman #5.

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: John Romita Jr

Inker: Danny Miki, Tom Palmer, Sandra Hope and Richard Friend

Colorist: Dean White

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Batman can’t believe the angry mob that has appeared in the worst possible moment.

As the mob is getting rowdier, as they look to kill Batman, they open fire on the riverboat.

Inside the riverboat Penguin, Black Mask and Great White take cover behind KGBeast and order him to defend them. KGBeast does so happily and starts shooting the mob outside the riverboat.

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Batman gets away from all of the gunfire and sets of an explosion that destroys the bridge connecting the riverboat with the dock.

While the riverboat floats towards a waterfall Batman leads Duke and Two-Face to the exit.

As they do that Penguin freaks out and orders KGBeast to find them a way out.

On the upper portion of the riverboat is able to kick off the huge gambling chip that was part of the riverboat’s logo to create a raft for himself, Duke and Two-Face to escape on. They are able to make their escape just as KGBeast finds them.

As they are floating away Batman grabs a couple grenades from his utility belt and throws them onto the riverboat. The explosion causes the riverboat to veer off course and onto dry land, saving KGBeast and the others.

Batman then tells Duke that once they get to the waterfall to spread his wings and right before they hit the ground he will catch the three of them, though Two-Face isn’t into the idea of a group hug scenario.

They make it to the waterfall and jump of the gambling chip to execute Batman’s plan.

Sometime later Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum search for Batman and Two-Face. Batman sneaks up on them and knocks them both out.

Duke worries that more villains will come after them but Batman says he took care of Two-Face’s tracker. Two-Face laughs that even without a tracker the mob is still after them. Two-Face continues to mock Batman by saying that Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD are headed to Wayne Manor to discover his secret.

Batman sees a car and the three take it as their new ride.

Over at Wayne Manor, Gordon and GCPD have broken the clock that leads to the Batcave. Though Alfred tries to stop them Gordon gets him out of the way so the GCPD can discover Bruce’s secret.

Batman finally makes it to the house formerly run by Arkham with Two-Face and Duke. Duke voices his concern over Batman being ready to go through with his decision. Batman says he is ready and the three head inside the Arkham house.

As they make their way through the house Batman flashes back the day he and Harvey said goodbye to one another as kids. This reminds Bruce of the hope Harvey once has.

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Batman finally finds their old room and opens up the flooring board. Inside he finds a container with the serum they’ve been looking for.

Batman tests the serum first to make sure it will work as a cure for Two-Face. Batman can’t believe the results of the test.

The Harvey Dent personality comes out and reveals that the serum is not a cure but instead is a chemical one part of the brain so that only one personality can be the dominate one. The Two-Face personality then speaks and says that the serum makes it so he and Harvey have to battle it out to see which personality gets full control of their body.

Harvey speaks again and reveals he is the one that planted the seeds in the clouds that would create acid rain and has put the same chemicals in the clouds as the serum. He goes on to say that unless Batman gives him the serum acid rain will rain down on Gotham City and cause the citizens to turn out like Two-Face’s split personalities.

To give Batman more motivation to hand over the serum Two-Face makes a call to Alfred.

Alfred tells Batman over the phone that the GCPD are heading into the Batcave and he is responsible for everything that happened. Alfread reveals that back when Bruce first started out as Batman he made the decision hire someone to kill “him” (who we see as floating head image to be Joker). Alfred goes on to say that he ended canceling the hit order but that he left a trail back to Batman’s secret that Two-Face ended up discovering.

Batman is stunned what he is hearing. Alfred says he did it because he wanted to protect Bruce as he sees him as a son and didn’t want him to turn into the city’s villain when he made that choice. Alfred tells Bruce to give himself up so they can put a stop to all this.

Harvey’s personality once again comes out and tells Batman to do the right thing for him. Raging in anger Batman drives Two-Face through the building into the backyard.

The two end up tumbling near the edge of a cliff. Two-Face tries to get Batman off him but is unable to. Batman decides to do as Harvey requested and injects him with the serum.

Two-Face’s personality speaks and says he didn’t think Batman would do as requested. He hands over the device that controls the acid rain cloud. Batman uses it to destroy the seeds in the cloud and ensuring the safety of Gotham City.

Harvey suddenly feels weird and yells at Batman, asking what he did to him as the serum isn’t working. Batman reveals that he used a special “cure” he created as contingency plan that will force Harvey and Two-Face to constantly battle one another. The end result will be that the stronger personality at any given moment will be the dominant one. He goes on to say that the “cure” also had a sedative in it and Two-Face suddenly falls on the ground unconscious.

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Before Batman can do anything more KGBeast stabs him through his shoulder. KGBeast says he will take Batman back to his island and heal him. Afterwards he will hunt Batman on his island like he planned.

Before KGBeast can execute his plan the mob after Batman show up and shot KGBeast from behind. KGBeast drops Batman and sets his sights on killing the entire mob. Before he can do anything Batman hurls himself at KGBeast, causing both of them to fall over the cliff. Duke is able to grab Batman by his cape and pull him back-up.

As that happens Gordon and the GCPD make it to the end of Wayne Manor’s secret passage where they find what looks to be Bruce’s man cave. Gordon jokes that there must have been a mechanism that took them to Bruce’s man cave rather than the Batcave. He then tells the GCPD that their operation is over and to head back to their headquarters.

Back outside the old Arkham House, Duke checks on Batman, who hands Duke Two-Face’s coin. The angry mob suddenly calms down and makes room for Batman and Duke to take Two-Face away in without another incident.

Two months later someone rings the doorbell to the house Penguin, Black Mask and Great White are hiding out at. When Penguin answers the door the three villains see KGBeast and make a run for it. KGBeast takes off his mask after the three villains leave to reveal it was Batman in disguise. End of issue.

The Good: For all of the world ending events Batman has been a major part of Scott Snyder continues to find a way to surprise us with his work on the franchise. Whether it’s his run on Detective Comics or his current work on All-Star Batman, Snyder has the ability to make his stories something you never expect. All-Star Batman #5 is a perfect example of this as we got an endless amount of information thrown at us through all the big explosions and fighting going on.

If nothing else All-Star Batman #5 may very well go down as one of the most chaotic issues of Batman we’ve ever had. Snyder throws so much at us that you are going to have to read this issue multiple times before knowing if you like it or not. That was at least how I felt after my initial read through, and subsequent 5 readings of this issue before writing this review.

The biggest thing that played into how chaotic of an issue All-Star Batman #5 was Snyder’s development of the separate Harvey Dent and Two-Face personalities. For a long time we have seen how both sides of this one character are different people. And each time we haven seen one personality become dominant over the other we’ve been told Harvey is a good person while Two-Face is evil and twisted.

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Snyder takes things further by showing us how both personalities have one core similarity. That is that both sides of the character will do whatever they can do accomplish their goal, whether it’s good or bad. This was on full display with how Harvey and Two-Face did their best to make Batman do something that goes against his moral code. Snyder did a fantastic job in having both sides of the character time to speak as this showed us how they were essentially they were saying the same thing. Even with how they were both using different words and tone of voice by the end both personalities seemed to merge.

This made Batman’s actions throughout “My Own Worst Enemy” much more powerful. Even up to the end we saw how Batman still wanted to save one of his only childhood friends. It wasn’t until the very end that Batman realized that the person he knew was not the same one he was trying to save. But even with all that in his head Batman still pulled off saving the day in the only way this character can. The way he accomplished this only goes to show how strong of an understanding Snyder’s has on Batman and his world.

The ending of this issue with Batman and Duke walking through the crowd with Two-Face is also one of the most badass endings to a Batman story. This was a fantastic Batman moments where even in the state he was in the mob that wanted to kill him could not do anything but make room for him to walk past them. It’s a moment that shows us how much respect Batman has earned through his actions.

This story also featured possibly one of the more controversial character developments in that we saw Alfred betray Batman’s trust. The phone conversation between Batman and Alfred in this issue was heartbreaking as it was clear something was lost in this moment. It was only made harder with how we saw Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD possibly discovering the Batcave in the background. I’m very intrigued as to where Snyder takes this new development in Alfred and Bruce’s relationship. This is definitely one the rockiest period in their time together since Bruce’s parents’ deaths.

Duke’s development in this story was also well executed. Snyder has done a good job slowly building Duke up as a new member of Batman’s family. This story did a good job at showing us how much of a rookie he is. At the same time Duke did a good job filling the ‘Robin’ role by acting as Batman’s voice of reason. Hopefully Duke’s development continues to build over time as there is no need to push him to the moon yet. Slow and steady will be the key in making him a character fans can fully invest in.

While he did not play a big part in this issue as he did in previous chapters, Snyder’s development of KGBeast was excellent. This is by far the best use of the character and by the end Snyder was able to elevate him to be a frightening threat in the future. Given that Batman was never actually able to defeat him during the course of this story and KGBeast marking Batman as a target there is plenty of potential for a future confrontation between the two.

The artwork in All-Star Batman #5 was hit-or-miss but where John Romita Jr. and his large inking and coloring crew nailed was the chaotic nature of everything that went on. I know that Romita Jr. is a divisive artist but his work on All-Star Batman has been some his best recent stuff. The way he framed everything going on helped elevate how much out of control Batman’s mission to try and save Two-Face became. The ending was especially well handled from the art side of things as Romita Jr. got across the moral battle going on between Harvey and Two-Face.

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The Bad: As excited as I am for the potential in the fallout between Bruce and Alfred the one decision I was not a fan of was showing us Joker as the person Alfred hired someone to kill. It would’ve been a much better moment if we did not see Joker’s face at all. Snyder instead should have left the “him” part of the conversation as a mystery for the reader. By showing us who Alfred was referencing some of the emotional weight from the conversation was taken away.

The other part of the story that did not to be in this issue was the epilogue. It’s a decision where the story went too far in resolving everything. We had such a great ending with Batman and Duke walking through the mob with Two-Face. With such an ending seeing Batman, disguised as KGBeast, scaring the crap out of Penguin, Black Mask and Great White felt like an unnecessary light moment. It also makes these characters look weak when we could’ve had their part in this story be used for something in the future.

Though the artwork did get over how chaotic everything was having four inkers working on All-Star Batman #5 was a mistake. There were parts in this issue where the inking was so heavy that it was hard to tell what was going on. This created some inconsistencies between transitions in various pages. It will always be better for a comic to have one inker and one colorist working on an issue if the artist can’t do either.

Overall: A few flaws in the story and some inconsistent artwork keep All-Star Batman #5 from being the home run it could’ve been. With that said, this was still a great ending to Scott Snyder’s first arc in this series. Through all the chaos that happened around Batman there was a lot of strong character development packed into “My Own Worst Enemy.” There are also several plot threads that create a lot of intrigue for whatever Snyder has in store for us next. If you have followed any of Snyder’s work in past or are looking for one Batman comic to read I highly recommend picking up All-Star Batman. It is only going to get better from here.