I went into All Star Batman, excited and ready to see Batman kick some ass. Well, I got my wish, but like they say, be careful what you wish for. Because Batman kicking ass takes over what could have been an awesome storyline showing the growth of not only a ruined friendship with Two-Face, but Batman backing out of making the ultimate decision.
The foundation for this story is simple, yet complicated as most Batman stories are. We delve into Batman/Bruce Wayne’s long and complicated history with Harvey Dent, who as Two-Face is now one of the most feared villains in Gotham. Able to harness the skills that made him a successful DA, he’s now parlayed that into a vast criminal network that has capitalized on using people’s secret to gain power.
Two-Face has become such a threat that Batman has decided to remove him from Gotham in hopes of using a possible cure 500 miles away. The only thing standing between Batman’s plans are a rogues gallery of villains and everyday people looking to free Two-Face from his clutches. We have a ton of gunfire, explosions, and close escapes in every chapter; so much so that it starts to feel slightly unbelievable that most of the characters are alive by the end of it.
We also meet a new ally of Batman’s, who goes by the name of Duke. In the past he would have been the next Robin, but this Batman is older and wiser, and after so many Robins have “died” I’m sure he’s over naming an heir to the suit in this iteration.
Also, everyone is on a timer before secrets are exposed. I do find it hard to believe regular folks of Gotham would just saunter out of their homes to free Two-Face while going against the Batman. And even though we see old villains like Penguin, none of the villains really seemed to be much of a threat; they seemed to be purposefully timed delays.
All Star Batman would have fared better if they were able to execute the emotional capital built up by showing us a young Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. Instead we see Batman after over a hundred pages do the exact opposite of what he set out to do. We barely see Bruce Wayne in this volume and I think that might have contributed to the lack of a human character as a totem to relate to.
The overriding theme in this volume was essentially people are horrible and with their own self interests. Batman says he’s willing to let all be exposed in service to the truth, but when he does a u-turn in dealing with Two-Face, it makes the remainder of the story anti-climatic.
Overall, I don’t have many reasons to tell you to go out and read All Star Batman — aside from the artwork, and maybe if you are a die-hard Batman fan.