“My Own Worst Enemy” part four! So close and yet so far from his goal, Batman must now wrangle Two-Face out of his own assassin-filled riverboat casino before it plunges over Niagara Falls to their deaths! The Dark Knight will have to go all-in on the most deadly gamble of his life if he intends to make it out alive.
Pickup your copy of ‘All-Star Batman’ #4 at Comixology now!
Consistency is the name of the game with ‘All-Star Batman’ and finally it is starting to happen. I’ve been tough on this series in previous reviews, really tough. The first three issues have been hugely overstuffed with various characters from the Batman universe. Odd for a series whose concept is based on taking Batman out of his normal surroundings.
Once again the story picks up directly after the last issue as we find Batman double crossed by Two-Face. I’m still a little confused as to why Two-Face has a group of Owls by him as he hasn’t previously been connected with the Court. There’s a lot of moments in ‘All-Star Batman’ which feel very contrived for the sake of the story. Batman’s suit in this issue, for instance, seems to be full of new gadgets which are perfectly designed to deal with the exact situation he has found himself in. Given that this story is written by Scott Snyder, the mastermind behind ‘Endgame’ and ‘Court of the Owls’ it feels like slack storytelling.
Still it’s hard to argue with how this story is starting to come together. Once the fight with Two-Face and the light aircraft sequence which follows it is over then ‘All-Star Batman’ finally starts to work. For the first time some of the supporting characters reappear in a second issue so KGBeast, Penguin, Great White Shark and Black Mask get the award for being more consistent than any other characters so far. With that there’s a plan, there’s a structure to what’s going on and finally this is beginning to feel like a Batman story.
I’m still not 100% sure what it is but its there.
With the story finally coming together I was a little less distracted by the artwork. In writing this review and focussing on it again it still bothers me and it still feels incredibly stiff compared to many other comics but with the story starting to work it’s definitely less of a distraction.
‘All-Star Batman’ #4 is perhaps the issue we’ve been waiting for. It shows the series most consistent characterisation and storytelling and finally the Scott Snyder we know is starting to show his personality. Stick with it.
“MY OWN WORST ENEMY” part three! Now on the run from both bounty hunters and cops, Batman and Duke must find a safe place to hide out with Two-Face before they can continue their journey to the cure. Batman might soon realize his worst nightmare: that Two-Face is right…and nowhere is safe.
Pickup your copy of ‘All-Star Batman’ #3 at Comixology now!
Finally things are starting to come together with the story of ‘All-Star Batman’. In my reviews of previous issues (here and here) I’ve spent some time talking about how Scott Snyder is using this series to break out of the confines of a ‘normal’ Batman story. The first two issues have very much been a road movie between Batman and Two-Face. A road movie framed with this strange mix of black comedy and drama with a cadre of assassins chasing them down.
Leading up to this point I’ve been critical of just how many assassin characters have been shoehorned in to this story. This issue is no less packed, starting out with KGBeast and also featuring Owls, Penguin, Black Mask and Great White Shark. The difference here is that we are starting to see a structure to all the madness. KGBeast is our leader here, his battle with Batman takes up more than a simple couple of pages and instead pushes the story on much further than any further character appearance so far in the series.
Overall ‘All-Star Batman’ is a very convoluted plot for such a simple concept. The mix of various flashback moments mixed with the travelling drama and overblown cast and at times it can be very difficult to follow. This issue also continues to throw Duke in to the mix. Fully in costume which I still find slightly confusing as we have yet to fully seem him take up a sidekick role in mainstream ‘Batman’ comics.
By mile 222 I’m not sure that I fully understand quite why Batman was taking Two-Face to their destination or why he agreed to go. When the double cross happens and Two-Face is joined by some souped up Owls (yes from the Court of Owls) it’s a bit of a head scratcher moment. Still there is something about this story which is starting to feel right, I’m invested enough that I need to know where its going.
It’s worth noting that the backup story – ‘The Cursed Wheel’ – is actually outshining the main story in some way. The character portrait of Duke is a fun read.
The sticking point is still the artwork. This issues features a huge amount of action yet it never looks anything other than stiff. Characters look like heavily posed mannequins. I’ve said it before but it is just too heavily stylised to fit with the story. I’m not going to say it’s bad artwork but it really isn’t. It just does not work in the context of ‘All-Star Batman’. At this point it feels like the series would look better if literally any other artist in mainstream comics were working on it.
‘All-Star Batman’ #3 is beginning to show what this series is capable of doing. The artwork is still an issue for me but the story is really starting to grip me.
“My Own Worst Enemy” part 2! All aboard the train ride from hell! Batman and Two-Face continue their journey to Harvey Dent’s cure through an assassin-infested landscape. But can the Dark Knight continue his crusade across the countryside when Two Face turns one of his greatest allies against him?
Pickup your copy of ‘All-Star Batman’ #2 @ Comixology now!
The opening issue of this new series (reviewed here) made for a really interesting read. Visually I’m not sure that I was able to connect with it. The story, however, was still very Snyder.
To this day I cannot decide if I was wholly satisfied with the issue as a whole. Sadly that feeling is continuing to linger with issue #2.
The premise of ‘All-Star Batman’ is great. It also happens to serve as an analogy for what Scott Snyder is doing with this series. Both writer and star are outside of their comfort zones, exploring new territory.
As the story continues to evolve through this issue the ‘All-Star’ title is lived up to in every way. With every assassin going following the Bat and his prisoner there are opportunities for a huge number of guest appearances. It’s a little overstuffed with characters which does mean that development is often sidelined for action.
The story itself is well handled. Flashbacks continue to explain some of the events in Gotham which had led us to where we are in the present day. Essentially Snyder is adopting an ‘Arrow’ type model in juxtaposing the past and present stories.
There’s enough development in this issue to push the story forwards but the present day action seems to be moving a little slower than the flashbacks.
‘All-Star Batman’ #2 does feel like a more cohesive issue than #1 but there’s still something amiss with the story which I can’t quite put my finger on.
The sticking point for me remains the artwork. I’m struggling to get past the equally all-star team of Snyder and Greg Capullo and their run on the main ‘Batman’ title. The team of John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire and Dean White have got massive shoes to fill.
The series naturally has a different visual style because it’s so heavily daytime set. Already as an audience we’re taken out of our comfort zone to see Batman spend so much time in direct sunlight.
The colour palette is fairly standard to match. With Killer Croc appearing in this issue there is the chance for some more standout greens to go alongside the purples of Two-Face. That aside there’s a slightly washed out feel to ‘All-Star Batman’ which is definitely one of its drawbacks.
What I do like about the artwork is the level of detail given my the pencil strokes. Fine detail is abundant in environments and costumes. Sadly where it is lacking is in facial features.
If I had to point the finger at the biggest drawback with ‘All-Star Batman’ for me it’s the character drawings. It does have a great indie comic flair but it still feels, to me, as though it doesnt’ belong in this series. It feels at odds with the story but I still have hope the two will settle their differences in future issues.
‘All-Star Batman’ #2 is not as bad as this review seems to have made it out to bed. It’s a solid read from a brilliant writer. It definitely breaks new ground for the character. But like all good new products it has its teething problems.
“My Own Worst Enemy” part one! Superstar writer Scott Snyder explodes into an all-new Batman series alongside legendary artist John Romita Jr., reimagining some of the Dark Knight’s greatest villains. First up: Two-Face! Batman must take Two-Face to a destination out of Gotham City, but the duplicitous villain has a two of spades up his sleeve. Every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide is on their tails with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before!
Pickup your copy of ‘All-Star Batman’ #1 at Comixology now!
Having multiple series running at any one time is always a danger. There’s every chance that one of the series won’t live up to the rest and will weaken the overall branding of the character. With ‘Batman’ coming out of the New 52 era with upwards of four series to his name adding another felt like overkill.
Thankfully for us ‘All-Star Batman’ is under the watchful eye of Scott Snyder. Yes THE Scott Snyder. He retired from ‘Batman’ and setup camp at ‘All-Star Batman’ instead.
The series has an interesting premise, at least for its first arc. Taking both The Dark Knight and villain Two-Face out of Gotham. Much like the main ‘Batman’ series ‘All-Star Batman’ is taking the titular hero outside of his comfort zone. We’ve seen his undertake global adventures but this series already feels like a road trip buddy story.
Snyder is famous with Bat-fans for his huge story arcs. ‘Endgame’ and ‘Court of the Owls’ are two of the most highly regarded stories in recent history. Both however were almost entirely set in Gotham itself and kept the series within its comfort zone of dark and shadowy corners. ‘All-Star Batman’ is outside, in the daylight.
This first issue is almost entirely setup. It’s masked with a high octane opening but essentially all the happens is an overlong explanation of its premise. Batman is taking Two-Face somewhere and there are hit men hot on their trail.
Some of the most interesting moments in the issue come from the reactions of town locals to the arrive of Batman and his companion. Through backstory we learn what has brought them to this point but it is all fairly standard fare.
One of the most intriguing moments was seeing Duke in full costume, we’be yet to see this in any other Bat-book so I am intrigued as to where in the timeline this series is. I’m also intrigued to see what has motivated Alfred in to the situation we find him in at the end of this issue.
There’s enough intrigue in amongst the setup to keep readers entertained but I wonder how long this arc will be able to stretch itself out before it becomes a little tired.
Visually this book is really interesting. It feels a lot like Freddie E. Williams II work on ‘Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. There’s a more youthful energy behind the pencil and the colours are vibrant to boot.
With present day scenes being set during the daytime there’s a chance to appreciate the latest version of the Batsuit in full glory. Rather than bathed in darkness. John Romit Jr. is also able to bring some new visual flare to Two-Face who we haven’t seen in ‘Batman’ comics for a little while.
His style of art is going to take a little getting used to but it certainly is a break from the norm in the world of ‘Batman’ and that is no bad thing.
‘All-Star Batman’ #1 is a great start. It’s got huge premise and the story has already brought enough intrigue to keep up reading. The artwork is different but it’s great to see DC branching out from standard comic fare.
Cover by Matt Banning, Jordie Bellaire, David Finch & Danny Miki
“I Am Gotham” part five. In the final chapter of this epic, is Batman truly the hero Gotham City deserves-or does it deserve better? In this ultimate showdown, where the line between allies and enemies blurs, the question will finally be answered…and the fate of Gotham will be decided.
Pickup your copy of ‘Batman: Rebirth’ #5 at Comixology now!
‘I Am Gotham’ has been an interesting reset for the ‘Batman’ series. In recent times the main ‘Batman’ line has heavily featured the full family of Bat-sidekicks., then with it’s New 52 ending run Jim Gordon took over the mantle of the Bat. In ‘Rebirth’ we find ourselves still readjusting to Bruce being behind the cowl. Ironically here we also find Alfred wearing the famous costume for a time, albeit under duress.
Rather than focusing on his own family it’s been a refreshing difference to see Bruce dealing with a new heroic family on the scene. Gotham and Gotham Girl have morally challenged the idea of Batman. Does Gotham need such a dark hero? Does it need a hero without having powers? The answer is of course, yes. But it is still interesting to see him challenged in new ways.
The characters of Gotham and Gotham Girl themselves have not been overly compelling villains. Gotham himself has seemed blindly hellbent on being a hero whilst his sister is only present through sibling affection. Over the course of these five issues it seems more time had been spent on Gotham leading to his downfall, with this issue Gotham Girl gets to take some of that limelight. Perhaps most perplexing is the closing scenes where Gotham Girl narrates from the future. Her future seems, at least for now (in this universe), to be tied with that of Duke.
Morality tales in comics ultimately need action. Writer Tom King is able to bring action to ‘Batman’ without sacrificing character. The Bruce-Alfred dynamic has always been the heart of this series and that was missed during Gordon’s time in the costume. In these first five issues of ‘Rebirth’ we have already had multiple opportunities to see Alfred’s emotional side. With issue 5 we’re able to see just how far Alfred will go to aid Bruce in his mission.
Critically all this has been done without the distraction of multiple sidekicks. We’re yet to understand the full extent of Duke’s new role as trainee hero.
‘Batman: Rebirth’ is currently one of the less visually stunning series on the DC slate. It is easily one of the most visually consistent however. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen on this issue between penciller Finch, inkers Banning and Hope plus colourist Bellaire.
The colour palette is full of reds and drained hues which are in stark contrast to previous versions of ‘Batman’. Much of this series also seems to take place during the day. Whether these were conscious choices to step away from tradition or not they work. This looks like a new ‘Batman’ and reads like a new one to boot.
I’ve always been a fan of Finch’s pencils. The level of detail that he brings is always exciting. The way he draws Alfred in the Batsuit, extenuating how it fails to fit, is just one example of the care and attention he puts in to his art.
‘Batman: Rebirth’ #5 further takes the story in new directions. There’s a strong mix of action and character with equally strong artwork. It’s unlike a to win any new fans but for current readers it continues what is shaping up to be a great run of issues.
Whilst the DC Comics Extended Universe continues to ride high at the box off it’s TV arm is gearing up for the new season. With ‘Supergirl’ moving to The CW that leaves ‘Gotham’ as one of the companies only remaining outliers over on Fox.
‘Gotham’ season 2 introduced several high profile Batman villains to the franchise and season 3 looks to be no different. News broke several weeks ago that Maggie Geha will be taking over the role of Pamela Isley as the character is reintroduced. The first teaser poster (left) confirmed what fans were expecting that the Court of Owls will be a major villain when the show returns.
Fox has now released a gallery of character portraits for the upcoming season including our first look at the new Ivy. Check out the shots in the gallery below!
Season 3 of ‘Gotham’ premieres Monday, Sept. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Film photographer Clay Enos has made a name for himself working with DCEU films. You may have first discovered his work through ‘Man of Steel’ in 2013. Maybe it was for ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ earlier this year. No? How about the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’ on which he is also a photographer. Or ‘Justice League’. Or ‘Wonder Woman’. We could go on…
He’s not just famous for his work in the DCEU however, Enos has also worked with Zack Snyder on ‘Watchment’ and ‘Sucker Punch’. The two have quite the working relationship going on!
An active user of social media Enos has recently shared a number of images from DC film sets. We thought we would bring them altogether for you in to one gallery!
Many of the shots have been published to promote the release of the ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Ultimate Edition (reviewed here) but there are a number of images from ‘Suicide Squad’ and a couple from ‘Justice League’ also.
Check them out in the gallery below and make sure to follow @clayenos on Instagram as we’re sure he will release more!
Starring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter and Laurence Fishburne and more…
Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ the Ultimate Edition is available on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK from 1st August!
My full, in-depth review of the theatrical cut is available here!
I’m (hopefully) not going to repeat myself from my first review of the film. Please feel free to read that review first before coming back to my thoughts on this expanded edition.
In my eyes it was inevitable that ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ would receive a directors or ‘ultimate’ cut given that Zack Snyders films generally always get them. I was prepared for it. I expected it. Most of all I wanted it.
I gave the theatrical cut of the film four stars but by no means am I ignorant of its faults. Neither am I ignorant of the fact that some faults cannot be fixed simply by adding more runtime.
That being said the ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Ultimate Edition (henceforth ‘Bvs:DOJ’ for the sake of word count) goes a long way to fixing it’s issues.
For many the most flawed aspect of the theatrical cut was the story. I felt able to fill in many of the gaps through reading the prequel comics but many struggled to do the same.
‘BvS:DOJ’ Ultimate Edition sets out to fill in the gaps for the viewer. Speaking with Collider back in March director Zack Snyder stated that he turned in a three hour cut of the film to Warner Bros. He was promptly asked to shave that cut down to the 2.5hr version we all saw in cinemas.
Hindsight being a beautiful thing I now disagree with several of the editing choices in the theatrical cut. There are still throwaway moments in the Ultimate Edition which are purely here for the joy of Easter eggs. However much of the additional material feels integral to making the film work.
Many of us fans and critics picked up on a lack of development for Clark Kent as a character on top of the perceived mishandling of Superman. I say perceived as we don’t know what is in store for the character in ‘Justice League’. Ultimately this version doesn’t miraculously change the deconstructed Superman and make him the true Man of Steel. It does inject a whole lot more character in to him and take him a step closer to becoming the hero.
Clark Kent is given an entire sub-plot to investigate Batman. We saw a little of his intrigue with the vigilante in the theatrical cut but here it is fully explored. We’re able to see Clark the investigative journalist and Clark the boyfriend in earnest for the first time. It really counterbalances the Batman/Bruce Wayne aspects of the film making it a true co-headliner. The theatrical cut ultimately swayed towards Batman.
Most hope for Superman fans will come in the aftermath of the bombing on Capitol Hill. In the Ultimate Edition we’re given a glimpse of Superman pulling victims from the burning building. It’s a small moment but one which really aims to portray him in a more positive light. Moments like this easily lift the film from it’s dark and moody tones and would have proven a hit with many naysayers.
Story aside much of the criticism of the film was heaped in the direction of Jessie Eisenberg. There’s no way the Ultimate Edition could change his approach to the character. What it does do is make his motivations much more straightforward. His characterisation is still more megalomaniac teen than mastermind billionaire CEO though.
The theatrical cut only implied his manipulation of the characters superficially leading towards their grand battle. The Ultimate Edition really spells it out for us. Beginning with the expansion of the Africa scenes Lex’s manipulations all play out on screen. Beginning with framing Superman for the deaths in Africa, Lex is able to turn his attentions to Batman.
The theatrical cut gave us the Bat-brand and told us how those marked with it were killed in prison. The Ultimate Edition gave us scenes in which Lex’s goons used inside men to commit murders of the branded inmates. Lex then uses this to coax Clark in to his investigation of Batman.
Interestingly in a throwaway moment we also learn that Clark was personally requested to cover the party at Lex’s house. The same party Bruce Wayne is so personally invited to.
These are the biggest improvements to the film. The fight sequences are genuinely barely touched bar the addition of some blood. Much hype was made about the addition of naming Jimmy Olsen and Jena Malone potentially as Barbara Gordon. Both are very small moments in the film and sadly Malone is in fact a Star Labs scientist and not the future Oracle. Their moments equate to the soft bonus additions rather than required moments in the story.
The changes to the story also equate to changes to the editing of the film overall. Where the theatrical cut felt choppy the Ultimate Edition gives scenes time to breathe and play out naturally. The film feels much more cohesive and you get the impression that Snyder and co had some idea of what they wanted to achieve.
My only qualm at this stage: we STILL don’t get to see Batman raid Lexcorp to steal the Kryptonite.
In hindsight I would go back and downgrade my review of the theatrical cut to 3/5. Undoubtedly the Ultimate Edition far exceeds its precedessor in story and structure and deserves the 4/5 that I am going to give it.
It’s surplus to requirement but the CGI, score and all other aspects of the film remain intact from my initial impressions. Wonder Woman is still a highlight and Batman still ultimately comes off the better character.
‘BvS:DOJ’ Ultimate Cut is a genuine improvement on the cinema release. We’re unlikely to ever know the real culprit or culprits behind the choices made in bringing the film to cinema. At this point why should we care? Ultimately what exists are two versions of a film which really aimed to change the genre for the better. Whether is succeeded or failed is entirely subjective.
My advice: watch, enjoy and come back for ‘Suicide Squad’ on August 5th, 2016.
It is time. Bruce Wayne has reclaimed his true past as Batman. Now he must descend into the cave and face what he once was. Can he truly leave behind a life free from the pain and anguish of the Bat? Can he plunge once more into the madness and purpose that once consumed him? In this special, thrilling issue, watch as the fate of Bruce Wayne, and Batman, is decided once and for all.
Pickup your copy of ‘Batman’ #49 at Comixology now!
As the synopsis states… it is time. After almost a full year of living on the sidelines of his own series Bruce Wayne is ready to reclaim the mantle that has made him famous, but not before having some very heavy, emotionally charged dialogue with Alfred.
This issue is very focused on the moments leading up to Bruce regaining his lost memories rather than focussing on him putting the costume of Batman on for the first time since his ‘death’ in the caves with Joker back in #40.
Baring that in mind the cover is perhaps a little misleading unless you look at it psychologically. Batman looms very heavy over this issue, #49 is not a rip-roaring and colourful romp to the finish line of this story. It’s ruled by Alfred and his emotions which is best summed up by the line ‘… you’re asking me to play the part of Chill. To pull the trigger‘.
This is, in fact, a rebirth (much like DC comics is entering as a whole) for Batman and Bruce Wayne. There are snippets of the old Bruce: the determination; the sheer mindedness, the disregard for his own happiness. But there’s also a calculated decision that for Gotham to survive the true Batman must return.
There’s no doubting that Alfred is the star of #49. His emotional outbursts are intense throughout. Some have argued that Alfred acts out of character in wanting Bruce to stay happy and not to return to his old life but my interpretation is more from a place of fatherly love. If you look at Alfred as the man who raised Bruce then it’s easy to see where his desperation to keep him safe comes from.
For me this was an emotionally intense experience and one that I relish getting from my comics.
The small character cameos in the fake memories that Bruce’s brain invents show some interesting ‘what if’ moments in his career as Batman. The continual degradation of the memories from the white suited Batman down to the eventual true Batman emphasise Bruce’s journey back to the man he needs to be and back in to the darkness.
There’s so much emotion going on within the story that it’s easy to not even notice the lack of artwork from Scott Snyder’s long time collaborate Greg Capullo. The artwork here by Paquette and Fairbairn is a good alternative. It doesn’t overpower the story and instead enhances the emotion, it’s a very dark issue throughout but very well contrasted by some of the memories that Bruce’s brain tries to throw out to keep the real Batman from resurfacing.
The memories are the most visually striking moments within #49. The white suited Batman is perhaps the most prominent with his ginormous cave within Wayne Tower. It’s a interesting glimpse in to a potential Elseworlds story that I would be intrigued to see more of.
However you look at it with #49 Bruce is back at Batman and it’s just a matter of time before he reclaims the ‘Batman’ book for his own!
Written by Ed Brisson, Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Pencils & Inks by Fernando Blanco & Christian Duce
Cover by Guile March
THE SCULPTOR is the woman who formed Mother’s agents. Will she give Grayson and Harper the information they need…or break them?
Pickup your copy of ‘Batman & Robin Eternal’ #11 at Comixology now!
Time to dip into the slightly weird with this weeks ‘Batman & Robin Eternal’. Issue #11 breaks from the traditional format of the series completely, shrugging off the flashback sequences of Batman and Robin and the B storylines of previous weeks to instead tell an origin of sorts for Cassandra Cain through the telepathic abilities of The Sculptor (introduced last week – reviewed here).
Shedding a bit more light on why The Sculptor had to be rushingly introduced at the end of the previous issue, #11 jumps straight in to taking Harper in to the mind-meld of sorts which allows the writers to tell a huge amount of exposition on some of the lesser known characters.
Don’t get me wrong this is a very interesting issue but the introduction of The Sculptor really only serves to push the story on with a big leap. Coming out of this issue readers will have a much greater understanding on how Mother carries out her work but also as to why Cassandra Cain turned out to be the fighter that she is.
The story is very well constructed to provide enough exposition on all the supporting characters without feeling too obviously like a requirement to get us to where we need to be next as fast as possible.
Also, for the first time, this series is elevated out of the doldrums of generic artwork to be something much more individual. Firstly the cover, above, absolutely stands out against everything else in this series so far. It’s psychedelic, trippy and perfectly compliments the story inside. The sequences in the mind meld take on a cloudy texture, colours become washed out and pale but it looks beautiful. The darkness of Cassandra’s past is balanced against the brightness of the room where Grayson, The Sculptor and Harper Row reside.
It comes off as being a little style of substance but if the story is leading towards a shocking reveal to Grayson then ‘Batman & Robin Eternal’ issue #11 has pushed us there in record time.
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