All-Star Batman #8 Review

By
comic books:
Christian Bone

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On March 15, 2017
Last modified:March 15, 2017

Summary:

Mesmerizing and mind-bending, surreal yet thoughtful, All-Star Batman #8 might just be the best issue yet of an already very high quality comic.

This review contains minor spoilers. 

Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman series, which features the Dark Knight travelling the US and meeting a revolving door of his worst enemies, has served up seven high-quality issues so far. Issue #8, however, might just be the best one yet.

In ‘Ends of the Earth: Part 3,’ Batman travels to the swamps of Mississippi to confront the Mad Hatter, who he believes might be behind the necrotic plague released by Mr. Freeze back in Part 1. It turns out that the Lewis Carroll-loving weirdo might have a bigger bombshell than that up his sleeve, though. In a trippy, ultra-surreal tale, Jervis Tetch suggests that Bruce Wayne’s life as Batman is all a hallucination brought on by Tetch’s own ‘Looking Glass’ technology.

What Snyder has done in each previous issue is nail exactly what it is that makes each villain fascinating, and also how they reflect Batman’s own inner demons. So Two-Face represents his fractured psyche, Mr. Freeze has grown cold-hearted after experiencing personal tragedy, etc. In this issue, Mad Hatter makes Batman face the fact that his life is really just a child’s fantasy. Whether his career as Batman is a product of his mind or not, Bruce is living in a wonderland of his own making.

Once again, Snyder draws from the sublime Batman: The Animated Series for inspiration, as this issue heavily recalls the classic episode “Perchance to Dream” (where Hatter did the reverse, trapping Bruce in a dream world without Batman). Not that that is a criticism; BTAS is one of the finest renditions of Batman’s world ever, so of course it should be looked to for inspiration.

Batman’s mental conflict is expertly executed through the clever device of telling the story through captions rather than dialogue. Snyder tried it back in Issue #6, of course, but it is much more effective here, as Batman’s point-of-view blurs with Mad Hatter’s in the parts where he’s doubting his own reality. Kudos to letterer Steve Wands for some canny typeface choices: Batman’s inner monologue is crisp and precise while Tetch’s is sketchy and jagged. As Batman’s reality blurs, the lettering bleeds into the artwork, which really helps the whole thing come together to form a piece of art. Thankfully, the book is kept grounded by some welcome moments of humour. Such as the gloriously wacky visual of seeing Batman smack a fake Nightwing around the face with a flamingo (don’t worry, animal lovers, it’s only a robot).

Speaking of visuals, it’s not just Snyder who’s on top form this issue, as artist Guiseppi Camuncoli’s work is truly astounding. Things get very bizarre as Batman’s hallucinations intensify and Camuncoli totally rises to the challenge. The highlight has to be the one-page splash panel which sees a monstrous dream-Hatter munching on Batman’s brain, as mini dream-Batmen run around it, fighting mini dream-villains. It’s as crazy as it sounds but it’s an image that is hard to forget. Dean White’s colours are beautiful, too. Things are all clear and crisp in the real world, but when Batman is under Mad Hatter’s influence the pages turn into day-glo nightmares. The only point of contention is that his Batman is strangely purple, with a bright violet under-cape.

Meanwhile, the back-up strip, ‘The Cursed Wheel,’ continues as Duke Thomas has a moment of contemplation about his role as Batman’s latest protege. As such, it might not be as thrilling as the A-story, but it’s a quietly important installment as it sees Duke come to terms with carving out his own path as a superhero. Francesco Francavilla provides some clean, colourful artwork which will keep you engaged despite the bulk of the comic comprising a heartfelt conversation.

Mesmerizing and mind-bending in equal measure, Scott Snyder and his art team pulled another classic out of the hat with All-Star Batman #8If you love when Batman comics get both wacky and thoughtful, then this is a must-read.

All-Star Batman #8 Review
Top Honors

Mesmerizing and mind-bending, surreal yet thoughtful, All-Star Batman #8 might just be the best issue yet of an already very high quality comic.

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