All-Star Batman #6 Review

comic books:
Christian Bone

Reviewed by:
On January 11, 2017
Last modified:January 24, 2017


All-Star Batman kicks off its second story arc revolving around Mr Freeze in an exciting issue that keeps up the same high level of quality.

All-Star Batman #6 Review


Now that “My Own Worst Enemy” has been wrapped up, Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman moves on to its next story arc in issue #6. For those new to the comic, All-Star‘s MO is to put the spotlight on a bunch of Batman’s rogues gallery (particularly those that Snyder didn’t use during his New 52 Batman run) and to take the action away from the usual gloomy streets of Gotham. Both of these requirements are ticked off in style this issue, as “The Ends of the Earth” officially kicks off.

Part one sees Batman journey to Alaska to foil Mr Freeze’s latest scheme – to release a terrible virus hidden in the arctic permafrost and then take over the world with the aid of his cryo-zombie army. It’s totally bonkers, and Freeze’s newfound hatred of humanity might veer a little too far into Poison Ivy territory, but it sets the stakes high and makes sure our hero has his work cut out for him.

Still, Freeze’s plan is really just the backdrop to the much more personal, stripped-back confrontation between these two old enemies. Just like Dent and Bruce’s childhood friendship was explored in the previous arc, Victor Fries’ boyhood is teased in a story about his favourite poem – a thematically resonant piece about the world ending either through ice or fire. Before the accident that turned him into a supervillain, he liked the idea of the world ending in flames. Since then, however, he naturally prefers the idea of an icy death.

Eschewing the usual speech bubbles, the tale is told in prose-style captions. It’s a fresh storytelling device that really lets the art speak for itself. Speaking of which, Jock takes over from John Romita Jr. for this arc and – in this reviewer’s opinion – his work is immediately more gorgeous to look at. Partly this is due to the evocative snowbound locales of the story, but also because of his fine-lined style and evocative emphasis on blue and red – the colours of ice and fire that represent the clash of Batman and Freeze: passion and rage versus cold-heartedness.

The ending is a memorable one, as we see Batman through Freeze’s eyes – a crazed creature interfering with his plans to make a perfect world for his frozen wife Nora. The final image of Freeze screaming for his life as fire surrounds him rams home the point that Batman is a figure of terror for his enemies, in a way that no other superhero is.

Meanwhile, B-story “The Cursed Wheel” reaches part five, as Batman’s training of his new protege Duke Thomas intensifies. For such a short installment, it packs a lot in – splitting the action between two time zones with separate threats. The Riddler setting up a deadly real-life crossword puzzle is a great image – as is Duke encountering a tragic Daryl Gutierrez, now resembling Edvard Munch’s The Scream and hidden away at Arkham. Francesco Francavilla’s art is worth a mention as it’s suitably of a piece with the work of previous penciler Declan Shalvey.

All-Star Batman is one of DC Rebirth’s strongest books and continues to keep up its quality as it moves into a new arc. Furthermore, stories like this remind us how Freeze is a much more interesting character than his public image as a punning Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hopefully the wider world will find that out one day (come on, DCEU!), but for now, at least us comic book readers know the truth.

And yes, I made it through the whole review without making a single ice pun. I’m way too cool for that.

All-Star Batman #6 Review

All-Star Batman kicks off its second story arc revolving around Mr Freeze in an exciting issue that keeps up the same high level of quality.