Pros: The high-stakes and outside-of-Gotham adventures of Batman are just as action packed and cool as they have been throughout this comic’s run. The story about Alfred’s past is incredibly interesting and is something I am looking forward to learning more about.
Cons: Alfred and Bruce’s interactions don’t feel natural or pleasant. The backup story here isn’t nearly as interesting as the previous one.
Overall: The next All-Star Batman story arc begins with a first entry that gives a good indication it will be just as good as the rest of the series. Though the backup story still needs to prove itself, the main story is full of action while still containing an entertaining plot. It mostly features a story revolving around Alfred’s past, so it will be interesting to see how Alfred’s character is developed throughout this arc. All in all, this was a good first issue with a few potential flaws. Hopefully the next issue will dispel those doubts and confirm that this is a story worth reading.
This new All-Star Batman story arc sees a large departure from the rest of the series in a way that many readers will end up enjoying. Instead of focusing mainly on villains or Batman’s relationship to the villains, this arc is focusing on Batman’s “First Ally,” his butler/father figure Alfred. This in itself provides an interesting narrative style and plot in general. Rather than Batman narrating the adventure, Alfred takes over and delivers his unique perspective on the situation. It makes for an intriguing start to the arc that looks promising, as long as a few initial flaws are eventually dealt with.
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Right off the bat, this issue continues the high-stakes, pulse-pounding action and adventure that the series has become known for. At the issue’s start, Batman is in pursuit of Hush and proceeds to drive through a sports stadium and launch himself at a helicopter in order to take it down. From there, he interrogates Hush and then attempts to stealthily infiltrate a modern day pirate base. It is a compelling story with a mystery at the end that will leave readers wanting more. If you’ve enjoyed the action from the previous issues of All-Star then this issue will not be a disappointment.
The most interesting and compelling reason to read this series is the mystery behind Alfred and the character development he will apparently be getting. This issue shows various flashbacks to his youth in London where he is shown running from the police and leaving cryptic symbols on buildings. Since this side of Alfred is not something Batman fans usually receive, it comes as a wonderful surprise for fans. While not much is revealed in this issue, enough is shown to make me very excited for what is to come. This storyline has a lot of potential and will hopefully be able to deliver on it properly.
The only problem with using Alfred so much in this issue is something that Snyder has received criticism for since he started writing Batman: Bruce’s treatment of Alfred. While most imagine a loving father/son relationship between Bruce and Alfred. Snyder has always portrayed it as more of a father/bratty teenager relationship. Bruce is curt, commanding, and somewhat rude whenever he talks to Alfred and usually ends up ordering him around more than talking to him. After reading Tom King’s Batman Vol. 1- I am Gotham (Review), where Alfred and Bruce are nice and joke with each other, it becomes even more obvious how odd Snyder portrays their dynamic. Hopefully this arc will finally address this issue and allow their relationship to experience some growth because if it does not, this arc is going to be far less enjoyable.
In addition to this, another small flaw with this issue is how uninteresting the backup story seems. While the past backup story, “The Cursed Wheel,” had a lot of buildup, intrigue, and payoff, this one seems to be just a random story about Batman taking down a gang. While these kinds of stories are usually fun to read, I would just expect a little more from a book with All-Star in the title. I will reserve judgement about the backup until I see where the writers are heading with it. However, I will say that it is not off to the best start.
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Rafael Albuquerque does the art in this issue, making the entire thing a visual treat. Albuquerque’s rough and gritty style matches well with the kind of story that Snyder is telling here. Characters and even locations look menacing and grim in ways that make them seem as if they could attack Batman at any moment, which they sometimes do.
For the backup issue, Sebastian Fiumara takes over on art. Though Fiumara’s artwork is not as visually impressive as Albuquerque’s, it still looks nice and matches the tone of the work perfectly. The darker character designs with less detail match the darker environment that these characters are in. Fiumara does a great job in making this feel like a mob story and not just a story about petty thieves.
This is the first issue of a brand new story arc in the All-Star Batman series. This means that this story does not directly continue any of the plotlines developed in the series so far, thus making it the perfect jumping on point for new readers. The only references it makes to pervious issues in the series are detailed in the bullet points below.
In addition, the backup story is also the first issue of a brand new story arc. It does not continue out of any previous Batman story and also does not reference any other stories, making it very easy to start reading on its own.
- Batman references the KGBeast at one point in the story. This is a small reference to some events at the end of the “My Own Worst Enemy” storyline, which is collected in All-Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy.
- The way in which Alfred gestures to the police at the end of his chase could possibly be a reference to Batman doing something similar in Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year-Secret City (Review).