Scott Snyder reunites with artist Jock for All-Star Batman’s second story arc, ‘Cold to the Core.’ As you can probably guess, this one features Bats going up against Mr. Freeze.
All-Star Batman #6 (DC Comics)
- Fighting Mr. Freeze in the northern part of Alaska is a tall order, but at least Batman can keep an eye on Putin from there, too.
- Freeze’s father sounds like a literary snob.
- Yikes. Not saying that Freeze was mentally stable in the first place, but this is pretty messed up, even for him.
- You know you’re in trouble when super villains start making rational arguments about climate change.
- Whether you’re a good or bad guy, Plague Batman is all types of terrifying…
- …and all types of brutal.
Along with Ben Templesmith, Jock is one of the few artists I like who works with looser pencils and abstract aesthetics. He never forgets that his beautiful images are also supposed to be telling a story—and All-Star Batman #6 is no exception.
Despite the bleak setting, Jock utilizes each inch of every page, creating an atmosphere that is somehow both incredibly intimate and starkly isolated. When the primary colors do show up, they are appropriately ethereal and/or shocking.
Speaking of colors, Snyder and Jock do a fantastic job with the word and narrative placement. Instead of standard bubbles and boxes, the dialogue is shaded and arranged in such a way that amplifies the bizarre, alien feel of Batman’s encounter in the arctic.
The narrative itself suffers a bit from some wonky point of view issues (especially when it switches from being more prose-like to dialogue-based), but once it transitions into the main conflict, it’s about as good a Mr. Freeze story as you could ask for.
I’ll admit that doesn’t sound like high praise, especially coming from someone like me who finds Freeze to be fairly predictable and a little cheesy. But in this case, Snyder makes him genuinely terrifying. The dash of sympathy that every writer gives him is present, but what really sets this iteration apart is Freeze’s idealism. Layered within his maniacal plan is a fervent idealism that’s also strangely logical. His big scheme may be vile, but it’s based on science that points the finger squarely at humanity before passing over to him.
Speaking of science, Snyder creates the issue’s most surprising (and badass) moment by linking bat biology with Bruce’s plan to counter Freeze. Even meatheads like me (who can get frustrated when writers go full school textbook on their plot points) will love it.
When I got to the issue’s explosive last page, I was surprised to see a ‘To Be Continued’ tag. This one could have easily stood on its own as a gem of stand-alone story. Considering all the interesting stuff Snyder introduces, however, I’m excited to see where he goes with it—especially with regards to one part of Freeze’s plan that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. While I love the idea of him wielding an army of reanimated cryo-sleepers, it bugged me that they would follow the same guy who turned them into walking Lovecraftian nightmares.
But aside from that (and the aforementioned POV issues), All-Star Batman is pretty much everything you want from a series like this: Great creators doing a fresh story with classic characters. Also, I can’t go without giving my monthly props to the issue’s backup story, “The Cursed Wheel”. Having Snyder and Francisco Francavilla creating any sort of Batman tale is cool, but the fact that it makes me—an unabashed Robin/Batman sidekick hater—like Duke more with every chapter is a pleasant and highly enjoyable surprise.