This week Scott Snyder returns to Batman in All-Star Batman, and Hawkeye deals with the fallout of Civil War II in The Accused!
All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)
After months away from the Dark Knight, superstar writer Scott Snyder has returned with All-Star Batman. Teaming Snyder with a rotating superstar artist, this series has all of the makings for something truly special. I’m a huge fan of Snyder’s run on Batman, but that run really only scratched the surface of the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery. With All-Star, Snyder’s putting the focus on Two-Face, the man who was once Harvey Dent, and with John Romita Jr. on the art for this arc, All-Star is a great return for the writer that goes into some pretty interesting places you wouldn’t expect.
All-Star Batman is very different from Snyder’s previous Batman work. Whereas Snyder’s old volume of Batman focused a lot on Batman and his history with Gotham, All-Star finds him traversing the country in an attempt to get Two-Face to a mysterious “house”. After watching a video sent to him presumably showing Harvey Dent’s side in control and pleading with him, Batman is determined to help his former friend. But the Dark Knight is soon confronted by a host of mercenaries and criminals who are looking to collect on the reward that Two-Face himself has placed on Batman’s head in hopes of stopping him.
Snyder starts things off with a bang and doesn’t let up at all, even in the exposition scenes. Everything reads with a sense of urgency, and you feel the tension as Batman and Two-Face race their way across the country. There’s a great sense of mystery being built in All-Star as well, as Snyder bounces around the timeline of the issue and only gives us small nuggets of information that will most likely be fleshed out as the storyline goes on. As always, Snyder’s characterization of Batman’s characters is spot on, and there’s even a very surprising moment featuring Alfred that will make your jaw drop.
John Romita Jr’s art has always been a little hit or miss for me, but he definitely brought his “A” game for this issue. The tension and action that I mentioned in Snyder’s script is enhanced wonderfully here, and at times you start to wince during some of Batman’s fights. There’s some surprisingly brutal stuff here, and I’m not just talking about Romita’s awesome design for Two-Face.
As if you had any doubts, All-Star Batman is pretty damn cool. It’s great to see Snyder try something new with the Dark Knight, and all signs are pointing to this being another incredible run from the writer. There’s even a great back up with art from Declan Shalvey about Duke Thomas, the new sidekick to Batman (nope, he’s not Robin). If you’ve been desperate for Snyder to make his return to the Batman, then All-Star is just what you were hoping for and then some.
The Accused #1 (Marvel Comics)
Civil War II may not be igniting fans’ imaginations and wallets like Marvel may want it to, but that’s not stopping them from churning out spin-off specials around the event. The first of two specials this month, The Accused finds Matt Murdock on the prosecuting side of Hawkeye’s trial shown in Civil War II #3. Marc Guggenheim and Ramon Bachs’ one shot sounds like it has the makings of a cool little side story, but like many one-shots, it doesn’t offer any real insight.
The entirety of this issue focuses on Clint Barton’s trial and Matt Murdock prosecuting him on behalf of New York City. While that sounds like it could be a pretty interesting idea, unfortunately Marc Guggenheim decided he’d rather focus more on a conspiracy against the superheroes rising out of Civil War II than showing a lot of the courtroom drama. This is probably because we already saw plenty of the trial in Civil War II #3, but at the same time, the conspiracy isn’t all that shocking or interesting really (hell, it’s even called “The Superhuman Registration Act II). Even though Accused isn’t a complete retread, it kind of feels like it is simply from the fact that the “reveal” isn’t that interesting.
Ramon Bachs’ pencils are pretty good, and suit the story well, but like the script, there’s nothing about them that makes it really stand out. This is an issue that really could’ve been drawn by anyone, from a seasoned pro to a new up and comer, and still have the same result. There’s nothing really that stands out as good or bad.
Unfortunately The Accused doesn’t really add much to the overall Civil War II event. If you were hoping for some groundbreaking revelation, insight into Hawkeye’s motivations or feelings, or even a cool little courtroom drama, you won’t get anything you didn’t already see in Civil War II #3. After the tepid response the actual Civil War II event is getting, you would’ve hoped that Marvel would’ve tried to make this book something special.