A fun romp featuring a generous amount of villains from Batman’s rogues gallery, this comic doesn’t try to be anything but a good time. The Caped Crusader finds himself battling Two-Face on a high-speed train, with additional baddies showing up to distract him. A few shrewd moves and the fortuitous appearance of a tunnel fits well within the unique reality of this “All-Star” departure from mainstream Batman continuity; it’s meant to be a bit more campy, but not overly so. A snide remark about shark repellent offers a humorous rejection of the Adam West Batman television series. This book is not that retro, but a talkative Batman, squabbling villains, and an over-eager sidekick make this book a close second. It’s just the right blend and the result is a fun read.
What can one say about John Romita Jr.’s work? It has always been versatile, adapting with the times, working to serve whatever story it is telling. There are some fun echoes from his past efforts here; a Penguin that is somewhat reminiscent of Spider-Man villain Kingpin, and an unexpected mercenary, The Beast, who looks like he stepped off the pages of Kick-Ass. Romita Jr. keeps the action flowing in this exciting comic, with the strong composition and unique renderings we expect from such an experienced artist.
Scott Snyder’s story begins and ends with Wayne Manor getting stormed by the Gotham City Police Department. As we wonder what secrets may be revealed, we delve into a fast-paced play by Two-Face to make Batman’s life a living hell. It’s fun seeing how Harvey Dent knows Bruce Wayne’s true identity as Batman while alter-ego Two-Face refers to him publicly as “Bats”. We’re left wondering whether his two personalities keep secrets from one another, or perhaps there is some grudging respect in not outing his adversary. A back-up story, written by Snyder and illustrated by Declan Shalvey, features an intense conversation between Batman and his new protege, Duke. After beginning to care for him in the main story, the concluding panel here arrives as quite the cliffhanger.
This book offers a unique take on long-standing assumptions about what a contemporary Batman story should be. The result is a fresh entry-point into a Gotham we never really knew.