Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy (Rebirth) by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of BATMAN, Scott Snyder, comes his newest Dark Knight project as a part of DC Universe Rebirth, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY! 

Snyder is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the comics world, with titles that include the genre-defining BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS, as well as BATMAN: BLACK MIRROR and AMERICAN VAMPIRE. But this time, he teams with Eisner Award-winning illustrator and comics legend John Romita Jr. (Avengers, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: THE LAST CRUSADE) and critically acclaimed artist Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight)!

In this new graphic novel, Batman finds himself trying to help old friend Harvey Dent…now known as the villainous Two-Face! The Dark Knight accompanies his foe on a cross-country trip to fix his scarred face and hopefully end the Two-Face identity forever. But when the former Gotham City D.A. sets a plan into motion to free himself, the road gets bumpy and every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide comes out in force with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to Bat-hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before! 

Following the success of COURT OF OWLS, DEATH OF THE FAMILY and ENDGAME, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY is the industry-shaking graphic novel for the Dark Knight, with one of the biggest creative pairings in DC Comics history sharing their take on one of the greatest heroes ever in ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1! Collects issues #1-5.

In his introduction to All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy, Scott Snyder mentions that after he finished his iconic run on the Batman title, he still had stories he wanted to tell. However, he wanted to take Batman out of Gotham and use new artists to tell each story. Well, mission accomplished with this first volume.

My Own Worst Enemy is a Batman road trip reminiscent of Midnight Run or The Book of Eli. In short, Batman is taking Harvey Dent/Two-Face to a secret location in order to provide him with a "cure" for getting rid of his Two-Face personality forever. To defend himself, Two-Face has promised to release every bit of compromising information on the citizens of Gotham unless they stop Batman.  To add to the chaos, Two-Face has promised the combined fortune of Gotham's top three crime bosses to anyone who frees him and stops Batman. Let the madness ensue.

This was a very entertaining story. The road trip aspect allowed the setting to be constantly changing. Also, it allowed for a large number of B list (and C and D, etc.) villains to take their crack at Batman, with often amusing results. Ordinary people were put in difficult positions, and Penguin and his cohorts (the top 2 crime bosses) were desperate, as well. On top of all this, James Gordon and the Gotham police force find themselves compromised as well, due to some information Two-Face has on them.

There were two things I particularly enjoyed about My Own Worst Enemy. The first was the relationship between Batman and Two-Face. Snyder reveals a rather poignant encounter from their childhood, and I found that it added depth to both Bruce and Harvey. (Snyder has become a master at adding background to Batman's past and making it feel very natural, like the reader knew about it all along). I also enjoyed the focus on Duke, Batman's new non-Robin partner. He plays a pivotal role in the story, and his relationship with Batman is just different enough from the Robins of the past/present to add an interesting perspective (Duke also gets a back-up story that adds depth to him as well).

If this first volume of All Star Batman is any indication, Scott Snyder has again got a hit on his hands. If he hasn't already, he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the top Batman writers ever. I highly recommend All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy. It will thrill long-time readers and is a fine starting place for new readers.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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