Sunday, September 18, 2016

All-Star Batman #2

Oh my god this cover is so stupid!

The Commentary!
• DC Comics really knows how to squeeze every last dollar out of their Batman franchise. I don't blame them since they spend zero time trying to turn any of their other characters into the same kind of phenomenon. Instead of having meetings about how to improve the writing on Superman, they have meetings about how many Batman comic books they can sell each month and ways to make those comic books more expensive. The regular Batman title is a bit hampered by their dedication to biweekly (or bimonthly, depending on who is reading this and how annoyed they get at what they think is the improper usage of either of those terms when really we should just have an international meeting of English speaking countries to tie those fucking terms down to one meaning) comic books priced at $2.99. It's a smart move because that still means they make six dollars per Batman fan every month right there! But stop the presses! What if they could also sell a monthly Batman book for five more dollars each month?! Some people might think that price is a bit excessive but did those people note the extra heavy card stock being used for the covers?! It's also quite glossy! Too bad it's ruined by the John Romita Jr. cover art. But wait! The cover isn't the only bonus! You also get more madcap adventure with forty pages! Some of those pages are advertisements, of course. And the actual extra story pages are a back-up story that, even if it's well done, isn't really the story you want to be reading. But if that's not enough to justify the $4.99 then maybe don't buy the comic book because I can't think of any other reasons to make the price increase seem like a good deal. I definitely can't mention the art.

• Batman is currently on a road trip with Two-Face. They're headed to Two-Face's childhood home which is probably a duplex. But along the way, Batman must fight off a horde of villains set loose on him by Two-Face's proclamation that he'll present a large cash reward to whoever stops Batman. Also, if nobody stops Batman, Two-Face will reveal the dirtiest secrets of every single Gothamite. He knows all of the secrets because fuck you, that's how.

• This issue begins two days from the present. I guess Snyder hasn't given up on sticking twos in all of the time jumps. I would have thought he milked that for all it was worth in the first issue. Maybe he's concerned it was too (two!) subtle and not everybody noticed how smart he was being. Anyway, two days ago, Jim Bullock and Harvey Gordon were hanging out looking terrible.

I guess Two-Face isn't the only one who knows some secrets.

• I'm going to enjoy this comic book for what it is but I want to state, for the record, that the premise is fucking ridiculous. I understand Scott Snyder probably began the story by coming up with the question: What would any of us do to protect our most secret shame? Or, um, you know...something like that! He was probably sitting at a coffee shop taking upskirt photos and thinking, "What if Two-Face were omniscient and everybody in Gotham believed he was omniscient and then he threatened to expose their strange perversions or dark histories? I bet everybody would turn on the one guy who has nothing to hide: Batman!" Then he began writing a story which I already found entertaining in Issue #1 (except maybe the part where Alfred turned on Batman as well) even after I thoroughly pooh-poohed the premise.

• At the end of the last issue, Batman was driving off with Two-Face locked in the back of the truck Batman stole and Gentleman Ghost hanging on the back. That's why this issue begins with Batman being crushed to death by Killer Croc on the top of a train. So is this issue also going to tell the tale backwards? Is that the gimmick for the whole series? If so, it must mean something, right?! Is it because Batman is taking Two-Face back to face his past? And, in the same way, Two-Face is forcing every citizen of Gotham to face their past as they worry it'll be exposed?

• John Romita Jr. draws a terrible Killer Croc. His King Shark isn't too good either. King Shark is there to split the money with Killer Croc because they must not be confident that they can take Batman by themselves. Hell, they aren't even confident they can take Batman with each other because they've also brought along Amygdala. In introducing the three behemoths, the narration goes on quite a bit about each of their brains. I think that's to show they're not smart enough to realize, yet, that they're going to have to share Two-Face's reward. They'll probably start fighting over that so Batman can escape.

King Shark and Killer Croc have a nice laugh after Batman stabs Amygdala with his Bat-ear knives. Or maybe they just have gas.

• Batman uses some shark repellent to knock King Shark off of the train. Amygdala is also knocked off of the train because he served his purpose, mostly just to add to the huge list of villains Batman must face in All-Star Batman. Plus, you know, shark repellent! Hilarious reference to Campy Batman!

• Killer Croc is about to finish Batman off by hitting him with a large tree trunk. Luckily for Batman, he's got his Bat-Attach-A-Tree-Trunk-To-A-Massive-Person-Holding-It-Rang strapped to his back. He uses it on Waylon who now is too wide to fit in the tunnel the train is entering and is kept out of the tunnel and probably not crushed to death by a bigger train car coming up behind him. Because Batman couldn't have just killed three people in just a few pages after having not killed anybody ever (according to Batman himself, of course). I mean, King Shark and Amygdala obviously survived falling off of the train anyway so Killer Croc would only be Batman's first kill since he began his career.

• After the train exits the tunnel, Batman is shot by two poison darts: one from Cheshire and one from Copperhead. So I guess now he'll die of poison! No way Batman could have seen this coming! I mean, he did just use a Batarang with such a specific use that I'd be an idiot to think he doesn't have a way to survive being poisoned by two different poisons at once! But idiot or not, I'm predicting he's going to die in a few minutes! I just won't believe it if he survives this trap too!

• Dammit. Batman survives it! How does he do it?! Every time! No matter how improbable his odds of survival, he survives! I mean, except for the few times he doesn't! Although even when he dies, he doesn't die! He's incredible!

• Meanwhile in Gotham City, The Penguin, Great White, and Black Mask hire a Russian Super Hitman to take out Batman. Why is everybody so worried about their pasts being exposed? These guys are Gotham Mafia! Anything that comes out can only help their reputation. Unless they're trying to hide the charitable good deeds they've done in the past. Maybe they're ashamed of how much they loved their mothers?

• Twenty hours ago, Alfred and Duke Thomas were busy discussing what makes Two-Face Two-Face and why Two-Face can seem so different across all of his stories. Alfred doesn't say it's because it depends on who is writing him because Alfred is a fictional character in the story. But he does explain that Two-Face is a dick and Harvey Dent isn't. Plus they're trying to find a cure for Two-Face. I say a skin graft would go a long way to making him feel more confident.

• About five, wait, make that two minutes after Batman and Two-Face survive being poisoned and falling off of a train trestle, Batman is shot in the head by some cops or prison guards or security personnel. I guess he'll get out of this one too! He's so resourceful!

• His resource this time is KGBeast! I mean, The Beast! That's the guy Penguin and friends hired to kill Batman. Well, that seems fair since Batman once killed him. I mean, he cut off his arm and left him to die which would be enough for most juries to convict a person of murder. But KGBeast survived and now he's, apparently, the world's greatest killer! He rescues Batman but he only does it to kill Batman. So Batman isn't out of the woods which caught fire due to a careless hunter trying to fry some eggs in a pan around a fire not in a secure firepit.

• That's probably a good place to end the story for this month. But Snyder chooses to end with Gordon and Bullock breaking through Bruce's Bat-clock to discover...well, who knows what they've discovered. Jim just says, "Damn you, Bruce. What the hell have you done?" So maybe he sees a staircase down into the batcave behind the clock. Or maybe Alfred, in an attempt to save Bruce the embarrassment of being Batman, shoved a bunch of child porn in there.

• There's still the back-up story about a wheel and Duke! In it, Duke gets cut up by Zsasz. The end! Next time: Batman feels bad!

The Review!
Here are the essential elements of this story. Batman fighting outside of Gotham. Two-Face showing Batman that everybody has two faces. Batman trying to get Two-Face's two halves to merge. Two-Face trying to get Batman's two halves to merge. Batman doing what he thinks is right no matter what the cost to himself, and to everybody else. It's that last one which might be the biggest problem for Batman. Some people use telling the truth as a reason to be a complete and utter asshole. Batman, apparently, uses justice. Fuck everybody's feelings as long as Batman gets done what he thinks needs to be done! At this point, I'm hoping--just a little bit--that Two-Face winds up triumphant.

Ranking: +0!

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