(What do I mean by "my Batman"? Read this op-ed from May and certainly, my definitive interpretations of the character in comics, film and animation through the years — a 2015 series I wrote about my favorite comic book protagonists. Check my "definitive" tag and scroll through for the entire series and several additions from TV and film — including the must-see superhero film of 2017, "Wonder Woman.")
The Rebirth Batman generally is more humane and relatable than the New 52 version (which Snyder wrote all of). But every once in a while, this (only vaguely) rebooted Batman goes a bit too vicious for my tastes — such as driving a knife into Killer Moth's arm gauntlet, for instance.
On many Facebook Batman group pages, I've read fans praising Snyder. But I just am not sold. His storytelling is never so stellar that I need to rave about it.
For this lifelong Batman fan, Snyder has a solid handle on the Dark Knight, but nothing much beyond that. His stories mostly are forgettable fare — and that's a literary sin. For a truly great story to be just that — great, it must be memorable. And that goes for comic books, novels, movies, TV, animation; you name it.
And before you start thinking this op-ed is just my excuse for an anti-Scott Snyder rant, let me clarify: It isn't; this is a review of the ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY trade paperback. Moving on now …
In MY OWN WORST ENEMY, Gotham City is reeling from Two-Face having unleashed acid rain and he has put a price on Batman's head. That means the Caped Crusader faces an assortment of lower-level members of his Rogues Gallery of Villains — ones we haven't seen in many years — from Firefly and Killer Moth to Black Spider, even Killer Shark and KGBeast, now known simply as the Beast.
John Romita Jr. is the artist. In the last ten years or so, JRJR — as we fans affectionately call him — has penciled blocky and stiff characters and that remains the case here. He focuses on drawing the characters and does very little with backgrounds. On the plus side, Rosita's Batman looks sharp and the scarred side of Two-Face's, uh, face, looks appropriately nasty. Like Neal Adams, it seems Romita's best present work would be best suited for cover art or posters instead of sequential art.
The title ALL-STAR BATMAN is a bit misleading. When I see ALL-STAR in the title, I assume DC Comics is giving us the best Batman it can offer. Snyder's Batman isn't quite all-star material. The truth is we're getting the biggest names in the comics industry, while the end result flounders.
As I've said before in other Cary's Comics Craze posts, it's best for the overall quality of the Batman titles if Snyder moved on from the character. It would be great for other writers to have a crack at the Dark Knight. Fresh blood might be more interesting.