All-Star Batman #8
With the Blackhawks in hot pursuit and Mad Hatter in his head, Batman is in unfamiliar territory making All-Star Batman #8 another thrilling issue of the most unpredictable and exciting Batman title in years.
Writer Scott Snyder keeps challenging expectations on how a Batman story is supposed to play out. This is yet another issue that doesn’t feature the familiar trappings of Gotham City. Instead, Batman starts off underwater gradually coming to the surface in his hunt for Mad Hatter. It’s a literal example of Batman, not as the Dark Knight, detective or actor playing a billionaire. This is Batman the predator.
Snyder uses an interesting narration style, one that’s not common for Batman. We’re reading Batman’s inner thoughts, but in a way where that mysterious, stoic figure is replaced by the detective gathering evidence. And is actually a little cocky and confident in his abilities.
It reads like a superhero noir tale complete with armored villains and ostriches as weapons. Yes, Batman uses an ostrich in a fight, but it doesn’t play out like some campy scene in the 1966 TV series. It’s a more outlandish example of Batman using every available option and Snyder pulls it off in a way that everything not nailed down is a potential weapon in Batman’s hands.
His take on Mad Hatter really captures that sense of madness and a more psychological battle that fists and gadgets won’t help.
Right from the first page, artist Giuseppi Camuncoli pulls off some daring visual choices that effectively make this feel unlike your traditional Batman story. Camuncoli seems to happily accept Snyder’s challenge to explore Hatter’s mental warfare approach in a fresh light. The result is some inspired panels that capture Batman questioning his sanity beautifully.
The secondary story finds Snyder and artist Francesco Francavilla exploring Duke Thomas considering his heroic path. I’ve enjoyed these glimpses at Duke. He’s been a character the Batman writers haven’t tried to force on readers and are patiently building him up to exist as more than just a sidekick. Francavilla’s art style works well with the more intimate tone of this story. I’d like to get a few more pages to this story as it ends so quickly it’s hard to fully get invested.
As usual, All-Star Batman delivers an entertaining product. With the tease of Batman finally learning the identity of the architect of his latest problems, I’m all set for next month’s issue.
Rating: 9.7 out of 10