Now that the first arc of All-Star Batman has concluded, artist Romita Jr. moves on and writer Scott Snyder is joined by his Wytches collaborator, Jock. All-Star Batman #6 continues “Ends Of The Earth”, Snyder’s tour through Batman’s long list of beloved villains, and with this issue he tackles Mr. Freeze.
All-Star Batman #6 finds our hero in an arctic landscape, searching for Victor Fries and his lawyer. When Batman uncovers his icy adversary, he is captured by Freeze’s henchmen, who are actually awakened subjects of suspended animation. Victor reveals his plan to make the world a colder and “quieter” place, and of course, reviving his frozen wife. Upon being relieved of his armor, Batman reveals he’s carrying a virus in his blood that will foil Freeze’s scheme. He locks the two of them in a tube as they watch all of Victor’s work get destroyed.
Snyder had been teasing this arc on Twitter for a while now, sharing how proud he is of this story and now we can see why. It’s wonderful to having Mr. Freeze around again, and to have his misguided vision treated with such care and poetic justification. The choice to tell this story through narration rather than word bubbles is fantastic. This issue proves to be a beast of a different sort from the first arc, and spectacularly so.
Narrowing in on one particular villain and diving deep into his complicated psych is something that Snyder has perfected in his long relationship with writing Batman. As Batman’s plan unfolds at the end, the dialogue is a masterpiece. There’s a lot of payoff within this one issue and that can only bode well for the rest of the arc. Snyder is also seemingly the only Bat-writer concerned with developing Duke Thomas. “The Cursed Wheel” Part 5 in the back of this issue is short and sweet.
Jock was a wise choice for this arc, his dark and chilling artwork is perfect for the story at hand. The haunting portrayal of Victor Fries is a revelation, and this more focused story and environment allows Jock’s work to really shine. Each page’s layout and imagery warrant a revisit to every panel. That final page of Batman’s menacing grin next to Freeze’s scream of demise is a major highlight. If Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum was about Mr. Freeze, I imagine it would look similar to this issue.
All-Star Batman #6 is a directional shift in every way, and one that works on every level. Teaming up with Jock for this story was a brilliant decision, recognizing eachothers’ strengths and how to insure this story reaches its full potential. If you’re a person who (somehow) didn’t enjoy the first arc because of Romita’s work, put your money where your mouth is. Plus, who doesn’t love a great Mr. Freeze story?