It is hard to imagine that this comic’s titular character would ever have become “an American cultural icon” or even be ranked “as number one on their list of Fifty Greatest Super Heroes In Comic Book History” by the website “FanSided” in 2015, if he was half as recklessly incompetent as Scott Snyder depicts him in Issue Eleven of “All-Star Batman”. Indeed, the vast majority of this comic’s 62,689 readers probably felt that Alfred Pennyworth had more chance of recovering the Genesis Engine from Tiger Shark’s super submarine, the Flying Dutchman, than the cowled buffoon who requires the ‘goodwill’ of his adversaries, Penguin, Black Mask and Great White, in order to endure an ocean full of man-eating crocodiles; “Alfred! Alfred, I’m in trouble here!”
Disappointingly, this second instalment to the New Yorker’s “The First Ally” story-arc isn’t even set in the Dark Knight’s early era either, when as an amateur crime-fighter he was understandably a little less competent and more reliant upon lady luck to survive than in his later days. Instead, it’s supposedly demonstrative of the Caped Crusader being at the peak of his profession, all-knowing and armed with a breath-taking array of technological gadgetry which allows him to Bat-glide through the night sky one moment, and then dive down deep beneath the waves in order to locate a “ghost ship” in the next.
Resultantly, this twenty-two page periodical’s portrayal of the World’s Greatest Detective badly jars with the sensibilities, especially when he is depicted being so apprehensive of three mere hoodlums that he’d rather face certain death in the sharp-toothed jaws of a pack of hungry giant reptiles, or so helpless when facing a ‘rookie’ villain that within mere moments his subscapular artery is cut open so that he’ll “only stay conscious for a matter of seconds.” Admittedly, the trio of gangsters were armed with automatic pistols, but at the time, Wayne had the higher ground, and surely would have stood far more chance fighting on dry-land than ineffectively floundering against a bask of aquatic killers?
Happily, this publication does though additionally contain more of Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone’s wonderfully-dark “Killers-In-Law” storyline too, with the secondary tale providing all the enthralling grittiness Snyder’s alleged top-tier writing lacks. Keen to “help my cover as Alexey Knockout Nokaut” by assisting Princess Vik in stealing a gift for her father’s birthday, whilst simultaneously trying not to let her kill anybody, this tale of Batman as an undercover operative is well-pencilled by Sebastian Fiumara, and contains plenty of pulse-pounding moments as the “murderous heiress” increasingly smells a rat within her criminal organisation.