Nerds That Geek Comic Book Review - 'All-Star Batman' #6: 'Ends of the Earth - Part One: Cold to the Core'
Written by Joel T. Lewis
Issue 6 of Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman shifts gears quite dramatically from the conclusion of the Two-Face storyline. With a new artist, a new villain, and a new setting, issue 6 feels like a brand new comic and is a great entry point into All-Star Batman if you missed the previous 5 issues (though it would be a shame to skip that storyline!). It’s also a great self-contained story that can be read in isolation if you just want to dip your toe into the series.
Batman has tracked Dr. Victor Fries to an abandoned research outpost in the Alaskan wasteland. Throughout this series Scott Snyder has made a habit of taking Batman away from Gotham which allows him to showcase the hero’s resourcefulness and adaptability without relying on Alfred or his Batcave headquarters. This issue’s setting also allows Snyder to depict Mr. Freeze in a way we’ve never seen before: exposed. Mr. Freeze is a character defined by the fact that he is perpetually out of his element. He is literally separated from society by his environmental suit and whenever he is out of that suit he’s always restricted to cramped, uncomfortable settings. Whether it’s a refrigerated cell in Arkham Asylum or a Climate controlled lair Freeze is cut-off, isolated, and separate from humanity. But in this issue Freeze is out and about, finally at home in a climate that suits him and its Batman who’s sporting a high-tech climate suit. Snyder gives us an intimate look into Mr. Freeze’s dreams of a world where he might roam free, breathe air designed for him, and where he might father a whole generation of frozen silence. Batman experiences the isolation and immobility that Freeze has become accustomed to over the years in a suit meant to insulate him from exposure to the extreme cold. This inversion of isolation and insulation showcases how formidable Victor Fries really is even without his suit.
Freeze plans to eradicate humanity with an ancient virus held within one of the earth’s oldest ice cores. Once humanity is gone, Freeze plans to replace it with a legion of reanimated cryogenic zombies. Yes, you read that correctly. Cryogenic Zombies. Now this is far from the first time we’ve seen the caped crusader trade blows with the undead, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that Batman has never dealt with this particular flavor of zombie before. These pale red-eyed creatures challenge even Game of Thrones’ White Walkers on the heebie-jeebie meter thanks to the chilling illustrations from artist Jock. The combination of Jock’s visceral outlines and Mike Hollingsworth’s use of light and color makes for a stunning comic that is both terrifying and beautiful. The stark contrast between the snowy landscape and the cavernous darkness of the ice caves is really breathtaking and you can almost feel the chill coming off the pages.
Now, following this series throughout last year, I was impressed with the high gloss presentation and quality of each issue. This higher quality presentation along with the mini-comics at the end of every issue justified the higher price point of $4.99 per issue that I mentioned in my second article on All-Star Batman. However, this issue suffered a bit from poor quality control on the part of DC comics. As this issue came after the first of the year, a lot of space was taken up by promotional ads for upcoming publications, which is perfectly acceptable and understandable but, some of these ads interfered with the issue’s artwork by bleeding through from the other side of the page. Now, ads are something that have accompanied comics for decades, and for the most part they manage not to distract you from the narrative, but it’s disappointing to see artwork as outstanding as Jock’s interrupted by advertisements.
Despite this tiny frustration, All-Star Batman No. 6 is a great one-off Mr. Freeze story that shows how far Batman will go to save humanity. This issue kicks off a story arc that will feature one big villain with each new issue, and the next installment will star Poison Ivy. Until next time, Geek On!