REVIEW: ALL-STAR BATMAN #14 Author: Ryan Lower (Follow @LOWER_RYAN)
Date: October 4, 2017
SYNOPSIS: “THE FIRST ALLY” finale!
In the final issue of Scott Snyder’s high-octane run on ALL-STAR BATMAN, he and superstar artist Rafael Albuquerque put Batman to the ultimate test! Faced with either losing his future as Batman or the person he loves most, the Dark Knight must decide which ultimate price he is willing to pay.
“Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman.”
The words have turned into a rather popular saying in the American zeitgeist, and writer Scott Snyder has brought it into mainstream comics. ALL-STAR BATMAN #14 is a perfect sendoff of a series that took the hero all over the globe, faced insurmountable odds, and capitalized on a bond in a way we haven’t experienced before.
In short, the issue begins with The Dark Knight captured and tied up in an airplane with Briar and his deadly assassin. Leave it to the faithful butler, Alfred (the real star of this arc), to shoot it down and help Batman escape. What unfolds is a dramatic twist on an island and the two making their way back to Gotham.
That’s a quick summary but trust me, the action, drama and dialogue involved is priceless. Snyder has crafted a truly wonderful story hero, focusing on bonds and relationship more than the hero vs. villain fisticuffs that we’re accustomed to. It’s a change of pace, and it’s done really well. The key to “The First Ally” arc has been Alfred. Issue #10 started off focusing on the butler’s past life as a secret agent, and continually mixed flashbacks into the present since. The two stories collided well, connecting Briar as the first ally. Except maybe this story isn’t that spot-on. Perhaps it’s alluding to Bruce Wayne’s first ally: Alfred. Mr. Pennyworth narrates this issue, yet again, highlighting his love for pirate tales and giving us fans a clear connection to those stories and the one we’re reading ourselves. He’s also again revealing his true feelings for Bruce, acting as a father figure and also best friend. It’s not corny, cheesy or too mushy. It’s just perfect.
Rafael Albuquerque again handles the art in the book with aplomb. His visuals are striking and engaging. I particularly love how he has created the Caribbean in these past few issues. Complimentary to that is the coloring, blending blues, pinks and purples in a way that’s pleasing and not distracting to the eyes. While I prefer Batman in Gotham, this has been a nice, bright diversion from the dark city.
ALL-STAR BATMAN has ended on a magnificent high note. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque brought their best to the final arc of the series, including gorgeous art, a heartwarming bond, and an important life lesson…
“Always be yourself unless you can be Batman.” - Ryan Lower
A lifelong Batman fan, Ryan Lower grew up in the midwest reading, watching, dreaming of The Dark Knight.
His favorite Batman stories are THE LONG HALLOWEEN, THE DARK KNIGHT and anything from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
He currently resides in his own Batcave in Chicago.
Follow him on Twitter @LOWER_RYAN.