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TPB REVIEW

TPB Review: BATMAN: SNOW
Author: Bill Ramey
Saturday, March 31, 2007

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"A stirring story that tells the origin of the deadly Batman foe Mr. Freeze from a new perspective, originally presented in BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #192-196! A family tragedy forges the obsession of a super-villain, and a young Batman must assemble a strike force to help him deal with the fallout!"

You know that old saying “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well I literally learned a good lesson about just that with the latest Batman TPB titled BATMAN: SNOW.

Written by Dan Curtis Johnson and J.H. William III, SNOW tells the story of The Batman’s first encounter with Dr. Victor Fries, AKA the super villain “Mr. Freeze.” In fact SNOW -- originally published in LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #s 192-196 -- provides us with an update of Freeze’s origin; a beginning which is more in line with his counterpart from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

The other part of the story details The Dark Knight’s attempt to put together a crime-fighting “team” in Gotham. Almost killed during one of his nocturnal operations, The Batman begins to ponder the idea that he might need help carrying out his “mission.” After being rebuffed by both police detective Jim Gordon and D.A. Harvey Dent (oddly sporting some very 1970s-looking sideburns that would make Elvis proud) -- the two people he considered allies -- Batman stops thinking about it and starts assembling this rogue and covert team of do-gooders.

This establishment of this squad presents The Batman with problems that he did not anticipate: Will each member adhere to the same code of conduct that The Batman himself follows? Can they be trusted? And what if someone gets hurt -- or killed? (There is a nice little nod towards to Batman's future in the "team" department at the end, FYI.)

So what you have here with SNOW is one story with two plots: Freeze’s origin and the formation of Team Batman. While seemingly unrelated, the two storylines finally converge at the end with a showdown between The Bat and Freeze.

As previously mentioned, SNOW was a 5-part story found in LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT -- which means it is set in the early years of Batman’s career. In fact, it is mentioned that Bruce has been doing the Batman-thing in Gotham for about a year and a half.

I found SNOW to be an enjoyable read --which brings up that “Never judge a book by its cover” thing I mentioned in the beginning. The book’s artwork is provided by Seth Fischer and it’s, well, different. It is extremely detailed and has a sort of “animated” look and feel to it -- almost cartoonish at times. For example, there is a scene where Gordon gets pissed at The Batman and steam is literally shown blowing out of his ears. There are some other moments like this, but for some reason, they work.

Fischer’s Batman takes some getting used to. My first impression upon seeing SNOW‘s cover was “That looks like crap.” Not only is he drawn a tad strange, he’s colored blue -- and a light blue at that. And I hate “Blue Batman.” I swear he looks like this Batman action figure I had back in 1974!


The BATMAN: SNOW Action Figure?

Some other things about the artwork and coloring (by Dave Stewart) that annoyed me a tad included: Gordon’s gray hair (it’s still early in his Gotham career too); Batman's Bat-symbol is encased in the yellow oval (too early for that particular change in the Bat-costume); Batman slinking around in bushes, trees, and telephone poles; and, it feels as if this story is taking place in the middle of the damn day -- a BIG no-no for a Batman story!

I’m sure that these complaints come off as being petty, but hey, those are the things that bugged me about this book. And it wasn’t like the artwork was bad, it’s just, like I said, “different.”

Despite my initial reaction to this TPB simply based on the cover, I found myself enjoying SNOW as I read it. It’s not in the same league as other early Batman tales such as YEAR ONE, THE LONG HALLOWEEN, or BATMAN AND THE MAD MONK, so don't expect that or you'll certainly be disappointed. If you are a fan of "Early Batman" like yours truly, pick it up and add it to your collection. If not, wait and try to find it on the cheap on down the line.

Now on the otherhand, if you are unlike me and totally dig “Blue Batman,” I bet you’ll do backflips over SNOW.

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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