21 October 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Gotham, Part XII: Batman: Snow

Comic trade paperback, 125 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 2005)

Borrowed from the library
Read October 2015
Batman: Snow

Story: J. H. Williams III, Dan Curtis Johnson
Script & Dialogue: Dan Curtis Johnson
Art: Seth Fisher
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Phil Balsman

Year Two, April
I picked this book up because it tells the origin of Mr. Freeze, probably the most prominent of Batman's villains to not have an origin detailed in anything else I've read in my Batman readthrough so far (the Joker got The Man Who Laughs, Catwoman had a significant subplot in Batman: Year One, Two-Face will very shortly get The Long Halloween, and then of course there's Four of a Kind for Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and Man-Bat). To my surprise, that turned out to be the least interesting part of this story; I don't think Mr. Freeze's story really adds anything to the book. It lacks the tragedy I recall from the 1990s Batman cartoon, and it doesn't really resonate with the other material in this book. It's very nearly an irrelevant side-plot!

The main function of Mr. Freeze is to be a supervillain of a type Batman has never seen before: one with hi-tech weaponry, and thus threatening on a scale that, say, Catwoman or the Joker is not. This is because the story is really about Batman's attempt to put together a crime-fighting team, able to help him do what he's coming to realize he can't do alone, and what Gordon and Dent and Alfred can't help him with. Of course I loved it: Batman assembled a scrappy gang of misfits who have to learn how to work together, and learn that they're strong as part of a team even if they are unfulfilled and often powerless outside of it. They're a fun bunch, and I loved the scenes of them working together, as well as the scenes of them out in the field-- and as it does in these kinds of stories, things turn sour, and that works really well, too. I suspect these guys appear nowhere else in the Batman canon, but I sure wish they did.

Writer Dan Curtis Johnson captures Batman's voice really well. By which I mean, I could imagine Kevin Conroy saying his lines! But seriously, this story really gets Batman and what makes him tick: Batman is not a loner, but a man who needs a family to keep going, and this story is the key one where he identifies that. It's about a year before Batman gains a Robin, but (as the final page drives home perhaps a little too heavy-handedly) this is where the emotional process starts. I also really liked Seth Fisher's artwork, which is cartoony but detailed in a way I find hard to articulate but really enjoyed looking at. Hopefully I come across more of his work someday.

Next Week: Batman's best pal Harvey Dent turn to EVIL in The Long Halloween! Y'know, Harvey Dent? Batman hangs out with that guy all the time? I swear he does, even though you never see it. (Actually, Dent does pop up in Snow, but I feel like it's the first time we've seen him since Year One. Can that possibly be right?)

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