Scott Snyder’s face could, debatably, be on the Mount Rushmore of Batman writers. His initial work in DC’s New 52 re-launch of Batman titles has become that of legend. Court of Owls, City of Owls and Death of the Family now rank among the elite with regards to Batman storylines. His style not only revitalized the Dark Knight, but also ushered in a darkness that harkened back to sadistic and tragic stories like The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family. With Snyder no longer writing Batman’s now bi-weekly title, DC has done the smart thing by giving Snyder a new title with which to entertain us. All Star Batman is a monthly comic where Snyder is able to tell specific tales with specific villains. And it’s clearly where he shines.
All Star Batman: My Own Worst Enemy is a five-issue story (#1-5) which pits Batman against Two-Face in a pedal-to-the-metal race against time. Two-Face has unleashed acidic rain on Gotham and it’s up to Batman to stop it. He must travel with a captive Two-Face across the state. However, there’s a catch. Two-Face has issued a public ultimatum: he has dirt on everyone in the city and if Batman and Two-Face reach their destination, he’ll reveal it to the world. If someone takes out the Batman before such time and frees Two-Face, they will get a king’s ransom. That’s anyone in the state—from the average citizen to supervillains.
As with most of Snyder’s writing, the dialogue is exceptional in All Star Batman: My Own Worst Enemy, and the story is ambitious. Snyder jumps in time from past and present to the future. While this is difficult for any storyteller to pull off, Snyder does it seamlessly.
At the heart of Snyder’s story is a crisis of humanity. Beneath fist flying and blood spewing, Snyder questions the conscience of average citizens. When the chips are down and their backs are against the wall, will they make the noble decision or the selfish one? A similar scenario is presented in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. In both cases, Batman’s villain has given the people of Gotham a choice, both options having lucrative consequences.
In All Star Batman: My Own Worst Enemy, Snyder’s writing is brought to life by the artwork of John Romita Jr. Romita Jr. brings intensely drawn panels which tell the story at a blistering and bloody pace. The action sequences, particularly when it’s hand to hand combat, are close up, giving the reader an intimate viewing of such viscous brutality.
In the last few pages of All Star Batman, there is an additional storyline titled The Cursed Wheel written by Snyder and illustrated by Declan Shalvey. The Cursed Wheel offers readers a glimpse into the life of Duke, a new yellow clad crime fighter chasing down villains next to the Caped Crusader. In The Cursed Wheel, the knife wielding Zsasz is terrorizing the people of Gotham and it’s Duke who unravels the mystery. The Cursed Wheel gets us into Duke’s past—a U-Haul of emotional baggage to say the least. A perfect fit to be side by side with Bruce Wayne. The short story (running eight or so pages per comic) is a solid companion to My Own Worst Enemy and something everyone should be picking up.