In Reno, a man calls out. He is trapped. He’s been here so long his nails have grown through his skin. He promises he’ll be good… just like everyone else. He just wants to be let out.
Meanwhile, Batman cries out in pain. The acid burns his eyes, and, in desperation, he activates a sonic device implanted in his chest. With his vision badly damaged, Batman must rely on echolocation to fight off the Talon attackers. But they are strong, and while they hold our heroes off, Two-Face opens a sewer valve. As the area begins filling with water, the Talons pull Duke and Batman into the watery abyss, while Two-Face makes his escape. Thinking fast, the Dark Knight overcharges his sonic device, and blows the Talons away.
Above ground, are heroes are able to find Two-Face and knock him out. They take him and find a nearby small airport with some biplanes. Batman says that is perfect, as his vision will clear by the time he’ll need it to land the aircraft. Duke is understandably worried about his mentor, but Bruce doesn’t listen to his concern. They’re almost there. On board the plane, Bruce talks of his and Harvey’s past. When they were boys, they made a pact to kill each other’s target. Harvey would get Joe Chill. Bruce would kill Dent’s father. But one day, Harvey got that coin from his dad – a message that he wanted to change his ways.
Back then, Bruce was filled with rage. He couldn’t accept that Harvey just wanted to give his dad a second chance. And Harvey knew his friend was right. There was no hope for his father. He’d beat Harvey and worse. But he wasn’t seeing the world as it was. Only how he could make it through sheer force of will. It’s important not to forget the way people can be. Batman has faith in them. They will be heroes. Good in their intentions – Brave and strong. This is what Batman sees. Suddenly, things go dark.
Batman wakes up with he, Duke, and Thomas tied up. The Beast has found him. Penguin and the others are pleased, and thank Batman for bringing them Harvey. The Beast keeps Bruce quiet, because he’s not really the one they are interested in at the moment. The bosses are done playing Dent’s game. He’s gone too far. Offering people their money? No, Unacceptable. As if the average person could be on the same level as Cobblepot and his ilk. It takes something special to be a villain.
And even Harvey doesn’t have it. They play a tape of Dent’s softer persona. If they’re watching this, it means Batman failed. But Harvey set up a back-up plan. Because he’s the stronger personality than Two-Face. That’s why the so called villain never killed their father, and kept him locked away in Reno. He never even could get rid of that coin. So Two-Face will give up the codes, or Penguin is going to take things real slow.
Two-Face scoffs at this. He just keeps all those things around to see how weak the light side can be. And he’s just getting started. With the villains under attack, Batman and Duke free themselves and grab Dent. Still unable to see, Batman asks Two-Face who else he sent. The villain replies that all he did was just extend a tracking chip placed on him so that Cobblepot… and everyone else could find them. Worried, Batman asks what Duke sees.
It’s just people. Batman said they would stand for the good. That they would be brave or strong.
So what am I to make of this? Literally, I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. On the one hand, Batman blasts out sound from his chest through something he legit calls his “pectoral speakers.” That was really weird. On the other, well, this was a pretty fun and thoughtful comic.
So yeah, I liked it, but it is a weird issue, part goofy, part unsettling issue. All-Star Batman has been pretty reliably weird so far, so no surprise there, but it has a lot to say, it might provide some interesting food for thought concerning all this recent political business, and there were a lot of pretty cool moments and conversations throughout. We really get a nice message from Batman about how he views people and the world, and a fairly disturbing retort to that with this comic’s ending. It’s very low key, presented in a pretty fair way, and is really just Snyder trying to make sense of some of this stuff. Some of the best Batman stories out there have pretty strong political overtones, so it hardly bothers me that they’re here. If you disagree, well, that’s your business. But make no mistake there are political tones to this one and they are definitely there on purpose.
Meanwhile, I really dug the themes being explored here and in the ongoing story as a whole. What do you do when the people seem against you? When they’ve given in to what you see is wrong? It is very easy to demonize those we don’t agree with or who we see as having faltered. I don’t like faulting people who act out of desperation. This election has been so toxic, it was dragged out for so long that honestly, even mildly political stuff is kind of just completely unappetizing to me at the moment. This comic was okay though. Like I said, the politics aren’t terribly in your face, and actually had something thoughtful to add to the discussion, without being that heavy handed about it.
In some ways, even though I’m not American, this was a somewhat cathartic read. I felt better after reading this. Life goes on, and there’s still fun to be had. We all have our pectoral speakers to listen to. I recommend this issue, especially if you’ve been enjoying All-Star Batman so far.