Advent Reviews Day 1: Batman 2012 Annual by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

As I mentioned in latest update from 29th November, I’m doing a review a day for December, as part of an Advent Reviews Calendar for the month to get into the festivities. I’m kicking off the series with this review of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s excellent 2012 Annual for their New 52: Batman run, which is ongoing.

Batman_Annual_Vol_2_1Scott Snyder’s run on Batman for DC’s New 52 line-wide relaunch is the best thing happening right now in comics. Along with artist Greg Capullo who has provided the lion’s share of artwork, internal and cover, for the series, Snyder has delivered on a Batman that is just as iconic as Kevin Conroy’s on Batman: The Animated Series and drawn by the god-amazing Bruce Timm. Snyder has embraced the inherent darkness of the character, paired it up with some truly iconic villains in the form of the Court of Owls, and brought out a character who lives and breathes and is definitely Batman to the core. There’s no two ways about it. When I started reading the series, I was blown away. When I read the 12th issue, I began to consider Snyder as one of the best comics writers out there. I’ve just read issues #13 and #14, and I think Snyder is pure awesomeness, unparalleled. I don’t give out such praise lightly. Fact of the matter is that he does amazing work, and his work bears that out. He’s taken Batman and put his spin on him, something I hope will become a legacy down the years.

The #1 Annual is a departure from the rest of the first year of the series, for the antagonist here isn’t a Talon of the Court of Owls, but one of the most iconic (there’s that word again!) of Batman super-villains from his long history: Mr. Freeze. I’ve seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, and I’ve seen how Bruce Timm’s animated series portrayed him. I have to say that I really like the character. There are always hints of how he is more than just a man pining for a lost love. There are depths to him that are just waiting to be explored fully.

And that’s what Snyder and Tynion IV do here with this book. They show his depths. They make him compelling in the way that they’ve made Batman and Calvin Rose (a former Talon who has recently gotten his own series) compelling. Victor Fries is now actually more than just someone who wants to bring his cryo-frozen wife back to life. He has a vendetta against Bruce Wayne because it was he who denied Victor that one chance when he could have made everything right again. That’s where this annual issue comes in, because Victor has decided to act on his desires for vengeance, having already sold the secrets of his formulas to the Court of Owls to reanimate their dead Talons.

The two writers use this issue to give Mr. Freeze a truly good outing and make him into a true Batman super-villain, and not one who is comical or boring. We already saw a guest appearance from him in the main-title series and I’m hoping that we see more of him once the crossover event featuring Joker, “Death of the Family”, concludes next year.

The art for this book has been provided by Jason Fabok (pencils and cover), Peter Stiegerwald (colours) and Sal Cipriano (letters). These guys have done a great job. Jason’s Batman is recgonisably Capullo’s Batman, but with slight shifts here and there. He draws all his characters with sharp, clear lines, expressive faces, and strong, confident poses, not to mention detail you can just stare at all day. Stiegerwald’s primary palette for the issue consists of blues and whites, in keeping with Mr. Freeze’s character design and the whole atmosphere that is created is really compelling, a complete experience with the script. These guys have made this issue definitely a Mr. Freeze issue, and I’d like them to guest on the main-title series as well.

If you’ve loved the main-title series, whether you are a long-term fan or not, or whatever else your motivation, you definitely should give this a chance. As a one-shot style annual, this is an amazing book.

Rating: 10/10

Previous Batman Reviews:

Batman #1-10

Batman #11-12

Upcoming Batman Reviews:

Batman #0

Batman #13-14

Posted on December 1, 2012, in 2012 Writing Challenge, Book Reviews, Comics Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Last month I went to a comics convention. While I was doing the line at the DC stand, I saw Before Watchmen: The Minutemen # 1 on the shelf near to the cash desk, so I picked it up and gave it a look. I was so lucky to bump into it: it had an old fashioned style that immediately talked to my heart.
    At that stand I also bought the TP of Snyder’s Swamp Thing, because I had read only good things about it. Last week I read it: it’s so wonderful, I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before. Yes, I had read a lot of enthusiastic reviews, but they never persuaded me to buy it before, because I was thinking “It’s a fantasy comic book, it’s set in a marshland, how could I enjoy something like this? That’s not my cup of tea, it would be a waste of money.” How stupid I was. It’s true, I don’t usually read things like this, but Swamp Thing is a real gem.
    Also, I was lucky to read it as a TP. Each issue is so strictly linked to each other that you have to read them in a single session, to understand the plot properly.
    I always like when a superhero faces mobsters instead of freaks, because those clashes are less predictable.
    When a superhero meets a freak, he seizes him by the scruff of his neck, he gives him some punches, and then he takes him to Arkham Asylum, or a similar place.
    When a superhero meets a mobster, things are not so simple. The hero is forced to use his mind instead of his brute force,if he wants to beat the villain. Also, the hero must have hugely developed detective skills to make him go to prison, because mobsters perfectly know how to cover their tracks.
    What I wrote about mobsters and freaks doesn’t count when Joker is on the stage. He’s a freak, that’s true, but when he appears he provokes a “bull in a china shop” effect that delights me every single time. From the previews I saw, Snyder is making the“bull in a china shop” effect stronger than ever.


    • Minutemen, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl are the best comics in Before Watchmen. Comedian and Rorschach are really dull and brutal for the sake of it. Crimson Corsair, meh, reading 2 pages in every comic is a bore. Moloch #1 was quite decent.


      • Thank you for your reply! : )


        • The Before Watchmen hardcover collections were announced yesterday. Minutemen/Silk Spectre in one book. Comedian/Rorschach in one book. Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair in one books. Dr. Manhattan/Nite Owl in one book. I’m definitely getting the first and fourth of those!


          • I think I’ll buy all of them, because in Italy it’s very difficult to get them. I’ll try to explain you why.
            In Italy the entire Before Watchmen line will be made to order. This means that, if italian retailers order, say, 100.000 copies of each issue, the italian publisher will print 100.000 copies, not a copy more or a copy less. This means that it’s all in retailers’ hands. That’s why the italian Before Watchmen issues will instantly become collector’s items.
            And the most ironic thing is that this counts only for the Before Watchmen line: all the other DC and Vertigo series are printed in a fixed quantity. Obviously they believe that the Before Watchmen line won’t sell here in Italy, so they decided to lessen the risk by making it to order.
            P.S.: Another series fastly become a collector’s item here in Italy is Scalped. It’s been published directly in a TP size, and the first 8 trades became out of stock at lightning speed. I don’t know how you are enjoying it there in America, but here in Italy readers are CRAZY about Scalped. I recently joined the club, and, from what I read, the success this series is having definitely is deserved. Too bad it’s gone for good.


          • P.S.: “The Before Watchmen hardcover collections were announced yesterday”: Can you give me the link?


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