Batman get it’s first New 52 annual, Mr. Freeze gets rebooted/retconned/updated/fixed/broken, and Owls continue to haunt the post-Flashpoint universe.
Batman Annual #1
We have Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and the rest of the Batman: The Animated Series crew (which included Mike Mignola who designed the character for the show) for Mr. Freeze’s post-Crisis origin in the episode “Heart of Ice.” And interestingly enough Scott Snyder’s “New 52″ version (or reboot) of the character follows a very similar path; in fact, switch a minor thing here and there and you could almost start this issue at the very end of the “Heart of Ice” episode. Course, the character comes out a bit different here; while the post-Crisis Mr. Freeze was far more tragic than the now far more mad/evil scientist he’s still motivated by his love for Nora, even if Nora isn’t really Nora anymore.
Scott Snyder is again playing in the Batman sandbox here; getting to relaunch the character and ground some of the origins in his “Night of the Owls” mini-event has resulted in a lot changes, and this might just be my favorite so far. While I’m admittingly turning more and more into a grumpy old fan who doesn’t like the continuity I grew up with modified I understand the need for it and certainly understand that villains especially are the easiest targets for tweaks and adjustments, in the end I just want a good story, that gets me excited about more good stories.
And this was a good story.
And Scott Snyder took good care of the character I think, while his why-I’m-evil anchor is different (no more wife, insert dead lady symbolizing his unstable obsession) and maybe a bit more powerful he’s still motivated by love, obsession and tragedy. Snyder just rearranged how those motivations come about, especially with the inclusion of his mother. So [...for now...] Nora Fries is a figment of Victor Fries’s imagination; however sad that may make you it might be a better place for her than as a resurrected villain named Lazara, which yes, actually happened.
Anyone familiar with Snyder’s work outside of Batman is accustomed to his fondness and aptitude for horror and aside from this being a well written Batman story it’s got that knife-twisting ending, that Snyder touch of horror that kicks you in the gut at the very end. Credit too should go to James Tynion IV who co-wrote the story; I’ve enjoyed the bigger Batman stories lately having more original characters than the ol’ rogues gallery but it was refreshing to read Mr. Freeze and Penguin again, maybe even a little…chilling (see what I did there?).
The Riddler made an appearance too. Kinda. His cane did at least.
And Jason Fabok on pencils and inks teamed up with Peter Steigerwald (colors) and Sal Cipriano (letters) did a phenomenal job, it’s too bad these guys can’t be on more Bat-books. I enjoyed a lot of the designs, including Mr. Freeze and his new suit. The colors especially stood out, the juxtoposition especially between the icy whites and blues to Victor’s red glasses especially stuck out, they never seemed to stick out, rather they glowed almost.
And since I seem to be collecting bad ass Batman moments from Synder lately (Batman #8 & #9) this issue’s was Batman getting frozen while encompassed by his cape, only to bust out with his heat-knuckles, very cool image.
As an Annual and as a tie-in to “Night of the Owls” (which was done nicely and in a way that made sense) this was a fun read and a great issue.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Beautiful art, great story, and cameos by Nightwing and Damian. Annuals aren’t always worth it, this one most certainly was.||For what it is, none.|