In my opinion, Batman has the most engaging cast of villains in modern comics. Every member of his rogues gallery represents a different facet of his character, pushing the Dark Knight to be a better superhero. If Batman didn’t exist, would characters like Joker or Riddler have ever been created? All-Star Batman: Ends Of The Earth, written by Scott Snyder, puts the spotlight on some of the Caped Crusader’s greatest adversaries, as he races across the globe to stop a cataclysmic threat.
The graphic novel contains stories on Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter and Ra’s Al Ghul. I loved this aspect because it reads like a short story collection and each tale is drawn by a different artist. All the stories connect together, but they can be enjoyed separately. Each artist gets the chance to show off their individual style, making the graphic novel feel like an artistic showcase as much as a comic collection.
The first story sees Batman travel to Alaska to stop Mr Freeze from unleashing a new Ice Age. Freeze is Bruce’s most sympathetic foe, and Snyder conjures a suitable amount of pathos for him. Freeze has woken up an army of cryogenic users in the hopes they would help him find the means to save his wife, Nora. The heart of his plan centres around creating a frozen world where he and Nora can find peace. Needless to say, Batman finds a way to stop him, but it was great to delve into Victor’s motivations.
Ice changes to fire in the second story, as Batman tracks Poison Ivy through the desert. Ivy is given the complexity she deserves. In one instance, she’s compelling a deadbeat dad to pay for his kid’s art lessons. The next, she’s ruthlessly cutting down soldiers. Batman shares a shaky alliance with Ivy as he tries to convince her to make an antidote to a plant that poisoned a girl back in Gotham. I’d say this was my favourite story of the collection because of how Ivy and Batman’s relationship is presented.
The third story, featuring Mad Hatter, focuses on the concept of dreaming. Bruce needs to work out the nature of his reality by confronting the villain in an Alice in Wonderland kind of world. I’d say it was the weakest story because it felt disjointed.
Batman’s globe-trotting culminates in the fourth story. Ra’s Al Ghul is revealed to be the mastermind behind the cataclysm. Demonology is the main theme, with Ra’s seeing Batman as the true ‘Head Of The Demon’ because of his constant interference. Determined to take his title back, Ra’s launches an all out assault on Batman’s legacy. I have to commend Snyder for providing a fresh take on Ra’s, as he describes himself as a doctor that’s trying to cure the world of the sickness of humanity.
The graphic novel stands out for how it’s written. Snyder writes in prose, rather than with dialogue and thought bubbles. It strengthens the idea that you’re reading a short story collection with pictures. Every artist brings their A-game, though I’d say my favourite panels belong to Jock and Tula Lotay, who drew the Mr Freeze and Poison Art stories respectively.
All-Star Batman: Ends Of The Earth isn’t your typical Batman story. It explores the personalities of the people who make his life a living hell, and it’s top-notch writing. Anyone who’s a fan of the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery will find something to enjoy. Buy it on Amazon now.