circularlogic's Batman Annual #1 - First Snow review

The Thaw

The first Batman annual of the new 52 came out today, written by the unequaled Scott Snyder, and you better believe this met my expectations, which were pretty high going in. Mr. Freeze has always been an interesting villain, but never quite got the defining story he so deserved, and this issue sets out to correct this travesty. While I enjoyed the hell out of it, there's a few gripes I have with it that keep it from truly being one of the finest done-in-ones I've read in a while.

Let's start with the good. I really dug the art in this issue. While it was ranged from above average to really good for most of the scenes involving the Bat family and other minor characters, the parts where Freeze was the center of attention really impressed me, and his new look is incredibly cool, though I am a little confused at why didn't even have sleeves, when they stated in this comic any kind of heat would make him boil alive. That's one of the biggest problems in the issue, where they define his condition as being a result of his cells "capturing the cold", which is just bad science since cold is the absence of heat, not a tangible thing like heat is, and therefore cannot be "absorbed". It's a nit-pick, and Snyder probably just tried to explain to the reader in layman terms what happened to Freeze, but it's something that rubbed me the wrong way. He could have just said the nature of his cells changed, dropping to well below zero and reacting dangerously to high temperatures, but instead we got a rather poor explanation. I did enjoy little details like why he always kept those goggles on, though, and they are a pretty iconic part of his character now that I think about it.

This issue did, however, pretty smoothly connect to the Night of the Owls event, as strange as it was that Victor was captured, analyzed, and then made his escape and attack all within the same night that the Owl attack had occurred, or at least that's what I gathered from the dialogue. I assume this takes places soon after the event ends, though don't take my word for it.

As for the way this issue redefines Mr. Freeze as a villain, reading through it I was a bit worried about how they would pull it off. At first, I was afraid that Bruce Wayne by the end of the book would seem like a pretty big dick from what I was seeing in the second act, by the last few pages everything came together and gave a pretty intriguing take on Victor's madness and fascination with the cold, which actually explained why for so long he was placed in Arkham Asylum instead of Belle Reve. Some may not like the little change they made, but I actually found it made him even more tragic, someone consumed with fighting a battle that wouldn't satisfy him even if he won. The dynamic between him and the Penguin was also very fun, the way they kept pushing against each other, trying to get a rise from them, until coming to an agreement, which is how I imagine many of Batman's rogues must operate. The fact that the master of cold was dealing with an Antarctic bird also was a clever touch.

But again the little nit pics are what drag this issue down. Besides little grievances like Robin getting his arms frozen in combat only to show up the next page completely thawed out were annoying, though it's not really a continuity error, it just would have helped if it had been shown, and as i mentioned before the bad science was irksome. My biggest problem, however, is just one little line during the flashbacks to when Fries worked for Wayne Laboratories, where it states it occurred 6 years in the past, and then follows up by stating that Bruce had only recently returned from his training, sometime in Year One. This screws with the overall Batman continuity a bit, since it was generally accepted that due to the Dark Knight's status as almost an "urban legend" in the DCU, he operated for years before Superman went public 5 years ago, which explained why he went through 4 Robins in such short time (also, if he started 10 years ago, it would explain how he could have had Damian, if he had slept with Talia early in his career). This really condenses the time-line a bit, so hopefully Snyder will realize his mistake and explain how during his time as Batman he spent some of his adventures abroad for some reason or another, or maybe in future issues they change that one detail.

Still, for all it's little flaws, I enjoyed the hell out of this issue. I'm sure it'll be divisive for some people, but it's a worthwhile read, and I would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a Mr. Freeze story that gives a solid take on the character.

7 Comments
Posted by The Mighty Monarch

Did nobody read the little note at the beginning that said NIGHT OF THE OWLS- 12:02 AM?

Kudos for using the other context clues to realize it takes place the same night but after everything else, but you shouldn't be hesitant about your answer, the issue itself confirms it right at the beginning.

Posted by CircularLogic

@The Mighty Monarch said:

Did nobody read the little note at the beginning that said NIGHT OF THE OWLS- 12:02 AM?

Kudos for using the other context clues to realize it takes place the same night but after everything else, but you shouldn't be hesitant about your answer, the issue itself confirms it right at the beginning.

Alright that clears that up. Makes it a little weird how they managed to condense so much into one night, but DC seems to have made a habit out of forcing so many events into brief periods of time, this issue could have worked just as well if it took place the next day, unless there's a huge change to the status quo when the event itself ends

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

@CircularLogic said:

@The Mighty Monarch said:

Did nobody read the little note at the beginning that said NIGHT OF THE OWLS- 12:02 AM?

Kudos for using the other context clues to realize it takes place the same night but after everything else, but you shouldn't be hesitant about your answer, the issue itself confirms it right at the beginning.

Alright that clears that up. Makes it a little weird how they managed to condense so much into one night, but DC seems to have made a habit out of forcing so many events into brief periods of time, this issue could have worked just as well if it took place the next day, unless there's a huge change to the status quo when the event itself ends

Well it's technically kind of already 'the next day.' It's 12:02 AM, and the main portion of Night of the Owls ended at about 11:02 PM. I don't have RHATO on hand, so I can't look at when Mr. Freeze was actually captured, though most of the tie-ins seemed to have happened around 7 or 8 PM.

Edited by CircularLogic

@The Mighty Monarch: I just find it weird. Assuming that the sun sets pretty early in gotham that night (say, around 5 pm), that would mean that not only have the Outlaws busted Mr. Freeze (probably around 8, since they were busy at the hospital when they got the call) and then he was delivered to Arkham, processed and admitted, given new clothes, and then packed his equipment away in about 4 hours. After that, they for some reason decided to give him a psyche evaluation at midnight, despite the fact that Dr. Arkham just had an assassination attempt only a few hours ago, and then Freeze broke out and went on with his plans. I have no problem suspending a bit of disbelief for a good story (and this was a good story) but even if they just delayed it by one day it would have been a lot easier to swallow

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

@CircularLogic: I think suspension of disbelief becoomes a little easier if you think about the fact that this is Gotham. Stuff like this is happening all the damn time, so A: Processing inmates is likely done as quickly/soon as possible to make room for the inevitable subsequent inmates, and B: there are likely systems in place for all sorts of outcomes, Dr. Arkham's attempted assassination is just another attempted murder in Gotham. Law enforcement has to constantly be on their toes, can't relax just because someone almost killed the boss.

And not that it makes TOO much of a difference, but Arkham's attempted assassination happened at around 8:40.

Posted by wessaari

about robin's arms being thawed i think he just took of his gloves to help get the ice off

Posted by Delphic

I know it's been out for a while now, but I just got around to reading this one. Just wanted to say that you have a very well thought out and well written review.

Other reviews for Batman Annual #1 - First Snow

    First Snow 0

    THE GOOD: Jason Fabok is the artist on this annual, and he makes it look wonderful. It is really clean, but also has a sketchy feeling to it. I really like the way the backgrounds look. They are very detailed and there are a lot of fun little additions in the backgrounds that will gives fans something to look for. The story is dark and truly amazing. We get to dive into Mister Freeze and I think that this issue is going to do amazing things for the character. It really puts him on a whole new le...

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