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Batman Annual #1 - First Snow Review

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Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV give us a new look at Mr. Freeze and help make him an even better Bat-Villain than he ever was before.

Batman has many classic villains. Mr. Freeze has always been a good villain but never a great one...until now.

The Good

When DC first announced that Scott Snyder would be getting his hands on Mr. Freeze, it seemed a bit of a strange choice for a villain in the first Batman Annual in the "New 52." Thinking about it for a bit, it made perfect sense. This was the time and opportunity to turn a good Batman villain into a great one. Mr. Freeze never had a definitive story that made him unforgettable. His best story was from Batman: The Animated Series. He deserved a better story and that's what Snyder and James Tynion IV have done. (Check out what Scott had to say about retooling Mr Freeze here).

Looking over the first page once again as I write this, I can honestly and truthfully say I just got a chill thinking about how this story ends. I'm being completely honest, no "chill out" puns here. Snyder wanted to make Freeze creepy. That's what we get. Originally he was just a dude that was in an accident that required him to be in cold temperatures. There's something about the calm and quite Victor we see in Arkham, moments before the Night of the Owls story hits. Freeze is not only creepy and deadly but we also are reminded that he's got some intelligence. Why is the Court of Owls after him? You'll find out and it makes perfect sense. It's a surprise no one brought it up before this.

There are some changes being made. Freeze isn't just going to be a cold and deadly lunatic. What he does, he does for a reason. Snyder brings us into his mind a bit. That little bit is more than enough to show us the potential he has. Without going into details, I will say that Nora is still a focus here but there is a tie to another character in Freeze's past. I can easily see some not approving this change but the way it all plays out is perfect. There's plenty of twists and turns here.

The Bad

I know I've offered a lot of praise for this issue but what really got me was the art. It's by no means bad. It's pretty good. It's just not great enough to blow me away. We've seen so many interpretations and comics with Batman by so many different artists. This art just felt like really good but average Batman art. For the annual and for the semi-reinvention of Mr. Freeze, I would've liked to have seen more. Perhaps I'm being a little over-critical but after seeing Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque as well as Jock and Francesco Francavilla work with Snyder on BATMAN, my expectations are high.

The Verdict

In the "New 52" we've seen a few changes and updates with characters. Some haven't felt absolutely necessary but the changes Scott Snyder has brought to Mr. Freeze will change the way you look at him as a Batman Villain. Freeze never really had a true motive or reason for being a villain besides suffering from an accident and the story written in the animated series. I'm not normally one to cheer on changes and tweaks but Snyder gives Freeze what has been needed for a long time. As great as the story is, it's the art that prevents me from absolutely loving this issue. My expectations are high when it comes to Snyder/Batman issues and for this update with Freeze and the first new BATMAN ANNUAL #1, it should all be mind-blowing. The art is very good and fits the story well. I might be a little greedy in wanting more. We haven't seen many changes to the Batman characters in the "New 52" and Snyder shows us the advantages to being able to make these sort of updates. Mr. Freeze is now completely worthy of being a major villain in Batman's rogues gallery.

I've read many Batman annuals over the years. Many have been unremarkable. This Batman annual will be unforgettable.

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Posted by LordRequiem

I really wish they'd kept the Arkham City Mr. Freeze costume, it was so .....cool (no pun intended).

Posted by longbowhunter

I am going to buy this of course, it's Scott Snyder writing Batman. Good to know there is a real purpose to the story though. Excited for this and Animal Man.

Posted by Drummer007

Just read the first few pages while on break at work and I'm excited to finish it later. Snyder has me hooked!!

Posted by KainScion

meh. snyder is overrated.

Posted by zachkastner

@LordRequiem: Yeah, I just hope he gets sleeves back. He looks weird without them. The rest of the suit I'm fine with. The helmet even has the Arkham City computer screen flakes in it!

Posted by doordoor123

The art can't be as bad as The Black Mirror. It was almost unbearable. What saved it was the coloring and writing.

Posted by htb106

I'm really looking forward to reading this issue!

I'm especially looking forward to MR. Freeze, His appearance in RHATO left me wanting to read more stories with him in.

Edited by UltimateSMfan

this was one helluva story...totally awsome!!

the writers have to get the timeline straight though if in this annual its implied that bruce started his career as batman only six yrs ago,then how is damian ten yrs old n how old is dick? they havta straighten that stuff out.
Posted by Cavemold

Really enjoyed the issue . Poor mr. Freeze.

Posted by zackattack529

@KainScion:i agree he is over rated, but this current arc that he is doing for Batman with the Owls has been pretty cool because ti invoves more than just batman, it involves Gotham as a whole!

Posted by InnerVenom123

Kinda like the changes to Freeze.

Kinda hate them, since BTAS's version was the sympathetic one I first fell in love with.

But it wasn't inherently bad.

Posted by Dernman
Posted by mosnterduc1000

@zackattack529:

Scott Snyder is overrated?!?! The guy brought Detective back to prominence with Black Mirror (too bad Tony Daniel couldn't keep it up), made Batman the best selling super hero on the stands, breathed new life into the critically acclaimed Swamp Thing and has one of the best (if not the best) Vertigo titles on the stands. Give the guy some props for being the best thing to hit comics in the last few years.

Posted by Katie24

So glad this weeks annuals got good reviews! All the annuals I have ever bought have always been so disappointing and a waste of $$$.

Posted by scuzz2.0

wow! only 4 stars, this comic must really suck

Posted by zackattack529

@mosnterduc1000: he writes decent stories. and when you say he brought back detective comics, that is an overstatment..you mine as well say bendis is the best thing for comics for givign them big events and writing almost everything avengers, or geoff johns being the god of DC with all the work he has done...snyder is GREAT but alott a people give him too much praise. almost on an alan moore like level...and honestly, i think snyders best work is American Vampire, and its funny you rarley see people mention that book...but of course everyone only cares whats with DC and marvel...shame shame...im not here to start an argument, i like Snyder alot and his writing especially for swamp thing. but he is getting too much praise just for his dark writting. you also have to remember capullos art or paquettes art complements his work on those certain titles you mention. comics dont always have to be dark, but when some new writter makes them dark they get a whooooooole lotta praise. its rather annoying....i mean look at justice league, look how that thing is selling just because of jim lee....its these names that people are focused on. most i find over rated, others i dont...simple...goodday sir

Edited by mosnterduc1000

@zackattack529: Before the reboot, and before Snyder, Detective was languishing. He brought a lot of new readers (including me) to that title when he (with Jock and Francavilla of course) took over. Of which that momentum carried over to Batman and made it pretty much the best super hero book on the stands.

You mention Bendis and Johns, two creators who have great resumes (Bendis has been weaker of late), and two guys who made definitive runs on books like Daredevil and Green Lantern (respectively) that hold there own against any other runs in the lifespan of either of those books. I would go as far to say that Johns run on GL has no peer in my history of reading it, and I have followed GL off and on for 25 years. And right now, we are seeing that kind of thing with Snyders take on Batman. Mentioning Snyder alongside these two creators is high praise, even though you may not think so...

I agree that none of these guys are an Alan Moore, but who is? He is THE writer that most writers in this biz aspire to today. But you shouldn't knock Snyder because of his success. He worked his way up from the trenches and has cut his own niche in the Dark Knight Mythos. Kudos to Scott!

Posted by Rixec

@scuzz2.0 said:

wow! only 4 stars, this comic must really suck

They just weren't as pleased with the art. Snyder is still; going strong all the way. Try reading the review instead of looking at just the stars.

Posted by Brownghost

I thought the comic was a 5/5 and the art was amazing

Posted by noj

I didnt really have a problem with the art at all. It was a GREAT book.

Posted by JonesDeini

@mosnterduc1000 said:

@zackattack529: Before the reboot, and before Snyder, Detective was languishing. He brought a lot of new readers (including me) to that title when he (with Jock and Francavilla of course) took over. Of which that momentum carried over to Batman and made it pretty much the best super hero book on the stands.

You mention Bendis and Johns, two creators who have great resumes (Bendis has been weaker of late), and two guys who made definitive runs on books like Daredevil and Green Lantern (respectively) that hold there own against any other runs in the lifespan of either of those books. I would go as far to say that Johns run on GL has no peer in my history of reading it, and I have followed GL off and on for 25 years. And right now, we are seeing that kind of thing with Snyders take on Batman. Mentioning Snyder alongside these two creators is high praise, even though you may not think so...

I agree that none of these guys are an Alan Moore, but who is? He is THE writer that most writers in this biz aspire to today. But you shouldn't knock Snyder because of his success. He worked his way up from the trenches and has cut his own niche in the Dark Knight Mythos. Kudos to Scott!

Well said...though I'm more than done with either Bendis or Johns and actively avoid there current work. They've got some respectable stuff in their bibliography. Personally, I don't like Snyder's books because they're "dark" or for any other shallow and insipidly adolescent reason. I read, admire, respect Snyder's work because of his ability to write engaging and interesting stories. He has a great grasp of characterization. And he writes to the strengths of his art teams. In my opinion he's earned every bit of the praise and success he's getting. But somebody will always be overrated/underrated in another's eyes.

Posted by longbowhunter

Wow this book was really a great read. It had me rooting for Victor all the way up till the end. I was actually convinced Mr. Freeze was right about Bruce Wayne. I thought he was a total dick too until the reveal about Nora. Thought the art was quite nice too. Pretty perfect all in all.

Posted by Adnan

I'm not sure if I like the changes made to Freeze or not. They're pretty big changes, honestly. But it was written well, and I thought the art was fine. Agreed that this'll probably be a pretty memorable issue though.

Posted by RedOwl_1

And overrated word is over rated -_-

Posted by kingjoeg

Still think the Arkam City mr freeze is the best.

Posted by Dhor

great story. i love the changes to Frees. He seems more like a real vilan now.

Posted by mbembet
@KainScion: totally agree it won't be long until snyder turns into asshole like geoff johns
Posted by Dernman

@RedOwl_1 said:

And overrated word is over rated -_-
Posted by GBrutality

i actually kind of hated this a lot. and the only thing i did like was the art.

i don't know how to do the SPOILERS thing but yeah, SPOILERS

first off; the costume. what is this desire to have all the frost-themed villains in the 52 not have sleeves? captain cold it was fine since his costume made him look like an enemy out of megaman and it gave him a new power setting and threat potential than just another dick with an ice gun. makes sense when dealing with a guy who has the powers of the flash.

second, i liked that mr. freeze wasn't necessarily an evil guy. he just lost the love of his life and his good intentions were derailed by someone (idc who that is really) which drove him mad. he was an expert in cryogenics so him knowing to use the equipment didn't mean he had some fascination with freezing stuff. i don't like this new nora angle. it takes away. like i said, he was in arkham because he was driven crazy not because he was on joker-caliber psychopathy.

finally, this whole time thing is getting really stupid. just don't do it or force it because it sounds ridiculous. in six years time you started being batman, and had at least FOUR robins? are you kidding me?

i know people won't like what i have to say and i'm not too happy either because i love snyder but this was a huge letdown. the angle with the court of owls was even a dud. this was just a big disappointment in my eyes.

Posted by mattwing87

@GBrutality: I am sure he was Batman for much longer than the stated 6 years. They just reverted Mr. Freeze a bit and ignored his time as one of the original villains Mr. Zero. He was just another villain that showed up over the years during Batman's career. Just because he was Bruce Wayne when he met Freeze doesn't mean he was not Batman at the time.

Posted by mattwing87

I really enjoyed this issue! Not too sure what to think of Freeze's new origin but I like it more than I hate it.

Posted by JamDamage

this book was great. Cool spin on Freeze, the art was really good too.

Posted by JamDamage

@zackattack529: Snyder brought me back to Batman. I would pick the occasional trade here and there but was not impressed til I read "Black Mirror". His court of Owls arch is also great. As for people picking up books for names it's usually because the names are pretty damn good. You can't get a great story from a writer every time. I don't expect this. Look at The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Not great at all and from Frank Miller who no one can say is a bad a writer. Same with Morrison who everyone loves. Final Crisis was crap. As for Justice League with Johns and Lee, I enjoyed reading as a whole more then I did in single issues. This one shot my Snyder was what an Annual should be. Good art, good story, and a bit of a shocker. No complaints here.

Posted by nappystr8

I thought the art was great. I like Capulo's work a lot too. His Batman is very imposing, but as far as renditions of the other characters go, including unmasked Bruce Wayne, I found myself wishing Tynion IV was the regular artist on the book. Or at least a regular artist for almost any other DC comic I read. And I'll never understand what anyone sees in Francesco Francavilla.

As far as Snyder's work goes, I haven't read any of his Detective Comics work, but as much as I've been enjoying the Court of Owls, I found this story to be significantly more powerful and reminded me of one of my favorite Batman stories of all time, Alan Moore's Clayface story from Batman Annual #11. I can't wait to see what he can do with other members of the bat rogue gallery after the Night of the Owls wraps up.

Edited by cloudzackvincent

read this issue.... it was great and damn ..mr freeze is creepy

Posted by TheRedRobin96

OK I am thinking of buying this, but ONLY for Mr. Freeze. So should I still pick it up? Because I am just lookign for a good Freeze story with out batman there every other second.

Posted by Saren

A decent Freeze story, thought I'd never see the day.

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Posted by Mindtrickdmedia

Just the part of Freeze's childhood reeks of Scott Snyder's brilliance. Those pages alone would be worth the price of admission.

Posted by theconman1876

I loved how Riddler's cane and (Jokers?) playing cards were next to Freeze's suit.

Posted by zackattack529

OMG WHY IS IT WHEN I SAY SOMETHING EVERYONE HAS TO TRY AND CHANGE MY OPINION ON HERE! SNYDER IS A GOOD WRITTER OK PEOPLE I JUST FEEL HE IS OVERRATED. THATS ALL! ENOUGH WITH THE PMs

Posted by Mokey

@GBrutality: Freeze was always evil. He killed people by the dozens. Regardless if it was to save his wife.

Edited by SmoothJammin

@zackattack529: Your mum.

Edited by Mr. Kamikaze

In the panels after Freeze makes his move in Arkham, where some dude and Dr. Arkham are looking at the computer screens (early on in the issue, say maybe about 6 or 7 pages in) the map on the screen is from one of the Arkham games. Oddly enough it's from Akrham City and not Arkham Asylum, but still.

Thought that was pretty neat.

Edited by feargalr

@Dernman said:

This was a good issue I enjoyed it.
Not sure how I feel about it not being his wife though.

I actually enjoyed that...

I always thought it didn't make any sense why Bruce Wayne/Batman didn't just set him up in some super expensive lab, after all thats what freeze wanted, to research a way to save Nora, plus with all the crazy stuff that does on in a comic book world it always is a bit weird he never found a way to cure her, but now that all makes sense ya know
Posted by Friskynesss

I love the art of this Annual! I mean it is just so amazing and really sucked me in and that story was just so O.O

AMAZING, that's all I can say. First it was Penguin and now Mr. Freeze, keep it up!! XD

Posted by Outside_85

I am sorry to say I am a little dissapointed with this origins, which had already been written over a decade ago, this was just a rewrite of the Heart of Ice. While that was really good and the turning point for the character, the big twist here really removes all the sympathy the cartoon instilled. So...just copying Heart of Ice would have been better :(

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Posted by edge0076

Have absolutely loved everything Snyder's done with Batman so far, but this revamped version of Mr. Freeze not so much. I liked the fact that he was sympathetic before. It made him different from most of the rest of Batman's rogues gallery. Now he's just kind of another gimmick obsessed psycho which makes him less unique since Bats already has a ton of those.

Oh well, I tend to pick and choose what stories go into my personal continuity for these characters, anyway, so I'm just going to keep the Dini version for my own!

Posted by Drummer007

I like the direction that Snyder took with Mr. Freeze. It really makes him look like an even worse deranged lunatic and not just someone trying to hard to get his wife back. Good read.

Posted by MonkeyToe

@Outside_85 said:

I am sorry to say I am a little dissapointed with this origins, which had already been written over a decade ago, this was just a rewrite of the Heart of Ice. While that was really good and the turning point for the character, the big twist here really removes all the sympathy the cartoon instilled. So...just copying Heart of Ice would have been better :(

I think there is still some sympathy to be had for Fries. I felt that was the whole reason that we got the flashback of his mother and therefore instilling a young Victor with some deep psychological issues, essentially losing his mother to the ice twice.

Posted by Outside_85

@MonkeyToe said:

I think there is still some sympathy to be had for Fries. I felt that was the whole reason that we got the flashback of his mother and therefore instilling a young Victor with some deep psychological issues, essentially losing his mother to the ice twice.

I seem to remember some people complaining about the previous change in Freeze, where they added the cryro-experimentation on the neighborhood pets. Granted this kinda gave a reason for him getting started. But one of the things I found compelling about Freeze was that he wasn't crazy or even deranged like most of Batman's enemies, he did terrible things to people who got in his way, but I liked the idea of him as a man pushing so far for something as simple as love for his wife.

Sadly...Freeze is like every other nut that Batman fights, and Batman says that quite clearly. :(

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