Batman Annual #1
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Art by Jason Fabok and Peter Steigerwald
The short of it:
Mr. Freeze is introduced into the New 52, and there have been a few tweaks to the character. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that he found himself being used by a more serious bad guy threat in the Court of Owls. It was his technology that they used to thaw out the Talons to attack Gotham with, the same tech he had developed to allow him to restore Nora from her icy fate. Once again confined to Arkham, Freeze has had enough of it. He kills his way out, literally, killing everyone that comes in his way to his escape as he gets his suit. Next stop is the Iceberg Lounge to meet with the Penguin and a revelation of Freeze’s motivations, and just what he wants from Cobblepot.
Throughout the issue we’re treated to flashbacks, everything from Fries and his mother and an understanding of what the cold meant to him early on as he watched her freeze in the ice. His entire life built from that moment, all the way until he took a job at Wayne Enterprises in their cryogenics department. Working to save his beloved wife, Nora, from the disease that has put her into frozen stasis. We see Bruce Wayne thinking that the people in stasis shouldn’t be in his building, and that it’s a project he’s not interested in having his company work on. This really doesn’t go over well with Fries who comes at Bruce Wayne in a rage and causes the accident that turned him into Freeze.
In the present, Freeze attacks Wayne Enterprises and is met by Nightwing and Robin. A fight ensues before Freeze makes his final attempt for Wayne…only to face off against Batman, and the truths behind his origins.
What I liked:
- Freeze is finally a bad ass again after too long of having to be too sympathetic to really do anything evil.
- Freeze’s new suit is a nice touch. The exposed arms are…what they are, but the rest of it has an Arkham Asylum kind of feel to it. He looks more menacing now, and less like a robot.
- I never expected a real explanation for Freeze’s goggles save for they made a cool animated visual, so not only was I surprised that we got one, but equally surprised that it made total sense to me. I’m shocked I never thought of it before.
- The entire scene at the Iceberg Lounge was well done. I like the way Snyder writes Penguin, and really, I like Penguin. I love the dirty as hell legitimate business man and he pulls it off better than anyone since Lex Luthor. Well, most of the time, this is one of the good ones, but some writers try and write him as too much of a villain. This is a prime example of how to use Penguin right.
- Jason Fabok is not a known commodity to me, I mean, I know who he is, but he was doing art for David Finch’s writing and that was a no sell for me. Seeing his art here…I’ve been missing out. He does a great Batman.
What I didn’t like:
- In taking away Freeze’s sympathy you run the risk of him being just another crazy Batman villain in a city full of crazy Batman villains.
- I don’t get how Jeremiah Arkham is in charge of Arkham, I mean, I know DC did the relaunch deal, but I thought Tony Daniel’s Batman run was still canon. Which would have Arkham be crazy and actually Black Mask, and while a prisoner in Arkham, secretly running the place as he’s still nailing the woman in charge. Wow, I never thought I’d lay down a gauntlet over a Tony Daniel book.
First Captain Cold, now Mr. Freeze, are ice arms the new cool thing to do at DC?
Man, Fabok’s art is pretty good, is this what I was missing out on with Dark Knight?
Now, I know the main complaint coming out of this book is that Freeze loses his sympathy. Yes, there was the great tragic element of him just wanting to save his wife and making hard moral decisions to do so. He was, potentially, the kind of person who could have gone either way at the crossroads of good and evil but wound up taking the darker path. Now you can argue that with the changes made here that he’s not that much different from other villains in Batman’s rogues gallery; crazy and deluded. I would argue, however, that it’s creating mileage that the character hasn’t seen in years.
The biggest issue with Nora Fries is that she’s something of a white whale for Victor. She’s a lofty goal for him to try and achieve, but there becomes nowhere really for the character to go after saving her. This leads to her not being saved, which makes him come across as incompetent. He has the resources to fund a criminal empire at times, but he can’t divert enough of the funds to saving her which is supposed to be his only reason for doing it. Removing her from the equation doesn’t take away his obsession, but it does open him up to further motivations. After all, the version of the character Paul Dini gave us was perfect for what he was created for. He was in three episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, a movie, and an episode of Batman Beyond. Only in one of those was he clearly cut as a villain, but the lack of exposure allowed that. Had he recurred as often as the Scarecrow or Killer Croc I feel he would have wound up losing that edge.
On top of that, by working his mother into his newly crafted origin, you get a tie to the ice and cold that could outlast any frozen woman.
Snyder or Morrison, I can’t tell who is better with the Bat.
Tags: Batman, DC Comics Relaunch, Jason Fabok, Mr. Freeze, Reviews, Scott Snyder