BATWING Down, DUKE Steps Up, A Surprise Black Sheep In ALL-STAR BATMAN #1 - SPOILERS

All-Star Batman #1
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Spoilers ahead for All-Star Batman #1.

Scott Snyder has said that All-Star Batman is all about the villains, but this week's first issue said that previously unknown secrets inside the Bat-family are also up for grabs.

The series began by revealing a darker side of Alfred Pennyworth, as he shot down the Batwing to protect some type of big secret he doesn't want exposed.

Credit: DC Comics

The issue is also the first appearance of Duke Thomas in his newest superhero costume, although his superhero name was not revealed (but it's apparently not going to be Robin). And the All-Star Batman back-up story, which started Duke's training under Bruces tutelage, revealed a strange contraption that contains Batman's training, and the Dark Knight revealed that there's someone in his past — someone he trained as an ally — who turned into a villain. (And Batman says he's not talking about Jason Todd.)

The story in All-Star Batman #1, which featured Two-Face as the key villain, was drawn by veteran artist John Romita Jr. with inks by Danny Miki and colors by Dean White. The story was told in a non-linear structure, jumping from what happened "two hours ago" to events from "two weeks ago" to scenes set "20 minutes ago."

The story's earliest scenes appear to begin after Two-Face attacks Gotham City with some type of acidic rain. Two-Face is captured by Batman with help from some villains who don't like Two-Face knowing so many secrets.

Jumping ahead a bit, Harvey Dent, who claims to desire recovery from his Two-Face affliction, talks Batman into taking him to a mysterious house - one that is five hundred miles away - but as Bruce is transporting him in the Batwing, Two-Face reveals that he's going to do his darnedest to stay away from that house. He tries to escape by putting out the call to Gotham villains (and really anyone in the state): Either kill Batman and break Two-Face out of custody (and get a hefty reward) or else all the secrets that Two-Face knows will be released to the public.

Credit: DC Comics

There are plenty of villains who try to take Batman out, including Firefly, Killer Moth, Black Spider, and even some random citizens who want the money - and there's even a great image of Batman with a chainsaw - but the biggest twist of the issue is that Alfred himself was is among those who are trying to free Two-Face, shooting down the Batwing.

Credit: DC Comics

Of course, that's not going to stop Batman. After fighting off multiple villains, the redesigned (and quite snazzy looking) Two-Face, and a few random folks from a local diner, the Dark Knight steals a semi-truck and locks up Two-Face in the back.

As the issue ends, readers are shown that Gentleman Ghost is on the back of the semi, ready to battle Batman - presumably the first of many, many more major villains (in issue #2 and maybe beyond) who will try to free Two-Face as Batman drives him toward this all-important house.

Also in the issue, during the time jumps that tell the story, Duke Thomas is shown wearing what might be his chosen costume - a heavily armored black and yellow ensemble that features the Batman symbol on both the chest and face (yes, face - it's the same costume that was shown in Batman: Rebirth #1). The scene shows Jim Gordon telling Duke that he's done a good job, so the young adult is apparently in pretty regular costumed action now.

Credit: DC Comics

Of course, Duke has previously been seen in Robin-type costumes, both in We Are Robin and during a "possible future." But the new costume is more reminiscent of the future peek shown at the beginning of Batman: Endgame, where Duke has the name "Lark" and wore a yellow and black costume.

Credit: DC Comics

And as mentioned previously, during the back-up story by Snyder and artists Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, Duke Thomas is being trained by Batman as they investigate a mystery that appears to involve Victor Zsasz. But before the "teach me how to be a better detective" scenes (in a flashback of sorts), readers are shown something weird. Duke is told that there's some type of contraption that Alfred calls the "Cursed Wheel" that contains everything Bruce learned on his training travels and his years with Alfred. Batman says that every part of the "wheel" that's shown on the screen is designed to "test a different part of [Duke's] psychology."

Readers are shown various colored shapes that represent these psychological aspects - Dick Grayson leaned toward blue, Batman says. Barbara Gordon was purple, Damian Wayne was green - and eventually, it'll be time to find out what Duke will be. (How much you want to bet it'll be yellow?)

Credit: DC Comics

But in this scene, Duke is told by Batman that the "black" part of the "wheel" is about "looking at evil - staring at the blackest of the black - and seeing past it to motivation. Human causality. It's about asking one question…"

"Ask it," Batman says to Duke. "Ask the question." "Okay," Duke says. "Why? Why you?" And as he reaches out, someone is shown with cuts all over, saying "Kill Meeeeee!"

But perhaps most interesting is that, within these psyche-focused scenes, there's a moment where Batman says that every ally who's trained with him has gone through this process "whether they know it or not." And he says it's what "makes you" the "hero you'll become… or even the villain." When Duke asks if the "villain" comment is referring to Jason Todd, Batman replies, "No. Someone…else."

So… someone trained with Batman to be his ally, but became a villain. Who?

So what's next in All-Star Batman? Well, there's a crazy truck chase with tons of villains trying to take down Batman (and maybe even Alfred joining the bad guys again). And then there's an explanation of some of these odd scenes from the back-up story. But hopefully, there's going to be more about who this "villain" is that originally trained with Batman.

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