It does bother me, seeing that #1 up in the left-hand corner of the newest Batman Annual. But I suppose it goes with the territory these days, huh?
This book may be labeled as part of the Night of the Owls crossover, but that’s only because some of the characters mention that such a thing exists. Instead, Scott Snyder and co-writer James Tynon IV deliver one of my favorite types of Batman stories: the villain feature.
Mr. Freeze gets a little bit of a retcon here, but for the most part, this is Victor Fries as we know and love him. He’s got the cold gun and the burning love for a frozen woman; he just gets some additional childhood trauma on the side. I don’t really have a problem with the update to Fries’ romantic life; I don’t think it harms the character in any way to redefine his most important relationship.
I enjoy seeing Nightwing and Robin show up too. Their presence makes this feel even more like an “annual-worthy” event, it isn’t just a normal Batman vs. villain deal. I was surprised that Mr. Freeze beat the two of them so easily, but again, it did serve a greater story purpose. After all, would we have been suitably impressed by Batman’s bad-ass, heating-coil gloves if everyone had them?
I don’t recognize Jason Fabok’s art, but he has a style similar to Michael Janin’s over on JL Dark. Fabok is really good, delivering subtle shading and emotions when necessary, but able to crank up the action when called for too. The panel where Batman busts loose from the ice prison was fantastic. I would love to get my hands on an original page from this issue.