Quite simply, if you enjoyed the newer, creepier direction for Victor Fries that we first saw in Batman Annual #1, then you’re going to find this comic totally worth picking up. But if you’re from the group that thought it turned one of the most tragic and sympathetic characters into “just another psycho” then you can skip Batman: The Dark Knight #23.2.
Like many of the Villains Month issues, Mr. Freeze’s story doesn’t progress the Forever Evil plot any further and instead opts to go the origin route. However, unlike many of Villains Month titles, this one does have a nice little narrative tucked inside to make it a decent one-shot. Yes, much of what we already saw in Batman Annual #1 is recapped, but we also learn more about Victor Fries’ family (Yep, we flashback to his childhood and yep, he’s a creepy little James Gordon Jr. look-alike), what he’s been doing since he was last incarcerated, and what he’s been up to since escaping from Arkham (they should really just destroy that freeze gun instead of putting it back in storage every time) and how that’s all connected!
Victor narrates the whole story and it’s a bit odd to hear him talk so much and so openly, but I couldn’t help but I soon accepted it and found that I was hearing Michael Ansara’s voice in my head as I read and that was quite bittersweet.
Now, most of the comments I have to make about this depiction of Mr. Freeze can probably be found in my review of Batman Annual #1 from a couple years back. I really don’t have much more to add to that subject because writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti absolutely nailed the Annual’s portrayal of the New 52 Mr. Freeze. So if you liked the way the character was presented then you’ll like what they did with him now. Me? I don’t like this version of Mr. Freeze. I’m in the camp that thinks it makes him less interesting and that the New 52 Batman could use more sympathetic villains and less creeps and this Victor Fries is certainly a creep. Plus I don’t like that he can freeze things with his hands or his little mohawk or his sleeveless uniform.
Basically, what I’m saying is that the story presented here is not bad, it’s just not for me. I found Mr. Freeze’s motivation in this issue to be interesting and it held my interest and the setting in which he recites his story really added to the mystery and made me want to stick around until the end to see what was up, but I can’t– I just can’t– get on board with the more psychotic Mr. Freeze just yet. Maybe some day.
As for the artwork, I thought it was a good looking book. I appreciated the attention to detail with the backgrounds and the colors by McCaig really made the pages feel cold (like any Mr. Freeze comic should). Artist Jason Masters could’ve probably ghosted for Jason Fabok in the Batman Annual #1. The book really has the same look and feel of that annual, I cannot stress that enough! And when things get brutal, Masters really makes the reader feel it. There’s some fairly shocking imagery in here.
- You loved Batman Annual #1
- You’re up for some gory, ice-related violence
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti do a fine job of continuing where Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV left off with the character in Batman Annual #1, but as someone who doesn’t like the New 52 origin for Victor Fries, this comic’s story will only get an “It’s okay.” from me but a definite thumbs up for the chilling artwork by Jason Masters and Dave McCaig.