Batman One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze #1 – Gerry Duggan, Writer; Matteo Scalera, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Every one of the One Bad Day one-shots has been excellent—but they’ve all been so radically different it’s almost dizzying. Tom King’s Riddler was a slow-burn horror story, Mariko Tamaki’s Two-Face could have been an annual of her existing run, and John Ridley’s Penguin cast the character as the lead in a crime underdog story. Now comes Gerry Duggan and Matteo Scalera on a reinvention of Mr. Freeze that takes place early in Batman’s career with a young Dick Grayson as his sidekick—and strangely, it’s a Christmas story! As the dynamic duo track down a serial killer, the discussion turns to whether Batman feels like any of his villains can be redeemed. And he says he still holds out hope for one.
Freeze is a tragic figure, most than any other Bat-villain besides maybe Killer Croc. He’s driven by love, and it’s turned him into an obsessed maniac. But Batman gives him a furlough to take over an old lab and try to cure Nora again with advanced new technology—hoping to help him either get what he wants, or finally let go. But as flashbacks show, Victor Fries didn’t simply go insane when he wound up a living ice cube. He was a troubled man long before—deeply controlling and obsessive, to the point where his marriage with Nora was falling apart long before she got sick. And new footage of her last days reveals his actions were less a desperate act of love than one final act of control.
The stakes in this issue are much lower than the others. There’s no sadistic game of murder, or battle for control, or slow-burn master plan. Instead, there is only a lonely and desperate man being exposed for what he is, and a battle that feels as much like catharsis as anything else. And oddly, it’s a Christmas story as well! There’s a lot of fun comedy bits, such as Bruce’s alter ego Matches Malone’s visit to a local bar and Alfred’s fussing over the Manor’s Christmas plans. It doesn’t really fit with anything else in the Bat-line at the moment, given that Duggan isn’t a regular writer unlike the first three. But it works as a spotlight both for Batman’s most tragic villain, and the heroes who find themselves pitted against him, with a surprisingly upbeat ending.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.