Writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have teamed up with artist Jason Fabok for DC ComicsBatman Annual #1, featuring Mr. Freeze in a follow-up to the Night of the Owls storyline.

First off, one of the things Snyder does well with almost every character he has written to date is find their psychological center and develop a story from there. With Tynion on board as a co-writer, they use this approach to take what has been a laughable character over the last couple of decades and actually make him scary again.

Frankly, if you can do this to a clichéd and caricatured character like Mr. Freeze , I’m on your team. Right from the opening flashback where young Victor’s mother falls through the ice while on their way to a snowman building contest, Snyder and Tynion make it quite clear that he is a deeply disturbed individual.

Snyder and Tynion use this odd meter that feels out of place to create a strange feeling that everything doesn’t appear as it seems. Young Victor plays the part of happy go-lucky kid, but the more you read Snyder, the more you realize that he likes to get you moving in one rhythm as the real rhythm starts moving another direction. He’s like a jazz drummer using polyrhythm with his writing.

Then, another polyrhythm starts playing as the story establishes Mr. Freeze’s connection to the Court of Owls.  For those of you following that story, the connection made between the two is smart and simple. This allows Snyder and Tynion to ramp up the action as Freeze breaks out of Arkham Asylum so he can revive his beloved Nora with the compound used for reviving the Talons.

After a couple of flashbacks and altercations, the real rhythm of the story starts to take shape as Freeze’s surface psychology starts to thaw (pun fully intended) one layer at a time. He’s not your simple villain pushed over the edge by tragedy – he’s always been crazy.

Nora, who readers have always been lead to believe is his love, is actually just the world’s first person to undergo cryogenic stasis. Freeze appears to be an obsessive self-deluded nut case. But…wait for it – it’s even worse than that.

As Batman thwarts Mr. Freeze’s attempts at recovering Nora, our esteemed writers reveal a deeper flaw about Freeze. Being the penultimate profiler, Batman breaks down for the reader what is at the heart of Freeze’s damaged psychology – an obsession with the cold. That may sound mundane, but couple that with Freeze’s earlier admissions of experimenting on small animals and you have the profile of a serial killer.

In a flashback that only reinforces this notion, a young Victor takes his mom on another trip to build a snowman. Sadly, mom is not mentally well anymore, and in what could be interpreted as an act of mercy, Victor pushes her back into the icy hole in which she fell the first time.

Jason Fabok stays true to Greg Capullo’s current style for Batman with great renderings of Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Mr. Freeze. Each character has an edge to them that helps this dark story feel dark from a visual standpoint. Also, Peter Steigerwald uses great coloring theory to provide the story with a frosty chill.

Overall, I grade the story a solid A. Snyder and Tynion make a strong duo. Fabok’s art and Steigerwald’s coloring also get a solid A for serving the story well.