Alright, here I am, back with another “One Bad Day,” a series of hit-or-miss one shots detailing the day that perhaps made different Batman foes the way they are. You know, except the Joker because Alan Moore covered that one decades ago.
This time, it’s Mr. Freeze, one of the most tragic of Batman foes. Or is he…?
Issue: Batman-One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze #1, November 2022
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Scalera
The Plot: Mr. Freeze is given a chance to cure his wife. Will he take it?
Commentary: Mr. Freeze was, for the longest time, one of the Batman’s blandest baddies. He basically was a guy with a gimmick and that was it. That, of course, changed when Batman the Animated Series famously gave the guy an origin in what is probably the best episode that series every made. It’s basically canon now that Dr. Victor Fries, worried that his beloved wife Nora was dying of a rare disease, tried to put her into suspended animation when an accident changed him into a man who needed cold to survive as opposed to the opposite. The new origin made Freeze a tragic foe who only turned to crime and evil to try and eventually revive a loved one.
But what if that wasn’t exactly true?
That’s the premise here: Victor’s wife Nora really did have a rare illness, the cyrogenic accident still happened, but maybe Victor wasn’t exactly the best husband. Dick Grayson, here new to the Robin codename, suggests Batman give Victor a space to work on reviving his wife. Only a series of flashbacks suggest that, well, Victor might not want that as much as he says he does.
Essentially, this is a one-shot that somewhat suggests Mr. Freeze wasn’t really a misunderstood scientist. Duggan’s script actually gives Nora Freeze a personality and a glimpse into her marriage to Victor. Yes, Victor wanted her to live, but did Nora want to keep going? It’s not that pre-accident Freeze was a criminal, but it did become clear that he maybe wasn’t that good a husband, and the one-shot asks the question about whether or not a man who likes to put things on ice actually wants to cure anyone.
I’m a little torn on this one. It does altar Freeze’s origin in ways I am not 100% crazy about, but at the same time, I do appreciate that Nora actually got a personality. Plus, the artwork reminded me of Tim Sale’s, and that’s always a plus.