BATMAN AND TWO-FACE #24
Written By Peter J. Tomasi
Art By Patrick Gleason
Published By DC Comics
Release Date: October 16th, 2013
Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason look to reestablish one of Batman’s most notorious rogues for the New 52, as Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face takes center stage in the new story arc of the book once known as Batman and Robin.
Batman and Two-Face #24 sets out to tell the first big Two-Face story in New 52 continuity, and the opening chapter is sure to cause some controversy among fans of the Caped Crusader. A substantial part of the issue is spent establishing the character of Erin McKinnen, who had been referenced once prior to this issue, in the Two-Face one shot during Villains Month. Tomasi does a great job in establishing her as a threat early on in the issue, as we learn that she is the head of the McKillen Crime Family and has been on the run from the Gotham Police Department for her altercation with a certain over zealous District Attorney. McKinnen is shown not only to be short tempered and physically menacing throughout the issue, but she also comes off as just as smart as she is deadly, as evidenced by her bringing together the different factions of the Mob to show solidarity against the “crazies” that have run roughshod through Gotham for so long. While McKinnen shows a lot of promise as a new character, she is also the issue’s biggest problem.
Tomasi deciding to introduce a brand new character and have her at the center of the origin of one of Batman’s oldest foes is what may prove to be controversal. While Two Face’s origin has changed multiple times throughout DC history, his most recent origin prior to this had been The Long Halloween, one of the most beloved Batman stories ever. The New 52 was established from the beginning as a new universe where character histories are not the same as they were before, but I’d be remiss not to mention that the introduction of McKinnen and her role in the fall of Harvey Dent completely erases The Long Halloween from continuity. At the beginning of the New 52 it seemed as if Batman’s history had been preserved, but this year alone two classics in Batman: Year One and the already mentioned The Long Halloween have been wiped from the history books. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as other books have been proving, but it all lies in the execution, and with the way the story is structured, with the script leaving readers in the dark while slowly revealing backstory that the characters already know, It is going to take a few more issues to see how plays out. All that is known now is that we may be meeting McKinnen for the first time, but all of the principle characters, including Batman, seem to know her well. We are supposed to care about the character of Erin McKinnen but despite Tomasi’s best efforts, I’m not sure that I do.
McKinnen may have taken up the bulk of the issue, but there were some other things going on. This may be the start of a new arc, but events like Damian’s death are still felt in these pages. After the previous arc that focused on dealing emotionally with Damian’s death, it makes sense thematically that the emotional beats that may not have room to be fleshed out throughout the rest of the Bat books are given the proper attention here. Tomasi uses this opportunity to also address the grave robbing that occurred in Batman Incorporated, and ends up foreshadowing a great confrontation in the near future.
The best parts of the issue were any pages that featured Two-Face. The twelve panel opening page and the splash on the second page were genuinely creepy, and helped show that Harvey Dent isn’t your typical crazy. Then the five page flashback sequence that shows how Harvey became Two-Face was absolutely traumatizing and gave me hope that as layers are peeled back, and we learn more about the events leading up to Harvey becoming Two-Face that the story will be every bit as poignant and emotional as prior origin stories.
The great moments in this issue would be nothing without the steady hand of Patrick Gleason and the rest of the art team. The aforementioned scenes featuring Two-Face were beautifully rendered by Gleason. The dark and depressing tone of the opening scene really set the stage for the rest of the issue only for the five page origin scene to completely blow everything else out of the water in what ended up as some of the finest work of Gleason’s career. At this point Batman seems to fit Gleason like a glove. Gleason may not be the flashiest artist in comics, but he is consistent, and whether the story calls for the quiet shadows or acrobatic fight scenes, his style meshes so well with the world of Batman. While this issue was relatively light on Batman, when Gleason got to draw him he made the most of it with beautiful page layouts like the shot of Batman busting up various thugs early on in the issue.
Overall Batman and Two-Face #24 was a solid issue that proves that this story arc has a lot of potential. While I may not completely care about Erin McKinnen’s role in the origin of Two-Face at this point, there is enough in this issue that leads me to believe that Tomasi will slowly continue to reveal more about her past with Harvey Dent. Throw Carrie Kelley into the mix as we will get next issue, and you have the ingredients for a potentially great story.