Sunday, June 29, 2014

Batman and Two-Face by Peter J. Tomasi issue #27

Living up to its title, the fourth installment Ablaze for Tomasi's The Big Burn story arc included some of the finest illustrations from Gleason, Gray and Kalisz. Everything was evenly paced for the action sequences in this issue, and I'm becoming a huge fan of Gleason's detailed and gross depiction of Two-Face's scars whenever we get a close-up panel. 

Last issue, we have Batman crushed under the weight of an angel statue in an open grave but because this is Batman, we know he won't stay down for long and that he will time his escape at the right, opportune moment. And that moment is when the Gotham mob families started ammo-ing it up. Two-Face and Erin were busy with their own tension-filled and antagonistic discussion from the last issue, playing the blame-game and all that, but then these motherfuckers showed up, taking advantage of the situation. After all, getting rid of the thorny Irish rose, Two-Face and Batman in one fell swoop is a dream come true for organized crime, but Batman is Batman so he manages to find some way to escape whose mechanics actually didn't make sense to me but before I could start nitpicking, I was surprised to see that Two-Face ended up on the wrong side and was captured by the mob which means a rescue mission for the next installment and that would hopefully give us some conversation between Two-Face and Batman.

Also, Erin got some splash of acid in the lower corner of her left eye and across the cheek before the mob interruption, so that's pretty awesome. Now she and Two-Face both have the scars to match their black hearts.

We get some more flashback sequences here with Gordon and Dent. HERE BE THE SPOILERS. What I can't reconcile with this new take on Harvey Dent so far is the fact that he's depicted to be corrupt as the DA (not to mention he only had that position for a short time AND that he was a criminal defense lawyer for the McKillens). I've always thought that Dent has more goodness to him when he was a lawyer, always looking out to put Gotham scum behind bars AND not defend them which is why his professional relationship with the McKillen twins confound me. 

The attempted murder on Gordon's life as incited by the twins was also weird, and how Dent reacted to it felt a little underwhelming. Even when Dent did finally cut himself off that parasitic relationship, I doubt it was for purely good motives. It felt like an act of self-preservation, and not because he was morally repulsed by the McKillens' actions. Even when he was also sealing the deal with Bruce Wayne who offered to help him campaign for the district attorney's office, it felt to me like it was done for personal advancement as oppose to a genuine desire for public service. I think that's my biggest complaint with Harvey Dent's new characterization for this new origin story. There are two forces of nature struggling in all of us and for a time Harvey Dent fed the light--right until that scarring moment when he decided to squash the light for good and let the darkness devour the rest of him.

On that note, Tomasi's delivery of this complex facet of Dent's psyche fell short. I felt absolutely apathetic towards Gordon, Batman and Dent becoming the trinity by the end of that flashack (which they are and it should have been more awesome) only because Harvey Dent's characterization was lacking, so his relationships with Batman and Gordon felt like they're also missing something. I don't want to bring this up but at least Nolan understood how this trinity functioned in his interpretation for The Dark Knight film. Did Tomasi feel like that by following the same kind of approach, it might make readers compare his work with that of the film? Well, tough, because it's happening anyway only because he completely missed the point of Harvey's moral dichotomy by depicting him as a self-serving lawyer early on. I mean, here is the White Knight in all of this?

So as much as the action in this issue excited me, there are some questionable character directions here that I didn't quite appreciate because it's one thing to change an origin story for the sake of refreshing the dynamics among players; it's another to disregard what has been a greatly unifying factor among these chief characters. By neglecting Harvey Dent's old characterization in favor for a new one that paints him more as a full-on antagonist rather than as an anti-hero struggling with villainy, we don't get to feel the importance and gravity of his role in the trinity. This is one critique I will stand by. Here we ago again, Tomasi. Sometimes when you slip, you slip very far ahead. But because I love you, you bastard, I will continue to hope for the best.


No comments:

Post a Comment