This is the second installment out of five for Tomasi's re-imagining of Two-Face's origin story entitled The Big Burn: Sparks. And lo and behold, it's more than a decent follow-up to the promising premise of First Strike. This has a natural progression of events and very compelling character exposition all throughout, particularly on Tomasi's villainness Erin McKinell who is starting to become a very fleshed-out character of her own right, not only because she was the one responsible for scarring Harvey Dent and thus unleashing Two-Face to the world; but also because she's also a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne (which would be too on-the-nose in theory but was something I actually think would enable Batman to have a more personal investment on this case like never before as well, seeing as he both had relationships with Dent, and now McKinell in a distant past). I quite liked that McKinell sought Bruce's help and yet antagonized him for his outright refusal like the bitch she truly is. There's a strong set of teeth on this woman and she is neither likable or sympathetic so far, but I'm quite curious and intrigued by her importance to the plot nevertheless.
Two-Face doesn't have that many scenes in this issue yet. His only appearance is at the beginning of the issue where he poured acid on half of the Bat signal. I don't see any point to that because the conversation he had with Batman afterwards on the adjacent building's rooftop was just the same melody these two have been playing. There was nothing new to add to that so I was quite disappointed that Two-Face has little role in this issue and that the one who stole this spotlight (though rightfully so) is the thorny Irish rose herself who may be finding herself in scenarios that make her appear like a damsel in distress but by god, can she strike punches on her assailants like a boss! The prison scene was my utmost favorite because aside from Erin being a badass, we also get a surprise appearance by Matches Malone. Er, who? Is everyone drawing a blank here? Well, okay. Matches is actually just Bruce Wayne under a very convincing guise. He usually adopts this persona when he wants to infiltrate the criminal underworld by doing some spying and the making connections sort of thing first. It has been a while since I saw him playing up the detective role in comics lately and so I am pleased to have encountered Bruce as Matches Malone again, and that he aided Erin's escape with such grand finesse and charm.
I really enjoyed this issue, as you can see. Even if Two-Face had no role to play here directly, the limelight on vicious Erin was incredibly well-handled, making her both formidable and vulnerable. Bruce actually helping her towards the end speaks something about the complicated relationship he had with her as childhood friends, and I'm definitely curious to see how that will play out in light of things, especially when we finally get Two-Face in (and heck, I'm pretty sure Commissioner Gordon will have his own part to play as well, considering he also had a personal past with Dent).