Review – Batman: Detective Comics #991: Two-Face Exposed

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Detective Comics #991 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman: Detective Comics #991 – James Robinson, Writer; Carmine Di Giandomenico, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist


Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Best Issue of Robinson’s Arc

Ray: After four issues, James Robinson’s “Deface the Face” storyline finally gets to the point – the elaborate Kobra storyline seems to have been little more than a lead-in to set up this issue’s showdown between Batman, Two-Face, and Commissioner Gordon atop a rooftop. There, Batman makes one last attempt to save his friend from his own demons. Batman has correctly identified that Two-Face killed the man whose death kicked off this run and that his death isn’t actually part of Kobra’s plot. What he hasn’t gotten to yet is the truth behind the death – Two-Face didn’t kill him, Harvey Dent did, and everything Two-Face did over the course of this storyline has been to cover up that fact. Quite a few DC storylines have messed with the idea that Harvey Dent was far from emotionally stable before he got the acid to the face, but few of them have pushed it this far. This adds an interesting new wrinkle to the story.

Commissioner Gordon shows up later in the story, an uninvited guest whose arrival sets off Two-Face and kicks off a brief chase. The issue isn’t heavy on action, but it it is heavy on tension. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art this issue is a noticeable change from Stephen Segovia’s smoother art on the first three issues, but it’s no less effective. Di Giandomenico’s style on Gotham adds a slight surreal bent. By the end of the issue, the three have formed a tentative alliance and are getting ready to take the fight to Kobra, in what’s sure to be an explosive final issue. But I doubt it’ll be as good as this one. James Robinson’s writing is a definite mixed bag, but he has some real skill on noir-inspired character-driven pieces. That’s where this story excels, and his take on Two-Face is one of the best we’ve seen in a while. I think this story might read better in trade overall.

Face-Off. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: Two-Face has always been my choice for the iconic Batman villain, much more so than the Joker. Harvey Dent started as an ally in the same fight for Gotham waged by Batman and Gordon, but he’s the fallen one, the one who was consumed by evil.

In so many ways, Harvey Dent/Two-Face symbolizes the good and evil of Gotham itself.

As Ray said, many stories have played with the fact that Harvey Dent was damaged before that acid destroyed his face and let loose Two-Face. That’s in keeping with Batman and Gordon’s dark sides as well. Batman, of course, struggles to be Gotham’s Guardian, rather than Gotham’s Punisher. Gordon is tempted to push aside the law in order to get rid of those who threaten him and his people but to do that would lead to a Gotham of chaos.

All of which explains why Batman and Gordon are deeply invested in “curing” or, at least, reaching Harvey. Robinson has struggled to find the right tone in this arc for Batman and Gordon but he succeeds, finally, with Two-Face/Harvey Dent ‘s internal struggle in an issue that’s the best of his run.

And, as you can see from the above panel, the art plays with the shadows that surround Batman and Harvey. Batman, nearly cloaked in darkness, Harvey’s Two-Face side hidden in it. The dialogue is good as well, though I wonder at the wisdom of even temporarily teaming up with Harvey.

As Ray said, next week will be the finale but I expect it won’t be better than this issue.

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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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