Deciding whether or not you should pick this book up should come pretty easily to those of you who have kept up with Tony Daniel’s New 52 Detective Comics run. If you enjoyed that then you should absolutely give Batman: Eye of the Beholder a chance. But if you found yourself hating Daniel’s Detective Comics as much as I did then you’ll want to steer clear because you’ll only find more of the same here. It’s exactly what you would expect: great art and terrible story.
Batman: Eye of the Beholder collects Batman issues #704 – 707, skips #708 & #709 written by David Hine and illustrated by Guillem March, and adds Pieces, a Two-Face story that went from #710-712.
Eye of the Beholder is essentially a sequel to the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, a truly awful crossover event that I don’t recommend anyone read. The main villain here is Sensei, a character who I’ve never ever seen in a good story, and there are also a few cameos by the Riddler and…ugh, his daughter “Enigma” along with…sigh…”Catgirl”.
The whole thing revolves around a mystical mask that’s also evil. It is an ancient weapon that nobody has proven worthy enough to wield. So basically it’s the One Ring if the One Ring could be destroyed by just hitting it really hard. Since this took place after the Batman-lost-in-time stuff the caped crusader of this adventure is Dick Grayson and as much fun as it would be to see him paired up with Damian for this one we instead have to watch him jump from rooftop to rooftop with old blind guy I-Ching and a colorful superheroine named Peacock. Yeah, it’s all pretty lame. If you want a good Dick Grayson as Batman story then I recommend you look into Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin, Snyder’s Black Mirror, or go back a decade or so and pick up the 3rd volume of Knightfall for all of the Prodigal tales. But at least this story is pretty to look at. Tony Daniel is a phenomenal artist and there are some great looking pages here. If you take the dust jacket off the book (I have the hardcover) you’ll see that one of his two-page spreads was used across the glossy cover and it looks really great. The Beholder story did end in hurried fashion however and it became tough to figure out what happened between action panels, but other than that it was yet another beautifully penciled work by Daniel with great coloring to boot. I wouldn’t want to read it again, but I’m glad I got to appreciate the artwork.
As for the Two-Face story “Pieces” well, it’s really not good either but it felt more like a Batman story than Beholder ever did. Like Beholder, Daniel also used this story to bring a character back from the dead: Gilda Dent. She’s been MIA in comics for a long time so it’s been debatable as to whether or not she was dead. I for one liked the ambiguity of it especially if we take the ending of The Long Halloween as canon. What’s Gilda been up to over the years? It’s never really explained. In fact, the three-part story lacks any kind of resolution. Something I’ve noticed about Tony Daniel’s Batman: he always seems to let the bad guys slip away. Even Riddler’s daughter Enigma somehow shows up again after Batman explicitly saying that the cops were on their way. He had her beat and yet in the next chapter she was fine and dandy. Yeah, that’s right the Riddler’s daughter is in this story too, same as Catgirl. Just…the whole thing gives me a migraine, honestly. Pieces is the perfect example of a bloated and entirely forgettable Batman story. The art by Steve Scott is passable but not near the same level of Daniel’s pages from Beholder and it’s a noticeable change. The only thing that I got out of reading Pieces was a strong desire to read a good Two-Face story because there really hasn’t been one in a while. Daniel botched it here by again making Two-Face an idiot who shoots at anything that moves and is always being tricked. However his depiction was still a step above the New 52 stuff. Is it better than that really, really, really terrible Two-Face backup that Daniel did in Detective Comics? Yes. Anything is better than that. And is it better than the hulk-like ONE-FACE from David Finch’s Batman: The Dark Knight? Yes, those pages should be burned and never spoken of again. Should you waste your time reading Pieces? Nope.
Unless you consider 4 pages of ads for other Batman graphic novels bonus material, there isn’t any.
I have the hardback version and it seems like the softcover is the only copy you can find now. Amazon has a new and used copy of the hardcover available but those are each going for over $50 which is ridiculous. You can find it on eBay for around $20 bucks. The softcover can be found for $11.24 and even that doesn’t seem worth it to me. There’s really no re-read value here.
It’s a book that uses characters like The Riddler’s Daughter and Catgirl, utilizes magic, brings 2 characters back from the dead for no reason, and ties into Arkham Reborn and The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul, two stories I hated. No, I will not recommend this. The art is very fine in Eye of the Beholder, and if you’re a huge fan of Dick Grayson as Batman then I can see why you would want to add this to your collection but other than that I don’t think we can salvage anything from the wreckage.