Last week we saw the birth of the Joker take place in Zero Year, but it appears that the New 52 birth of Two-Face really snuck up on us!
It’s never explained how, but Two-Face has escaped from Arkham Asylum (he was locked up again at the end of Death of the Family and this story takes place before Forever Evil). The story begins with him waking up in a bedroom that’s divided down the center between clean and dirty. As he is starting his day, Batman and Gordon are already hard at work trying to figure out what major event is about to occur among the major crime families. This scratches an itch I’ve had ever since the new 52 began, honestly. The mob hasn’t had a presence in the New 52 Gotham at all except for maybe a scene in the Batman backups in which Joker somehow killed every mob lieutenant in one night (excessive). For the most part we’ve only ever seen the freaks, but not only do we see a pro-active police force in this issue, we also see a meeting between real gangsters without any gimmicks. However, one mafia leader in particular gets the most attention and they actually have a great deal of history with Two-Face. No, it’s not Maroni. Who’s Maroni? Was there ever a Maroni? (Seriously, somebody do some digging in the Detective Comics back-ups and the Batman back-ups to see if there was any mention of Maroni)
The origin of Two-Face goes through quite a makeover in this issue and at first it feels like it was retconned just for the sake of it. Like it was done to shock. Of course, it’s still too soon to say. There are at least 4 more chapters in this story that can make these changes worthwhile. But rest assured, Jimmies will be rustled. 2013 is not only the year that we do away with Batman: Year One, it’s now the year we wipe the slate clean of every trace of The Long Halloween as well. With this issue there is now absolutely no way for any element of that story to have taken place in the New 52.
Often when a drastic change like this occurs it can be easy to react negatively, but I’m admittedly curious. There’s still a lot that we don’t know so I’ll save my judgment for later. After all, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the destruction of Harvey Dent handled differently. We’ve seen him splashed with acid in court, splashed with gasoline and set ablaze, and even blown-up, thus scaring his entire body rather than just the face. Maroni’s been responsible, Joker (via Maroni) was responsible, and Rupert Throne has been responsible. There have even been instances in which Two-Face healed and then had half of his face injured yet again be it accidentally or purposefully. The thing that really matters about Two-Face’s origin is the moments leading up to that destruction. Things that I most desire to see are A) The trinity between Dent, Gordon, and Batman, B) Harvey being failed by the system and THAT leading toward his destruction, C) Batman feeling guilt over the loss of Harvey– he was too late, etc. D) Hints of a psychological imbalance prior to the scarring of his face.
You want to change the origin of Two-Face? Fine. But Tomasi and company better make it count over the next few issues because The Long Halloween is damn near perfect.
Speaking of the rest of the creative team, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz are terrific as usual. Gleason’s Two-Face looks looks appropriately depressing and disgusting and I couldn’t be happier with his depiction. The silent, opening pages might be worth the price of admission alone. I almost wish that the entire issue had been a wordless showcase of an average day in the life of Two-Face. Morning: wake up. Flip a coin for whether or not I should play Russian Roulette. Then breakfast, flip for what to eat. Raisin Bran (Two-Scoops!). However, I will say that there are too many moments throughout this issue where it looks as though Gleason tried to avoid drawing eyes as much as possible. Everyone seems to have black dots or lines where eyeballs should be and it restricts the expressiveness of the characters who otherwise emote quite well through their posture and the layout of the panel. Although the origin of Two-Face lacked the setup necessary to give the scene the gravity it deserved, I found the artistic execution of that moment to be great. The use of silhouettes and orange colors blended nicely.
- You want to see an all new take on the origin of Two-Face
- There needs to be an Irish mob presence in Gotham (I find this new Irish character fascinating so far)
- You think that traditional gangsters have gone under-used in the New 52
- You love Patrick Gleason’s artwork (I think it’s worth it for those opening pages alone)
- You’re okay with wiping away every last trace of The Long Halloween
Upon finishing this issue I let out a long “Hmmmmmmmmm.” I’m still not sure how I feel about the new take on Two-Face’s origin and I doubt that’ll change until this 5-part story is over. Part 1, however, definitely has my attention and I recommend others pick it up so they can get in on the discussion. This story has a lot of potential.