James Robinson’s third offering on this arc introduces “The Conflicted Man”, and it was probably just a matter of time before we got to the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” portion of the program (he even literally uses that expression here). And if you enjoy watching the tango between Batman and Two-Face, you’ll probably love the way things are falling out here. Or actually, that would be a paso doble, wouldn’t it? Because a paso doble is a two-step. Because it’s…two, get it?
Harvey Dent celebrated his 75th birthday last year (first appearance Detective Comics no. 66, August of 1942), and the double puns haven’t taken a break yet. Fortunately, though Robinson keeps ‘em coming, he manages to just lightly baste them in so that you don’t feel like you’re being hit over the head with the Harley hammer. Except for maybe one small moment when Duke spills the intel about Harvey’s operations and Bruce lets the reader know that he “assumed as much” that Harvey would have a second base. Well, duh.
But it’s a minor thing.
Dualities: they’re not just for the Joker!
Wrecking complete havoc on Two-Face’s first base constitutes a full third of this comic (seven pages exactly!), but it’s time well spent. Sure there’s some banter and we get the usual fighting exposition, but mostly Stephen Segovia’s art is just a kick in the pants to look at. One of those full-out battles with guns blazing that very probably doesn’t quite make sense if it was attempted cinematically, but which nevertheless has that cinematic quality: you just feel the energy and delight in Batman taking on a whole room full of goons with guns.
Best yet, Robinson manages to keep Batman from catching his man without it being ridiculous. In fact, I really love how Batman gets held up by his own moral code. This is not a Batman who just levels buildings without thinking about the impact or ramifications. Really tired of seeing gratuitous city-wide destruction in which the heroes don’t seem to care about the mess they are making in their wake and Robinson makes sure not to fall into that trap.
Shattering glass, fire, Batman: what more could you want?
And speaking of traps, what about that assault on the GCPD?
Yes, another third of the book is dedicated to yet another gunfight at the GCPD police station that also plays out wonderfully: this time at the instigation of Kobra and with Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock at the center of the fray.
Segovia’s fight sequences are stellar, but so are some of his quieter moments: the dark of the GCPD offices, everyone cast in shadows, the simple speed lines of the Batmobile as Batman races toward his rendezvous, the contrast of seeing Wayne Manor in the bright of day with Bruce and Duke (what a lovely simple choice there: not in the Batcave, not in the dark). The double-page spread of Two-Face’s flight from base number one is an epic piece of progression. And lastly, the final page is just delightfully iconic: Robinson could have tried to come up with something more original, but in such a case: why bother?
No, I don’t really care about Kobra, but I like them as a common foe for our hero and our villain; this comic was straight-up fun and action-packed. I’m definitely ready for more.
- You love the whole Harvey Dent/Two-Face mystique: is he rotten or can he be redeemed?
- You just want a comic to throw down with the fight sequences.
I have no problem admitting that I’m easy to please when James Robinson tosses my favorite hero, my favorite police commissioner, and one of my favorite villains into a book packed full of chaotic brawling. Add a little intrigue about who is fighting for what cause and I’ll chomp: hook, line, and sinker. The best bonus, though, is Stephen Segovia’s fantastic visuals, which bring dark and light together in a book already brimming with the yin and yan of its characters. “Deface the Face” isn’t necessarily strong on plot, but it’s so far been an excellent roller coaster of unstoppable action–and it looks like it’s just about ready to fly straight off the rails into new and exciting territory!