“Ugly Heart,” the story that’s currently unfolding in the pages of Detective Comics, started off strong in issue #1020. The detective work was entertaining, Two-Face was written and drawn really well, and overall it was a fine setup for the story proper. Usually I like to build some suspense asking whether or not the creative manages to keep the same level of quality, but this time I’m just going to say that, yes, this issue is good. It’s worth your time and money, despite some flaws. So, go, visit your LCS and get it!
What you’ll find in this issue is carefully crafted art. Right on the first page, we’re treated to a great layout (see below). On the left side of the page, from top to bottom, there are four panels of Batman. On the right side, mirroring the Batman panels, we see Two-Face. The writing in the captions and the art itself speak to each other, creating an interconnected narrative. Thematically, this an effective way of showing that Batman and Two-Face are connected, and it also lines up with the character concept of Two-Face in that everything is always about the number two, and there are literally two sides to him. This might seem obvious, but I’m not praising this because it’s original or groundbreaking. Rather, I’m praising how well the creative team executed this simple idea. It gives the book character and sets a tone. The opening page is a microcosm of what the issue proper has to offer in terms of theme and story.
The artwork throughout continues to be excellent. Especially Two-Face’s body language is intriguing. There is a clear divide between the Harvey Dent and Two-Face personas, and the way that the character moves and interacts with others is indicative of which persona is currently in control. Even if there was no text, there are enough visual cues to know who we’re dealing with. For example, Two-Face behaves more erratic and angry with big motions, whereas Harvey sits huddled up in the Batmobile, burying his face in his hands, constantly in pain and fear. A lot of artists focus mainly on the Two-Face persona when drawing the character, but I think that Walker manages to add a lot of nuance to the way he portrays him. For this reason, Walker’s Two-Face really stands out to me.
The writing is mostly on point as well. I particularly enjoy the dialogue. There’s a clear distinction between Harvey’s voice and Two-Face’s voice; this is something that Tomasi already pulled off in the previous issue, and he keeps up that same level of consistency here. Harvey sounds like a terrified man that just wants to escape the hell that he is in and, ultimately, wants to do the right thing. Two-Face sounds like a demon out of hell that hates everything. Moreover, Tomasi writes a good voice for Batman, too. Batman is grounded, serious, to-the-point, but not necessarily grumpy or mean. It makes for a nice reading experience; Tomasi’s Batman is a protagonist that I love to follow through these stories. I’m saying this because I don’t always enjoy how Batman is written in more recent publications, and, compared to those recent publications, I feel like Tomasi’s Batman gets closest to what I think the character should sound like and to the way I think he should act.
That said, this book isn’t without its flaws. For example, Harvey actually finds his way to the Batcave and I can’t figure out how, so I don’t think it’s justified that he’s able to locate Batman’s lair. I tried to find out if Two-Face knew where the Batcave was in “The Big Burn,” the story that “Ugly Heart” is a sequel to, but I don’t think that that’s the case there (correct me if I’m wrong!). And even if Batman takes people to the cave, he usually blindfolds them so they don’t know where it is. Batman’s reaction is believable, though; he’s ready to throw a batarang and approaches Harvey with caution. While this does lead to my favorite moment in the issue, where we see Harvey asking Batman for help, that moment also becomes questionable when Batman doesn’t immediately return Harvey to Arkham but decides to go to the courthouse to find out what Two-Face is up to. Batman leaves Two-Face locked up in the Batmobile, but from the start it’s obvious that Two-Face is going to escape and cause problems. How this exactly unfolds is for you to discover, but I will say this: I think that it’s ridiculous that Two-Face is able to escape the Batmobile at all, and it’s rather careless of Batman to leave him like that. As much as I enjoy the way Tomasi writes Batman, this is, admittedly, very uncharacteristic of him.
- Two-Face is your favorite character.
- You want to see the problematic dynamic between the Two-Face and Harvey personas done well.
Overall: This is a good comic with entertaining dialogue and fantastic artwork. It’s just a shame that the scenes toward the end, with Two-Face breaking out of the Batmobile, make for such a questionable way to close out the issue. Despite that, this is still an issue worth reading, so pick it up and enjoy!
Call to Arms: Your LCS needs your help now more than ever! If you can, swing by and pick up that issue, trade or statue that you’ve been meaning to pick up. Not only will you help out your LCS, you’ll also have something to read while you wait out the storm. Shout-out to Henk Comics and Manga Store, my LCS in Amsterdam! I know the majority of you are in America, but if you’re in Amsterdam right now, it’d be great if you could pay them a visit!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.