After a three part lead up to this in the backups, and an explosive ending last month, this issue of Detective Comics promises to focus heavily on Harvey Dent and his continuing struggle against himself and the azmer inside him. However things turn out, it’s sure to be interesting.
I’ve long said that Harvey Dent is one of my favorite elements of Ram V’s run. He’s been a conflicted character, having opened the story more or less trying to steer clear of criminal activity and move forward on the straight and narrow. Of course all that came crashing down when he was infected with azmer and forced to work alongside Gotham’s newest threat: the Orghams. He’s spent the rest of the run battling with the Two-Face side of himself, and his desire to protect Batman’s identity. It’s been a nice push and pull through the series, and we see even more of that here as it all comes to a head.
Through the issue, we follow Harvey as he tracks what’s going on in Gotham right now. Particularly the attack the Orgham goons have made on a section of the city. Ram V raises the tension through the story by continually returning to Harvey’s own conflicted inner conversation as we see events play out: first the capture of Gotham citizens, and then Batman’s battle with some of the Orgham players. It’s an effective way to build tension as Harvey struggles to decide if he’s willing not only to let Two-Face have control, but to out Batman’s identity to him as well.
That inner struggle is the highlight of the issue for me, especially since every time we’ve seen Harvey up to this point has tackled it in some way or another. Finally getting to the resolution of Harvey’s choice is a good feeling, and what I feel like will be a tipping point for the Orgham storyline.
While the Harvey parts are good, there are other elements here I did not enjoy as much. Batman shares some of the spotlight with Harvey, and honestly I think it takes away from Harvey’s own inner struggle a little bit. Batman has another mental encounter with Barbatos, and quite a few pages are devoted to his own fight against Tenclaw and his allies. And it ruins the momentum build up of the back and forth with Harvey, jumping instead to strategy talk and more characters telling Batman he’s a mistake and outdated.
The fight itself feels a little clunky in some moments especially between Batman and Dark-blood. Batman feels wooden in the art, lacking a real feeling of life, as he’s grabbed and attacked by his enemy. Even when he’s caught his second wind, there’s no real energy to the fighting panels. There are few background elements either, which would help give some life to the scene. This compared with Harvey’s moments, where the art focuses on his expressions, his coin, and flashbacks, feels totally different.
I will say that some of the issues with the art come from the fact that there are two artists on the main story: Ivan Reis and Rafael Albuquerque. They blend well, well enough I missed the fact that there were two different art styles initially (a fact Nick laughed at me for missing when I pointed it out to him). But they are just different enough that it causes a feeling of dissonance in the narrative that keeps parts of the story from feeling cohesive.
That said, Harvey does get some really beautiful pages in this issue. There’s a full page shot that’s a closeup of his face, and two silent pages of nine panels jumping between past and present that really highlight his moment of decision.
All in all, even though most of the issue is focused in on Harvey trying to make a decision, there is movement here the decision he makes in the end, and his actions after that do push the narrative forward. I feel like there is a chance for the pace to pick up a little from here on out, and I’m excited to see it.
Backup: A Tune that Listens Back
This month’s backup turns back to Jim Gordon and the young man he rescued from Arkham’s ruins way back at the start of Ram V’s run. They are busy continuing their investigation into the kid’s past, and trying to uncover some dark secrets about Arkham. Additionally, the young man begins to chase down a tune hummed by various Gothamites, searching for its source. It’s an interesting narrative, that gives readers a little insight into different people in Gotham, and a fun idea to explore.
The art by Dani, is pretty unique, without as many hard lines and clear figures as the art in the main story. But it works well here, as we often get to see through the young man’s eyes and see the strange, warped figures of the thing in the song.
Again, while the story is separate from the main narrative in Detective Comics, it’s tied enough with the events I’d suggest reading it, since both characters have made appearances in the main story and will likely continue to do so.
- You love Harvey Dent
- And Two-Face
- And them working together…as well as they can anyway
As an issue promised to be all about Harvey and Two-Face, this story doesn’t quite meet those expectations. It does make good on the promise by focusing on Harvey’s conflict through the series to bring it to a kind of resolution as he is at last forced to decide whether or not he will work with Two-Face or not. However, some awkward pacing with Batman thrown into the mix takes away from the character centric story Ram V built this issue with Harvey. Even so, it’s a good entry in the run, and one that should pave the way for a little more momentum going forward.
Overall Score: 7/10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.