Batman and Two-Face 24

batman and two face 24 Today, Mikyzptlk and Spencer are discussing Batman 24, originally released October 16th, 2013.

Mikyzptlk: Origin stories. We are getting a lot of origin stories from DC Comics these days. I suppose it’s only natural given the relative newness of the New 52. It’s been a few years now, but there are still a lot of lingering questions and a lot more room to reinterpret certain origins. Still, I’ve been suffering from “origin-itis” lately, especially with Villain’s Month throwing a ton of new origins our way. While Peter Tomasi didn’t use the Two-Face Villain’s Month special to explore the origin of the villain, he’s certainly using this current arc to do so. So, how does he do? Well, Tomasi brilliantly circumvents my origin-overload by tying Harvey’s past directly into his present.

We open with Two-Face as he wakes up from a night of what I can only imagine being unpleasant dreams. As he gets out of bed, he plays a game of Russian Roulette, which I must assume is a usual morning habit…half of the time at least. Meanwhile, Erin McKillen has returned to Gotham City for a secretive meeting. Who is she you might ask? She’s head of the McKillen clan, an irish mob family. Oh, and she created Two-Face. The meeting is comprised of various mobs who discuss ways of reclaiming Gotham from the “psychotics,” “crazies,” and “freaks.” The plan is to take Two-Face out first in order to send a message. Later on, Batman and the GCPD track McKillen down. Utilizing a clever escape plan, McKillen rabbits, but Batman catches her shortly after. It’s too bad he couldn’t keep this guy from finding out about arrival though.

Two FacePeter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are back, and oh boy am I excited. Two-Face’s Villain’s Month issue was fun, and it got me excited for this one. I’m happy to say that they didn’t disappoint. Erin McKillen is an interesting new character. She is the last of her biological “clan,” but she is also responsible for leading the remnants of her crime family. Not only that, but she is vicious as hell. I didn’t get into it above, but the new Two-Face origin is brutal. Harvey Dent wakes up to find his wife stabbed to death with McKillen, who Harvey has put away, standing above her in one of his wife’s outfits. Tied up, Harvey has no choice but lay down and take it, as McKillen pours acid down the side of his face. McKillen escapes, leaving Harvey, well…in a state. 

GilllddaaaMaybe I just have a soft spot for ol’ Harvey Dent, okay I definitely have a soft spot for the guy, but Tomasi avoids the pitfalls of many origin stories by making the events of the past relevant to the present. Not that tying the past into the present is a requirement for a good origin story (as Batman is currently proving), but it is certainly a great way to make an origin story more exciting. Another interesting thing about the new origin of Two-Face is in regards to his trusty coin.

ChoicesNow, Two-Face has had a few origins in his time, so the coin has taken on different meanings depending on the interpretation. This time around, it involves the death of his wife Gilda (or “GILLLDDAAAA” if you are screaming it in a psychotic rage). If my interpretation is correct, then Harvey makes his choices based on the bloody (bad) side or the clean (good) side. I mean, that’s simple enough, and Tomasi certainly forges a very personal connection between Harvey and his coin.

Of course, I question if this is the same coin Harvey uses today since traditionally the “bad” side of the coin features numerous scratches. That aside, the other question I have is why Harvey needs the coin to make his choices for him in the first place. I’m not sure if the next issue will continue to explore his origins, but since we are already in the ballpark, I figure they may as well dig into that too.

So Spencer, what did you think of Batman and Two-Face? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Do you have a different interpretation of the coin? What of the present day story, is McKillen an interesting enough villain for you? Take it away.

Spencer: I am enjoying this story! As for McKillen, I don’t know if she necessarily has a lot of depth yet, but she’s more than entertaining enough to make me excited to read more about her.

McKillen starts out as a standard tough businesswoman, but quickly evolves into somebody much more twisted.

What, no brass knuckles?

Soon afterwards we discover McKillen’s role in creating Two-Face, then we’re treated to the issue’s highlight: McKillen’s daring escape attempt. It’s like something straight out of James Bond; a motorcycle into the river, where she scuba dives to a jet ski, is caught by Batman on a glider, stabs Batman to crash it, attacks him with a knife in her boot, and then, when she’s finally captured, spits in Batman’s face.

McKillen is hardcore! I like this take on her because the mobsters in Gotham are usually portrayed as fat men with guns, boring, slightly stuffy, very behind on the times; all the better to contrast them with Gotham’s new brand of Arkham supervillains. McKillen, however, seems like she might just be ready for a little trip to Arkham herself. She’s just as crazy-prepared as Batman, and there’s a streak of frantic insanity within her that’s just fascinating to watch, and it’s a unique take for a street-level Batman villain. Yes, I like her quite a bit.

As for Two-Face, I continue to be impressed by Tomasi’s take on the character. You’re right that his origin story for Harv’s coin is a little confusing (the coin we see at the beginning of the issue has the typical scars on one side, so does Harvey scar it himself later?), and we don’t get to see any signs of Two-Face’s split personalities or the duality that drives him, but I love what we do see of him, especially that opening scene you mentioned, Mik.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever given that much thought before to what it must be like to be Two-Face, but Tomasi and Gleason show me that it must be a living hell.

this whole thing makes me feel so icky

Years after his accident Harvey is still bleeding on his pillow at night, he has to sleep with no eye-lids, flies land on his bare eye in the middle of the night, and then he wakes up and promptly plays a little Russian Roulette. I shudder just thinking about it, and Gleason’s pencils really sell the horror that is Two-Face’s current condition.

If that wasn’t enough to make me sympathetic to Harvey, we then get the story of what McKellen did to him, and, well, honestly, I’m completely on Harvey’s side here. She attacked him when he was still an upright public crusader then fled the country; Harv deserves a little payback, and if I was Batman, I’d have a hard time stopping him.

Speaking of Batman, he was in this issue! Of course, he only spoke one line while in costume, and instead spent the rest of the issue chasing McKellen and terrorizing Gotham’s underworld—and looking absolutely terrifying while doing it, thanks to Gleason’s, as always, stellar art.

WHERE'S THE TRIGGER?!

Bruce Wayne, however, has his own issues to deal with. Someone—presumably R’as al Ghul—has stolen Damian and Talia’s bodies from their graves—as seen in Batman Inc.—and Bruce is not only determined to bring R’as to justice, but to leave the graves open as yet another reminder of his many losses.

Yeah, Bruce is pretty bad at grieving, but if you’re reading this title, you probably already know that. After spending the bulk of Batman and Robin building up the relationship between Bruce and Damian, Tomasi then spent the next six months showing us how Bruce deals with the loss of his son. This element has been such a fundamental part of this title that it was almost a little strange to see this issue largely devoid of it. I have slightly mixed feelings on the matter; on one hand, it’s nice to move on a little, but on the other, I’m happy that it appears we’ll still be dealing with the ramifications of Damian’s death even as the title starts moving on to new adventures.

I’m definitely looking forward to those new adventures. Tomasi knows how to write Batman, knows how to write Two-Face, and has created a terrifying new villain, and Gleason’s dark style is perfectly suited to portraying all three. Really, this arc has all the potential to be outstanding; let’s hope it lives up to that potential.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

5 comments on “Batman and Two-Face 24

  1. Even though I miss Damian a lot, I’m glad this book is back on track to full arcs again. I’ve never seen Two-Face as being able to be the main villain of a story considering he’s just a man with a gun and a duality theme, but Tomasi and Gleason really sell him as a brutal yet tragic figure. I’m eager to see where the mob plot goes, especially because bat-writers seem to focus on the rogues a lot so we never get to see the mafia-type crime anymore. Gleason’s pencils are goddamn terrifying.

  2. Thank Christ we’re out of the Grief series with this book. I’m going to miss the Batman and Robin dynamic, but we’re finally back to telling some interesting stories with some solid character work at its core.

    I am also utterly thrilled that we’re back to the Gotham mob. So many Batman stories lately have focused on shadowy organizations or big name rogues that I’ve missed the more grounded mob stories; Two-Face vs. McKillen vs. Batman is a very intriguing premise and I am thrilled to see this through.

    That said – this issue, though enjoyable, read very very very much like the first chapter of a trade. Tomasi appears to be writing for the trade – a new tactic for him – and while that’s not an expressly “bad” thing, it left me wanting ever so slightly at the end of this issue. I imagine we’re in for some fireworks later on after the setup gets out of the way, but it was just a tad bit of a half-measure.

    • Yeah, I feel you, man. This issue is very much set-up: It introduces us to McKillen and her situation, the beef between her and Two-Face, and shows us at where Batman is mentally at this point. There’s a lot of interesting stuff being set-up, but it is still all set-up; I enjoyed it, but I won’t know much more until we see further issues, which is why I struggled a bit to find things to say about the issue despite generally enjoying it.

  3. Hey, so how do we feel about this new Two-Face origin? I can see why many folks might prefer this smaller, more personal story, but I really like the story as a parable for what happens to good citizens in Gotham. The Dark Knight nailed that part, but missed the lesson for Gotham. I much prefer having the acid thrown on him in a public space — especially if it’s while he’s doing his job. I’m not sure it looses any of its personal nature, but it gains a heck of a lot as far as the citizens of Gotham are concerned.

    • It reads as two very different takes on Harvey, if you ask me. It seems that Tomasi is taking the stance that Harvey was never a particularly good person. He was a lawful person, but his crusade against the crime families was one motivated by vindictive hatred for lawbreakers rather than a moral quest for justice. Hence McKillen’s point that Dent’s actions actively harmed a certain class of people.

      The original origin was a story of how Harvey Dent BECAME Two-Face; this is a story about how Harvey Dent has always been Two-Face.

      Or I may be full of shit and reading into things that aren’t there. At any rate, it’s a different take that is intriguing.

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