It’s Harvey Dent’s turn to get his name on the cover of “Batman and Two-Face” #24 (this month’s installment of “Batman and Robin”), by the usual creative team of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray. Tomasi continues to feature other members of both the Bat-family and rogues gallery in the wake of Damian Wayne’s demise, and makes it somewhat unique by featuring both characters without any kind of contrived reason for a team-up between these two foes, as the title might imply.
In fact, the two characters don’t even meet face-to-face (pun unavoidable), let alone fight together, which might be disappointing to some. But the issue is all the better for it, as Harvey Dent is the feature character despite the second billing. Tomasi acknowledges his ongoing plot regarding Bruce Wayne’s grieving over the loss of his son, but puts Dent up front for this issue. In fact, Tomasi provides a flashback to Two-Face’s New 52 origin, in a story that would have been right at home a few weeks ago during DC Comics’ Villains Month but works just as well as part of the title’s current storyline.
It’s not all that an exciting an origin, though, nor anything all that different. But it does tie into the issue’s present day story, and gives plausible reason for Dent to be pursued by one of Gotham’s crime families, who in turn is being pursued by Batman. While it’s not a terribly captivating story, it’s a somewhat clever one that gives reason for both Batman and Two-Face to appear without doing battle, although Batman doesn’t make much of an appearance until issue’s end.
Gleason muddies things up when Batman arrives on the scene and it makes the final pages of the story difficult to follow. Tomasi makes no attempt to mask Batman’s presence during the final chase or create any kind of mystery as to who the villain’s pursuer is, yet Gleason oddly keeps Batman largely out of the panel, save for his arms, and it takes a minute of scrutiny to determine that those even are Batman’s arms. The layouts are confusing, and Gray drenches everything in black, making it hard to tell what exactly is happening when Batman catches up to his quarry.
Gleason and Gray’s cover is attention-grabbing, but for the wrong reasons; Batman’s mask looks like it has a hole at the top, and Jim Gordon looks like he’s wearing a muzzle. This is quickly forgotten, though, as the second page is a well-constructed splash by Gleason that expands on the extent of Dent’s dual nature and sets up a disturbing punchline on the following page that sums up the tragedy of his existence and even evokes a little bit of sympathy from readers.
Tomasi also avoids the excessive reliance on Harvey’s coin that’s often overused in many Two-Face stories, getting the reference out of the way early before moving on. “Batman and Two-Face” is an entertaining enough story that’s not terribly memorable but gets points for its focus on Dent and careful avoidance of any contact between the two title characters.