With “Batman and Robin” having firmly been morphed into a strange sort of Batman Team-Up comic (Aquaman is next on deck once this storyline concludes), “Batman and Two-Face” #26 continues to move Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray’s run on the title forward as we learn more about Erin and Shannon McKillen’s past with Two-Face and Bruce Wayne, even as the modern-day conflict continues. But while the story itself feels a little standard, it’s the way that the imagery of the half-face is woven throughout that ultimately impressed me the most.
Tomasi’s story itself is perfectly fine. We learn more about the deal that Erin and Shannon struck to get one of them out of prison, even as it was guaranteed to leave the other one dead. It’s a nasty little dip into the past, and if nothing else it helps show us just how ruthless the McKillen twins were in their heyday, and why Erin’s so dangerous still. It’s the present-day part that feels a bit less interesting, though; aside from a great second-page reveal on Erin’s stint as Bruce Wayne’s guest, there’s nothing that will jump out at you. It’s a tiny bit hard to swallow the idea of Erin as the fugitive guest, and the whole comic feels a little off in that regard. Batman’s great with the schemes, but this one just never quite sits right.
On the other hand, I love what Tomasi and Gleason’s story does with the images of the split face. At first it feels like a one-off nod to Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face, with the crack in the visiting room glass aligning perfectly with the center of his face. Once we start seeing the half-faces in the mirrors as the twins talk to each other, though, it feels a bit more clever… especially since it brings home the additional connection that Erin has to Two-Face, each of them missing their better “half” thanks to one another. That final glimpse of Two-Face, with the line down the middle of his head lining up perfectly with the seam between pages, brings it all home and says that in many ways Erin and Two-Face are a match made in heaven. They really are two of a kind, even as each tries to get the other killed.
Gleason’s art is the stand-out this month; I love his slick lines (Gray’s inks being a big part of that, too), and the staging of his panels. The reveal on page 2 wouldn’t work half as well if the careful angles of Bruce and Erin didn’t feel so natural. What could have been gimmicky or forced instead brings in that wonderful little “gotcha!” moment when you turn the page. Every page has that sort of care brought to it; the darkened cell with the silhouettes of the bars floating off at an angle, for instance, or the way that Batman roars over the bad guys in his motorcycle. Everything is composed just so, with a visual that could have been handled on an average level, but here it’s a panel that you can just stare at and drink in the talent. Gleason and Gray’s art just looks better and better the more they work together, and it’s nice to see them assigned to such a top-tier comic.
“Batman and Two-Face” #26 is a fun comic, and so far this slight revising of Two-Face’s origin has felt fairly entertaining. Tomasi, Gleason, and Gray continue to work well together, and I’m looking forward to seeing Aquaman hop on board next. When Robin died, this book could have easily lost its way, but it’s nice to see it working so well.