Written by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Patrick Gleason, “Batman and Two-Face” #28 concludes “The Big Burn” five-part storyline that fine-tunes the details of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. This final chapter, like the previous installments, bounces between the present day and flashbacks from a younger, more CW-friendly time.
Now an integral player in the origin of Two-Face and deconstruction of Harvey Dent, Erin McKillen has a role to fill in “Batman and Two-Face” #28, but it isn’t quite as fulfilling as it should be. Tomasi elects to leave some threads dangling, one of which is McKillen’s. Gotham City is more hostile with McKillen in it, and it is clear Tomasi has added to the ever-expanding cast of the caped crusader. Beyond McKillen’s contributions, Tomasi dives deeper into the relationship between Two-Face, Batman, Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne. The writer sneaks in a couple surprises including scene right before the conclusion of this issue. Two-Face is left to ponder more than just two sides of a coin following this adventure. Without ever conscribing a single thought bubble or caption box to Two-Face’s mindset, Tomasi telegraphs everything the character is thinking, but leaves enough uncertainty to put readers on edge. While they are more attributable to Patrick Gleason than Tomasi, “Batman and Two-Face” #28 includes some nifty cameos from Penguin, Man-Bat and Killer Croc that don’t advance the story, but they certainly do season it.
That Man-Bat appearance has me champing at the bit — or the bat — to see more of Gleason drawing Langstrom. Of course the issue at hand is filled with plenty of sights for readers to ogle throughout the course of this final chapter of “The Big Burn.” Filled with a frantic Batmobile run through Gotham, an ejector seat, a firefight in a courtroom setting and a fistfight between old friends, this comic book showcases Gleason’s capabilities nicely. Some of the lines are thinner than I’ve come to expect from Gleason and Gray, but some of that might be attributed to Gleason inking parts of this story himself. As always, Gleason brings a considerable amount of shadow, capably handled by both Gleason and inker Mick Gray, which nicely tees up the art for John Kalisz’s masterfully emotive colors. There is a scene between Jim Gordon and Two-Face that alternates between blue and red, in timing with lights from a police cruiser, undoubtedly, but packed with emotional resonance nonetheless. Later on the pages grab a purplish hue as Two-Face gives his coin one last flip for this issue, symbolic of the earlier struggle and Dent’s own struggle. The flashback to Bruce Wayne’s graduation party is another testament to the combined capabilities of this art team, dipping that two-page scene in nostalgia without making it dated or sappy.
Long-time readers may be rolling their eyes at yet another team-up between Batman and Two-Face. As he has done so throughout this arc though, Tomasi reminds us that this is a new Batman universe with new takes on familiar origin stories and surprises still waiting at the flip of every coin or the turn of every cowl. Such is the case with this meeting of Batman and Two-Face. This five-part story has been intense and enjoyable, but Tomasi does a fine job of wrapping things up without drawing the story to a close. “Batman and Two-Face” #28 is another fine installment in the adventures of Batman and those he encounters as he continues to find his path.