Initially, Robinson’s story on Batman and Detective Comics was a hit here at the Revolution. Unfortunately, the storyline just ran out of steam and sputtered for the past three issues. Can Robinson get this storyline back on track and provide the reader with an entertaining ending? I’m working my way through my pot of Café Bustelo and I just finished a delicious mango. Let’s hit this review of Detective Comics #820.
Writer: James Robinson
Layouts: Leonard Kirk
Finishes: Andy Clarke
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with Batman talking to Commissioner Gordon on the phone. Batman has his trendy little Bluetooth Bat-earpiece in his ear. During Batman’s conversation with Gordon, Batman is also fighting the Scarecrow. Batman tells Gordon that Harvey didn’t commit the murders. That the screws to his gun had been undone and then re-screwed. This suggests that the handle and trigger of the gun had been removed. That the handle and trigger with Dent’s fingerprints were removed and set aside. A new trigger and handle were put on the gun. The murders were committed. Then the handle and trigger with Dent’s fingerprints were put back on the gun.
During this phone conversation, Batman, under the influence of Scarecrow’s gas, is fighting his father dressed up in a bat outfit. Batman tells his “father” that he no longer has any fear of his father’s regard for him. Batman says that he hopes his father would be proud of him, but if not then there is nothing that Batman can so about it. With that Batman takes out the illusion of his father.
Batman asks Robin how he is doing and who he is fighting. Robin says he is ok. Robin is busy fighting a Robin from another Earth that was destroying during the Crisis. Robin says that he is not afraid of this alternative Robin and takes him out. The alternate Robin then morphs into Superboy-Prime and asks Robin if he is afraid of him. Robin hits Superboy-Prime and yells that he took away Conner and a lot of the Titans. Robin then says to Superboy-Prime, “Conner died taking you with him. You’re dead. And I’m not.” (Um, ok, well that is totally wrong. Conner didn’t die taking Superboy-Prime with him. And Superboy-Prime is most definitely not dead. Wow, so quick out of the box from Infinite Crisis and DC is already making lots of continuity errors.) Robin then takes out Superboy-Prime.
Batman then captures Scarecrow. Scarecrow comments that he will get Batman next time. Batman responds by asking what is Scarecrow going to do next time? Try to come up with a better gas? Try and pick at Batman’s psyche to find a deeper fear? Batman continues by saying that he has faced a terror that the Scarecrow could never imagine and that Batman overcame that terror. Batman goes on that Robin has been through more than Scarecrow will ever know. He is also beyond Scarecrow’s illusions. Batman ends it by telling Scarecrow that he has no power. That Scarecrow is the joke that he always feared he might be. Scarecrow looks crestfallen and retorts, “You’re very cruel.” (That was a very well done scene!) Batman and Robin take Scarecrow back to Arkham Asylum where he can conveniently escape from in some later issue.
We then cut to Batman and Robin in the Batmobile. Batman tells Tim that he is very proud of him. That it took years for Batman to overcome his nightmares to the point that Scarecrow has no power. But, Tim did it in no time at all. Robin responds that everything has been taken from him. What is left for him to be afraid of? Batman tells Tim that he wants to discuss Tim’s future. Tim asks if this Bruce is talking about his future as Robin. Bruce responds that he is talking about Tim Drake’s future. That Bruce has an idea, but ultimately it is Tim’s decision to make. Tim asks Bruce what his idea is. Bruce says that maybe it would be best to wait until they are done with Harvey Dent. (Oh, nice hook. Leave the reader hanging and wanting more.)
We shift to Batman and Robin meeting Commissioner Gordon in his office. They are discussing Harvey Dent’s innocence when they are interrupted by Officer Harper (She is the black female officer that Batman was a total dick to back in the first or second issue of this One Year Later storyline.) Harper excuses herself for interrupting. Batman then pulls her outside of Gordon’s office telling her that he would like a word with her. Batman then says he owes her an apology for the other night on the roof of the police building. (What?? Batman apologizing? What is this New Earth Batman a wuss? Batman doesn’t apologize. He is an arrogant dick. That is what I like about Batman so much. I don’t need a nice Batman who actually cares about people’s feelings! Are we going to see Batman on Dr. Phil next issue?) Anyway, Batman tells Harper that he is trying to undo past wrongs, not make new ones. Batman then says that he found out that Officer Harper is the grandniece of Jim Harper, the original Guardian. (Huh? I thought he was a blanco?) Batman continues saying that it seems that all it takes is a family link or vague association with an old-time and suddenly there’s a new version out there ill-equipped and unprepared. (Ah, now there is the Batman that I know and love.) Batman says that he would hate to see that happen here. Officer Harper replies that Jim Harper was a cop. So was his brother. So were her grandfather and father. The one and only heritage that she wants to continue is being a cop. That Gotham needs good and honest police work. Batman then extends his hand and says welcome to Gotham. It is good to have you. Gordon then interrupts and tells Batman to come into his office. Gordon has the news on his TV. The lead story is the return of Two-Face. End of story.
We have a back-up story about Jason Bard. Orca’s husband has just been shot by Tally Man. Bard just got hot in the arm. Bard then uses his can to hit Tally Man and we have a braaaaaawwl! Bard ends up kicking Tally Man’s butt. Bard then calls Batman to tell him that he thinks that he just caught the guy who has been killing all the villains. Jason then sees on TV the breaking story of the return of Two-Face. End of story.
The Good: Detective Comics #820 was an improvement over the past two issues in this storyline, but not by much. I liked how Batman carried on a full length conversation with Gordon while taking out the Scarecrow at the same time. This scene did a great job showing how Batman is able to multi-task at a level much higher than your normal person.
We now know how the killer has framed Dent. Yeah, it is a bit contrived that a person would steal Dent’s gun, unscrew the handle and trigger. Commit the murders and then screw on the original handle and trigger with Dent’s finger prints on them. But, still it is an elaborate mystery that you would expect the World’s Greatest Detective to solve.
What I enjoyed the most in Detective Comics #820 was not the Harvey Dent/Two-Face storyline. Quite frankly, I have grown bored with that storyline. What I liked the most was the development of Robin’s character in this issue. Tim Drake really is a man who has lost everything in his life. This is having a huge impact on his personality. I’m very curious to see what Batman’s big plan for Tim Drake’s future is. I thought the scene with Batman and Robin in the Batmobile was very well done.
Even though the overall storyline I a bit slow and is steadily losing my interest, I think that Robinson delivers some strong and well written dialogue. I loved Batman’s rant that he drops on Scarecrow. That was a fantastic scene!
I also liked how even in the process of Batman trying to apologize to Officer Harper, he manages to work in a warning to her to not follow in the Guardian’s footsteps as a costumed hero. Good old Batman. Always marking his territory like a dog to keep others away.
The Jason Bard backup story was average at best. If Tally Man is truly the evil mastermind behind all of these killings, then that is rather anti-climactic. I don’t think Tally Man is responsible for all of this. Robinson has to be holding back something more interesting for the finale.
The artwork is solid, but not spectacular. I think that the scene with Robin and Batman in the Batmobile was drawn very well.
The Bad: There appears to be another continuity gaffe. Robin comments how Conner died and took Superboy-Prime with him and that Superboy-Prime is dead. However, we all know that when Conner died he did not take out Superboy-Prime with him and that Superboy-Prime is very much alive. So soon after Infinite Crisis and DC is already having these continuity problems. It isn’t that big of a deal, but it isn’t something that DC wants to keep doing.
Yet again, not too much happened in this issue. The pacing just has become terribly slow with the past several issues. We already knew that Harvey was innocent. The announcement of Two-Face’s return didn’t occur until the very end of the issue. It seems that Robinson is trying to stretch out a 4 issue storyline over an 8 issue span. And in order to do that he keeps re-hashing the same material and delays the progress of the main storyline.
Overall: Because of the pacing of this storyline, I have pretty much lost most of my interest in this entire return of Two-Face storyline and who is killing the villains and why they would frame Harvey Dent. Detective Comics #820 was just a very average and ordinary comic book. Hopefully, Robinson can pull it all together in one fantastic ending, but I have my doubts. Right now, I’m just ready for the final issue of this storyline so we can get to the new creative teams for Batman and Detective Comics.