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Batman and Robin #25 - The Big Burn: Sparks Review

3

Now that she's in custody, why does Erin McKillen want to meet with Bruce Wayne? And what is Two-Face up to?

The Good

Peter J. Tomasi continues 'The Big Burn,' but instead of diving deeper into Two-Face's New 52 origin story or the role the villain's currently playing, the writer opts to make this one pretty much all about the new crime-lord, Erin McKillen. That said, Two-Face isn't entirely written off in this chapter, either. The classic character steals the spotlight (so to speak...) in the opening scene and Tomasi gives proper credit to the guy's tactical mind -- it's not an original move, but credit where it's due. We also get another flashback scene with him, but honestly, it doesn't add anything new to the overall picture. Ultimately, this one's all about McKillen and how Bruce Wayne's connected to the picture. Tomasi hasn't really done anything to make her a unique character, but the course of events which follow her are undeniably amusing and even quite badass at times.

What really sells me on these moments are Patrick Gleason's artwork, though. Some of the facial work is a tad rough in this issue, but the man can draw the heck out of Batman and Two-Face. His style works exceptionally well when it comes to making Two-Face look twisted and Batman look incredibly formidable and even frightening at times. His debut against McKillen's men? Seriously awesome panel right there.

The Bad

Despite being promoted as a story focused on Harvey, this feels like it should be called BATMAN & ERIN MCKILLEN. Sure, Harvey gets a cool opening scene, but in terms of the overall narrative -- at least right now -- it's all about Wayne and McKillen. We are treated to a flashback scene with Havey (which, oddly, enough, doesn't have a caption saying it's in the past, so the transition is abrupt), but it doesn't provide any depth to his new backstory. Instead, it just reveals how Harvey was put at McKillen's mercy -- it's a very straightforward action scene which reveals nothing new and sadly the emotional weight just isn't there since we were hit with the outcome last month. We're only in part 2 of 5, but as of right now, the progression with Harvey is unfortunately quite slow. Here's hoping it picks up big time in the next chapter.

Is it just me or is Batman dispatched too easily during that chase scene? I get said attack would impact him like that, but his defeat seemed far too easy and made him seem.. well, amateurish. It's odd since the comic was going over the top in making him feel like a badass just moments prior. Additionally, when we cut to the next "now" scene, it's pretty jarring. One moment, Batman needs an evac, the next, McKillen turns herself in just to speak with Bruce? As someone who's eluded the authorities for so long and is so dangerous, wouldn't it have made way more sense to go to Bruce directly? And, if he refuses, she can use her less kind methods to force him into helping her? I'm really hoping there's more to this decision because even her ally called her out on that one.

Very minor gripe: why'd Batman give that random dude his batarang to cut the rope instead of doing it himself? It would have taken no time at all for him and seems more practical than trusting someone he doesn't know with a weapon.

Minor note: solicits continue to mention Carrie Kelley, but she has yet to be seen.

The Verdict

Tomasi's decision to focus on McKillen and Batman generates some amusing material and very entertaining bits of action. Gleason's still doing great work with the visuals, but the biggest problem is the story isn't making any strong strides, especially with Dent. It's not a bad story, but right now it just isn't all that engrossing, either. Hopefully there's some big developments in part three.

20 Comments
Posted by TheMantisShrimp

Now I'm torn on whether or not to buy this, I was only picking up this arc for two-face (as I normally don't buy this series). If I but this issue I'm probably in for the whole arc, hmmm...

Posted by timelord

Good review Gregg I might drop this book until we get another Robin with Batman Eternal coming up that will fill my Bat quota

Posted by cobra88king8

I really like the dynamic from this new character. She's ruthless and her dynamic with both Bruce and Harvey are fascinating

Edited by Lvenger

@citizenbane: I'm personally hoping that Tomasi does a Batman and Ra'as Al Ghul story in the next arc since he practically gave it away last issue. Now that has plenty of potential and less chance of going astray given how Batman Inc ended.

On topic, this review isn't giving me much hope for this arc however. If Two Face is being written off so much and plot related shenanigans are confounding the story, that lessens the enjoyment of the story greatly from the sound of it. A shame as Tomasi has consistently been the best Batman writer IMO.

Posted by LiveForever

Love the cover. Wish the interior art popped as well.

Posted by PeterCSM730

This was a very useful review, thanks! Gleason's art, for me, has been carrying this book for a while but I think last issue is going to be my last. I'm tired of revisiting/revising origins and the concurrent story doesn't do much for me. But I do love me some Matches Malone!

Posted by War Killer

Eh, I liked this issue. Yes, Tomasi seems to be pushing McKillen as a major badass a little too much, but I like the dynamic she has with Harvey and Bruce.

Pretty sure Carrie was written out or had her part reduced but the solicits weren't updated. This issue was supposed to be called Batman and Carrie Kelly #25, but they changed that at the last minute to what it is now.

I agree that Harvey should have had a bigger role, though. The team-up aspect is what's supposed to differentiate this book from the others.

The cover was also altered as original the coin Batman is holding had Carrie Kelly's face on it but it has since been changed to having Two-Face on it instead. Weird and makes me wonder if Kelly has been written out of the issue all together. If so, I'm curious as to what her role is/was in this storyline and how it ties into McKillen and Dent.

I'm also not really excited about Two-Face's new origin, it seems very random and not as traumatic as the classic version with him getting acid thrown at in the court room or the more recent version we saw in The Dark Knight. This version just comes off as boring and uninteresting.

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Posted by TDK_1997

This was one really good issue from Tomasi.The only I had with the issue was the same @k4tz had - Harvey not playing a role big enough even though this issue was supposed to be mainly for him and Batman.

Posted by manwithoutshame

Can't wait for this story arc to end. Two-Face is one of my favorite villains but this story is not very good.

Posted by dreamfall31

Started picking this up as the first volume was fantastic and I had hoped to keep a Bat-book with current Bat events since Snyder was doing Zero Year. The summer arc started strong with the silent issue, but didn't rist past mediocre. Probably gonna drop this until it starts getting good again.

Posted by feedonatreefrog

Dat Art.

4/5 for me.

Posted by RaggedScarecrow

I still wish they'd kept the revolving second name thing, I thought it was interesting. I think this arc as a whole is suffering from some pacing problems that could've been solved by structuring the issues differently. I know the popular trend is to spread an origin out along an arc, but that's just interrupting the flow of the issues here and in the previous issue. Instead, issue #24 could've been "Batman & Harvey Dent" and just had Two-Face recollecting his past and ended with Erin McKillen arriving in Gotham and doing the mob meeting. Then #25 could've been "Batman & Erin McKillen" and told all the stuff of her being a badass. Then "Batman & Two-Face" or "Carrie Kelly" or what have you. That way, we get the origin out of the way so people have a feel for the character and we can move on to the current events without being interrupted every couple pages.

Posted by Onemoreposter

So is this comic pretty much the new Brave and the Bold?

Posted by detective38

Not a big fan of either dents new origin or the mckillen character. Always good to see matches malone though

Posted by Dud317

I agree the time changes were pretty jarring. I even missed the first "Then", and it confused me when I saw the subsequent "Now".

Posted by LordoftheNorth

The guy can dodge bullets and can take hits from metahumans but a shotgun gives him trouble pretty freaking lame and i didnt like that Bruce now went to a know gangster for help finding his parents killers or that his father was friends with said gangsters

on a side note how any childhood friends does batman have they just keep coming out of the wood work