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Batman and Robin #28 - The Big Burn: Inferno Review

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The Big Burn ends here. Can Erin McKillen and Batman stop the gang from executing Two-Face on live television?

The Good

Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's The Big Burn is finally coming to an end. While this arc has spent a lot of time building a dynamic between Batman, Erin McKillen and Two-Face, this finale pushes McKillen aside (for the most part) and instead opts to focus on Harvey Dent. Tomasi jumps into Dent's mentality as we see Dent struggle between who he was and the man he's become. Can he start anew or is he too far gone? It's a topic Tomasi attempts to bring front and center and does a fine job making the villain struggle with the dilemma. The writer also makes two major developments with the character. Needless to say, if you're interested in Dent, you need to read this conclusion. Although, odds are you already were since his name is slapped on the cover, right?

Despite there being a big shootout in a studio, the action here isn't anything particularly special and ultimately we just see two guys get clocked in the noggin by batarangs. However, Tomasi compensates for that by making the narrative itself and the interactions far more potent. The focus is on these two characters, not necessarily what's going on around them, after all.

Patrick Gleason (artist/inker), Mick Gray (inker) and John Kalisz (colorist) put a hell of a lot of passion into this finale. Gleason utilizes a lot of close-ups and the tremendous amount of effort put into faces (most notably Harvey's) really brings the intensity front and center and produces more than a few powerful images. I especially appreciated the creativity behind one of the... um... "stains" on a picture towards the end. I hate using this idiom, but Gleason really does "knock it out of the park" when it comes to creating a disturbingly detailed Two-Face. It's also great how Kalisz is able to use bold coloring to help convey Tomasi's script during a critical scene with Dent. The shift from panel to panel really helps emphasize what's going on in the character's head head.

The Bad

The Big Burn had so much build-up and this conclusion has some major developments with Harvey Dent, but the finale with him comes off as not necessarily earned. So much of the story seemed dedicated to establishing a new villain -- Erin McKellen -- while only making small changes to Dent -- changes which actually take away one of the most compelling parts of his character. So, when Gordon drops a line taken directly from The Dark Knight, it doesn't feel appropriate because Dent wasn't noble. But, more importantly, there's a development here which could have delivered a major switch-up to the relationship between the two, but naturally, that potential is cut short. This was obviously intended to be Tomasi's swan song for Dent and I understand how Batman somewhat "shatters" his world in this issue, but it doesn't come off as his story until the very end of the entire story arc, so the final developments will definitely be both shocking and upsetting to Dent fans. When there's a new timeline where they can explore so much more with these characters (especially with this new reveal), killing Dent off in a story where he almost feels like a secondary bad guy is disappointing to say the least. Ultimately, I'm left with the feeling that this story exists to introduce Erin as a new Batman rogue so she can essentially serve as Two-Face's replacement. She too lost a part of herself and now she has a "scarred half" as well. This conclusion also makes me question when this takes place since Dent is playing a role in Forever Evil, but that's hardly a big deal.

Minor gripes: it felt a bit odd having Batman lecture Two-Face as they're facing heavy fire and are pinned down (behind a seemingly cheap set, no less). Perhaps saving that big conversation for a more personal moment between them would have been a little less awkward. For example, if the two grappled after the fodder was dispatched. Additionally, the title page has one massive panel of Batman busting into a location. It's a very close-up shot, and while that lets us appreciate the character's presence, it doesn't set the stage or make the overall scene feel epic.

The Verdict

Love or hate what goes down, this is an undeniably massive issue for Two-Face and it's certain to get some very passionate conversations going. However, the forceful nature of this issue's developments are countered by the fact that Dent didn't feel like a big player in this story -- at least not to me, that is. It feels like a somewhat abrupt conclusion with Dent and that the truly critical elements with him were saved up until the very end. Regardless, opinions are certain to be mixed on this one and I find myself primarily left down the middle on it, but at least most of us are likely to agree that Gleason and company created some legitimately commendable images in this issue.

26 Comments
Posted by Master_Thief

Big boys don't cry big boys don't cry

RIP Two Face

Posted by k4tzm4n

lol at me for putting the following in the latest Essential Comics about this issue:

"Sure, a few changes to Harvey's origin take a bit away from the character and we all know he'll make it out of this story alive,"

Posted by RedhoodFlashLantern

Loved this issue i can see where your coming from Gregg but it's a 5/5 for me can't wait for this Hunt For Damian to start,I can only pray that it means Damian's eventual return.

Edited by LordoftheNorth

Ya i have no idea what Tomasi was thinking when he wrote this arc this is Two-Face if your going to kill off a character like him it had better be one of the best Two-face stories ever but instead he spends most of the story in ths shadows having his interesting back story completely gutted and than to top it all off not only does he commit suicide they set up the person that is going to replace him in the same issue and its some one as boring as McKallen i mean at least with Two-Face he had the fallen hero thing going for him and the split personality gave him an interesting vioce but this girl has a tiny scar on her face and she is just repeating some BS bruce told her in what world is that character more interesting

Posted by k4tzm4n

Loved this issue i can see where your coming from Gregg but it's a 5/5 for me can't wait for this Hunt For Damian to start,I can only pray that it means Damian's eventual return.

And I can understand why you love it. Thanks for disagreeing politely instead of posting something like "HAY U SUX 5/5 BRO U EVEN READ BATMEN?" :D

Posted by ArturoCalaKayVee

Wow. I decided to drop the title today while at my LCS because I was not enjoying the story very much but now I find out that they killed off Two-Face? I know death in comics is not forever and he will be back in time but that just grinds my gears. I don't know what happened in this issue but I truly felt this death was extremely unnecessary.

Posted by ptigrusmagus

Harvey held the gun to his dark side, think Fight Club

Posted by patrat18

@k4tzm4n: "HAY U SUX 5/5 BRO U EVEN READ BATMEN?"

Posted by JakeN7

@lordofthenorth: Hey thanks for the spoilers buddy, wasn't able to get to my LCS until tomorrow. Was looking forward to reading this too. Actually, that's a lie. I've hated this arc on what is otherwise my favorite Bat-book right now. Y'know the study they did that showed people who know a book's ending ahead of time actually enjoyed it more than the people who were unspoiled? I think this might be the case. So...thanks I guess? I actually am excited to read this now.

But seriously! Shame on you for posting a huge spoiler in the 3rd line of the 4th comment on this article! ;P

Posted by War Killer

I dropped this series a while back, I simply didn't care for the random changes to Two-Face's origins and it just felt like they took away what made the character interesting in the first place. Sad to hear how this story ended, Two-Face is a compelling character and deserves better than what he got in this story.

Posted by LordoftheNorth

@jaken7: Sorry after i read the ending made me so angry i sort of forgot aboutother people thou i assumes becuase people looking at the reeview would already know what happens

Posted by TheMantisShrimp

The cover looks like Capullo's Black and White statue.

Posted by victorcheenoanleu

Can I just say, we didn't actually see him do what the story is implying he did. Loosen up those panties.

Posted by Ranoiaetep

Two-Face R.I.P.

Edited by Black_Arrow

@k4tzm4n: Good review, I think they changed Harvey character for worst.

Posted by detective38

This arc was very disappointing. Tomasi has really dropped the ball on this series lately. I dont think that the big thing in the issue will have lasting effects though

Posted by RaggedScarecrow

This arc was very disappointing. Tomasi has really dropped the ball on this series lately. I dont think that the big thing in the issue will have lasting effects though

The current arc is definitely the worst the titles had, but I think that's because Tomasi was more focused on the next arc, "The Hunt for Robin." But I agree with everything else you said, especially because we've seen Harvey in Forever Evil and Villains Month, so we know he's alive then, and this story takes place before FE (the city isn't completely destroyed).

Edited by TheCheeseStabber

Two-Face R.I.P.

This, it'l be Batman RIP by Morrison but everythings exactly the same except where ever Batman is seen or mentioned they use the same stock Photo of Two Face and white out over the words Batman and Wayne to write Dent and Two Face :P)

Posted by Zereta

Kill isn't confirmed till you see it on the page, guys. Its the #1 rule of comics.

Posted by admwriter

@zereta: Not to mention if it HAD occurred, he would have been found. Batman specifically says at the end that he's disappeared. So either it didn't happen or someone rescued him. Rendering the entire storyline meaningless already. If you're gonna do it, DO IT.

Posted by iceslick

@k4tzm4n: I admit I was a bit confused by the end of the issue. But after thinking about it for a while maybe it was signaling the death of Harvey Dent not Two-Face. I figured that out when Batman was talking to Two-Face and Batman kept mentioning about how he can still see Harvey Dent inside of him. So, I guess for Two-Face to become a new man he had to kill Harvey Dent. I also figured he's still probably alive because I have heard of people shooting themselves in the head and survive. I'm still confused though because he shot the Two-Face side and not Harvey Dent's side. But it's just a thought that people should probably think of. I can't say it's true yet.

Posted by mickeymayhew

it wasn't clear which side he shot 'coz the coin hadn't stopped spinning

Posted by Guerraa

5 stars all the way. Tomasi is awesome! This review clearly doesn't get it when it comes to building characters that have good and bad and leaving unresolved issues for future stories. Tomasi knows what he's doing, and I hope he keeps up the great work. There hasn't been a bad (or even average) issue yet in the Batman & Robin series.