Page 45 Review by Stephen
Quick tip of the hat to June Chung on her charnel-house colouring, with its green/blue-greys and splatters of cardinal red, which unites the surprisingly well matched art of Jae Lee on the first half and Sean Phillips on the second. Monumentally gothic in every aspect, Jae's jagged art fills each page with far more substantial forms than many; similarly, when I have ever referred to Sean's characters other than in half-light / shadow? I don't suppose for five seconds the 50/50 split in art chores has anything to do with the duality that lies at the heart of this nasty little number, but hey, it provides a neat link to Two-Face and his own personality split visibly down the middle.
His respectable half is Harvey Dent, besuited ex-lawyer trying desperately to control his acid-scarred, vitriolic other half who spits out green-lettered bile at anyone stupid enough to try reasoning with him. But what if Two-Face doesn't want to be controlled? What if he'd rather be freed from inhibition and let loose all that his sick heart desires? What if he'd perfected an hallucinogenic drug to do just that? Well, he'd probably want to field-test it on someone else first: someone with own history of demons in check, who secretly wants to be unshackled himself. Some things can never be unlearned, and Bruce Wayne is about to discover more about himself than he'd ever want to.
Despite the direction you think this may be going in ("Oh no, not another mad dash to close down Gotham's water supply!") which is a deliberate misdirection, you can add this to the list of dozen superior Bat-books with more meat than gristle. Just like Ennis's take on The Punisher (PUNISHER MAX and MARVEL KNIGHTS PUNISHER), Jenkins suggests that a simple accident with acid couldn't have been enough to induce this degree of trauma. Indeed Harvey's memories of life with his brother Murray would indicate that he'd an early fixation on relinquishing control - and responsibility - to fate in the form of a toss of a coin. Chocolate or vanilla? Life or death? It's all the same thing, surely?
But what was the trauma?
Paul gives Two-Face some lines so monstrously direct that they're funny, whilst Alfred's on form with his weary, wry asides. Also, Commissioner Gordon gave me a chortle in the aftermath of one of several psychotic episodes here resulting in mass murder and cannibalism.
Crime Scene Officer: "This is what we found once we got inside. Most of the victims were battered with the blunt end of an axe. What's left of the husband is downstairs. The perp's over there on the sofa. She decapitated herself with a fork."
Commissioner Gordon: "Mmm. Might make her reluctant to testify."
For more Jae Lee, please FANTASTIC FOUR 1,2,3,4 and INHUMANS; for more Sean Phillips, please see noir masterpieces KILL OR BE KILLED, FATALE, CRIMINAL, THE FADE OUT and, if you insist upon capes with your crime, SLEEPER.