Author: Bobby Barrett
February 22, 2014

SYNOPSIS: “The Big Burn” concludes! In the final showdown, Batman, Two-Face and Erin McKillen fight for their lives against Gotham City’s united Mafiosi!

"The Big Burn" has reached its conclusion, which of course means two things: 1) That the revised saga of Harvey Dent is now complete and 2) that you've read the last awful "big burn" pun from Yours Truly. The finale continues the action this series has been counted on to deliver, along with its signature character moments that shine even brighter than the superheroics.

Batman is in a race against time to discover where the mob has taken Two-Face. The "families" have staged a live execution of our deformed D.A. in hopes of sending a message to the more "colorful" criminals of Gotham City: get out or you're next! Erin McKillen rides shotgun in the Batmobile, attempting to mislead The Dark Knight Detective long enough for Dent's death to be carried out. Batman, of course, sees past her deception and manages to figure out Harvey's location on his own, joining the fray just in time for things to get gritty. Ultimately, all hell breaks loose as it grows less and less likely that any participants are going to walk away with what they want…

Each chapter of "The Big Burn" has given us a new revelation into Harvey Dent's character--from the way he operates as Two-Face, to the converging factors that led to his downfall. It only makes sense that the biggest bomb would be dropped at the end of the arc, and Peter Tomasi does not disappoint. In a moment I didn't see coming for the life of me, Tomasi sheds new light on everything we know about Two-Face. One can only wonder how this will factor into future stories involving these characters (or if it will…whew, that ending!).

There's some good insight on Batman here as well – as he proclaims disgust and frustration at both McKillen and Dent for failing to act on any motivation other than selfishness, it's suddenly clear why he gives criminal reformation the benefit of the doubt: Bruce Wayne has experienced the most tragically painful side of life, but was able to channel it into something positive to help other people. Almost to a fault, he sees (more than most of us probably would) the potential for anyone to rise above their inner demons and become something more than just the sum of their circumstances. It's a sad thing because they mostly end up disappointing him, but it's nice to see that Bruce really isn't that much of a pessimist. To a lesser extent, Jim Gordon gets a similar moment as the scene he shares with Two-Face is brief, but compelling.

Issue #28 proves to be a mostly satisfying conclusion. The use of players is mostly top notch, with the possible exception of Erin McKillen, who plays a smaller part in this issue than in any of "The Big Burn"'s previous chapters. The action is big, but somehow seems to lack that "gee whiz!" quality of previous issues. Not saying it's bad, just that Batman was more entertaining to watch in last month's issue. The final flashback scene is easily the weakest of the bunch as well. I think the point Tomasi was trying to make here is that even though Harvey blames Bruce Wayne for the chain of events that took his wife, Gilda, from him, Harvey never would have met Gilda in the first place if not for Bruce. Not as dramatic or interesting as other flashbacks in this arc have been, but the shocking reveal in the present time makes up for it significantly.

And the end? Well, that would be telling. Let's just say "The Big Burn" ends on the same disturbing note it began with. Check it out for yourself, how do you expect this story to affect Bat-books down the line? I will be interested to see. - Bobby Barrett


Bobby Barrett is a lifelong Batman enthusiast living in Fresno, California, with his wife and several cats.
He enjoys reading, writing, acting, and playing very loud rock music.

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