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COMIC REVIEW: BATMAN #652
Author: John Fallavollita
Monday, May 1, 2006

The “Face the Face” story arc reaches its midpoint in BATMAN #652. Let’s cue the obligatory recap so we can all be on the same page.

It’s one year after “Infinite Crisis” (“One Year Later”, Yeah I thought it was clever too.) and we have the return of Batman and Robin. (No Chris O’Donnell to be found. I checked.) Not to be outdone Gotham City sees the return of two of its own icons, Commissioner Gordon and corrupt, angry and oh so huggable cop Harvey Bullock.

Lastly we have the villains. Harvey Dent, Poison Ivy, KGBeast, Magpie and The Ventriloquist. During the course of the last three issues of this story Poison Ivy has some way ramped up powers, KGBeast, Magpie and The Ventriloquist were murdered. Seemingly by Harvey Dent, the former Two-Face. And Harvey Bullock does a lot of talking smack to Batman.

This issue turns more down the road of solving the crime. Batman and Robin are partners again, and detectives again. The Ventriloquist’s puppet, Scarface, leaves a final clue before his head is smashed. The clue leads our heroes to a discovery that all of the victims are linked to each other and Harvey Dent, though we don’t yet know how. Batman goes to confront Harvey while Robin is off to stop Killer Moth (Now, I’m sure, with more moth-like powers. Whatever they are. Were all the cool animals taken by the time they came up with this guy?).

Batman’s confrontation with Harvey leads to a good cliff-hanger and a revelation about Batman’s absence that makes we want to buy “52” (Damn you, DC marketing. My kid won’t go to college because of you!).

So what were the goods? This story arc has a solid plot, which is helping fill in the back story of the changes since “Infinite Crisis.” It also has Batman and Robin together as detectives, fighting crime.

Everything about this story is “in the streets” as much as it is iconic. That, to me, is the essence of Batman and why he works as a concept. Bats is not nearly as cranky as he has been in recent years, and he’s still as focused as he’s ever been. We see Bruce and Tim take control of their surroundings and re-assert themselves in Gotham City as Batman and Robin. It’s done very subtly and convincingly. Well, as convincing as a guy in a Bat-suit can be anyway.

To this end the entire cast is written very strongly. Especially Batman and Bullock, who have a great dialog which I left out of the review on purpose, because it’s especially great when you don’t see it coming. So are a few other little internal dialogs that Batman has, which I also left out of the review on purpose.

OK so what’re the bad?

It took four issues and as many dead people for Batman to get in on really solving this crime? Sheesh.

The ugly?

Scarface’s smashed-in little puppet head.

So Batman and Robin are back in a big way. The whole Batman mythos is refreshed, brought back to its iconic roots, and turned on its head. Bravo, DC

Love this review? Hate it? John can be reached for comment at JOHNFAV@GMAIL.COM.

John really feels like he should write a bio for himself: He is a college drop-out with no formal training in literature or critiquing (he cites his mutilation of grammar as proof). He has written several short stories that have won no awards (nor are they published). He is currently agonizing over a graphic novel, which he hopes will break him onto the comics scene like this generation’s answer to Elvis. Now he’s pretty sure he knows why he never wrote a bio.

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