Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Leonard Kirk & Don Kramer
I'm back to doing my Batman reviews, and I still plan on reviewing the remaining key Batman stories up until the start of the New 52. This is also my ninth review on the series with my last review being on Batman: Face the Face.
It has been one year since Batman left Gotham City in the hands of Harvey Dent, but when Harvey is a key suspect in a series of murders following Batman's return it makes things difficult, and it's questionable whether he'll fall back into darkness or not.
This was an amazing story, and one of my personal favourite One Year Later stories. James Robinson did an amazing job with this story, and although he isn't quite as good at writing Batman as he is writing Superman, he did a brilliant job with the character. I especially loved the tone of this story, and enjoyed how Robinson took us back to a more classic Batman story, having it filled with mystery, and detective work, both of which added a lot of suspense, and drama to the story. I also loved the dark tone of this story, as it added a lot of depth to the story. I also loved the dialogue that Robertson added to this story, as it was very interesting, especially the dialogue from Batman. I did however feel that it dragged slightly at times, which reduced the overall quality of the story a bit, but besides that Robertson did a fantastic job of giving us a unique Batman story that was extremely interesting.
The art on this story was also very good, and both Leonard Kirk, and Don Kramer did an amazing job. I did however prefer Kramer's art overall, as I felt it suited the story more, with the dark, and gritty sequences really standing out during his artwork. Both artists work was however highly detailed, with little to no imperfections. There was however one small thing that I disliked about the art, and this was another reason that I preferred Kramer's overall, as I didn't like how Kirk drew smiles, as they looked very awkward, and unrealistic. I also loved the highly detailed backgrounds that both artists drew, as they were very realistic, and along with the layout added a lot of depth to the story. I also loved how both artists drew the characters throughout this story, with everyone looking amazing, though I did especially enjoy Kramer's artwork on Harvey Dent.
This story would come following the big Infinite Crisis storyline, where all the main heroes left for a year. Now they didn't leave in publication wise, as this would come straight after that event, but story wise one year had passed. I loved the changes that happened in that time, and how Gotham took a dramatic change, reverting itself back to the Gotham that it truly should be, with James Gordon as Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, and a lot of villains roaming the city. I did however feel that it was good that Robinson didn't have too many Infinite Crisis references, as although that was a good story, it had passed, and it would ruin it for Batman fans who don't care for Infinite Crisis. At the same time the few references were nice.
With a title like Face to Face it would be obvious that Harvey Dent, better known as Two-Face would make an appearance in this story. Two-Face is one of Batman's biggest villains ever, and like most of Batman's classic villains back then he needed a big development, and turning him back to Harvey Dent was that, with the Hush storyline revealing that. I did however love how this year without Batman around changed Harvey, as due to being put in charge of protecting Gotham, to then be accused of multiple murder on Batman's return would be a big blow for him. I also enjoyed how this story showed Harvey wrestling with his thoughts, not wanting to turn back to Two-Face, but at the same time furious about being accused of such a thing.
This story would see Batman, and Robin (Tim Drake) working together throughout, something that I was extremely happy about as prior to the Batman and Robin series there wasn't a huge amount of teaming up between the two (and the Batman and Robin series was also technically two different characters in Dick Grayson, and Damian Wayne). I also really enjoyed seeing the chemistry between the two, and how they are working better together than they ever have before. I also felt that this was a key point for both Bruce, and Tim, as with the recent events affecting Tim so much he needs someone to look up to, and Bruce also needs the same as to avoid possibly loosing another member of his Bat-Family.
This story would also have villains galore, having an array of Batman rogues making appearances, with Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, Ventriloquist and Scarface, Killer Moth, Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze, Firebug, and more being featured throughout. Batman has some of the best villains ever, so with all these amazing villains gathered in the one story it's bound to make things interesting. There was however a small part of me that felt that it was just a little too much, as although it was fun to see all these amazing characters, if it was slightly fewer it would allow them to do more, as most landed up being short cameos. I did however love the line Gordon spoke about Arkham Asylum having a revolving door, as these villains seem to have no trouble escaping time, and time again.
This was a fantastic book, and was one of the better One Year Later stories. It showed Batman at his best, having his detective skills at the max, whilst also showing him taking out bad guy after bad guy. There was also some brilliant teamwork between the Dark Knight, and the Boy Wonder, and the turmoil that Harvey Dent was going through was outstanding, adding a lot of suspense. Due to all this it's extremely easy to recommend this story, and if you've read Infinite Crisis, 52, or any other One Year Later stories then you should definitely give this a try.
The next Batman book I'll be reviewing will be Batman: Detective.