Batman: Detective Comics: Deface the Face by James Robinson

details
Title: Batman: Detective Comics.
Story-Arc: Deface the Face.
Volume: 9.
Writer(s): James Robinson.
Penciller(s): Stephen Segovia & Carmine Di Giandomenico.
Colourist(s): Ivan Plascencia.
Letterer(s): Rob Leigh.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: April 9th 2019.
Pages: 144.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401290641.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.

Previously on DC Universe Rebirth’s Batman: Detective Comics series:
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 1): Rise of the Batmen by James Tynion IV
Batman (Vol. 1.5): Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 2): The Victim Syndicate by James Tynion IV
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 3): League of Shadows by James Tynion IV
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 4): Deus Ex Machina by James Tynion IV
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 5): A Lonely Place of Living by James Tynion IV
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 6): Fall of the Batmen by James Tynion IV
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 7): Batmen Eternal by James Tynion IV
Batman: Detective Comics (Vol. 8): On the Outside by Bryan Hill

thoughts

If there’s one person who truly embraced both sides of the law, it’s the once-district-attorney Harvey Dent who now embraces his different personalities as he deals in criminality and insanity. His two-sided features make him a force to not reckon with as his friendship with Bruce Wayne and James Gordon gives him a little bit of a cushion on which to land on in times of trouble. With everyone praying that his best side could one day take over, Two-Face is a villain that you just can’t see coming unless you put yourself in his shoes. Channeling his success with Batman: Face the Face in 2006, writer James Robinson returns to helm a new story-arc within the Detective Comics series with the return of Two-Face and his maleficent plans in Gotham.

What is Batman: Detective Comics: Deface the Face about? Collecting issues #988-993, the story takes place after Tom King’s infamous issue #50 of his Batman series with the brutal aftermath regarding his wedding with Catwoman—an unprecedented reference to the ongoing series that has never been done before. Gotham now sees the breakout of a series of double-themed crimes elaborated by a sinister terrorist organization looking to rupture the unusual peace and quiet in this city of doom and gloom. With obvious hints towards the only supervillain who loves duality more than himself, Batman hunts down Harvey Dent for answers only to find out that to end this crisis, they will need to cooperate.

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This story-arc turned out to be a disaster. The first disappointment comes from the fact that the previous volume served as a trampoline to launch a new series written by Brian Hill called Batman and the Outsiders, leaving the newly-introduced team in Batman: Detective Comics: On the Outside irrelevant for James Robinson’s story. With almost no sense of continuity, this story arc thus takes on the burden of being a stand-alone tale and you can bet that my expectations for those kinds of stories are pretty high. The second disappointment presents itself when you understand that Deface the Face focuses on Batman rather than the rest of the Bat Family, leading you to wonder what exactly is the Detective Comics series now looking to do differently compared to the ongoing Batman series. With no more identity, this story was bound to be put under the microscope. The third disappointment rises from the incredibly dull and unmemorable story written around Two-Face without presenting anything fresh or extensive about any of the characters included in this mystery.

Although I love the duality in Harvey Dent’s character, as his story shifts him from good to evil following a tragedy, writer James Robinson beautifully fails to deliver an authentic arc with his story, his characters and his ending utterly incomprehensible. In this situation, he horribly depicts his characters, making no effort in getting the traits and characteristics of his characters right, giving them unrealistic dialogues that make no sense. Take, for example, Batman openly self-proclaiming himself as the world’s greatest detective to Commissioner James Gordon. I think it’s safe to say that being cocky, eccentric, and wordy is not something you’d associate to the Dark Knight. The story also unfolds ambiguously, with motives that are either unknown or impossible to identify with villains that were never heard of before.

To help James Robinson visually translate his ideas, two artists are put to work, each sharing half of the story arc. First comes artist Stephen Segovia who offers some really stunning artwork with some stellar panels that reflect the gothic atmosphere often associated with Gotham, with meticulous attention to detail. Then comes artist Carmine Di Giandomenico who shifts the artwork in another direction that was far from being the worse style imaginable but still wasn’t appealing to my eyes. Ivan Plascencia consistent work with colours does help a lot in giving the overall volume a somber yet vibrant tone but the result is far too unrewarding, and the artwork could never redeem for the horrible writing and plotting.

Batman: Detective Comics: Deface the Face is a terrible story arc that barely stays glued together as it invites Batman to join forces with Two-Face to uncover a confusing conspiracy.


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18 comments

  • (First to comment…yay!) Yep, I had a feeling you wouldn’t enjoy this arc and the points you raise I pretty much why I didn’t either. I think the sudden exclusion of the Bat-family and as you say, the fact that the previous arc was ultimately a set-up for the Outsiders series, diminishes the appeal and gives Detective Comics a bit of an identity crisis as a result. But yes, on top of that it’s just not a particularly good Two Face story (have you read Robinson’s Face the Face? I haven’t but it doesn’t seem to be popular) – man, I would’ve loved to have seen a big Two Face arc by Tom King that could’ve been special as he’s a great character when handled properly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And here I thought you looked forward to my thoughts because it might be a solid story! I’m just glad we’re on the same page here. It really was a letdown. Now I got mixed feelings for the next arc with Peter J. Tomasi… Not sure if I should be excited or not. I believe this is where their make the Arkham Knight a bit more “canonical”… I haven’t read Face the Face but when I do, I really hope it’ll be much better than this… I think King’s version of it would have been pretty interesting but I guess we’ll never get it for now…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always appreciate that you take the time to real them though. With all the bad, there’s always a good one bound to cross my path and it’s in highlighting them that I find some joy, especially if it can help other readers pick the right stories. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • Aaaarg Lashaan! Why do you do this to you??? LOL Now honestly I am so sorry that it seemed so unrealistic. If a book feels “un believable” I end up rolling my eyes all the time and wanting to stop reading so I can relate! Let’s hope your next reads will be way better!

    Liked by 2 people

  • GAHHH I really hate when certain expectations are developed in a previous volume and then aren’t realized. It’s tough when your disappointment is so keen. I kind of like the look of the art but I do love super clean and graphic so maybe its that. Plus I don’t imagine that style suiting Batman TBH. It really is too bad since Two Face is such a fun character too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. It’s a bit unsettling to not see the story go in a direction when the previous volume hinted it… I do like the style too but sometimes it really didn’t work with the setting or the characters. Hopefully someone else will do a better job with Two Face soon…

      Liked by 1 person

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