Detective Comics #990
Batman is hot on the trail of a murder suspect, but first, he’ll have to get past Two-Face. Even though Harvey Dent seems to be asserting control, how long before he becomes a sociopathic criminal once again? More importantly, what is Dent’s connection to the victim, and what does it all have to do with the terrorist organization of slithering serpents called Kobra?! Whatever it is, it’s big enough to reunite Jim Gordon and former district attorney Harvey Dent, and that meeting alone is worth the cover price.
In James Robinson’s part three of A Conflicted Man, we are quickly thrust into a confrontation between Batman and Two-Face with a few of his goons. Their fight takes up about half of the issue, but it gives Two-Face a chance to uniquely describe how his side of the personality has taken over Harvey Dent. Despite Batman’s best attempts at appealing to Harvey, or whatever piece of Harvey is left, Two-Face always finds a way to make his way back and take over. This long-standing trope is used to the story’s benefit, playing with Batman’s methods and providing just the opportunity Two-Face needed to escape.
In a moment of narrative excellence, the story takes a brighter turn to bring Duke Thomas into the fray. Their conversation can be summarized with Bruce saying “Batman may need the shadows, but sometimes a little sunshine’s not so bad”. Duke’s daylight heroics provide an interesting bit of insight on the recent visitors in the city that appeared a few issues back, Kobra! This scene may not be spectacular by any means, but it serves as a brilliant point in the story’s construction. At almost exactly the halfway point, there is just a bit of “sunshine” between the two scenes of nearly pure darkness.
Batman’s fight with Two-Face may have been violent, but what came after the brief moment of peace between Duke and Bruce was just pure evil. In a gruesome few seconds, the GCPD is attacked by Two-Face and his Kobra mercenaries. The issue does a great job setting up this brutal encounter, building just enough tension to make the shootout heart-wrenching.
It doesn’t stop there though. Towards the end of the fight, a Kobra member is just about to gun down Gordon when Two-Face steps in and saves him. With only a brief mention of his name, Two-Face quickly abandons the area, leaving Gordon in complete dismay. Why would he save him at all? After just telling Batman of how futile his attempts were, he almost immediately shows a point of vulnerability once again. While it does feel real when reading the issue, you can’t help but think it could also be a calculated plan from Two-Face as well.
With an ending that sees the two adversaries face to face once again, it will certainly be interesting to see what the two discuss in the next issue. But, the final page also serves as a great point to talk about just how great the artistic team behind this arc has been. The first page that features a splash of half Batman and half Two-Face perfectly sets up the coming story, and it ends with another splash of the two talking around a large scratched out coin. The duality and their narrative course play into the artwork beautifully, and the artistic team delivers some of their best panels yet.
The overall story is quickly becoming a Detective Comics classic, featuring a unique mystery mixed with action and emotion to create a compelling story. James Robinson and the creative team have succeeded in providing a beautiful issue that makes a solid arc even better.
Detective Comics #990 is a mysterious exploration into the psychology of Two-Face as well as Batman’s relentless desire to find Harvey Dent within the chaos. The use of mystery and drama along with a few twists make it one of the best issues in the arc!
Detective Comics #990: The Good Side of Two-Face
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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