THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
History defines Batman and Two-Face’s current story arc. New character Erin McKillen proves more interesting in her second issue, which reveals some history between McKillen, Bruce Wayne and the Batman while also giving further indication as to why she deformed Harvey Dent and killed his wife. While defined by the past, the issue also shows us an interestingly detached Two-Face, as well as a welcome cameo from Bruce Wayne’s alter-alter-ego, Matches Malone.
Patrick Gleason’s art continues to shine in Batman and Two-Face #25. This issue is full of action, and Gleason seems to bring a fantastic energy to each scene. Gleason also happens to be playing with many profile views of Dent, trying to drive home the dichotomy of the character. The artwork alone could give you a good idea of what each character is all about.
The appearance of Matches Malone is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for comic book fans. Sure, it makes sense that Bruce Wayne has an alter ego as a mafia-type to infiltrate criminal enterprises – but his disguise is simply a hairdo change, some glasses, and a mustache. Regardless, Bruce’s retrieving of McKillen as Matches Malone is a funny and welcome addition to the run which has been bogged down recently by a grieving lead character.
The insight into McKillen’s past with Bruce, Batman, and Dent is necessary and appreciated. It adds some depth to the new mob boss, who could have been seen as shallow last issue. Apparently, when they were younger, Bruce and McKillen went to school together, and Bruce approached her family about insight to his parents’ murder. This leads to McKillen approaching Bruce for help, an interaction that is especially poignant.
Interestingly, Bruce ends up taking McKillen into his own custody, rather than leave her at Blackgate Prison. This will bring Bruce Wayne into the conflict coming between Batman, McKillen, and Two-Face, while also keeping her safe from the many convicts who are being paid to kill her.
Batman and Two-Face #25 suffers from middle-issue syndrome. While there is quite a bit of action, not much changes through the course of the issue. Dent pours some acid on the GCPD headquarters to little effect. McKillen looks to Bruce Wayne for help. Matches Malone whisks McKillen away to Wayne Manor. Dent makes little difference, especially for an issue named Batman & Two-Face, and McKillen is still a prisoner, albeit with nicer accommodations. The set-up is exciting, but as a single issue, the best moments reside in flashbacks and a conversation between Bruce and McKillen, meaning that the story doesn’t seem to move forward all that much.
While Batman & Two-Face #25 sports beautiful art and is expertly written, story exposition has a way of slowing things down. This is an issue for learning and flashbacks, with a healthy side order of brutality. Writer Peter J. Tomasi is succeeding at getting readers interested, but it’s how he continues to write that will determine the greatness of this arc, as this issue is simply setup.