The top of the cover to Detective Comics #1022 has “Journey to… Joker War” emblazoned on it which seems to suggest this Two-Face story features some Joker threads to explore. That got me excited for an already interesting story arc about Two-Face’s new cult causing issues in Gotham. We left off the last issue with Batman hovering over a vat of acid, which means a rescue or fast thinking is in order for our caped crusader.
I have to say, I was not expecting such a heavy dose of Joker in this issue. The first half is centered on Batman escaping the acid vat with the second half tying the Joker into the narrative. Split in two, you basically get all the action up front with exposition wrapping the issue up. It’s a plotting/pace problem to be sure, but Brad Walker’s art sure looks great every step of the way. Overall it’s a fine chapter in the “Ugly Heart” story arc, but it’s an odd chunk of story that’ll read better in trade.
The first half looks fabulous. You will believe Batman may die, the acid burns on Two-Face’s henchmen (and Batman himself) will be felt, and the intensity of the scene is vivid thanks to the pace and blocking of the scene. Andrew Hennessy’s inks continue to inform the darkness of this series’ underbelly and color artist Brad Anderson continues to show why he’s one of the best in the business. Anderson’s colors add volume to the acid and the detailing in the Bat-suit burns is aided by the color as well.
The second half dragged on a bit for me, but for those of you who truly admire Joker, you may enjoy the blast from the past look of the character. I’m on the fence about “Joker War” but it does seem to be building towards a triumphant return as well as an explanation for why he’s been so absent for so long. This chunk of the issue plays into that and gives Two-Face’s actions in this story arc more complexity. The cliffhanger directly ties into what Joker is up to — a bit odd, since this arc is more about Two-Face — but it helps serve the larger story.
Come for the acid bath, but stay for the bigger implications of Joker. I was shocked to see Joker pop up, but it does inform the story a bit, albeit a little late into this story arc.