As the latest issue of Batman ’89 opens, racial tensions in Gotham City have reached a boiling point. A peaceful protest of Burnside citizens is one step away from getting ugly as Harvey Bullock and his men begin looking for excuses to attack. It’s an all-too-familiar scene as Harvey begins talking about the so-called “bad apples” in the crowd that he’s looking to silence.
Sam Hamm has been building to this confrontation since the beginning of the series, and it’s supremely rewarding to see the people of Burnside getting a fighting chance. It’s also the absolute right time for Robin to make his full public debut. Joe Quinones draws the hell out of this sequence, which mixes a good bit of potent symbolism and heightened action that would feel at home in Tim Burton’s Batman. It’s all capped off by a shot of Robin that brings to mind the closing moments of the aforementioned film. Speaking of which, the Robin design is striking, particularly thanks to the cape and hood that cut a mean silhouette against the Gotham skyline.
Drake Winston, the new Robin, has truly come into his own by this point, rising up as a symbol to the oppressed and even confronting Bruce about his extracurricular activities. The quick tussle between the two is a highlight of the issue. It’s easy to follow and plays to the characters’ strengths rather well. I also can’t help but think about how great it would have been to see Keaton get into a few more scrapes out of costume in his original two flicks. I still feel like this plot thread makes Bruce seem a bit sloppy — but it’s still not as embarrassing as when Dick figures out his secret in Batman Forever, so he’s still doing pretty alright, all things considered.
Aside from this meeting of the minds, the most significant advancement in the plot is how Two-Face continues to lay the groundwork for his plan to save Gotham City. The choice to make Harvey and Two-Face distinct personalities, both arguing with one another openly, is an interesting one. Not only does it add an off-putting wrinkle to his scheming, but it also makes for some interesting visuals.
With Two-Face in the driver’s seat, Quinones provides a few interesting bits where it looks like the struggle between the two personas is almost a physical one. A moment in which Harvey chides Two-Face for making “them” step onto some train tracks made my skin crawl. And of course, the excellent lettering from Clayton Cowles does a splendid job of separating which of Harvey’s sides is speaking, which definitely helps make the arguments clearer.
Other design elements in the issue are a lot of fun for fans of the movies and related pieces of pop culture. Seeing Bruce not only caring for the cat that Selina left for him, but also doing so in his quick-change outfit from the ’90s Kenner toy line made me smile ear to ear. The creative team on this book has clearly taken the idea of playing in the Burtonverse toy box to its most literal point, and it continues to surprise and delight me.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!