“All Star Batman” #4 raises the stakes for the Caped Crusader, as Two-Face’s offer to the rest of the world draws out more of the biggest names in Batman’s catalog of foes. But while Batman and Duke Thomas continue try and bring Two-Face in, both the scarred former District Attorney and another villain have big surprises in store for our heroes.
The Mirror Has Two Faces
When we’d last seen Two-Face, he and a group of Talons (from the Court of Owls that kicked off “Batman” in the New 52 relaunch) had cornered Batman and Duke in the underground waterway being used to return to Gotham City. The good news is that the Talons are the easiest foes in this issue to fight. The bad news is that the fight takes place after Two-Face’s attempt at recreating history by dumping acid onto the eye-holes of Batman’s mask. This isn’t the first time Two-Face has tried to maim one of his foes; in the New 52 continuity, it was criminal Erin McKillen who scarred Two-Face with acid (after killing Harvey Dent’s wife Gilda). When Erin finally returned to Gotham, Two-Face enacted revenge by scarring her with acid, too. (It was also in this battle where we first learned that in the New 52 universe, Two-Face and Batman both know each other’s secret identities.)
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With the mask presumably preventing permanent damage, the fumes of the acid are still enough to temporarily mar Batman’s vision, and Duke’s song “Batman’s #$%” from the previous issue is enough to activate Batman’s latest gadget, blasting through the Bat-suit’s pectoral speakers as a sort of sonar, allowing him to take down the Talons. We also learn that Batman is enough of a hero that he can take off and fly a biplane with almost no sight – provided that his vision returns enough by the time he needs to land the plane.
Two-Face’s split personality is more prominent than ever here, with the Harvey and Two-Face sides actively plotting against one another and even leaving recorded messages for the reverse personality to later discover. More importantly, Scott Snyder raises the question on which personality is the stronger of the two sides. Each makes a claim to that position; Harvey notes that Two-Face wasn’t strong enough to kill Daddy Dent or destroy the Harvey personality, saying that’s a sign of hope surviving, while Two-Face claims that he has kept both Harvey and his father alive because he likes to be reminded how weak the opposition is in comparison to him. With Mr. Dent still alive and captive in a basement – it’s presumably his cries we hear at the start of this issue – it raises the question on if Harvey’s father will play a role in the finale.
What Rough Beast Slouches Towards Gotham?
After being reintroduced earlier in this storyline as the Beast, the former-KGBeast is also promising to play a large role in the months to come. Seemingly forgotten after an earlier defeat, the Beast, is able to successfully attack Batman’s biplane and take Batman, Duke, and Two-Face to his new lair. And while the Beast was working for Penguin and the rest of his crew, it’s clear very quickly that the Beast is not content to be a henchman. He’s built an entire island to use as a base, with coordinates that add up to 666; clearly the Beast has taken his new name very seriously. “I will hunt you for a year. Maybe two,” the Beast promises the captive Batman. “We will circle each other… It will be… a delight.” And while the Beast’s plans are waylaid once more by other attacks, one thing feels very clear: don’t count the Beast out just yet. Snyder and John Romita Jr. have created an entirely new modus operandi for the character, and with this amount of planning, he’s almost certainly going to rear up out of the wilderness once more.
That said, there’s one thing that even the Beast can’t stop, it seems, and that’s sheer numbers. The tracking signal on Two-Face is amplified enough for many to find the villain with the reward attached to him, and when the Beast’s new headquarters is attacked, Batman assumes it’s another member of his rogue’s gallery: Deathstroke, perhaps, or Lady Shiva. What we actually get, though, is a mass of humanity, outfitted and ready to attack. Friends or foes? Well, that’s going to have to have to wait until “All-Star Batman” #5 for the conclusion to “My Own Worst Enemy.” With the foundation being set for many stories to come, the only thing that’s certain is that surely, no one is safe here.