When the Batâ€™s away… yada…yada…yada…
Nightwing down?Â Pizza Boy only hope for rescue?Â Gordon and Bullock weepy over Batman?Â Who is that girl in the tattered rags?Â What the hell?Â None of this makes sense from the previous issue…Â Time to tune in for the latest installment of a world without Batman. (Cue organ music.)
With Batman out of the picture (for now), itâ€™s up to Dick Grayson to bring down the criminal masquerading as Two-Face.Â Narrating the tale is the Millicent Mayne, who had her face horrible disfigured by Gracchus – the guy pretending to be Two-Face to cover up a much bigger crime.
What?Â None of this is familiar to you?Â Thatâ€™s probably because this story is the second installment of an arc that began in Detective Comics.Â More than likely, readers of Batman are reading everything Batman, so the decision to split this story across two titles makes sense – unless of course you only read one over the other, which is understandable since Paul Dini was writing much better stories in Detective… ahem….
So if you didnâ€™t read the issue, at least take a moment and read the review Major Spoilers did over Detective Comics #851 (http://www.majorspoilers.com/archives/8952.htm).
Nightwing is clearly not playing his A-game as he let Gracchusâ€™s gang get the drop on him, and he needs the help of a pizza delivery boy to get out of the burning warehouse, and make it back home. I like what Oâ€™Neil did with the character of the pizza boy, and even though this is probably the only time weâ€™ll ever see him, there is plenty of back story revealed to make this is a fully realized character.
The realization that he isnâ€™t Batman has Nightwing shaken, that is until Alfred reminds once-upon-a-time-sidekick, that Batman didnâ€™t become a fully actualized character overnight; it took years and years of practice and learning from mistakes to become the hero he is (or was if you believe the DC hype machine).Â This is enough to get Nightwing back in the right frame of mind to actually play the detective and track down the clues needed to solve â€œThe Case of the Two-Faced Two-Faceâ€.
The big clue comes when Nightwing questions why Two-Face would attack Millicent Mane.Â Commissioner Gordon reveals Millicent hangs out in an area of Gotham that has still not been rebuilt since the Gotham earthquake of â€™98.Â When the fake Two-Face calls GCPD and tells them he is going to attack the Mayorâ€™s party, Gordon and Bullock send every cop in the city to guard the Mayor and his revelers.Â Itâ€™s all a ruse to get cops away from the real scene of the crime, the theater that opened this story where stolen diamonds are waiting to be recovered.
Of course with Nightwing on the scene, the bad guys are taken down, the diamonds are recovered and Millicent Mane is allowed to continue her impersonation of Ghost, with nary a hint of Dark Horse lawyers issuing a C&D.
The story overall is a nice buffer/wrap-up of Batmanâ€™s death, and is good enough of a story that readers wonâ€™t get bored waiting for the Battle of the Cowl, even though Iâ€™m pretty sure 99.9% of us already know the outcome.
Itâ€™s never really stated when this story takes place, it could be days, weeks, or months after the â€œdeath of Batmanâ€, but considering how quickly this issue was released after the final chapter of RIP (and well ahead of the final chapters of Final Crisis, I might add), Gordon and Bullock seem to overreact to Batmanâ€™s absence.Â What a couple of weepy bitches, considering a body has never been recovered.Â Theyâ€™ve both dealt with Nightwing before, so to not believe he is capable of bringing in the villain is way out of character for both.
Unless it is specifically stated on the cover, casual readers of the Batman title are going to be completely lost (more than usual) when reading this issue.Â Those of us that purchase everything that might even remotely feature Batman in it, are in the know, but I canâ€™t help but wonder if there isnâ€™t going to be some kind of disconnect even among those rabid fans.
There are certainly some things that I donâ€™t like (Gordon and Bullockâ€™s characterizations), and some things I really do like (Nightwing looking at the city as his) that sell the issue for me, but overall, this is a slightly above average story, earning Batman #684 3 out of 5 Stars.