Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Batman: Jekyll and Hyde Review (Paul Jenkins, Jae Lee)

Everyone knows how Harvey Dent physically became Two-Face - acid to the face, thrown at him by a mobster in a courtroom - but psychologically? There’s the rub because physical deformity wouldn’t instantly split someone’s psyche in two. Paul Jenkins takes us deep into the mind of Harvey Dent to expose his hidden demons and show us where Two-Face really came from… 

Batman: Jekyll and Hyde is, appropriately enough, a book split down the middle of good and bad quality. I like that Jenkins took us to a place I don’t think anyone’s really taken us with Two-Face before, and makes a compelling case for his fractured state of mind. Jenkins also made him really, really intense and disturbed at the same time, more so than any other version of Two-Face I’ve ever seen. Here, Harvey is like John Doe in Se7en, utterly insane and evil, torturing people sadistically as well as murdering them – he’s a more serious villain than he’s normally written. 

Also Batman has some great scenes with Alfred and Gordon and, again appropriately (possibly deliberately?), the book is drawn by not one but two fantastic artists: Jae Lee draws the first half, Sean Phillips the second. Even though Lee overdoes Batman’s cape to the point where it looks like he’s wearing a parachute, his gothic visuals lends the dark story the chill it needs. And Phillips’ noir sensibilities work really well here too. Such a great-looking comic! 

But the overall story that all of this hangs on? Meh. Clich├ęd even, and ends predictably too. And the reason why some scientist was working on a serum to bring out a person’s dark side was contrived and unmemorable. Also, at one point Harvey falls off a building and lands on his head, but gets up moments later with an “Uhhh”, as if he’s hungover. Two-Face is not a superhero, he’s an ordinary human - his head should’ve splattered on the ground like a tomato! Not even a broken bone? Come on. 

Batman: Jekyll and Hyde is a flawed comic with a weak story and some plot holes but it has awesome artwork throughout and arguably the best characterisation of Two-Face ever. I’d say it’s worth checking out for Batman fans for that last one alone.

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