With Tony Daniel switching over to "Detective Comics" in September, as well as writing the new "Savage Hawkman" comic, I can't help but wonder if people might be taking a look at his "Batman" run to get an idea of what to expect from Daniel. While I've enjoyed the vast majority of Daniel's "Batman," though, it's a shame that this is the first issue to be released since the announcements. It's, unfortunately, probably his weakest issue to date.
It doesn't help that "Batman" #711 feels rushed. The Riddler's involvement in Two-Face's problems feels like it's announced solely because the plot requires it, not because the Riddler would finally expose himself. Gilda Dent and Mario Falcone's relationship feels trite and cliché, and it's hard to take either one of them seriously. (And after Gilda gets slapped by Mario and suddenly simpers, "I love you, Mario," it was hard to not cringe at the number of bad stereotypes on display. Not only does it not fit with what we've seen from Gilda up to this point, but Mario's abusiveness feels like a lazy shorthand to show us that he's a bad guy. It doesn't add anything to the story but a general distaste in the reader's mouth.)
Then again, this is also an issue of "Batman" with remarkably little Batman. It's mostly Two-Face's story, but this isn't covering any new ground. I don't think the character is used up—Greg Rucka handled him excellently in Two-Face's relationship with Renee Montoya, and James Robinson's "Face the Face" story that kicked off "One Year Later" was another interesting take on him—but this feels like a Two-Face story simply for the sake of a Two-Face story rather than trying to bring something new to the table.
Steve Scott is providing guest art (no doubt to allow Daniel to finish up several issues of "Detective Comics" well in advance of the relaunch) and it's not quite up to Daniel's level. Figures look a little too cartoonish in places (the scene where Mario strikes Gilda, for instance, or Two-Face having clawed himself out of the dirt), and there are a remarkably high number of panels with no backgrounds. Batman himself looks stiff and clumsy (although still impossibly muscled), and on the whole there's a lack of energy on the page. I have a bad feeling that a lot of comics this month will end up with these problems as guest-artists step in to finish up runs on titles, alas.
I'm still looking forward to Daniel taking over "Detective Comics," but it's because of his work on earlier storylines, not because of this one. Trust me, Daniel's done a lot better in the past. I suspect that we've got a lot better to come starting this fall, too.