On saving Gotham and Two-Face: Ram V unpacks 'Detective … – AIPT











A deep dive into the next overture of “Gotham Nocturne: Act 1.”
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Ram V’s approach to Batman in Detective Comics has been nothing short of breathtaking. The series has taken the approach of a gothic opera, steeped in robust tragedy, and readily infused true depth and context to the Arkham family and its many ties to Gotham City.
This week, the creative team launches part two of “Gotham Nocturne: Act 1,” which features Two-Face heavily across a tale that’s strongly about the concept of form. More specifically, there are multiple instances of symmetry, including the use of two artists and mirroring various layouts. With Ivan Reis and Rafael Albuquerque providing the art, the issue is complex and seems to push the comics art form in some really important ways.

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To better understand Ram V’s approach, we discussed his approach at length on the AIPT Comics podcast as well as in the written interview below. We dig into some fascinating stuff about what it means to “save” a city and even evolving morality in narrative, among other tidbits.
Some light spoilers ahead for Detective Comics #1068. Don’t miss Sunday’s AIPT Comics podcast, as Ram V spoke on Detective Comics and more.
Courtesy of DC Comics.
AIPT: Your work with Two-Face has been building, nay, boiling over toward a central conflict. What made Two-Face the right character for your needs in this ongoing Nocturne narrative? Further, One can see the symbology of demons of Tenclaw, of Two-Face, and of a surprise involving Batman in this issue. What is it about duality and the division of these things you find fascinating in this story?
Ram V: I’m fascinated by narratives of “saving” cities. What that means. Its implications. Batman is always “saving” Gotham. And I think we’re at a time where it is important to really look at what that means. For Batman, for Bruce Wayne, for us. I mean, if “saving” simply means a return to innocence, to a time when little boys and their parents could safely walk the streets of the city, isn’t that just nostalgia? And safety is relative. Depending on what part of the city you come from, your ideas of safety vary wildly. So, one of the questions at the center of this narrative is what it means to save Gotham.
Why am I giving you this spiel when you asked me about Two-Face? Well, because Two-Face was “Saved”, and in examining that idea, we can begin to understand the flaws in that statement. Excising a part of someone’s personality is a pretty dubious way of “saving” someone. Now think about Gotham in that context. Can we save a city by excising its “bad” parts? Is it the same city? What does it mean for Batman when he is confronted with this notion? Is a Gotham that is “Saved” still Gotham? Is a city more important than its people? The good ones and the bad? 

This Ship of Theseus question finds a through line in Gotham: Nocturne and its many dualities. Harvey/Two-Face just makes for the most obvious poster-boy.
Courtesy of DC Comics.
AIPT: Working with Ivan Reis and Rafael Albuquerque, you literally have a duality of artistry at work here, how did you approach divvying up who draws what?
Ram V: It helps that they’re both very good friends and so they made sure their art complements each other’s. I felt like Rafa had a “smoother” look to his work at times and so we went for Rafa to largely work with Harvey’s POV dominant. If you look at Rafa’s pages they start off being largely Harvey narrating.
Ivan, on the other hand, has a almost brutal beauty to his inks. They’re gritty but thick and beautiful, bold, almost aggressive in some ways. I thought that fit “Scar-vey” quite well. So you’ll see Ivan largely on that side of the narrative.
Then of course the theme of the story is mirroring and symmetry, so we made sure each spread has both artists working with each other. And because I didn’t want one artist constantly following another’s layout, we arranged it so that each artist mirrors his colleague’s page and then draws one for his colleague to mirror. Does that make sense? It does on the page, in any case!
Massive credit due here to Jessica Chen, the editor on the book. She coordinated the whole thing to make sure everyone knew exactly what they were supposed to do.
AIPT: In a key two-page scene, we see the duality of two-face, a villain and Batman, intermixed with red and white captions showing different voices and tones. How do you approach capturing the different tones/approaches in voice in these captions?
Ram V: I suppose that’s part of the familiarity that comes with spending time with these characters. I write with flair and flourish. I pride in my characters sounding dramatic, poignant or poetic at times. Even so, I think Harvey is well-spoken, passive-aggressive at times, and melancholy at others. Scar-vey is a brute. Still intelligent, still charismatic, but a brute nonetheless. He doesn’t do poetry unless it is the filthy kind.
Batman and his “other” (spoilers!) – have differences in the same way. Bat is concise, contained and expresses only as much as he needs to. The other is dramatic, prophetic, archaic but also theatrical and poignant.

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