My initial, overall thoughts? It's... interesting. Not bad, really, and certainly much better than most of the awful new villain origins. It's only the first issue, and it's clear that there's more backstory details to be revealed, but for now, count my interested... with some reservations, especially where poor Gilda is concerned.
UPDATE: You can see the origin pages for yourself over here at my Tumblr!
Harvey was now scarred by a redheaded Irish mobster named Erin McKillen as revenge for... well, it's not clear yet, but she clearly blamed Harvey for ruining her life, although he just may have put her in jail for being a ruthless mob boss. Erin kills Gilda with a knife to the heart, and then she straps Harvey to his own desk, whereupon she scars him so that "now Gotham can finally see what a two-faced son of a bitch you really are!" How much did Harvey really deserve this? McKilled accused him of throwing her and somebody named Shannon "to the wolves to feed your blind ambition," but considering how awful and ruthless she is, I'm guessing that we're not supposed to feel much pity for her. Hopefully not.
With his face still burning, Harvey breaks free (with a "RAY-CHULL"-like scream of "GILDAAAA!"), and in the process, he knocks over a framed display of coins on his wall, one of which is the coin. Blood from his face face drips out and lands on the sole two-headed coin in the collection, staining one side with blood (and maybe burning it too? There's no indication that it's burned, only bloodied, but that would be interesting). He then holds up Gilda's lifeless body, and says, "Goodbye, my love." The scene is actually played out quite powerfully, and I even choked up a bit.
While I hate that Gilda was fridged, this was quite honestly not as bad as I'd feared. What could be worse than a fridging death? As we've discussed here before, I've been so afraid of some writer coming along to reveal that Harvey was an absuive husband to her, or that he may even have raped her or something when his dark side took over, because that's the kind of shit that DC Comics writers DO all the time nowadays. Hell, I'm amazed that no story has ever written Harvey killing Gilda as, like, some final indication of how the monster has taken over!
Another possibility I worried about was that Gilda would be revealed to be some horrible, manipulative monster in her own right, just to take her Long Halloween depiction even further. After all, that's just what DC did with Man-Bat: revealed that Francine Langstrom was evil and manipulative all along, and thus one of the Bat-verse's longest-running marriages has now been revealed to be a sham. In the face of all those possibilities, Gilda frankly seems safer dead. Besides, death can always be undone in comics.
What's most affecting is the fact that Gilda's death still seems to haunt Harvey, as the issue opens with him waking up and playing Russian roulette with a bullet that he keeps in front of her framed picture. It looks like Gilda--more than just being a RAY-CHULL-esque excuse for angst and revenge--is now to him what Nora Fries was to Mr. Freeze before that origin was ruined.
So far, I'm okay with the way this is playing out, although I am concerned about what this will mean to Two-Face as a character long-term. Gilda's always been the only character who could bring out the humanity in the monster that is Two-Face, and without her, what does he have left? Well, it's not like anyone was using her anyway, so I guess things won't change much. Sigh.
So what is "The Big Burn" actually about? Welp, Erin McKillen has finally returned to Gotham, and met up with the other crime families, led by a guy named Vincent. Moroni, maybe? No idea. Anyway, Vincent initates a plan to wipe out the costumes rogues once and for all (good luck with that), and he proposes that McKillen start with the Frankenstein's monster she created: Two-Face, who has "hurt us the most over the years." Yes, this Two-Face actually goes after mobsters! Neat! So it looks like this story is ramping up to be all-out gang war vendetta between the deadly Miss McKillen and Two-Face.
But wait, isn't this story supposed to also involve Carrie Kelly, Frank Miller's Robin from The Dark Knight Returns who has been introduced by Tomasi as Damian Wayne's tutor? She doesn't show up here, but between her name and her bright red hair, I'm guessing that she will be revealed to be related to the McKillen clan, which--if true--will likely put her in Harvey's sights. So we'll see.
By the way, if the name "Erin McKillen" sounds familiar, that's because she was first mentioned in Two-Face's Villains Month issue. Thing was, when she was mentioned, I mistakenly thought that this "Erin McKillen" person was intended to be the same character as Scallop, another Tomasi-original rogue who appeared on the very same page. Heck, look at this page again, and see if you too aren't led to believe that Scallop is meant to be McKillen:
Hell, they even share the same hair color! I mean, we were meant to think that they were one and the same, right? Otherwise, what's the point of even having the flashback in that last panel? All of the other flashbacks worked as ironic mirrors to the panels that took place in the present, like the first two panels above, but since the other two panels are totally different, the only logical storytelling conclusion we're led to believe is that this supervillain Scallop was once a ruthless mob wife targeted by D.A. Harvey Dent, right?
Nope, turns out they're two separate characters, so that one panel had absolutely no goddamn business being in this issue. It served no purpose other than to awkwardly foreshadow the events of "The Big Burn," and it just further makes the Villains Month issue look like a half-baked waste of potential. And to think, I bought all of Scallop's other appearances for nothing. Feh. At least now I have more Bat Head goodness.
So after a disappointing start with last month's "A Tale of Two Faces," it looks like "The Big Burn" is shaping up to be an interesting new origin with potential for greatness. Again, I won't give it the full review treatment until it's wrapped up, but I may post thoughts like this here every now and then. Mainly, I'll be posting scans and scattered thoughts about stuff over at my Tumblr, so keep up over there for all the latest rants and ramblings!