about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
So for the past week, I've working on another big round-up post of news and announcements, but go figure, I've gotten so long-winded on them all that I've decided to just turn them into a bunch of their own mini-posts to keep activity going here between actual reviews. First up, here's something which I should have posted about two weeks ago! Whee!

You may remember the recent issue of Legends of the Dark Knight where Harvey underwent brain surgery in an attempt to remove Two-Face, and Batman screwed it up. You may also remember that the issue's author, TV producer Jonathan Larsen, popped up in the comments to offer his gracious thoughts and responses, and when he mentioned that he had some new projects in the pipeline, I told him to let us know when they were coming out. Welp, two weeks ago, he returned to announce that his new comic is being released, and you can read it now! For free! I'll let Mr. Larsen's comment speak for itself, with a couple added hotlinks by me:

I promised I'd let you know when my new project was out, and it is, so here I am! It's a free, weekly webcomic called "The Endling," and the first installment is up now, by me, an Italian artist I found named Cecilia Latella and my old Batman partner Paul Mounts on colors. It's been shepherded by comic-book deity Mark Waid and it'll be appearing on Thrillbent every Thursday. Please like The Endling on Facebook so you can let us know what you think and get notified when new installments go up. Thanks again!

Because it's taken me two weeks to get off my butt and post all this, the third part was just released today, so you can check out the first three installments back to back! So far, I'm really digging it, partially since it feels reminiscent of the 80's revival of The Twilight Zone, which is definitely a compliment (Alan Brennert was one of the show-runners, and this reminds me of one of his best episodes). I also really like the reading experience of Thrillbent in general, which utilizes the format in cool and effective ways. Give it a read, like it on Facebook, and let Mr. Larsen know what you think! And check out some of the other comics on Thrillbent, if you get the chance! It looks like a noble venture which deserves to do well!

Right, back to working on the other news and announcement tidbits! Hopefully LJ will stop being screwy in time for the upcoming barrage of mini-posts over the next week. I reiterate: whee!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Hey folks, time for another round-up of announcements, news, meandering thoughts, and other odds 'n ends!

For a while now, I've been meaning to revise and update my posts on the entire Batman comic strip from 1989-1991 with bigger scans, better commentary, and all of the color Sundays I've managed to find thus far. As of today, I have completed my overhaul of the strip's first storyline by Max Allan Collins and Marshall Rogers! When I originally posted those strips, I was thinking less about being critical and more just going "OH MY GOD THESE ARE AWESOME I NEED TO SHOW THEM TO EVERYBODY NOW NOW NOW JUST IN CASE THE INTERNET BLOWS UP OR SOMETHING," but I've since had three years to think about these stories, so it's a pleasure to revisit and lovingly dissect them as they deserve.

Of course, with this good news comes sad news as well. Just as I begin this working on this side project, DC legend Carmine Infantino passed at age 87. Considering that Infantino illustrated the vast majority of the strips, this will certainly cast a pall over my revisions. I will try to do the great man justice in my revised posts, even though--as it turns out--he hated working on the strip, in no small part because he hated Batman in general! Turn out, apparently personally knowing Bob Kane will do that to a person. I'll go into that more when I revise his run.

Next item: Scott Snyder's upcoming new take on Batman's origin, Batman: The Zero Year, will indeed be featuring an appearance by Harvey. According to the DC solicits for July: The second chapter of “Zero Year” delves into Bruce Wayne’s past with the Red Hood Gang and his run-ins with aspiring District Attorney Harvey Dent! And in the backup story, a secret moment from Bruce’s training abroad is revealed for the first time!

As far as I'm concerned, this will be the real moment of truth when it comes to seeing how Snyder can handle writing Harvey. His scene with Leatherface!Joker in Death of the Family was not at all good, no, but in its way, it was no worse than any of the dozens of mediocre takes on Two-Face that we've all seen. If he screws up pre-scarring Harvey, however, then I'll be really steamed. A bad Two-Face is annoying, but a bad Harvey Dent is so much worse, and Snyder will almost certainly be adding some new original twist to Harvey's character and/or backstory. Heck, if he's an "aspiring District Attorney," then what does he do for a living? And what kind of "run-ins" are we talking about with Bruce, here? There's potential for this, but so far, I don't have too much faith given Snyder's track record both with villain origin reboots and Two-Face. I hope to be proven wrong.

In other news which may not seem related in any way to Batman villains, I've been thinking about Psycho II lately, probably due to the existence of the questionable prequel show, Bates Motel. As some of you may know, I adore the 1983 sequel to Hitchcock's classic adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel, and while Hitch's version is the better film all around, I personally prefer II overall. I mean, just look at the premise: an infamous, insane, costumed serial killer is sent to a mental institution, rehabilitated, and released into a world intent on driving him insane again when all he wants is a normal life free from his own demons. Gee, I wonder why that might appeal to me? If you suspect that it might also appeal to you for the same reasons, then good news, the entirety of Psycho II is up here on YouTube, broken into several parts! It's worth watching not just on its own merits, but also for those of us who love the Batman villains as tormented individuals, many of whom just want to have a normal life but find their efforts thwarted by monsters both within and without.

Similar to that, has anyone been watching Breaking Bad? Besides the fact that it's one of only things that really gets me excited anymore, it's also a stealth long-form supervillain origin, one which has helped me see many other villains in a whole new light. The final eight episodes are coming out this summer, and I'm anxious to watch them and geek out with fellow fans, and since you folks are awesome for discussion, I thought I'd toy with the idea of opening up episode discussions either here or at my even-more-neglected personal LJ, [livejournal.com profile] thehefner. If you'd like to catch up on the show but don't have access to the DVDs and/or Netflix, I will be happy to try and point your way to places online where episodes are streaming. Again, this show is really the only thing that I'm jazzed about these days, seeing as how new comics are a depressing place, so I'd love to share the geek joy (and turmoil) with y'all on this while we wait for comics to get better.

Finally, speaking of comics, has anyone else been keeping up with Without Sin, the Legends of the Dark Knight digital storyline by Dan Mishkin and Tom Mandrake? I have, and I think I'm going to hold off on reviewing it until it's over, just to see how it plays out. The way it has utilized Two-Face has been both fascinating and disappointing, and I want to see if Mishkin is going anywhere with this even as I suspect that it's not going to get any better. If you've been reading it and have any thoughts, do let me know.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)

Great news, everyone! One of my very favorite Two-Face stories--one which has bizarrely never been reprinted, despite the fact that it's an early work by a superstar writer--is now available as a digital comic on Comixology! Even better, it's currently on sale for just 99¢ as part of DC's Black History Month sale alongside other comics featuring John Stewart, Black Lightning, Mister Terrific, the Milestone Comics heroes, and more.

The story in question is Face to Face to Face to Face from Teen Titans Spotlight #13 (1987), written by J. Michael Straczynski*, and it was the subject of one of my very earliest reviews back when I started up [livejournal.com profile] about_faces. As a review, it hadn't aged very well. The scans were too grainy and small (why did I always post such small scans back in the day?), and what little commentary there was wasn't exactly super-insightful. It was a shabby tribute to one of the best--and yet most obscure--Two-Face stories I've ever read, and to make matters worse (or better), it was posted so early on that it only has three comments, one of which was deleted and one of which is mine. No, this story deserves better than that!

So in honor of this story finally being released in an accessible and affordable way, I have given my review of F2F2F2F a complete overhaul with full commentary and larger, cleaned-up digital scans from the Comixology issue! For all intents and purposes, this is an all-new review, so I urge everyone to please check it out even if you haven't been in Hefner-withdrawal over my recent absence. ;)

Hopefully I'll be posting some new stuff again within the next week or two, but I make no promises. Thanks to everyone for your continued readership and all your thoughtful comments! Looking back on how few followers I had early on just makes me all the more grateful for everyone you folks bring to this little blog 'o mine, so thanks again!

*Speaking of JMS, are there any other fans of Babylon 5 out there? I just finished reading this amazing tie-in novel about Walter Koenig's character, Alfred Bester (yes, named after the sci-fi author and creator of Solomon Grundy), and I'm still reeling from the experience. As I describe in that linked Tumblr post, it's a fantastic villain-centric story that I wish I could recommend to everyone here, even to those who haven't watch B5.
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Just to give everyone a heads-up, this blog is going on semi-hiatus for the next few weeks.

It was going to happen anyway, since Henchgirl and I are about to hit the road for a performance of my solo show at the Calgary Fringe Festival in Calgary, Alberta, Canadaland. It'll be a week's drive here and back, and with the performances going on, chances were slim that I'd get an opportunity to post and/or respond to comments for the most part. I've got a handful of mostly-written posts that wouldn't take as much work to throw together in a crunch. But under the circumstances, that may not be happening anyway.

The shooting in Aurora, CO, has left a taint on fandom in particular and Batman fandom specifically, one which we will be feeling for weeks to come, if not years. It has been impossible for me to even try thinking about anything related to Batman, Harvey, or The Dark Knight Rises without feeling sick, like it's just pointless and disrespectful right now. I feel silly looking at the words I've written, but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way: Henchgirl summed up our feelings over at her blog. That says it better than I'm even capable of articulating at present.

As such, I just don't even feel up for responding to your reviews in the last post. There will come a time when I will want to really tear into TDKR, especially since I really, really don't like the movie and will only become increasingly frustrated with it the more I read glowing reviews from others. Like, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character? Everyone is absolutely gaga over him, and yet, all I could see was the biggest goddamn Mary Sue I've ever seen in a comic movie ever. And generally speaking, everything I already didn't like about Nolan's Batman was ramped up to extremes here.

But I just don't even care right now. For the time being, the only review that comes close to my own criticisms is Harry Knowles at Aint It Cool News. Really, I could hug him just for that third to last paragraph, the one that starts with "We need someone that isn’t afraid of any aspect of the Batman universe." I guess that's a good sign that my love for Batman and superheroes will eventually overcome the feeling of shell-shock and despair. It has to.

If I'm feeling up for it while we're in Calgary on our downtime between shows, maybe I'll post one or two of those half-written reviews. No promises, though. And even if I do, please understand if I don't rush to respond, or even if I don't respond at all. All that said, your own comments and readership mean everything to me, so if you want to chime in and interact, by all means, go for it. Hell, if anyone wants to do a guest review or something, let me know! Your participation might just be the thing which I need. Which, for all I know, we might all need.

So until late August, I guess I'll see you when I see you. After that, hopefully we'll be able to get back to the fun of celebrating (and/or lovingly tearing apart) comics and the characters we love so much. One day at a time.

Now back to work.
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In the interest of trying to get more work done while appearing to be slacking worse than ever, I've been composing a dozen future About_Faces entires over the past month.

Some of these posts are dependent on referring older reviews I've made, a couple of which were composed before I really got into the groove of things here. So I've spent the last couple of days giving a facelift to one post, and a MAJOR overhaul to another. Even if you've read either of these posts before, I highly encourage you to give them a second look.

First off, I've gone back to the first review I ever posted here (my second-ever post!) and given Alan Grant's "Janus" a complete makeover from the ground up, with tons more commentary and even a few more scans.

I figured it was especially timely considering that it may or may not be a response to Two-Face Strikes Twice!. It will also be relevant to some of those posts coming up in the future, as it corresponds strongly to a certain episode of B:TAS about which I have very strong feelings. I mean, stronger than usual.

Secondly, I've revised the post that looks at Greg Rucka's first DC Comics stories, including "Two Down," the fantastic first meeting between Harvey and Renee. As before, it also includes a look at the mirrored first meeting between the Question and the Huntress, and as a bonus, I'm consolidated those stories with my review of Rucka's little-read prose Renee story, Random Encounters.

Random Encounters is a great story with some (I think) fascinating insight as to Harvey and Renee, but my review of it had no comments, so I wanted to give this lost gem a second chance. Especially since I'm planning on finally reviewing Gotham Central: Half a Life in the near future. As such, it was vital to give a polish to the story where it all began, just to show all the potential that was lost and crushed by Rucka's final, critically-acclaimed story.

So yeah, give them another look-over, if only as a refresher for some stuff I'll be getting to soon. Eventually. In the nearish future. Promise. :)


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