about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)


News has come out that IDW Publishing has partnered with DC Comics to reprint classic DC superhero comic strips, starting with Superman and eventually going on to Batman and Wonder Woman. If you're like me, your fangasm of "Oh my god, all of these incredibly obscure and rare comics are finally being collected eeeeeeeeeeeee!" would be followed up with the question, "Wait... which era of Batman comic strips will be collected?"

While the current press releases do not specify, I got the answer from Dean Mullaney, the creative director of the Library of American Comics, who is putting the book together for IDW. Consider this an About_Faces exclusive, if you'd like! I wrote to Mr. Mullaney because I--perhaps presumptuously--wanted to offer my services in some capacity on the off-chance that they were going to collect the '89-'91 strips. The upcoming Superman Dailies book was made possible due to the contributions of a super-fan collector, and I wanted to see if I might be able to help in my own way to bring this beloved strip to the masses.

As it stands, the license that IDW/LoAC has from DC only goes up to 1972. The good news is that this means we'll finally be seeing a collection of the impossible-to-find 60's Batman comic strip, the one that featured the creepily happy-looking Two-Face! Hot damn, now we'll finally be able to read that full battle with all the rogues! The bad news, of course, is that there are no plans for reprinting the '89-'91 as of just yet, but Mr. Mullaney is hopeful that they'll be able to get around to those at some point.

Hopefully they will, and hopefully they'll keep me in mind too. I still have so much love for that strip, and I'd be more than happy to lend out my collection. Hell, I'd love to contribute more than that, if they'd let me. If I knew how to acquire the rights, I would be spearheading the development of that collection myself, complete with analysis, commentary, and interviews with the surviving creators. Any way--small or large--that I could help to bring this strip to bigger audiences would be an honor.

In the meantime, I'll continue to be on the lookout for affordable copies of color Sunday strips. I just found a bunch of new ones recently, so I'll be posting them here in the near future!
about_faces: (Default)
Hey, everyone! Life has been pretty crappy over the past few days, so I haven't been able to finish any new reviews just yet, much less respond to the epic discussions in my last Rogues Gallery post, but I just wanted to write a quick round-up of remarkable tidbits that've come my way recently!

First off, I want to thank writer Jonathan Larsen for his generous and gracious response to my review of his Two-Face brain surgery story, Together. At his suggestion, I bought the other issue of Legends of the Dark Knight he wrote, which also happens to be his first-ever comics work. The standalone story in LotDK #2, entitled All of the Above, is about Batman versus Amazo, the android who can replicate the powers of the entire JLA, and the two of them battling alone on the League's satellite HQ.



It's a simple story executed eloquently, and Larsen manages to do more with it than just show how the guy with no powers takes down the guy with all of the powers. It's also helped by the artwork of J.G. Jones, thus reaffirming my belief in the review for Together that Larsen's writing would benefit from a cleaner style of art. This story is only 99¢, so definitely pick it up! And speaking of new comics you should buy:



So Walt Simonson's graphic novel The Judas Coin is finally out, not that you'd know from the complete lack of publicity it's gotten. Over the course of a week, the post I was working on has evolved into way more of a long-winded essay regarding the genesis of the graphic novel and the histories of the characters involved rather than a straight-forward review/analysis.

The short version is that I adored it, but it's not going to be for all tastes. Until I can go into details in my review, I'll just say that you'll probably love it if you already love Walt Simonson and/or classic DC historical adventure comics from the Silver and Bronze Ages. If that sounds at all up your alley, I urge you to buy it so we can hash it out in my eventual massive review/essay/rant thing.

That said, it is with great reluctance that I concede one big problem: it's way too expensive at cover price. $22.99 for a slim 94-page hardcover? Yeesh! Even though Simonson made the most out of every page, that's still WAY too much, DC. Thankfully, there are cheaper options, with print copies going for $13.77 on both Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, which also offers it for Nook for $12.64. Other ways you can get it digitally include Kindle for $9.99 (the best deal of them all), and $12.99 for iBooks for iPad/iPhone. Few are talking about this book and DC has done nothing to promote it, so check it out however you can. And if you are willing to spend the full cover price, then hey, go support your local bookstore/comic book shop!


As a further incentive, here's an awesome Harvey sketch by Simonson.


And speaking of comic book shops (he said, trying desperately to come up with a relevant segue), I've just learned that I need to track down old back issues of Comic Shop News. You know, that freebie newspaper that many shops give away that features solicits, reviews, etc, that everyone probably just glances at and throws out? Well, I'm hoping that not everyone did, because guess what ran in the back of several issues around 1989-1991?



That's right: CSN ran color Sundays for the Batman newspaper comic strip in each issue! Egad, look at the quality of that! That's probably better looking than anything I might find at the Library of Congress archives! But argh, even if I could find back issues (roughly around issues #150-215), I couldn't afford them under the present financial circumstances, so I guess that will just be something to look out for once IRL things get back into shape for me. In the meantime, if anyone knows where I can find scans of these color strips, please do point them my way! I want to be able to include as many color Sundays as I can for The Daily Batman!

Okay, that's enough of an update for now. I was originally going to end with my quick thoughts on the animated Dark Knight Returns movie, but they soon took on a life of their own, so I'll give them their own review later. For now, I'll just say that I liked the film way more than I thought I would, and that it caused me to completely reevaluate my previous views on Harvey Dent's subplot. Pretty impressive feat, that.
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So hey, remember when I said that I'd discovered an even-more-obscure Batman newspaper comic strip, one which featured what may well be the single rarest Two-Face appearance ever?

Well, good news, everyone! I have come into possession of several scans of the strips, including most of the Two-Face stuff! Not all of it, sadly, and I'm missing the surrounding strips, so the result kinda just feels like being plunked into the middle of a story. But the important thing is, hey, long-lost Two-Face appearance! What's more, as this pre-dates the O'Neil/Adams classic Half an Evil, this strip is actually Harvey's first true appearance during his seventeen-year absence in the Silver Age! So okay, it's crazy rare and historically important, but is it any good? Let's find out!



He was top of his class at Handsome Law School! )

And on that cliffhanger, I'm afraid I've run out of strips. If I ever get my hands on any other scans, I'll be sure to either revise this post or do a whole new, more complete version of this. So yeah, all in all, this strip is much more what I expected the 90's strip to be: an amusing and kinda cool little artifact with some neat bits, but ultimately nothing to write home about for any reason other than its sheer obscurity. Pretty much everything that I didn't include centered around 60's-style Batman detective work and riddle-solving, which didn't exactly make for compelling reading nor offer any character moments. Still, I'm glad to at least have found this much of something which isn't anywhere else on the internet! What think you folks?
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So as a side project, I've started "The Daily Batman" (or "Batman_Daily," I can't decide which I prefer), a Tumblr blog where I can post the '89-'91 Batman comic strips as they originally ran: one per day, with the Sundays on Sundays.

I'm doing this because I'm still utterly in love with the comic strip and want to keep showing it off to as many people as possible.The scans I'm posting are bigger than the ones I posted here, plus I'll be including whatever alternate versions (mainly color strips and original artwork) which I've found floating around. If only I could get all the Sundays in color, that's would be awesome, but I don't know of any way to scour through color newspaper archives from 1989-1991 without maybe taking a four hour drive down to the Library of Congress. I just don't have that kinda time, man, but I am nonetheless sorely tempted. So until I devote an entire website to my own personal edit of the strip into a more cohesive and dynamic narrative, "The Daily Batman" will hopefully suffice as Phase 2 of this strip I so love.

THAT SAID... aheh heh heh... so in the course of my searches for color strips and original art, I discovered something pretty funny. You see, the whole reason I was looking for the strips in the first place was because I thought that they were the Holy Grail of Two-Face stories, one that's so obscure and lost to time that even the internet was largely ignorant of its existence. I admit, I'm still amazed and damn proud that I managed to track down what had to be the rarest Two-Face story of all time. And then I found this:



This is original artwork for the Batman comic strip that ran in 1971. Bear in mind, 1971 was the year where we say the first Two-Face appearance in almost a decade, and now I learn that not only did Harvey appear in another Batman comic strip, it also may have JUST coincided with his grand return to comics. And that above scan is the ONLY one I can find from that entire storyline, the only trace to acknowledge Harvey's existence in that strip, scans of which have never, to my knowledge, been reprinted ANYWHERE.



In addition to the Two-Face story, the strip ran other stories which I'd love to read, including a team-up between Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and Killer Moth:





Yes, there really was a story where Killer Moth, the Riddler, and Poison Ivy were trying to score some smack. I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE.

And there's also an epic with Bruce Wayne being terrorized by Joe Chill's son, seeking vengeance for his father. Even though Chill Jr. seems to lose the battle after being mortally wounded, it looks like he has the last laugh:



Everything looks bleak for Bruce's secret identity, until:



Really, the twist alone makes this entire storyline a must-read, but not nearly as "must" as that Two-Face story. So yes, I now have a new Holy Grail for Two-Face comics, and absolutely no idea where to look for them.

... Welp, I hear Washington DC is nice this time of year.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)


Honestly, I could devote a whole separate fanblog just for the Harvey Dent from the various DC Animated Universe properties*, from B:TAS all the way to today, as that version of the character still manages to endure in fandom.

At first, I thought about doing like I did with the Who's Who posts and just writing about EVERYTHING there is about Harvey over fourteen daily posts in an event which I was going to call Two Weeks of Two-Face in the DCAU. Of course, I soon realized that such a project would not only be overload for everyone involved (especially me!), but it also wouldn't do the character justice. And if anyone deserves justice, it's Harvey Dent. /I see what I did there!

For a whole generation, the DCAU Two-Face was the definitive version of the character. Sure, the Nolanverse owns the current generation, but B:TAS seems to still have a healthy following nonetheless. At the very least, I'm certain that the DCAU Two-Face will continue to be more popular and influential than, well, any version from the comics. I dare say that'd be true even if we lived in a better world where comics would be as popular and well-known as cartoons and movie (*weary sigh*). But even as a fan, I never gave much thought about just WHY this Two-Face was so great, much less the work that went into making him that way, until I discovered the actual B:TAS writer's bible on World's Finest Online, the single greatest resource for all things DCAU and beyond.

Reading that writer's bible, you can see that so much of what made B:TAS in general so brilliant was no accident. It wasn't just that a handful of smart writers tried their damnedest to tell great Batman stories. These people had a vision, and set themselves with high standards right from the outset. Even though many of those plans in the bible were changed or scrapped before the first episodes even made it to air, the importance of that foundation cannot be understated, and you may be surprised just well the greatness of that show was planned from the outset.

Which, naturally, brings us back to Harvey. Before we look at any of the DCAU episodes, comics, toys, merch, Happy Meal boxes, and so on, let's look at the roots of Two-Face in the DCAU--the design, the groundwork, the plots, the voice, and more--as we examine what was planned... and what was changed.

Behind the scenes, behind the cut! )



Next time: Harvey's very first (and very brief) appearance in On Leather Wings, followed by a major role in The Batman Adventures comics, which I consider to be the very best appearance of pre-insanity Harvey in the DCAU.







*Honestly, I could write a couple hundred posts just about the DCAU villains in general. I'd love to look at all the Mister Freeze stories, since the DCAU comics fill in the gaps between episodes and Sub-Zero that, combined with his finale in Batman Beyond, make for a powerful tragedy in epic scope. I mean, even more powerful than the one people already know if they've just seen the episodes. The comics, as I was reiterate throughout these posts, are THAT good.

**The fact that Harvey, Thomas Wayne, and the Bat-Computer all have the same voice raises a few questions about Bruce. Did he pattern the Bat-Computer to sound like his father or Harvey? Is he friends with Harvey because the latter sounds like his father? INQUIRING MINDS THAT READ TOO MUCH INTO THINGS WANT TO KNOWWWWWWWW.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
In an interview for his one-shot story, Joker's Asylum: Two-Face (which I'll look at on its own later), writer David Hine explained the appeal of writing Harvey:


"Two-Face is the perfect distillation of the Dice Man character. 'The Dice Man' was a novel by Luke Rhinehart that featured a guy who led his life according to the role of a dice. I read that novel when I was a teenager and I loved the idea that you could actually reject any kind of moral choice and let Fate decide for you. No guilt feelings, or anxiety about the future. The Dice made me do it. Of course, he had six alternatives every time he came to a turning point, which leaves a whole range of possibilities in any given situation. With Two-Face there are no shades of grey. It’s just heads or tails, good or bad. But the philosophy is the same."


Is it the same? Let's look at The Dice Man itself, which I immediately tracked down after reading Hine's interview.





Have any of you read this book? It seems to have been quite the cult classic, based on the fact that those very few who knew of it loved it.

It has the kind of following that I'd normally see ascribed to Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves or Chuck Palahniuk. Especially Palahniuk. I can easily see the same people taking Fight Club to heart doing the same with The Dice Man. Similarly, those are the same kinds of fans I want to smack in the face with a large-print copy of The Brothers Karamazov.

I read 7/8th of the novel, but never finished the rest, because there seemed little point once I suspected that the novel was a celebration of the philosophy, rather than some kind of satire. Now, I've heard that the actual author (Rhinehart is a pseudonym, and the actual main character of The Dice Man) isn't serious in his advocation that people "live by the die," and that this subsequent handbook was intended to be tongue-in-cheek:





But many have taken Dice Living to heart. At least one philosopher considers it a bold way to live, while others have decided to use Dice Living in their daily practice.

That last link is what really stuck with me, because that author chose to give his will over to the Die for the same reasons that the fictional Luke Rhinehart did: because he was bored. In the book, the character is a successful family man steeped in ennui, and he starts using the Die on a whim, only to be converted in a way that's explicitly linked to being born again in religion. It's the ultimate answer to people who feel stuck in a rut, directionless, bored in modern society.





In other words, it's for self-centered, well-off jackholes who need to get a life but are too lazy/scared to make it happen themselves. Or at least, that's how it reads to me.

Bad enough that it's already a relic of the same sort of egocentric philosophical leftovers from the 60's and 70's which inspired the Sutherland Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake. But the thought that someone could think it applies to Two-Face, it just speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding about what the character's about, right alongside the people who think that he's Taoist.





Yeah, not really. Although that question has been explored by others.

Look, there are definitely aspects of the Dice Man in Harvey, depending on the writer. There have definitely been stories where he's spoken of the coin and chance and fate in reverent, holy tones. Take Batman Forever, where he's virtually delivering a sermon on the coin! But even in that shallow, lousy version, Harvey's motivation isn't ennui from the tedium of everyday life. It's rage and insanity.

And that's the biggest difference between Two-Face and the Dice Man. In almost every version of the character, Harvey went to the coin only after suffering a severe mental and emotional breakdown. The coin is a crutch, a coping mechanism, and while he may celebrate its virtues as the true way to live, he cannot actually function without it. Whether the coin is a crutch keeping him insane, or the only thing keeping the true monster within him at bay, he's a broken man either way, and the coin is the only way he can live. Without it, he breaks down again.





The Dice Man, on the other hand, is sane. He made the conscious decision to give himself over to the Die, and knowingly, willfully allows his true sense of "self" be slowly eroded away.

But then, it occurs to me, could that description not also apply to Harvey? Even if the impetus to employ the coin greatly differs from Rhinehart's use of the die, what if they result in the same thing? [livejournal.com profile] abqreviews raised similar thoughts about the possibility that there IS no true "Harvey Dent" left. What if Two-Face is no real character at all, just shifting personalities depending on... on...

... On what? That's the next messy, murky question here. Here we enter a realm entirely devoted to personal interpretation of the character, since there's no consistent canon. In fact, making the "no true self" aspect canon is perhaps the only way one can reconcile the many inconsistent takes on the character, much like Grant Morrison's ideas about how the Joker reinvents himself.





Wank wank wank. Sorry, thought I needed to break up my WALL O' TEXT with something.

The problem with Harvey having no true "self" is that he becomes a nothing character. Now, you folks know as well as I do that Harvey Dent is capable of being a rich, complex character. But thanks to several writers over the years, Two-Face has often been written as a nothing villain. He's not even a cipher upon which readers can project themselves, like Bella Swan. And when Bella's a more resonant character than Harvey Dent, you KNOW there's something wrong.

This could get to the heart of why so many people write Two-Face badly, and why so many fans don't really care for the character. But if we accept that Harvey's lack of self is why he's not so popular, how to explain the cult phenomenon of The Dice Man? Because people can at least identify with the philosophy, especially bored, self-centered people who want an easy route to adventure while being free from responsibility.

Maybe someone should write Harvey as being in the right. Maybe readers need to be challenged with a story that asserts the notion that Harvey is correct to give his free will over to the coin. Do I agree with this? Hell no. But nothing could stir up shit quite like a controversial, provocative story like that. Then again, do we really need people like the Dice Man fans actually letting coins make their decisions for them? Last thing we need are real-life Two-Face cultists, and the sad part is, I can easily imagine that happening.

Know what I'd love to read? I'd love to see a story where someone in Gotham actually DOES start up a coin-flipping movement, "inspired" by Two-Face, and see how Harvey reacts to his coping mechanism, his way of life, being co-opted by the average, bored Gothamite.

I can think of no better person to react to the Dice Man philosophy, especially one that refutes the attitudes of people like David Hine. If you think he might be right in comparing Harvey to the Dice Man, then you haven't yet read Joker's Asylum: Two-Face, which I'll be posting here sometime.
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If there was ever a story I wanted you guys to read, it's this one.

If you haven't been reading these strips, you can find them all at under the "comic strips" tag, which I figure will be easier than giving you a whole bunch of links. For those who have been reading it, thanks for all your comments. This has been a labor of love, and I'm gratified by all the thoughtful responses for this lost gem I've been obsessed over for the past month.

I don't know why the Batman strip ended on what I can only assume was due to cancellation. Poor response from readers? The impending release of Batman Returns? Some editor didn't like it for whatever petty reason? Maybe we'll finally get the answers should this strip ever see print someday.

Either way, it's strange that the strip should end with a Mad Hatter story. But even still, Messner-Loebs manages to bring the story to an end which I found surprising and moving. As with the entire strip, this final story is not without its flaws, but it's also more bold and intriguing--in its own quiet way--than many Batman stories in recent memory.





Final showdown in Arkham Asylum, behind the cut )


So at the end, what is there to say about the Batman comic strip? It wasn't perfect, partially due to the daily nature of the format, and partially due to creative inconsistencies. The series ended abruptly, with little in the way of a last word for major characters like Dick, Alfred, Jim Gordon, the Joker, or even Alice Dent. Even Bruce's own arc seems only sketched out at best, leaving us to fill in the blanks.

But as I said before, the true protagonist of this strip--at least, ever since Messner-Loebs and Infantino took over--was actually Harvey Dent. His arc frames the entire strip, which ends exactly when his own story does. Warts and all, this is one of the greatest Two-Face stories I have ever read.
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I'm not sure at what point people started considering the Riddler to be a joke. It couldn't have been the TV show, since Gorshin's Riddler was rightly celebrated, and I'd argue that he was the only villain there to have touches of genuine menace. Did that just never translate over into comics?

Maybe it's just because I was raised on the Riddler of Gorshin, B:TAS, and his appearances written by Chuck Dixon, but I never thought Eddie was a joke character. I loved the Riddler's flair and penache, combined with his self-assured knowledge that he was the smartest guy in the room. I loved the Riddler to be genuinely brilliant, which may explain why there were so few good Riddler stories: he was just too damn smart to write.

Think about it: Lex Luthor's brilliance can be explained away with mad science or manipulative plots, but to be smart like the Riddler, you need to actually possess the kind of mind that could create and disassemble complex games of intellect. Furthermore, writers have to incorporate those games into actual stories. No wonder most writers just opted to make the Riddler a pathetic character, relying on cheesy puns and hampered by an obvious handicap that always got him caught by Batman.

That's the Riddler we see in this strip. I was disappointed at first, but by the end, I have to admit a great deal of affection for this loser version of Eddie Nigma. This is the Riddler if he were a villain on The Venture Bros, a failure criminal who finally (thinks) he strikes it big, only to get in wayyyyyy over his head.

Squint your eyes to read this preview for some idea of what I mean:





The Deadly Riddle, behind the cut! )


Finally, I'd intended to post this yesterday, so I could end by announcing that yesterday was the 62nd birthday of writer William Messner-Loebs! But then the house's internet went out just as I was wrapping up this post. So, happy belated birthday, William Messner-Loebs!

Coming up next: the grand finale.
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After the nonstop epic of the previous comic strips, we get a fresh start with the introduction of Dick Grayson in this continuity.

I have pretty much no commentary nor insights to offer here, as it's the one story in which I have the least interest, but I'm posting it here both for the sake of completeness and for the Dick fans. It's a standalone story with no references to the previous arcs, as will be the next part. After that, the grand finale with the Mad Hatter in Arkham.





A slightly different take on the usual Robin origin, behind the cut... )
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4



Contrary to what some might say, madness is not like gravity. It doesn't take "a little push" or "one bad day" to drive a person insane. What I've loved about this Batman strip is that Harvey Dent's road to Two-Face is a long one, spaced out over the course of four storylines so gradually and logically that it's hard to say just when he's crossed the point of no return. This goes for even after the acid hits.





The grand unveiling, behind the cut... )



But the story's not over yet. Coming up next, a brand-new, Harvey-free storyline: the origin of Robin! Ain't that always how it goes with friends, Bruce? You win some, you lose some.
about_faces: (Default)
Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

I should have mentioned it in the last entry, but we're now in the middle of a trilogy of sorts, with today's entry being part two of a continuous storyline within the comic strip started in the previous storyline. But it could just as easily be argued that it's all one big story: that of Harvey Dent's rise, fall, rise again, and...?

I think it's fair to say that Harvey is the true protagonist because he's the only one who really changes, and not just in ways you'd expect from the character who becomes Two-Face. Even when he disappears and we get standalone story arcs about Robin's origin (followed by the Most Pathetic Riddler Story Ever), the final storyline still comes right back to Harvey. Obviously, that's why I love it so much.

So with that said, this storyline is the hardest for me to take. This is the point where Harvey crosses a line, and Bruce--for whatever reason--decides to not step in, but actively oppose his supposed best friend. Do the characters have justified reasons? Absolutely. Do I like it? Of course not. Does it work within the context of the story? You be the judge (pun not intended, I swear).





The people (ostensibly represented by Harvey Dent) versus the Joker, behind the cut... )


Coming up next... well, do I really need to say it?
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
With original writer and creative mastermind Max Allan Collins forced off the Batman strip by dickwad editors, the new creative team of William Messner-Loebs (The Flash, The Maxx), Carmine Infantino (Silver Age legend, co-creator of Barry Allen and Elongated Man), and John Nyberg (The Flash, Doom 2099) took over for the rest of its run.

Here's where things start getting interesting when it comes to Harvey Dent, seen only briefly in Collins' first storyline as a stuffy bureaucratic who resents Batman and fears that the vigilante's actions could result in lawsuits against the city. Under Messner-Loebs, Harvey becomes a full-on supporting character, not just as District Attorney and antagonist for Batman, but also as Bruce Wayne's best friend... two years *before* BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Until that show, it seemed that no one had ever written Bruce and Harvey as being friends. Batman, yes, but not Bruce Wayne. But this strip did it first, and I can't help but think that Dini, Timm, and company read this strip as it came out.

What I love about this Harvey Dent is that he isn't a saint, but he isn't corrupt either. He isn't a guy with anger issues consumed by his obsession with the mob, nor is he the White Knight of Gotham. This actually may be the most human-sized take on the character before he becomes Two-Face, decidedly different from the festering ball of pain we usually see (my favorite version).






Oh, and it also features some new criminal guy named the Penguin, but I'm sure he's not all THAT important... )
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Oh boy oh boy oh boy, here we go!

Five months after the smash hit release of the Tim Burton film, a new Batman comic strip ran in newspapers from 1989 to 1991. Following the film in spirit but set in an entirely new continuity, the first storyline was written by Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, creator of Post-Crisis Jason Todd) and illustrated by the late, great Marshall Rogers (Batman: Strange Apparitions, which still looks stellar today).

I've fallen head over heels in love with this comic strip. Naturally, my love doesn't really kick in until Harvey Dent becomes a major supporting character in the next storyline, which may be one of the most original and interesting takes on the character I've seen anywhere, in any medium. I actually suspect that it influenced the creators of Batman: The Animated Series.

But even from the start, I love how Collins (and his successor, William Messner-Loebs) didn't try to simply regurgitate the old stories for newspapers, but came up with distinctly different characterizations, origins, and plots, while the stories themselves feel completely divorced from comics of any era. They're fun, suspenseful, moving, and occasionally, even a bit on the cracky side.





A rather different look at Gotham City behind the cut! )


Coming up next, Harvey finally takes center stage, but not as Two-Face. I'm so excited, you guys.




Note: These scans are from Comics Revue magazine, issues #41-43, published in 1990. It's the only time these strips have been reprinted anywhere. As they're incredibly rare, I've posted the entire story, and plan to post every other strip as they appeared in CR, as these wonderful stories deserve attention and preservation. If you are someone who has an objection to this, please feel free to either say so here, send me a private message via LJ, or e-mail me directly at jhefner2@washcoll.edu.
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Holy hell, have I made a discovery today.

After years of searching, I've finally found copies of the Batman newspaper comic strips from 1990. They're not collected anywhere, nor are they online. They'd only been reprinted once, in Comics Revue magazine, the issues of which have been IMPOSSIBLE to track down, and I've been looking in comic shops literally from coast to coast.

But today, I finally found a handful of issues. Not a complete run, but a goodly chunk. These are comics which no one I know remembers, stories which no one has seen, and while I wasn't expecting much (about the quality of Stan Lee and Larry Lieber's Spider-Man comics, maybe), I thought maybe it'd offer a fun, slightly-different look at Two-Face.

What I got was more. So, so much more.

After reading these three complete story arcs ("The Penguin," "Trial of the Joker," and "Two-Face"), I became a man possessed. I scoured online comic shops and found the issues of Comics Revue which will hopefully complete the run for me. Even then, I was worried that I was wasting my money. That is, until just fifteen minutes ago, when I found a precious few scans of how the strip actually ends. And I have no regrets.

At the risk of jinxing it without having yet read the entire saga from start to finish, I'm going to hazard a dangerous proclamation when it comes to the short-lived Batman comic strip:







Folks... this is one of the greatest Two-Face stories I have ever read.

I'm seriously tempted to even call it THE greatest, but not yet. I need to read it all first, and when I do, rest assured, I'll be posting the entire thing here. Good lord... the greatest Bat-Saga no one's ever read (with one of the best takes on Harvey Dent)... I've found it, and I'll be posting it here ASAP.

I started this blog expressly for times like this, when I'm utterly blown away by something that... well, most people don't care about. Hopefully this story'll hit you that way too. I don't want to hype it up too much, but I can objectively say that it's unlike any other Two-Face origin you've ever read. For that alone, I hope you guys will check it out with me.
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The latest strip by [livejournal.com profile] beatonna is slightly (disturbingly) relevant to our interests.

Now I regret not asking her for a sketch the last two or three times I had the chance. I'm now making it a point to request a "horrified Harvey" next time. Why, I bet it'll be an even bigger hit than her is surly Wonder Woman or is crazy Aquaman! Yeah, right.

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