about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
As I mentioned a couple months back, Scott Snyder had announced that a young Harvey Dent would be featured in the upcoming new Bat-origin, Batman: The Zero Year. At the same time, DC's solicit for Batman #22 said (and still says), "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 guess what, that issue just came out today!

So, much as everything I'd seen from the first part of TZY left me cold, I couldn't resist plunking down an outrageous $3.99 to buy Batman #22, only to discover... no Harvey. Nothing. You might even say, ZERO. Instead, all I have is a story with a more-dickish-than-usual young Bruce Wayne goes up against the Red Hood who already acts just like the Joker, whom Capullo insists on drawing with a mouth, thus ruining the simple elegance of the hood's design while making the character look stupider than ever. There's also more with Edward Nygma and Bruce's duplicitous uncle, plus a flashback to Bruce's training that didn't seem to serve any real purpose. All in all, this was one of the lightest, breeziest 40 page comics I've ever read. Nothing really happened. I never thought I'd say this about Snyder, but it almost feels like Tony Daniel never left the title!

So I guess we'll have to wait for next month to see Harvey, as it kicks off six months of non-stop Two-Face as his next big storyline is released. Which brings me to something I should have written about weeks ago. Last month, I neglected to post about how DC is dedicating an entire month to their villains, including around a dozen one-shot issues for the Bat-villains alone. On top of that, the covers will be 3D, because we have to out-90's the 90's when it comes to gimmick covers.

I should have posted about them all, but I just couldn't bring myself to care. Look, many of these just aren't the versions of the rogues that I'd want to read about (like Scarecrow, Freeze, and the new Ventriloquist), and as for the rest, well, I'm pretty much just expecting the worst from DC these days. It's just for self-preservation, mind you. I like being a pessimist because it allows me to be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than I'd expected, so hopefully that'll happen with several of these.

Well, a month has passed, and this month's solicits have given us a few more scant clues about what to expect, especially where Harvey is concerned. After a teaser page in a recent issue of Batman and Robin (Whoever) and Peter Tomasi's big Two-Face story--the one tying into The Zero Year--has finally been announced in DC's newly-released October solicits, with a cover image to boot.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
“The Big Burn” part one of five! Two-Face’s first epic in The New 52 sees Batman unraveling the mysterious connections between Harvey Dent’s life and the origin of Carrie Kelley!

My initial impressions and concerns haven't changed, so I'm still in "wait and see" mode. I will say how that's a nice cover, and the scarred eye is rather reminiscent of Lee Bermejo's in how it's all in shadow rather than showing the evil eye bulging out even in pitch darkness, as most other artists would do. That said, who's the blond woman? Guess we'll find out.

The solicit details also interest me, first because of how Harvey is sharing the ever-shifting byline of what was formerly Batman and Robin before that Robin was killed off. Since then, we've seen Batman and the Red Hood, Batman and Batgirl, Batman and Red Robin, and so on. So does this mean that Harvey will be allies with Batman in some capacity? I doubt it, because it doesn't seem like any writer ever wants to tell that kind of story. What I'm also wondering about is what--if any--connection Harvey will have in Carrie Kelley's origin, now that she's been brought into the DCnU. Will we be seeing a return of the grand tradition of Two-Face having a hand in Robin origins?

Harvey will also be popping up as an ensemble member in the main Forever Evil event series, if that cover is any indication, as well as in the special all-Bat-villain issue, also written by Tomasi:

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
1:25 B&W Variant cover JASON FABOK
On sale OCTOBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
As FOREVER EVIL hits the world, no corner of the DC Universe is in worse shape than Gotham City! Madness and mayhem hit the streets as both Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison unleash their prisoners upon the helpless citizens of Gotham. And with no Dark Knight to protect the city, what horrors will follow?

As it's also written by Tomasi, it's likely that it will somehow tie together with "The Big Burn," so this will also be a must-read. That said... man, does anyone else look at that cover and feel a wave of apathy twinged with sadness? I call it "sadthapy!" But seriously, until this image, I didn't realize how much I didn't recognize the Bat-rogues in DC Comics anymore. It doesn't help that I'm not a fan of the art either, but still, I really have lost touch with what DC has become. Whether that's a flaw in me (old 30-year-old fogie that I am) or in the company itself, I suppose only time will tell. Well, at least I still have comics like Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman '66 to follow!

That's all for comic news, but before I wrap this up post to continue preliminary work on my review of The Beautiful Ugly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Harvey-related awesomeness that happened on the most recent episode of The Venture Bros! For those who don't know what VB is, it's a great big homage to geekdom of all sorts that was wrapped up in the pretense of a Jonny Quest homage before it quickly blossomed into its own unique mythos. It's also one of my very favorite shows, and this new season is no exception. If you're in the US and if you have a participating cable provider, you can watch the newest episodes of VB here for free at the official Adult Swim site!

In the newest episode, Momma's Boys, the titular characters wind up inside "Dunwich Asylum" (get it? I didn't at first!) whereupon they meet a number of insane costumed criminals, including a one-off bit role by of a new character who is relevant to our interests.

I absolutely love Radical Left, as he--just like VB's perfect Cobra Commander stand-in a couple episodes ago--is that rare and wonderful combination of parody and homage. Those lines wouldn't at all be out of place with Harvey himself, except that with Radical Left, his desire for anarchy and "a nice home with a family" don't have to be exclusive at all! Well, as long as you take "anarchy" by what it literally means rather than just using is as a substitute for "chaos," a mistake that most people make, including Christopher Nolan. Really, they could have just stopped with the visual pun of calling him "Radical Left" (they have a history of one-joke name parody villains such as Dr. Septapus) but that quote just took it the extra mile! If they do bring back Radical Left, hopefully they won't wear the joke out too thin.

Okay, back to the review for The Beautiful Ugly. The final part comes out tomorrow on Comixology.com, so definitely pick it up! One way or another, I think it's safe to say that this is a Two-Face story worth supporting!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Once again, there's a new Two-Face story appearing in the "pages" of DC's digital-premiere Legends of the Dark Knight series! The first issue (read: the first part of three, the first 1/3rd of what will be a one-shot-length story) came out yesterday, and surprisingly, USA Today even ran a promotional article about the story! Why they did, I can't imagine, as neither the writers nor artist seem notable enough to warrant the special attention, and Harvey himself has never been that big of a draw. Still, it's great to see smaller, under-the-radar series like LotDK getting this kind of exposure. It's also neat to see Harvey treated as the star focus of the USA Today piece, even though the details of the article suggest that, just like with the last Two-Face story in LotDK, the real protagonist of this tale will be a regular guy stuck in the middle between Batman and Two-Face.

According to the USA Today article, Harvey "revisits a case he lost and, wishing to make it right, tries a former criminal again in his own twisted way." According to co-author Derek Fridolfs--a capable writer of many digital Bat-books including the solid Arkham City comics and the delightful Li'l Gotham--described the story as thus: "Without spoiling too much, this story asks the question: Is there any way to live a good life without being held accountable for past sins? If you turn your life around for the better, is there any way to escape the evils you did in the past?"

I've read the first part, and while I'm not going to do a full review here (how can you review 1/3rd of a story?), the story so far looks poised to depict Two-Face as a merciless living reckoning--presumably a combination of Javert and Anton Chigurh?--for the new character's past sins. And the emphasis here is "past," as the article makes it clear that this guy has atoned and doesn't deserve Harvey's "justice," delayed or otherwise. Quoth co-author (and newbie comics writer?) Kenneth Elliott Jones, "We see how an innocent person can get swept up in a lunatic's whirlwind almost at random." Even though it sounds like Harvey will be in the wrong here, I think this is a great use for him as a character, one which emphasizes the strengths of his background and the ideas he represents better than just having him be a bank robber or a mob boss. Harvey should always be seeking justice, one way or another. Not only is that perfectly in keeping with the Harvey Dent who was, but it also plays into how he's a twisted mirror of Batman himself.

So how is the story so far? Well, as usual with digital comics, the first part is all set-up, but the gist of it goes as follows: a new gang of wannabe masked criminals have been gas-bombing subway stations, and while the gas itself isn't lethal, the ensuing panics have caused fatal tramplings and other injuries. As the hospitals are flooded with the wounded and the dying, a weary nurse ends her shift and goes home to her boyfriend, Aiden, and everything seems peaceful and calm... until Two-Face and his gang break into the house, looking for a score to settle with Aiden.

That's all that happens thus far, and just like many a classic Simpsons episode, the (ostensible) real story doesn't kick in until the end of the first act. Maybe the gassing gang will play into this further, but I'm not counting on it. The gang's actions mainly serve to play into the story of the nurse, Marissa, through whom we get a rare chance to see Gotham through the eyes of a civilian bystander of the daily chaos that comes with that city. I'm a big fan of these little-utilized trope, especially in stories like John Ostrander's Gotham Nights minis (anyone read those?), so I'm interested in seeing how Marissa's story plays out as she learns that her boyfriend may have been a part of that chaos at one point.

The art is by Jason Shawn Alexander, an artist I've never heard of before who has worked on some Conan and Abe Sapien comics, as well as the epilogue comic, Batman: Arkham City: End Game, which I haven't read yet. Jones praises Alexander's art by saying that it "takes it to a whole other level. His ability to capture and depict the energy and emotion of each moment is amazing. It drives the story home. And it looks fantastic." While the co-author of the book may be biased, I generally agree: Alexander's art is moody and atmospheric, sketchy in ways that remind me a lot of Bill Sienkiewicz with Dave McKean touches. It's very Vertigo Comics, especially akin to Hellblazer-type books from the late 80's and early 90's. Many, I'm sure, will find it ugly, but I liked it a lot... right up until we saw his Two-Face.

I think that has to be the single ugliest Harvey Dent I've ever seen. I'm intrigued by several of the unusual details--the solid white suit suit, the opaque eyeball--but my god, he looks like a dessicated half-zombie half-drug addict. Granted, everyone in this story looks rather filthy and unkempt because that's the artist's style, but it's always jarring to see a Two-Face who looks like a wreck even on his good side. Well, I'll say this for Mr. Alexander, the Two-Face he drew for the cover is rather excellent. Hopefully we'll see more of that Harvey in the interior art over the next two parts.

All in all, I am mightily intrigued by what the writers have planned for The Beautiful Ugly based on what we've seen here and what they said in the article. Fridolfs' last words sentences that a heavy, shades-of-gray ending is in the works, saying, "Gotham breeds tragedy, whether you dress up as a hero or a villain, and whether you live in the city or are visiting. There are very few triumphs in Gotham. Even victories can be hollow. The punishment of crime is something everyone has some feelings toward. And I think by the end of the story, it will be interesting to see if the readers side more with Two-Face or with Batman." (Emphasis mine)

If you want to pick up the first part of The Beautiful Ugly, it's currently available for 99¢ at Comixology! The next part will be out next Thursday, and the finale will be out on the Thursday after that! I may or may not do a full review of the story, as it will depend on how much I'll have to say about it when all's said and done. I'm afraid that I simply don't have it in me to write a whole review for something if I don't care about it. Not anymore, anyway.

So since we're on the topic: hi, everyone! Wow, it's been a longer absence than usual, hasn't it? Sorry about that. I fear that I will be updating here less and less for the foreseeable future. It's been too hot here to blog, and what little energy I've had for writing has been devoted to stuff on Facebook and Tumblr, plus a bit of dabbling in book reviews at my Goodreads page. Most importantly, I'm trying to focus on writing fiction, including a couple collaborative projects with Henchgirl and [livejournal.com profile] captaintwinings, plus I'm slowwwwwly chipping away at the next part of Dent. Well, with the annoucement of Amazon's Kindle Worlds (read: officially-sanctioned fan fiction!), I figure it might be smart to have that novel ready to go if WB/DC starts licensing out its properties, and if I decide to take that risk.

All that said, I don't want to abandon this LJ, nor do I ever plan to do that. But the fact is, the next big posts I have yet to write are ones that I really don't WANT to write, ones which I've put off writing for years now. You can probably guess what some of them are, concerning things such as The New Batman Adventures, The Long Halloween, and Half a Life. These are all things that I *have* to write about, as they're all major Two-Face stories in one form or another, but they're also some of the most frustrating ones for me. As such, I'm in no rush to finally tackle those, which is resulting in me generally neglecting this blog. In the meantime, do feel free to follow me on any of the above-linked sites, if you're so inclined. I'd hate to lose touch with any of you due to my slacking-off here!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
As [livejournal.com profile] killermoth pointed out to me in my last post, writer Peter Tomasi has announced that Harvey will soon be appearing in Batman & Robin! As I said before: not sure if want. On one hand, Tomasi's last big Two-Face story, Nightwing: The Great Leap might be one of my favorite Two-Face stories, despite its considerable faults. On the other hand, there are those considerable faults to... well, consider.

What's worse, I love it for reasons that seem to go against what Tomasi's own narrative WANTED me to feel. I can't tell whether or not the narrative is siding with Nightwing's own awful, offensive, and incorrect view of Harvey, especially since it seems to give Dick the last word while making Harvey just look like an evil monster. Furthermore, I hate the direction it took by suddenly turning into another bland "Two-Face goes on a rampage" story. Also, I hate Gilda being supplanted by Not!Rachel Dawes in Harvey's heart, because the idea that Harvey had an emotional affair with someone while staying with Gilda only out of his marriage vows? Wow, bullshit. Never mind that Carol was a bland non-character who was written as little more than a talking MacGuffin.

Also also, Tomasi was the show-runner on Batman: Face the Face, one of the worst Harvey Dent stories ever written. What made it especially bad was how it had a couple good ideas, then utterly pissed them away in a story riddled with plot holes, cheap writing, and an annoying ending that remains maddeningly unresolved. I guess no one cares about that story and/or Harvey and/or the Great White Shark to actually give Harvey some goddamn closure in regards to his business with both Batman and Warren White. Honestly, I think the closest we're ever going to get to a proper follow-up to that waste of a story is this fan-doodle by Shark role-player blog Business-and-Bites:

... So yeah, okay , there is a LOT going against Tomasi here. But he's still a great writer, generally speaking (his first run on Green Lantern Corps was especially excellent), and if he can tap into the good parts of his Harvey from N:TGL, then that will be awesome. Or at least, definitely worth reading. Even if his track record with the character is mixed, I'd rather see him try than anyone else on the Bat-books currently. Just as long as he doesn't delve too much in Harvey's past. So far, I haven't seen a single villain origin reboot that hasn't been disappointing at best and infuriating at worst. Funny/sad thing is, despite Tomasi's last retcon of Carol Birmingham, I think I'd still rather see him try tackling Harvey's past over any other writer at DC right now.

Hot on the heels of Tomasi's announcement, Harvey did indeed appear at the very end of Batman and Robin the Red Hood, making a full page cameo after an issue that featured Carrie Kelly (yes, Frank Miller's Robin from TDKR, she's here now) being caustically annoyed with Bruce, followed by Bruce being an utterly selfish ass to Jason. After that unpleasant fallout, the issue ends inexplicably ends on this quiet, minimalist note:

Spoilers for the latest issue of B&R #20 )

As you can see, it's nothing more than a teaser for Harvey's next big appearance, with no indication of what it might be or what he might do if that coin came up scarred. Really, this page could fit in with any Two-Face of any era, which is a major reason why I like it so much. Even if the story doesn't amount to anything, at least we've gotten the neat above page out of the bargain. It's certainly the best Two-Face material to come out of a mainstream Bat-book from the New 52 so far! It only took DC about two and a half years, so that's appropriate!

Incidentally, I've edited this page a little, as it originally featured a next issue blurb in the corner that read "NEXT: BATGIRL IN THE BARGAIN!" and I thought that we were all better off seeing this art unencumbered by the distraction. The page's artist, Patrick Gleason, apparently agreed with me, as he was one of the few to reblog this image when I posted it to Tumblr! Neato! Thanks, free MS Paint knock-off software!

So yeah, I'm now good an' interested in seeing how Tomasi and Gleason's upcoming Two-Face story will play out. Only thing I'm wondering is if Harvey will retain Gleason's same molten-face look--one reminiscent of Dick Tracy villain Haf-n-Haf--from his cameo early on in this book's run.

From Batman and Robin #4. Will he look the same in his first full appearance about twenty issues later?
about_faces: (Default)
At the risk of invalidating my opinion right off the bat, I want to briefly discuss the use of the Bat-Rogues--especially Harvey--in Scott Snyder's current Joker event, Death of the Family.

SPOILERS and ranting ahoy! )
about_faces: (Default)
Previous Installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Welp, Detective Comics #11 is out, and with it comes the conclusion of Tony Daniel's Two-Face story! ... Wait, it's over? I thought there was still supposed to be one more part! *checks* Yep, the solicitation for the next issue says that the Two-Face story continues there in 'Tec #12! That's damn confusing considering that the story pretty clearly ENDS here. I think.

Well, unless something comes along to prove me wrong next month, let's take this at face value and treat this as the grand conclusion. Now is the moment of truth for Mr. Daniel's take on Harvey, where all of the potential he's been building must pay off. What will happen with Harvey's goal of becoming D.A. again? What will the Leader do to "fix" Harvey's mind? Will we actually see Harvey's good side emerge through his actions rather than be given lip-service that he still has good inside him? Am I really going to give this story more attention and critical analysis than it really deserves? Does anyone--least of all Mr. Daniel and his editor Mike Marts--actually give a damn about this story either way? Probably not, if they're willing to release a story riddled with inconsistent dialogue, muddled motivations, and even typos.

Read more... )

Now, there's still the possibility that there's at least one more part of the Two-Face backup story to come next issue. After all, it says so right there in the solicitation for Detective Comics #12: The TWO-FACE backup story continues! Then again, the last time there was a Two-Face solo story, the descriptions in the solicitations were proven to be highly unreliable, with the final product in no way resembling the solicit. And guess what, Mike Marts was the editor on THAT piece of shit as well, not to mention every single contradictory, irreconcilable, poorly-through-out Two-Face appearance of the last three years.

I'm starting to suspect that Daniel isn't entirely to blame here, which I like to think anyway considering that he seems to be a pretty nice guy, something which sadly counts for a lot when it comes to comics creators these days. As such, I wasn't really overjoyed to learn that he's leaving Detective Comics as of the next issue! While I don't think that he's a particularly good writer, I'm not sure how much of his subpar stories are his own fault given the sloppy, careless editing of Marts. So even there will be a Two-Face feature in 'Tec #12, it won't "continue," but will rather end with Daniel's departure, unless of course some other writer takes up the reigns and Harvey gets a second storyline. God knows I'd love to see someone try to make it work, or at least come up with an epilogue that makes this pointless waste of a backup story into something of worth, so that maybe I can feel less incredibly-ripped-off for shelling out $3.99 per issue just to own the eight-page backup story. That's $15.96 for a goddamn twenty-four-page comic. And people wonder why no one buys comics anymore!

As it currently stands, this story--which was never even given a title--is a poorly-written nothing of a comic that only serves to further the idea that characters like Two-Face are uninteresting, boring, and outdated. It's because of stories like THIS that some fans reacted to the story's initial announcement with, "Really? Two-Face? How incredibly dull and uninspiring." Even Batman review sites like GothamSpoilers.com were left so cold by the Two-Face story that the entire review for this last part and the story as a whole consisted of "Ha, yeah. No. Read three pages, and that was enough."

With many people passing this story by sight unseen and others being left so cold that they ignore it entirely, I dare suspect that I have given the DCnU Two-Face back-up story more scrutiny, attention, and critical analysis than anyone else would have the good sense to spare. As such, I hope that I can be forgiven for abandoning all creative eloquence and ending this exhaustive review with a meme that I hope DC in general will take to heart.

about_faces: (Default)
Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2

Once again, I'd completely forgotten what the hell happened in last month's installment of Tony Daniel's Two-Face story in Detective Comics. And once again, I find myself not disliking the direction in which it's headed. I'm still not loving it, but there are some interesting ideas at play, and so far they continue to build up into something with the potential to be quite good.

Sheesh, don't I just sound glowingly enthusiastic? In truth, there's still not much here to really care about. Not yet, anyway. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone really caring about this story if they didn't already care about Harvey in the first place. Honestly, the one thing that really is interesting about this story is the possibility of--gasp shock horror--actual character development for Harvey, and if this story just ends with everything going right back to the status quo (as it probably will), I doubt that there will be anything to recommend at all.

But for now, there's that potential. That's what I'm holding onto with each installment, and it hasn't been wasted yet. Might Mr. Daniel really be going somewhere with all this beyond your standard gritty noir tale?

I fear for this one. )
about_faces: (Default)

Not gonna lie, I had absolutely zero recollection as to what happened the first part of Tony Daniel's new Two-Face story, Welcome to the Dark Side, running as a backup in Detective Comics. I mean, I actually REVIEWED that comic in depth, and even still, none of it stuck with me. Maybe that's just a symptom of the Hef-Baby stealing my brain (He's crawling? CRAP, HE'S ADORABLE AND WE'RE SCREWED), but somehow, I don't think it's all on me here. Even before the baby, I had a hard time remembering anything that happened in any new comics, which just goes right back to the annoying decompressed nature of storytelling which I ranted about, and from which Daniel's first chapter suffered greatly.

Finally, with part two, stuff actually started happening. And surprise surprise, I actually kinda liked it!

Quick recap: the first part opened with a wounded, dying Harvey stumbling into the care of Buddhist monks who seemed to be familiar with him, and they proceeded to fix his wounds, both physical and psychological. The story then flashes back to Harvey torturing a messenger from Dominic Sterano, a prosecutor who has been building a case against Harvey. Turns out that Sterano and Harvey have been enemies since Harvey's D.A. days, when Sterano tries putting the moves on Gilda. Now Sterano wants a meeting to call off their war, which could open the door to what is apparently Harvey's ultimate (if implausible) goal: to be reinstated as District Attorney! Hmm, I gotta say, it sounds better as a plot synopsis than it was as a story!

So how badly does the meeting with Sterano go? Who or what beats the living crap out of Harvey so thoroughly? What the hell is up with those monks?! Let's see if the substantially-better second part has any answers!

Oh, and apparently, the storyline is now called 50/50. Or at least, the chapter is, and the storyline doesn't actually have a name yet. Maybe they'll figure out a title in the next chapter.

I admit, I'm no angel... )

So yeah, the story's still not exactly good, but at least something's happening, and there's plenty of potential for greatness in several directions. If even one of them pans out, this story could end up being quite worthwhile, but again, we'll just have to wait and see.

If you'd like to read the issue in full, you can buy it digitally here for the still-ridiculously-expensive price of $3.99. The main story is a Night of the Owls crossover which also brings in the DCnU version of Roman Sionis, who is still alive and also now pretty much a completely different goddamn character. You can see for yourself over here at this exclusive preview of Detective Comics #9 over at Maxim.com. Yes, you read that right: DC gave the exclusive preview of 'Tec to frickin' MAXIM. Now you know exactly what kind of readers that DC is trying to court these days. How nice.
about_faces: (Default)
The first part of Tony Daniel's Detective Comics backup story dedicated to Harvey--entitled Welcome to the Dark Side--was such a nothing that it hardly feels worth reviewing.

It's hard enough to review single installments out of context, especially these days, with the majority of comics authors "writing for the trade." Nowadays, you can breeze through most superhero comics within minutes thanks to all the watered-down decompressed storytelling, and what's worse, it can be whole pages before anything actually happens. The best you can hope for is a memorable scene here, a good moment there, and enough intrigue to keep you interested in the next part.

Comics shouldn't be this way. We deserve better. But that's the way it is right now for far too many comics. As such, if so many writers are having trouble telling substantiative stories in twenty pages, what the hell can they possibly do in eight-page backup stories like Welcome to the Dark Side? Well, let's find out for ourselves.

The story opens with a man stumbling through an alleyway, and between the narration (with open with the line "Nailed me.") and the body we know two things: 1.) It's Harvey, and 2.) he's injured.

So, who's made Harvey's life decidedly crappier THIS time? )

And that's the end of the first part. While I did manage to find something to say, it wasn't easy when nothing actually happened. This was all mood, set-up, and exposition, and very few actions that characters perform here are muddled in their motivations. Still, there was just enough potential (or potential for potential) for an interesting story here.

That said, you'll notice that Daniel hasn't yet gone into Harvey's personal history in any detail. Will he screw around with Harvey's origins? Is he planning on introducing wild new theories about Harvey's mental state? Will this story change any of Harvey's pre-DCnU history? We'll have to wait and see next month. Hopefully something will actually happen, and hopefully it won't be awful.

Detective Comics #8 is out in comic stores today, and can be purchased as a digital comic over at DC's Comixology app for the ridiculously expensive price of $3.99.
about_faces: (Default)
In little more than a day from now, we'll have our first major appearance of Two-Face in the DCnU, one which will give us some firm idea of what his canon backstory and personality is nowadays.

We're nearly eight months into this new continuity, and while we've already had three Harvey appearances thus far, they've been too small to really make any impact on the character either way. That said, they've all been... interesting... in their own ways. First, we had Greg Capullo's take in Batman #1.

As far as I know, this design was entirely Capullo's idea, since I recall reading that he wanted to really play around with the designs of the classic villains and make his own personal mark on the characters. I can appreciate that perspective, because hey, why just draw the same old Two-Face (as if there ever was just one design)? But as I've said before, he looks less like a burn victim and more like a zombie from a 70's horror movie, his face caked with heavy prosthetics.

It's horrific, yes. Grotesque, yes. But Harvey Dent is not a zombie, especially not one who looks like he's about to molt. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing a whole Harvey story drawn by Capullo, whose aptitude for facial expressions would theoretically lend themselves greatly for Harvey's good side. If he was written by Scott Snyder as well, he'd certainly be interesting, but Snyder almost certainly would have no interest in writing Harvey unless he could somehow tie Harvey into the Court of Owls, as is about to happen with poor Mr. Freeze.

The next appearance of Harvey is thus far the largest and most infamous, courtesy of David Finch and Paul Jenkins in The Dark Knight #2, where Harvey was hopped up on... well, I haven't read the storyline, but I assume it's a fear toxin Venom/Titan thingiebadoo. I know, I know, bad Mr. Two-Face Blogger, who doesn't even read the things he's writing about. But really, can you blame me for avoiding this comic like the Clench?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

While some silly people thought that this was the new status quo for the character, Harvey shrunk back down to his normal self in the next issue, where Finch drew him rather standardly, nothing to write home about either way. So yeah, while this moment seemed like a huge, horrible new direction for Harvey, it was just part of a larger storyline, and thus something to quickly be tossed aside and forgotten. It didn't affect things either way, and certainly didn't shed any light as to establishing any history and/or personality.

Finally, the last appearance of Harvey was in Batman and Robin #4, where he appeared in a villain montage as drawn by Patrick Gleason. It's a unique take, I'll give it that.

It's rather reminiscent of the Dick Tracy villain Haf-and-Haf, whom we've noted as looking more horrific than many takes on Harvey to date. This is a Two-Face whole face has really been melted off, taking his entire eye and much of his mouth with it. It's more in line with what people associate with "realistic" burn scarring. If this design were used for a whole story, then all of the expressiveness would HAVE to come from the unscarred side, which is the only reason I'd be interested in reading such a story. As it is, this look doesn't really convey the other personality within Harvey. This Two-Face isn't a man struggling with his inner demon, between good and evil. He's just a guy with half his face missing. Also, I'm really distracted by the fact that it looks like Harvey has a mustache.

So will any of these three takes find their way into Tony Daniel's upcoming version of Two-Face this Wednesday? Hard to say, but considering how there was no substance to these three takes beyond the cosmetic and the WTF, I think Daniel's will be the first real stab and laying definitive groundwork for Harvey's new status quo. Even if it doesn't take off (and based on Daniel's track record, I'm preemptively REALLY hoping it won't), these three early looks at DCnU Harvey aren't likely to have any lasting effect on the character. Nonetheless, they're at least interesting, much like a piece of fan art or a profession convention sketch can be interesting. Well, the Capullo and Gleason ones, anyway.

Wednesday's almost here. I'm just bracing myself to see what the hell they're gonna do to Harvey this time, and how it's going to affect his character from here on out.
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After reading this new interview with Tony Daniel, I started writing a whole new post about how, once again, I thought that his heart was in the right place, that he shows a genuine love for the villains that I wish we'd see from other writers/fans, that I respect his intent even though I dislike his stories, etc.

But I scrapped that post, because there's just no point. I'll say what I need to say about Daniel when I review his Hugo Strange stories, his Harvey/Gilda story, and the upcoming Two-Face backup story which will properly introduce the character into the DCnU, which Daniel also discussed in the interview:

Of course, starting in issue #8 you are also going to be writing the Two-Face backup feature appearing in "Detective Comics" with Szymon Kudranski on art. Why start with a Two-Face story for your backup, rather than a Batman ally or another character?

Because the place I'm at right now as a writer, I think it suits me best. I really want people to see what it's like, delving inside the mind of a man who's losing himself in a battle between good and evil in his head. The dichotomy of both personas, with the dark side eating away at the light, and the man himself, going through unthinkable lengths to keep himself from losing completely. Going first person, using Harvey Dent's own words, as we witness him fighting for his demons will definitely leave an unsettling feeling in the pits of our stomachs. Some of it won't be easy to digest, this dark and destructive path he finds himself forced to march down, all the while clinging to that tiny bit of light at the end of what looks like eternal darkness. Having Szymon Kudranski on art is a giant plus, too. I think he's perfect for the seriousness and despair-filled tone of the story.

Will this psychological look into Harvey Dent revise or change parts of the villain's past for the New 52, or are you looking to touch on things we've never seen before, really fleshing out every part of Two-Face's history?

The latter, really. I want to take us on a journey inside his mind, and out, and reveal how he came to be the iconic figure he is today. The end result will hopefully leave people with a new understanding of Harvey Dent and Two-Face.

Once again, I'm very pessimistic, but the fact that he's showing way more investment in Harvey than most writers is endearing. He cares, dammit. Too bad I just have so little faith in his abilities as a writer based on his track record so far, but we'll see. We'll see. Maybe there will be a surprise or two if I keep my expectations low enough, and one good way to do that is to review Daniel's work thus far. Not trying to be mean when I say that, but still, there you go.
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And it's going to be written by Tony Daniel.

The details and my measured reactions behind the cut )

Welp, here's to the New 52, everybody! Drinks are on me!

I'll be over here, trying to keep up with this gif. Rouse me out of my drunken coma when it's time for the DCnU2.
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I know it's a week late, but I figured that I would be remiss in not giving a quick look at the opening pages of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman #1, which is being hailed by some as the very best comic to come out of the DCnU so far.

My own reaction: it's good. Not brilliant, but good. It doesn't punch me in the gut, nor does it blow my socks off, or move me to tears, paint my house, pay off my car payments, or taste like bacon. It's just good. I suppose that in the sea of mediocrity that is most popular fiction these days, that should be remarkable in of itself. But even in that case, how sad is that? Shouldn't we hold comics to a higher standard so that stories like Batman #1 are the AVERAGE quality, not the EXCEPTION?

The issue itself is a solid introduction for new readers that also flows seamlessly from Snyder's work in Detective Comics: The Black Mirror and The Golden Gates of Gotham, as he works to create an overarching epic that is clearly shaping up to be Batman versus Gotham City itself (presumably as a living entity ala Milligan's Dark Knight, Dark City).

Hell, that's exactly what Snyder has said in interviews, where he posited the ludicrous theory that Gotham has literally been "Batman's best friend," lol wut. No, no, no, if Gotham is sentient at all (and what's with this fascination some writers have for envisioning cities as actual entities?), it's hardly EVER been Batman's bosom pal.

Based on his two previous Batman stories, I suspect that Snyder is probably continuing the Morrisonian trope of evil secret societies of cult-like evil evilness (and if Newbie McMayorChin isn't revealed to be involved, I'll be damn surprised). As you may have guessed, this type of story fills me with aggressive apathy, but as long as Snyder keeps a focus on characters, I'll keep reading. He writes a fine Jim Gordon, and I'm glad to see Bullock prominently featured, even if Snyder's Bullock sounds a lot more like Slam Bradley. As for the rest of the issue, it's pretty much all set-up, with an empty cliffhanger ending we've seen before countless times. I look forward to reading the story as a whole, but there's not much to especially recommend about this one chapter, which is a common problem in this day and age of wait-for-the-trade.

What I do want is just quickly look at the opening pages, featuring the Rumble In Arkham that we've seen in previews:

Batman versus Everyone (What do you mean, everyone? EV-RRREEEE-WUUUUNNNN!!!!) behind the cut )

Oh. One more thing... /uncle

In comic news about something which actually DID come out today, I give you the spoiler-tastic final page for The Dark Knight #1, which features the first look at whatever the fuck it is they're doing with Harvey. Go. Go read it. Seriously.

Back? Okay. WOW that's dumb. Kind of delightfully so! I mean, seriously, "One-Face?" What the fuck does that even MEAN? He still has the scarred and unscarred sides! Was there a miscommunication between writer and artists here? Is it supposed to indicate that Harvey's bad side has completely taken over when he became Hulk!Harv? Honestly, that breaks my brain more than the Venom/Titan/whatever he's hopped up on!

Oh, Paul Jenkins, you're the gift that keeps on giving... ridiculously overblown Two-Face stories. Which reminds me, I still need to summon up the courage to review Batman: Jekyll and Hyde. You poor people, you.
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Disclaimer: this post was written over several exhausted days, in increments averaging two sentences at a time, between feeding and changing and burping a baby. Rambling, tangents, and incomprehensible gibberish may occur.

With this weekend comes the biggest comics event of the year, Comic Con! And with Comic Con, comes news and hints of upcoming stuff like comics from the DCnU reboot and Batman: Arkham City! And with that news, comes... many questions. Important, strange, nagging, bothersome, deeply annoyed (and perhaps annoying!) questions.

Why, why, and WHY OH DEAR GOD WHY, behind the cut )

So what do we know about the state of the Batman characters in the DCnU? Still pretty much nothing, but I'm decidedly more annoyed now than I was before, when I was just aggressively apathetic and mildly concerned about the immediate future of these characters I love. If these comics and this game are the current state of Batman stories, I get the feeling I'm not going to enjoy any new Bat-related stuff for some time.

*I've heard nothing but amazing things about Scott Snyder's current work on Detective Comics, especially the James Gordon Jr. storyline, but I'm afraid to read it. Everything I've heard makes it sound far too bleak for my enjoyment, especially considering that someone's finally remembered that James Jr. exists only to turn him into, what, a sociopath monster? Is that what happened? Has anyone else been following 'Tec, and can you tell me if it lives up to its hype?
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Alert reader [livejournal.com profile] deadwalrus reluctantly tipped me off to this Bleeding Cool article, revealing new Batman artist Greg Capullo's sketches of Jim, Joker, and Harvey in the New DCU, Post-Not-Reboot-Whatever-Thing.

I don't think that anyone, in the history of comics, has drawn Jim Gordon doing his best Tony Stark "How YOU doin'?" impression. Frankly, I'm just a bit surprised that he doesn't look like Twitch from Sam and Twitch, since this IS the big Spawn artist, after all. Now if he can somehow draw Harvey Bullock looking different from Sam Burke, then I'll be really impressed.

... Well, it's certainly original. I don't hate it, and at least it's not Morrison's bullet-holed perma-grin Joker anymore, thank god... but it may take some getting used to. Doing the darkness-around-the-eyes thing with added pin-markings under the eyes like a clown out of the commedia dell'arte, it's interesting. I think what really distracts me as the eyebrows. It's like Wilford Brimley playing a Vulcan. The hair has apparently given others flashbacks to 80's synth bands, it reminds me more of Brad Dourif (specifically as Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and that's never a bad thing when it comes to the Joker. Never. If your Joker looks even a bit like Brad Dourif, you're doing something right. That should be a guideline followed for all artists, just as all writers should try to imagine their written dialogue being read aloud by the Batman: The Animated Series voice actors. If your Harley doesn't sound like she could be performed by Arleen Sorkin, then generally speaking, you've written a bad Harley.

Oh dear.

First off, I kinda like what's going on with the good side. From this sketch, it looks like this could be a Harvey who has some personality, which so many artists forget when it comes to drawing his unscarred side. That's the side that needs to be expressive and have character, and not just be a standard generic thug in appearance. Maybe some of that will come through here. But the scarred side... he looks like a zombie out of an EC comic or a Bernie Wrightson drawing. Harvey looks less like a burn victim and more like a corpse who's falling apart before our eyes. If he ever ran away, Batman could just follow a trail of face leavings. Ew. As for his missing eye, I'm guessing/hoping that Capullo is just taking a cue from Lee Bermejo's Two-Face in Joker and keeping it shadow. While I know it's realistic for a burn victim like Harvey to have lost his eye, all it does here is emphasize the corpseness of his appearance.

All in all, I'm kinda interested, but still very hesitant to care much. What's more, I don't know how this art's gonna look once it's all inked and computer-colorzied. I'm gonna quietly prepare for the worst, so that anything good that comes will be a happy surprise, just like I did with the Green Lantern movie. Sometimes it pays to be a hopeful pessimist!


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