about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
In honor of today being 2/22, the intrepid [livejournal.com profile] lego_joker decided--for whatever inspired reason--to throw together collages of every single time that Harvey got hit in the face with acid. The result is oddly compelling in a way that's both hilarious and horrible. The colleges in question only cover the comics in the regular continuity, and he has plans to eventually put out a fourth collage of "Elseworlds/Impostor/Rescarring/Other Media stuff" once he figures out how they'll all be put together. I, for one, cannot wait. For now, I'll let [livejournal.com profile] lego_joker take over with his collages and notes.

Behind the cut, all of your favorites: 'Ugh! My face!' 'Aaghh! My face!' 'AARRRGGH!! M-my face--!?!' 'GAAHH--' 'YAAARGHH!!' 'NAAAGGGHHHH!' And many more! )
about_faces: (Default)
Hiya, folks, [livejournal.com profile] about_faces here! It's with great pleasure that I introduce today's guest review, courtesy of long-time commenter and seasoned critic, [livejournal.com profile] abqreviews! I'll warn you, this is a long one, filled with TONS of photos, but I promise you that all of it is very, very worth your while. I loved this post, especially since virtually all of it was news even to a great big geek like me. This post is a treasure trove of crack-filled delights, and I am honored to host it here. If you like this and would like to read more of the reviewer, you can do so at his blogspot blog, Out of the Quicksand. And so, without further ado, I bring you...

The Great Rogue Rip-Off!
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love imitation Batman villains from the 40s."




Jokers, Cat-women, Clayed-faces, Two-faces, and more behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Default)

Even by 1992, Dick Sprang still had the chops. So no giggling at his name, now.



Batman: Two-Face Strikes Twice was a really, really great idea on several fronts.

In a general sense, the gimmick was perfect: a two-issue Two-Face mini-series telling two different stories at the same time: one in the style of late-period Golden Age, the other in painted "modern" style. The concept alone has so much potential for nostalgic fun (Outlandish deathtraps! Corny dialogue! Giant oversized Dick Sprang object set-pieces!) as well as commentary on how superhero storytelling has evolved over the years, for better or worse. More specifically, the story provided a rare showcase for Two-Face, a character who has evolved considerably between his first appearance in 1942 and TFST!'s publication in 1992.

... Hey, I wonder if it was meant to be a 50th anniversary celebration of the character? That hadn't even occurred to me until just now! If so, TFST! was more than just a gimmicky Two-Face caper through past and then-present: it was a love letter to Batman in general, and Harvey Dent specifically. Oh, how very... very bittersweet.

Unfortunately, it's far from perfect. While author and Batman stalwart Mike W. Barr pretty well nails the entire retro story down to a surprising detail, the "modern" counterpart falls short like wowzers, mainly because Barr pretty much writes in the exact same style. There's still cheesy dialogue, bad one-liners, and groaner "two" puns, only now everyone uses computers and half the cast rocks mullets.


Also, cape technology had apparently grown by leaps and bounds.


But before I trot out a summary judgment of "noble failure," let's take a look at the Harvey-centric parts of TFST!, which are all the more important for featuring the last canonical modern-day appearance of Gilda Dent before The Long Halloween came out and pretty much ruined the character forever. Why, no, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?

I... I didn't want you to hear this from a stranger, Harvey... I'm getting married again... )
about_faces: (Default)
One of the all-time great Two-Face stories is also, in my opinion, probably the worst thing to ever happen to him as a character. Which is to say, I love Two-Face Strikes Again! as a classic example of 50's Batman at its Sprang-iest fun, but I hate how it changed Harvey in ways that can still be seen in most bad Two-Face stories today.

So yeah, not to go all Chuck Dixon on you with the puns, but I'm of two minds about this one.


Also, I'm not sure who the hell drew that lousy cover, but I'm betting it wasn't Sprang. It's not often that a comic's interior art so greatly outshines the cover. That said, what kind of farm uses catapult tractors, and where the hell can I get one?


The problem with this story isn't just the way Two-Face is written, nor the way in which he's brought back. In some ways--and I can't believe that I'm saying this--Two-Face never should have returned at all! I suspect that he was never MEANT to be a recurring villain, based on the fact that the original Golden Age "Harvey Kent" trilogy was just that: a complete story, one which ended with the character's redemption and rehabilitation.

Sure, there were new Two-Face stories that followed, but as it seems like Bill Finger and company didn't want to sacrifice Harvey's happy ending, they decided to have it both ways by introducing a series of Impostor Two-Faces, each of whom became progressively ridiculous to fit the title's shift towards the Silver Age and, eventually, Adam West. This was also, mind you, the Golden Age of crime and horror comics, especially from EC, and thus it was in this iconic final stage of Batman's Golden Age--the legendary Dick Sprang era--that the temptation apparently became too great for DC. It was time to bring back the One True Two-Face.

This, of course, meant ruining Harvey Kent/Dent's happy ending, and the implied subsequent divorce from Gilda. Boo-urns! That would be bad enough on its own, but could have worked if the story continued the original trilogy's themes of duality and tragedy. Except that we were in the Sprang era, so LOL NO. The returned Harvey Dent more closely resembled the outlandish evil silliness of Impostor #3, George ("Here comes DOUBLE TROUBLE! HAHA!") Blake rather than the morose and surprisingly complex Harvey Kent. What once was a powerfully tragic and sympathic figure became a freaky-looking maniac obsessed with the number 2.

Now, that's not to say the story isn't fun as hell... )

If you'd like to read this story in full, you have SEVERAL options, as it's been reprinted in four different volumes: Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder: From the 30's to the 70's, Batman in the Fifties, The Greatest 1950's Stories Ever Told, and Batman VS Two-Face.

The scans from this post have been taken from the last collection, and I suspect those pages were recolored for either the 1950's or Fifties collections. If you'd like to see what the ORIGINAL printed pages and coloring looked like--including Harvey's original gray scarring--you can read them here. I recommend it, as the original coloring is what's going to be referenced in the next post, when we finally look at Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams' Half an Evil.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
Like many or perhaps even most comics fans, there was a time when I naturally assumed that the giant penny in the Batcave was--alongside the robot T-Rex and the big Joker playing card--a trophy from some previous clash with Two-Face. Well, either that or the time the Joker dressed up as Simple Simon and used a giant penny to try busting open a bank vault, but more likely it HAD to have been from Two-Face.

Naturally, I was only half-right. It was from a past caper, but the villain was an almost-literally two-bit crook by the name of the Penny Plunderer.



Normally, I wouldn't think that it'd be important to look at a character whose legacy has been almost entirely overshadowed by a novelty weapon he used one time, but the character is surprisingly fun. Especially the first page of his origin. Do yourself a favor and read--no, perform it aloud, because every time I try, I can't get past the last two panels without cracking up.

No, seriously! Read it! )

In the end, the giant penny's most memorable origin is the all-time-classic Batman: The Animated Series episode, Almost Got 'Im, which had it used in a deathtrap administered by--who else?--Two-Face. So whether it's by innocent mistake or just plain retconned out, the giant penny now seems largely associated with Two-Face, with pennies finally getting the last laugh on poor, forgotten Joe Whatsisname.
about_faces: (Default)
I feel bad for plowing ahead and ignoring the third Impostor, poor George Blake. Maybe it's because Blake's story is the only one that's been reprinted (in an affordable edition, anyway), but it might also have to do with the fact that "The Double Crimes of Two-Face" is kind of... well... stupid.

But historically, it's a notable story for those geeks who care about such things (hi guyz!). This story feels largely like a retread of the first Impostor story with Wilkins the Butler, with the added similarity to Impostor #2 Paul Sloane by giving Blake a background in theatre. At the same time, it's on the cusp of the Silver Age, which means outlandish camp, paper-thin premises, and crack galore. As such, I think Blake's story influenced the actual return of Two-Face, when Dent got rescarred and went on a ridiculous spree right out of the Adam West TV show.

So yeah, this story ain't good. But it's plenty of fun, and the cover is also one of the greatest Two-Face covers of all time. It's also, I might add, a clue.





What's wrong with this Two-Face? You'll be amazed at how long it'll take anyone to figure it out )
about_faces: (Default)
I really jumped the gun with my "Two-Face Impostors" series... in more ways than one! Appropriate enough, I suppose.

When I first started off, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with all these Impostor appearances. Should I do full looks at each individual Impostor story? One big post with superficial looks at them all, and seeing how they match up? Or that same idea, but broken up over individual posts? It seemed that I initially opted for that last option, based on the wimpy treatment I gave to the very first Impostor Two-Face: Wilkins the Butler.

This, I now realize, was a grave injustice. Not only did I give the short-thrift to the very first of a long line of Impostor Two-Faces, but his own story has never been reprinted! While I've never read the whole issue myself, and the scans I have on hand are incomplete, I would be remiss in not chronicling that story here for posterity's sake! Batman #50 is notable not just for featuring the first impostor, but also the first time that Harvey Dent was named Harvey Dent, not Kent.

But more than that, I think it's actually the most interesting of the Golden Age "impostor" stories, largely because it creates a genuine psychological crisis for the real Harvey Dent in a story which simply could not be retold today.






The Return of Two-Face (well, obviously, not REALLY, but pretend like you don't know that) behind the cut... )

There, poor Wilkins finally received the proper about_faces treatment. If Impostor #2 Paul Sloane can get a great modern age revision, I wonder if there'd ever be a way to bring back Wilkins in some capacity. It'd be even better if we could also throw Impostor #3 into the mix, whom I'll FINALLY be looking at in the next post or two.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
Note: This is the first in a series of posts dedicated to a character who, as you might quickly deduce, is not Harvey Dent.

When I set out to create about_faces, I'd intended to have it feature all things Two-Face 90% of the time, with the other 10% dedicated to looks at the rest of the Rogues Gallery, and how they too have been used (and misused) over the years. However, I'd neglected all the other Rogues in favor of Harvey.

That is, until today. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your thoughts. :)




He predates the Joker at Batman's first arch-nemesis, and he invented fear toxin before the Scarecrow ever came along.

He exploits Batman's secret identity in ways Ra's al Ghul never dared, attacking Batman in ways that Hush and Dr. Hurt would later try to less success. He even pulled a Kingpin-style tear-down on Bruce exactly one month before Daredevil: Born Again was released, and had already beaten Kraven the Hunter in the plot to kill his enemy and usurp his identity.

He's made only a handful of appearances, two of which are considered among the greatest Batman stories of all time. By all accounts, he should be Batman's greatest enemy, and yet he resides in obscurity.

He's the Most Interesting Man in the World Professor Hugo Strange. That name, I realize, evokes one of two reactions. 1.) "Who?" or 2.) "Oh, yeah, that guy. What about 'im?"

Now, while I personally love the classic Bat-Rogues dearly--while I still consider the Joker to be the greatest and Two-Face to be my favorite--I've become increasingly intrigued by ol' Hugo in all his iterations. Particularly his original appearance, where--it became apparent to me--that Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Hugo to be the Moriarty to Batman's Holmes. A true Napoleon of Crime for the Depression Era.






So who was this first attempt at an arch-villain for Batman, and what set him apart from any of the other forgettable enemies from the pre-Joker era? Why did the Joker almost instantly usurp his place at Bat-Rogue #1? And what did he have that led him to be resurrected as a major threat a whole thirty-seven years later?

Let's find out together, as we explore the many lives of this mysterious(ly enduring) foe who can plague Batman like no other single villain can even today.

The original Golden Age Hugo Strange trilogy behind the cut! )

Thankfully, Steve Englehart came up with a way to not just resurrect this notable but one-note villain, but to up his threat levels while also deepening his complexity. Indeed, as of this post, we've only scratched the surface of the great character that Hugo Strange has become.

If you're interested in these reading these stories in their entirety, they can be found reprinted in volumes of Batman Archives and, more affordably, Batman Chronicles.
about_faces: (Default)
Today, let's look at the first appearance of the second--and most enduring--of the impostors: Paul Sloane!

Like Harvey Apollo, this Two-Face was originally an actor, and I can't help but think that the Apollo story influenced this one. But unlike that out-of-canon ham actor, the in-continuity Sloane was actually more of a method actor who got a little too deep in the role! Of all the in-canon impostors, Sloane is the only one who was genuinely scarred and snapped, rather than playing dress-up to frame Harvey.

In fact, Sloane's Two-Face may have affected Harvey's subsequent appearances more than we suspect! We already saw how Batman dressed up as Sloane dressing up like Harvey, and how Sloane was the first Two-Face who actually seemed to have fun being evil, all the way up to an image that damn well feels iconic:





The greatest of the impostors, behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Default)
Reading the Golden Age Two-Face stories (half of which featured impostors in the role!), though, I've noticed a trend that carried through through those versions of the character. The more I noticed it, the funnier I thought it was. I'd actually intended to let that pattern unfold here with each post, rather than make it explicit, to see how many others would see the pattern too.

That was the plan, anyway. Until I neglected to do the IMPOSTORAMA posts in order, and one after the other in a week. So instead, let's treat this like a Gotham night sky and throw a great being spotlight on this pattern, which will hopefully amuse you guys as much as it does a geek like me.

All Golden Age Two-Faces find it absolutely hilarious and fitting to escape on bikes.

No, really. All of them.

First, we have original Two-Face, Harvey Kent, in DETECTIVE COMICS #68:





Then, Harvey Dent's butler, Willis, pretending to be Two-Face to frame Harvey in BATMAN #50:





Next, Paul Sloane, the method actor who went insane after getting scarred while playing Harvey Dent in a TV movie, from BATMAN #68:





I like how he seems to have more fun being Two-Face than Harvey Kent did. Maybe that has to do with the fact that he's using a bicycle, not a motorcycle. Lends itself much more to ringing the bell and going "wheeeeeee!" in your crime spree escapes.

But that's nothing compared to the next Two-Face, George Blake, another actor also trying to frame Dent, from DETECTIVE #187:





Because really, there's escaping on a bike, and then there's escaping on a bike while wielding an axe and laughing maniacally. Blake wasn't really crazy, but he was clearly having a blast.

By the time Harvey Dent returned as Two-Face in BATMAN #81, we were right in that era that would inspire whole episodes of the Adam West BATMAN show. We're on the cusp of the Silver Age (I'd even consider this story far more Silver than Golden in sensibilities and snazzy Dick Sprang art).

We never see him escape in this story, so perhaps this Two-Face would still use a bike. But considering what he goes on to actually commit crimes, I'm guessing that bikes would just be thinking too small for this Two-Face...

Oh, NOW he uses a cut tag! )


On one hand, I hate this Two-Face for losing all the tragedy and character depth. On the other, wheeeeeee! Maybe they should bring back George Blake to be the fun, ridiculous Two-Face, and he can have team-ups with Impostor!Hatter in a Sprang-themed crime spree!

But for good or ill, this is the only Silver-Age-ish appearance of any Two-Face (save for Batman himself, long story). The character vanished from continuity for seventeen years until Denny O'Neil and Neil Adams brought him back at the birth of the Bronze Age. And thus, the love affair of Two-Faces and two-wheeled escape vehicles has been lost to time.

Clearly, if anyone wanted to cheer up Two-Face, they should buy him a bike. He'd be the happiest guy in Arkham. At least, until the Joker slashes the tires.

about_faces: (Reading the Newspaper)
The first of several quick overviews of the other men who would be Two-Face, as if anybody would actually want to have Harvey's life. Today, we look at the very first impostor, as seen in the pages of BATMAN #50: "The Return of Two-Face!"


REAL NAME:
Wilkins (no other name revealed), butler to the now-sane Harvey Dent, who suffers nightmares about becoming Two-Face again.





The stats on Harvey's own duplicitous Anti-Alfred behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Default)
Today, I present the first of several upcoming looks at Two-Face cover appearances over the ages. Feel free to skim past my blathering and commentary to just look at the neato pictures, if you're so inclined! :)

Note: all cover images taken from comicvine.com, my #1 source for character appearances when I'm trying to track down, say, a minor cameo of Highfather making Two-Face cry in an issue of NEW GODS. Yes, it happened. But I'll save that for the Cameos Megapost down the line. :)


So! Where better begin than where it all began: THE GOLDEN AGE! )

I'm also planning on looking at all of the Impostor Two-Faces over the years, but I can't decide if I should do them all in one post, or in a series of posts, since lord knows I can ramble on sometimes! Furthermore, I can't decide how many scans I want to include. Whole pages (but not whole stories)? Or choice panel snippets with commentary?

Do you folks have any preferences either way?
about_faces: (Default)
Let's go back to where it all started: August 1942, with DETECTIVE COMICS #66.

While Bob Kane gets too much credit for everything Batman, it seems that Two-Face was entirely his creation, taking the look from this poster of Spencer Tracy's JEKYLL & HYDE film, and giving him a coin-flipping gimmick originated by George Raft in SCARFACE. Bill Finger then ran with the idea, and the two introduced a startling new villain for Batman's Rogues Gallery: Two-Face, AKA Harvey... Kent?

Yes, as you might know, Harvey's original last name was Kent, presumably changed to Dent so as to avoid any connection with Superman. What's more, the first Two-Face story was a cliffhanger in a time when most superhero stories were standalone. What's more more, it actually ended up being a trilogy, with a distinct beginning, middle, and end of Harvey Kent's career as Two-Face!





It's one of the earliest examples of a complete story arc told in multiple parts from the Golden Age, one that cemented Two-Face from the outset as one of Batman's greatest foes, not to mention his most tragic.

And I can pretty damn well guarantee you that the saga of Harvey Kent doesn't end the way you'd expect! As an epilogue, I've included a never-reprinted, little-known postscript to the life and career of Harvey Kent, the original Two-Face.


Grab some popcorn and get a drink! The original Two-Face saga--thus, lots of scans and commentary--behind the cut! )

On a final note: it's good to be back. I finally have some free time again to dick around on frivolous matters, which means more [livejournal.com profile] about_faces in the near future! Hope you enjoy it, and as always, I highly encourage all comments, feedback, suggestions, and ideas! If you have a post you'd like to do, or fic to recommend, or anything like that, let me know via the comments or a DM!

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