about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
As my second post for 2/22 (posted at 22:22, military time!), I bring you the latest updates for the Two-Face RPG that Henchgirl has been working on (and I'm helping!). The progress has been slow and marred by all the same that have slowed down my own output here, but rest assured, it's still underway! It just may take a year. Or three. In the meantime, though, here's a taste of what we have so far!



More behind the cut! )
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So some time back, I was toying with the idea of doing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story with Two-Face where you could flip a coin to decide where to go. I came up will all sorts of scenarios involving a full cast of rogues and supporting characters, and I even had visions of publishing it and including a coin.

Then I started thinking about how to maybe doing an old-school text adventure version that would actually flip the coin for you, which would not only have made each game different but it would have also given players an understanding of what it's like to be be Harvey. That was one of my big goals here besides the gimmick: to really show people just how much choice Harvey does and doesn't have from situation to situation.

Well, of course, real life for the past couple years has been such that it's taking me longer and longer to even write posts for this blog, much less commit to any personal projects, so this lofty idea fell to the wayside. That is, until Henchgirl brought it back to life in a way that's most unexpected and utterly, utterly awesome. I'll let her fill you in:



I make neat stuff


So, Hal's had a really nasty fever going on for the past four-ish days, resulting in calls to doctors and emergency room visits and suchlike. He's much better today than he was even yesterday, but we're all really worn out and he's still cranky and snuffly.

Anyway. As always when he's sick, we're up all night keeping an eye on him. I can't usually make terribly coherent thoughts when I'm this sleep deprived, which is always made worse by the pain I'm always in because my body is suck, so I always fall back on diddling around with things that don't take much brain power to keep me busy during the long, exhausting night shifts.

SO I'VE BEEN MAKING AN RPG, YOU GUYS.



AND OF COURSE IT'S BAT-MANNY.

Ooooh! )



So yeah, we're working together on plotting it out. As she puts it, I'm the Giffen and she's the DeMatteis. Definitely works for me! So yes, if we do manage to pull this off, you can bet that you folks will be among the first to know!
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Preamble: While I will be discussing this book to the best of my abilities, I know that there's nothing quite like seeing a work that's being critiques yourself rather than just hearing the critic's description. As such, if you're interested in checking this book out for yourself, I have found three separate extensive previews of this book: two over at Google Books here and here, plus this preview over at Scribd.

Each of the previews even include some pages that the others omit, including some that are relevant to this review, so try checking them all out for your perusal. Plus, all previews include links to where you can purchase the book if you're interested to read the whole thing. If you'd like to just purchase the book directly from Amazon.com, here you go. Otherwise, let's press on!




While I've always had little use for those unauthorized books that try to examine Batman through the lens of philosophy or religion*, I was really intrigued by the prospect of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by psychologist and Batman fan Travis Langley.

Behind the cut, I attempt to criticize the analyses of an licensed psychologist. Sure, why not? )

What do you think, folks? If you've read the book or even just a few excerpts online (see Preamble), do you agree or disagree with Langley's analyses? How would you diagnose any of the Rogues? Let me know in the comments!

Also, if anyone thinks that the links I used for psychological terminology are inaccurate or outdated, please send me along links to better articles and I shall edit accordingly!



Note: *Footnotes are now found in the comments! The second one became a long rant about Nolan's The Dark Knight that I needed to get off my chest. Think of it as a bonus tirade!
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As some of you know, my Henchgirl, [livejournal.com profile] bitemetechie, has started up a roleplaying blog for the Scarecrow, where she and her CATverse co-mastermind [livejournal.com profile] captaintwinings occasionally hold theme day/week events wherein they take submissions from followers.

These events include "Pick-Up Line Day" (readers do their best to try and hit on the Gotham rogues gallery), "Stroking the Rogue... Ego" (readers tell the rogues what they like best about them to help with therapy), and "Free For All Fic For All" (breaking from character, BiteMeTechie and Twinings write stories to fill as many fic requests from readers as humanly possible in a week long period). The stuff they write for these events--especially the last--are consistently excellent, and are quite often some of the best takes on the Rogues that I have ever seen in any medium. At this rate, you could seriously kill a good few days scouring through the archives, and it'd be well worth your time.

But I'm not writing this just to plug them, as I could and should have done dozens of times over the past few months. No, I'm finally writing them up is because Henchgirl wrote a Harvey/Gilda fic, one that holds specific significance for me: it was originally meant to be my birthday present, but with our lives being what they are these days, it ended up on the back-burner until somebody gave her the prompt to write something Harvey/Gilda. The resulting fic was... well, read it for yourself.


Harvey comes to her at night, the way he always has... )


And since I'm recommending fic by the girls, I might as well include some (but certainly not all) of my favorite fics and drabbles they've written for the blog:
--Clayface III and Lady Clay go out for a night on the town; somebody babysits for them
--Talia goes father’s day shopping; Killer Croc goes shopping; More Sexy!Cajun!Croc; Croc has to talk his way out of a sticky situation; something Croc. For those who don't know, Techie--inspired by Croc's one appearance in Teh Batmans--has reinvented Croc as a suave cajun, and it's pretty awesome. In addition, she's been trying her hand at writing Talia, and the results are pretty damn spectacular. See also:
--Talia Al Ghul makes daddy proud.
--Clayface encounters an old fan; Clayface/Poison Ivy romance
--Maxie Zeus tries to have lunch in a diner. I love how she writes Maxie as if he were being played by Brian Blessed. I credit myself for the fact that I showed her I, Claudius shortly before she wrote this one.
--Jonathan Crane and Hugo Strange at a conference.
--Something featuring Killer Croc, Croc enjoying some Cajun food and Croc comes to dinner
--Killer Croc & Killer Moth sharing an apartment/cell. This one features a special bonus for fans of the Teen Titans cartoon out there.

Again, these are by no means the only ones I like, but that's more than enough recommendations to start. By all means, scour though the archives of askthesquishykins for more. And, since the Free for All Fic for All continues for another week, stop by and request a fic of your very own.
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A couple of you may remember the Two-Face Christmas tree that Henchgirl made for me a couple of years ago. Since then, she's tried to outdo herself by finding me unique Two-Face-related items for Christmas, any of our various anniversaries (it was a... complicated courtship), or just for whatever. The following is most--but I don't think all--of what she's snagged for me online.


Unique and awesome Two-Face stuff purchased for me with LOVE behind the cut! )
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Let me get my bias out right away: I think Batman: Year One is one of the greatest comics ever made.

It's deserving of every bit of praise it receives, and maybe even more, as Frank Miller has done everything in his power to make old fans forget what so many new fans don't realize: he used to be fucking brilliant. But then, working with a masterful artist like David Mazzucchelli (whose recent Asterios Polyp is a modern comic masterpiece) certainly didn't hurt.



While I find that Frank Miller's more-celebrated opus The Dark Knight Returns seems to get uglier and more dated with each passing year, B:YO still shines as a powerfully humane story of crime and heroism. More than that, it's also an incredibly minimalistic comic that represents the antithesis of how bloated and empty most comic storytelling is today.

Whereas most comics are filled with pointless splash pages and two-page spreads to pad out fluff stories to fill trade paperbacks, Miller and Mazzucchelli could tell entire scenes in just a couple panels, or sometimes even just one. Every single line of dialogue mattered. Every word counted. As a long-winded bastard myself, I admire the hell out of anyone who can tell a powerful story by saying very little, or even nothing at all.



So yes, I hold B:YO very close to my heart. As such, I admit that I was prejudiced against the mere prospect of a Batman: Year One animated film, particularly as I've been underwhelmed by all of DC's animated features over the past few years. Even their best adaptations--Justice League: New Frontier and All Star Superman--play like rushed Cliff's Notes of much better graphic novels. Considering that this is largely due to WB Animations' stupid and arbitrary 75-minute running time limit, I was especially dismayed to learn that Batman: Year One would run at little over an HOUR. No way in hell they could do justice to B:YO in that little time!

Except then I read this interview with Bruce Timm, where he said, "When we the finished and timed the storyboard for Batman: Year One we found it came up a little bit short. This was a new one for us! We’d put pretty much the entire comic in the movie and didn’t want to pad it and create new scenes that weren’t in the comic." So I didn't know WHAT to think anymore. Could they have done it? Were they able to tell the entire graphic novel in just an hour? Would they do it justice?



Well, we watched it last week. To be perfectly honest, I don't think I can give this an objective review. I have no idea what someone would make of this if they haven't read the original graphic novel. I don't know how well it would hold up as a film on its own merits. The worst part is, I can remember the last time I felt this way: when I tried to review Watchmen. By which I mean, Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie*.

I imagine some of you are already going, "Oh dear."

What the movies of Watchmen and Batman: Year One have in common is that they're both technically very faithful. Often times, a bit TOO faithful, where it's clear that they virtually used the comic as a storyboard. This would be bad enough, since you can't tell the same story the exact same way across two different types of media, but the changes/cuts they DO make miss the point again and again and again. Because the original comic is so tightly written, the removal of a single line can cut out the entire heart of a scene.

Case in point: the very first scene (and WARNING: SPOILERS FOR A NEARLY-TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD COMIC CLASSIC BEHIND THE CUT )

And yet, after all my complaints, I should stress that this isn't a bad movie. I'm sure it'd be enjoyed by someone who never read the comic. In fact, based on the reviews I'm seeing from people who HAVE read it, I wouldn't be surprised if I'm in the minority of those bothered by these changes. But personally, I see absolutely no reason for this film to exist if they didn't really do it right. The original comic is a nuanced, layered look at two heroes who complement each other, who face their own flaws as well as their enemies, and ultimately change the course of the corrupt city around them. The movie is about two good guys who show up and beat the bad guys. The comic is a masterpiece of comics art and writing. The movie features standard animation and mediocre voice acting, with a couple great exceptions.

It's a good movie based on a GREAT comic, and there's no reason to watch it as anything other than an interesting experiment. If you haven't read the comic, I say just do that instead. Otherwise, Batman: Year One is worth a rental, if only so it can encourage you to reread the comic, which everybody should do. It's a story which deserves to be reevaluated for the modern era, as it's too often misunderstood by fan and filmmaker alike.






*Here's the thing: I admire what Snyder did (and what he attempted to do) with Watchmen. It was an impossible task, and I think he gave a legitimate interpretation of the source material, which is such a rich and complex work that literally no one can agree about what's really important in that story. It's truly a rorschach test for readers, and the film was simply what Snyder saw in the inkblot. Even still, it was only a fraction of the original story, and like B:YO, was hindered by its slavish adherence to the source material without fully understanding the story. There's a reason why Snyder's brilliant opening credits sequence--which wasn't adapted from any part of the comic itself--was a better Watchmen movie than the film as a whole.
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As you know, I've been reviewing Doug Moench's various Two-Face appearances for some time, going in chronological order. They've been a mixed bag, but a far more interesting mixed bag than I thought from back when I read the stories originally. Even the infamous Face Schism story had more going for it than I originally thought! So maybe the *next* Harvey story of his might not be so bad either! Hmm... wait, what *is* is the next Moench story?

... oh. Oh no. Not that one. Not... it... I... I can't...

... Ummm... Henchgirl? *singsong* Oh my beloved Henchgiiiirl? Hellooooooo, [livejournal.com profile] bitemetechie?

Mmmyeeeeeees?

Hi! Thank god! Say, uh, how masochistic are you?

...is this the sort of question I should be openly answering on your fanblog? You know my tendency to overshare.

Erm... *cough*... it's just, I only ask because... well, I am about to review a story which is very relevant to your interests! I mean, considering that you moonlight as [livejournal.com profile] dr_von_fangirl, expert in all things Catwoman, queen of Selina... *cough*even the Jim Balent years...*cough*

You don't mean...





OH GOD, WHY?!


Because... because it has Harvey in it! And also, I thought that maybe you and I could maybe kinda sorta do a dual review together maybe? You know how much I love your geek brain. Not to mention your geek everything-else...

Oh, hush. Look, don't get me wrong, there is a lot to enjoy about Selina's nineties series, but you have no idea what kind of clusterfuck you're getting into here. BECAUSE CATWOMAN'S ENTIRE NINETIES SERIES IS A CLUSTERFUCK. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THE CLUTERFUCKNESS OF THE CLUSTERFUCK. I MEAN LOOK AT ALL THAT EMPHASIS. EVEN THAT FALLS SHORT.

Yes, but Catwoman: Year Two, which ran through Catwoman #38-40, is at least a *standalone* clusterfuck! And besides, the events of this story follow pretty directly after the events that you so excellently covered in your comprehensive, complete, and definitive origin of Selina, which tied all her Post-Crisis stuff into a neat little package.

Oh, you mean that post that everyone everywhere should read because it totally took nearly a year to complete, you shameless flatterer? That one?

Exactly! So you might be interested to know that C:Y2 is the only story thus far to bridge the gap between Frank Miller's gray-suit Catwoman into the purple-suited Jim Balent character from the 90's solo series!

But even still, this story is kind of...not-great.

Oh, it's awful. Lousy. Dialogue is horrible, characters are all over the place, and the art is the visual equivalent of being unreadable. You'd probably know better than I, but it might just represent the absolute nadir of Selina's 90's series. BUT it features both of our favorite characters "facing off"!

I see what you did there, HURR.

Basically, what I'm saying is that I want... no, I need to drag you into this mess with me, so that perhaps we can at least get some entertainment value out of this crap.

Hooray! I'm helping!

Besides, I think it'd be fantastic to see what happens when our two favorite characters meet up for the first time. Just imagine: Selina Kyle and Harvey Dent, hanging out together! Do you think they'll get along as swimmingly, as perfectly, as absolutely lovey-dove-ily wonderfully as we do?




I'm guessing not.

On with the trainwreck! Choo-chooooooo!

When Selina met Harvey (...and the Joker... AND the Penguin) )
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This is a big one. Grab a snack.

I've been putting off reviewing Batman: Face the Face for five years now. Every time I started, my criticisms melted down into curses and incoherent ranting, until my computer screen became obscured by rabid spittle. Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but still.

In some ways, it's actually an ideal introductory trade paperback to get into Batman. Like Hush, it's a murder mystery that also serves as a tour of Gotham's inhabitants, and it was immediately followed by Grant Morrison and Paul Dini's runs. Unfortunately, it's also deeply frustrating, especially if you're a fan of Harvey Dent.

This was the first story to use the character in the three years since Hush, since Loeb supposedly had plans for Harvey hich kept him in limbo until those plans would reach fruition. They never did, and I think folks at DC wanted their precious status quo back in place. I also understand that Two-Face is Dan DiDio's favorite villain, which may have been a factor. In any case, Face the Face is one of the most significant Two-Face stories in canon, and also one of the most painfully frustrating. After five years, I finally have the words to explain just why.





The lost year of Gotham's Unknown Protector, Harvey Dent )




Batman: Face the Face can be purchased here if you wish to read the story in full, including the Tim Drake subplot, several other Rogues doing their Rogue things, and the entire issue dedicated to Harvey and Two-Face's discussion. As mentioned above, it also serves as a gateway to the comics which are coming out today, leading directly to Dini's Detective Comics and Morrison's Batman.
about_faces: (Reading the Newspaper)
Almost a year in the making (and it shows), Henchgirl has finally finished her exhaustively definitive history of Selina Kyle, packed with scans, facts, canon, and canonical disputes. Be warned, the post is HUGE AND NOT SAFE FOR DIAL-UP... but I promise you, it's worth it.

With all the opinionated Catwoman fans throwing around uninformed views about a character whose history is mostly out of print, this timeline is essential to understanding Selina's character and motivations. Even though I may be biased, I am honestly in awe of what she's pulled off here.

This seriously makes me want to step up my game. I wouldn't even know where to begin trying to do a similar project with Harvey, and Selina's history is far more convoluted. At the same time, she also has more material to work with. With Harvey, there are far fewer options on hand. I shudder to consider trying to reconcile the canon I prefer with elements from The Long Halloween/Dark Victory* and Batman: Jekyll & Hyde.**





*By her own rules, Loeb's stories are sadly now officially canon, BUT they clash with the canon of Eye of the Beholder, which was legitimized thanks to the next Doug Moench story which I'll be posting here.

**Which hasn't been referenced by anybody else, so thus doesn't count as canon. Maybe it should still be noted, in some capacity. Or maybe it should be ignored and shunned entirely, so that no one will ever be tempted to resurrect the character of Murray Dent. Man, it'll be fun tearing that one apart someday.

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