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: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
While I'm older and wiser enough to know that McDonald's is shit that will kill me, I still have a great deal of fondness for the Happy Meal toys I had collected over the years as a kid growing up in the 90's. Of course, when it comes to which line of tie-in toys were my favorites, you can probably guess:





As you can see, the line was divided into four basic action figures and four characters riding their own personalized gimmicky vehicles, which always struck me as being like something out of Gotham's own version of Wacky Races. My favorite toy of the whole line was not the flippable Two-Face car, but rather the Riddler figure, which is still one of my very favorite plastic embodiments of Eddie.


I wish I could find a better picture of this. What I especially loved about this figure was how he had a half-smirk which gave him a different mood depending on which side you looked at him. Look at him from one side: frowny Eddie! From the other: smug Eddie! Look at him face on: snarky Eddie! Who knew that a Happy Meal could convey versatile personality?


Yes, I loved these toys, but more than that, I loved the Happy Meal boxes they came in, at least one of which featured original art by that MVP of DCAU Batman comics, Ty Templeton. Like coloring and activity books on crack, these were packed with games, puzzles, and awful jokes which must surely have been used by many a child to torment many a parent. To see what I mean, here’s the one that’s definitely by Templeton, which I know because he posted it over at his own blog. That's as official as it gets!



I don't know about some you young'un snappers of whippers, but this box gives me such a 90's nostalgic flashback. It's the little details I also love, like the fact that the Joker has a trunk full of stolen kittens. The only thing that bugs me is that Catwoman is more interested in stealing the bejeweled cat collars over saving all those cats from the clutches of the goddamned Joker, but maybe that's her ulterior motive to this ill-advised team-up. At least, I think they're teaming up.

I also love that Harvey (who always looks great under Templeton's pen) is apparently trying to woo Catwoman with an entire serving tray of stolen jewels, the only one of which that entices her are the "purrrr-ls!" Maybe it's just the fact that I'm now a Dad and therefore terminally uncool, but I am such a sucker for horrible puns like that.

So lucky me, I've found scans of all the other Happy Meal boxes (including the other half of the one above), all of which are filled with more lousy jokes and wacky character moments! Whee! With the exception of the next scan, which is also from Templeton's own blog, the rest of these are from the eBay store of D&K's Treasures from the Vault, which is selling each of these boxes for about ten bucks each.

Oh, and if you want to see the original artwork of the Templeton pieces, Ty the Guy's blog has also got you covered. Just in case you want to break out the Crayola and color them in yourself.

Learn the horrible secret of why the Joker loves to make eggs for breakfast, behind the cut! )

Of course, no mention of Batman-related McDonald's tie-ins would be complete without a quick mention of my very favorite items of all: the Batman Forever collector's mugs!


Source: X-Entertainment


I recently found all of mine during one of the several times I've had to move over the past year, and they're still as cool as I remember. Also, I apparently own two Riddler mugs and three Two-Face ones, because why wouldn't I? I hope you won't blame me, especially considering the awesome handle of the Two-Face mug in particular.



Sadly, I have been hesitant to use the mugs ever since those stories broke out about lead being found in pretty much all McDonald's glasses ever made. Does that extend to the Batman Forever glasses too, or just the glasses that had paint on them? I haven't been able to find out either way, but better safe than sorry. Oh well, at least they'll be safe high up on a shelf, away from the grabbing hands of my susceptible child.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Another quick post today. Real life is too busy and hectic with the holidays coming up, and all my free writing time has been devoted to working on something more personal over at my neglected original LJ, [livejournal.com profile] thehefner. Sadly, I fear that I may not be able to whip together a Batman Returns review in time for Christmas, as I'd hoped! Well, until I can pull together anything new, let me at least tide you over with something cool and mysterious I've found, with the hope that maybe some of you might be able to shed light on this.

In my search for rare art by artists like the late, great Marshall Rogers (Strange Apparitions/The Laughing Fish, the Batman comic strip, Dark Detective), I've found four pieces of what is clearly concept art for a Batman project which never happened. More than just art, they include liner notes which hint at story details and show how this take on the characters stands out from the rest.



Thing is, though, I have no idea what the hell this project might have been! There are no details online, no clues, no hints. The only possibility that comes to mind is that maybe they were for the Dark Detective sequel which Rogers had only started at the time of his death, but nothing about these images really jives with the scant info that Steve Englehart himself has provided. So what the heck was this? Let's try to figure it out together!

Four large scans behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Since real life has once again become far too real to allow free time for the usual in-depth bloggery, I think it'd be neat to post a gallery of Batman villains as drawn by a single artist of note, someone who has an amazing style of their own who also brings something unique to the Rogues. Today, I'd like to dedicate this post to Chris Samnee.



Before he became the artist of such celebrated titles as the late, lamented Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Mark Waid's current Daredevil run, and The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (which I haven't read but obviously must), Samnee first caught my attention with the above Two-Face piece, which instantly became one of my very favorite portraits of Harvey. It doesn't hurt that Two-Face is Samnee's favorite Batman villain, something I learned from over at his blog. From there, I scoured through his archives, and quickly fell in love with his artwork.

Like Alex Toth, David Mazzucchelli, and Michael Lark, Samnee's style is elegantly minimalistic, able to say a lot with a little. As I've said many times in the past, I'm a sucker for artists who can pull that off, especially when it comes to characters. Samnee's portraits shine with personality, and combined with his clear affection for the Bat-Family and Rogues alike, I would dearly love to see him take on a character-driven Gotham Underworld maxi-series.



To get a taste of what that might look like, I've assembled every single villain portrait of Samnee's that I could find over at his blog and Comic Art Fans, an invaluable resource for rare original art. Thanks to those sites, I could easily have also included another thirty portraits of the heroes as well, but eh, maybe I'll just put my favorites in the comments or something. Here, it's evil ahoy!

Over thirty more portraits of the bad, the worse, and the ugly behind the cut! )

A great assortment all, but definitely a few notable absences, especially the Riddler and the Mad Hatter. I'd also love to see how Samnee would tackle Killer Moth.

Note: one Two-Face portrait by Samnee that I cannot include is the one which might just be the best of them all, but as you can see there, the image is teeny tiny and won't enlarge. Blast! I left a comment on Samnee's blog asking about it, but no reply has come yet. If one does and I can find a better version, rest assured that I shall post it!
about_faces: (Movie Faces of Harvey Dent)


There's a lot more to Billy Dee Williams' portrayal Harvey Dent from Tim Burton's Batman (1989) than you might have suspected. I know that I certainly didn't think there was much to say, which is why it's taken me this long to finally write about one of the most famous portrayals of Harvey in pop culture.


CITIZEN DENT


I'd wager that, for most people around 1989, this was their introduction to the character, even if they weren't yet aware that he was going/supposed to become a major villain. I would imagine that when most people--the non-comics fans whose experience with Batman came only from the Adam West show--were watching the film, their thought was less, "Hey, it's Two-Face" and more "Hey, it's Billy Dee Williams!"


Here's your opportunity to get all the references out of your Degobah system.


If the movie's Harvey didn't especially stand out, it's no surprise: he's kind of a nothing character, mainly there to represent the side of law and order who are there to get screwed with by the Joker. Oh sure, he's introduced as making a bold (but surely doomed) stand against the mob kingpin who has ruled Gotham for years, but that promise is quickly wasted in favor of turning him, Mayor Borg, and Jim Gordon into a three-headed representation of Gotham's ineffectual establishment.


In this scene from the rare Star Trek/Star Wars crossover, Lando is assimilated into the Borg. /rimshot /couldntresist


Almost immediately after his first appearance, Harvey spends the rest of the film as a bureaucrat and accountant whose only job is to make sure a parade happens. This could have worked if it were played for conflict, much like how Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones was brought in to be the King's Hand only to find himself having to scrape together funds for a pointless, wasteful tourney (no spoilers, please, I haven't even finished the first book!), but instead, Billy Dee's Harvey doesn't get to do anything at all except be shouted at by the Mayor and look official. As a result, Harvey Dent in Batman is so damn inconsequential that his role in the comics adaptation (written by our old pal Denny O'Neil!) is reduced to just two panels with no dialogue!


Source: Gotham Alleys


But if you look behind the scenes, you'll discover that this wasn't always the case... )

What could Billy Dee Williams' have been like as Two-Face? Hard to say. I haven't seen anything to indicate that he could go there as an actor, but if any of you know any performances of his that hinted at that kind of darkness, do let me know! Considering what happened with Tommy Lee Jones and Batman Forever (which I both enjoy on their own merits, mind you), I think that it's a shame that Billy Dee Williams never had a chance to prove himself with the role.

Nonetheless, Billy Dee Williams' performance of Harvey in Batman--truncated as it was--stands as a milestone for the character, paving the way for the character's fame in non-comics pop culture through B:TAS and beyond. Maybe he's the George Lazenby of Harvey Dents, but Lazenby has still earned his plance in the Bond mythos, and so too has Billy Dee with Two-Face. Not too shabby, when all's said and done.

about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
This has to be the single most depressingly tragic tale in all of DCAU canon. It's also, not coincidentally, one of the greatest. But I'd be lying if I said that it was one of my favorites, or that I looked forward to posting about it here.



In the wake of Batman Forever, the second season of Batman: The Animated Series was renamed The Adventures of Batman & Robin, to emphasize the presence of that damn smartass boy hostage. Following suit, The Batman Adventures was canceled (ending with a wonderful Hugo Strange story) and rebooted as Batman & Robin Adventures. What's more, the TBA creative team of Kelley Puckett and Mike Parobeck (a stellar team who had, in my opinion, only begun to produce some of their very best work) were replaced by TAS co-mastermind Paul Dini and original TBA artist Ty Templeton, who took over writing duties from Dini after issue #3.

They hit the ground running with their first outing, the two-part storyline Two-Timer, which was released little over a year after the bittersweetly hopeful Second Chance first aired. Unlike most DCAU tie-in comics, which were largely self-contained and didn't/couldn't really alter the status quo, Two-Timer took the ongoing story of Harvey Dent to new depths of tragedy, apparently shattering the lives of several characters beyond any hope of repair.



So yeah, this story is a downer, but it's not without a certain amount of sadistic glee provided by--who else?--the Joker himself, whose actions here count among the worst things that the Joker has ever done. Which is to say, there's far worse that you can do to someone than just kill them. It's a lesson that far too few writers seem to understand.

Bruce Wayne has a weekly appointment to keep behind the cut... )

If you want to read this or other DCAU Batman comics, you're in luck! The digital comic shop Comixology has made a great many of these comics--most of which are hard to find--available for just .99¢ each! YAY! Their runs aren't complete (they're seriously lacking when it comes to their selection of the first series, The Batman Adventures), but they have ALL of Batman & Robin Adventures (Vol. 2) and Batman Adventures (Vol. 4), plus most of Batman: Gotham Adventures (Vol. 3)! Check out the full selection of them here, and again, they're only 99¢ each, which is a great price to own some of the best Batman comics ever published!

And, of course, if you just want to read both parts of Two Timer, you can find them here and here! Definitely check them out in full!
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First off, thanks for the good vibes, everyone! Against all odds, we managed to dodge a bullet with the Frankenstorm. We got seriously lucky, and while we're not out of the woods yet, it looks like everything is more or less okay.

Unfortunately, like many, we missed Halloween entirely. So much for my hopes of finally sucking up the guts to review Batman: The Long Halloween this year! Heck, we were in such a rush yesterday that I couldn't even post two wonderfully Halloween-themes Bat-villain things that were pointed my way by a couple different awesome readers! First off, holy crap, these pumpkins:



And here's what the same artist's Joker pumpkin looks like! )

The Joker's pretty amazing, but that Two-Face... wow! As [livejournal.com profile] captaintwinings remarked, "That looks better than most actual comic art!" I have to agree, that scarring is rendered gorgeously in its grotesquery.

The other big bit of news comes courtesy of comic artist Dustin Nguyen (Detective Comics, Batman: Streets of Gotham), who has spent the last five years pitching DC an idea for a whole Tiny Titans style series called Li'l Gothams. Finally, all his efforts have paid off with a standalone Halloween story released exclusively in digital form for just 99¢!

Here's a large image of the cover! )

If super-cute chibi-like things are not your speed, you may want to avoid this. Otherwise, I can promise you that this story is an absolutely delightful little treat (hurr) involving Batman teaching Damian the true meaning of Halloween and the rogues celebrating a night out to dinner where they can be left alone. This is to be the first of a year-long series of one-shots which Nguyen and writer Derek Fridolfs are calling, The Calendar of Small Events, with each story taking place around a different holiday.



This project promised to be a super-exciting project not just for fans of the classic Bat-Family and Rogues, but also for a few fan-favorites who haven't been seen for a while, such as Cass Cain and Stephanie Brown! Although then again, that could be subject to change at any moment. Depending on just how deep DC's obsessive erasure of Steph, Cass, Renee Montoya, and other fangirl-favorites goes, we might just see a decidedly altered version of that above promo piece when all's said and done. I don't even like Steph, but something seriously stinks at DC, man.
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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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I finally picked up a copy of Rogues Gallery, a collection of DC villain pin-ups to coincide with their potentially-great-but-terminally-mediocre crossover event, Underworld Unleashed.

For those who haven’t read UU, you’re not missing much. Essentially, it was about a tedious Satan stand-in named Neron (DC's answer to a poor man's Mephisto) who offered to give villains an extreme 90’s makeover and power-boost in exchange for their souls. Well, they weren’t using those anyway, right? As a result, we got such silliness as Killer Moth turned into a man-eating mutant monster who caccoons his victims (something so lousy that it was actually a vast IMPROVEMENT when it was adapted for The Batman) and Mister Freeze got actual freezing *powers* (something which was promptly forgotten). Also, UU opened with the Flash’s Rogues getting killed off, solely because Mark Waid genuinely couldn’t figure out how to write them, something which he admitted in a Wizard interview in ‘98. Man, thank god for Geoff Johns, at least when it comes to the Flash's rogues. Basically, the entire UU event was by and for people who mistook scary/extreme/overpowered villains for interesting characters.

That said, Rogues Gallery was still a cool collection of pin-ups by some great artists, especially for the Bat-Rogues. Unfortunately, I’ve been able to find no scans online. I’ve found pin-up scans for other DC villains at a Martian Manhunter blog, a Wonder Woman blog, and a Firestorm blog, but NOTHING at *any* of the Bat-blogs, nor anywhere else teh interwebs! What the hell, Bat-fans?

So, naturally, I’m rectifying this. Here are all of the Batman villain profiles, complete with inane and annoying commentary by Neron that I really wish I could erase.

Look into the face of insanity behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Default)
Part 1
Part 2



Welcome back! No long-winded introductions this time, let's get straight to the grand finale of this Dark Detective review!

Fate is playing TRICKS, Batman! )

But what about poor Evan Gregory? Surely his own story isn't over, right? Well, this opens up a whole new area of controversy and contention Englehart's part. You see, he also noticed some eerie similarities between Evan Gregory and TDK's Harvey Dent, as played by Aaron Eckhart. And he doesn't think that's a coincidence at all.



Did Christopher Nolan rip off Englehart and Rogers? Englehart makes his case here behind the cut )

Again, Englehart sells comic scripts for $15 per issue over at his website, which means that the complete scripts for the Dark Detective sequel could be yours for $90! When I found out about this story, I was DYING to buy those scripts myself, because man, what a coup that would have been for this site! To actually be able to review a "Story That Never Was," and a sequel to a comic I love...!

But sadly, life has utterly gone to shit in our household over the past month, forcing us to cut back costs on everything, and that $90 would be better spent on baby food and a new dishware set. Man, being an adult sucks. But if any of you are willing to make that splurge, by all means, contact Mr. Englehart and ask for the scripts to DDIII. And if you're willing to share any story details with us, hey, I think we'd ALL be grateful for that!

Man, I just wish I could read it myself, almost as much as I wish Marshall Rogers could still be with us. Instead, we have a masterful artist taken from this world far before his time, and on top of it all, we have an interesting story lost forever in favor of an awful one. Perhaps Harvey was right after all. Perhaps fate is playing tricks. In any case, I'm nonetheless grateful that Englehart, Rogers, and Austin were able to reunite one more time to provide the fascinating, fun, flawed, wacky, wonderful romp that was Batman: Dark Detective.

If you liked this review and want to read the full thing (and you absolutely should, since there was so much more great stuff which I couldn't include), you can either pick up the Dark Detective trade paperback or the amazing hardcover collection Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, which collected both Englehart/Rogers stories, plus Siege and more! I own almost all of those stories in some form or another, and I'm STILL sorely tempted to pick that one up myself!
about_faces: (Default)


Welcome back! As I said at the end of the first part, the Two-Face subplot is Batman: Dark Detective is one of the oddest damn Harvey stories I have ever read. To this day, I'm still not sure whether I like it or not, which is one reason I wanted to examine this story in full. I just put it off for years because I expected that it would be a pain to parse out.

What I hadn't expected was that I'd also be giving Silver St. Cloud's subplot just as much attention, which is one reason why this review is spread out over three rather large parts. Why would I devote so much additional time and energy to a character and storyline which only drags down this story as a whole? Well, I recently discovered something about that storyline which is actually very relevant to our interests, but before I can explain what that is (and what could have been), we need to examine what Englehart was trying to do with his OC love interest and her bland but dutiful fiancé, Evan Gregory.



The odd man out of this story is the Scarecrow, whose inclusion here serves as more of a way of furthering the plot along rather than anything having to do with the character himself. Whereas Harvey and Silver/Evan's stories are seemingly-unrelated plotlines with connections I will eventually explore, Scarecrow is here solely to motivate Bruce. That said, Englehart does have a couple of his own... unique ideas of what makes Professor Crane tick, so let's look at that too, and then you can let me know whether or not you think Englehart's interpretation holds any water.

Two Faces Have I )

On that cliffhanger, I think this is the perfect time to end this review. In the next and final part, we'll take a look at Harvey's recovery from these events, plus we'll see what I consider to be some of the greatest Joker moments of all time. We'll also witness the literal fall of Evan Gregory, how it would have led to the sequel that never was, and how Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight might--or might not--have been "inspired" by this story.

Edit: Part 3 is up! Go go go!
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While there are many Batman stories which I adore, there are some which I would never, ever recommend to anyone else. Such is the case with Batman: Dark Detective, the long-awaited reunion of Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin, one of the the greatest Batman teams ever who produced one of the greatest runs of any DC Comics property in the company's history. Hyperbole abuse be damned, I firmly think that storyline deserves every scrap of praise it gets.

A brief overview of Englehart and Rogers' legendary story, and their respective failed attempts to create a suitable sequel )

So with the three big stars of the original band reunited, coupled with a first-issue Joker cover that guaranteed old-school awesomeness, it's obvious that Batman: Dark Detective was going to be perhaps THE must-read comic for fans of classic Batman... right?



Well... sorta. Look, I love this story, but I'll be the first to admit that it's not without flaws. And even its strengths are not all to everyone's tastes. Maybe what happened was that, in their attempt to recapture the traits that made them so beloved in the first place, they were perhaps a bit too successful. Batman: Dark Detective ramps up a lot of their... quirks, shall we say... to the point where it must seem weird and jarring to readers who aren't familiar with their work, to the newbies who are, in a sense, not "in on the joke." I think it's fair to say that B:DD is like porn for fans of Englehart and Rogers, a slice of pure crack that's largely off-beat, sometimes just plain off, sometimes COMPLETELY BONKERS, but it's never boring. Well, almost never, depending on your tolerance for the romance between Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud.


Did you notice that this issue is where DC changed logos from the "bullet" to the "swish"? Maybe that was another sign of how the times had moved on from this story right out from under its feet. Also, I miss the "bullet," dammit. Hell, I had already gotten used to the "swish" before it too got replaced by the soulless corporate logo they're using now. Sigh.


Ultimately, I may just be really biased in my love towards Dark Detective for two reasons: 1.) it has one of the weirdest--and yet, most strangely charming--explorations of Harvey Dent that I've ever seen, and 2.) it has what I consider to be some of the best Joker moments of all time. Yes, the real focus is on Bruce and Silver's affair, but to quote Max Shreck, "Yawn." For me, Dark Detective is all about the perfect Joker and the wacky Harvey. So let's examine both, shall we?

And while we're at it, let's meet a brand-new character who will play a vital part in this story, someone who bears an eerie resemblance to a certain blond, doomed politician from a recent Bat-related movie that would come out three years later. Coincidence? We'll see...

Click this cut-tag OR I'LL KILL YOU )
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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: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Welcome to the final part of our triple-feature review of Harvey taking a supporting role in the show to pal around with his "fellow miscreants" in episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.

In the show's second and third seasons, when it was retitled The Adventures of Batman & Robin, there were a lot of episodes which felt like sequels, follow-ups, or spiritual relations to classic episodes from the first season. For origins like Two-Face and Feat of Clay, and Heart of Ice, you got sequels in the form of Second Chance, Mudslide, and Deep Freeze. In that sense, I've always felt like today's episode, Trial, was akin to Almost Got 'Im, partially because of a couple winks by writer Paul Dini.

And so, hot on the heels of that classic episode, let's see if Dini can recapture the same magic as he examines the fandom-old question of whether or not Batman's mere presence "creates" his own rogues gallery. And while we're at it, let's also examine just why it might not be a smart idea to put all of Gotham's worst insane criminals under one roof.



Wherein the Arkham inmates take over the asylum, put Batman on mock trial, and force the new bat-hating D.A. to defend him. Watch it here!

We got some legal business to settle first, behind the cut...! )

Next time, I shall tackle the second-best Two-Face story in all of B:TAS, which shall finally allow me to get us back to reviewing the DCAU comics by the likes of Dini and the great Ty Templeton. I'm really looking forward to getting to those after all this time.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Welcome to the next installment of my three-part review series which I have dubbed "Harvey and pals!" Why? Because calling it "Harvfield and Friends" probably wouldn't have flown with anybody. That said, now the theme song is stuck in my head...

The first uniting of the Unholy Three ended, unsurprisingly, with defeat and arrest, but this doesn't prove to be the only time that Harvey, the Joker, and the Penguin decided to hang out in their downtime away from schemes and deathtraps. Maybe the events of the previous episode taught these rogues to enjoy (or at least tolerate) one another's company? To paraphrase a character from the wacky cannibal movie Ravenous, "It's lonely being a supervillain. Tough making friends." Perhaps that's what led to the scene of villainous socializing that occurred in one of B:TAS' best-ever episodes:



Wherein several of the rogues play cards and trade stories about how they each almost killed Batman, but there's more going on than meets the eye. Watch it here!

I threw a r... well, you know the rest. )

As a bonus, I am delighted to present to you something which I found whilst scouring for rare B:TAS/Two-Face memorabilia, especially limited edition collectibles from the late, lamented Warner Brothers Studio Store chain of shops. That store would often carry animation cels, lithographs, and other cool works of Batman art, and it's so hard to find good-quality scans of them anywhere online. Thankfully, I found a fantastic scan of this, one of my very favorites:



Man, forget dogs playing poker, I want this hanging in my den whenever I play cards and smoke cigars with the boys. Not that I play cards nor smoke cigars, nor do I even have boys anymore. Whatever, I still want it anyway. That and the other WB Studio Store sericels of the Rogues:



There is not a single one of these that I don't love. There were at least two others in this particular series of character line-ups, including one of the heroes (like Robin, Commissioner Gordon, Renee Montoya, and even Harvey Dent!) and a second one for the villains! Sadly, I haven’t been able to find the first one at all, and the only scan I’ve found for the second is this grainy, teeny one here:



So yeah, if you know where I can find better quality images of these awesome works of art, let me know.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Hello, hello! I am finally back, here to present a special three-part review over the next week!

I've been working on these for a while now, and since I have a lot of irons in the fire at present, I figure it's high time to look at some of Harvey's more notable second-string episodes before I get to the really meaty TAS-era stuff! So, over the course of the next few posts, I shall review Harvey's three biggest supporting-role appearances in Batman: The Animated Series and examine what they mean for the character himself! After becoming Two-Face, Harvey became a full-fledged member of the Batman rogues gallery, and he would sometimes be seen rubbing shoulders with the worst of the costumes rogues.


PALS.


While this fits the status of the comics--wherein Two-Face being held up as one of the most important and prominent rogues--it's still strange company for the former District Attorney to be keeping, even insane as he's become. Let's face it, even Big Bad Harv isn't the type to fraternize with the likes of the Joker and Poison Ivy under any circumstances, and yet, he's seen hangin' around with the Rogues on several occasions! How the hell does this work? Does the show even try to reconcile the Harvey that was and the Two-Face he's become with this newfound club of "friends" that he has every reason to loathe, or do the writers just shrug their shoulders and go, "Eh, he's evil now, let him hang with evil people"?

To find out, let's examine Two-Face's three biggest supporting appearances over the show, all of which involve him sharing screentime with the Joker and various other villains. Perhaps tellingly, all three of these episodes are greatly influenced by classic Bronze Age stories, which might account for their particular treatment of Harvey as Bat-Rogue member. And let's start with a review for an episode that's long, long overdue for anyone who's familiar with this blog.



Wherein Batman investigates the mad scientist, extortionist, and inexplicably-Russian Hugo Strange, who in turn subsequently discovers Bruce's secret identity and plans to auction it off to the highest bidder. Watch it here.

Full review with SPOILERS behind the cut! )
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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?
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Or "REVIEW ALL THE EPISODES!" I was originally going to include his larger supporting roles in here as well, but I'll save those for later.



So: with Harvey's origin as Two-Face out of the way, he went from being a little-seen heroic supporting character to joining the villain ensemble right alongside the guy who tried to kill him on live TV and his poisonous ex-almost-fiancée. It's not exactly the sort of company you'll expect to see Harvey enjoy no matter the mental state. But then, one has to imagine that it initially wasn't his choice, given that he was sent to Arkham Asylum. We first see Harvey at his new locale in the episode, Fear of Victory, as Batman goes to Arkham to find Scarecrow and has to pass a gauntlet of his biggest enemies at this point in the series:



Source: afiveseven


He just sits there, heedless of Batman, staring at nothing and flipping his coin. Is he just passing the time? Is he thinking, brooding, and/or scheming? I sometimes like to think that both sides are arguing, and the coin is the arbiter between them, but this isn't apparent to any outsider observers.

This scene has a personal bit of "Cool story, bro" significance for me, since this was the first time that I saw Harvey as Two-Face. Either I missed the two-part origin episode when it first aired (which is bloody unlikely even for me at ten years old, since I watched this show religiously), or more likely, Fox did what Fox always does and aired the episodes out of order. I mean, it's just a kids show, who the hell's gonna notice, amirite?

As such, this scene from Fear of Victory was the very first time I saw Harvey—good ol’ Harvey, the idealistic lawman, romantic idiot, and best friend—fully transformed into Two-Face. Even as a kid with limited comics knowledge, I knew what Harvey was going to become, but the shock of suddenly seeing him already there (along with the show’s unique design of that black-and-white suit and that strikingly sickly blue scarring) is forever burned into my memory. It gave watching the actual origin episode another layer of tragic inevitability.

But was that the only cameo? No sirree! In fact, the others echo this one in their own ways, the next of which is decidedly disturbing:

Nightmares, gods, and questions behind the cut! )

Yeah, that's it for the last Harvey cameo. Kind of an anticlimactic ending, ain't it? Well, that's the hand I'm dealt, as there are no more cameos after this. Well, no more that take place in Arkham, anyway. There's one more major cameo in Batgirl Returns, but I'll save that for the Shadow of the Bat review.

To make up for that, here, have an encore presentation of the best gif in the world right now, just for the benefit of those who aren't going to read past the cut:



It's hypnotic. Like a lava lamp.
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So as I was waiting with trepidation for the new issue of Tony Daniel's Detective Comics to hit DC's Comixology app for download and subsequent review, I thought to myself, "John, you haven't caught up with the Arkham City tie-in comics, have you? Do you think that maybe Harvey's made a new appearance there yet?"

Um... yes. Yes there was. And it's... interesting. No, you get no context. You don't need any.

SPOILERS for the new 'Arkham Unhinged,' out today for digital purchase only! )

I should mention that I've really been enjoying the comics, entitled Batman: Arkham Unhinged. It's not super-brilliant, but it's generally the best depiction of the Rogues in any format nowadays, and the Two-Face/Catwoman story in particular was far, far superior to the Two-Face of the game itself. I would have reviewed that story by now, but I was planning on holding off until I reviewed Hugo's roles in the game and comics in-depth, and I can't do THAT until I get to ALL THE OTHER HUGO STRANGE STORIES FIRST AND I NO WANNA DO THOSE FEH so maybe I should just get to it anyway. I'd also like to review the Killer Croc story, which is literally the first to look at his origins in depth since... what, his first appearances in the early 80's? Geez, that's inexcusable.

If you want to read this or any of the other Arkham Unhinged digital comics, they can be purchased here at Comixology for 99¢ each!
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When it comes to the famous Batman villains, few have gotten less respect over the years than the Riddler.

Only the Penguin surpasses Eddie in terms of being scorned by writers and fans alike, and that disdain seemed to reach its greatest heights around the late 80's, early 90's. In this period, we saw Riddler stories that saw him as a has-been (Neil Gaiman's When Is A Door?), a never-was (Denny O'Neil's Riddles), and a never-will-be (the newspaper comic strip), with the apparent consensus being that he was a poor man's Joker, a toothless leftover of the campy show who used a annoying gimmick that supplied his own defeat every time.

And yet, this very same period gave us one of the very greatest Riddler appearances ever, one which should still be a guideline for all writers as to what makes the character tick and shows just why he is uniquely great. So why does no one ever remember this story? Why does no one ever talk about Gerard Jones and Mark Badger's Batman: Run, Riddler, Run?



Well, one big reason why this story has fallen under the radar could be the art. Personally, I avoided reading this book for years because I couldn't stand Badger's artwork. He comes from the same school of 80's artists whom I normally love (like Mark Badger, Kyle Baker, and Bill Sienkiewicz, just to name a few), but his artwork is far more angular and abstract to the point of nearly being grotesque. That said, I've since gained an appreciation for his work partially thanks to this great interview with Badger conducted by the great Michel Fiffe, and partially because of my late-blossoming love of this story. Well, the Riddler of this story, at any rate.

The story itself is a bit more wonky, but that's to be expected of Gerard Jones: author of my all-time favorite run on Green Lantern, as well as... lesser works like Batman: Fortunate Son. Yes, the "Batman thinks rock 'n roll is the Devil's music!" comic. Jones and Badger's first Batman collaboration, Batman: Jazz, was a similarly oddball affair, focusing on Batman's search for a missing jazz legend. That story felt very much like Batman awkwardly wandering into an abstract 80's-tastic jazz battle, which led to things like our hero fighting evil sax-playing monsters known as the Brothers of the Bop.

... On second thought, that's kinda so ridiculous that it's awesome. It sure as hell ain't boring.

Which finally brings us back to Run, Riddler, Run. Much like Jazz, it features Batman awkwardly inserted into areas outside of his expertise. For Jazz, it was a whole culture of music. For B:RRR, it's the class war between homeless squatters and the rich people with the cops on their side. It's usually thorny to mix real life issues that challenge popular conceptions of law and ethics with the black-and-white morality of Batman comics, and it doesn't help that the villain is very dated for directly after the Cold War. It's a mixed bag of a comic by one of the oddest creative teams ever to tackle Batman, and it'd still be worth reading on those merits alone even without the Riddler.

But with the Riddler, it's a must-read refutation to everyone who misunderstands the Riddler. Jones and Badger, to their credit, don't try to counter this with the contrived tactic of trying to make the Riddler a #1 arch-villain badass. Instead, they take a more subtle approach, making Eddie a wild card with a game all his own...



When is a villain not the villain? )

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