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!!!)
Hey folks, time for another round-up of announcements, news, meandering thoughts, and other odds 'n ends!

For a while now, I've been meaning to revise and update my posts on the entire Batman comic strip from 1989-1991 with bigger scans, better commentary, and all of the color Sundays I've managed to find thus far. As of today, I have completed my overhaul of the strip's first storyline by Max Allan Collins and Marshall Rogers! When I originally posted those strips, I was thinking less about being critical and more just going "OH MY GOD THESE ARE AWESOME I NEED TO SHOW THEM TO EVERYBODY NOW NOW NOW JUST IN CASE THE INTERNET BLOWS UP OR SOMETHING," but I've since had three years to think about these stories, so it's a pleasure to revisit and lovingly dissect them as they deserve.

Of course, with this good news comes sad news as well. Just as I begin this working on this side project, DC legend Carmine Infantino passed at age 87. Considering that Infantino illustrated the vast majority of the strips, this will certainly cast a pall over my revisions. I will try to do the great man justice in my revised posts, even though--as it turns out--he hated working on the strip, in no small part because he hated Batman in general! Turn out, apparently personally knowing Bob Kane will do that to a person. I'll go into that more when I revise his run.

Next item: Scott Snyder's upcoming new take on Batman's origin, Batman: The Zero Year, will indeed be featuring an appearance by Harvey. According to the DC solicits for July: 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 in the backup story, a secret moment from Bruce’s training abroad is revealed for the first time!

As far as I'm concerned, this will be the real moment of truth when it comes to seeing how Snyder can handle writing Harvey. His scene with Leatherface!Joker in Death of the Family was not at all good, no, but in its way, it was no worse than any of the dozens of mediocre takes on Two-Face that we've all seen. If he screws up pre-scarring Harvey, however, then I'll be really steamed. A bad Two-Face is annoying, but a bad Harvey Dent is so much worse, and Snyder will almost certainly be adding some new original twist to Harvey's character and/or backstory. Heck, if he's an "aspiring District Attorney," then what does he do for a living? And what kind of "run-ins" are we talking about with Bruce, here? There's potential for this, but so far, I don't have too much faith given Snyder's track record both with villain origin reboots and Two-Face. I hope to be proven wrong.

In other news which may not seem related in any way to Batman villains, I've been thinking about Psycho II lately, probably due to the existence of the questionable prequel show, Bates Motel. As some of you may know, I adore the 1983 sequel to Hitchcock's classic adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel, and while Hitch's version is the better film all around, I personally prefer II overall. I mean, just look at the premise: an infamous, insane, costumed serial killer is sent to a mental institution, rehabilitated, and released into a world intent on driving him insane again when all he wants is a normal life free from his own demons. Gee, I wonder why that might appeal to me? If you suspect that it might also appeal to you for the same reasons, then good news, the entirety of Psycho II is up here on YouTube, broken into several parts! It's worth watching not just on its own merits, but also for those of us who love the Batman villains as tormented individuals, many of whom just want to have a normal life but find their efforts thwarted by monsters both within and without.

Similar to that, has anyone been watching Breaking Bad? Besides the fact that it's one of only things that really gets me excited anymore, it's also a stealth long-form supervillain origin, one which has helped me see many other villains in a whole new light. The final eight episodes are coming out this summer, and I'm anxious to watch them and geek out with fellow fans, and since you folks are awesome for discussion, I thought I'd toy with the idea of opening up episode discussions either here or at my even-more-neglected personal LJ, [livejournal.com profile] thehefner. If you'd like to catch up on the show but don't have access to the DVDs and/or Netflix, I will be happy to try and point your way to places online where episodes are streaming. Again, this show is really the only thing that I'm jazzed about these days, seeing as how new comics are a depressing place, so I'd love to share the geek joy (and turmoil) with y'all on this while we wait for comics to get better.

Finally, speaking of comics, has anyone else been keeping up with Without Sin, the Legends of the Dark Knight digital storyline by Dan Mishkin and Tom Mandrake? I have, and I think I'm going to hold off on reviewing it until it's over, just to see how it plays out. The way it has utilized Two-Face has been both fascinating and disappointing, and I want to see if Mishkin is going anywhere with this even as I suspect that it's not going to get any better. If you've been reading it and have any thoughts, do let me know.
about_faces: (Default)
So here's something that I forgot actually existed until I found it hidden in a comic box. The first issue of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle's Shadow of the Bat was released in the full 90's "ZOMG COLLECTORS ITEM BUY TWELVE" treatment, sealed in a polybag along with other assorted goodies. These included two mini-posters, full blueprints to the then-new Arkham Asylum (wish I still had those), a bookmark, and this:

Huh. Well, that's... something. Okay. Here's what was on the other side of this thick, flat paper:

Oh! Okay, a list of the inmates. Well, that's nice. Heh, "Dishonor Roll," I see what you did there. Wait, whose heads are those supposed to be? Joker, Hatter, and Harvey? Wait, hold on, I think this thing folds out and OH MY GOD:

To thirteen-year-old me, this was one of the coolest goddamn things ever. And not just because my three very favorite rogues at the time were featured at the top!

I like how Penguin and Catwoman (in her gray Batman: Year One outfit!) are there, but on the outside of the building. It’s like, “Hi guys, we’re in this rogues gallery too, but we're not insane! Can we join in?” Also, I love you, Jervis, but honestly, what the heck are you doing up there alongside Joker and Harvey? Silly Jervis. I blame Grant Morrison. Finally, I love Croc peeking up over the roof. I’m not sure what the hell he’s supposed to be doing there, and I don't care. I approve of roof!Croc.

I was so glad to see that I still had this, even though I have no idea what I can do with it. I want to display it somewhere, but that's impossible. I guess it's just one of those little geek pleasures that must hide in a box until it's nearly forgotten, only to be rediscovered and dusted off every now and again.

So let this be a heads-up to Marvel, DC, and anybody else who is seemingly hellbent on reliving the dark 90's: if you're gonna seal up your comics in polybag, at least throw some cool swag inside. That would almost make the pathetic sales-desperate practice worthwhile. Because this? This is awesome.
about_faces: (Default)
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! )
about_faces: (Default)
This list of 54 discontinued old breakfast cereals is fascinating and often disturbing. I can actually recall how some of these tasted, in all their soggy glory. How many do you folks remember? How many did you actually eat? I feel like I missed out on something essential by not having Urkel-O's or Mr. T.

Then, of course, I saw this:

Naturally, I thought, "Haha, that's cute, I need to include that in an about_faces post on a slow day." And then I saw this:

This is the clear winner for Two-Face-related breakfast cereal. For god's sake, look at the King/Knight! And it comes with a special prize: a crazy ball! A ball of crazy... just like Harvey!

... I promise, an actual post of substance will be coming up soon.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)

"Batman Villains" by Fabian Glez.

Sorry for the absence. Disney World with the Henchgirl happened. It's only been a week, but for us, it's felt like a month. New posts coming soon. Some happy, some rage-y, and in this blog, would we have it any other way?
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)

In my defense... while the idea had certainly occurred to me while we were shopping for fake trees in the Target, it was my Henchgirl who suggested we actually do this.

Have I mentioned how supremely lucky I am to have found her? She actively encourages me to be as flagrantly geeky as I'd never allow myself to be in public. The decorations were her idea too. I love how the silver works on both sides. Really, all that's missing is a giant coin tree-topper.

Have a good one, folks. No matter what you do, no matter what you celebrate, stay safe and stay sane.

Well, at least until I pull together the Hugo Strange New Year's Eve post. :)
about_faces: (OMG!)
Blogger TheNerdyBird recently posted several mock-ups of superheroes reimagined as Mr. Men books drawn by graphic Designer Steven Anderson (aka SevenHundred). They're all varying degrees of delightful, and while some were certainly better than the following, I'd be remiss in not posting this one here:

Between this and the various Two-Face related Batman books for little kids (even tie-ins for The Dark Knight!), I'm still waiting to see someone write and draw Harvey Dent and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
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: (coin flipping through the air)
My counterpart for all things Catwoman, [livejournal.com profile] dr_von_fangirl, is a big fan of the VlogBrothers, and thought that this video would be relevant to my (and--in this case--therefore your) interests:

about_faces: (Default)
1954--a mere couple years before what is officially recognized as the start of the Silver Age--saw the last appearance of Two-Face until his return at the start of the Bronze Age. In that 1954 tale, the great Dick Sprang depicts Harvey tying Batman and Robin to a giant coin of death. A classic Two-Face deathtrap, right?

Well, thanks to Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, I just discovered another comic that Sprang drew another comic a year:

As you can imagine, he's pretty much an all-purpose gambling themed villain, in the classic Sprang style of elaborate deathtraps in oversized objects (as seen in these scans which I found on The Comic Treadmill):

Of course, Mr. Roulette is an utterly forgotten character, possibly because--as I'd speculate, this being my fanblog and whatnot--they realized they already had a Batman villain with a gambling-style motif, even if said villain was happily retired. Either way, this story was forgotten, while the opening page gimmick was recycled for the climactic finale of Two-Face's grand return to villainy.

As for Mr. Roulette, he's lost to time until some writer resurrects him. But really, if one were to reuse any character from Batman #75, I think anybody would sooner opt for the villain who was act

A mobster's brain in a gorilla's body. Sorry, Mr. Roulette, but that's comics gold, people.
about_faces: (TDK mouth snarl)
I have such a love/hate relationship with Robot Chicken. I feel like it could be so much better if Seth Green and company didn't water down their humor with fart jokes and lame obvious humor to make it more appealing to the average mainstream Family Guy viewer (compare this to Twisted Toyfare Theater, which was occasionally crude but mostly filled with smart geek in-jokes and references).

I haven't even watched the most recent couple seasons. I'll catch it if it's on, but there's no point for me going out of my way to watch Robot Chicken. So forgive me if I'm late to the party, but I only recently discovered that this hilarity happened:

The ending with the soup is what really killed me. And the nerd part of me loves that they made it a parody of comics Two-Face, not just TDK.
about_faces: (Default)
Moments like this are the reason why I started this blog in the first place. Because there's absolutely nowhere else I could go to find people who actually find this shit as amusing and/or geektastic as I do.

So the Henchgirl and I just went to the Giant and found a product so new that the only image I could find via google was this:

Here's a larger, crappier photo taken with my phone of the actual product:


Henchgirl says that I was just looking for an excuse to buy cookies. She's half-right. /Hurr hurr.
about_faces: (Default)
When the Six Flags America opened in the Maryland town of Largo about ten years ago, seventeen-year-old me was the happiest fanboy in the world. Not because there was a mega-park within a half hour from my house (take THAT, two hour drive to Paramount's Kings Dominion!), but because they actually had Batman-themed rides.

No, better than that: they had a Two-Face roller coaster.

Can you imagine? Harvey! The biggest Batman villain no one cared about, getting his own ride! With his glorious visage right up there and everything! More than the coaster itself, I actually really liked the drawing (by Eduardo Baretto, from the looks of it?), which actually hung over the entrance for the ride itself.

But what actually made it Two-Face-themed was how riders would be suspended from harnesses to face one another as the coaster would take you through a series of loops to the end, then come back by going backwards.

Apparently it's hardly a radical gimmick, as even Wikipedia has dubbed the design "a standard Vekoma Invertigo roller coaster." Even at the time, I recall that many considered it one of the weaker coasters at Six Flags. But of course, it was my favorite (metal) coaster, and it seems there were other people championing it too.

Here's a video from one such fan of the Two-Face in action, set to music that almost certainly won't invoke memories of the worst version of the character to date!

Some of you may be curious about the video's title, which goes out of the way to celebrate the fact that it's "one of the safest coasters ever!!" With two exclamation points and everything! Why would someone put together what is essentially a propaganda piece for a roller coaster?

Well, because in a meta twist that I doubt many people actually realized, the Two-Face became synonymous with breakdowns, accidents, and failure after an accident that caused two people to go to the hospital, and twelve others to need medical attention.

No, wait, it gets better.

To quote Wikipedia, with added emphasis on my behalf: "On October 6, 2007, the ride malfunctioned causing the cars to become stuck on the lift. Once the train became dislodged, the hydraulic line was severed and hydraulic fluid was sprayed onto multiple riders. "

The Two-Face ride was shut down... due to an incident... in which people were sprayed with chemicals.

You can't make this shit up. Nor, for that matter, did anybody see anything whatever-is-the-better-word-than-just-misusing-"ironic" about the situation.

Now, the actual story from Fox 5 News used as source for the wikipedia article seems to be down, and this official-sounding account from Theme Park Insider sounds less Fox-sensationalistic, saying that the hydraulic fluid merely leaked rather than sprayed. But either way...

After that, the ride's reputation was stained beyond repair. Even today, people share stories about how dangerous the Two-Face was (or wasn't), with videos like the above still singing its praises, while YouTube commenters like "bonerboy4321" shares the following:

i herd that some 1 died in this ride in the 6 flags in maryland because it got stuck it was up side down and the some women died because of to mutch blood in the head and today the ride is hut down

So there you go.

Photo by "rablat5" on flickr.

"Two-Face: The Flip Side" was torn down at the end of the 2007 season, its parts supposedly purchased by a park in Brazil--around Sao Paulo, it seems--that wanted to maintain its anonymity. My guess is that they'd want to disguise anything Two-Face related (and thus special and awesome), making it just another "standard Vekoma Invertigo roller coaster," albeit one with a history of malfunctioning and chemical-spraying/leaking. No matter what, the Two-Face coaster is gone forever.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it was awesome to see Harvey get featured in such a big way, the character getting exposed to people in ways he never was before THE DARK KNIGHT came out. It was also a pretty fun ride, even though I almost threw up that on last time in 2004. So I'm sad to think that it's gone.

On the other hand, it's Harvey we're talking about here. Nothing good ever comes to him for long. In a way, it's extremely fitting that the short period of glory for his namesake roller coaster was cut short due to a breakdown and a chemical spill, injuring innocents in the process, and resulting in him being taken down entirely.

Even in amusement-park-ride form, It Sucks to be Harvey Dent.
about_faces: (TDK mouth snarl)
Please, tell me I'm not so one-track-minded that I'm the only one who thinks what I think when I see this. Like, multiple instances.

PG is one of my favorite musicians ever, incidentally. And while I'm fairly positive that he probably has zero interest in comics whatsoever, I find his choice of imagery and symbolism to be very... interesting. Yes.

Thanks to my beloved Henchgirl and VH1 Classic On Demand for finding reminding me of this video's existence.


about_faces: (Default)

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