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

Behind the cut, all of your favorites: 'Ugh! My face!' 'Aaghh! My face!' 'AARRRGGH!! M-my face--!?!' 'GAAHH--' 'YAAARGHH!!' 'NAAAGGGHHHH!' And many more! )
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Well, I was going to post the finale of Two-Face, Part II today, since I had the whole thing ready to go, but LJ ate it. Not all of it, but at least a day's work. Since I'm too tired and too upset from the setback, it'll be another day or two before I get that rewritten and posted. It's fine, it'll just give me a chance to do it better this time! Oy, I'm gonna throw up.

In the meantime, please accept the following from an issue of The Amazing World of DC Comics, 1975, wherein writer/editor Jack C. Harris (self-proclaimed creator of Arkham Asylum, as well as a Two-Face fan who shares my initials, so I feel some kinship there) proves his geek cred by describing step-by-step his methods for Two-Face cosplay! Bear in mind, this appeared shortly after Harvey's return from years of obscurity in O'Neil and Adams' Half an Evil," so the character was still relatively new to many readers! Plus, bonus Sergio Aragones! Everybody wins!

Oh, he is adorable. And priding himself on taking second prize for his Two-Face costume? Yeah, definitely feeling a kinship there!

A couple years after this, Harris would prove his devotion to the character a second time by rewriting the entire character's origin for the Bronze Age! I've reviewed that story here, and if you'd like to read the entire thing, it's all been posted up here by the groovy guy Diversions of the Groovy Kind. It's a neato attempt at developing the origin that never quite panned out, but I rather enjoy it for all that. I think that it fits nicely in the Bronze Age universe right along with Duela Dent being his daughter.

As if that weren't enough to solidify JCH's cred as a major Two-Face fan, I found the following buried in the back of The Art of Walter Simonson, a trade paperback dedicated to stories by the legendary artist. It was too tricky to crop on its own, so as another bonus, you get cool concept art for a Green Lantern film that never was! Because I'm generous (read: lazy and lack photoshop) like that!

So yeah, I think it's safe to assume that JCH is a fan, which is awesome. For these alone, he deserves to go into the Two-Face creator Hall of Fame, if such a hall existed. Maybe I should get on it. Who else would deserve inclusion? I'd vote for Andrew Helfer, Ty Templeton, J.M. DeMatteis, and maybe Judd Winick. But even still, aside from maybe Ty coming the closest, I can't think of any creator who has achieved the heights of passionate geekiness that Jack C. Harris did in the above essay. So to JCH, my brother in fandom and initials, I salute you, you great big geek, you!

Okay, sleep now. Tomorrow, rewriting the post. As always, thanks for bearing with delays and long-windedness, folks.
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The Bronze Age of comics is considered by many to be the Golden Age for Batman. I can certainly understand why, as it may be my very favorite Batman era.

That's not to say the stories then were necessarily any BETTER than the ones in other eras (since every era has its ups and downs, with the ratio heavily tipped towards the mediocre and the crap), but I absolutely adore the sensibilities of Bronze Age Batman. Moody without being excessively dark, gritty without being grimy, simultaneously more realistic and more ambitiously fantastic, grounded in character without too much soap opera, Bronze Age Batman was the raw, uneven template for Batman storytelling that would be polished, surpassed, and perfected by Batman: The Animated Series.

Is it fair to say that we pretty much owe it all to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams? If nothing else, that legendary writer/artist team popularized the dramatic shift away from Adam West Silver Age into a new era for the Dark Knight. Again, that's not to say that their stories were always good--sacrilege as it may be to admit such a thought--but while I personally prefer the art of Jim Aparo to Adams, and while I think Bronze Age Batman reached its epitome with the Strange Apparitions run by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, O'Neil and Adams delivered a few genuine, timeless classics.

One of their most famous stories appeared two months after the introduction of the Ra's al Ghul and two years before the brilliant The Joker's Five-Way Revenge (which redefined the Joker, although not enough to surpass Ra's as the decade's Greatest Batman Villain ZOMG, apparently). In August 1971, O'Neil and editor Julius Schwartz decided to bring back Two-Face after seventeen years since his last appearance:

But while this was one of the most important Two-Face stories ever published, not to mention supposedly one of The Greatest Batman Stories of All Time (see links at the bottom), it's ultimately a very standard Batman detective story. There's a crime, there's a fight, there's a villain, there's another fight, there's detective work, there's Batman out-thinking the villain, and there's Batman winning. Yadda yadda, yay. But what it DID have was atmosphere and mood out the metaphorical wazoo:

Come lurk with us for a while, won't you? )

All in all, though, I like this story much more now than I did when I sat down to write this post. I love how I can find little things to appreciate in these comics by writing about them than I did just reading them. Nonetheless, when it comes to O'Neil and Two-Face, I greatly prefer his wonderful story with Irv Novick from three years later, Threat of the Two-Headed Coin. Then ending is very similar, with Batman using Harvey's coin (and "pride?") against himself, but it featured a wonderfully melancholic touch which I adore. Definitely check that one out if you already haven't. It's a fave.

Scans from this story were generously provided by Joe Bloke at Grantbridge Street, the best goddamn blog for comic scans out there. If you'd like, check out his blog to read all of Half an Evil. Either way, put aside an hour or two to scour through his great blog for all sorts of treasures.

If you'd like to own this great story, well, you have two options. I greatly recommend going the first route and buying the old The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, which is where these scans came from. It's a great collection anyway, and it's the best-colored version I've read. Otherwise, you can pick up Batman VS Two-Face, a frustratingly crappy collection which reprints Neal Adams remastered and recolored version of the story that originally ran in this hardcover collection. Squint and you can see a tiny comparison between the original published page and the touched-up version by Adams:

Image source.

Yeah, the new coloring isn't bad, but it feels a lot like a Lucas-ization of something that was already fine in the first place. The extra softness and dimensions of the computer coloring are just unnecessary, in my opinion. When it comes to older comics, give me gritty newsprint or solid, muted colors any day. But then, I'm the kind of guy who utterly loathes all the CGI additions in the remastered Star Trek: The Original Series, so what do I know?
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Even after the Crisis on Infinite Earths mega-event rebooted DC continuity, retconning Batman's world to Frank Miller's Year One origin onward, writers were still writing pretty much the same Two-Face from the Bronze Age. Same green scarring, same orange-and-purple suit, plus possibly even more corny puns and #2-themed crimes.

Like most things Batman, he took some time to catch up, which he eventually did in a big way. You can start seeing the psychological evolution of the character over the stories behind these covers, several of which I've posted here. Two in partcular are among my very favorites, so if you're new-ish to [livejournal.com profile] about_faces and haven't read either yet, ohhhh, please do.

Six covers behind the cut )

These last two deserve to be outside the cut, as they're covers to great and important stories and also damn cool to look at in their own right.

Brian Bolland is a god, and the action figure they made based on this image is still one of the very best Two-Face figures ever. Then there's the story inside, and damn, why the frell haven't I posted this one yet? It's moving, tender, badass, and also probably the best depiction of Gilda Dent we've ever seen, even if she is inexplicably renamed "Grace."

This little story was the first true turning point for Harvey as a character, deepening his psychology beyond "had acid thrown in face, went bonkers because was no longer pretty." Here's is where Harvey truly began his post-Crisis evolution, which was fully realized with the release of this issue:

This is the image used for most wiki-type profiles on Two-Face, implicitly making this the iconic image of the character. Would we still think that even if it wasn't the cover for the best Harvey Dent story ever written?

I love Neal Adams, but whenever I see his stuff after the 70's--especially once he started inking himself and took complete control of his artwork--I can't help but wonder if his work is really pretty but kinda soulless. Personally, I think Dick Giordano's inks were the true secret weapon to Neal Adams' artwork in the 70's. There's just no comparison.

This cover is Adams inking (and possibly coloring) himself. There's a lot I should dislike about it. It's an extreme close-up, literally front and center, the division going right down the middle. For a Two-Face drawing, that's about as boring and standard as you can get, and that's even taking into account that symmetrical design is artistic hackery. I once had a drama professor in college who critiqued a student's set design by uttering, "You have symmetry. And I hate it."

And yet, the piece itself feels dynamic enough to compensate. Part of that is the hair, which is loose and lively even on the good side, whereas many artists would have it perfectly combed and pat. Feh to that, I say. It's interesting that the scarred side's hair mussed but not discolored, save only for the ambient neon lights from outside the frame. Not sure how same-colored Harvey hair would look in a whole story, but with this lighting, it works well in ways no one else as really tried.

Actually, it reminds me of the garish original coloring for The Killing Joke, which I prefer to Bolland's recoloring. The original feels painted with the colors of madness, and taking that into account, that could be another reason why I like this piece and the unaccounted-for use of bright, ugly green light. The good side is warmly colored, while the bad side lives in a Dario Argento film. Nice.

I know that it's a weird thing to say, but the scarring makes me very happy. For one thing, it's not a clean down-the-middle burn, leaving the question of where the unscarred flesh ends and the scar tissue begins up to the colorist, who wisely makes it only a slight discoloration. Actually, it reminds me of when I recently burned my hand on a pot, and my skin turned that same kind of sickly pale (not to mention it hurt like hell, which makes me wonder if Harvey lives with chronic pain). It's akin to the coloring employed by the Two-Face cosplayer from Gotham Public Works, but since he can't do the exposed teeth, I've always thought he resembled more like a half-waterlogged Romero zombie. Man, I'm really pushing the 70's horror directors in this post!

The background may also be what really gives this life, even if it is very "1980's nightclub" in design. See also: the flamingo half-tie. Why has almost every artist equated evil with tackiness? Probably because it's more fun to draw. At least his shirt isn't split, although there seems to be a suspicious stain forming under his scarred side's collar. Ewwww.

Finally, there's Harvey's expression itself. It's always striking to see him doing something other than snarl or glare. His scarred side is already doing something monstrous and evil-looking! His good side should play off that, not do exact the same thing!

So yeah, best Two-Face image ever? It's certainly up there, but I'll withhold final judgment for now. What think you guys?
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I love old comic covers. The great J.M. DeMatteis recently described the allure of classic covers as being "like cosmic portals, opening up doorways to other dimensions; colorful parallel universes far preferable to the one I inhabited."

Two-Face is a natural feature for covers, as he's a character who is so striking, so iconic, that even people who know nothing about him can instantly get a good idea what he's about. And once Denny O'Neil dusted off the character at the birth of the Bronze Age, he soon made regular appearances on covers.

To the best of my abilities, I've tracked down all the Two-Face cover appearances I could find (most of which I own and were thus able to scan), to post here with commentary and--if applicable--links to posts where I've looked at the stories in depth. So if you're new to [livejournal.com profile] about_faces, here's a chance for you to catch up on some stuff you may have missed!

For the rest of you, here's a bunch of neato covers to look at! And where better to start than with the start?

Behind the cut: TEN more great/cool/cracky Bronze Age covers by artists like Ernie Colon, Jim Aparo, and Jose-Luis Garcia Lopez! )

Next up: Part Two of the Bronze Age, with covers by Gene Colan, Tom Mandrake, Dick Giordano, and another by Jim Aparo! Because you can never have too much Aparo!


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