about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
In case it hasn't been clear from how much I've been taking this up, I absolutely love The Beautiful Ugly, the latest Two-Face story from DC's Legends of the Dark Knight. Although only a one-shot issue in length, it's a story that works on multiple levels as a crime thriller, character study, urban tragedy, and as a exploration on both vigilantism and the limits of our criminal justice system, something which has become depressingly topical of late. It's also one of the best Two-Face stories I've ever read, largely because it's one of the few stories to really tap into the character's rich-but-wasted potential.



If you'll pardon the pun, Harvey Dent has always been criminally misused by writers. Over the years, he's played a number of roles--thief, bank robber, gang leader, mob boss, terrorist, supervillain--but none of them has ever made much sense for the character when you consider the character's history before the acid hit. This guy was a crusading district attorney, one of the only people fighting crime rather than committing it or simply just trying to survive in the corrupt hellhole that was Gotham City. Why would such a character just suddenly become the antithesis of everything he stood for and become the very thing he once fought? Why did he essentially become an entirely different character?

Part of the problem is that the majority of writers think of Two-Face as a scarred, coin-flipping, duality-obsessed gimmick gangster who once was a good guy. By only focusing on who he is now with little thought to who he was then, this has all too often led to the character being a cipher, one not rooted in any real personality nor motivation. This is probably the single biggest reason why there are so many mediocre Two-Face stories out there. Even still, the character has endured because, beyond the iconic visual appeal and his gimmick, there's the great idea of a character, one who could be used for many excellent stories if only someone would break him out of the usual villain roles and stop relying so much on the coin-flipping as a plot device.

Thankfully, comics writer (and sometimes inker) Derek Fridolfs felt the same way. He's an old-school Batman fan after our own hearts, and it comes through in his work on titles like Batman: Arkham Unhinged, the villain-centric tie-in comic for the Arkham Asylum/City games wherein Fridolfs frequently married comics and TAS elements into the Arkhamverse. In that series, Fridolfs was the first writer to really explore Killer Croc and Black Mask origins since both characters were created in the mid-80's, and his take on Talia al Ghul was far more in keeping with the character's morally gray canon than the Vigo-the-Carpathian-esque mustache-twirling villain she's become in the mainstream DC comics.

Point is, this is a guy who both loves and understands villains, so it's no wonder that The Beautiful Ugly--co-written by promising newcomer Kenneth Elliott Jones, who deserves at least half the credit here--is one of the only stories that seems to have some real insight as to what makes Harvey Dent tick.



Ultimately, though, to simply describe TBU as a character study for Harvey Dent--no matter how excellent--would still be a disservice to all the great stuff that Fridolfs and Jones--along with artist Jason Shawn Alexander (Arkham Unhinged: End Game)--have crammed into this taut little tragedy of Gotham City.

When people see me, they are horrified, not because of how I look, but because of what I am... )

If you're interested in owning The Beautiful Ugly (and you should!), all three parts from Legends of the Dark Knight #56-58 are available digitally via Comixology, as well as on iTunes, Kindle, and Nook stores, direct links to which can be found here. I also highly recommend you check out Derek Fridolfs' blog for tons of in-depth discussion about this story with his co-author, Ken Jones. It's a rare insight in the creative process of a comic by two very interesting, very cool guys who understand how to tell a great Batman tale worthy of the Legends of the Dark Knight banner.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Once again, there's a new Two-Face story appearing in the "pages" of DC's digital-premiere Legends of the Dark Knight series! The first issue (read: the first part of three, the first 1/3rd of what will be a one-shot-length story) came out yesterday, and surprisingly, USA Today even ran a promotional article about the story! Why they did, I can't imagine, as neither the writers nor artist seem notable enough to warrant the special attention, and Harvey himself has never been that big of a draw. Still, it's great to see smaller, under-the-radar series like LotDK getting this kind of exposure. It's also neat to see Harvey treated as the star focus of the USA Today piece, even though the details of the article suggest that, just like with the last Two-Face story in LotDK, the real protagonist of this tale will be a regular guy stuck in the middle between Batman and Two-Face.



According to the USA Today article, Harvey "revisits a case he lost and, wishing to make it right, tries a former criminal again in his own twisted way." According to co-author Derek Fridolfs--a capable writer of many digital Bat-books including the solid Arkham City comics and the delightful Li'l Gotham--described the story as thus: "Without spoiling too much, this story asks the question: Is there any way to live a good life without being held accountable for past sins? If you turn your life around for the better, is there any way to escape the evils you did in the past?"

I've read the first part, and while I'm not going to do a full review here (how can you review 1/3rd of a story?), the story so far looks poised to depict Two-Face as a merciless living reckoning--presumably a combination of Javert and Anton Chigurh?--for the new character's past sins. And the emphasis here is "past," as the article makes it clear that this guy has atoned and doesn't deserve Harvey's "justice," delayed or otherwise. Quoth co-author (and newbie comics writer?) Kenneth Elliott Jones, "We see how an innocent person can get swept up in a lunatic's whirlwind almost at random." Even though it sounds like Harvey will be in the wrong here, I think this is a great use for him as a character, one which emphasizes the strengths of his background and the ideas he represents better than just having him be a bank robber or a mob boss. Harvey should always be seeking justice, one way or another. Not only is that perfectly in keeping with the Harvey Dent who was, but it also plays into how he's a twisted mirror of Batman himself.



So how is the story so far? Well, as usual with digital comics, the first part is all set-up, but the gist of it goes as follows: a new gang of wannabe masked criminals have been gas-bombing subway stations, and while the gas itself isn't lethal, the ensuing panics have caused fatal tramplings and other injuries. As the hospitals are flooded with the wounded and the dying, a weary nurse ends her shift and goes home to her boyfriend, Aiden, and everything seems peaceful and calm... until Two-Face and his gang break into the house, looking for a score to settle with Aiden.


That's all that happens thus far, and just like many a classic Simpsons episode, the (ostensible) real story doesn't kick in until the end of the first act. Maybe the gassing gang will play into this further, but I'm not counting on it. The gang's actions mainly serve to play into the story of the nurse, Marissa, through whom we get a rare chance to see Gotham through the eyes of a civilian bystander of the daily chaos that comes with that city. I'm a big fan of these little-utilized trope, especially in stories like John Ostrander's Gotham Nights minis (anyone read those?), so I'm interested in seeing how Marissa's story plays out as she learns that her boyfriend may have been a part of that chaos at one point.




The art is by Jason Shawn Alexander, an artist I've never heard of before who has worked on some Conan and Abe Sapien comics, as well as the epilogue comic, Batman: Arkham City: End Game, which I haven't read yet. Jones praises Alexander's art by saying that it "takes it to a whole other level. His ability to capture and depict the energy and emotion of each moment is amazing. It drives the story home. And it looks fantastic." While the co-author of the book may be biased, I generally agree: Alexander's art is moody and atmospheric, sketchy in ways that remind me a lot of Bill Sienkiewicz with Dave McKean touches. It's very Vertigo Comics, especially akin to Hellblazer-type books from the late 80's and early 90's. Many, I'm sure, will find it ugly, but I liked it a lot... right up until we saw his Two-Face.



I think that has to be the single ugliest Harvey Dent I've ever seen. I'm intrigued by several of the unusual details--the solid white suit suit, the opaque eyeball--but my god, he looks like a dessicated half-zombie half-drug addict. Granted, everyone in this story looks rather filthy and unkempt because that's the artist's style, but it's always jarring to see a Two-Face who looks like a wreck even on his good side. Well, I'll say this for Mr. Alexander, the Two-Face he drew for the cover is rather excellent. Hopefully we'll see more of that Harvey in the interior art over the next two parts.

All in all, I am mightily intrigued by what the writers have planned for The Beautiful Ugly based on what we've seen here and what they said in the article. Fridolfs' last words sentences that a heavy, shades-of-gray ending is in the works, saying, "Gotham breeds tragedy, whether you dress up as a hero or a villain, and whether you live in the city or are visiting. There are very few triumphs in Gotham. Even victories can be hollow. The punishment of crime is something everyone has some feelings toward. And I think by the end of the story, it will be interesting to see if the readers side more with Two-Face or with Batman." (Emphasis mine)



If you want to pick up the first part of The Beautiful Ugly, it's currently available for 99¢ at Comixology! The next part will be out next Thursday, and the finale will be out on the Thursday after that! I may or may not do a full review of the story, as it will depend on how much I'll have to say about it when all's said and done. I'm afraid that I simply don't have it in me to write a whole review for something if I don't care about it. Not anymore, anyway.

So since we're on the topic: hi, everyone! Wow, it's been a longer absence than usual, hasn't it? Sorry about that. I fear that I will be updating here less and less for the foreseeable future. It's been too hot here to blog, and what little energy I've had for writing has been devoted to stuff on Facebook and Tumblr, plus a bit of dabbling in book reviews at my Goodreads page. Most importantly, I'm trying to focus on writing fiction, including a couple collaborative projects with Henchgirl and [livejournal.com profile] captaintwinings, plus I'm slowwwwwly chipping away at the next part of Dent. Well, with the annoucement of Amazon's Kindle Worlds (read: officially-sanctioned fan fiction!), I figure it might be smart to have that novel ready to go if WB/DC starts licensing out its properties, and if I decide to take that risk.

All that said, I don't want to abandon this LJ, nor do I ever plan to do that. But the fact is, the next big posts I have yet to write are ones that I really don't WANT to write, ones which I've put off writing for years now. You can probably guess what some of them are, concerning things such as The New Batman Adventures, The Long Halloween, and Half a Life. These are all things that I *have* to write about, as they're all major Two-Face stories in one form or another, but they're also some of the most frustrating ones for me. As such, I'm in no rush to finally tackle those, which is resulting in me generally neglecting this blog. In the meantime, do feel free to follow me on any of the above-linked sites, if you're so inclined. I'd hate to lose touch with any of you due to my slacking-off here!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)


Harvey is popping up in the latest (digital) issue of Legends of the Dark Knight, which is the first of six parts, thus making it the longest storyline yet to run in the digital LotDK revival. To make matters more interesting, the story is by old-school DC veterans Dan Mishkin, co-creator of Amethyst and Blue Devil, and Tom Mandrake, legendary Spectre artist and co-creator of Black Mask, plus he also has experience with Two-Face.

Since each installment of LotDK, like all digital releases, only constitutes 1/3rd the length of a typical 20-22 page comic, the first part of Without Sin (which will run in six parts, thus making it two issues) is mostly set-up and exposition. Harvey doesn't even get to do much, but his appearance here is damn intriguing, and it could potentially lead to an excellent story. Since there's not too much to go on here, I can't really review anything other than to go, "Huh, interesting, let's see where they're going with this," but let's nonetheless take a quick look at the first part of Mishkin and Mandrake's Without Sin.

I'm a changed man, Father... )

I don't know if I'll be able to keep up weekly reviews for the other five parts as they come out, but so if the story becomes less remarkable, I might just stop and wait to review the whole thing at the end. We'll see how the story goes, and if my own free time in real life will be cooperative. In the meantime, I wholeheartedly recommend buying this issue at Comixology (only 99¢! Cheap!). This could potentially be a damn good Two-Face story, and hey, you'll be supporting two industry vets, so that's win-win.
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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!!!)
Four months have passed since the release of Walt Simonson's excellent new graphic novel, The Judas Coin, so I think it's finally time for me to examine the story's Two-Face segment, Heads or Tails, in full, exhaustive, spoilery, scan-heavy detail.



First off, Heads or Tails works as standalone Two-Face story, so it's not entirely necessary to have read my previous two Judas Coin posts to understand what's going on. If you are interested in the greater context of this great book and you haven't already read my review (plus my pre-review tour of all the neat, obscure, non-Harvey DC characters featured within), then by all means, please do! But if you're like me under most other circumstances, you're probably only interested in the Batman/Harvey stuff, so I can't blame you for skipping those if you want. Even after all the hard work I put into them…! *sniffle*



Just to catch everyone up, the gist of The Judas Coin is that it involves six stories told over a couple millennia, each of which star a different DC Comics character as they come in contact with one of Judas Iscariot's cursed thirty pieces of silver. That's really all you need to know for the Two-Face segment, which is the only story to be set in "The Present." It's also worth mentioning that Simonson originally intended this to be a solo Two-Face story with no Batman, and although the Dark Knight does feature prominently, this is still Harvey Dent's story. It also happens to be one of the best Harvey tales I have read in years.



Shh, just a moment… I'm thinking… )

As I've said before, The Judas Coin was the best comic I'd read in 2012, so I strongly recommend checking out the whole thing even if you only care about Batman-related stuff. The full cover price is a bit out of my price range, but you can find affordable copies over at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, which also offers it for Nook. Other ways you can get it digitally include Kindle (the best deal of them all), and iBooks for iPad/iPhone. And if you are willing to spend the full cover price, then awesome, go support your local bookstore/comic book shop!
about_faces: (Default)
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.
about_faces: (Default)


My favorite new DC release this whole year has been Walt Simonson's new graphic novel The Judas Coin. However, I'm not quite sure how to recommend it to anyone, since my enjoyment is based on several factors beyond the face-value of the story itself. Or rather, the stories themselves. Ahh, yes, you see what I did there! Unless you didn't, in which case, how awkward.

My lengthy, tangent-filled introduction behind the cut! )

Or if you're thinking, 'Dammit, Hefner, I don't want your long-winded ramblings! Just show me the review, already!' then just click here. )

If you're interested in buying The Judas Coin, you have several options. As I've said before, I think that the cover price of $22.99 for a slim 94-page hardcover is outrageous. Thankfully, there are cheaper options, with print copies going for $13.77 on both Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, which also offers it for Nook for $12.64. Other ways you can get it digitally include Kindle for $9.99 (the best deal of them all), and $12.99 for iBooks for iPad/iPhone. Few are talking about this book and DC has done nothing to promote it, so check it out however you can. And if you are willing to spend the full cover price, then hey, go support your local bookstore/comic book shop!
about_faces: (Default)
Over the past month, there have been two DC projects which have dealt with an alternate-reality Gotham, both of which feature their versions of Two-Face... more or less. And yeah, okay, they're not official "Elseworlds" because DC doesn't call their alt-u books those anymore, but screw you, DC, they'll always be Elseworlds to me!

The first is Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Batman: Earth One, which I'd recently speculated might feature a Harvey Dent cameo at least. I still haven't read the book myself, but thanks to the help of [livejournal.com profile] martin_l_gore, I've at least gotten the low-down on the basic details, especially when it comes to the Harveys and the Dents. Yes, that was indeed a pair of plurals, as in addition to a surprising new take on Harvey Bullock, there are two Dents in B:EO.



SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS FOR BATMAN: EARTH ONE BEHIND THE CUT )

As for Batman: Earth One as a whole, everything I've seen about the book makes it looks like a perfectly fine B-grade story that is perfectly serviceable even though it doesn't acquit its existence as being yet another goddamn Batman origin. By far, the most interesting aspect appears to be the subplot of Jim Gordon, who is a compromised/corrupt cop here, and a very different take on Harvey Bullock, much of whose SPOILER-filled storyline was posted here by [livejournal.com profile] martin_l_gore. Thanks again, Martin! Because of these scans, I will definitely be picking up a copy of this at some point! When I saw the Bullock stuff, my first thought was "DO NOT WANT," but I think Johns made it work by the end. We'll see where his story goes in volume two.

The other big appearance is only an extremely technical and distant connection to any Harvey we know, but I think you'll understand why she merits at least a mention:



So DC's been doing weekly digital comics based on the Ame-Comi line of figurines, which reimagined female heroes and villains with anime-style designs. One of the released figures was Duela Dent, who--as you can see--was a steampunk take on a female Joker with a Heath Ledger Glasgow smile. Unsurprisingly, a small fandom started to emerge around her via fan art and cosplay, and it only seems to be catching on more with each passing convention season.

Now, the Ame-Comi version of Duela has gotten her own origin in the pages of Ame-Comi Girls, written by the Jonah Hex team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and drawn by Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh, so naturally, I was curious to see what they would do with the character's murky family lineage. Would she be Two-Face's daughter? The Joker's? The Jokester and Three-Face's ala Countdown, god help us?

Daddy's little girl... but who's the Daddy? )

So yeah, at least there's KIND of a Two-Face connection with her attacking both the law and crime, but it's in the name of chaos, which would be just like the Joker except it's not really funny chaos. So pretty much, I find absolutely nothing interesting about this character (other than her hate-crush on Batgirl, who may well be Gotham's sole protector in this universe, along with her cousin, Cass, who's Robin), which is a shame because Henchgirl and I really, really, REALLY loved the Ame-Comi Wonder Woman story, where Diana was a rather Barda-like asskicking warrior.

Tangent: But then, that storyline was drawn by Amanda Conner, who makes everything better. Everything. Amanda Conner's artwork instantly gives the characters more personality, and the storytelling is so much more fun. I cannot praise her enough for what she brings to a comic, and it's such a shame that she's wasting her talents on Before Watchmen. Well, I guess Amanda Conner gotta eat. /Tangent

If you'd like to read these comics for yourself, Batman: Earth One is available at finer bookstores and comic stores across the country, and can be purchased online (and for Kindle!) on Amazon. The Ame-Comi comics are first being released digitally, and then will be released in paper a month or two from now. The Duela Dent chapter I reviewed here can be purchased digitally, as can the second part, which just came out today.
about_faces: (Default)
Previous Installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Welp, Detective Comics #11 is out, and with it comes the conclusion of Tony Daniel's Two-Face story! ... Wait, it's over? I thought there was still supposed to be one more part! *checks* Yep, the solicitation for the next issue says that the Two-Face story continues there in 'Tec #12! That's damn confusing considering that the story pretty clearly ENDS here. I think.

Well, unless something comes along to prove me wrong next month, let's take this at face value and treat this as the grand conclusion. Now is the moment of truth for Mr. Daniel's take on Harvey, where all of the potential he's been building must pay off. What will happen with Harvey's goal of becoming D.A. again? What will the Leader do to "fix" Harvey's mind? Will we actually see Harvey's good side emerge through his actions rather than be given lip-service that he still has good inside him? Am I really going to give this story more attention and critical analysis than it really deserves? Does anyone--least of all Mr. Daniel and his editor Mike Marts--actually give a damn about this story either way? Probably not, if they're willing to release a story riddled with inconsistent dialogue, muddled motivations, and even typos.




Read more... )


Now, there's still the possibility that there's at least one more part of the Two-Face backup story to come next issue. After all, it says so right there in the solicitation for Detective Comics #12: The TWO-FACE backup story continues! Then again, the last time there was a Two-Face solo story, the descriptions in the solicitations were proven to be highly unreliable, with the final product in no way resembling the solicit. And guess what, Mike Marts was the editor on THAT piece of shit as well, not to mention every single contradictory, irreconcilable, poorly-through-out Two-Face appearance of the last three years.

I'm starting to suspect that Daniel isn't entirely to blame here, which I like to think anyway considering that he seems to be a pretty nice guy, something which sadly counts for a lot when it comes to comics creators these days. As such, I wasn't really overjoyed to learn that he's leaving Detective Comics as of the next issue! While I don't think that he's a particularly good writer, I'm not sure how much of his subpar stories are his own fault given the sloppy, careless editing of Marts. So even there will be a Two-Face feature in 'Tec #12, it won't "continue," but will rather end with Daniel's departure, unless of course some other writer takes up the reigns and Harvey gets a second storyline. God knows I'd love to see someone try to make it work, or at least come up with an epilogue that makes this pointless waste of a backup story into something of worth, so that maybe I can feel less incredibly-ripped-off for shelling out $3.99 per issue just to own the eight-page backup story. That's $15.96 for a goddamn twenty-four-page comic. And people wonder why no one buys comics anymore!

As it currently stands, this story--which was never even given a title--is a poorly-written nothing of a comic that only serves to further the idea that characters like Two-Face are uninteresting, boring, and outdated. It's because of stories like THIS that some fans reacted to the story's initial announcement with, "Really? Two-Face? How incredibly dull and uninspiring." Even Batman review sites like GothamSpoilers.com were left so cold by the Two-Face story that the entire review for this last part and the story as a whole consisted of "Ha, yeah. No. Read three pages, and that was enough."

With many people passing this story by sight unseen and others being left so cold that they ignore it entirely, I dare suspect that I have given the DCnU Two-Face back-up story more scrutiny, attention, and critical analysis than anyone else would have the good sense to spare. As such, I hope that I can be forgiven for abandoning all creative eloquence and ending this exhaustive review with a meme that I hope DC in general will take to heart.

about_faces: (Default)
Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2


Once again, I'd completely forgotten what the hell happened in last month's installment of Tony Daniel's Two-Face story in Detective Comics. And once again, I find myself not disliking the direction in which it's headed. I'm still not loving it, but there are some interesting ideas at play, and so far they continue to build up into something with the potential to be quite good.

Sheesh, don't I just sound glowingly enthusiastic? In truth, there's still not much here to really care about. Not yet, anyway. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone really caring about this story if they didn't already care about Harvey in the first place. Honestly, the one thing that really is interesting about this story is the possibility of--gasp shock horror--actual character development for Harvey, and if this story just ends with everything going right back to the status quo (as it probably will), I doubt that there will be anything to recommend at all.

But for now, there's that potential. That's what I'm holding onto with each installment, and it hasn't been wasted yet. Might Mr. Daniel really be going somewhere with all this beyond your standard gritty noir tale?




I fear for this one. )
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Not gonna lie, I had absolutely zero recollection as to what happened the first part of Tony Daniel's new Two-Face story, Welcome to the Dark Side, running as a backup in Detective Comics. I mean, I actually REVIEWED that comic in depth, and even still, none of it stuck with me. Maybe that's just a symptom of the Hef-Baby stealing my brain (He's crawling? CRAP, HE'S ADORABLE AND WE'RE SCREWED), but somehow, I don't think it's all on me here. Even before the baby, I had a hard time remembering anything that happened in any new comics, which just goes right back to the annoying decompressed nature of storytelling which I ranted about, and from which Daniel's first chapter suffered greatly.

Finally, with part two, stuff actually started happening. And surprise surprise, I actually kinda liked it!

Quick recap: the first part opened with a wounded, dying Harvey stumbling into the care of Buddhist monks who seemed to be familiar with him, and they proceeded to fix his wounds, both physical and psychological. The story then flashes back to Harvey torturing a messenger from Dominic Sterano, a prosecutor who has been building a case against Harvey. Turns out that Sterano and Harvey have been enemies since Harvey's D.A. days, when Sterano tries putting the moves on Gilda. Now Sterano wants a meeting to call off their war, which could open the door to what is apparently Harvey's ultimate (if implausible) goal: to be reinstated as District Attorney! Hmm, I gotta say, it sounds better as a plot synopsis than it was as a story!

So how badly does the meeting with Sterano go? Who or what beats the living crap out of Harvey so thoroughly? What the hell is up with those monks?! Let's see if the substantially-better second part has any answers!

Oh, and apparently, the storyline is now called 50/50. Or at least, the chapter is, and the storyline doesn't actually have a name yet. Maybe they'll figure out a title in the next chapter.

I admit, I'm no angel... )

So yeah, the story's still not exactly good, but at least something's happening, and there's plenty of potential for greatness in several directions. If even one of them pans out, this story could end up being quite worthwhile, but again, we'll just have to wait and see.

If you'd like to read the issue in full, you can buy it digitally here for the still-ridiculously-expensive price of $3.99. The main story is a Night of the Owls crossover which also brings in the DCnU version of Roman Sionis, who is still alive and also now pretty much a completely different goddamn character. You can see for yourself over here at this exclusive preview of Detective Comics #9 over at Maxim.com. Yes, you read that right: DC gave the exclusive preview of 'Tec to frickin' MAXIM. Now you know exactly what kind of readers that DC is trying to court these days. How nice.
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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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I know it's a week late, but I figured that I would be remiss in not giving a quick look at the opening pages of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman #1, which is being hailed by some as the very best comic to come out of the DCnU so far.

My own reaction: it's good. Not brilliant, but good. It doesn't punch me in the gut, nor does it blow my socks off, or move me to tears, paint my house, pay off my car payments, or taste like bacon. It's just good. I suppose that in the sea of mediocrity that is most popular fiction these days, that should be remarkable in of itself. But even in that case, how sad is that? Shouldn't we hold comics to a higher standard so that stories like Batman #1 are the AVERAGE quality, not the EXCEPTION?

The issue itself is a solid introduction for new readers that also flows seamlessly from Snyder's work in Detective Comics: The Black Mirror and The Golden Gates of Gotham, as he works to create an overarching epic that is clearly shaping up to be Batman versus Gotham City itself (presumably as a living entity ala Milligan's Dark Knight, Dark City).

Hell, that's exactly what Snyder has said in interviews, where he posited the ludicrous theory that Gotham has literally been "Batman's best friend," lol wut. No, no, no, if Gotham is sentient at all (and what's with this fascination some writers have for envisioning cities as actual entities?), it's hardly EVER been Batman's bosom pal.

Based on his two previous Batman stories, I suspect that Snyder is probably continuing the Morrisonian trope of evil secret societies of cult-like evil evilness (and if Newbie McMayorChin isn't revealed to be involved, I'll be damn surprised). As you may have guessed, this type of story fills me with aggressive apathy, but as long as Snyder keeps a focus on characters, I'll keep reading. He writes a fine Jim Gordon, and I'm glad to see Bullock prominently featured, even if Snyder's Bullock sounds a lot more like Slam Bradley. As for the rest of the issue, it's pretty much all set-up, with an empty cliffhanger ending we've seen before countless times. I look forward to reading the story as a whole, but there's not much to especially recommend about this one chapter, which is a common problem in this day and age of wait-for-the-trade.

What I do want is just quickly look at the opening pages, featuring the Rumble In Arkham that we've seen in previews:


Batman versus Everyone (What do you mean, everyone? EV-RRREEEE-WUUUUNNNN!!!!) behind the cut )









Oh. One more thing... /uncle

In comic news about something which actually DID come out today, I give you the spoiler-tastic final page for The Dark Knight #1, which features the first look at whatever the fuck it is they're doing with Harvey. Go. Go read it. Seriously.

Back? Okay. WOW that's dumb. Kind of delightfully so! I mean, seriously, "One-Face?" What the fuck does that even MEAN? He still has the scarred and unscarred sides! Was there a miscommunication between writer and artists here? Is it supposed to indicate that Harvey's bad side has completely taken over when he became Hulk!Harv? Honestly, that breaks my brain more than the Venom/Titan/whatever he's hopped up on!

Oh, Paul Jenkins, you're the gift that keeps on giving... ridiculously overblown Two-Face stories. Which reminds me, I still need to summon up the courage to review Batman: Jekyll and Hyde. You poor people, you.
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Big thanks to [livejournal.com profile] superfan1 for providing four scans from the issue which came out today, as I have no scanner access at present. I was planning on just doing a text review, but actual images help a lot. While most of my thoughts are spoilery, I want to at least talk about what'd going on early in the issue:





So hey, I don't hate the way Harvey himself is depicted in this issue! Yay! He's written a bit too generic-mobster for my tastes, but I like how he's not just desperate and out of control. More importantly, he's aware of how desperate and out-of-control he is, and doing everything in his limited power to reign himself in. In the next page, he actually gets himself under control, then proceeds to shoot a cop through the head, just 'cause.

I was surprised to see that Daniel isn't drawing this story, leaving the art chores instead to Steve Scott and Ryan Winn, who are quite good. I also like the coloring a lot, even if Harvey's later colored with blue eyes (a common, petty mistake) and his coin is gold, not silver. Why the hell do several Two-Face stories lately give him a gold coin? I mean, seriously? But whatever, those are cosmetic complaints, hardly the meat of this story.

Which, again, must go behind the cut.


SPOILERS AHOY )


Finally, I'm interested by the fact that the cover outright advertised: "TWO-FACE RETURNS!" Is he finally that big of a deal to warrant a full announcement? If so, maybe people should buy this issue just to issue support for the character.

That about sums up my thoughts. At least, best as I'm able to in my brain-fried state after a full day in the Orlando sun. What do you guys make of this development, and where do you think Daniel's going with it?




Oh, and in an extra special bit of news, do you know what the latest collection of Tony Daniel's Batman run is going to be titled? "Eye of the Beholder." Seriously. That's just bloody super, especially considering that the Two-Face EotB is STILL not in print. I think I need to write to DC about that. Maybe they'll appreciate an actual letter.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
So BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #14 came out today. Here's the cover. Guess which part I care about?





Don't let the cover fool you. The so-called "Second Feature," which usually takes up eight pages as a back-up to the main story, takes up a full eighteen pages! That's more than half of the issue! The main feature that dominates the cover is only a paltry twelve pages!

Normally, I'd rejoice at the thought of a lot of Harvey and very little Hush, but the sad truth is that the respective stories should have swapped lenghts. The Hush story felt too short, like a preview for a grander story. The Two-Face story, on the other hand...

Well. Since I lack a scanner, time for a brief synopsis!

Spoilers behind the cut! But really, just buy the issue instead and see for yourself! )


Short spoiler-free review: bland, forgettable start for a crime story with little momentum but nothing offensive. I give it a "meh-plus."

Did anyone else read this? What did you guys think? Is there potential? Any guesses as to where the story could be going? Would you like to read more?

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