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!!!)
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!
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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: (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.
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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?
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In 1996, trading card company Fleer decided that they wanted to release a different kind of card set for Batman. Inspired by the loose narrative of Topps' classic Mars Attacks! cards, the Batman Master Series set was the first series of cards to comprise a complete, original Batman storyline. The more cards you collect, the more parts of the story you'd have to piece together. And it was all written by none other than our old favorite, Doug Moench. Oh yes, we're in for a treat. :D


Source


The plot was simple: after the Joker once again escapes Arkham, Batman goes missing and is presumed dead, with the Joker being the likeliest suspect. Everyone posits their reactions and theories, including the Joker himself, who can't be sure whether or not he actually did it at all! This offered plenty of opportunities to hit all the big beats of the previous card series (major and minor characters, important events) plus create all-new settings for cards (scenes from the plotline, bizarre wacko takes on the rogues, the Joker popping up in classic Elseworlds). Along the way, we get TONS of cards dedicated to rogues, some of whom pop up several times. Visually, it's a feast of portraits, and that alone would warrant a master post here.

Except it gets even better, because apparently the cards had enough of a cult following amongst collectors that the entire deck was given its own coffee table art book:



Not only are all the cards lovingly reprinted along with Moench's text, but the book's editors actually included commentary from the artists, thus giving a rare insight into the creative process! The combination of characters, art, story, and commentary make Batman Masterpieces a must-have, and to show you what I mean, I'm going to post just the villain pages, almost all of which are by the painter Dermot Power (Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle, and concept artist for Batman Begins).

Who's Who (could have possibly killed Batman?) behind the cut! )

So what did you guys make of the art? Were they indeed "museum quality" as the ads touted, or merely a dated and grotesque assortment of 90's-tacular artists? I lean more towards the latter, but I love the collection of the cards nonetheless, and I very much recommend checking out the whole of Batman Masterpieces if you can find a copy.
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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So as a side project, I've started "The Daily Batman" (or "Batman_Daily," I can't decide which I prefer), a Tumblr blog where I can post the '89-'91 Batman comic strips as they originally ran: one per day, with the Sundays on Sundays.

I'm doing this because I'm still utterly in love with the comic strip and want to keep showing it off to as many people as possible.The scans I'm posting are bigger than the ones I posted here, plus I'll be including whatever alternate versions (mainly color strips and original artwork) which I've found floating around. If only I could get all the Sundays in color, that's would be awesome, but I don't know of any way to scour through color newspaper archives from 1989-1991 without maybe taking a four hour drive down to the Library of Congress. I just don't have that kinda time, man, but I am nonetheless sorely tempted. So until I devote an entire website to my own personal edit of the strip into a more cohesive and dynamic narrative, "The Daily Batman" will hopefully suffice as Phase 2 of this strip I so love.

THAT SAID... aheh heh heh... so in the course of my searches for color strips and original art, I discovered something pretty funny. You see, the whole reason I was looking for the strips in the first place was because I thought that they were the Holy Grail of Two-Face stories, one that's so obscure and lost to time that even the internet was largely ignorant of its existence. I admit, I'm still amazed and damn proud that I managed to track down what had to be the rarest Two-Face story of all time. And then I found this:



This is original artwork for the Batman comic strip that ran in 1971. Bear in mind, 1971 was the year where we say the first Two-Face appearance in almost a decade, and now I learn that not only did Harvey appear in another Batman comic strip, it also may have JUST coincided with his grand return to comics. And that above scan is the ONLY one I can find from that entire storyline, the only trace to acknowledge Harvey's existence in that strip, scans of which have never, to my knowledge, been reprinted ANYWHERE.



In addition to the Two-Face story, the strip ran other stories which I'd love to read, including a team-up between Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and Killer Moth:





Yes, there really was a story where Killer Moth, the Riddler, and Poison Ivy were trying to score some smack. I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE.

And there's also an epic with Bruce Wayne being terrorized by Joe Chill's son, seeking vengeance for his father. Even though Chill Jr. seems to lose the battle after being mortally wounded, it looks like he has the last laugh:



Everything looks bleak for Bruce's secret identity, until:



Really, the twist alone makes this entire storyline a must-read, but not nearly as "must" as that Two-Face story. So yes, I now have a new Holy Grail for Two-Face comics, and absolutely no idea where to look for them.

... Welp, I hear Washington DC is nice this time of year.
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Back in the awful days of the 1990's--the era which DC, Marvel, and Image now seem hellbent on reliving in their own ways--superhero trading cards were prevalent, fitting in with the "EVERYTHING WILL BE A COLLECTIBLE INVESTMENT GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL" mentality that nearly sank comics as a whole. As with all things, most of these were crap, but there are a couple sets for which I still have affection, largely for how they introduced me to the greater world of comics. Yeah, I have nostalgic love for my gateway drugs.



For example, Skybox's Batman: Saga of the Dark Knight single-handedly introduced me to Batman's Post-Crisis mythos from Year One through Knightsend. It was a great idea to focus on Batman's history, big storylines, key moments, and major characters, and while it's largely dominated in the whole Knightfall mythos, it still holds up as a great overview of an entire era of Batman comics.

To give an idea of what I mean, let's take a look at the Harvey-related cards! )

Of course, those are just the Two-Face cards. I've found scans of the whole set over here, but be warned, they're of varying quality. More than any of the others, I really wish I had high quality scans of Rick Burchett's Year One cards, as well as the villain profiles. Thankfully, I've managed to find some great scans across the internet, including the original artwork for a few!



I'd hate Ponytail!Joker as an awful remnant of 90's-ness, except that his one story by Dixon and Nolan is fantastic. It is the ONLY good story to come out of Knightsquest. I defy you to name a better story, or even a decent one. But even if I didn't like that story, I'd still like this piece. He's just got flair, damn it.


MOAR VILLAIN PORTRAIT CARDS BEHIND THE CUT, INCLUDING AWESOMENESS FROM MIKE MIGNOLA AND MATT WAGNER! )


Since we're on the subject of villains (and when are we not?), this brings me to my other favorite cards: DC Villains: The Dark Judgement, a tie-in for the subpar Underworld Unleashed crossover event.



These cards were decidedly more grotesque, and much of the art is not to my tastes, but I still love any celebration of villainy for comics. Once again, you can find the entire set scanned here, which can give you a fascinating who's who of characters from the mid-90's, including forgotten villains from Fate and Guy Gardner: Warrior, as well as an astonishing number of heroes turned evil. Like Raven from Teen Titans. That's her up there between Mongul and Bane. What in the name of god is she wearing? I mean, she's nearly naked, so must clearly be evil now, because sex is bad, but still.


But of course, what interests me most are the Batman villains, whose own portraits run the gamut from awesome to WTF. )


That wraps up the Batman villains, but as always 'round here, it always comes back to Harvey Dent. If you read that promo sheet above carefully, you may have noticed something about a very rare "Two-Face Skymotion Card" which featured "cutting-edge technology" to show Harvey turning and shooting... AT YOU!



So what the hell IS this card? Quite simply, it's one of the coolest bits of Two-Face merch in existence... )


These images can't quite give the same effect as seeing it in person, but you get the idea. It's pretty damn cool all-around, and by far the most detailed lenticular effect that I've ever seen. I wish I knew who drew it so I could them proper credit, but information about these cards is scarce enough as it is. And that's a damn shame. Maybe it's just my nostalgia talking, but I love these cards, every last one: good, bad, and ugly alike.

Just like Who's Who, they were a wonderful sampler platter for the world of comics, and sometimes, the way I ended up imagining the characters and stories turned out to be better than the comics themselves! I do miss when everything was new and awesome, when possibilities felt limitless, and there was a wealth of stories out there for me to discover. At least with back issues, I know the last part is still true when it comes to superhero comics. Maybe someday I'll be able to feel that way about new comics again too.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)


As we've already learned, the original intention of the B:TAS writers was to establish D.A. Harvey Dent and the Batman as allies who become friends just before everything goes to hell, in keeping with the original Golden Age origin all the way through to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.

While this never panned out, it was apparently decided to modify that element so that the friendship would be shifted to Harvey and Bruce, not Batman. This too was already done just a couple years earlier, and in both cases, it gave Batman/Bruce a much deeper level of personal investment in Harvey's loss and the hope for redemption. This wasn't just an ally, a casuality in the war on crime, this was Bruce Wayne's best friend. This is huge, because Bruce Wayne and friendships of any kind don't mix.


Apparently, Harvey REALLY likes pudding.


That friendship became the main focus of Harvey's only major appearance in the show before the Two-Face origin, overriding any other aspects of his character. We don't see the District Attorney in action, nor the man battling demons, and we only get a glimpse of the man as speechifying politician and crime-buster. Instead, the first real introduction that most got to Harvey Dent in the DCAU was that of the good-hearted (if short-sighted and oblivious) best friend. Of course, when it comes to the episode itself, the friendship is entirely secondary (no pun intended) to the plot, which introduces Poison Ivy to the DCAU.



If you haven't seen Pretty Poison or if you need a refresher, this episode can also can also be watched at theWB.com. It's not a good episode, but you might be good to get a more objective view of it before we launch into my own Harvey-centric review, since that's pretty much all I care about. That said, it will also be necessary to explore Pamela Isley's character and motivations. Or rather, the utter lack of both.

So hey, how about that time Harvey Dent wiped out an entire species of flower? )






Note: scans have been either made by me, or have been taken from World's Finest Online or Toonzone. Gif by BigBardaFree at Tumblr.

If you'd like to read the Gotham Girls comic mini-series, all five issues can be purchased digitally on DC's Comixology app for $1.99 apiece. I sure as hell wish I knew they'd do that before I shelled out fifteen bucks for the ultra-rare Harley Quinn issue.
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So not long after I wrapped up my Twelve Days of Who's Who marathon series, the great Grantbridge Street posted scans from that issue of Detective Comics with the awesome Dick Giordano cover of the Rogues Gallery. You know, this one.

The issue itself was something of a filler, with Batman and Jason Todd going through all the rogue profiles with the purpose of catching readers up with the villains before the big blow-out anniversary issue, Batman #400. Both issues were less remarkable for their stories by Doug Moench and more for the showcase of several great artists, including main Detective Comics artist Gene Colan, who drew the pages below.

Colan, who recently passed away, has a devoted following from his decades of comics work. While I love his artwork as a whole, the way he draws characters has often felt lacking, and the below images give a nice sampler of his portraiture talents. The bios by Doug Moench also show

Dare you prowl the dark knight's rogues gallery (by Gene Colan) behind the cut? )
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Whew, made it! And just in time for Twelfth Night, too!

Doing this series of posts has been one of the most exhausting, draining, frustrating, and goddamned fun projects I've ever done on this blog. It's a shame that it has to end this way, with an assortment that largely covers some of my least favorite Batman eras and characters.

That's not to say there isn't anything I love about Batman from 1997 to 2006. Sure, the days of the great Bat-trio of Moench/Grant/Dixon were starting to wind down, with many good stories hindered by one big crossover after another after another. The fact that they were all fired to make way for the next big crossover would haven been bitterly misguided if that crossover hadn't been No Man's Land. Far as I'm concerned, NML the highest achievement for Batman since Batman: Year One, since it was an event that was mostly focused on character rather than... well, events. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than any other major Batman crossover I have ever read, and thus I was greatly excited with the prospect of NML mastermind Greg Rucka continuing to write the ongoing Detective Comics.

While I loved Rucka's run, as well as Brubaker's Batman and Devin Grayon's Gotham Knights, the changes they made to Batman's character and supporting cast led the series down a path that I didn't necessarily like, but stuck with because I trusted the creative teams involved. And then they were all gone, with Loeb and Lee giving us Hush. After that, new writers followed the threads left by Rucka, Brubaker, and Grayson, and it all went to hell. The stories that followed left me cold, and much as I rag on Grant Morrison's run, I think I might honestly prefer it to the era of Black Mask. Don't force me to choose, please.

So now, at the end of a project that I started to celebrate the characters I love, I shall see if I can muster any of the same kind of enthusiasm for some of my favorite and least favorite eras alike.


Rassum frassum get off my lawn behind the cut )


So here's to another year for about_faces. The output will be infrequent, but I'm not going anywhere. There are too many stories left to look at, too many stupid things to rant about, too many comics and characters and ideas worth celebrating. Hope you'll stick around, and as always, keep the comments coming. You're the smartest damn bunch of fans I know, and that's no lie, no flattery, it's the damn truth. So thank you, and be seeing you.
about_faces: (Default)
The penultimate post in this series is also the last of the official Who's Who profiles. A couple of my favorites are in this one, so I hope you enjoy. As always, keep the comments a-comin'! Even though I'm too busy composing entries (and doing IRL stuff) to reply as quickly as I want, know that your responses are half of why I do all this in the first place!


Read more... )


And that's that for Who's Who. After 1993, the interest in character profiles apparently tapered off, and frankly, I'm amazed it lasted in the first place. While there have been similar resources published since the late 90's, none were published under the Who's Who banner, nor were they nearly as comprehensive.

Last year, DC announced that there were plans for a new Who's Who volume to celebrate the company's anniversary, but that never happened and now almost certainly never will. At least, not for a while. The DCnU is too Nu for anyone to have established history, and if they made something up, you can bet most of it would be contradicted by later writers. Sure, there's all the PRE-DCnU stuff, but the last thing DC wants is to remind readers of what was, back when characters wore briefs on the outside of the outside of their costumes. God, how stupid is that? You'd think they were SUPERHEROES or something! A-duh!

As they stand, old Who's Who books are treasure troves of great, lousy, and lost characters, and if you can ever find copies in dollar bins, pick up a few. You never know who you might meet. If you want to find more Who's Who online, Grantbridge Street has posted complete collections of profiles from the Legion of Superheroes, Superman, New Gods drawn by Jack Kirby himself, and more in his archives. If you want to see more of these big looseleaf profiles, again, check out the DC Who's Who Tumblr, which is still being updated. Good stuff all around!

Tomorrow, the final post: Secret Files and Origins. Plus old man ranting.
about_faces: (Default)
One thing I neglected to mention in the last post is to give credit to the DC-Whos-Who Tumblr feed, where I've found the majority of these images. If you like character profiles and great art, I HIGHLY recommend checking scouring through his entires. There is so much greatness to be found there, and far beyond just the Bat-Villains.

But of course, the Bat-Villains are what mainly interest me, so shall we continue?

Too bad, because I'm going ahead anyway! )
about_faces: (Default)
While this post rounds out the remnants of the Batman villains from 1985-1989 Who's Who, there were some odds and ends of characters who didn't *quite* qualify, but who nonetheless deserved honorable mentions. But first, let's start with the rest of the actual Batman villains, even if two profiles are reruns.

But really, what more appropriate way to kick off the new year than with a second helping of a double dose of Two-Face? )
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
So, I can't wait any longer. I need to rant about the characters in Batman: Arkham City.

Understand, this is completely out of the order I had intended. I wanted to wait until I had finished my series on the Complete History of Hugo Strange, but I've put off the next few posts because 1.) I really don't like most of the upcoming stories, and 2.) I don't have scans of Batman and the Monster Men, Battle for the Cowl: The Network, nor the stuff by Tony Daniel and from David Hine's Arkham Reborn. I really wanted--and in some ways still need--to post those before I seriously look at how Hugo was handled in the B:AC game and comics.

But birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly you heard me!, Hef gotta rant! For one thing, this is the most high-profile exposure that the rogues as a whole have gotten since Batman: The Animated Series. For another, the big twist about Hugo Strange pissed me off so much that it not only ruined every bit of enjoyment I had for the character in the game, but it also put a damper on my love of the character as a whole. It was THAT annoying.

Now, I haven't actually played B:AC, since--surprise surprise--Dell laptops suck and thus can't support the game via Steam. So I was forced to watch this series of playthroughs, one of the few without player commentary, and just focused on the character stuff. I ended up having to do the same with the original Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I still haven't played either, but that was a far more painful experience. B:AA was not a well-written, well-performed game. I'm sure the playing experience was amazing, but the viewing experience was tedious and irritating, largely because of the Hot-Topic-ified versions of the rogues, the uninspired voice acting of everyone involved, and ohmygod the Joker at the end WTF still.

B:AC was so much better in every damn way in regards to how they handled the characters and story. Between the first game's success and the new urban demilitarized setting, it's like the designers knew that they didn't NEED to reinvent the characters, and pretty much kept them intact (with some changes) to roam freely, interact, and wreak havoc. I approve! ... But not, of course, without some criticisms.

A perfect example is what was done with the Penguin.



Gotta admit, I'm surprised by how much I liked Pengers here, much as I hate the inexplicable voice, overly-sleazy characterization, and lack of stylish flair in the form of no top hats, cigars instead of cigarette holders, and--most stupid of all--a broken bottle in the eye. Oh yes, that's no monocle! Because he's now GRITTY, you see! How very stupid. And yet, I liked the character regardless. He came off as a more interesting villain there than he has in the comics for YEARS, save for great flukes such as Joker's Asylum: Penguin.

If you'd like full thoughts on this version, I wrote them all up at my Tumblr, but know that I'll eventually be incorporating many of those thoughts into my eventual Penguin Appreciation Post. Hell, I'll probably do a whole Penguin Appreciation Week to go with it! But that won't be for a while yet.

After posting that, someone on Tumblr asked me what I thought about how the rest of the villains were handled. For the most part, my thoughts will be spoiler-free, and I'll save the spoilers for the end. Don't worry, you'll get warning and a lot of blank space.

Either way, if you don't want to be spoiled, avoid reading the comments.


75% spoiler-free, followed by a spoiler warning and then 25% ALL OF THE SPOILERS behind the cut )



Otherwise, neat game. Looking forward to actually playing it someday.

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