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



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

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



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

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

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

And, of course, if you just want to read both parts of Two Timer, you can find them here and here! Definitely check them out in full!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Hefner's Note: All screencaps are either by me or have been taken from Worlds Finest Online's review and Two-Face bio page, as well as the seriously lackluster review up at ToonZone. Sadly, there are virtually no gifs from this episode floating around online, which is really disappointing. Between the lack of gifs and the superficial reviews, I can't help but feel like the episode I'm about to discuss with you today is one of the more under-appreciated ones from all of B:TAS. But you'll have to be the judge of that when all's said and done.



The third season episode Second Chance (which you can watch here) is, for all intents and purposes, the first true sequel to Harvey's origin two-parter. While Two-Face became a recurring villain throughout the series, this episode was the first since Harvey's fall, rebirth, and meltdown to specifically focus on the fractured psyche of Harvey Dent, expanding upon the few details that we already knew. Here, we finally get a good glimpse at what's going on inside the mind of Two-Face, and the findings may be worse than we'd feared.



But these elements are all secondary (hurr) to what the episode is really about, which is an exploration of friendship under pressure as examined not just between Bruce and Harvey, but also Batman and Robin. As I've noted in the past, writers have sort of unofficially given Harvey a strange status amongst the Robins, none of whom have ever quite seen eye to eye with Batman when it comes to his unyielding faith in Harvey Dent. Second Chance puts a different spin on that dynamic by setting it in a universe where Harvey was Bruce's best (only?) friend from way before Robin came along, thus creating the friendship equivalent of love-triangle between the three (or four?) protagonists.



All of this is told through a classic-style detective mystery plotted by the Pretty Poison team of Michael Reaves and Paul Dini, whose story contains loose elements of Doug Moench and Klaus Janson's Knightfall-era story Double Cross, both parts of which I've reviewed here and here. The actual teleplay is written by Gerry Conway, the comics stalwart who brought back Rupert Thorne and Hugo Strange and co-created Killer Croc and Jason Todd, a veteran who also has experience with writing Two-Face!



I have mixed feelings about Conway's story because--fun as it was--it disregarded Harvey's previous appearance where he seemed to be on the verge of redemption and reconciliation with Gilda. That was a great, moving story with a potentially happy ending, but a couple years later, Conway brought Harvey back with no mention of Gilda, and he even threw in a blond love henchgirl love interest to boot! Was Harvey's return (and subsequent disregard of the character's own events) Conway's own idea, or was it mandated by editorial who just wanted to have everyone's favorite scarred number-themed villain back with an unchanged status quo? Heck if I know!

What matters is that Conway has experience not just with writing Batman and Robin, but also with making life suck even worse for poor Harvey Dent. A noble tradition, that! Combined with a plotting team whose previous take on Harvey had him as an oblivious romantic fool who spent most of the episode in a coma, these three writers unite to tell the second best Two-Face episode of B:TAS, and one of the key stories when it comes to the conflicts that Harvey represents. Both of them.


Gif by tokomon. Sadly, this is the only gif from the episode that I've been able to find.


You hated Harvey Dent. You would have done anything to destroy him. )
about_faces: (Default)
During the 90's, when every title had an Annual and most Annuals had different themes ranging from crossing over into the ridiculous Bloodlines event, giving the characters their own Elseworlds take, or taking a look at the heroes back in the Year One of their tights-wearin' careers, I think the Legends of the Dead Earth theme was one of DC's oddest ideas of the whole decade. Yeah, it's kinda like an Elseworlds, except not. Except sorta. Kinda. What? Exactly.

The idea: Earth is... well, dead, and so are pretty much all of the DC characters (except for immortals like the Shade, who endures through the sheer power of dapper snazziness). But the legends of Earth live on in countless worlds and civilizations, passed down through oral tradition, myth, and legend. It's kind of like Matt Wagner's Grendel, where the character's legacy lives on in a post-apocalyptic future through various tribes, cults, and... um... robots. I imagine that it was borne out of the idea of superhero comics being our "modern mythology," and how these stories might evolve/devolve through the centuries. Yeah, needless to say, this was a bit high-concept, and of all the themes used for the annuals, it was probably the most ambitious.

I've only read about three or four, and just on the basis of those, I'm tempted to dub Legends of the Death Earth to be a noble failure. And me, I love noble failures. I'll take a dozen noble failures over any safe, stable, standard superhero comic any day. I think that's why I've gained a latter-day appreciation for Doug Moench's Batman work. When he's good, he's fantastic. And when he's bad, he still bloody interesting. Which brings us to his contribution to this event, Batman Annual #20: "Fables of the Bat-Man," which has the distinction of looking at the myths and legends of not just Batman, but also his Rogues Gallery:





I like how Harvey looks pretty standard, as does Ozzie, more or less, whereas everyone else are like, "What the hell?"

These are the Rogues as imagined through fables told by an old man to a group of children in a totalitarian dystopia, on their way to being brainwashed in the re-education center. But what the government stooges don't realize is that the old man is using these fables to subvert the system, using the Bat-Man and the Rogues to impart thinly-veiled metaphors about oppression, virtue, and justice. The Joker and Catwoman ones are a bit silly, and the Scarecrow one is just plain sad, but the Two-Face fable is actually fascinating because Moench uses the format to not just comment on themes central to what Harvey Dent represents.


Legends of the Bat-Man and this Villains, behind the cut )
about_faces: (Default)
This is a big one. Grab a snack.

I've been putting off reviewing Batman: Face the Face for five years now. Every time I started, my criticisms melted down into curses and incoherent ranting, until my computer screen became obscured by rabid spittle. Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but still.

In some ways, it's actually an ideal introductory trade paperback to get into Batman. Like Hush, it's a murder mystery that also serves as a tour of Gotham's inhabitants, and it was immediately followed by Grant Morrison and Paul Dini's runs. Unfortunately, it's also deeply frustrating, especially if you're a fan of Harvey Dent.

This was the first story to use the character in the three years since Hush, since Loeb supposedly had plans for Harvey hich kept him in limbo until those plans would reach fruition. They never did, and I think folks at DC wanted their precious status quo back in place. I also understand that Two-Face is Dan DiDio's favorite villain, which may have been a factor. In any case, Face the Face is one of the most significant Two-Face stories in canon, and also one of the most painfully frustrating. After five years, I finally have the words to explain just why.





The lost year of Gotham's Unknown Protector, Harvey Dent )




Batman: Face the Face can be purchased here if you wish to read the story in full, including the Tim Drake subplot, several other Rogues doing their Rogue things, and the entire issue dedicated to Harvey and Two-Face's discussion. As mentioned above, it also serves as a gateway to the comics which are coming out today, leading directly to Dini's Detective Comics and Morrison's Batman.
about_faces: (Default)
Hey, it's been awhile since I posted another part of my series on all the Impostor Two-Faces, hasn't it? This next one is part of a larger story arc, Nightwing: Year One, which reunited the team of Chuck Dixon and Two-Face familiar Scott McDaniel.

Of course, it wouldn't be right to have a story about Dick Grayson in a formative period of transition without Harvey along to help! Unfortunately, the real Two-Face was unavailable, so instead, we have... Alfred?





Be warned: scans are a bit smaller than I intended. It doesn't help that the actual letterer seems to be writing smaller than usual. But I'm too lazy to upload and recrop the images again, especially for this trifle of an appearance. But for the sake of completion, here it is, hopefully presented in a way that won't strain your eyes too much.


Heads or tails, sir? )



Since I may not have done this story justice by posting a middling subplot out of context, you can read the full thing in the complete Nightwing: Year One collection, which is... out of print? Jesus, DC, what do you have against Chuck Dixon that most of his works are out of print?!
about_faces: (Default)
Note: I've posted this two different places so far: scans_daily, and at my comicsvine.com blog. The former exploded in a debate about gun control, while the later was met by a handful of dismissive comments typical of those one would find on your average comics message board. So I thought I'd post this here and see what you guys think.




A couple months back, I got into yet another debate with someone about why I hated Batman using a gun in Final Crisis. I meant to post this at the time as a canonical response, but got distracted with IRL stuff and general geekery over here. Besides, I figured this might be controversial, since it's a controversial real-life topic combined with a controversial comic topic, taken from a comic that was deeply controversial at the time it was released: Batman: Seduction of the Gun.

B:SotG was an anti-gun one-shot published as a benefit issue for the John Reisenbach Foundation for gun-control education activities, a fact which wasn't revealed to readers until the end. DC was flooded with angry letters from gun owners and Second Amendment advocates, many of which were published in the early Knightfall issues. Many letters were along the lines of "My heart goes out to the Reisenbach family, what a tragedy, BUT STILL GUN CONTROL IS BAD I FEEL BETRAYED FOR ACCIDENTALLY DONATING MONEY TO THIS CAUSE." I could do a whole post about that comic and the response it got.

So it might be a bit unfair to use these pages as my reasoning why Batman would never use a gun, and would always find another way to save the day because he's frickin' Batman. It's a very biased perspective. But in this case, I believe it also entirely fits with Batman as a character, and how he's always reacted to guns and gun violence.





WARNING: this is the single most graphic description of exactly how the Waynes died.


Why Batman will never use a gun... in graphic detail )


That said, I'm sure there's a point to be made about how Final Crisis was so powerful because he managed to overcome his feelings to do the right thing, yadda yadda yadda. If the story worked for you, well, there's nothing I can say. But for me--and I suspect for many Batman readers--this is why we can never imagine Bruce pulling the trigger on anybody. I could sooner see him shoving the god-bullet into Darkseid by hand. Because he's the goddamn Batman, after all.
about_faces: (Default)
I'm thinking about allowing anonymous comments, since [livejournal.com profile] david_hine is about the fifth person I know who created an account for the sole purpose of commenting here. It makes me wonder if more people follow about_faces than I realize! One of my highest priorities here is discussion through comments and feedback, so I want to make that as easy as possible, even if it means weeding through spam and the occasional anonymous troll. I'll give it more thought.

For now, lots of new stuff!



HARVEY FEATURED IN DC UNIVERSE ONLINE!





I already knew he was in the game, but Newsarama devoted a whole article to the game's version of Two-Face (and... Mxyzptlk? Ooookay). I've heard nothing but buggy, mixed thinks about the game, but I'd be intrigued to see how Harvey would play out, since the description here is most intriguing:

Just hinted at in the core game, the Penguin is ready to make his move to take control of Gotham, and in a case of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ you align yourself with Two-Face in an effort to foil the fowl fiend’s plans in a new mission string. Both the villains and the heroes can get into the action, as on the side of good, the Harvey Dent side of the scarred former prosecutor takes a dominate role verses his dark side for the other faction. However, keeping with his trademark of how he decides his actions, Two-Face could flip his coin mid-mission and suddenly turn against you.

Two-Face will also become available as a player character in Legends PvP with the ability to summon a mob of goons, set traps and fire guns or use a grenade launcher. His coin also factors into PvP as a quick toss will buff a set of skills for the side that the coin lands on (damage and DoT for bad heads; control, knockdowns and stuns for good heads)


All that is pretty damn clever, and exactly the way he should be used in such a game. Lord knows I'd love to play as him as well.

Picspam of character sketches, design, and gameplay! )



ADORABLE TWO-FACE FIGURE IS ADORABLE





The first series of these arrived at my shop last month. Henchgirl utterly fell in love with the Penguin, and I was hoping they'd do a Harvey. He looks a bit lizard-like (what's with so many artists making him look lizard-like? Acid no work that way!), but still pretty damn adorable. That said, I think J'onn's the best of the bunch, followed by Ollie, who should either look angrier or come with chili.



A COVER FROM THE UPCOMING TONY DANIEL STORY ACTUALLY LOOKS INTERESTING

I feel like I'm too harsh to Tony Daniel. Yeah, I'm not a fan of his work thus far, but I'll do my damnedest to be fair when it comes time to review the issues as they're released. Until then, I can only wait and worry about what he's going to do, based on the little we've seen thus far.

But today, [livejournal.com profile] prof_pig sent me a heads-up to a new cover (variant?) by Daniel for the storyline. And damn if it doesn't raise some interesting possibilities.





I really like the scarring. The real test will be seeing what, if any, character Daniel will give to Harvey's non-scarred side, but he doesn't look too bad here. Definitely of the Jim Lee school of design, but not bad at all.

The Prof wondered if this cover indicated a reference to the excellent (and still under-loved) Long Shadows storyline by Winick, particularly the finale where Dick seemingly convinced Harvey that Dick was the one true Batman. I still think it made way more sense for Harvey, in that context, to have realized that this Batman was Nightwing, rather than the true Batman, because who else but Dick looks down on Two-Face like that? Hopefully we'll see where it goes from there. After all, this will be Dick vs. Harvey, Round 5!

Please don't use Gilda. Please don't use Gilda. Please don't use Gilda...
about_faces: (Default)
If there was ever a story I wanted you guys to read, it's this one.

If you haven't been reading these strips, you can find them all at under the "comic strips" tag, which I figure will be easier than giving you a whole bunch of links. For those who have been reading it, thanks for all your comments. This has been a labor of love, and I'm gratified by all the thoughtful responses for this lost gem I've been obsessed over for the past month.

I don't know why the Batman strip ended on what I can only assume was due to cancellation. Poor response from readers? The impending release of Batman Returns? Some editor didn't like it for whatever petty reason? Maybe we'll finally get the answers should this strip ever see print someday.

Either way, it's strange that the strip should end with a Mad Hatter story. But even still, Messner-Loebs manages to bring the story to an end which I found surprising and moving. As with the entire strip, this final story is not without its flaws, but it's also more bold and intriguing--in its own quiet way--than many Batman stories in recent memory.





Final showdown in Arkham Asylum, behind the cut )


So at the end, what is there to say about the Batman comic strip? It wasn't perfect, partially due to the daily nature of the format, and partially due to creative inconsistencies. The series ended abruptly, with little in the way of a last word for major characters like Dick, Alfred, Jim Gordon, the Joker, or even Alice Dent. Even Bruce's own arc seems only sketched out at best, leaving us to fill in the blanks.

But as I said before, the true protagonist of this strip--at least, ever since Messner-Loebs and Infantino took over--was actually Harvey Dent. His arc frames the entire strip, which ends exactly when his own story does. Warts and all, this is one of the greatest Two-Face stories I have ever read.
about_faces: (Default)
I'm not sure at what point people started considering the Riddler to be a joke. It couldn't have been the TV show, since Gorshin's Riddler was rightly celebrated, and I'd argue that he was the only villain there to have touches of genuine menace. Did that just never translate over into comics?

Maybe it's just because I was raised on the Riddler of Gorshin, B:TAS, and his appearances written by Chuck Dixon, but I never thought Eddie was a joke character. I loved the Riddler's flair and penache, combined with his self-assured knowledge that he was the smartest guy in the room. I loved the Riddler to be genuinely brilliant, which may explain why there were so few good Riddler stories: he was just too damn smart to write.

Think about it: Lex Luthor's brilliance can be explained away with mad science or manipulative plots, but to be smart like the Riddler, you need to actually possess the kind of mind that could create and disassemble complex games of intellect. Furthermore, writers have to incorporate those games into actual stories. No wonder most writers just opted to make the Riddler a pathetic character, relying on cheesy puns and hampered by an obvious handicap that always got him caught by Batman.

That's the Riddler we see in this strip. I was disappointed at first, but by the end, I have to admit a great deal of affection for this loser version of Eddie Nigma. This is the Riddler if he were a villain on The Venture Bros, a failure criminal who finally (thinks) he strikes it big, only to get in wayyyyyy over his head.

Squint your eyes to read this preview for some idea of what I mean:





The Deadly Riddle, behind the cut! )


Finally, I'd intended to post this yesterday, so I could end by announcing that yesterday was the 62nd birthday of writer William Messner-Loebs! But then the house's internet went out just as I was wrapping up this post. So, happy belated birthday, William Messner-Loebs!

Coming up next: the grand finale.
about_faces: (Default)
After the nonstop epic of the previous comic strips, we get a fresh start with the introduction of Dick Grayson in this continuity.

I have pretty much no commentary nor insights to offer here, as it's the one story in which I have the least interest, but I'm posting it here both for the sake of completeness and for the Dick fans. It's a standalone story with no references to the previous arcs, as will be the next part. After that, the grand finale with the Mad Hatter in Arkham.





A slightly different take on the usual Robin origin, behind the cut... )
about_faces: (Default)
As previously warned, here's what's coming in Tony Daniel's Batman:





BATMAN #710
Written by TONY DANIEL
Art by TONY DANIEL & RYAN WINN
Cover by TONY DANIEL
Two-Face is back! As an unknown villain targets Two-Face and other Gotham City crimelords for extermination, Batman discovers that Kitrina Falcone, a.k.a. “CATGIRL,” is next on the hit list! Can he save the junior mobster in time? And will helping Kitrina force Catwoman to get involved?
On sale MAY 18 • 32 pg, FC $2.99 US • RATED T


...

Y'know, considering that Peter Tomasi is currently tying follow-up on themes he established during the Nightwing run, I was really hoping that he'd be the one to bring Harvey into Dick's life as (a) Batman. Don't get me wrong, The Great Leap wasn't a perfect story, but it was a pretty great one nonetheless, especially if I may be allowed to read it with my own interpretation.

Man, I'd love to sit down with Tomasi over beers and hash out that story with him. I still want to see a follow-up, something to indicate that Harvey actually WAS the hero, while also being the biggest loser. That he saved the day, but never knew it, COULD never know it, while Nightwing couldn't care less either way. Dick is just such a dick, not that he doesn't have his reasons.

But instead, "Dick VS Harvey, Round 5" is going to Tony Daniel, an artist of the Jim Lee school (not my thing, I find it too technical and impersonal) and writer whose biggest influences seem to be Grant Morrison and Jeph Loeb's Batman work. And while it's probably unfair to base my expectations about Daniel's Two-Face on the character's brief appearances in Battle for the Cowl, I'd rather not see a return to this:





So yeah. Gonna be dreading this one a bit.
about_faces: (Movie Faces of Harvey Dent)
Note: save for the book excerpts, all images taken from www.worldsfinestonline.com, your one-stop shop for everything DCAU.






Where the hell do I begin talking about Harvey/Two-Face from Batman: The Animated Series? I'm assuming you've all seen the show. Seriously, is there anyone here who *hasn't* seen TAS, or at least the Two-Face episodes?

If not (or if you want a refresher), I've managed to find a couple sneaky YouTube videos of the episodes which will be pertinent to discussion )

So everyone's at least seen both parts of Two-Face and Shadow of the Bat, right?

Of course, I love the former. Even with the lesser second half, it's still one of the greatest takes on the character. There are many details I wouldn't choose, but they work within the story's context so well, that it's still one of the best takes on the character in spirit. But in the latter, he's reduced to just being a standard villain, since the focus is entirely on Barbara's origin as Batgirl. In terms of Two-Face episodes, I'd written it off as one of the least essential.

Then I read this:




As said before, it's a YA novelization which frankensteins both two-part episodes into a single narrative, with some new scenes and surprise guest stars thrown in. So if you're up for it, let's take a look at some of the ways the book reconciles the two stories into one, how it works, how it doesn't, and what improvements are made along the way.


And as we do, I hope you'll indulge my tangents to rant, rave, and ramble about all manner of TAS!Harvey stuff in general... )










*That said, the TAS writers didn't come up with this idea. The Batman newspaper strip first came up with the idea of Harvey as a supporting character at length and best friend of Bruce Wayne back in 1990, around the same time as Eye of the Beholder's publication. I bet that Dini, Timm, and company were fans of that strip, which I'll be posting here soon enough.
about_faces: (Default)
I've been meaning to look at Doug Moench's infamous handful of Two-Face stories, but his first one directly follows events and characters from an earlier storyline: the first appearance of Black Mask. Even still, I never wanted to actually read that story, because if there's one classic* Batman villain I've come to hate over the past ten years, it's Black Fucking Mask.

Thanks to his prominent roles in War Games, he dominated the Bat-books for a couple years, getting big parts in Nightwing, Catwoman, and Under the Hood, thus also appearing in the last one's DVD adaptation, as well as Teh Batman. So I really shouldn't be surprised that this one-dimensional, nasty, pointless, generic, hollow non-character actually has fans. Not surprised, but disappointed.

But why? How the hell did this character become a thing, while better gangster-style villains (the Penguin, Harvey, the Ventriloquist and Scarface) got shoved to the side?

So, as I was already writing about a related Two-Face story from 1985, I decided to check out the original Black Mask appearances by Doug Moench. What I was surprised to discover was that Moench's original Mask in no way, shape, or form resembles the version which DC rose to prominence a few years ago.

I'm not saying he's a good character, mind you. But he's a far more interesting (and cracktacular) character. Hell, just look at the cover blurb:





So yes, prepare for the ultra-modern Batman villain who makes all the other villains look like CRAP! At least, according to Doug Moench.

Push it to the limit (LIMIIIIIIIT) behind the cut )

When Selina killed Roman a second time, I reacted with a weary "finally." But now, after reading Moench's originally stories, I feel disappointed for Ed Brubaker and subsequent writers for wasting what little potential there was for this character, and further distaste for anyone who actually likes the skull-faced version of Black Mask.

Finally, a question: anyone else think that Jeph Loeb ripped off Black Mask when he created Hush? Really, everything that Loeb tried to say with Tommy Elliot, I feel like Moench already said better with Roman Sionis. Just another little way that Moench's original creation has been swept under the rug by DC.




*I hate Hush and Dr. Hurt more, but they ain't "classic" just yet.

**The seven scans from the first issue are generously provided by [livejournal.com profile] superfan1, as the first issue is impossible to find. Because apparently the first appearance of Black Mask is SUCH a collector's item, ZOMG!
about_faces: (Default)
The 90's saw an increased focus on depicted the Rogues Gallery as a whole, particularly in Arkham-centric tales and sometimes also accompanied by the Bat-Family and Allies. This produced some great covers such as this:




(Scan generously provided by [livejournal.com profile] zegas, AKA Michel Fiffe, comics creator extraordinaire)

I'd kill to read an Arkham story drawn by Mike Mingola. Drawn, but not written. I love Hellboy so much more in theory than in practice, but those stories sure are pretty to look at. Much as I like Harvey here, I'm mostly impressed by his take on Scarecrow (right down to the fact that he's holding his squish-skull! Oh, Squishy), and would love to read a Crane tale drawn by Mingola. Again: drawn, not written.

As for the story itself, those who've read it might agree with me that it's fun, but not as fun as it should be. But at least it gave us one of the crackiest Bat-Rogues covers of all time...


See it and nine more covers behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Default)
Harvey occasionally makes extraneous cameos which add little to the larger story, and one such example is his two-page appearance in Robin #116. Truth be told, I haven't read this entire story (if any of you have, let me know what I'm missing), so maybe this scene actually does serve a purpose other than a different take on the character. I suspect the writer just wanted an excuse to write Harvey like this:





Two pages of Two-Face and Robin in Arkham )


I don't love this take, but I have to give writer Jon Lewis credit for coming up with something different. If you're going to write Harvey's madness over him actually being a character, most writers opt for him speaking in judicial terms, as if he's a walking mock trial.

At least Lewis opts for a different tack, one which seems stupidly obvious upon consideration: have Harvey think and speak in terms of black/white concepts, kicked off with the misogynistic virgin/whore dichotomy, and carried on through his recollection of Robin's suspect. I actually like that part, as the positive and negative attributes Harvey describes do not negate each other, showing how he can see the best and worst in people at the same time. Neat idea, one I'd like to see more often.

But why's Harvey defacing magazine models? He has a whole stack and a marker on hand. Is this meant to be therapy? What the hell, Arkham doctors? We've never seen Harvey as a doodler before, but thanks to Arkham's therapy, I can now see the latest Two-Face crime spree resembling Daffy Duck's reign of mustache terror.
about_faces: (Movie Faces of Harvey Dent)
So I've been toying with the idea of writing a proper analysis of Two-Face in Batman Forever, weighing the pros and cons of that depiction and Tommy Lee Jones' performance, all in the name of trying to find something interesting and even positive to say.

Y'know what? Fuck it.

I tried, I really did. But I can't do it. Objectively, I know I'd find TLJ's performance to be a blast, since I love over-the-top villains, and he genuinely seemed to be having a great time. But I can't forget that he's supposed to be Harvey. I just can't.

That said, the movie novelization is--almost literally--a different story. For one thing, the author, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, crafts an entire three-part prologue that looks into the backstory of all the main characters, with a special focus on Harvey.





The untold story of BATMAN FOREVER's Harvey Dent (and an alternate take on his death) behind the cut )

If this were the actual Two-Face we got in the film, it still wouldn't have been perfect (playing second fiddle to the Riddler? Killing the Flying Graysons? The brain-drain stuff? Meh!) but it would have been greatly improved. Honestly, I'm tempted to say that this Two-Face would have been superior to the Two-Face in The Dark Knight (which, in turn, had the superior Harvey Dent).

Combine the two, and hey, you get... well, you pretty much get the Harvey/Two-Face from Batman: The Animated Series. Yeah, still the gold standard for the character.
about_faces: (Default)
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?
about_faces: (Default)
Just under the wire for TWOsday!

I wasn't sure I'd ever own a copy of this issue. As it featured the first appearance of Arkham Asylum, copies were out of my price range (unless I'm buying rare back issues for my girlfriend--because I'm clearly the most awesome boyfriend ever, zomg--my limit is five bucks), but I managed to find a ratty-ass copy that was good enough to read and scan. Huzzah!

I'm glad I did, because while the story is dated and rough, it was surprisingly ahead of its time with how sympathetically it treated Two-Face. Sure, he was sympathetic in his original appearance, but that was only up to the point that he was redeemed and had his face fixed. After it got rescarred again, his very few appearances between 1954 and 1971 treated him more like a tragic character who's now just a villain to be stopped, and all sympathy for him died long ago. It's how many still write him.

It's also how Denny O'Neil himself treated the character in his first Two-Face story, Half a Life. I should post that here, both the original version and the recent recoloring, just to compare. But today's post is O'Neil's *second* Two-Face story: Threat of the Two-Headed Coin! from Batman #258 (1974). And this time, O'Neil takes a slightly different approach with the character, one which undoubtedly influenced the writers on Batman: The Animated Series in how they handled villains.

That said, it's still very early Bronze Age, right down to the cracky intro image, where Harvey resembles Wile E. Coyote to an oblivious Dynamic Duo:





Fun with atomic weapons behind the cut )
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
I was introduced to this story way back in scans_daily 1.0, wherein it was instantly beloved by all. Upon tracking down the issues myself, this three-part finale from The Batman Adventures became one of my top ten favorite Batman stories ever, from any continuity.

I'm posting it here as the next part of my Hugo Strange series, as it was his only appearance in the ten years after Prey, and it's *also* tied to New Year's Eve.





In keeping with Batman: The Animated Series' treatment of villains, Hugo is given unprecedented character depth, sympathy, and a tragedy which matches (perhaps even rivals) the stories of Harvey Dent and Mr. Freeze.

But let's not kid ourselves. I know the main reason why folks love this story. It's a testament to the greatness of these comics that Hugo's sad story could run in the same issues as moments like this:






In Memoriam, behind the cut )

It's because of stories like this that I honestly consider the TAS comics--all four series--to be the greatest Batman comics of the past twenty-five years. Maybe if these comics ever actually had crossovers into the DCU or "mattered" in some way continuity-wise, more people would have cared.

As it is, I'm just glad I recently managed to complete my entire collection of The Batman Adventures, Batman & Robin Adventures, Batman: Gotham Adventures, and Batman Adventures, until DC finally wises up and reprints the whole series.

Happy New Year, folks! Drive safely, drink sensibly, and try not to get your memory wiped!
about_faces: (Default)
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!

Profile

about_faces: (Default)
about_faces

July 2013

S M T W T F S
 123 456
789 10 111213
14151617181920
2122 2324252627
28293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 28th, 2017 06:39 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios