about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
As I mentioned a couple months back, Scott Snyder had announced that a young Harvey Dent would be featured in the upcoming new Bat-origin, Batman: The Zero Year. At the same time, DC's solicit for Batman #22 said (and still says), "The second chapter of “Zero Year” delves into Bruce Wayne’s past with the Red Hood Gang and his run-ins with aspiring District Attorney Harvey Dent!" And guess what, that issue just came out today!

So, much as everything I'd seen from the first part of TZY left me cold, I couldn't resist plunking down an outrageous $3.99 to buy Batman #22, only to discover... no Harvey. Nothing. You might even say, ZERO. Instead, all I have is a story with a more-dickish-than-usual young Bruce Wayne goes up against the Red Hood who already acts just like the Joker, whom Capullo insists on drawing with a mouth, thus ruining the simple elegance of the hood's design while making the character look stupider than ever. There's also more with Edward Nygma and Bruce's duplicitous uncle, plus a flashback to Bruce's training that didn't seem to serve any real purpose. All in all, this was one of the lightest, breeziest 40 page comics I've ever read. Nothing really happened. I never thought I'd say this about Snyder, but it almost feels like Tony Daniel never left the title!

So I guess we'll have to wait for next month to see Harvey, as it kicks off six months of non-stop Two-Face as his next big storyline is released. Which brings me to something I should have written about weeks ago. Last month, I neglected to post about how DC is dedicating an entire month to their villains, including around a dozen one-shot issues for the Bat-villains alone. On top of that, the covers will be 3D, because we have to out-90's the 90's when it comes to gimmick covers.

I should have posted about them all, but I just couldn't bring myself to care. Look, many of these just aren't the versions of the rogues that I'd want to read about (like Scarecrow, Freeze, and the new Ventriloquist), and as for the rest, well, I'm pretty much just expecting the worst from DC these days. It's just for self-preservation, mind you. I like being a pessimist because it allows me to be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than I'd expected, so hopefully that'll happen with several of these.

Well, a month has passed, and this month's solicits have given us a few more scant clues about what to expect, especially where Harvey is concerned. After a teaser page in a recent issue of Batman and Robin (Whoever) and Peter Tomasi's big Two-Face story--the one tying into The Zero Year--has finally been announced in DC's newly-released October solicits, with a cover image to boot.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
“The Big Burn” part one of five! Two-Face’s first epic in The New 52 sees Batman unraveling the mysterious connections between Harvey Dent’s life and the origin of Carrie Kelley!

My initial impressions and concerns haven't changed, so I'm still in "wait and see" mode. I will say how that's a nice cover, and the scarred eye is rather reminiscent of Lee Bermejo's in how it's all in shadow rather than showing the evil eye bulging out even in pitch darkness, as most other artists would do. That said, who's the blond woman? Guess we'll find out.

The solicit details also interest me, first because of how Harvey is sharing the ever-shifting byline of what was formerly Batman and Robin before that Robin was killed off. Since then, we've seen Batman and the Red Hood, Batman and Batgirl, Batman and Red Robin, and so on. So does this mean that Harvey will be allies with Batman in some capacity? I doubt it, because it doesn't seem like any writer ever wants to tell that kind of story. What I'm also wondering about is what--if any--connection Harvey will have in Carrie Kelley's origin, now that she's been brought into the DCnU. Will we be seeing a return of the grand tradition of Two-Face having a hand in Robin origins?

Harvey will also be popping up as an ensemble member in the main Forever Evil event series, if that cover is any indication, as well as in the special all-Bat-villain issue, also written by Tomasi:

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
1:25 B&W Variant cover JASON FABOK
On sale OCTOBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
As FOREVER EVIL hits the world, no corner of the DC Universe is in worse shape than Gotham City! Madness and mayhem hit the streets as both Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison unleash their prisoners upon the helpless citizens of Gotham. And with no Dark Knight to protect the city, what horrors will follow?

As it's also written by Tomasi, it's likely that it will somehow tie together with "The Big Burn," so this will also be a must-read. That said... man, does anyone else look at that cover and feel a wave of apathy twinged with sadness? I call it "sadthapy!" But seriously, until this image, I didn't realize how much I didn't recognize the Bat-rogues in DC Comics anymore. It doesn't help that I'm not a fan of the art either, but still, I really have lost touch with what DC has become. Whether that's a flaw in me (old 30-year-old fogie that I am) or in the company itself, I suppose only time will tell. Well, at least I still have comics like Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman '66 to follow!

That's all for comic news, but before I wrap this up post to continue preliminary work on my review of The Beautiful Ugly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Harvey-related awesomeness that happened on the most recent episode of The Venture Bros! For those who don't know what VB is, it's a great big homage to geekdom of all sorts that was wrapped up in the pretense of a Jonny Quest homage before it quickly blossomed into its own unique mythos. It's also one of my very favorite shows, and this new season is no exception. If you're in the US and if you have a participating cable provider, you can watch the newest episodes of VB here for free at the official Adult Swim site!

In the newest episode, Momma's Boys, the titular characters wind up inside "Dunwich Asylum" (get it? I didn't at first!) whereupon they meet a number of insane costumed criminals, including a one-off bit role by of a new character who is relevant to our interests.

I absolutely love Radical Left, as he--just like VB's perfect Cobra Commander stand-in a couple episodes ago--is that rare and wonderful combination of parody and homage. Those lines wouldn't at all be out of place with Harvey himself, except that with Radical Left, his desire for anarchy and "a nice home with a family" don't have to be exclusive at all! Well, as long as you take "anarchy" by what it literally means rather than just using is as a substitute for "chaos," a mistake that most people make, including Christopher Nolan. Really, they could have just stopped with the visual pun of calling him "Radical Left" (they have a history of one-joke name parody villains such as Dr. Septapus) but that quote just took it the extra mile! If they do bring back Radical Left, hopefully they won't wear the joke out too thin.

Okay, back to the review for The Beautiful Ugly. The final part comes out tomorrow on Comixology.com, so definitely pick it up! One way or another, I think it's safe to say that this is a Two-Face story worth supporting!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
News is breaking at all major comics blogs that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's next big Batman project will be an eleven-part arc dubbed The Year Zero. Quoth Snyder:

"It's not 'let's redo the origin.' It's time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in the New 52. We tried to preserve as much of Batman's history as we could and keep what we could of this history intact. It's 'The Zero Year,' the one that no one has told the story of before. We see how Bruce became the Batman, built the cave, faced off with his first super villain ... It's time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in The New 52. It builds up the mythology."

Most notably, Snyder also said: “We’re not going to take apart ‘Year One’... There’s no touching the hem of that book.”

Thing is, I can't entirely fault Snyder for this, nor is it a bad idea in theory. For all of Batman: Year One's considerable merits, it was really Jim Gordon's story in the year that Batman started. As such, it was up to stuff like stories in Legends of the Dark Knight to fill in the gaps and come up with that new backstory for the rebooted Post-Crisis era. While that's the era I like and while I don't want to see stories I enjoy get rebooted yet again, I certainly can't blame anyone for wanting to refresh that stuff for the DCnU reboot era. Retcons are part of the circle of life for DC.

On the other hand, Snyder's whole thing so far has been to build up his own original Batman mythology, like the Court of Owls being involved with everything, or the Joker always knowing that Bruce is Batman, or that James Gordon Junior is suddenly now Dexter but more evil. More annoyingly, he treats these revelations as if they've always been the case, with Jim Gordon Senior and Barbara talking about their long history with Junior as if it's old history now, or the fact that supposedly every child in Gotham knows about the Court of Owls via nursery rhyme but we're only now hearing about it. It's clunky retconning that technically doesn't retcon anything, while also not really jiving with established continuity.

Of course, this is a NEW continuity, so that shouldn't be a problem, right? It's Snyder's world now, and he's building it from the ground up. Okay, I get that... except, if that's the case, then why are they keeping Batman: Year One canon? Is he working with canon, or making his own? Well, we've been asking these kinds of questions ever since the DCnU was launched with all the foresight and planning of Leeroy Jenkins, so I guess it doesn't matter.

As always, I'm concerned about what's going to happen with the villains and supporting characters, especially after Snyder's abhorrent retcon of Mister Freeze's origin. If this is in the Year One-ish era, does that mean we'll be seeing D.A. Harvey Dent, and if so, what will Snyder do to him? Will the first "super villain" be the Riddler, since Snyder has been talking about doing a big Riddler story next? We'll have to wait and see, as always.

For right now, the biggest question I have--and one which I doubt anyone will answer--is what does this mean for Catwoman? If Batman: Year One is sacrosanct canon, does that mean that she still has the Frank Miller origin? The sex worker origin has been retconned out by the likes of Judd Winick and Ann Nocenti in Selina's own DCnU solo title, so are we ignoring what they've done because no one's read their stories and Miller's work is still incredibly popular? Or does no one really know nor care either way? Probably that one. I know I'll certainly be holding out hope that Selina's B:YO origin will be reinstated, partially because Selina's title has been utterly goddamn awful, and partially because Henchgirl showed us all just how great a character Selina became as a result of the Post-Crisis origin, so I'd like to that to be canon again. Insofar as ANYTHING is canon in the DCnU.
about_faces: (Default)
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: (Default)
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.
about_faces: (Default)
In the DC/Top Cow crossover one-shot Batman/Darkness (or was it Darkness/Batman? Meh.), writer Jeph Loeb devoted little pointless page-full cameos to several Gotham characters, including Harvey. These cameos served no purpose other than to make the reader go "Hey, I know that character!" while annoying the mobster character who was forced to interact with the Rogues. Harvey's cameo takes up a two-page spread, and since I lack both a large scanner and photoshop abilities, I have to present it here in two awkwardly broken-up scans.

We're not above being fair... )

As this story had a couple different artists, I can't be sure which drew this scene, but it might be the work of David Finch. Y'know, the guy who is drawing the OMGWTFBBQ Venom!Harvey in an upcoming issue of The Dark Knight. The DCU Blog recently posted Finch's uninked, unlettered pages of the fight scene between Batman and Hulk!Harvey, whereupon I learned that it's being written by none other than Paul Jenkins, author of the Two-Face "epic" Batman: Jekyll & Hyde. I just finished scanning pages from that entire mini for a review, but dear lord, tearing apart that particular clusterfuck is gonna take a while. But I really should examine it, if only because Harvey's big grand plan was pretty much just used again as the finale for Scott Snyder's critically-beloved "Black Mirror" story from Detective Comics.

Henchgirl and I just finished reading Snyder's story, and we are frustrated and disappointed. On one hand, I can understand why it got hyped so much, because there's so much there to like. At its best, it's one of the most compelling, maturely-told Batman stories in recent memory. At its worst, it's a flawed pseudo-Morrison pseudo-Milligan pseudo-Dexter story that turns James Gordon Jr. into a murderous Gary Stu (who's supposed to be a "psychopath" but is written more like a sociopath and/or someone with Aspergers) with a big scary plan that falls apart if you actually think about it. Do you know how much it hurts me to admit that Batman: Jekyll & Hyde actually did something BETTER? Because ouch, man. Ouch.

I wish I had more free time and brainpower, because I'd love to write a proper teardown of Snyder's story, while celebrating all the stuff I liked. I think that's what really gets me. The good stuff is so good that it makes the bad stuff all the more frustrating. This is the exact same problem I have with Flashpoint: Batman--Knight of Vengeance, which is STILL getting praised to high heaven. I'm fighting the urge to just troll every review and message board with my lengthy, in-depth criticism of that story.

Between that and Snyder's story, I'm itching for a fight. Or at least, a challenging discussion. But I'm not sure anybody would really be up for that, nor care. So meh, maybe I'll just stick to reviewing more Two-Face comics until then.
about_faces: (Default)
Disclaimer: this post was written over several exhausted days, in increments averaging two sentences at a time, between feeding and changing and burping a baby. Rambling, tangents, and incomprehensible gibberish may occur.

With this weekend comes the biggest comics event of the year, Comic Con! And with Comic Con, comes news and hints of upcoming stuff like comics from the DCnU reboot and Batman: Arkham City! And with that news, comes... many questions. Important, strange, nagging, bothersome, deeply annoyed (and perhaps annoying!) questions.

Why, why, and WHY OH DEAR GOD WHY, behind the cut )

So what do we know about the state of the Batman characters in the DCnU? Still pretty much nothing, but I'm decidedly more annoyed now than I was before, when I was just aggressively apathetic and mildly concerned about the immediate future of these characters I love. If these comics and this game are the current state of Batman stories, I get the feeling I'm not going to enjoy any new Bat-related stuff for some time.

*I've heard nothing but amazing things about Scott Snyder's current work on Detective Comics, especially the James Gordon Jr. storyline, but I'm afraid to read it. Everything I've heard makes it sound far too bleak for my enjoyment, especially considering that someone's finally remembered that James Jr. exists only to turn him into, what, a sociopath monster? Is that what happened? Has anyone else been following 'Tec, and can you tell me if it lives up to its hype?


about_faces: (Default)

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