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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you're interested in owning The Beautiful Ugly (and you should!), all three parts from Legends of the Dark Knight #56-58 are available digitally via Comixology, as well as on iTunes, Kindle, and Nook stores, direct links to which can be found here. I also highly recommend you check out Derek Fridolfs' blog for tons of in-depth discussion about this story with his co-author, Ken Jones. It's a rare insight in the creative process of a comic by two very interesting, very cool guys who understand how to tell a great Batman tale worthy of the Legends of the Dark Knight banner.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
It'll take me a few days to write a full review of The Beautiful Ugly, the new Two-Face story from DC's digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight series, and my review will also be spoiler-heavy. For now, though, I do want to quickly mention that I absolutely loved this story, and that everyone should check it out. LotDK isn't exactly a top-selling title, and stories like this deserve our support.

It's one issue, split in three parts (LotDK #56-58), each just 99¢, so that amounts to $2.97 for the full story. Not bad at all, I'd say, and it's certainly a better deal than DC's usual $3.99 cover price for stories that have far less actual content. If you're unused to LotDK, there are at least four ways you can buy it: 1.) from Comixology.com (1, 2, 3), 2.) from iTunes for iPad/iPhone (1, 3, Part 2 not found), 3.) from Amazon for Kindle (1, 2, 3), or 4.) from Barnes and Noble for Nook (1, 2, 3). If you don't have a tablet or don't like reading from your phone, you can read Comixology purchases via your home computer, like I do! All in all, I prefer Comixology, as I often enjoy using their "guided view" reading format.

If you still prefer to read your comics physically, well, you're going to have to wait a while. You see, the original plan for DC's digital-first books was to release weekly installments online, which they would then collect and publish as full monthly issues. However, DC has cancelled LotDK as a monthly series, and will instead be reprinted the stories as collected editions only. This means that the only way you will be able to read The Beautiful Ugly in physical comic format will be to, 1.) wait about six months or more, and 2.) buy it in a full-size collection that will probably go for about twenty bucks.

Now, if you want to do that, awesome! LotDK is a neat mixed bag that's worth supporting, and I also rather enjoyed the Riddler/Black Mask story that ran just before TBU, so these stories would certainly make the whole collection worth owning. But I also know that most of us can't afford that kind of splurge, so you'd probably be better off sampling them individually for 99¢ per installment. Ultimately, I'd still recommend that everyone buy and read the digital version ASAP, especially if you're planning to read my extensive autopsy of a review. Two-Face stories should be supported anyway, but man, this one especially deserves attention. And again, do be sure to check out the authors' commentary over at Derek Fridolfs' blog!

Okay, that's enough shilling for me. See you back here in a few days for my full review of The Beautiful Ugly, assuming that nothing else of note pops up!
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!!!)
First things first, I wanted to mention this yesterday, but my son Hal just turned two, and oh my god, the Terribles Twos have arrived in (what I sure as hell hope is) full force. As a fan, this amuses me greatly. As a father, my ears will never stop ringing from the tantrum screams and I will never sleep again. Hey, look, I'm of two minds about it! Whee! ... Well, what do you want from me, I'm exhausted and have a toddler, it's the best I can do right now.

Secondly (enough two puns, Hefner!), guess what, you guys? After I posted about The Beautiful Ugly--the newest Two-Face story appearing in the digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight--I was contacted via Facebook by the story's co-author Derek Fridolfs! Besides the nice things he had to say about this blog, he brought to my attention that he's hosting an interview/discussion about The Beautiful Ugly with co-author Ken Jones over at his own blog! The first part from last week is here and the second just came out today, in conjunction with the release of the second part of TBU!

I had my reservations about the art last week, but wow, THAT is a Two-Face!

These discussions by Fridolfs and Jones are very cool, as they provide a rare insight into the creative process of writing a Batman story without any of the PR-soundbite-ness that comes from normal interviews at comic news sites. Reading through Fridolfs' blog, it's clear that this is a guy who loves Batman and the villains the same ways that I (and presumably many/most of you) do, which certainly explains why his work on Batman: Arkham Unhinged was always a solid read, often handling the villains better than the regular DCU did. He's first writer to actually explore the origins of Killer Croc and Black Mask for the first time since... well, since their original stories in the 80's, and he also has a greater understanding and appreciation of Talia than certain other comic writers and filmmakers do. I now wish I'd reviewed more of Arkham Unhinged, but I put it off so I could first review the rest of the Hugo Strange stories and then Arkham City itself, so I'm taking the opportunity to talk it up now.

Fridolfs is a cool guy and a great writer, so he's definitely worth supporting. Definitely check out his blog and read his discussions on TBU, and hopefully I'll have my own review ready to go shortly after the final issue and discussion both come out next Thursday. With one or two reservations, I greatly enjoyed the second part, and I'm anxiously awaiting to see how it wraps up!

With that, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my holiday. I was thinking about maybe doing a picspam of whatever patriotic Two-Face stuff I could find, but ultimately, I think I'll just stick with this. I've always been ambivalent about this piece from Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's Arkham Asylum, mainly because--in true Morrison fashion--it's all about using a character as symbolism rather than as a person. In this case, it's showing how America itself is two-faced, which is a perfectly valid idea, but not exactly one which applies to Harvey himself, especially considering that he's supposed to have written it. Nonetheless, for today at least, it's appropriate enough.

On that cheery note, I'm off to find a TV network that's airing 1776, which has its own things to say about the light and dark sides of how this country was founded. I shall try not to incessantly sing "The Lees of Old Virginia" around Henchgirl for the next week, but I make no promises.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Once again, there's a new Two-Face story appearing in the "pages" of DC's digital-premiere Legends of the Dark Knight series! The first issue (read: the first part of three, the first 1/3rd of what will be a one-shot-length story) came out yesterday, and surprisingly, USA Today even ran a promotional article about the story! Why they did, I can't imagine, as neither the writers nor artist seem notable enough to warrant the special attention, and Harvey himself has never been that big of a draw. Still, it's great to see smaller, under-the-radar series like LotDK getting this kind of exposure. It's also neat to see Harvey treated as the star focus of the USA Today piece, even though the details of the article suggest that, just like with the last Two-Face story in LotDK, the real protagonist of this tale will be a regular guy stuck in the middle between Batman and Two-Face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that said, I don't want to abandon this LJ, nor do I ever plan to do that. But the fact is, the next big posts I have yet to write are ones that I really don't WANT to write, ones which I've put off writing for years now. You can probably guess what some of them are, concerning things such as The New Batman Adventures, The Long Halloween, and Half a Life. These are all things that I *have* to write about, as they're all major Two-Face stories in one form or another, but they're also some of the most frustrating ones for me. As such, I'm in no rush to finally tackle those, which is resulting in me generally neglecting this blog. In the meantime, do feel free to follow me on any of the above-linked sites, if you're so inclined. I'd hate to lose touch with any of you due to my slacking-off here!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
As [livejournal.com profile] killermoth pointed out to me in my last post, writer Peter Tomasi has announced that Harvey will soon be appearing in Batman & Robin! As I said before: not sure if want. On one hand, Tomasi's last big Two-Face story, Nightwing: The Great Leap might be one of my favorite Two-Face stories, despite its considerable faults. On the other hand, there are those considerable faults to... well, consider.

What's worse, I love it for reasons that seem to go against what Tomasi's own narrative WANTED me to feel. I can't tell whether or not the narrative is siding with Nightwing's own awful, offensive, and incorrect view of Harvey, especially since it seems to give Dick the last word while making Harvey just look like an evil monster. Furthermore, I hate the direction it took by suddenly turning into another bland "Two-Face goes on a rampage" story. Also, I hate Gilda being supplanted by Not!Rachel Dawes in Harvey's heart, because the idea that Harvey had an emotional affair with someone while staying with Gilda only out of his marriage vows? Wow, bullshit. Never mind that Carol was a bland non-character who was written as little more than a talking MacGuffin.

Also also, Tomasi was the show-runner on Batman: Face the Face, one of the worst Harvey Dent stories ever written. What made it especially bad was how it had a couple good ideas, then utterly pissed them away in a story riddled with plot holes, cheap writing, and an annoying ending that remains maddeningly unresolved. I guess no one cares about that story and/or Harvey and/or the Great White Shark to actually give Harvey some goddamn closure in regards to his business with both Batman and Warren White. Honestly, I think the closest we're ever going to get to a proper follow-up to that waste of a story is this fan-doodle by Shark role-player blog Business-and-Bites:

... So yeah, okay , there is a LOT going against Tomasi here. But he's still a great writer, generally speaking (his first run on Green Lantern Corps was especially excellent), and if he can tap into the good parts of his Harvey from N:TGL, then that will be awesome. Or at least, definitely worth reading. Even if his track record with the character is mixed, I'd rather see him try than anyone else on the Bat-books currently. Just as long as he doesn't delve too much in Harvey's past. So far, I haven't seen a single villain origin reboot that hasn't been disappointing at best and infuriating at worst. Funny/sad thing is, despite Tomasi's last retcon of Carol Birmingham, I think I'd still rather see him try tackling Harvey's past over any other writer at DC right now.

Hot on the heels of Tomasi's announcement, Harvey did indeed appear at the very end of Batman and Robin the Red Hood, making a full page cameo after an issue that featured Carrie Kelly (yes, Frank Miller's Robin from TDKR, she's here now) being caustically annoyed with Bruce, followed by Bruce being an utterly selfish ass to Jason. After that unpleasant fallout, the issue ends inexplicably ends on this quiet, minimalist note:

Spoilers for the latest issue of B&R #20 )

As you can see, it's nothing more than a teaser for Harvey's next big appearance, with no indication of what it might be or what he might do if that coin came up scarred. Really, this page could fit in with any Two-Face of any era, which is a major reason why I like it so much. Even if the story doesn't amount to anything, at least we've gotten the neat above page out of the bargain. It's certainly the best Two-Face material to come out of a mainstream Bat-book from the New 52 so far! It only took DC about two and a half years, so that's appropriate!

Incidentally, I've edited this page a little, as it originally featured a next issue blurb in the corner that read "NEXT: BATGIRL IN THE BARGAIN!" and I thought that we were all better off seeing this art unencumbered by the distraction. The page's artist, Patrick Gleason, apparently agreed with me, as he was one of the few to reblog this image when I posted it to Tumblr! Neato! Thanks, free MS Paint knock-off software!

So yeah, I'm now good an' interested in seeing how Tomasi and Gleason's upcoming Two-Face story will play out. Only thing I'm wondering is if Harvey will retain Gleason's same molten-face look--one reminiscent of Dick Tracy villain Haf-n-Haf--from his cameo early on in this book's run.

From Batman and Robin #4. Will he look the same in his first full appearance about twenty issues later?
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
So for the past week, I've working on another big round-up post of news and announcements, but go figure, I've gotten so long-winded on them all that I've decided to just turn them into a bunch of their own mini-posts to keep activity going here between actual reviews. First up, here's something which I should have posted about two weeks ago! Whee!

You may remember the recent issue of Legends of the Dark Knight where Harvey underwent brain surgery in an attempt to remove Two-Face, and Batman screwed it up. You may also remember that the issue's author, TV producer Jonathan Larsen, popped up in the comments to offer his gracious thoughts and responses, and when he mentioned that he had some new projects in the pipeline, I told him to let us know when they were coming out. Welp, two weeks ago, he returned to announce that his new comic is being released, and you can read it now! For free! I'll let Mr. Larsen's comment speak for itself, with a couple added hotlinks by me:

I promised I'd let you know when my new project was out, and it is, so here I am! It's a free, weekly webcomic called "The Endling," and the first installment is up now, by me, an Italian artist I found named Cecilia Latella and my old Batman partner Paul Mounts on colors. It's been shepherded by comic-book deity Mark Waid and it'll be appearing on Thrillbent every Thursday. Please like The Endling on Facebook so you can let us know what you think and get notified when new installments go up. Thanks again!

Because it's taken me two weeks to get off my butt and post all this, the third part was just released today, so you can check out the first three installments back to back! So far, I'm really digging it, partially since it feels reminiscent of the 80's revival of The Twilight Zone, which is definitely a compliment (Alan Brennert was one of the show-runners, and this reminds me of one of his best episodes). I also really like the reading experience of Thrillbent in general, which utilizes the format in cool and effective ways. Give it a read, like it on Facebook, and let Mr. Larsen know what you think! And check out some of the other comics on Thrillbent, if you get the chance! It looks like a noble venture which deserves to do well!

Right, back to working on the other news and announcement tidbits! Hopefully LJ will stop being screwy in time for the upcoming barrage of mini-posts over the next week. I reiterate: whee!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Hey folks, time for another round-up of announcements, news, meandering thoughts, and other odds 'n ends!

For a while now, I've been meaning to revise and update my posts on the entire Batman comic strip from 1989-1991 with bigger scans, better commentary, and all of the color Sundays I've managed to find thus far. As of today, I have completed my overhaul of the strip's first storyline by Max Allan Collins and Marshall Rogers! When I originally posted those strips, I was thinking less about being critical and more just going "OH MY GOD THESE ARE AWESOME I NEED TO SHOW THEM TO EVERYBODY NOW NOW NOW JUST IN CASE THE INTERNET BLOWS UP OR SOMETHING," but I've since had three years to think about these stories, so it's a pleasure to revisit and lovingly dissect them as they deserve.

Of course, with this good news comes sad news as well. Just as I begin this working on this side project, DC legend Carmine Infantino passed at age 87. Considering that Infantino illustrated the vast majority of the strips, this will certainly cast a pall over my revisions. I will try to do the great man justice in my revised posts, even though--as it turns out--he hated working on the strip, in no small part because he hated Batman in general! Turn out, apparently personally knowing Bob Kane will do that to a person. I'll go into that more when I revise his run.

Next item: Scott Snyder's upcoming new take on Batman's origin, Batman: The Zero Year, will indeed be featuring an appearance by Harvey. According to the DC solicits for July: 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 in the backup story, a secret moment from Bruce’s training abroad is revealed for the first time!

As far as I'm concerned, this will be the real moment of truth when it comes to seeing how Snyder can handle writing Harvey. His scene with Leatherface!Joker in Death of the Family was not at all good, no, but in its way, it was no worse than any of the dozens of mediocre takes on Two-Face that we've all seen. If he screws up pre-scarring Harvey, however, then I'll be really steamed. A bad Two-Face is annoying, but a bad Harvey Dent is so much worse, and Snyder will almost certainly be adding some new original twist to Harvey's character and/or backstory. Heck, if he's an "aspiring District Attorney," then what does he do for a living? And what kind of "run-ins" are we talking about with Bruce, here? There's potential for this, but so far, I don't have too much faith given Snyder's track record both with villain origin reboots and Two-Face. I hope to be proven wrong.

In other news which may not seem related in any way to Batman villains, I've been thinking about Psycho II lately, probably due to the existence of the questionable prequel show, Bates Motel. As some of you may know, I adore the 1983 sequel to Hitchcock's classic adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel, and while Hitch's version is the better film all around, I personally prefer II overall. I mean, just look at the premise: an infamous, insane, costumed serial killer is sent to a mental institution, rehabilitated, and released into a world intent on driving him insane again when all he wants is a normal life free from his own demons. Gee, I wonder why that might appeal to me? If you suspect that it might also appeal to you for the same reasons, then good news, the entirety of Psycho II is up here on YouTube, broken into several parts! It's worth watching not just on its own merits, but also for those of us who love the Batman villains as tormented individuals, many of whom just want to have a normal life but find their efforts thwarted by monsters both within and without.

Similar to that, has anyone been watching Breaking Bad? Besides the fact that it's one of only things that really gets me excited anymore, it's also a stealth long-form supervillain origin, one which has helped me see many other villains in a whole new light. The final eight episodes are coming out this summer, and I'm anxious to watch them and geek out with fellow fans, and since you folks are awesome for discussion, I thought I'd toy with the idea of opening up episode discussions either here or at my even-more-neglected personal LJ, [livejournal.com profile] thehefner. If you'd like to catch up on the show but don't have access to the DVDs and/or Netflix, I will be happy to try and point your way to places online where episodes are streaming. Again, this show is really the only thing that I'm jazzed about these days, seeing as how new comics are a depressing place, so I'd love to share the geek joy (and turmoil) with y'all on this while we wait for comics to get better.

Finally, speaking of comics, has anyone else been keeping up with Without Sin, the Legends of the Dark Knight digital storyline by Dan Mishkin and Tom Mandrake? I have, and I think I'm going to hold off on reviewing it until it's over, just to see how it plays out. The way it has utilized Two-Face has been both fascinating and disappointing, and I want to see if Mishkin is going anywhere with this even as I suspect that it's not going to get any better. If you've been reading it and have any thoughts, do let me know.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)

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

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

I'm a changed man, Father... )

I don't know if I'll be able to keep up weekly reviews for the other five parts as they come out, but so if the story becomes less remarkable, I might just stop and wait to review the whole thing at the end. We'll see how the story goes, and if my own free time in real life will be cooperative. In the meantime, I wholeheartedly recommend buying this issue at Comixology (only 99¢! Cheap!). This could potentially be a damn good Two-Face story, and hey, you'll be supporting two industry vets, so that's win-win.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)

News has come out that IDW Publishing has partnered with DC Comics to reprint classic DC superhero comic strips, starting with Superman and eventually going on to Batman and Wonder Woman. If you're like me, your fangasm of "Oh my god, all of these incredibly obscure and rare comics are finally being collected eeeeeeeeeeeee!" would be followed up with the question, "Wait... which era of Batman comic strips will be collected?"

While the current press releases do not specify, I got the answer from Dean Mullaney, the creative director of the Library of American Comics, who is putting the book together for IDW. Consider this an About_Faces exclusive, if you'd like! I wrote to Mr. Mullaney because I--perhaps presumptuously--wanted to offer my services in some capacity on the off-chance that they were going to collect the '89-'91 strips. The upcoming Superman Dailies book was made possible due to the contributions of a super-fan collector, and I wanted to see if I might be able to help in my own way to bring this beloved strip to the masses.

As it stands, the license that IDW/LoAC has from DC only goes up to 1972. The good news is that this means we'll finally be seeing a collection of the impossible-to-find 60's Batman comic strip, the one that featured the creepily happy-looking Two-Face! Hot damn, now we'll finally be able to read that full battle with all the rogues! The bad news, of course, is that there are no plans for reprinting the '89-'91 as of just yet, but Mr. Mullaney is hopeful that they'll be able to get around to those at some point.

Hopefully they will, and hopefully they'll keep me in mind too. I still have so much love for that strip, and I'd be more than happy to lend out my collection. Hell, I'd love to contribute more than that, if they'd let me. If I knew how to acquire the rights, I would be spearheading the development of that collection myself, complete with analysis, commentary, and interviews with the surviving creators. Any way--small or large--that I could help to bring this strip to bigger audiences would be an honor.

In the meantime, I'll continue to be on the lookout for affordable copies of color Sunday strips. I just found a bunch of new ones recently, so I'll be posting them here in the near future!
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: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)

Ty Templeton was the original DCAU Batman comic artist who returned to title when it was rebooted as The Batman & Robin Adventures, but it wasn't until issue #4 that he took over writing duties. His writing style wasn't quite as gracefully operatic as the Puckett/Parobeck era of The Batman Adventures, but he more than made up for that by packing each issue with character moments that expanded upon the lives of these heroes and villains between the televised episodes, as well as the comic appearances that the show would never end up acknowledge.

This was especially true in the case of Two-Face, especially in the aftermath of Paul Dini's Two Timer from TB&RA #1-2. As you'll recall, that story expanded upon both Harvey's rehabilitation and his relationship with Grace Lamont, only to destroy them both seemingly beyond repair in a soul-crushingly depressing ending. If that were an episode of the show, that would have probably been the end of it, considering how little interest the show had in exploring Harvey as anything other than a villain for the vast majority of his appearances.

Thankfully, Templeton--who was the artist on Two Timer--had different plans, and he wrote three stories which each respectively fleshed out Harvey's life, backstory, and psyche. With the first of these, Fifty Fifty, Templeton told an unusual Two-Face tale that explored the limits of Harvey's adherence to his coin, and in the process, he managed to bring Grace Lamont back to the DCAU one final time in a way that provided some small measure of closure to their broken love story.

Unfortunately, the art by Brandon Kruse and Wild Dog co-creator Terry Beatty isn't quite up to par with the likes of Parobeck, Templeton, and Rick Burchett, and it's easily the weakest part of this issue, but at least we're treated to Ty's fantastic cover. It's a beautiful take on Harvey, although some of you more observant Two-Face fans might notice something a bit off about the coin. Don't worry, unlike the show's weirdly inconsistent depiction of the coin, this time it's quite coincidental!

Harvey Dent is finally in control of his anger... )

Want to buy this issue? Well, if you want a digital copy, then you're out of luck. While DC's digital comics story at Comixology has been posting most of the DCAU comics, their run of The Batman & Robin Adventures cuts off at the issue RIGHT BEFORE this one! Argh!!! So keep your eye on Comixology, and maybe someday it'll be added. In the meantime, you totally should catch up on this great series, especially issues like the greatest Ventriloquist and Scarface story of all time, great slice-of-Gotham stories like Dagger's Tale, and this Riddler/Batgirl story, where Templeton proves his proficiency with neglected DCAU villains by writing one of the very best takes on the Riddler. Good stuff, all!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
As my second post for 2/22 (posted at 22:22, military time!), I bring you the latest updates for the Two-Face RPG that Henchgirl has been working on (and I'm helping!). The progress has been slow and marred by all the same that have slowed down my own output here, but rest assured, it's still underway! It just may take a year. Or three. In the meantime, though, here's a taste of what we have so far!

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

Behind the cut, all of your favorites: 'Ugh! My face!' 'Aaghh! My face!' 'AARRRGGH!! M-my face--!?!' 'GAAHH--' 'YAAARGHH!!' 'NAAAGGGHHHH!' And many more! )
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)

Great news, everyone! One of my very favorite Two-Face stories--one which has bizarrely never been reprinted, despite the fact that it's an early work by a superstar writer--is now available as a digital comic on Comixology! Even better, it's currently on sale for just 99¢ as part of DC's Black History Month sale alongside other comics featuring John Stewart, Black Lightning, Mister Terrific, the Milestone Comics heroes, and more.

The story in question is Face to Face to Face to Face from Teen Titans Spotlight #13 (1987), written by J. Michael Straczynski*, and it was the subject of one of my very earliest reviews back when I started up [livejournal.com profile] about_faces. As a review, it hadn't aged very well. The scans were too grainy and small (why did I always post such small scans back in the day?), and what little commentary there was wasn't exactly super-insightful. It was a shabby tribute to one of the best--and yet most obscure--Two-Face stories I've ever read, and to make matters worse (or better), it was posted so early on that it only has three comments, one of which was deleted and one of which is mine. No, this story deserves better than that!

So in honor of this story finally being released in an accessible and affordable way, I have given my review of F2F2F2F a complete overhaul with full commentary and larger, cleaned-up digital scans from the Comixology issue! For all intents and purposes, this is an all-new review, so I urge everyone to please check it out even if you haven't been in Hefner-withdrawal over my recent absence. ;)

Hopefully I'll be posting some new stuff again within the next week or two, but I make no promises. Thanks to everyone for your continued readership and all your thoughtful comments! Looking back on how few followers I had early on just makes me all the more grateful for everyone you folks bring to this little blog 'o mine, so thanks again!

*Speaking of JMS, are there any other fans of Babylon 5 out there? I just finished reading this amazing tie-in novel about Walter Koenig's character, Alfred Bester (yes, named after the sci-fi author and creator of Solomon Grundy), and I'm still reeling from the experience. As I describe in that linked Tumblr post, it's a fantastic villain-centric story that I wish I could recommend to everyone here, even to those who haven't watch B5.
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: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Four months have passed since the release of Walt Simonson's excellent new graphic novel, The Judas Coin, so I think it's finally time for me to examine the story's Two-Face segment, Heads or Tails, in full, exhaustive, spoilery, scan-heavy detail.

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

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

Shh, just a moment… I'm thinking… )

As I've said before, The Judas Coin was the best comic I'd read in 2012, so I strongly recommend checking out the whole thing even if you only care about Batman-related stuff. The full cover price is a bit out of my price range, but you can find affordable copies over at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, which also offers it for Nook. Other ways you can get it digitally include Kindle (the best deal of them all), and iBooks for iPad/iPhone. And if you are willing to spend the full cover price, then awesome, go support your local bookstore/comic book shop!
about_faces: (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!!!)
Another quick post today. Real life is too busy and hectic with the holidays coming up, and all my free writing time has been devoted to working on something more personal over at my neglected original LJ, [livejournal.com profile] thehefner. Sadly, I fear that I may not be able to whip together a Batman Returns review in time for Christmas, as I'd hoped! Well, until I can pull together anything new, let me at least tide you over with something cool and mysterious I've found, with the hope that maybe some of you might be able to shed light on this.

In my search for rare art by artists like the late, great Marshall Rogers (Strange Apparitions/The Laughing Fish, the Batman comic strip, Dark Detective), I've found four pieces of what is clearly concept art for a Batman project which never happened. More than just art, they include liner notes which hint at story details and show how this take on the characters stands out from the rest.

Thing is, though, I have no idea what the hell this project might have been! There are no details online, no clues, no hints. The only possibility that comes to mind is that maybe they were for the Dark Detective sequel which Rogers had only started at the time of his death, but nothing about these images really jives with the scant info that Steve Englehart himself has provided. So what the heck was this? Let's try to figure it out together!

Four large scans behind the cut! )
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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