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Part 1

And now, the conclusion of (my review of) Paul Jenkins' Batman: Jekyll & Hyde. At this point, artist Jae Lee left the mini-series for unexplained reasons, and artistic duties were taken up by B:J&H cover artist (and artist of Steps, that story from Legends of the Dark Knight) Sean Phillips.

For many, the loss of Lee is terrible, since he was undoubtedly one of the main draws to the story. Bear in mind, Lee was a rockstar artist around this time thanks to his work on such titles as Grant Morrison's Fantastic Four and his previous collaboration with Jenkins on Marvel's Inhumans mini in 2000. Seriously, as someone who grew up reading Wizard magazine in the 90's, I cannot stress how highly Inhumans was touted as THE shit, and how Lee (less so Jenkins, because the prevailing mentality was "who cares about writers?") was hailed as a superstar. As such, to lose Lee halfway though is to lose pretty much the main driving force behind this series' appeal to most comics readers at the time.

Personally, though, I think that Sean Phillips (who is now far more known for his collaborations with Ed Brubaker in absolutely goddamn brilliant stories like Sleeper and Criminal, not to mention the infamous Marvel Zombies) is a far more expressive and dynamic artist, and I prefer the way he draws Harvey anyway, so I approve. Besides, in a sense, this brings Jenkins' story full circle, considering that this all started with Jenkins and Phillips in Steps. Just be prepared for a jarring bit of artistic whiplash. Then again, considering the big revelations that Jenkins has in mind, perhaps artistic backlash is the least of your worries.



Ice cream, funny little hats, and traumatic childhood revelations, behind the cut! )

If you want to own Batman: Jekyll & Hyde, the collection is pretty commonly available, and can be purchased online at places like Amazon.com. There's a lot more which I couldn't include, including more Two-Face hijinks and an entire subplot of Batman recovering from the effects of the serum.
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There is no Two-Face story quite so nobly ambitious, so frustratingly misguided, so fleetingly moving, and so goddamn gloriously ridiculous as Batman: Jekyll & Hyde.



Years before the book's release in 2005, I read an interview with writer Paul Jenkins where he discussed his intentions to tell--I clearly remember--"The Killing Joke of Two-Face stories." While other writers have made me realize that such a goal is doomed to fail, I was damn excited. I mean, sure, Harvey already had not one but two Killing Joke-worthy tales, but while both were brilliant, neither have earned the kind of esteem for the character that TKJ did for the Joker. He needs that kind of story! And hey, more Two-Face! Always a good thing, right?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA FOOLS.

Here's the thing: I love stories which peel the villains apart and show what makes them tick. I think most long-running villains--especially in the Batman rogues gallery--could benefit from that kind of treatment, and few more so than Two-Face. As such, I appreciate that Jenkins shoots high with bold ideas and revelations about the true nature of Harvey Dent's madness.



However, to say that Jenkins missed his mark would severely undersell the fascinatingly frustrating and frustratingly fascinating mess that is Batman: Jekyll & Hyde. In trying to give the character a new tragic poignancy, Jenkins instead oversimplifies Harvey's origin in a manner that's both cartoonish and offensive, all while simultaneously having Two-Face commit the single most irredeemably monstrous thing he has ever done.



And yes, the evil plan involves ice cream. Don't question it. )

Since this post is already long as hell and we're only halfway through, I'll stop here and post the rest a few days from now. In the meantime, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out [livejournal.com profile] wo_meimei's own critiques of Steps and the first two chapters of B:J&H here and here. She goes way more in depth than I do, and her insights (especially into this story's treatment of mental illness) are invaluable. She also fills in the gaps of the story in more detail that I cared to, which is great for those of you who haven't read the story and are unable to obtain a copy.



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



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

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

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



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


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


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



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


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


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



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


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

Just like Who's Who, they were a wonderful sampler platter for the world of comics, and sometimes, the way I ended up imagining the characters and stories turned out to be better than the comics themselves! I do miss when everything was new and awesome, when possibilities felt limitless, and there was a wealth of stories out there for me to discover. At least with back issues, I know the last part is still true when it comes to superhero comics. Maybe someday I'll be able to feel that way about new comics again too.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Strange as it may seem, many people never even noticed Harvey Dent's first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series! I'm not just talking about people who'd never heard of the character before, but actual Batman fans who should have otherwise recognized the man who would become Two-Face! Seriously! How could this even happen?

Well, to be fair, Harvey's initial appearance was so brief, so blink-and-you'll-miss-it, that his debut feels less like a cameo and more like an easter egg. Also, never mind the fact that On Leather Wings isn't the most memorable episode either. While there's not much to discuss about this tiny appearance, it's worth noting not only as being one of the all-too-few appearances of Harvey pre-Two-Face, but also because his presence in this pilot gives Harvey the distinction of being one of the few characters whom we can say was in B:TAS from the very beginning.



In which I find a way to analyze five seconds of screen time, behind the cut! )

Personally, I suspect that Dent there had no great personal interest in capturing Batman, so his casual line could easily be read as "Suuuuure, Bullock. I'll totally do that when you capture Batman, which I know you're TOTALLY capable of accomplishing, absolutely. Go have fun now!"

Of course, my reading of Harvey's words cannot be supported by these five seconds of screen time. For that, we have to go elsewhere for more insight about his feelings about both Bullock and Batman, to the story which is the single greatest appearance Harvey Dent in the DCAU. What may come as a surprise (or may be absolutely no surprise whatsoever), this appearance happened not in the TV show, but rather in the supposed "kid's comic" tie-in, The Batman Adventures.



I've said it before and I'll say it many more times: the TAS tie-in comics are brilliant, and collectively the best Batman comics published over the past twenty years. While TBA is my least favorite of the four TAS comic series, that's kind of like saying I have a least favorite kind of bacon: even when it's not as good as the others, it's still great. In later reviews, I'll elaborite further on the greatness of men like Kelley Puckett, Mike Parobeck, Ty Templeton, Rick Burchett, and more. For now, I'll just say that TBA was pretty damn great, on par with any average episode of the actual TV show, and sometimes it even surpassed the show in terms of dark subject matter.

For example, take issue #3 (which conveniently just so happens to be the issue we're reviewing today!), in which the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon. In a scene that would have been too violent for the Fox Kids TV censors at the time, the Joker proceeds to savagely beat Gordon with a baseball bat on live TV. You can see it yourself here if you scroll down near the very end of the article. It's a shocking scene thanks largely to Ty "The Guy" Templeton's chilling depiction of the Joker in the thralls of orgasmically evil delight. And again, this is meant to be, you know, for kids!

So who can possibly thwart the Joker and save the day?



Why, none other than Harvey Dent and his Action Bathrobe! Okay, not really. But kinda! Sorta. Really, you just have to see it for yourself.

Harvey and Batman hatch a plan behind the cut! )



If you'd like to read these issues of The Batman Adventures in full, the first twelve issues are 99ยข each up at DC's Comixology site, and you can even read the very first issue (with a fun but off-sounding Penguin) for free! Try out that issue to get some idea what digital comics are like. If you still prefer paper comics, then your course is going to be harder, since the first TBA trade paperback is long out of print. Why the hell doesn't DC keep these comics in print? Why have they NEVER reprinted the vast majority of the DCAU tie-in comics? Utter foolishness!
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Today, I bring you a post which I fear may be unreadable. At least, if you don't own old-school 3D glasses. And even then, can 3D be viewed on a computer screen? Either way, I'm gonna ask you to bear with me as we look at selections from Batman 3D: Ego Trip, a graphic novel by comics legend John Byrne with effects by 3D master Ray Zone.

I enjoy Byrne's story and art here quite a lot, but I had a damn hard time settling into it in either two or three dimensions. Obviously, 3D isn't meant to be viewed without glasses, and while the actual 3D effects are often spectacular beyond the sheer novelty value, my eyes can't really handle it for long stretches. I wish they'd rerelease this story in 2D with coloring, so Byrne's story and artwork could be appreciated on their own merits, even with all the panels of various objects COMIN' RIGHT ATCHA!

So as I'm going with the assumption that we're all here to focus on the story, let's squint and try to take a look at Ego Trip, a Batman caper written in 1990 but with a distinctly old-school feel, guest-starring four of his greatest villains (including, naturally, Two-Face, who gets a slightly tweaked origin here) as they torment Batman and cause him to trip balls:




IT'S LIKE YOU CAN TOUCH THEM behind the cut! )

As a bonus, Batman 3D also included a pin-up gallery by an all-star roster of artists. Because I love Batman pinups, here's the whole lot!

Toth, Adams, Zeck, Gibbons, and more! Holy crap! )


As always (well, as usually), I've made certain to post no more than 1/3rd of the graphic novel's content, so there's plenty more to read for those who can track down this hard-to-find book. It's available for pretty cheaply used on places like Amazon.com, although there's no telling whether any copies will still have their glasses. Proceed with caution! If you have a local comic shop that might carry it, always try for that first. It's definitely worth checking out in whole. Hopefully someday, it'll find a new audience. In either dimension.
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Happy Halloween, Face-Friends!

I'm not sure if that's what I'd really wanna call you folks, but eh, I've got a little alliteration-lovin' Stan Lee in my heart.

This is a post I thought I wouldn't get to for many more months to come, so we have the intrepid [livejournal.com profile] cyberghostface to thank this time! Over at Scans_Daily, he's taken it upon himself to post Doug Moench and Kelley Jones' Batman: Red Rain trilogy, the Elseworlds saga of Batman versus vampires, which becomes Batman AS a vampire versus vampires, and then, finally, Vampire Batman versus everybody! Including Two-Face! As written by Moench at his very Moenchiest! Ohhhh yes, it's gonna be crack. But much of it is also legitimately great!

If you haven't read the trilogy, I urge you to check out the following links before reading this post. It's not necessary to enjoy the crack I'm about to bring you, but you don't wanna be left out, do ya? Course not! At the very least, check out the first part, which is deservedly something of a minor classic of alternate reality tales:


Must... end life... in classic Lorne Greene pose... from Battlestar Galactica!


The first part, Batman/Dracula: Red Rain is pretty goddamn fantastic all-around. It doesn't hurt that Dracula himself is pretty much, as a rule, awesome. I don't like vampires, but Dracula is always a magnificent villain who just happens to be a vampire, and the threat he brings to Gotham (and what Gotham, in turn, does it him) is the kind of thing that can only be done in an alternate continuity.

EDIT: I just realized that [livejournal.com profile] cyberghostface was unable to include the page where Dracula reveals that, just as birds drinking from a contaminated stream will sometimes go insane, so too has the blood of Gotham drove Dracula mad and thus turned him into an even worse monster. I love that detail of the city itself being able to corrupt even someone as already-evil as Dracula.

It's not only a great Elseworlds--an achievement unto itself from a genre that too often falls back on "Plug X character into Y setting"--but it's also a sterling achievement from both Moench and Jones, two creators whose work is often plagued by excess and bad ideas gone awry. Which, not coincidentally, brings us to the sequel:


Holy god, what the hell is wrong with you KNEE, Vampire Batman?


Batman: Bloodstorm is my least favorite of the three, although it's not technically the worst. There's a lot of good in it, mainly derived from the fun of seeing the Joker become the non-vampiric leader of the vampires, but otherwise, it too often wallows in the posturing melodrama inherent in most vampire stories. This tale of Conflicted Vampire Batman too often struck a tedious balance of hand-wringing angst and grotesque violence, with the usual dose of Selina Kyle T&A thrown in, what with her being a naked purple were-cat and all.

Taken as a whole, it's still a pretty powerful tragedy, and by all accounts, the story should have ended there. There was absolutely no need for another sequel, and yet, we got the third and final part five years later:


JAZZ HANDS!


Now Batman: Crimson Mist--which I bring out today--IS technically the worst of the trilogy. It indulges in Moench's propensity for overwrought and, yes, hilariously melodramatic posturing and shouting, while Jones' art pushes the characters and the extreme graphic violence to levels of grotesqueness that simply do not belong in Batman comics. It takes all the intense excellence of Red Rain and ratchets it up to cartoonish levels. But just like similar works in that respect, particular the late-period work of Frank Miller and Neal Adams, there's something entrancing about seeing a creator given free reign to crank their bad habits up to 11. It's that trainwreck quality.

And again, this is Moench writing Two-Face at his Moenchiest. There are few writers who depict Harvey as this much of a ranting, raving madman, like Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face from Batman Forever but entirely devoid of humor. So just resign yourself to that knowledge that Harvey finally enters the trilogy just in time to become the second-worst villain of the story:




Welcome to DARK KNIGHT! ...For REAL. )

If you'd like to read these stories in full, they've been collected in this handy-dandy single volume, Batman: Vampire. The only downside is that it was published as a result of the idiocy that was Countdown, and so they've replaced the classic Elseworlds branding and logo with the short-lived "Tales of the Multiverse." Blah. Bring back Elseworlds, dammit! And Harley Quinn's old costume! And Matlock! And get off my lawn!

And whatever you do, have a safe and happy Halloween!





You're so cool, Brewster!
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Someone (forgive me for forgetting who or where, but the baby stole my brain... was it [livejournal.com profile] yaseen101, maybe?) was wondering if there has ever been a female Two-Face.

Appropriately enough, there have actually been two! Naturally, they both appeared in Elseworlds stories, the first in 1998 and the second in 1999, so I guess there was just something in the air at that point. The first, Jenna Clark, is an oddball of a half-baked character from Mike W. Barr's Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty, whereas the second, Darcy Dent, is a magnificent trainwreck courtesy of Moench and Jim Balent in Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham.




A Tale of Two Female Two-Faces behind the cut! )


Oh, Moench. Oh, Balent. Oh, god. It's definitely in keeping with their work on Catwoman, so I can't fault them for playing to their strengths. Nonetheless, I just find Balent's idea of sexiness to be so... obvious. It's about as clever as making your female Two-Face a smooshed-together version of both Sugar and Spice from Batman Forever. Ultimately, when it comes to a female Two-Face who's both awesome and hot, I'd prefer the likes of Meagan Marie any day. Funny how a cosplayer did it better than any actual comic writers to date!
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From what I've read of Devin Grayson's Batman: Gotham Knights, it strikes me as an incredibly underrated series that focused on character first and foremost.

This isn't surprising, as I recall reading that Grayson was introduced to Batman via The Animated Series, and I suspect that she brought that show's character-based aesthetic to comics better than any of her contemporaries. Her treatment of Poison Ivy and the Scarecrow in that series as are as good as anything from the TAS comics, and she wrote one of my very favorite Two-Face appearances with just one poignant page.

Hell, she's so good, she's actually been able to make me care about Dick Grayson and the Bat-Family in her four-part storyline, "Transference," from Gotham Knights #8-11. It's not a perfect story, undone in places by being a tad convoluted, but it's great nonetheless. Furthermore, it features a plot point which predates what Grant Morrison did with "The Batman of Zur En Arrh" several years earlier, and--in my HUMBLEST of opinions--did it better.

On top of that, it features one of the great "context is for the weak" panels:






Context for you weaklings (along with a pretty great story) behind the cut )


This story has never been collected in trade, but all four parts are currently available as a digital comic on DC's Comixology app site for $1.99 per issue. And if you'd like to read the very first issue of Grayson's Batman: Gotham Knights, it's up on the same site for FREE. I'm still not a huge fan of digital comics (maybe I'd like them better if I were using a tablet), but I'm glad to see them available in some form. Check out the free comic, at least. After all, it's the way of the future!

Way of the future. Way of the future. Way of the...
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1989, from what I can tell, was a weird year of transition for DC Comics. Post-Crisis, Post-Watchmen, Post-Dark Knight Returns/Batman: Year One... they had entered a new era, but it seems like they weren't exactly sure what the hell that MEANT. Batman especially seemed to be affected, and we'll get to that in a moment, but he wasn't the only one.

Take Green Lantern, for instance. After the main series Green Lantern Corps was canceled, the adventures of Hal Jordan were moved over to Action Comics Weekly (itself a misbegotten attempt at an anthology series filled with such fascinatingly flawed and oddball stories such as Wild Dog and the Secret Six team that nobody remembers, alongside more standard heroes like Deadman and Nightwing), and Hal's new adventures were immediately off to a rocky start. This is truly the most ignominious and forgotten period of Green Lantern history, featuring such career lows for Hal such as Star Sapphire deciding to just up and slaughter Katma Tui for no good fucking reason, the revelation that Hal is fearless because he was LOBOTOMIZED by the power ring, and lowest of all, a story which can only be described best as "Hal Jordan Has No Friends," in which everyone--from Green Arrow to Clark Kent to frickin' ALFRED--pretty much just tell Hal to fuck off.

The the first and third instances were written by James Owsley (later to become Christopher Priest), who, in 1989, wrote a story in Batman Annual #13 which inadvertently served as a companion piece to "Hal Jordan Has No Friends." Think of this story, Faces, best described as, "Batman, I Don't Even KNOW You Anymore." It's set in the period where Batman just began his transition into becoming an aggressive jerkwad and everyone is disappointed in him, especially Jim Gordon and even Harvey Dent.





Oh, and another thing about 1989? The quality of printing and coloring for DC Comics seemed to be at an all-time low. The scanner actually does these pages some favors, but by and large, be prepared for subpar quality throughout. I'd love to see this one remastered down the line, even if it's less of a brilliant story and more of an interesting character study for a Batman in transition.


Greetings, old foe... )


Later that same year, Batman's relentlessness would reach its climax when he'd re-clash with Two-Face in A Lonely Place of Dying (which acknowledges this story, even though Jim Gordon is fine with Batman again, and that apparently Harvey briefly went sane at some point before going insane again, what?), a story which further played with Batman and Harvey mirroring each other. More importantly, it's also the story that introduced Tim Drake, which I would argue was the very moment when this weird transitionary period finally kicked into progress.

Finally, after all the deconstruction and tearing down, Batman now had somewhere to go, and the Batman creative teams finally found their footing. And a few months later, the next Batman Annual was released: issue #14, Eye of the Beholder, the definitive Two-Face origin. The 90's were here, and a new era had begun. But Batman's decent into being a manipulative dick would carry on, for better or worse, and would prove increasingly difficult to shake despite the best efforts of many great writers to come.
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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 )
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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?!
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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.
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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: (coin flipping through the air)
Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4



Contrary to what some might say, madness is not like gravity. It doesn't take "a little push" or "one bad day" to drive a person insane. What I've loved about this Batman strip is that Harvey Dent's road to Two-Face is a long one, spaced out over the course of four storylines so gradually and logically that it's hard to say just when he's crossed the point of no return. This goes for even after the acid hits.





The grand unveiling, behind the cut... )



But the story's not over yet. Coming up next, a brand-new, Harvey-free storyline: the origin of Robin! Ain't that always how it goes with friends, Bruce? You win some, you lose some.
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For the past couple months at scans_daily, I've been doing Two-Face Tuesdays over at scans_daily, carrying on the tradition of the great [livejournal.com profile] zhinxy. I've been posted extended versions over at my personal LJ, [livejournal.com profile] thehefner, and will be now posting them here.

While I think BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is pretty much the definitive Batman, and its Two-Face to be near-perfect in spirit, I hate the episode "Judgment Day." Y'know, the one with "The Judge."

It's so close to being something brilliant, but I won't spoil why for those who haven't seen the episode (although really, is there anyone here who hasn't? Most everyone here's seen and loved BTAS, right?). I'll go into details behind the cut, as we delve into this story from 1997's BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #62 and #63, which introduced a new vigilante who specifically targeted Two-Face's men.





Who could he *possibly* be? Alfred, perhaps? )


In the near future, I'll be posting all my extended Two-Face Tuesday posts up here for posterity, so apologies to folks from [livejournal.com profile] thehefner's f-list who will have to see them twice! But hey, that's only fitting, isn't it?

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