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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You hated Harvey Dent. You would have done anything to destroy him. )
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Welcome to the final part of our triple-feature review of Harvey taking a supporting role in the show to pal around with his "fellow miscreants" in episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.

In the show's second and third seasons, when it was retitled The Adventures of Batman & Robin, there were a lot of episodes which felt like sequels, follow-ups, or spiritual relations to classic episodes from the first season. For origins like Two-Face and Feat of Clay, and Heart of Ice, you got sequels in the form of Second Chance, Mudslide, and Deep Freeze. In that sense, I've always felt like today's episode, Trial, was akin to Almost Got 'Im, partially because of a couple winks by writer Paul Dini.

And so, hot on the heels of that classic episode, let's see if Dini can recapture the same magic as he examines the fandom-old question of whether or not Batman's mere presence "creates" his own rogues gallery. And while we're at it, let's also examine just why it might not be a smart idea to put all of Gotham's worst insane criminals under one roof.

Wherein the Arkham inmates take over the asylum, put Batman on mock trial, and force the new bat-hating D.A. to defend him. Watch it here!

We got some legal business to settle first, behind the cut...! )

Next time, I shall tackle the second-best Two-Face story in all of B:TAS, which shall finally allow me to get us back to reviewing the DCAU comics by the likes of Dini and the great Ty Templeton. I'm really looking forward to getting to those after all this time.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Welcome to the next installment of my three-part review series which I have dubbed "Harvey and pals!" Why? Because calling it "Harvfield and Friends" probably wouldn't have flown with anybody. That said, now the theme song is stuck in my head...

The first uniting of the Unholy Three ended, unsurprisingly, with defeat and arrest, but this doesn't prove to be the only time that Harvey, the Joker, and the Penguin decided to hang out in their downtime away from schemes and deathtraps. Maybe the events of the previous episode taught these rogues to enjoy (or at least tolerate) one another's company? To paraphrase a character from the wacky cannibal movie Ravenous, "It's lonely being a supervillain. Tough making friends." Perhaps that's what led to the scene of villainous socializing that occurred in one of B:TAS' best-ever episodes:

Wherein several of the rogues play cards and trade stories about how they each almost killed Batman, but there's more going on than meets the eye. Watch it here!

I threw a r... well, you know the rest. )

As a bonus, I am delighted to present to you something which I found whilst scouring for rare B:TAS/Two-Face memorabilia, especially limited edition collectibles from the late, lamented Warner Brothers Studio Store chain of shops. That store would often carry animation cels, lithographs, and other cool works of Batman art, and it's so hard to find good-quality scans of them anywhere online. Thankfully, I found a fantastic scan of this, one of my very favorites:

Man, forget dogs playing poker, I want this hanging in my den whenever I play cards and smoke cigars with the boys. Not that I play cards nor smoke cigars, nor do I even have boys anymore. Whatever, I still want it anyway. That and the other WB Studio Store sericels of the Rogues:

There is not a single one of these that I don't love. There were at least two others in this particular series of character line-ups, including one of the heroes (like Robin, Commissioner Gordon, Renee Montoya, and even Harvey Dent!) and a second one for the villains! Sadly, I haven’t been able to find the first one at all, and the only scan I’ve found for the second is this grainy, teeny one here:

So yeah, if you know where I can find better quality images of these awesome works of art, let me know.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Hello, hello! I am finally back, here to present a special three-part review over the next week!

I've been working on these for a while now, and since I have a lot of irons in the fire at present, I figure it's high time to look at some of Harvey's more notable second-string episodes before I get to the really meaty TAS-era stuff! So, over the course of the next few posts, I shall review Harvey's three biggest supporting-role appearances in Batman: The Animated Series and examine what they mean for the character himself! After becoming Two-Face, Harvey became a full-fledged member of the Batman rogues gallery, and he would sometimes be seen rubbing shoulders with the worst of the costumes rogues.


While this fits the status of the comics--wherein Two-Face being held up as one of the most important and prominent rogues--it's still strange company for the former District Attorney to be keeping, even insane as he's become. Let's face it, even Big Bad Harv isn't the type to fraternize with the likes of the Joker and Poison Ivy under any circumstances, and yet, he's seen hangin' around with the Rogues on several occasions! How the hell does this work? Does the show even try to reconcile the Harvey that was and the Two-Face he's become with this newfound club of "friends" that he has every reason to loathe, or do the writers just shrug their shoulders and go, "Eh, he's evil now, let him hang with evil people"?

To find out, let's examine Two-Face's three biggest supporting appearances over the show, all of which involve him sharing screentime with the Joker and various other villains. Perhaps tellingly, all three of these episodes are greatly influenced by classic Bronze Age stories, which might account for their particular treatment of Harvey as Bat-Rogue member. And let's start with a review for an episode that's long, long overdue for anyone who's familiar with this blog.

Wherein Batman investigates the mad scientist, extortionist, and inexplicably-Russian Hugo Strange, who in turn subsequently discovers Bruce's secret identity and plans to auction it off to the highest bidder. Watch it here.

Full review with SPOILERS behind the cut! )
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
For seventeen years now, I've held a grudge against Shadow of the Bat, the two-part Batgirl origin episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Or rather, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, as the show was retitled in the wake of Batman Forever in order to capitalize on that damnable sidekick.

As you might be able to tell, I don't care much for Robin, and that apathy goes for the Bat-Family in general (save for Alfred), including Batgirl. Look, I've always liked Oracle, but I've always disliked teen heroes even when I was a teen myself. But while I've gained affection to Bat!Babs thanks to stories like the excellent Batgirl: Year One, I still never cared much for the episode, partially because it's the weakest of Two-Face's speaking appearances thus far. Besides being a one-note character, he's barely involved beyond simply being a villain, and not even the story's real villain.

But that alone isn't why I resented SotB. No, you see, back when WB first released a series of B:TAS home videos, they dedicated each tape to two episodes featuring a single villain. For the Riddler's tape, they included If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? and Riddler's Reform. The origin and his best episode, that's probably the wisest pairing you could make. For the Joker, it was Christmas with the Joker and The Laughing Fish. Okay, a classic-but-weak episode paired with one of the best, fine. You get the idea. And then, there was Two-Face's tape, which had some pretty great cover art:

Love it. So! For Two-Face, you'd think that the only obvious two episodes to include would be his two-part origin, right? That's just obvious, right? Ha ha, nope. Instead, they went with Shadow of the Bat: the Batgirl origin with Harvey as a minor supporting villain. Rassum frassum!

... Well, okay, I suppose that fifteen years is long enough to hold a petty grudge against an innocent cartoon episode with never did nobody no harm. Besides, I've come to better appreciate this story thanks to the YA novelization Dual to the Death, which combined this with Two-Face, Pts. I and II into a pretty seamless single epic: the fall of Harvey Dent, and the rise of Batgirl. What's more, combining those two episodes made me realize how even his minimal involvement here contains important continuity for his character development.

But most of all, I found myself fascinated by SotB's TRUE villain: Gil Mason, a corrupt cop who seems to be an alternate-universe counterpart to Harvey himself. Seriously, whether it's intentional or not, Gil seems to be the evil mirror-universe version of Harvey Dent, a true Two-Face who doesn't even have to get scarred. It's the parallels between Harvey and Gil which I find fascinating, all the more so because they're in cahoots.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's finally get to the damn review already, and maybe I'll even acknowledge Batgirl's existence along the way! No promises, though.

Would it have made a difference, Gil? )

While I'm still not crazy about the episode on its own merits (although Babs really won me over this time around), I now enjoy it way more when I take the details and motivations of the novelization into account, so much so that I now wish I would see Harvey's reactions to learning about how he was manipulated by Gil from the very start. Even if Gil did come out of the coma, he wouldn't be long for this world now that he's on Harvey's bad side, which would resolve that plot hole rather nicely.

What I'm basically saying is that I like SotB far more for what it could have been rather than what it was, which is still a pretty mediocre Two-Face appearance. But in my own head-canon, it's a GREAT episode, and I think I can deal with that. Old VHS tape, you are forgiven.
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When I first heard that WB was doing an animated adaptation of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, my immediate thought was "Welp, they're going to cut out all of the Harvey Dent stuff, aren't they?"

I mean, why wouldn't they? WB's idiotic policy of their animated films being strictly 75 minutes long has meant hacking apart classic graphic novels such as Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier and Morrison/Quitely's All-Star Superman into above-average cliffs-notes versions of themselves in animated format. And even when they have a slim story like Batman: Year One which they can easily adapt within the time frame, they still decide to almost completely cut Harvey Dent out of the film for no good reason.

On top of all that, when it comes to the enduring popularity of The Dark Knight Returns, nobody seems to care about Harvey Dent's tragic storyline. Everyone remembers the Joker, the Mutant Leader fight, the giant-ass Batmobile tank, the Superman battle, Madam Catwoman, Carrie Kelly Robin, and the general Miller mood. But Harvey? He generally seems to be treated as an afterthought, serving to be little more than the catalyst which springs Bruce back into action as Batman. So when I heard about the animated TDKR, I instantly assumed that Harvey would be scrapped entirely and replaced with the Mutant threat as Bruce's catalyst.

That's when I actually read the news about the TDKR movie and learned that the adaptation would be split into two parts! I'm glad to see that they're actually going to try doing justice to this adaptation, so that the end result won't feel rushed and the storytelling will hopefully be able to breathe. And of course, Harvey's story WILL be included! In fact, the video sneak peek from Superman VS The Elite (anyone seen it yet?) is already making its way to YouTube. As with all other sneak peeks, this is mostly a lot of talking heads wanking about the greatness of the source material, you can find a bit of Harvey-related stuff from 3:09-3:59:

After watching that, my first thought was "Wow, they've ALREADY changed around the dialogue so that it screws with the original comics version?" Remember, in the original, he says, "Have your laugh, Batman--take a LOOK! ... take your look..." This then prompts Batman to say, "I see a reflection, Harvey. A reflection." Over at my analysis of this scene, I explained why this exchange is so meaningful to both Harvey and Bruce. But now in the animated version, he apparently instead says, "Look at me and have your laugh!" I'm not sure how they're going to transition to Bruce's own line that way. I know that this is a nitpick criticism, but if you'll recall, it was such tiny changes that pretty much ruined the Batman: Year One adaptation.

As for the acting, I'm not sure how to judge it based on what we've heard here so far. Harvey's being played by Wade Williams, an actor I know nothing about save for the fact that he was in Prison Break and that he played Black Mask in Batman: Under the Red Hood. I don't remember how he was as Roman, but then, almost nothing of B:UTRH has stayed with me. Henchgirl observed that it's a film which we're enjoying far more as clips in .gif form on Tumblr than we did as an actual movie.

So yeah, I'm not super-enthused about the TDKR movie, but I'm glad to see that Harvey's story will be there and I'm interested in seeing how it turns out. And hey, speaking as someone who's always hated the artwork in the original comic (Klaus Janson's inks especially, so grotesque), maybe the animated redesigns will actually work in the story's favor! Now the only question is who's going to play the Joker. Personally, my vote still goes for Brad Dourif, who could still rock that role right now if they went the live-action route.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Previous entries: Part I, and most of Part II.

Sorry for the long wait. This was the hardest post of all to write, and not just because I had to rewrite half of it from scratch. Be warned, I go really in-depth with the speculation on this one. This review will either be the culmination of all my analysis from the two previous posts, or it will be the moment when I utterly disappear up my own ass. YMMV.

Since I'm forced to give this scene its own post, we might as well take a moment to contextualize these events. By the time this episode of Batman: The Animated Series first aired, there had been two stories where Harvey Dent had been redeemed through the power of love (which is itself, as I understand it, "a curious thing"). The first resulted in a happy ending for all, while the second was uncertain but optimistic... at least, until the next writer decided to ignore it entirely.

At the center of both these stories was Harvey's fiancée/ex-wife, Gilda. She was featured in a third story from 1989 that also dealt with similar themes of redemptive love, ending on a note that was bittersweet, but not without hope amidst the tragedy. Except in that story, Gilda was renamed "Grace." All three of these stories influenced the emotional core of Two-Face, Part II, especially in the big reunion in Act 3. While Grace Lamont is a rather vapid character, she serves the same classic Gilda role of being Harvey's moral compass. As such, she's still the second most vital character to this episode, more so than even Batman himself.

Something I've neglected to mention: Grace is voiced by Murphy Cross, a TV actress so obscure that she doesn't even have her own Wikipedia page, and someone with no voice acting experience at this point. So why did B:TAS casting director Andrea Romano hire Cross for the crucial role of Harvey Dent's fiancée? My best guess, after viewing Cross' IMDB page, is because she appeared on one episode of Night Court, playing opposite Richard Moll's trademark character, "Bull" Shannon.

Naturally, being the obsessive that I am, I tracked down and watched the whole episode on YouTube. Much to my surprise, it was not only thoroughly enjoyable, but also... not entirely irrelevant to what Harvey and Grace are about to go through in their big reunion scene. I actually wrote several paragraphs dedicated to analyzing their scene, and how it relates to Harvey and Grace, but thought better of it. I've already spent way, way, WAY too long on Two-Face, Part II as it is. Adding analysis from an episode of frickin' Night Court is just ridiculous.

That said, I did save the analysis, so if anyone actually WANTS to hear my ridiculous views on the Night Court/Two-Face reading-too-much-into-things comparisons, just ask. Just don't say that I didn't try to spare you!

So without further ado, let's finally review the final act of Part II where everything comes together before falling apart, and let's see if anything can be salvaged from the wreckage.

Chance, Grace. Chance is all there is. )
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Part I reviewed here!

Two-Face, Part II is a decidedly different beast from the first episode, one that feels more complimentary than a proper continuation. And not to make it sound like I dislike the episode--because I don't, I love it--but nonetheless, it's largely inferior.

Part I was both a refreshingly psychological take on Harvey's descent into madness, as well as a powerfully tragic horror story which focused far more on character and mood than action. Even in its attempts to be made "kid-understandable," it was a moody, mature episode with depth and details crammed into every frame and every second of soundtrack. Part II, on the other hand, is just a really good--but rather standard--Two-Face story.

Rather than building upon their original character arc, Randy Rogel (and possibly Alan Burnett as well) instead devote much of the episode to rehashing the original Two-Face story by way of the Bronze Age Two-Face of classics like Half an Evil. It's like they really wanted to include all the classic Two-Face gimmicks (Crimes based on the number two! Scarred coin used to decide good or evil! An obsession with luck!) without coming up with any explanation for HOW he got there. It's like, why does Two-Face flip the coin? The mentality seems to indicate the answer would be, "Because that's what Two-Face does, a-duh!" but that doesn't explain why THIS Two-Face would become so dependent on the coin that it could single-handedly lead to his meltdown.

At best, it feels like there's an entire third episode missing between the two parts, something to bridge the gap between Harvey getting scarred and becoming Two-Face. Because if you recall the end of the first part, he WASN'T Two-Face as we know him, he only looked that way. And even then, his whole body wasn't scarred yet, so maybe a middle episode could explain away what was almost certainly an animation mistake. Six months pass between Parts I and II, and there's a lot of character study that still needs to be addressed before the Two-Face of Part II can make sense as a logical continuation of the first.

Regardless, this is still a damn good Two-Face story, one that allows Harvey to have more emotional depth than almost every other episode of the entire series. Furthermore, it has one-up on most other episodes and comics by giving Two-Face an actual motivation! Gasp! Sadly, this motivation will soon be forgotten in favor of randomly turning Two-Face into just another mob boss, "Because that's what Two-Face does, a-duh!"

So let's examine Two-Face, Part II, and study the state of a Harvey Dent who is over the edge... but perhaps not as far gone as one might think.

Warning for people with slow internet: TONS of pics and several gifs behind the cut! )

So hey, I've discovered that there actually is such a thing as an LJ post size limit. Holy crap. I know that my fic posts have been longer than this, but I guess all the pics and gifs took their toll on my wimpy little free account. So let's save the final act for a separate post, and maybe in doing so, it'll be less jarring when I go off to talk about an episode of Night Court for a few paragraphs. Trust me, it's relevant. I think.

Note: the vast majority of the screencaps are by me. A couple others (postly the long pan shots) have been taken from Worlds Finest Online. Gifs are all by GhostOfCheney.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
This is probably the single most overdue review I've written for this blog.

Of course, this isn't going to be a straightforward review where I discuss the highs and lows of the episode. Want the short review? Here: it's a fantastic episode, but not without its flaws, and I think the second half is a major dip in quality from the first while still ending on a powerful note. In terms of what the show was and what it set out to accomplish, Two-Face is an imperfect masterpiece, but a masterpiece nonetheless. If you haven't seen it yet, it can be watched for free at theWB.com.

But I can't just leave it at that. After all, this is me: your favorite long-winded, nit-picky Harvey Dent obsessive! No, with a Two-Face story and character this beloved, this popular, this definitive, I need to examine (read: nitpick) the hell out of every single aspect of the episode: plot, dialogue, score, design, and most of all, analysis of Harvey's character. I want to find out what makes this version of Harvey tick, what works and what doesn't, and explore the many unexplored areas of his character. Because I care, dammit.

For those who still have dial-up, be warned: tons of pics and gifs behind the cut! )

Note: All scans either made by me, or taken from World's Finest Online and ToonZone.com. Gifs taken from the Tumblr feeds for DCAU, BigBardaFree, GhostofCheney, and FuckYearBatmanGifs, via FYearTwoFace.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)

Honestly, I could devote a whole separate fanblog just for the Harvey Dent from the various DC Animated Universe properties*, from B:TAS all the way to today, as that version of the character still manages to endure in fandom.

At first, I thought about doing like I did with the Who's Who posts and just writing about EVERYTHING there is about Harvey over fourteen daily posts in an event which I was going to call Two Weeks of Two-Face in the DCAU. Of course, I soon realized that such a project would not only be overload for everyone involved (especially me!), but it also wouldn't do the character justice. And if anyone deserves justice, it's Harvey Dent. /I see what I did there!

For a whole generation, the DCAU Two-Face was the definitive version of the character. Sure, the Nolanverse owns the current generation, but B:TAS seems to still have a healthy following nonetheless. At the very least, I'm certain that the DCAU Two-Face will continue to be more popular and influential than, well, any version from the comics. I dare say that'd be true even if we lived in a better world where comics would be as popular and well-known as cartoons and movie (*weary sigh*). But even as a fan, I never gave much thought about just WHY this Two-Face was so great, much less the work that went into making him that way, until I discovered the actual B:TAS writer's bible on World's Finest Online, the single greatest resource for all things DCAU and beyond.

Reading that writer's bible, you can see that so much of what made B:TAS in general so brilliant was no accident. It wasn't just that a handful of smart writers tried their damnedest to tell great Batman stories. These people had a vision, and set themselves with high standards right from the outset. Even though many of those plans in the bible were changed or scrapped before the first episodes even made it to air, the importance of that foundation cannot be understated, and you may be surprised just well the greatness of that show was planned from the outset.

Which, naturally, brings us back to Harvey. Before we look at any of the DCAU episodes, comics, toys, merch, Happy Meal boxes, and so on, let's look at the roots of Two-Face in the DCAU--the design, the groundwork, the plots, the voice, and more--as we examine what was planned... and what was changed.

Behind the scenes, behind the cut! )

Next time: Harvey's very first (and very brief) appearance in On Leather Wings, followed by a major role in The Batman Adventures comics, which I consider to be the very best appearance of pre-insanity Harvey in the DCAU.

*Honestly, I could write a couple hundred posts just about the DCAU villains in general. I'd love to look at all the Mister Freeze stories, since the DCAU comics fill in the gaps between episodes and Sub-Zero that, combined with his finale in Batman Beyond, make for a powerful tragedy in epic scope. I mean, even more powerful than the one people already know if they've just seen the episodes. The comics, as I was reiterate throughout these posts, are THAT good.

**The fact that Harvey, Thomas Wayne, and the Bat-Computer all have the same voice raises a few questions about Bruce. Did he pattern the Bat-Computer to sound like his father or Harvey? Is he friends with Harvey because the latter sounds like his father? INQUIRING MINDS THAT READ TOO MUCH INTO THINGS WANT TO KNOWWWWWWWW.
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While the risque Birds of Prey musical number from Batman: The Brave and the Bold has become a viral hit among comic sites (Birds of Prey + Gail Simone + dick jokes = success, apparently), the actual episode it's from, "The Mask of Matches Malone!" has still never aired in the US. This is supposedly because for some reason TV censors have some problem airing a kid's show with an entire segment devoted to dick jokes (plus a vagina joke in the opening sequence with Poison Ivy), some of which are so obvious that they're just single entendres. Go figure, right?

Personally, I don't care that much for the most part. I adore that show, but I feel like the musical number left me cold. No matter how effectively it's gotten stuck in my head (In my head right now: "Dum dum da dada, Birds of Preyyy, theoneanonly Birds of Pr--" DAMMIT! STOP THAT, BRAIN! DON'T MAKE ME PUNISH YOU WITH KE$HA!), I just kinda find it mildly irritating, less clever and more "tee-hee, we're being dirty!" As a sexy burlesque for superheroes, Red Hot Riding Hood it ain't. On top of that, I am in the extreme minority in haaaaaating every single musical number from The Brave and the Bold.

Thing is, I adore musicals, and I always wince whenever I hear somebody talk about how much they hate musicals, because while I can understand hating SPECIFIC musicals, I cannot wrap my head around someone hating an entire genre. The work of Sondheim, Rogers & Hammerstein, Webber, Kander & Ebb, Menken & Ashman, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, Seth McFarlane, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog are not all the same thing, yet they're cut from the same cloth. And chances are, most everybody loves some part of that... um... musical fabric. Yeah. *cough*

I swear, I'm going to explain why all this is relevant to Two-Face. I'm getting there. Promise. I just need to rant a LITTLE bit longer about musicals.

At the same time, there are parts of that (fill in additional awkward metaphor here) which I also loathe. Webber, for one. Fuck Webber. And man oh man, I hate the musical numbers from The Brave and the Bold almost as much as I hate Webber. Maybe moreso, because at least with Webber, there's no crossover in the comics world, where most of my fellow fans are head-over-heels in love with stuff like the entire Music Meister episode. Of course, having NPH doesn't hurt, but ugh, I detested those songs, just as I detested the scene in the otherwise-great "Emperor Joker!" episode, where the Joker sang this atrocity. The fact that it's entitled "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile," makes me wish to god that they'd actually just gone ahead and had him sing the actual fucking song, which would have given the scene fifteen more layers of sadistic delightfulness. You know something is bad when The Batman actually did it BETTER.

But eh, what do I know about music? I'm the guy who thinks the beloved theme song for The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes--which has been hailed as "epic" and "metal," actual quotes--sounds like mall-punk Hot Topic Nickelback claptrap. So YMMV.

Which FINALLY brings us to the actual Two-Face-related reason I am posting the entirety of "The Mask of Matches Malone!" here, for those who haven't seen it. I'm guessing that's most of you. As we've previously seen, the Two-Face of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is awesome. It's one of the very best takes on Harvey that I have EVER seen, managing to be poignant and tragic without ever being angsty or gritty. In TMoMM!, Gail Simone gives us the second major appearance of Harvey in B:TB&TB, using him in a way which...

... well... just watch it for yourself. And do it soon, before it's taken down by WB.

If this were any other comics site, I'd be all about discussing Gail, the Birds, the Bat/Cat sexual tension, and/or the musical number, because that's what most fans generally care about, and I'm sure those'll come up in the comments. But here? Yeah, screw all that.

As always, let's talk about Harvey.

Spoiler for THE MASK OF MATCHES MALONE! behind the cut )
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Hmm… the original line from the comic is “That kid Dent is pushing internal affairs to go after Flass...,” not "Gordon." Does this mean that Harvey Dent is cut out of the film entirely? I was fearing as much when he wasn't listed anywhere in the limited cast list they released, but they didn't credit who would be voicing Holly either, and Holly has to be in there to make Selina's subplot work.

But then, Harvey's subplot is more easy to lose than Selina's, and probably necessary. Shit, if they weren't willing to include single best part of All-Star Superman for the animated adaptation, I can easily see them losing Harvey entirely. I can even understand, because hey, you have to work with a 75 minute running time (and why the fuck are they still only given 75 minutes?!), but it's still sad nonetheless. I just loved Miller's touch that the only good man in Gotham when both Bruce and Jim arrived was the heroic, smirking Harvey Dent. And god, I love how Mazzucchelli drew him too.

Tangent/Rant about DCU animation in general: But then again, they're abandoning Mazzucchelli's style too, aren't they? Instead, we'll be getting that stiff anime-style animation that they gave All-Star Superman too. The logic there being, according to one of the animators, the animation was "updated" because, "“People want to see more combo movies... They want to see almost like a ballet kind of choreographed fight and I just think that stuff that passed in the 1990s doesn’t really fly anymore.” Which I think is kind of bullshit, because A.) it's Batman and people will watch it anyway, and B.) I'm not sure I trust the word of someone who doesn't even know that B:YO is from the 19-fucking-80's, dude. I guess we should just count ourselves lucky that they didn't anime-up Darwyn Cooke's art style for Justice League: New Frontier.

Perhaps the most important reason it's wrong to drop Harvey from the Year One animated movie is that having him there would have been vital if they ever managed to make the long-rumored animated Long Halloween movie. No lie, I'd LOVE to see them animated Long Halloween. I wanna see if losing Tim Sale's art in favor of blah wannabe anime will expose the story for the crap that it is, especially as actors try to bring Loeb's painfully hackneyed dialogue to life. I mean, come on, I can't be the only one who writhed in pain from the terrible scripts of the Superman/Batman animated movies, right? That said, I'd be genuinely interested to see how they'd handle Harvey, and who would be hired to voice him. I have a lot of problems with TLH, but I don't hate Loeb's Harvey Dent. I don't love him, but I don't hate him either. Ugh, looks like it's finally time to review Harvey's roles in both Year One and TLH.

Man, I'm really going off-track here, aren't I? Point in, the B:YO animated film looks not so great, taking a brilliant and pretty-darn-well-flawless comic and boiling it down to a film which will probably be good enough, but frankly pointless. The voice actor for Batman sounds better than he did in earlier clips, but that's not saying much, and I'm not sure how much of his awkwardness is affected or unintentional.

What I'm basically saying is, there's only one reason I'm interested in watching Batman: Year One, and it's the pitch-perfect casting of The Cranston as Jim Gordon. That guarantees a day-of-release rental right there.
about_faces: (Schizy)
[livejournal.com profile] greedyslayer just reminded me about how much I frelling ADORE Batman: The Brave and the Bold's take on Two-Face:

Here's the thing: for those who don't know, the opening "teasers" to each episode of TB&TB always features Batman teaming up with a guest hero to fight a guest villain. In this, Harvey gets to be both, which is AWESOME.

Then there's the vocal performance by 80's character heavy James Remar. If he were just doing the scratchy evil voice, I'd accuse him of being a poor man's Richard Moll (just as I think about whoever's voicing Two-Face in Arkham City, as I understand it's sadly not going to be Moll), but instead, he's the first Two-Face actor to actually balance between both the good and evil voices. And I love the good voice. He sounds calm, reasonable, understanding, and not without empathy.

[livejournal.com profile] greedyslayer made some great observations as well:I feel like there's a lot of subtle interesting things going on too. Like Harv and Batman are apparently speaking in a familiar code only they know with Harv's "Final requests, Bats?" and how Batman trusts him then (and makes wonder if in Brave and the Bold-verse they teamed up before--like, even before Two-Face, when he was unscarred DA and there was some crisis they had to work together). I totally agree, there's a real sense of history there, and I don't think I'm just projecting what I already know as a comic fan. That sense of trust further strengthens the idea that this Two-Face genuinely *is* half-good, which we so rarely see in comics of ANY era, even the ones to which TB&TB pay tribute.

Greedyslayer also added, Even in Brave and the Bold's usually lighter tone, I still got a small sense of Harvey's tragedy--like, it just seemed particularly sad to me to see the unconscious, unscarred half of Harvey's face, especially after his "You cheated" sounding genuinely hurt. A lot of unspoken implication of the ex-DA's sad history IMO was present in the opening. Yeah. :) You get the idea that Batman just betrayed that little bit of trust they had because... well, Harvey may be half-good, but you get to a point where you quite literally don't want to take any chances.

And then there's the Two-Face level from the B:TB&TB game for the Nintendo Wii. I've been wanting to get this game for months now (especially if I can get my DS-owning friend to come down and play Bat-Mite!), but that feels less urgent knowing that the actual level I want to see most is online. Don't be put off by the fact that it's gameplay. This video is surprisingly cinematic, almost like a mini-story:


That is easily the best use of Two-Face in a video game, not that there's much competition. I love how the level actually plays with heads and tails, and how Harvey is actually quite reasonable about leaving himself wide open to attack. Batman gets such wonderfully cheesy one-liners, but I love the Adam West earnestness with which he delivers them, especially the ones about how he's hopeful for Harvey's rehabilitation. Also, that's right, Dick, you'll take your lack of recognition and you'll like it.

Harvey's only made one other major appearance on the actual B:TB&TB show, in the episode "The Mask of Matches Malone!" written by Gail Simone. You may have heard of it, as it features a rather risque musical number by the Birds of Prey (and Catwoman why not), so risque in fact that the episode didn't actually air in the US! Nope, they're going to censor it, which many people are crying foul about, but not me. Penis jokes in my kid-friendly Batman? No thanks. That said, I did rather like the Two-Face appearance in the episode. Erm, I mean, the episode which I clearly haven't seen, why no, that would be impossible since it only aired outside the US, so how could I have seen it, cough cough.
about_faces: (TDK mouth snarl)
I have such a love/hate relationship with Robot Chicken. I feel like it could be so much better if Seth Green and company didn't water down their humor with fart jokes and lame obvious humor to make it more appealing to the average mainstream Family Guy viewer (compare this to Twisted Toyfare Theater, which was occasionally crude but mostly filled with smart geek in-jokes and references).

I haven't even watched the most recent couple seasons. I'll catch it if it's on, but there's no point for me going out of my way to watch Robot Chicken. So forgive me if I'm late to the party, but I only recently discovered that this hilarity happened:

The ending with the soup is what really killed me. And the nerd part of me loves that they made it a parody of comics Two-Face, not just TDK.


about_faces: (Default)

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