about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Or "REVIEW ALL THE EPISODES!" I was originally going to include his larger supporting roles in here as well, but I'll save those for later.

So: with Harvey's origin as Two-Face out of the way, he went from being a little-seen heroic supporting character to joining the villain ensemble right alongside the guy who tried to kill him on live TV and his poisonous ex-almost-fiancée. It's not exactly the sort of company you'll expect to see Harvey enjoy no matter the mental state. But then, one has to imagine that it initially wasn't his choice, given that he was sent to Arkham Asylum. We first see Harvey at his new locale in the episode, Fear of Victory, as Batman goes to Arkham to find Scarecrow and has to pass a gauntlet of his biggest enemies at this point in the series:

Source: afiveseven

He just sits there, heedless of Batman, staring at nothing and flipping his coin. Is he just passing the time? Is he thinking, brooding, and/or scheming? I sometimes like to think that both sides are arguing, and the coin is the arbiter between them, but this isn't apparent to any outsider observers.

This scene has a personal bit of "Cool story, bro" significance for me, since this was the first time that I saw Harvey as Two-Face. Either I missed the two-part origin episode when it first aired (which is bloody unlikely even for me at ten years old, since I watched this show religiously), or more likely, Fox did what Fox always does and aired the episodes out of order. I mean, it's just a kids show, who the hell's gonna notice, amirite?

As such, this scene from Fear of Victory was the very first time I saw Harvey—good ol’ Harvey, the idealistic lawman, romantic idiot, and best friend—fully transformed into Two-Face. Even as a kid with limited comics knowledge, I knew what Harvey was going to become, but the shock of suddenly seeing him already there (along with the show’s unique design of that black-and-white suit and that strikingly sickly blue scarring) is forever burned into my memory. It gave watching the actual origin episode another layer of tragic inevitability.

But was that the only cameo? No sirree! In fact, the others echo this one in their own ways, the next of which is decidedly disturbing:

Nightmares, gods, and questions behind the cut! )

Yeah, that's it for the last Harvey cameo. Kind of an anticlimactic ending, ain't it? Well, that's the hand I'm dealt, as there are no more cameos after this. Well, no more that take place in Arkham, anyway. There's one more major cameo in Batgirl Returns, but I'll save that for the Shadow of the Bat review.

To make up for that, here, have an encore presentation of the best gif in the world right now, just for the benefit of those who aren't going to read past the cut:

It's hypnotic. Like a lava lamp.
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So here's something that I forgot actually existed until I found it hidden in a comic box. The first issue of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle's Shadow of the Bat was released in the full 90's "ZOMG COLLECTORS ITEM BUY TWELVE" treatment, sealed in a polybag along with other assorted goodies. These included two mini-posters, full blueprints to the then-new Arkham Asylum (wish I still had those), a bookmark, and this:

Huh. Well, that's... something. Okay. Here's what was on the other side of this thick, flat paper:

Oh! Okay, a list of the inmates. Well, that's nice. Heh, "Dishonor Roll," I see what you did there. Wait, whose heads are those supposed to be? Joker, Hatter, and Harvey? Wait, hold on, I think this thing folds out and OH MY GOD:

To thirteen-year-old me, this was one of the coolest goddamn things ever. And not just because my three very favorite rogues at the time were featured at the top!

I like how Penguin and Catwoman (in her gray Batman: Year One outfit!) are there, but on the outside of the building. It’s like, “Hi guys, we’re in this rogues gallery too, but we're not insane! Can we join in?” Also, I love you, Jervis, but honestly, what the heck are you doing up there alongside Joker and Harvey? Silly Jervis. I blame Grant Morrison. Finally, I love Croc peeking up over the roof. I’m not sure what the hell he’s supposed to be doing there, and I don't care. I approve of roof!Croc.

I was so glad to see that I still had this, even though I have no idea what I can do with it. I want to display it somewhere, but that's impossible. I guess it's just one of those little geek pleasures that must hide in a box until it's nearly forgotten, only to be rediscovered and dusted off every now and again.

So let this be a heads-up to Marvel, DC, and anybody else who is seemingly hellbent on reliving the dark 90's: if you're gonna seal up your comics in polybag, at least throw some cool swag inside. That would almost make the pathetic sales-desperate practice worthwhile. Because this? This is awesome.
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Note: This post isn't a review, but is in fact a very roundabout way to asking you all a geeky question for the sake of amusement. You were warned.

I wish I had the time and energy to devote a whole post--nay, a SERIES of posts--to the batshit insanity that is Batman: Fortunate Son.

I doubt that's even necessary, since internet-personality Linkara already famously reviewed this misbegotten graphic novel. Of course, that's no real reason why I shouldn't write my own review, since my thoughts are my own and Linkara doesn't have a monopoly on snarky geek review stuff, but I simply don't have the time nor energy. Am lazy tired daddy. But at the very least, I'd like to say a few words about B:FS in general before focusing on one scene in particular.

An overview of B:FS: what was intended, and what went so gloriously wrong )

But why? Why does Batman hate it so much? One reason is that he was chastised by his parents for listening to it right before they went to see "that Zorro movie." But there's another reason, one which Batman reveals in... well, just see for yourself.

Rock 'n roll and the Batman villains, totally comparable behind the cut! )

What music (rock or otherwise) do YOU think the rogues enjoy? What bands, composers, styles, etc? I want to see if anyone can come up with more appropriate/interesting/hilarious choices than the ones in the story above! What think you?
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By 1990, I suspect that DC was tired of the increasingly-crappy printing quality they were giving to their Who's Who books, and probably wanted to step things up for the collector's market. This is pure speculation on my part, just going by the fact that the new editions of Who's Who were a much higher quality, with better coloring and slick, glossy paper. The biggest change for these profiles was that they came in looseleaf tear-away binding with holes so you could organize them in a three-ring binder any way you wanted: by character name, by heroes and villains, by all Batman/Superman/cosmic characters, etc.

While we had snazzy new updated Who's Who profiles, very little actually happened to most of the characters since they were last written about in previous entries. Aside from the art, the written entries (many by Mark Waid!) were largely identical. Bear in mind, this is just before Batman: The Animated Series, Knightfall, and other stuff which would have greatly affects the biographies of the Batman villains. If DC had waited another year or three, the many profiles would have had more to say rather than pretty much rehashing everything we know already.

Nonetheless, the new art makes the lack of new information plenty worthwhile. Many of these portraits and stellar and timeless, perfect for use in your average wiki entry as a definitive take on these rogues.

A spiffy new bunch of Who's Whos, plus a couple new Who's Thats, behind the cut )

Man, I didn't intend to begin and end this part with Grant/Breyfogle creations! Maybe it's a sign that I need to finally collect that entire run and read it through, as well as the early Shadow of the Bat stuff. Grant's work is rarely what I'd call stellar, but it's proving more interesting, remarkable, and entertaining than I used to believe. If you folks have some favorite Alan Grant stories, let me know if the comments!
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Though his signature has been erased by DC's marketing stooges, that magnificent cover was drawn by Dick Goddamn Giordano.

While Two-Face is my favorite character, I love all of the Batman villains. I think that they're the greatest rogues gallery ever created in any medium, a remarkably diverse and complex array of men and monsters, of the evil and the insane, of mirrors into Batman and humanity itself. That said, there have been a LOT of villains, some more enduring than most, with many getting lost in the cracks of continuity and apathy. But I love them all. I even kinda love the ones I hate, because fandom is a complicated thing that way. And since I love characters above anything else in superhero comics, I have a special fondness for old issues of Who's Who and, to a lesser extent, the Secret Files and Origins books from the 90's-00's.

But then, I've always loved character profiles. I think one reason I loved G.I. Joe action figures as a kid was because they used to print the character's bios and stats right there on the package. Like they were actual people with personalities and history and stuff! Who's Who allows one to see the character distilled, free from stories to play in one's own imagination. They let you relive your favorite stories and moments. They show you tons of characters you never knew existed! They're fascinating time capsules from the period they were written! They give you many new and awful costumes to snark about! All in all, they provide a wonderful tour of the good, the bad, the ugly, the dated, the timeless, and the gloriously misbegotten.

So I want to look at them with you. All of them.

For the next twelve days, I shall be posting a handful of profiles with commentary. I don't promise that any of it will be insightful, since it's the holidays on top of everything else in my life, but the profiles are the important things. This year, I plan to extend About_Faces to occasionally looking at the other villains besides Harvey, partially because I'm running out of good Two-Face stories and partially because I've been itching to write about Ozzie, Eddie, Crane, Pam, and more.

So since DC' original Who's Who profiles from 1985-1989 all had the same format, let's start by looking at them, accompanied with the revised profiles when applicable. Here, you'll see a lot of old favorites accompanied by the obscure, the unloved, and the downright forgotten, drawn by some of the greatest artists that the 80's had to offer. And who knows, maybe you'll find a villain who has untapped potential? As I've always said, when it comes to superhero comics, there are no bad characters, just bad writers. That said, some characters really test that mantra's limits.

Well? The nice cover asked you a question! Dare you prowl the Dark Knight's rogues gallery behind the cut? )

Okay, that's enough for now! Tomorrow, you get to find out just how many Batman villain names start with the letter C! Hint: it's a lot!
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First off, know that this post is relevant to Harvey Dent. But during the course of my research in preparing for this review, I realized that there was a lot more worth discussing than just Harvey.

So if you'll indulge me... I'd like to talk about Jared Stevens.

I don't expect most of you to know that name. And if you recognize it, I imagine that the immediate reaction you likely feel is disdain, or to emit a shudder like a hyena hearing Mufasa. "Oh god," I can hear you say, "Do you mean the crappy, 90's-tactic X-TREEEME update of Dr. Fate?" Well, you'd be mostly right. I mean, he's Fate, all right...

Yes, that's you, you utter abomination of a character, you. Just "Fate," trading in his legacy character's doctorate and iconic costume for a sweet facial tat, a big honkin' knife, and Liefeldian pouches, pouches, POUCHES GALORE!

Okay, full disclosure: I haven't actually read Fate, Jared's first solo series from 1994. Heck, since I was a fan of its spin-off series Scare Tactics, I should probably judge it for more than just its reputation, not to mention the character's awful, awful design and grim-n-gritty post-Cable datedness. But... but just look at that costume, man! How? What kind of loving god and/or ethical editor could have let this happen?!

Well, you see, in the dark period known as the 90's, DC decided that the old Golden Age superheroes were outdated, old fogies who needed to go away and die. Did you know what the Justice Society of America's series--the one which featuring old-fogie Golden Age superheroes--was not cancelled due to bad sales? No, in truth, the sales were reportedly solid! But DC editor-in-chief Mike Carlin gave JSoA the axe because it didn't "fit" in their new ideas of what the DCU should be. Some of those ideas included driving Hal Jordan insane and replacing him with a younger, hipper version with stupid curtain hair, a crab-mask, and a propensity for creating manga robots because that's what the kids like today, right?

But despite my teenage H.E.A.T.-member disdain poking through, I cannot deny that out-with-the-old moves like Kyle Rayner (and also Starman, whom I vastly preferred) were successful for DC. The same cannot be said for other attempts at updating, such as turning Manhunter into this monstrosity, and Dr. Fate into what you see above there you. Both were cancelled before too long, with Fate getting canned after 22 issues. That's not so bad, considering how many titles don't make it past twelve, or even six, in some cases. Nonetheless, it was still a failure, doomed to gather dust in dollar bins.

So what the HELL possessed DC to redesign, reboot, and relaunch the series a year later as The Book of Fate?

Let's trade the spandex bodysuit for DAGGERS STUCK IN HIS FRAGGIN' ARM, WHAT THE HELL?!

Needless to say, the second time was not the charm. 1997's The Book of Fate lasted about half as long as 1994's Fate, and those few who remember it do so even less fondly than the first time around. Clearly, no fanboys nor fangirls were heeding Jared's almighty t-shirt.

But here's the crazy thing: The Book of Fate kinda wasn't a totally terrible series. No, seriously! Yes, the book with that horrible cover, it was... good! Better than acceptable! Worth a look-see! Maybe your first indication of quality was the name "Keith Giffen," the masterful comics journeyman behind such smartly hilarious fare such as Ambush Bug and Justice League International, plus a million other goddamn books. That's including series like Vext, which was offbeat, witty, and cancelled at six issues.

Now, do I think that The Book of Fate was a brilliant series cancelled before its time? Well, not exactly. But I do think it had a lot more going on than people would credit it, likely because most never touched the damn thing in the first place. And besides, I also think that it might have the single greatest final issue of a cancelled comic I have ever read.

So because no one else is gonna do it, I'd like to examine the high points of this unloved, willfully-forgotten series. And in case you're wondering why the hell it's relevant, there are two reasons. One is the thematic elements of being someone torn between literal Order and Chaos, themes which are very much in keeping with this blog. And the other reason is, well, it has Two-Face in it for a couple issues!

Oh yes. They're buddies! Kinda. What happens when the man who defines his life by order and chaos (well, depending on the writer) meets up with the man who refuses to ally with either? Not as much as I'd like, but hey, it's still fun, and features some of the best-drawn Harvey I've ever seen. And again, Keith Giffen. That alone warrants a skim at least, right? Right! Probably! Whee!

The strange, often-dated, often-hilarious second life of Jared Stevens, the Fate, behind the cut )

Y'know what? Maybe it's just because I've honestly never given a damn about any Dr. Fate comics (if there's a great story I haven't read, please hit me with recommendations!) but Jared is quite honestly the only Fate who ever interested me. At his best, he had a fun Bruce Campbell flair. At his worst, he was a glorious disaster. On ether end of the balance, he was at least interesting, and that's not so bad in the long run.

Still, a shame that there wasn't more done with Jared and Harvey. Sure, maybe a new Dr. Fate might run into Harvey, and maybe some writer will properly use Two-Face to explore themes of Order and Chaos... but without Jared, it just wouldn't be the same.

Yeah, that's right. I... kinda like Jared Stevens! Wanna fight about it?
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I know it's a week late, but I figured that I would be remiss in not giving a quick look at the opening pages of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman #1, which is being hailed by some as the very best comic to come out of the DCnU so far.

My own reaction: it's good. Not brilliant, but good. It doesn't punch me in the gut, nor does it blow my socks off, or move me to tears, paint my house, pay off my car payments, or taste like bacon. It's just good. I suppose that in the sea of mediocrity that is most popular fiction these days, that should be remarkable in of itself. But even in that case, how sad is that? Shouldn't we hold comics to a higher standard so that stories like Batman #1 are the AVERAGE quality, not the EXCEPTION?

The issue itself is a solid introduction for new readers that also flows seamlessly from Snyder's work in Detective Comics: The Black Mirror and The Golden Gates of Gotham, as he works to create an overarching epic that is clearly shaping up to be Batman versus Gotham City itself (presumably as a living entity ala Milligan's Dark Knight, Dark City).

Hell, that's exactly what Snyder has said in interviews, where he posited the ludicrous theory that Gotham has literally been "Batman's best friend," lol wut. No, no, no, if Gotham is sentient at all (and what's with this fascination some writers have for envisioning cities as actual entities?), it's hardly EVER been Batman's bosom pal.

Based on his two previous Batman stories, I suspect that Snyder is probably continuing the Morrisonian trope of evil secret societies of cult-like evil evilness (and if Newbie McMayorChin isn't revealed to be involved, I'll be damn surprised). As you may have guessed, this type of story fills me with aggressive apathy, but as long as Snyder keeps a focus on characters, I'll keep reading. He writes a fine Jim Gordon, and I'm glad to see Bullock prominently featured, even if Snyder's Bullock sounds a lot more like Slam Bradley. As for the rest of the issue, it's pretty much all set-up, with an empty cliffhanger ending we've seen before countless times. I look forward to reading the story as a whole, but there's not much to especially recommend about this one chapter, which is a common problem in this day and age of wait-for-the-trade.

What I do want is just quickly look at the opening pages, featuring the Rumble In Arkham that we've seen in previews:

Batman versus Everyone (What do you mean, everyone? EV-RRREEEE-WUUUUNNNN!!!!) behind the cut )

Oh. One more thing... /uncle

In comic news about something which actually DID come out today, I give you the spoiler-tastic final page for The Dark Knight #1, which features the first look at whatever the fuck it is they're doing with Harvey. Go. Go read it. Seriously.

Back? Okay. WOW that's dumb. Kind of delightfully so! I mean, seriously, "One-Face?" What the fuck does that even MEAN? He still has the scarred and unscarred sides! Was there a miscommunication between writer and artists here? Is it supposed to indicate that Harvey's bad side has completely taken over when he became Hulk!Harv? Honestly, that breaks my brain more than the Venom/Titan/whatever he's hopped up on!

Oh, Paul Jenkins, you're the gift that keeps on giving... ridiculously overblown Two-Face stories. Which reminds me, I still need to summon up the courage to review Batman: Jekyll and Hyde. You poor people, you.
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So it's recently come to my attention that some of you have never heard of this story where the Arkham inmates played softball against the inmates of Blackgate Prison. Because that totally, actually happened.

This is one of those great little oddball (no pun intended) stories that will probably be of interest to most because it features early Batman artwork by Tim Sale. That said, it's only Sale's pencils inked by Jimmy Palmiotti, and while Palmiotti is a fine enough inker and even better co-author of books like Jonah Hex, the result is art that looks like a poor man's Matt Wagner with a dash of poor man's Bill Sienkiewicz. Which is to say, it's still pretty darn interesting to look at.

To make matters even more flawed, it's written by Alan Grant. Oh, Alan Grant. Now there's a writer I never learned to appreciate until very recently, even though I grew up reading his Batman work. Whereas I used to find his writing cheesy and a tad pretentious, I now find it charmingly earnest and ambitious. I enjoy and admire those qualities in writers even their stories are subpar.

As such, I hadn't given "Madmen Across The Water"* (from Showcase '94 #3 and 4) much thought until yesterday, when I was rereading it in preparation for this post. While it still falls short in areas I prefer, namely treating the Arkham inmates as characters in their own right rather than just crazy characters in wacky outfits, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the character of Jeremiah Arkham as written by Grant, and I think that this story is one of his finest appearances.

And again: it's about the Arkham inmates playing softball. I don't know why you haven't just skipped all my rambling and clicked on the cut-tag already!

Ivy at the bat (but not THAT Bat) behind the cut! )

Again, if you'd like to read the whole story, it's been collected in Tales of the Batman, a collection of Tim Sale's miscellaneous Batman work. It also features the James Robinson story Blades from Legends of the Dark Knight, which is considered a classic by many. I loved it back in the day, but it's been many years since I read it, and I don't know how well it holds up.

*The title is taken from an uncommonly-great Elton John song, although I greatly prefer the extended version.
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Here's a short post today, featuring a scene from issue #5 of the 1996 New Gods series, written by Tom Peyer and Rachel Pollack, art by Luke Ross and Brian Garvey.

I haven't read the whole story itself, as, well, what's the point of New Gods without Jack Kirby? Well, with the exception of Walt Simonson's Orion, or anything featuring Scott and Barda. Generally speaking, I love them as guest stars and supporting players in Superman and Justice League, but without Kirby's brilliance, I find them tedious on their own. If there are any stories I need to read, feel free to mention them in the comments.

From what I gathered about this story, Orion somehow went mad and took over New Genesis as an insane tyrant, leaving it to Highfather to fight and save his adopted son. But rather than charge into battle, wise Highfather decides to do a bit of first-hand research into the enemy he's about to face:

A god in the asylum, behind the cut! )

What I find most interesting is that this is one of several instances where supernatural characters and elements pay a visit to Arkham. I think this trend was started by Alan Moore in Swamp Thing, but we've also seen Arkham appearances in series such as Dr. Fate, Black Orchid, and The Spectre, all with these beings of vast power becoming shaken by the depths of darkness and madness within those walls. I love that Arkham and its residents such as Harvey has the power to shake the spirits of gods and elementals.
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Disclaimer: this post was written over several exhausted days, in increments averaging two sentences at a time, between feeding and changing and burping a baby. Rambling, tangents, and incomprehensible gibberish may occur.

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

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

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

*I've heard nothing but amazing things about Scott Snyder's current work on Detective Comics, especially the James Gordon Jr. storyline, but I'm afraid to read it. Everything I've heard makes it sound far too bleak for my enjoyment, especially considering that someone's finally remembered that James Jr. exists only to turn him into, what, a sociopath monster? Is that what happened? Has anyone else been following 'Tec, and can you tell me if it lives up to its hype?
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I'm not sure why, but there was a very brief period around 2000 when it seemed like DC was all about Batman graphic novels by Bob Hall, the former Avengers/Squadron Supreme artist whose creative decisions--according to Jim Shooter--were inadvertantly responsible for turning Hank Pym into a wife-beater. Oh, and Hall also illustrated the Marvel graphic novel Emperor Doom, where Doom takes over the world, a magnificently badass story that deserved to be reprinted. But Hall just drew those stories, whereas at DC, he became the writer/artist of a handful of Batman prestige format stories.

For whatever reason during 98-00, DC was all about Hall, and Hall was all about the Joker. First, there was the I, Joker, a particularly weird Elseworlds. Then there was It's Joker Time, an instantly-dated satire of Jerry Springer style TV. Man, between that, 2003's Jerry Springer: The Opera, and Peter Gabriel's 2002 single "The Barry Williams Show," what the hell is up with everybody deciding to skewer Springer several years AFTER that show's relevancy period? If It's Joker Time came out a couple years later, it would have been about reality TV, and really, there's way more potential for fun if you had Survivor with the Joker.

Between both of these, there was Batman: D.O.A. Much like the classic film noir D.O.A., Batman has been poisoned and has to find out who did it and why before time runs out. Unfortunately for the Batman, the story... hell, the actual cover itself... kind of spoils the would-be-killers right away:

Despite being right there, their appearances in the story itself don't amount to more than a pair of extended cameos, but it's certainly notable enough to look at right here! Because frankly, we just don't see enough of the rogues hanging out, y'know?

Oh, just a warning, though: be prepared to ignore the stupidity of the Penguin being in Arkham Asylum. I hate it when writers put him there, ignoring the fact that he's perfectly sane in favor of "Bat-Villains go in here!" But it's okay, because Hall at least uses Ozzie to great purpose, as he and the Gruesome Twosome undergo a different kind of group therapy at Arkham.

How the 'Unholy Three' hatched their brilliantly evil scheme... over ping-pong )

You know what? I don't care. I want more leisure and scheming time with Harvey, Ozzie, and Mr. J! There's untapped potential here like... well, like crazy! Well, except in Ozzie's case, but that group needs the sane would to ground the others. Wait, would that make them a perfect team of Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, and Chaotic Evil? What the hell would Harvey's D&D alignment be, anyway?
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One of the few Two-Face appearances I don't own happens to be a collector's item: Batman #260, which featured the first appearance of Arkham Asylum dash it all, I completely forgot, that was another issue, and one I'd already posted! Ugh, stupid me. Guess I'm still brain-fried from the long drive back from Orlando. Then damn, why the hell is THIS comic so expensive in every back issue bin?! Harvey's appearance in this comic is just a cameo, but even though it's one of my favorite cameos, I didn't want to shell out $20+ for a single comic, and I don't ever download torrents of comics, partially because I never could figure out how.

Thankfully, I just discovered this seemingly-abandoned Picsaweb account with quite a few classic Batman scans, plus some recent stuff from Under the Hood and Batman R.I.P., about which I couldn't give a pair of pears. And there, among many neat and never-been-reprinted treasures, I found scans of that issue I was looking for, the first scene of which I present to you here:

At the edge of Arkham, New England, stands the asylum of the criminally insane... )
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Before I left my home, my Henchgirl, and my scanner behind to perform in the Orlando Fringe Festival*, I scanned a few small bits to post if I ever got the chance. As I'm taking an early night in, I'm back to offer a fun (and slightly TMI) cameo appearance from Harvey in the pages of Denny O'Neil's Azrael.

Harvey had a small supporting role in a two-part storyline where Jean-Paul Valley broke into Arkham Asylum looking for one of his old enemies. Unfortunately, he ran into a whole lotta released inmates, led by the Joker, who was using Harvey (and his coin) to judge where they should take their fun. The story itself is so unremarkable that I can't remember the plot details (it doesn't help that I don't own the preceding issues), but it does feature a few moments of Harvey crack, most notably these panels:

... ewwww. Welp, I don't think anyone's going to try taking his coin now.

Slightly extended context, plus one of the sadder times that Harvey's been punched in the face, behind the cut )

*Someone in my audience today actually asked me to about my Hush rant. I truly never thought there would be any crossover between my Two-Face fandom friends and my Fringe performance artist friends. Now, if only there were a way to make money by combining solo performance with comic geekery...
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While I was recently spelunking through the world's most awesome hellhole of a comic shop, I found a copy of Wizard Magazine's all-villain issue, The Dark Book. Specifically, Dark Book '98, their follow-up issue.

I used to be an avid Wizard reader, but gave up due to a combination of the internet and the fact that they were doing shit like this all the time. But I had fond memories of the first Dark Book, since it was a celebration of all things evil and criminal, with little in the way of Wizard's mean-spirited snark. So at $1, I figured why now pick up the sequel?

I found a lot of neat stuff, but most interesting to me are the Batman villain character profiles, complete with "future plans": hints about upcoming events from writers and editors. Some, like Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, accurately described what was happening next with those characters. Others, however, not so much.

Check out what was originally planned for the Joker around 1998:

The Joker... prominent man about Gotham, respected by high society? Now that's a story I would have DIED to have seen, especially as written by Chuck Dixon! For my money, Dixon's one of the best Joker writers ever. Just look at Devil's Advocate, The Demon Laughs, and that Az-Bat story where the Joker has a ponytail and is making a film. All great stories! Just ignore Last Laugh entirely, and Dixon's track record with Joker is excellent!

But that never happened. Why? Because No Man's Land happened instead. And from these "future plans" snippets, it seems like NML was never meant to happen at all! Just like the similarly-disaster-themed Contagion, Gotham was apparently just going to bounce back after Cataclysm! Instead, it got stretched out through Aftershock, before they went on the Road to No Man's Land.

Heh, Road to No Man's Land sounds like it should have been a one-sided buddy comedy with Joker and Harvey. [livejournal.com profile] surrealname, make this happen.

And what about Detective Comics #726, the issue forecast to be the start of "prominent Gotham City citizen" Joker? Instead, we got this one-shot story, which is a fine trade-off consider that it's another example of why Chuck Dixon's one of the best Joker writers ever.

At the same time, he's also one of the worst Two-Face writers. At least, if you're like me and you don't like Harvey written as a raving, evil thug. So I'm relieved that No Man's Land happened, even though I'd love to know what Dixon and Scott Peterson had originally planned:

So Harvey would have fled Gotham for Blüdhaven (still the silliest name for a comic book city), resulting in Dick vs. Harvey, Round 3! It would have been an excellent story for Dick fans, but it's clear even from Peterson's description that Harvey would have continued to be depicted shallowly. Still, I have to wonder if maybe some remnants of Dixon's Two-Face story didn't carry through that next year's stories.

ALSO! In case anyone was wondering, yes indeed, there's proof: The Long Halloween was not canon. Nor should it be, but I suppose, since Devin Grayson made Prey canon (in a great story which I'll finally be posting soon), I guess now all LOTDK stories are fair game for people to consider canon or otherwise, as they see fit. But even still, Jeph Loeb and Tony Daniel be damned, TLH is not now, nor shall it ever be, in actual continuity as far as I'm concerned. So there! *nods*

Finally, not all of the scrapped-plans for post-Cataclysm sounded especially, um, Earth-shattering, if Pengers is any indication:

Oswald Cobblepot: LANDOWNER! Sounds like they were going to turn him from a low-rent Kingpin into an evil landlord out of a 1920's serial. Hell, he already has the top hat! *sings* "You muuuust pay the rent! Waugh waugh waugh!"

Oh, and there was one bit bit of Bat-Rogue fun to be gained from The Dark Book '98:

Behind the cut: the full report, asylum history, budget factoids, and treatment suggestions for prominent inmates )

By the way, I'd like to thank you guys for being fans who actually like thinking about and discussing these stories. I just got called an "idiot" for daring to express my opinions about Gotham Central, yet another reminder than there's very little outlet or interest for analysis or dissension on online comics forums.

I'm currently trying to branch out and post reviews on comicvine.com, but am preparing for the trolls to come a-posting. God knows what'll happen if I dare express my dislike for The Long Halloween. So thanks, guys, for helping give me the best outlet I have for these geeky passions of mine.

At least, until Henchgirl and I get off our butts and actually start our OWN comics blog. :)


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