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As some of you know, my Henchgirl, [livejournal.com profile] bitemetechie, has started up a roleplaying blog for the Scarecrow, where she and her CATverse co-mastermind [livejournal.com profile] captaintwinings occasionally hold theme day/week events wherein they take submissions from followers.

These events include "Pick-Up Line Day" (readers do their best to try and hit on the Gotham rogues gallery), "Stroking the Rogue... Ego" (readers tell the rogues what they like best about them to help with therapy), and "Free For All Fic For All" (breaking from character, BiteMeTechie and Twinings write stories to fill as many fic requests from readers as humanly possible in a week long period). The stuff they write for these events--especially the last--are consistently excellent, and are quite often some of the best takes on the Rogues that I have ever seen in any medium. At this rate, you could seriously kill a good few days scouring through the archives, and it'd be well worth your time.

But I'm not writing this just to plug them, as I could and should have done dozens of times over the past few months. No, I'm finally writing them up is because Henchgirl wrote a Harvey/Gilda fic, one that holds specific significance for me: it was originally meant to be my birthday present, but with our lives being what they are these days, it ended up on the back-burner until somebody gave her the prompt to write something Harvey/Gilda. The resulting fic was... well, read it for yourself.

Harvey comes to her at night, the way he always has... )

And since I'm recommending fic by the girls, I might as well include some (but certainly not all) of my favorite fics and drabbles they've written for the blog:
--Clayface III and Lady Clay go out for a night on the town; somebody babysits for them
--Talia goes father’s day shopping; Killer Croc goes shopping; More Sexy!Cajun!Croc; Croc has to talk his way out of a sticky situation; something Croc. For those who don't know, Techie--inspired by Croc's one appearance in Teh Batmans--has reinvented Croc as a suave cajun, and it's pretty awesome. In addition, she's been trying her hand at writing Talia, and the results are pretty damn spectacular. See also:
--Talia Al Ghul makes daddy proud.
--Clayface encounters an old fan; Clayface/Poison Ivy romance
--Maxie Zeus tries to have lunch in a diner. I love how she writes Maxie as if he were being played by Brian Blessed. I credit myself for the fact that I showed her I, Claudius shortly before she wrote this one.
--Jonathan Crane and Hugo Strange at a conference.
--Something featuring Killer Croc, Croc enjoying some Cajun food and Croc comes to dinner
--Killer Croc & Killer Moth sharing an apartment/cell. This one features a special bonus for fans of the Teen Titans cartoon out there.

Again, these are by no means the only ones I like, but that's more than enough recommendations to start. By all means, scour though the archives of askthesquishykins for more. And, since the Free for All Fic for All continues for another week, stop by and request a fic of your very own.
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Today, io9.com ran a feature about artist Dean Fraser's mock-concept-art for a fictional Star Wars: Empire of the Bat mash-up.

The author of the io9.com article added, "I'm still holding out for Mr. Frwampa, Maxie Greedo, Ewokwoman, Boba al Ghul, Poison Sarlacc, IG-Chill, and the Killer Rancordile."


It... look, ALL I'm saying is, how could both the artist and the io9.com writer have missed including what I would assume to be the single most obvious mash-up: Lando Two-Face? Just saying.
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Sleepy. Exhausted. No have the brain. Here, have this excellent essay by FuckYeahBatmanVillains which awesomely and eloquently touches upon many issues that I'm planning on discussing in full at some point or another. Reposted with permission.

Read more... )

What about you folks? Who do YOU think is the most underrated? Please comment and explain why while I sleep. Precious, precious sleep.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
Something awesome was brought to my attention this past weekend, and boy, I needed it.

First, some venting about online Batman-fandom stuff that's been pissing me off for the past week. Feel free to either read or just skip to the comic! )

So thank god for a guy named DeptFord, artist for the webcomic Surrealist Obituaries who sent me a PM a couple of days ago. Deptford is a Two-Face fan who read a bunch of my Two-Face Tuesday entries over at scans_daily (the series of posts that led me to creating About_Faces in the first place), which had subsequently inspired to dedicate a whole strip to Harvey.

I was intrigued but apprehensive, as I've seen a LOT of sub-so-so fan fic/art out there, and even some of the truly GOOD stuff can frustrate me because it doesn't fit my own criteria of what makes a good Two-Face story. Case in point: the best Two-Face fanfic I've ever read is firmly set in the Nolanverse, with "RAY-CHULL" motivation fully intact. So, feeling that I wasn't in the right mood to critically appreciate (read: JUDGE) an examination of a character for whom I have very strong and particular opinions, I put off reading Deptford's comic for a couple of days.

Now I feel a bit like a fool. Not only did I have nothing to worry about, but this comic is... well, I'll just let it speak for itself, and discuss it at the end. But read it. Read it read it read it.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Two-Face's personal philosophy but were understandably afraid to ask )

Now, that said, I have to wonder how applicable this can be to any given take on Two-Face we've seen. Take Eye of the Beholder, for instance, which gives a very specific idea of what the coin means to Harvey. What would it say about Harvey if he held this philosophy using the instrument his father used for years of physical and psychological abuse? What about DeMatteis' Two-Face: Crime and Punishment, which greatly emphasized the adversarial conflict between Harvey's two halves? Is there a way to reconcile that tormented Harvey Dent with the one who seems to have found the best answer available to him?

I welcome your ideas, although I fear that there's no simple answer. Then again, there never is when it comes to trying to reconcile all or even some takes on Two-Face, no matter how great each may be. That said, speaking as someone who really resonates on a personal level with the "abusive alcoholic parent" origin, the idea of Harvey giving himself up to a non-religious "higher power" takes on a WHOLE new resonance for those us who know our Twelve Steps.
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“The joy of The Dark Knight movie is, ‘This is what a Joker story should be like.’ No one wants to see the ultimate Two-Face movie.”
—Neil Gaiman, from a July 2009 interview with Wired.com.

... Sighhhh.

As you can imagine, that's a quote which has stuck in my craw for two years now. Mainly because I’m still not sure if Gaiman is ignorantly wrong, or simply speaking a brutal truth.

Thoughtful ranting, the full context of the quote, and a look at Two-Face in Gaiman's WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? behind the cut! )
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Over at Comics Alliance, one of the main writers began his positive review for the new digital comic version of Batgirl: Year One with the following words:

"I'm skeptical of origin stories, particularly ones for characters that are decades old. I mean, honestly -- who cares? Are the specifics that important? Superman is going to be the same character whether he was found as a baby or a toddler. Batman is going to be Batman whether or not he captured Joe Chill. I'd much rather that everyone involved skip all the rigamarole and just get on with the story, you know?"

Something about that stuck in my craw. And not just because I've spent the last five or so years writing an extensive retelling of Harvey's origin as I see fit.

No, it's bugged me for other reasons, such as when people HATED the Billy Quizboy origin episode of Venture Bros. Personally, that episode became one of my all-time favorites because it added an unexpected new level of tragedy and poignancy to Billy and Pete White, who up to that point were little more than two-dimensional minor characters. Others, however, saw "The Invisible Hand of Fate" as a tedious waste of time that detracted from the forward momentum of the main storyline. Who cares about Billy Fucking Quizboy, they asked, when there's a whole other main storyline to follow?

Look, I know that origin stories are INCREDIBLY played-out, especially in movies. I mean, shit, why the hell are we getting yet ANOTHER FUCKING SUPERMAN ORIGIN STORY, when everyone already knows his whole deal and can instantly accept just being thrust into an actual, ready-to-go SUPERMAN movie? I'm tired of everyone trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to origins. There's a reason why X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, and Superman 2 (the original Donner cut, at least up until the last ten minutes fucking ruin EVERYTHING) are all vastly superior to their respective first films.

And yet, I feel compelled to challenge Mr. Brothers' hypothetical question about origins, mainly because of the examples he gave to back up his point. First off, a good origin story that change our perceptions of that character, making us view all the stories we've already read in different lights. To start with a loaded example, take Batman: The Killing Joke, which gave us the possibility that the Joker was never actually a criminal mastermind, but was just a poor lonely schlub. If you choose to believe that origin (or even if you consider that it's even one of several possible origins he might have), it casts a whole new aspect--one that is simultaneously tragic and chilling--on everything the Joker was, is, and does.

For fans like me who really love thinking about what makes these characters tick, specifics ARE important. Consider what it actually means to have a Batman who captured Joe Chill versus a Batman who never did. Either version means something very different for why Batman does what he does, whether it's out of his personal vendetta against crime or because he's a good person who wants to see justice done. Both are Batman, but they're different KINDS of Batmen. The specifics have far-reaching implications for the personalities and motives of these characters. In Batman's case, it could mean the difference between a Batman who's an inspiring hero and a Batman who's a vengeful dick.

It's not just limited to comics, either. Take John Gardner's wonderful novel, Grendel, a literary prequel which has forever changed how I'll view the monsters from Beowulf. A good backstory, skillfully told, can add a whole new dimension even to characters who are CENTURIES old, partially because a new telling can better reflect a contemporary viewpoint. So the idea that characters who are "decades old" are somehow LESS in need of new/revised origins is just bizarre to me. As these characters have evolved over the years, so too do their origins need to reflect that development. For a perfect example of how a classic chatacter can be improved by a new origin and subsequent writers building upon that origin, look no further than Post-Crisis Catwoman.

I think I've gone into those ideas several times here, especially every time I beat the dead horse of how much I love Andrew Helfer's "Eye of the Beholder," so I don't need to rehash all those reasons to explain how Harvey Dent has benefited from revised origins over the years, even as some great details have been lost in the shuffle (such as the fact that he originally would donate to charity between crimes).

All that said, not everyone cares about character first and foremost. I suspect some don't give character a second thought, focusing expressly on plot and action above all else. Nowhere was the division of audience preference more clearly divided to me than during the years that Lost was on the air, with seemingly half the audience hooked on the characters' subplots and arcs, with the other half increasingly more interested in the two dozen mostly-bullshit mysteries the show made up on the fly with no real intention of ever actually resolving. Me, I didn't give a shit about what the numbers actually meant, but god damn did I want to know what would happen to Locke, Hurley, Ben, Eko, Lapidus, and pretty much everyone who wasn't Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. The origins and backstories for each character were far more meaningful and interesting than anything we eventually learned about the island itself.

So when I read superhero comics, I don't give a shit about any of the big events. By and large, they're just empty posturing as characters are forced through the motions of some editor's mapped-out plot line, hitting each beat for maximum shock value. Many fans love that. To them, it means progress. It means stories that "matter." But not to me. I'm in it for the characters, both the ones I already know and love and new ones who might work their ways into my hearts. Anything that can flesh those characters out, make them deeper, make them even more interesting and explores their motivations and how they develop, that is what makes their actions MATTER.

Origins and backstory aren't the only ways to accomplish this, but they are an extremely effective one when used well. So to answer Mr. Brothers' hypothetical question: it's me. I care. Specifics are that important, at least for those of us who put character above contrived plots.
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Hey. How's it goin'?

Since LJ is still under DDoS assault and I am thus unable to respond to a number of comments from you fine folks, I figure that this might be a good time to bring up the fact that I have started an About_Faces account for Twitter. I don't update much, and most of what I do update with is just to alert whenever I post something here at LJ, but I figured it would be a good idea. All part of my grand scheme to become the King of all things Two-Face, and the... um... reasonably powerful feudal lord of all things related to the Batman villains in general!

Tangental rant: Because really, it seems like the villains need more love these days. Now, you wouldn't think that'd be a problem. I mean, they're the Batman Villains, for Grodd's sake! But these days, it's like fandom is more interested in the Bat-Family than the Bat-Rogues, with more fan love centering around Dick, Tim, Jason, Babs, Steph, Cass, Damian, and Terry rather than Harvey, Pam, Eddie, Ozzie, Squishy, Vic-F, Vic-Z, Jervis, and pretty much everyone who isn't the Joker and/or Harley. Love for heroes over villains? Doesn't that fly in the face of all fandom? On top of that, the upcoming crop of DCnU Bat-Books will be carrying on the Grant Morrison tradition of All-New Villains, which strikes me as unnecessary and wasteful. Why flood the market with far more villains who will just end up being cannon fodder in tomorrow's Face the Face-style kiss-the-D-listers storyline when you have a couple dozen excellent pre-existing characters going under-developed and unloved? I'd argue that it takes LESS imagination to create a new character than it does to find something new to say and do with a pre-existing one. /Tangental Rant

So in these times when people are forgetting how great the Rogues are, I've been thinking about expanding about_faces' mission to looking at the villains in general, going so far as to consider starting up a FuckYeahBatmanVillains account. Thankfully, a FuckYearBatmanVillains already exists, and it's awesome. It's just a daily dose of happy, even including more obscure characters like Hugo and Ratcatcher. I told the maintainer how much I loved it, and he/she linked to here, which is awesome! ... Well, except for the DDoS attack making it near-impossible to most to leave comments, much less actually get LJ to load. In my IRL persona, I'd refer to that turn of events as being rather "Hefnerian."

Through FuckYeahBatmanVillains, I also discovered a FYeahTwoFace Tumblr, which is pretty self-explanatory, and equally as happy-making. I was already loving the hell out of FYeahTwoFace before I discovered that, hey, I think they (or one of the contributors) follows this very blog! Neato! The Capullo Bat-Villains image linked to my most recent entry, and I dare say those are my scans of that Azrael story where Harvey pulled a Christopher Walken from Pulp Fiction! Neato! If anybody behind FYeahTwoFace is reading this, keep up the great work!

If you need to kill some time, those are the two Tumblr feeds to check out! I scoured through and saved tons of great images, but there are three Harvey images in particular I hadn't seen before, which deserve special attention.

I love this piece by Eric Cante, which reminds me of Nate Bellegarde's amazing sketch (when're you gonna make that into a print, Nate? I have money that should be better spent on diapers and formula that could be yours!), which gives you only a hint of the scarring. The lanky design strikes me as this being Two-Face by way of Gabriel Ba's Casanova and Cowboy Bebop, which just gives him a general air of slickness that I dig. For all the brutality of his actions, Harvey here doesn't seem particularly happy, like he's a badass who's all business.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for the vest-and-holsters look, but I love this piece by Adam Withers. I can't put my finger on why, but there's something about the jacket lying at his feet that just works, and the scarring is uncommonly creepy.

I've seen Dan Hipp's artwork featured on various comic sites before, and I've always enjoyed it, but this one blew me away. Not just because it's Harvey, as he's drawn Harvey in the past, but because--like Bellegarde and Steve Lieber before him--he captures the character of Harvey Dent above and beyond his grotesquery. It's all in the hunched-over pose and pensive look, which show him as a burdened character. The very best Two-Face images are the ones that show that burden, in my view. I also love the limited use of color, especially how it's used for the coin. I'd buy the hell out of a print of this. After checking out Hipp's wonderful artblog, I think I'll dedicate an entire post to rounding up all of his Batman related artwork sometime.

That's about it from me for now. Apologies if the HTML is screwed up, as I'm not sure I'll be able to edit this post until LJ gets fixed. I have a couple more posts in the works, including--finally!--a new analysis of a classic comic, and maybe a proper review of Tony Daniel's recent Harvey/Gilda mediocrity. I'm a bit too underwhelmed to feel any particular drive to review that story, so maybe I'll hold off until I can first look at Two-Face Strikes Twice! and The Long Halloween, once I get my scanner back in working order.

Oh, and the next chapter of Dent will be on the way soon, too. Thanks to everyone who's reading and commenting so far. I'll get back to your feedback once LJ lets me post comments!
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I've found a handful of little things which don't really warrant posts on their own, but by their powers combined, you get a thinly-connected grab-bag assortment of Two-Face goodies and baddies alike!

Chris Sims at Comics Alliance gave a feature story wrote a feature story about the Capcom-style fan-made Batman fighting game that's still in progress. I think one of the creators commented to me about something on an old scans_daily post, but maybe that was somebody else trying to create MUGEN Batman character sprites. Either way, what we've seen so far is damn exciting, but you can guess the part that really got my interest, right?

Really, all you need is a courtroom setting and you're good. Hell, maybe then someone could finally create a piece of Two-Face fanart with him doing a proper Phoenix Wright "OBJECTION!" In a better world, where the character would actually be popular with fans, we'd have seen that sort of thing yesterday, right alongside a Two-Face mashup with Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.

Why yes, I would indeed buy that for a dollar. Thankfully, the game (if it's ever completed) will be free, unless DC realizes the potential here and actually gives these fans money to get it properly produced. They reportedly have a long, long way to go yet before it's completed, but they're still dedicated to the project for the time being. Would that I could find their actual site or blog where they could update with their progress from time to time!

There's so much I'd love to see in this game. Like, maybe the Joker could use a crowbar to beat up a Robin. Or Two-Face could use a baseball bat to beat up a Robin. Or the Riddler could run a Robin over with a tank. Why a tank? Because fuck Robins, that's why a tank. Hmm, I think my sleep depravation is showing.

And speaking of video games, let's look at a real one, now that alert reader Vito tipped me off to this "secret tape" from Batman: Arkham City. God, it's like every time I think I'm done with this damn game, something pulls me back in again! But how could I resist a dialogue exchange written by Paul Dini (I assume) featuring the first-ever meeting of my two all-time favorite Batman villains, Harvey and Professor Hugo Strange?

Ohhhhhh, so many conflicting feelings. First off, I'm annoyed that after DC Universe Online, this is the second time that we've had Harvey's face (body?) scarred by Falcone, not Maroni/Moroni. Why the change? Hell, Falcone's arguably LESS well-known and related to Harvey than Maroni thanks to The Dark Knight.

But I'm more annoyed by the snarling, nasty, humorless Two-Face character here. When I was lamenting the sad lack of Two-Face fic on FanFiction.net, Henchgirl summed up a major reason why Harvey has so few fans in fandom: he lacks charisma. I feel like this take on Two-Face is a perfect example of what she means. There's not much here to really love or even like, just a self-righteous monster who needs to be kicked in the face and taken down. Compare that with the other "leaked secret tape" of the Riddler vs Hugo, where Eddie isn't depicted perfectly, and yes is still practically sparkling with charisma compared to Harvey. That said, I do like hearing the voice shifting from good side to evil and back again, which gives him some dimension.

I also think I'm in love with Hugo Strange's voice performance, and the way he's properly being written as a psychologically manipulative bastard. I wonder what this game will do to his non-existent fan base over the next few months. He can also be heard in the third and final (so far) leaked audio interview, this one between him and Catwoman. I'm still not digging her voice (it's supposed to be Grey DeLisle, and if so, it's the weakest performance I've yet heard from that talented actress), but I like that Holly is canon in the Arkhamverse. Take THAT, everyone who hates the Miller/Brubaker origins!

And speaking of Arkham, I just found a fascinating Two-Face sketch by Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth artist Dave McKean:

McKean has expressly said that he didn't care about the Batman characters when he did the story, which I think helps give this sketch such a uniquely abstract flair. I could and will eventually rant at length about McKean and Morrison's graphic novel, but I can already tell you that most of my positive notes will be about McKean's artwork, which I love (but not without reservations and considerations). This sketch reflects that. It's not my favorite Harvey sketch, but it's one of the more interesting I've seen.

And speaking of sketches, I was just remembering the failed Portraits of Villainy project that Dini and Alex Ross were going to do, but which DC rejected. Like their tabloid-sized Secret Origins book, I believe it was going to be two-page origin portraits of several DC villains.

I go hot and cold on the work of both creators, but as a great fan of villains, I'm very sad that this never happened. At the very least, I wish these could have been inked and painted up properly. Even in pencil, I think the Penguin one is my favorite. I like how he's focused on Harvey's good side because, well, not enough people focus on that aspect. At the same time, I'm especially sad that we didn't get to see a full Dini/Ross origin for Harvey, considering that Ross (at least, over Doug Braithwaite's pencils) painted one of my very favorite depictions of Harvey's scarring.
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The geek news site Topless Robot has been annoying me of late due to their recurring habit of belittleing old-school Star Trek fans, namely those who dare not to question the worth of the recent J.J. Abrams film.* But I keep going back to TR, because they put out great lists like, say The 13 Best Lawyers in Comics. I'd obviously have ranked Harvey higher, but hey, I can't argue with their choice of placement. Nor would Harvey himself, for that matter.

Another great TR list to check out is The 7 Nerdiest Roles of Brad Dourif." If you don't think you know who Brad Dourif is, trust me, you do. I want to go back in time, snatch up young Brad, and cast him as the Joker. Shit, I want to do Miller's The Dark Knight Returns as a film, and cast him in it as the Joker (and get Daniel Day Lewis as Batman! Yeah!). Because if you haven't seen the way-better-than-anyone-would-expect horror almost-masterpiece, Exorcist III**, watch this and tell me that you don't see a bit of Heath's Joker wayyyyyy before Heath's Joker. It helps to remember that he's also Chucky, and you can hear a bit of Chucky poking through his monologue.

* Regardless of how you feel about either one, it's revealed to me how ugly fandom has currently become, with fans looking down on other fans with the same kind of hostile snobbery as the jocks and in-crowd kids used to fling on us not too long ago, as I'm sure many still do.

**Watch it with the lights out and the sound cranked up. Trust me. Heh.
about_faces: (Reading the Newspaper)
Almost a year in the making (and it shows), Henchgirl has finally finished her exhaustively definitive history of Selina Kyle, packed with scans, facts, canon, and canonical disputes. Be warned, the post is HUGE AND NOT SAFE FOR DIAL-UP... but I promise you, it's worth it.

With all the opinionated Catwoman fans throwing around uninformed views about a character whose history is mostly out of print, this timeline is essential to understanding Selina's character and motivations. Even though I may be biased, I am honestly in awe of what she's pulled off here.

This seriously makes me want to step up my game. I wouldn't even know where to begin trying to do a similar project with Harvey, and Selina's history is far more convoluted. At the same time, she also has more material to work with. With Harvey, there are far fewer options on hand. I shudder to consider trying to reconcile the canon I prefer with elements from The Long Halloween/Dark Victory* and Batman: Jekyll & Hyde.**

*By her own rules, Loeb's stories are sadly now officially canon, BUT they clash with the canon of Eye of the Beholder, which was legitimized thanks to the next Doug Moench story which I'll be posting here.

**Which hasn't been referenced by anybody else, so thus doesn't count as canon. Maybe it should still be noted, in some capacity. Or maybe it should be ignored and shunned entirely, so that no one will ever be tempted to resurrect the character of Murray Dent. Man, it'll be fun tearing that one apart someday.

random arts

Mar. 5th, 2011 06:11 pm
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First off, the great [livejournal.com profile] captaintwinings made several awesome icons based on comics I've posted here, and while I plan to use several, my favorite has to be this one:

Unfortunately, LJ hates icons of even moderate size. It's the same problem I rant into too many damn times trying to make .gif icons of my own. Anybody know how to make this icon into a smaller file while still having it look not-crappy in quality?

Every so often, the art round-ups at Comics Alliance yields something related to Harvey and the Bat-Rogues in general. Here are some recent findings:

I've never played Angry Birds, which is apparently a hugely popular app or something, so maybe some of you might find this amusing yourselves:

I promise a post of actual substance at some point. Or at the very least, another batch of covers with commentary.
about_faces: (coin flipping through the air)
So, doo doo doo, there I was, finally going to read the AV Club's review of Two-Face, Parts 1 and 2 for their ongoing TAS retrospective. That, of course, is why I wrote the big rambling post last night, because I wanted to get it in under the wire. "So okay," I thought, "now I can finally read their review, hooray!

Then I read the first paragraph of the review:

“I believe in Harvey Dent.” The phrase has become primarily associated with The Dark Knight, but was first uttered in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween, the miniseries that served as a major influence on Nolan’s big screen take on Two-Face. Building on the underworld community established in Miller’s Year One, The Long Halloween has Batman teaming up with Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon to take down a killer picking off members of the Gotham mafia, murders that coincide with holidays on the calendar. Much like this week’s Batman: The Animated Series two-parter “Two-Face,” Halloween portrays Dent as a valiant public figure struggling to negotiate his desire to see punishment for Gotham’s criminals with his obligation to the legal rules and procedures that he has sworn to uphold. And while Two-Face’s origin changes depending on the medium, there is one constant: once he loses the left half of his face, there’s no Harvey Dent left to believe in.

... I was originally going to post that above quote with an "AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!, and let you, my readers, take it from there in the comments. Because the thing I love about you guys is that I don't have to actually explain all the reasons why this is so infuriatingly WRONG because you guys ALREADY KNOW. Besides, it was hard for me to type with my fingers curled into shaking fists.

But Henchgirl insisted that I step back, take a breather, and come back to this later. She wanted the same for herself, because--god, I love her--she was just as pissed off as I was. But for different reasons! That's the real magic of the reviewer's opening statement here: here's just so much fail to go around!

Look. I know that The Long Halloween is always going to be a popular, seminal comic for many. And I know that while is "borrowed" liberally from the far superior Andrew Helfer story, Eye of the Beholder, the fact is that EotB is not in print anywhere, it's not well-known, and people just aren't going to read it as much. I don't like it when somebody on a message board or a blog doesn't acknowledge EotB, giving TLH all the credit, but I understand it.

Nor, for that matter, do many comics fans realize that TLH didn't actually invent the idea of showing Harvey Dent as a crusader for justice before he became Two-Face, no more than TAS did! Nor did it invent the iconic rooftop meeting between Jimbo, Bats, and Harv, which carried its way all the way through to The Dark Knight. Nor was it the first time we'd ever seen Harvey as a man "struggling to negotiate his desire to see punishment for Gotham’s criminals with his obligation to the legal rules and procedures that he has sworn to uphold."

I don't like it, but I understand it. People just don't know any better. And why should they? Can I really expect all fans to have spent/wasted as much time as I have--and still do--reading comics? No. Of course not.

Besides, they're just fans. It's not like they're, say, an actual paid, professional reviewer for a major pop culture publication, writing as an authority about Batman to an audience of largely non-comic readers.

Because heaven forbid that a reviewer--someone who is attempting to bring a fresh, educated perspective to something in an old episode that the readers have undoubtedly already watched--actually be KNOWLEDGEABLE about a character.

Not only does the reviewer draw from a work which is incredibly derivative and so popular that many people, like him, only associate Harvey Dent from that story, but he's also wrong about his big conclusion: that the only constant in all origins is that "there’s no Harvey Dent left to believe in."

The Henchgirl Interjects: HAHAHAHAHAHA *breath* AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'd say more, but I don't want to steal your thunder, dear.

No, no, it's okay. I don't mind sharing this one. Go nuts.

YAY! RAGE! But I don't like italics. Just a second.

Huzzah. Now, are you sure you want me to rant? Because there isn't going to be much left for you to cover once I'm done.

Girl, I spent, like, four hours working on a long, ranting post yesterday. I need a break. Please, help!


Let's get into it, shall we? )
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So I have a specific reason for wanting to post the cracktacular Bronze Age epic, "Where Were You the Night Batman Died?" But the problem is, I can't say what the reason is without spoiling the major twist.

Written by 50's-era Batman author David V. Reed (creator of Deadshot), WWYTNBD? is a Bronze Age tale that still feels distinctly Silver. The result is a story that feels less timeless and more awkward in either era, but it's fascinating and fun nonetheless.

Batman is believed to be dead, so the underworld (including all of Batman's rogues) decide to hold their own trial to determine who deserves the credit for snuffin' the Bat. Ra's al Ghul is the Judge (see what I mean about the Silver Age touch?) while Two-Face is given the perfect role as the prosecutor! The testimony of each villain gives me the impression that WWYTNBD? was the main inspiration for the classic B:TAS episode, "Almost Got 'Im."

Rather than scans and crop these issues myself, I'll instead ask that you either buy the collection yourself, or check out the following links from the blog Blah Blah Blah, which posted all four issues of this story. And after you've read the story, click the cut-tag to discuss spoilers.

You ready?

Part 1: The Testimony of Catwoman

Part 2: The Testimony of the Riddler

Part 3: The Testimony of Lex Luthor

Part 4: The Testimony of the Joker

Finished? Read all four parts, or at least pretend you did? All righty then...

SPOILERS behind the cut, namely the reason I'm posting this in the first place! )

If you'd like to read this and other great Batman almost-deaths, they can be purchased in the trade paperback collection, The Strange Deaths of Batman.
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Chris Sims--comic blogger extraordinaire of The Invincible Super-Blog and Comics Alliance, as well as a Batman superfan in his own right--gives a pretty damn well dead-on summation of why Two-Face is an enduring but difficult and inconsistent character, and why such a major villain so often gets overshadowed and ignored.

Sims' writing there is a must-read for ALL Batman fans, not just fans of Two-Face. Sims isn't writing from the fan perspective I would, since he outright admits that Two-Face is probably his least favorite of the Major Batman Villains. I won't lie, that admittance saddens me--just as I was saddened when my own Henchgirl told me she feels the same about Harvey--but that's easy to understand when you consider how tricky the character is to write, for reasons that Sims himself explains eloquently.

But while Sims personally doesn't care for the character, he has a perfect grasp on what makes him work, citing "Eye of the Beholder" first and foremost as the greatest Two-Face comic to date, and then recommending the little-known Brubaker story "Dead Reckoning," which I'll be posting here sometime soon. I've always felt that it was "the story "Hush" wanted to be," but it's gratifying to see a person like Sims write those very words.

Hell, he ignores the work of Jeph Loeb entirely! That pleases me to no end. While I don't hate the Harvey of The Long Halloween and Dark Victory as much as I hate the stories themselves, it's frustrating that so many people think that those are the go-to Two-Face comics. But ah, that's another rant for another time (along with my not-sure-if-disagreement with the idea that The Dark Knight is the pinnacle for Harvey Dent stories).

But Sims raises a point that I do find troublesome, perhaps because he may be right:

I've often thought that, appropriately enough, there are really only two stories you can tell with Two-Face in a leading role. The first is the Origin Story, which hits most of the high points that you mention, including the fact that he's a fallen hero. ... The other type of Two-Face story is the one where he's healed, and we explore whether repairing the physical can also put a broken mind back together (SPOILER WARNING: No).

I disagree with Sims, but more out of my belief that a good writer can do anything with a character of such richness as Harvey. The problem is that the character is in a deadlocked position in terms of growth or development, and while there have been attempts, they've been forgotten (Janus), wrong-headed AND forgotten (the Judge), or just plain undone. The character seems to work best as a dark mirror for the heroes, but what can one do with him in a leading role?

I'd think the answer would be to look to characters like Etrigan and Eclipso, to explore the hero/villain-in-one-body aspect, and to really emphasize the heroic side of him. Go back to his roots and remember that this is a guy who gave his stolen money to charity half the time, and show the internal and external struggles this character would face. While dealing with his own warring sides, he'd also have to handle dealings with the capes, the cops, the mob, the other rogues, and any of a number of other groups, none of whom would have any reason to entirely trust or side with him. That's where I'd start, but that's just one idea.

What do you folks think? Are there really only two stories one can tell with Two-Face in a leading role?


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