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Preamble: While I will be discussing this book to the best of my abilities, I know that there's nothing quite like seeing a work that's being critiques yourself rather than just hearing the critic's description. As such, if you're interested in checking this book out for yourself, I have found three separate extensive previews of this book: two over at Google Books here and here, plus this preview over at Scribd.

Each of the previews even include some pages that the others omit, including some that are relevant to this review, so try checking them all out for your perusal. Plus, all previews include links to where you can purchase the book if you're interested to read the whole thing. If you'd like to just purchase the book directly from Amazon.com, here you go. Otherwise, let's press on!

While I've always had little use for those unauthorized books that try to examine Batman through the lens of philosophy or religion*, I was really intrigued by the prospect of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by psychologist and Batman fan Travis Langley.

Behind the cut, I attempt to criticize the analyses of an licensed psychologist. Sure, why not? )

What do you think, folks? If you've read the book or even just a few excerpts online (see Preamble), do you agree or disagree with Langley's analyses? How would you diagnose any of the Rogues? Let me know in the comments!

Also, if anyone thinks that the links I used for psychological terminology are inaccurate or outdated, please send me along links to better articles and I shall edit accordingly!

Note: *Footnotes are now found in the comments! The second one became a long rant about Nolan's The Dark Knight that I needed to get off my chest. Think of it as a bonus tirade!
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While there are many Batman stories which I adore, there are some which I would never, ever recommend to anyone else. Such is the case with Batman: Dark Detective, the long-awaited reunion of Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin, one of the the greatest Batman teams ever who produced one of the greatest runs of any DC Comics property in the company's history. Hyperbole abuse be damned, I firmly think that storyline deserves every scrap of praise it gets.

A brief overview of Englehart and Rogers' legendary story, and their respective failed attempts to create a suitable sequel )

So with the three big stars of the original band reunited, coupled with a first-issue Joker cover that guaranteed old-school awesomeness, it's obvious that Batman: Dark Detective was going to be perhaps THE must-read comic for fans of classic Batman... right?

Well... sorta. Look, I love this story, but I'll be the first to admit that it's not without flaws. And even its strengths are not all to everyone's tastes. Maybe what happened was that, in their attempt to recapture the traits that made them so beloved in the first place, they were perhaps a bit too successful. Batman: Dark Detective ramps up a lot of their... quirks, shall we say... to the point where it must seem weird and jarring to readers who aren't familiar with their work, to the newbies who are, in a sense, not "in on the joke." I think it's fair to say that B:DD is like porn for fans of Englehart and Rogers, a slice of pure crack that's largely off-beat, sometimes just plain off, sometimes COMPLETELY BONKERS, but it's never boring. Well, almost never, depending on your tolerance for the romance between Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud.

Did you notice that this issue is where DC changed logos from the "bullet" to the "swish"? Maybe that was another sign of how the times had moved on from this story right out from under its feet. Also, I miss the "bullet," dammit. Hell, I had already gotten used to the "swish" before it too got replaced by the soulless corporate logo they're using now. Sigh.

Ultimately, I may just be really biased in my love towards Dark Detective for two reasons: 1.) it has one of the weirdest--and yet, most strangely charming--explorations of Harvey Dent that I've ever seen, and 2.) it has what I consider to be some of the best Joker moments of all time. Yes, the real focus is on Bruce and Silver's affair, but to quote Max Shreck, "Yawn." For me, Dark Detective is all about the perfect Joker and the wacky Harvey. So let's examine both, shall we?

And while we're at it, let's meet a brand-new character who will play a vital part in this story, someone who bears an eerie resemblance to a certain blond, doomed politician from a recent Bat-related movie that would come out three years later. Coincidence? We'll see...

Click this cut-tag OR I'LL KILL YOU )
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! )
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Over the past month, there have been two DC projects which have dealt with an alternate-reality Gotham, both of which feature their versions of Two-Face... more or less. And yeah, okay, they're not official "Elseworlds" because DC doesn't call their alt-u books those anymore, but screw you, DC, they'll always be Elseworlds to me!

The first is Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Batman: Earth One, which I'd recently speculated might feature a Harvey Dent cameo at least. I still haven't read the book myself, but thanks to the help of [livejournal.com profile] martin_l_gore, I've at least gotten the low-down on the basic details, especially when it comes to the Harveys and the Dents. Yes, that was indeed a pair of plurals, as in addition to a surprising new take on Harvey Bullock, there are two Dents in B:EO.


As for Batman: Earth One as a whole, everything I've seen about the book makes it looks like a perfectly fine B-grade story that is perfectly serviceable even though it doesn't acquit its existence as being yet another goddamn Batman origin. By far, the most interesting aspect appears to be the subplot of Jim Gordon, who is a compromised/corrupt cop here, and a very different take on Harvey Bullock, much of whose SPOILER-filled storyline was posted here by [livejournal.com profile] martin_l_gore. Thanks again, Martin! Because of these scans, I will definitely be picking up a copy of this at some point! When I saw the Bullock stuff, my first thought was "DO NOT WANT," but I think Johns made it work by the end. We'll see where his story goes in volume two.

The other big appearance is only an extremely technical and distant connection to any Harvey we know, but I think you'll understand why she merits at least a mention:

So DC's been doing weekly digital comics based on the Ame-Comi line of figurines, which reimagined female heroes and villains with anime-style designs. One of the released figures was Duela Dent, who--as you can see--was a steampunk take on a female Joker with a Heath Ledger Glasgow smile. Unsurprisingly, a small fandom started to emerge around her via fan art and cosplay, and it only seems to be catching on more with each passing convention season.

Now, the Ame-Comi version of Duela has gotten her own origin in the pages of Ame-Comi Girls, written by the Jonah Hex team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and drawn by Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh, so naturally, I was curious to see what they would do with the character's murky family lineage. Would she be Two-Face's daughter? The Joker's? The Jokester and Three-Face's ala Countdown, god help us?

Daddy's little girl... but who's the Daddy? )

So yeah, at least there's KIND of a Two-Face connection with her attacking both the law and crime, but it's in the name of chaos, which would be just like the Joker except it's not really funny chaos. So pretty much, I find absolutely nothing interesting about this character (other than her hate-crush on Batgirl, who may well be Gotham's sole protector in this universe, along with her cousin, Cass, who's Robin), which is a shame because Henchgirl and I really, really, REALLY loved the Ame-Comi Wonder Woman story, where Diana was a rather Barda-like asskicking warrior.

Tangent: But then, that storyline was drawn by Amanda Conner, who makes everything better. Everything. Amanda Conner's artwork instantly gives the characters more personality, and the storytelling is so much more fun. I cannot praise her enough for what she brings to a comic, and it's such a shame that she's wasting her talents on Before Watchmen. Well, I guess Amanda Conner gotta eat. /Tangent

If you'd like to read these comics for yourself, Batman: Earth One is available at finer bookstores and comic stores across the country, and can be purchased online (and for Kindle!) on Amazon. The Ame-Comi comics are first being released digitally, and then will be released in paper a month or two from now. The Duela Dent chapter I reviewed here can be purchased digitally, as can the second part, which just came out today.
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In 1996, trading card company Fleer decided that they wanted to release a different kind of card set for Batman. Inspired by the loose narrative of Topps' classic Mars Attacks! cards, the Batman Master Series set was the first series of cards to comprise a complete, original Batman storyline. The more cards you collect, the more parts of the story you'd have to piece together. And it was all written by none other than our old favorite, Doug Moench. Oh yes, we're in for a treat. :D


The plot was simple: after the Joker once again escapes Arkham, Batman goes missing and is presumed dead, with the Joker being the likeliest suspect. Everyone posits their reactions and theories, including the Joker himself, who can't be sure whether or not he actually did it at all! This offered plenty of opportunities to hit all the big beats of the previous card series (major and minor characters, important events) plus create all-new settings for cards (scenes from the plotline, bizarre wacko takes on the rogues, the Joker popping up in classic Elseworlds). Along the way, we get TONS of cards dedicated to rogues, some of whom pop up several times. Visually, it's a feast of portraits, and that alone would warrant a master post here.

Except it gets even better, because apparently the cards had enough of a cult following amongst collectors that the entire deck was given its own coffee table art book:

Not only are all the cards lovingly reprinted along with Moench's text, but the book's editors actually included commentary from the artists, thus giving a rare insight into the creative process! The combination of characters, art, story, and commentary make Batman Masterpieces a must-have, and to show you what I mean, I'm going to post just the villain pages, almost all of which are by the painter Dermot Power (Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle, and concept artist for Batman Begins).

Who's Who (could have possibly killed Batman?) behind the cut! )

So what did you guys make of the art? Were they indeed "museum quality" as the ads touted, or merely a dated and grotesque assortment of 90's-tacular artists? I lean more towards the latter, but I love the collection of the cards nonetheless, and I very much recommend checking out the whole of Batman Masterpieces if you can find a copy.
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
Okay. I've put this one off long enough.

One of the reasons why I've come to love Hugo Strange is because of how the character was uniquely developed over the decades by a handful of writers, each of whom directly built upon the previous stories. While Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, and other villains varied wildly in how they were written (Continuity? Character consistency? BLASPHEMY! MOAR EVIL PLOTS AND DEATH TRAPS!), Hugo was the only character to have a linear progression from the Golden Age all the way to the early 2000's! It was so rare, so precious, so goddamned unusual, that it was well past time for SOME writer to come along and fuck things up. That writer happened to be Doug Moench.

Now, I know I've ragged on Moench a lot, but until this point, his track record with Hugo Strange had been stellar! He wrote two fantastic Hugo stories, including one of the greatest Batman stories ever. I suppose it was only inevitible that his general Moenchness would catch up with him by the time he made the foolish decision to write a sequel to Prey over a decade after the fact, so he could properly depict the return of Post-Crisis Hugo Strange.

Yes, Catwoman, spines work that way.

Here's a thing, though: Devin Grayson already told Hugo's return a few months earlier in the pages of Gotham Knights, in her fantastic Transference storyline. That story, set in modern continuity, made it clear that Hugo hadn't been seen since the events of Prey way back around the Year One continuity. Got all that? Well too bad, because Doug Moench decided to make that even MORE convoluted with Terror, which clashed with established continuity!

More importantly, though, is the fact that Terror sucks. The main problem is that Moench tries to cram in several plotlines--all of which he's regurgitated lazily from earlier in other, better stories--and falls flat in every instance. But I don't want to undersell its quality, nor conversely, oversell its entertainment value for awfulness.

Behold the ill-fated team-up of two fear-based psychology-driven mad professors, behind the cut! )

If you'd like to read Terror in full--including the extensive Catwoman subplot and full details of the Scarecrow's revenge campaign--both it and Prey are finally being collected in one single volume. It's probably the smartest thing to do, even if the sequel is vastly inferior, but the whole collection's worth tracking down for the first story alone.
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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!
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
So, I can't wait any longer. I need to rant about the characters in Batman: Arkham City.

Understand, this is completely out of the order I had intended. I wanted to wait until I had finished my series on the Complete History of Hugo Strange, but I've put off the next few posts because 1.) I really don't like most of the upcoming stories, and 2.) I don't have scans of Batman and the Monster Men, Battle for the Cowl: The Network, nor the stuff by Tony Daniel and from David Hine's Arkham Reborn. I really wanted--and in some ways still need--to post those before I seriously look at how Hugo was handled in the B:AC game and comics.

But birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly you heard me!, Hef gotta rant! For one thing, this is the most high-profile exposure that the rogues as a whole have gotten since Batman: The Animated Series. For another, the big twist about Hugo Strange pissed me off so much that it not only ruined every bit of enjoyment I had for the character in the game, but it also put a damper on my love of the character as a whole. It was THAT annoying.

Now, I haven't actually played B:AC, since--surprise surprise--Dell laptops suck and thus can't support the game via Steam. So I was forced to watch this series of playthroughs, one of the few without player commentary, and just focused on the character stuff. I ended up having to do the same with the original Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I still haven't played either, but that was a far more painful experience. B:AA was not a well-written, well-performed game. I'm sure the playing experience was amazing, but the viewing experience was tedious and irritating, largely because of the Hot-Topic-ified versions of the rogues, the uninspired voice acting of everyone involved, and ohmygod the Joker at the end WTF still.

B:AC was so much better in every damn way in regards to how they handled the characters and story. Between the first game's success and the new urban demilitarized setting, it's like the designers knew that they didn't NEED to reinvent the characters, and pretty much kept them intact (with some changes) to roam freely, interact, and wreak havoc. I approve! ... But not, of course, without some criticisms.

A perfect example is what was done with the Penguin.

Gotta admit, I'm surprised by how much I liked Pengers here, much as I hate the inexplicable voice, overly-sleazy characterization, and lack of stylish flair in the form of no top hats, cigars instead of cigarette holders, and--most stupid of all--a broken bottle in the eye. Oh yes, that's no monocle! Because he's now GRITTY, you see! How very stupid. And yet, I liked the character regardless. He came off as a more interesting villain there than he has in the comics for YEARS, save for great flukes such as Joker's Asylum: Penguin.

If you'd like full thoughts on this version, I wrote them all up at my Tumblr, but know that I'll eventually be incorporating many of those thoughts into my eventual Penguin Appreciation Post. Hell, I'll probably do a whole Penguin Appreciation Week to go with it! But that won't be for a while yet.

After posting that, someone on Tumblr asked me what I thought about how the rest of the villains were handled. For the most part, my thoughts will be spoiler-free, and I'll save the spoilers for the end. Don't worry, you'll get warning and a lot of blank space.

Either way, if you don't want to be spoiled, avoid reading the comments.

75% spoiler-free, followed by a spoiler warning and then 25% ALL OF THE SPOILERS behind the cut )

Otherwise, neat game. Looking forward to actually playing it someday.
about_faces: (Default)
From what I've read of Devin Grayson's Batman: Gotham Knights, it strikes me as an incredibly underrated series that focused on character first and foremost.

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

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

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

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

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

Way of the future. Way of the future. Way of the...
about_faces: (Default)
I've been incredibly annoyed at DC for the way they've treated their trade collections over the past decade. I can understand many great stories being left out of print, of course I can. Collections cost money to make, and if there's no market even for great stories which few people want or know about, why publish it? I get that, sad though it makes me. But what they actually WERE doing was, to put it mildly, damn stupid.

Bad enough that they were constantly publishing six-issue collections in overpriced, flimsy, awkward hardcovers. But worse, some collections, like Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, were published in three separate hardcovers, with several key issues published OUT OF ORDER. Then, as if to compound this ridiculousness, they subseuqnetly published Blackest Night and Blackest Night: Green Lantern as TWO SEPARATE COLLECTIONS, even though anybody who followed that event knows that both titles alternated telling the same damn story. It's like buying two copies of the same book, but one copy has the even-numbered chapters and the other has the odd.

And then there are collections like Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told and Batman VS Two-Face, which completely omit big-name stories in favor of out-of-context selections from larger stories, included for the clear purpose of enticing people to buy those trades next at the expense of a great collection. I was so pissed by this, I actually wrote an actual paper letter to the editor who seemed most responsible for most of this fuckery, and it was a very polite but strongly-worded one, but to no avail. Man, sometimes I wish DC would just put me in charge of their collected editions.

Until that happens, though, it seems like something must have changed, because DC is stepping up their collected editions in a big, big way! Never have I seen so many new collections coming out at the same time that I so wanted to own, especially since I've recently fallen in love with Bronze Age Batman in a big way.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 1 [Hardcover]

The first part of a complete, full-color collection of The Brave and the Bold? Holy hell, yes yes YES. I know that Aparo isn't everyone's cup of tea, and that my own adoration may be purely based in nostalgia, but Aparo's Batman is definitive for me the way Sprang, Adams, Miller, and Lee's Batmen are for others.

I've only read a handful of Aparo's TB&TB stories, but the few I've read have been absolute gems. Of course, it helps that two of them are written by the great Alan Brennert, and I've reviewed both stories in the past. Read them if you haven't, dear god, do. Other stories are written by Bob Haney, a writer who's notably a big out-there with character depictions (such as making Oliver Queen a greedy, boorish treasure-seeking booby), but even that team can result in one of the greatest Two-Face stories I've ever read. So while an Aparo collection of TB&TB will almost certainly be a mixed bag, I will devour each and every story with great interest.

And hey, hopefully the subsequent volumes will open the door to collecting more of Aparo's straight Batman work, especially the all-time classic mini, The Untold Legend of the Batman. That story needs to be collected, like, yesterday.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers (Batman) [Hardcover] (Not final cover art?)

FUCK YES THE LEGENDARY ENGLEHART/ROGERS RUN HAS BEEN COLLECTED AGAIN YES!!! Erm, I mean... how satisfactory. I wondering what the coloring will be like? Will it be the wonderful original coloring, or the crappier, washed-out coloring that was used for the reprints? Oh whatever, I don't care, it's Strange Apparitions! Hugo! Deadshot! Thorne! Fish! One of the all-time greatest takes on the Joker ever, complete with the glorious butt-chin that Rogers liked to draw!

This seems like a huge collection. What other Batman work did Rogers do that would be included here? Probably Dark Detective, but I wonder if they'll also include Siege, Archie Goodwin's posthumous project from Legends of the Dark Knight? Either way, this is a must-own. For those who need a taste of just what makes this run so great, and why Rogers is a legend deserving of recognition, check out my review of the entire Hugo Strange subplot from Strange Apparitions.

Tales of the Batman - Gene Colan Vol. 1 [Hardcover]

First things first, who's noticing the pattern here? Yes, all of these collections are highlighting the ARTISTS. There isn't a single new DC hardcover collection coming out to celebrate writers (not unless you count the fact that they're rereleasing the excellent DCU Alan Moore collection in HC, presumably to include the inferior Bolland recoloring of The Killing Joke). What gives? Is this just indicative of the DCU run by Jim Lee, artists are now regularly given writing duties regardless of their skill or experience?

Don't get me wrong, the first two collections are absolutely deserving of being compiled for the artist first (although it's hard to imagine Strange Apparitions being half as good without Englehart firing on all cylinders), and no one will dispute that Gene Colan is a master deserving of recognition. On the other hand, you see that vampire story from featured right there on the cover? Yeah, it ties into several other stories which aren't drawn by Colan--including issues of the Batman, whereas this one was published in Detective Comics--but were ALL (or mostly) written by Gerry Conway. Now, I think many/most of the non-Colan issues were drawn by Don Newton, so thankfully we're also getting this...

Tales of the Batman: Don Newton [Hardcover] (Not final cover art, presumably)

... Which is great, but damn, wouldn't it have made more sense to do it as a Gerry Conway collection? Well, I suppose it all depends on which stories they include through each volume. As it is, you'll have to buy both if you want to read the complete saga of Boss Thorne's return, and subsequent re-haunting by the ghost of Hugo Strange, not to mention the introduction of Killer Croc and Redhead!Jason.

And finally, the book which in some ways gets me most excited:

Batman: Birth of the Demon [Paperback]

Birth of the Demon is one of the greatest Batman comics I have ever read, and it is THE greatest Ra's al Ghul story ever written, a masterpiece by Denny O'Neil and Norm Breyfogle both working at the very top of their game. The fact that it was out of print and unread by most just spoke to me of everything that was wrong with DC's collected editions, as well as the audience who didn't buy it enough when it came out to make it a hit. Hopefully that will be different this time, and people will finally read this masterwork for themselves.

Don't let the title fool you, it's actually the complete trilogy of Ra's al Ghul graphic novels, including the two by Mike W. Barr. The first is Son of the Demon, where Bruce and Talia actually got married, had sex, and she became pregnant. Yes, that would indeed be the origin of Damian Wayne, um, except that Grant Morrison, Mr. Everything-Is-Continuity-Yay-Silver-Age, couldn't actually remember how Son of the Demon went and, even though he loves wanking about obscure stories from 1957, he couldn't actually be bothered to read a graphic novel published in 198-fucking-7. So instead, he made up his own origin where Talia raped Batman. Let me say that again: GRANT MORRISON DECIDED TO HAVE TALIA RAPE BATMAN. I feel like it's important for everyone to remember this, especially when they wonder why the hell she's become an irredeemably evil character in the past few years. Barr's original Son of the Demon deserves to be read all the more because of Morrison's fuckery.

Less important is Barr's sequel, Bride of the Demon, which is by far the weakest of the trilogy. Ra's decides to marry an over-the-hill actress to have his heir, why now? It's as silly and forgettable as Birth is brilliant. The whole collection is worth every penny for the first and third stories alone. Just try to ignore that boring, boring, BORING cover by Andy Kubert.

Other collections of note coming out soon:

A new edition of Knightfall and a whole Batman VS Bane compilation, one of which will hopefully FINALLY collect Vengeance of Bane. Why the hell was that one never reprinted? If I'd read that, I might have actually cared more about that silly 'roided-up luchador!

Brubaker and Cooke's Catwoman series is getting recollected in a big hardcover. God, I loved that series so much. It was the first time I ever actually cared about Selina! That said, I'm not sure how well it's aged. I'm now more sensitive to Brubaker's tone-deafness when it comes to voices, and the stuff with Black Mask and Maggie Kyle just seems irredeemably ugly to me now. Honestly, I just hope that book collects Selina's Big Score by Darwyn Cooke, which is the greatest Catwoman story ever made. Ever. Ever ever ever. But even if it's not collected there, you can still always find it in Batman: Ego, and Other Tails.

Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, an original graphic novel set in a separate continuity intended to draw in new readers. This team did amazing work with Superman, but in truth, I don't really care too much about them trying to tackle Batman. I'm just in it to see what the hell he does (if anything) with Harvey Dent. Because I'm that predictable.
about_faces: (Default)
I'd love to stop posting about Two-Face in Arkham City, but sadly, this is the most mainstream geek media coverage and attention he's gotten since The Dark Knight.

Over the past few days, virtually every site I frequent--including Comics Alliance, Topless Robot, io9, Robot 6, although not my current favorite, The Mary Sue--ran a proper character portrait of Harvey alongside a full character bio with stats. Even then, response on those sites was lukewarm, to say the least. One amounted nothing more than a single response of "Cool," whereas the comments explode if the story has been about Robin or Catwoman.

In fairness, we all know that AC's Two-Face is problematic at best, but no one's really talking about him whenever the game comes up in the news. Of course, I've tried to open up a conversation about him, and that didn't go so well, thus reminding me why I opened up this particularly geeky corner of the internet in the first place. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate your folks' readership, comments, and general participation? Because I really do.

So that said, let's check out Harvey's deluxe treatment in the game, shall we?

That's probably the single best image of Game!Harvey to come out so far. It's cool and classy, and I like that we get just a wee teeny bit of the scarring division between the gun and his hairline. Ties it all together. If this were a comics pin-up, I'd just photoshop in a clear image of his bulging evil eye peering through the darkness, but hey, that's me. That said, I'm not sure what the hell is going on with texturing on things like Harvey's suit. What the hell texture is that supposed to be? Vinyl corduroy?

The image was also accompanied by a full profile, which I find interesting in a number of places:

Real Name: Harvey Dent
Alias: TWO-FACE (Gah! Sorry, the all-caps startled me. I guess you can only shout his alter ego now?)
Occupation: Professional Criminal
Base: Gotham City (Is this necessary? I mean, is there anybody in this game whose base ISN'T Gotham? By the way, I'm now apparently doing commentary after each stat. Whee!)
Eyes: Blue (YAY!)
Hair: Brown/Grey(ALSO YAY! Even though his hair looks pretty black in the gameplay)
Height: 6 ft
Weight: 182 lb (... what, really? That doesn't seem enough for Harvey, especially at 6 feet. I know from reading the DC Encyclopedia that whoever writes these things has really weird ideas about how much female characters should weigh, but this is the first time I've raised my eyebrow over a male character's weight stats)
First Appearance: Detective Comics #66 (August 1942) (Yay for mentioning the comics!)

• Attribute 01: Hideously scarred on the left half of his face, which he plays up with clothing that's differently styled on one side (I've theorized that Harvey might wear garish split suits to draw the attention away from his face, and I think that the "plays up" plays into that idea)
• Attribute 02: Extremely skilled with his weapons of choice: twin .45 automatics
• Attribute 03: Psychotic obsession with duality, designing crimes around the number two (Would this be a good time to bring up that I've never heard a good reason as to WHY he's obsessed with the number two other than it being a holdover gimmick from the Golden Age?)
• Attribute 04: Defers to his half-scarred coin in choices of life or death (Only life and death, not just choices in general, or at the very least MORAL choices? Furthermore, I'm assuming they mean the life or death of his victims, but does he include his own life in the balance of his choices? A good Two-Face should, since that's only fair)

Background Story: District Attorney Harvey Dent was one of Batman's strongest allies in Gotham City, until a criminal threw acid in Dent's face, hideously scarring him. The wounds fractured his psyche, and he was reborn Two-Face, a schizoid criminal mastermind obsessed with duality. His former good-luck charm, a "two-headed" trick silver dollar, was damaged on one side in the attack, and Dent has seized on it as a reflection of his half-scarred visage. He flips it to decide the fates of his victims. Two-Face is thriving in Arkham City, rallying inmates to join his gang using tried and true campaign tactics.

Considering that the only time the coin has ever been Harvey's, much less anything resembling a "good luck charm," was in TDK, we yet again see the influence that version has had on the character at large. I wonder if any adaptations will ever use the backstory of his father's coin from Eye of the Beholder, or if that will continue to fall to the wayside of comics obscurity. I've spoken about this at length before, but I firmly believe that you lose something vital to the psychology of the character when you don't include the alcoholic abusive father background, even in just an offhand mention.

In keeping with the "choices of life or death" bit above, the coin's role seems decidedly limited for how the game developers see Two-Face, or at least, this Two-Face. In keeping with the mock-trial aspect of his big scene in the game, the coin seems to act as his judge, indicating that he has a habit of passing sentence on his victims. This is, of course, true to the character, but we don't get any indication that he uses the coin for moral decisions, which is a more generalized and--to me--more important and interest aspect of the character.

Meh, at this point, I feel like I'm just scrambling for things to talk about, since there's not too terribly much more to go on here. I just felt like all my geekery has been pent up over the past two weeks (holy crap, my son is two weeks old. Holy crap, I have a SON.), so between this and the last post, I'm just in total brain-spew mode. Hope you folks don't mind.

Oh, wait! One more thing! They released the full Two-Face/Catwoman opening gameplay in high-def with no commentary talking over the images! It's like a mini-movie, watch!

My criticisms and analysis from the older footage I saw still holds true, with just a couple new observations:

1.) If you listen carefully, Harvey starts delivering a speech at 8:25. Or rather, it's delivered by Harvey and Two-Face. This might just be my very favorite part, and I wish the demo player had let Harvey talk a bit longer before attacking the thugs. I want to know what he/they had to say! I love the charisma and eloquence of Harvey's good side, which reminded me a good deal of Aaron Eckhart from the bits I heard. More! Want more now!

2.) While the horrible cat-scratch-in-the-face is enough of a dick move on Selina's part, the fact that she kicks him in the stomach while he's tied up and helpless is just... I dunno, is "hateful" the word I want? This Catwoman is everything I ever disliked about Catwoman because it's how too many writers write Catwoman. Ugh. Shit, even Batman's an asshole to Harvey. That sudden stop should have broken Harvey's neck, ala Gwen Stacy! And did they just leave Harvey hanging there at the end? I think they did! Man, even in video games, it sucks to be Harvey Dent.

Also, I fucking adore wheezy, injured Joker. He reminds me of Frank Gorshin. I think Hamill's doing amazing work here, because for the first time in a long while, he has to work under some restraints. I think his vocal performance here will easily outshine the one in the first game.
about_faces: (Default)
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.
about_faces: (Default)
I've been putting off talking about Batman: Arkham City ever since I read the spoil-tastic description of what seems to encompass Harvey's entire role in the game. On top of that, recent reports on how they plan to depict the Penguin also made me roll my eyes and solidified my apathy towards the game.

No, game creators, Oswald has actually NOT "always been portrayed is as quite an aristocratic, well-spoken gentleman who's got these twisted delusions of grandeur," thus necessitating you to re-envision him as "a really horrible, nasty piece of work - but still with the delusion of grandeur." Oh, so you mean, Danny DeVito's Penguin, which has subsequently influenced comics' Penguin by making his a crass, nasty, ugly, brutish thug--and subsequently a far less interesting character--more often than not? Because if that's the case, you're not doing anything different with the character to actually make him better or more compelling.

Since last week, I've been waffling as to whether or not I should finally post about B:AC now that we got a better glimpse of Harvey's character and voice in trailer where nobody noticed Harvey because they were all too distracted by Catwoman's ass:

My Henchgirl, wearing her fan-hat as the now increasingly-internet-famous (and it's about damn time!) [livejournal.com profile] dr_von_fangirl, posted her own Selina-related thoughts right here, and she nails the pros and cons better than any of the many comic news outlets weighing in with their own thoughts... none of which, I should add, are commenting on Harvey at all. Even besides the reasonable explanation of Selina!Ass by way of Selina!Badass, I fear that Arkham City Two-Face is painfully standard, and that he's not even going to receive any kind of fan boost the way Harley, Joker, and that ridiculous version of Scarecrow have. Seriously, Squishy looks like 25% Freddy Krueger and 75% Slipknot band member. And he has a fan following. Because of course he does.

As such, I still saw no need to write about this game. So hat happened? Welp, first-hand reports came out of the first ten minutes of gameplay at E3, some videos of which have made it to YouTube! Unfortunately, there's no straight-forward gameplay, just ones with creator commentary played over the top. That said, there are videos with occasional patches of clear dialogue, so for an expanded look at Harvey's intro in the above trailer, cue this video to 6:35 (picking up right at "FEEEEEAR... that's how we get respect," and notice what happens next):

Actually seeing the footage... well, it still don't look great, but there's one small but vital-to-me detail that the description in the like at top failed to mention. Let’s take a closer look at it in screencaps, all of which I’ll put behind a cut for those who want a pure gameplay experience.

Spoilers for the (only?) Two-Face section of <i>Batman: Arkham City</i> )

I doubt we’ll get any such answers in B:AC. With Harvey snagged and hoisted by Batman by this scene’s end, it seems clear to me that Two-Face is out of the game entirely. At that point, the only things keeping me even mildly interested in Batman: Arkham City are Mark Hamill’s supposed final go-round as the Joker, the Riddler (a great shot of whom you can see in that last video if you cue to 17:10. I think he’s my second favorite character design in the game) and of course, Professor Hugo Strange. Especially Hugo, as this looks like a return to Hugo greatness that we haven’t seen in over a decade. I need to post that particular Gotham Knights story soon, even if I can’t still finish the Hugo Strange series for a few more months yet.
about_faces: (Default)
I've been working on my review of Joker's Asylum: Two-Face. For the past two weeks. And by review, I mean "comprehensive autopsy." This might be one of the biggest, most in-depth critiques I've written, definitely the sort of thing that average comic fan might sniff at and go, "Ugh, you're thinking too much, why don't you just enjoy it or whatever?"

So, hopefully you folks will enjoy it. I had a lot more to say than I realized, but it's rare to find such a glowing example of everything I hate about the way Two-Face is written. Expect to see that within the next week or two, as Henchgirl and I are still on the road.

What else is new? Several things! First off, the solicit for the latest issue of Tony Daniel's dreaded Two-Face story:

Written by TONY DANIEL
Batman acts on his suspicions of a newly elected political figure in Gotham City and finds himself in deep water. With piranhas. Meanwhile, Two-Face fights his way back from the brink of death to find an unlikely ally who will show him that there are two sides to every story.
On sale JUNE 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

... Well, Harvey looked craggier and more Tommy Lee Jones than I'd like, but I'm loving the possibility that Daniel's having him wear his outfit from Nightwing: The Great Leap, which might just be my favorite Two-Face outfit. I still hate everything about Eddie here, and I'm still praying that the mystery female won't turn out to be Gilda.

Finally, [livejournal.com profile] prof_pig receives the distinction of being the first person to alert me to the fact that the new Arkham City trailer has been released, with footage of Harvey and Hugo!

First off, the trailer is pretty cool, although I'm torn on the use of indie rock. I kinda like how it reminds me of the awesome Sin City trailer that used "The Servant" by the Cells, but it hardly fits the tone of Batman or his world. Especially THIS Gotham.

Secondly, I adore the fact that Hugo, right off the bat (hurr), is fucking with Batman's brain, and that he calls the rogues and criminals "animals." I have absolutely no doubt that Hugo is going to be stellar in this game, and that a potentially great version of a great but unloved character will reach a whole new generation.

Harvey, on the other hand, is a different matter.

Screenshots! With commentary! )

For comparison's sake, here's a look at the upcoming figures from Arkham City.

*shrugs* Eh? I'm looking forward to seeing how the final released figure will look, but based on this, it too is pretty standard. It looks like Harvey fell into a puddle of grape jelly. And I still hate the scarred arm. That's just silly-looking, not to mention that it pushes suspension of disbelief too far. Come on, that has to hurt like hell. Really, TAS aside, I've never understood why people give Harvey body scarring. He had the acid in his face, nowhere else, except maybe his hand as well. Some people just push the split thing too far.
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
Every so often, I check comicartfans.com to see if anyone's uploaded new commissioned pieces of Harvey. I've found a lot of great pieces that way. But one character that no one's ever commissioned is Hugo Strange. That is, until now:

Behind the cut, a larger version of the drawing for the detail )

... Nice.

What I love is that Hugo really has the potential to be this kind of threat, especially if he ever branched outside his Batman obsession. Hell, if he ever did succeed in destroying Batman (and if anyone could do it, it'd be Hugo), I could easily see him moving onto the entire DCU. The key touch to the whole thing is the fact that he's holding Starman's cosmic rod, which is itself an awesome reference to an awesome story.

I love the idea that Hugo killed a Predator and Ambush Bug. But more than anything else, I want to know how the hell he killed the Spectre. Damn, do I ever want to read this story.

Really, the only thing that feels off to me about this piece? The fact that we can see Hugo's eyes. I've always loved how his lenses are depicted as opaque, and that the glasses seem to wrap themselves around his head no matter what angle you see him from, so that his actual eyes are almost never seen. Normally, it removes his menace, but thankfully this piece has menace to spare. Man, I love it.

I should start an account with comicartfans.com and post all my commissions and original art. If nothing else, I can finally be the first and only person to post a drawing of Gilda Dent (the proudest piece in my collection).
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
I was introduced to this story way back in scans_daily 1.0, wherein it was instantly beloved by all. Upon tracking down the issues myself, this three-part finale from The Batman Adventures became one of my top ten favorite Batman stories ever, from any continuity.

I'm posting it here as the next part of my Hugo Strange series, as it was his only appearance in the ten years after Prey, and it's *also* tied to New Year's Eve.

In keeping with Batman: The Animated Series' treatment of villains, Hugo is given unprecedented character depth, sympathy, and a tragedy which matches (perhaps even rivals) the stories of Harvey Dent and Mr. Freeze.

But let's not kid ourselves. I know the main reason why folks love this story. It's a testament to the greatness of these comics that Hugo's sad story could run in the same issues as moments like this:

In Memoriam, behind the cut )

It's because of stories like this that I honestly consider the TAS comics--all four series--to be the greatest Batman comics of the past twenty-five years. Maybe if these comics ever actually had crossovers into the DCU or "mattered" in some way continuity-wise, more people would have cared.

As it is, I'm just glad I recently managed to complete my entire collection of The Batman Adventures, Batman & Robin Adventures, Batman: Gotham Adventures, and Batman Adventures, until DC finally wises up and reprints the whole series.

Happy New Year, folks! Drive safely, drink sensibly, and try not to get your memory wiped!
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
This is it. The big one.

It arrives at a moment where's it's suddenly relevant and topical to fan interests.With the release of the awesome new Arkham City trailer, the internet is ablaze with the question, "Who the hell is Hugo Strange?"

Hopefully, some people looking for answers will stumble upon these posts. It seems I've coincidentally been ahead of the game with these posts, perhaps even more so if the (unlikely) rumors turn out to be true, and The Dark Knight Rises will be based upon Batman: Prey.

Which, in either case, is the story I bring you today. In some ways, my entire Hugo Strange project has been building up to this: one of his two stories which defined his character for their generations. But while it's a different interpretation for a rebooted continuity, the threads to the original Hugo can be seen throughout. This Hugo is more perverse, more deranged, but just as brilliant and dangerous.

But like the best Hugo stories, Prey is ultimately about the heart and soul of Batman himself. What makes Hugo so great is how he pushes Bruce to the limits of what he can overcome, and by the end, Batman's triumph is always more than a physical one. Maybe that's why Hugo's the villain of choice for a handful of discerning, hardcore, old-school Batman comic fans.

If you can, I urge you to track down Prey either as a trade paperback or in the original issues of Legends of the Dark Knight #11-15, which I've seen in dollar bins. While Prey is a beloved story and a hot rumor du jour, it's also out of print. Again, WTF, DC?

Until then, I present this inadequate edit of a great, rich Batman tale behind the cut... )

And with that last line, my thoughts once again turn to how perfectly this story would fit in the Nolanverse for The Dark Knight Rises. I still don't see it happening because most people just don't think of Hugo Strange as main villain material. Obviously, I disagree, but I don't represent your average film goer, nor even your average comic fan.

But either way, hey, maybe this'll finally encourage DC to put Prey back into print, along with Strange Apparitions. If I were an editor of collected editions at DC, I'd even throw in a bonus to the Prey TPB and include Moench's own Down to the Bone, because that one too deserves to be read (and considering that I've gotten no comments on that story when I posted it a few days ago, I'd say it deserves that attention all the more!)

This is Hugo's last appearance for about ten years, until Devin Grayson and Doug Monech decided to write their own sequels to Prey. Weirdly, I greatly prefer the former version to the latter, wherein Moench and Gulacy fail to recapture the lighting in a bottle. But we'll certainly be looking at both in the next couple posts.
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
Batman: Arkham City has already been on my radar for the fact that it'll feature Harvey in a major (and disturbingly detailed) way, and I already knew that a certain other character would have a featured role.

But I sure as hell did not expect this:

Alternate link to the same trailer on YouTube.


Look, I started this series of Hugo posts because I had an odd passion for this character, and wanted to explore his history while exposing him to new readers and discussing him with old ones. One big reason is that his recent appearances over the past seven or eight years have been lackluster at best, with him being written either out of character or in a supporting capacity, when the fact is that he's always a leader, and ALWAYS a major threat. Writers like Tony Daniel, Matt Wagner, Frank Teri, Will Pfeifer, and even Doug Moench have forgotten this, and I feared that the video game makers would too.

Wrong. Ohhhh man was I wrong wrong wrong. Who do I have to thank for this, Paul Dini? If so, then he's quickly making up for the lackluster depiction of the character in The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne TV episode. The voice took a bit of getting used to, but really, if you're gonna voice someone as a classic arch-fiend master criminal of old, a Christopher Lee impression is a fine start.

The touch I particularly love? You can't see his eyes. One of my favorite aspects of Hugo is how his glasses completely obscure his eyes, something which would be damn well impossible to pull off in live action, but the lighting actually pulls it off. That's Hugo. That's the iconic Hugo Fucking Strange.

Now give us the Two-Face trailer so we can finally see and hear him in action. Preferably with Richard Moll, please. If that happens, I am going to buy the game and lock my gamer friend out of his house to hijack his XBOX 360.
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
If I said, "Name a comic released in 1986 where a superhero loses his job, reputation, home, friends, and family due to the machinations of his brilliant, scheming arch-enemy, who knows the hero's secret identity," you'd probably say Daredevil: Born Again.

But a mere one month before the first issue of DD:BA was released, DC published Batman Annual #10, featuring a story which completely matches the description above. Because they were published so close together, I can only assume this was a coincidence. Both stories reflect something dark in the mid-80's atmosphere that could cause Frank Miller and Doug Moench to write two different stories with very similar themes.

While DD:BA is one of my all-time favorite comics, Moench's is starting to work its way up my list of favorite Batman tales. There are a couple notable differences between the two. One is that Bruce doesn't get driven to a mental breakdown, although Hugo certainly got close in his previous attempt, published three years earlier.

In that respect, this also feels like a story that Grant Morrison had in mind when he created Dr. Hurt and wrote Batman: R.I.P., comparisons to which become even more explicit in the story itself...

This cut goes down to the bone )

Coming up next: Batman: Prey.


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