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Whew, made it! And just in time for Twelfth Night, too!

Doing this series of posts has been one of the most exhausting, draining, frustrating, and goddamned fun projects I've ever done on this blog. It's a shame that it has to end this way, with an assortment that largely covers some of my least favorite Batman eras and characters.

That's not to say there isn't anything I love about Batman from 1997 to 2006. Sure, the days of the great Bat-trio of Moench/Grant/Dixon were starting to wind down, with many good stories hindered by one big crossover after another after another. The fact that they were all fired to make way for the next big crossover would haven been bitterly misguided if that crossover hadn't been No Man's Land. Far as I'm concerned, NML the highest achievement for Batman since Batman: Year One, since it was an event that was mostly focused on character rather than... well, events. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than any other major Batman crossover I have ever read, and thus I was greatly excited with the prospect of NML mastermind Greg Rucka continuing to write the ongoing Detective Comics.

While I loved Rucka's run, as well as Brubaker's Batman and Devin Grayon's Gotham Knights, the changes they made to Batman's character and supporting cast led the series down a path that I didn't necessarily like, but stuck with because I trusted the creative teams involved. And then they were all gone, with Loeb and Lee giving us Hush. After that, new writers followed the threads left by Rucka, Brubaker, and Grayson, and it all went to hell. The stories that followed left me cold, and much as I rag on Grant Morrison's run, I think I might honestly prefer it to the era of Black Mask. Don't force me to choose, please.

So now, at the end of a project that I started to celebrate the characters I love, I shall see if I can muster any of the same kind of enthusiasm for some of my favorite and least favorite eras alike.

Rassum frassum get off my lawn behind the cut )

So here's to another year for about_faces. The output will be infrequent, but I'm not going anywhere. There are too many stories left to look at, too many stupid things to rant about, too many comics and characters and ideas worth celebrating. Hope you'll stick around, and as always, keep the comments coming. You're the smartest damn bunch of fans I know, and that's no lie, no flattery, it's the damn truth. So thank you, and be seeing you.
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One thing I neglected to mention in the last post is to give credit to the DC-Whos-Who Tumblr feed, where I've found the majority of these images. If you like character profiles and great art, I HIGHLY recommend checking scouring through his entires. There is so much greatness to be found there, and far beyond just the Bat-Villains.

But of course, the Bat-Villains are what mainly interest me, so shall we continue?

Too bad, because I'm going ahead anyway! )
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Man, I had a lot to say about today's characters. I also had leftover Christmas turkey, so see if you can trace the point where the tryptophan coma kicks in!

In Soviet Russia, Whos Who YOU behind the cut! )
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Today, I bring you a post which I fear may be unreadable. At least, if you don't own old-school 3D glasses. And even then, can 3D be viewed on a computer screen? Either way, I'm gonna ask you to bear with me as we look at selections from Batman 3D: Ego Trip, a graphic novel by comics legend John Byrne with effects by 3D master Ray Zone.

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

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

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

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

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

As always (well, as usually), I've made certain to post no more than 1/3rd of the graphic novel's content, so there's plenty more to read for those who can track down this hard-to-find book. It's available for pretty cheaply used on places like Amazon.com, although there's no telling whether any copies will still have their glasses. Proceed with caution! If you have a local comic shop that might carry it, always try for that first. It's definitely worth checking out in whole. Hopefully someday, it'll find a new audience. In either dimension.
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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.
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Sometimes, seeing online scans of a comic I've already read allows me to read the story in a different light, sometimes to such extremes that it makes me feel like I'm only now reading it for the first time.

Such was the case when [livejournal.com profile] tungstencompton posted snippets from Denny O'Neil's "Duel," the first Legends of the Dark Knight Annual, starting with the opening sequence by Jim Aparo. Now, this comic didn't do much for me the first time I read it, but seeing these excerpts online gave me a whole new appreciation for this story, and what it means to one of the most controversial Batman questions out there. But to actually say what that question is would be a spoiler in of itself.

So with permission from the OP who scanned the pages in the first place, I'm reposting the Aparo pages here for several reasons, not the least of which being that I think it's some of Aparo's best artwork ever:

(Ala Brad Pitt) What's in the bag, what's in the bag? )

After his glory days in the Bronze Age, Aparo's art seriously seemed to go downhill once he let himself be inked by someone else in stuff like A Death in the Family. Even when he inked himself again after that in stuff like the Knightfall era comics, it just wasn't the same. He seemed more stuff, less dynamic, more of a relic from a bygone era rather than a timeless master as fans like me have always seen him, and always will.

Looking at the above scans, I have to wonder if he was just let down by the poorer printing and coloring quality of regular Batman books, as opposed to LOTDK's prestige format. I'm not sure he ever looked quite this good in any story since, with the possible exception of the GCPD police mini-series, since Bill Sienkiewicz's inking makes EVERYBODY look better. But there's nothing quite like the pleasure of Aparo inking and lettering himself in stories such as this and this.

That said, I do make some exceptions, mainly where nostalgia is concerned. For example, I'd give up a moderately-sized toe to own this:

That right there is the first page of the first comic I ever read, and I'm incredibly jealous of the guy who actually owns it. Needless to say, this page had quite the lifelong impact on me.
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Alert reader [livejournal.com profile] deadwalrus reluctantly tipped me off to this Bleeding Cool article, revealing new Batman artist Greg Capullo's sketches of Jim, Joker, and Harvey in the New DCU, Post-Not-Reboot-Whatever-Thing.

I don't think that anyone, in the history of comics, has drawn Jim Gordon doing his best Tony Stark "How YOU doin'?" impression. Frankly, I'm just a bit surprised that he doesn't look like Twitch from Sam and Twitch, since this IS the big Spawn artist, after all. Now if he can somehow draw Harvey Bullock looking different from Sam Burke, then I'll be really impressed.

... Well, it's certainly original. I don't hate it, and at least it's not Morrison's bullet-holed perma-grin Joker anymore, thank god... but it may take some getting used to. Doing the darkness-around-the-eyes thing with added pin-markings under the eyes like a clown out of the commedia dell'arte, it's interesting. I think what really distracts me as the eyebrows. It's like Wilford Brimley playing a Vulcan. The hair has apparently given others flashbacks to 80's synth bands, it reminds me more of Brad Dourif (specifically as Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and that's never a bad thing when it comes to the Joker. Never. If your Joker looks even a bit like Brad Dourif, you're doing something right. That should be a guideline followed for all artists, just as all writers should try to imagine their written dialogue being read aloud by the Batman: The Animated Series voice actors. If your Harley doesn't sound like she could be performed by Arleen Sorkin, then generally speaking, you've written a bad Harley.

Oh dear.

First off, I kinda like what's going on with the good side. From this sketch, it looks like this could be a Harvey who has some personality, which so many artists forget when it comes to drawing his unscarred side. That's the side that needs to be expressive and have character, and not just be a standard generic thug in appearance. Maybe some of that will come through here. But the scarred side... he looks like a zombie out of an EC comic or a Bernie Wrightson drawing. Harvey looks less like a burn victim and more like a corpse who's falling apart before our eyes. If he ever ran away, Batman could just follow a trail of face leavings. Ew. As for his missing eye, I'm guessing/hoping that Capullo is just taking a cue from Lee Bermejo's Two-Face in Joker and keeping it shadow. While I know it's realistic for a burn victim like Harvey to have lost his eye, all it does here is emphasize the corpseness of his appearance.

All in all, I'm kinda interested, but still very hesitant to care much. What's more, I don't know how this art's gonna look once it's all inked and computer-colorzied. I'm gonna quietly prepare for the worst, so that anything good that comes will be a happy surprise, just like I did with the Green Lantern movie. Sometimes it pays to be a hopeful pessimist!
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My scanner's out of commission for the time being, which will make my ability to post reviews rather interesting over the next couple months. On top of that, the unholy spawn of Hefner and the Henchgirl should be born within the month (it damn well better!), all while we're in the process of moving AND while I'm ramping up to perform at the Capital Fringe Festival here in Washington, D.C.

What does this mean for about_faces? That depends. I have a handful of scans for things which I'd meant to post about at some point, including the Gilda-specific aspects of Two-Face Strikes Twice! and The Long Halloween, although not the rest of those stories, so full reviews will have to wait until later. Aside from that... well, you guys might finally be starting to see some fic of my own here, as Henchgirl has been pushing me to gradually release my Harvey Dent novel here, the one which I've been writing for... about five years now? What am I on, draft eleven? Thereabouts. I think it's finally ready to be done.

So keep your eyes out for that, if you're so inclined. And for folks who prefer reviews/scans/news, I'll scour through my photos and see what I can use to pepper up about_faces so it doesn't totally become my own personal fic dispensery. I want this place to be about Harvey Dent and the Bat-Rogues, not just my own personal take on Harvey Dent and the Bat-Rogues.

To emphasize that commitment, I offer you one of my favorite pin-ups ever.

Aparo makes me so happy in places that like happy things. I even love the fact that they've all apparently chosen to drink champagne out of martini glasses, because they're classy AND they break all the rules!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
This time around, I seem to start talking less about Harvey and more ranting about comics in general. So this should be fun!

Seven covers from the Bronze Age right up to the Crisis reboot of continuity )

Finally, I think this cover deserves to be outside the cut:

Really, I love superheroes dedicating a room to their arch-enemies, whether it in their headquarters or in places like the Flash Museum. Really, why wouldn't Batman create an entire "Hall of Infamy" in the Batcave, with framed portraits, no less? Do you think he painted them all himself?

I've always loved that cover, particularly for how innocent and friendly the Mad Hatter looks. Have I mentioned how much I love the Mad Hatter in TAS, but hate him in comics?

It's all Grant Morrison's fault, because ever since Arkham Asylum, Jervis is now always considered a pedophile. It's the same kind of late 80's-early 90's mentality that turned Toyman into a child murderer (and then also a pedophile). I hate it so much, and between Jeph Loeb bringing back Jervis as a little man who speaks nothing but quotes, it's pretty much ruined the character. I was hoping Gail Simone might revitalize the character, but instead, now he also fucks hats.

Let me say that again. He. Fucks. HATS.


I still plan to do posts dedicated to each of the rogues, especially the ones who deserve better writing. Jervis, Ozzie, and Eddie have all been victims of terrible writing and wildly inconsistent characterization. Nobody seems to know what the hell to do with Poison Ivy, ever since they forgot her original origins centering around her obsession with Batman. What's her motivation? What actually drives her and why? We still don't know, and no one seems to care, because why should Pam actually get character development when most people aren't really interested in her as a character?

Also, I imagine Killer Moth being all flustered and flattered to learn that he's included. "Really? I'M there? He... he considers me as bad as them? Oh, I have to call my Mom!" I kid, because I love the loser. But y'know, consider this: Killer Moth has, in recent years, proven himself more enduring as a loser and a joke than he ever has as a badass 90's-tastic man-eating bug creature.

The lesson here? A villain doesn't have to be a grim and deadly threat to be enduring and enjoyable. Hell, in Batgirl: Year One, he was even kinda interesting! Comics dearly need to get back a sense of fun, even in Batman. Especially in Batman.

Next post is Post-Crisis, a post which will culminate in three of the greatest Two-Face covers of all time. Give you a hint: the artists are Perez, Bolland, and Adams.
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One of my favorite Two-Face stories barely features the character at all. But much like Orson Welles's Harry Lime, whose five minutes of screen time dominated the whole of The Third Man, the threat of Harvey Dent looms throughout the Batman/Green Arrow team-up story from 1973's The Brave and the Bold #106.

Written by Bob Haney and drawn by the great Jim Aparo (who got top billing!), "Double Your Money... and Die!" was the second story to feature Harvey since Denny O'Neil dusted off the character after seventeen years in obscurity. It's pure Bronze Age Batman, too: a murder mystery filled with action and intrigue, building up to an epic ski chase in Switzerland. Plus it's fun, thanks the humor both intentional (Ollie's wisecracks) and unintentional (dated lingo, clothes, Batman uttering "Ye gods!", etc).

Told in one single issue, the story was so densely packed that DC actually sacrificed the letters column to let it run twenty-three and one-third pages instead of the standard twenty-two! Either they really wanted to do justice to Haney and Aparo's story, or they wanted avoid printing the letters for issue #103. Either way, Haney and Aparo make use of every single panel, and modern comic creators would do well to follow the economy of Bronze Age writers like Haney.

Also, Jim Aparo. It's Jim Aparo drawing Batman. On skis, no less!

Death on skis (and I don't mean the Black Racer) behind the cut! )

If you'd like to read this story in whole (which I recommend, as there's much more I had to cut), it's collected in the black and white collection, Showcase Presents the Brave and the Bold: The Batman Team-Ups, volume two, appropriately enough!
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I love old comic covers. The great J.M. DeMatteis recently described the allure of classic covers as being "like cosmic portals, opening up doorways to other dimensions; colorful parallel universes far preferable to the one I inhabited."

Two-Face is a natural feature for covers, as he's a character who is so striking, so iconic, that even people who know nothing about him can instantly get a good idea what he's about. And once Denny O'Neil dusted off the character at the birth of the Bronze Age, he soon made regular appearances on covers.

To the best of my abilities, I've tracked down all the Two-Face cover appearances I could find (most of which I own and were thus able to scan), to post here with commentary and--if applicable--links to posts where I've looked at the stories in depth. So if you're new to [livejournal.com profile] about_faces, here's a chance for you to catch up on some stuff you may have missed!

For the rest of you, here's a bunch of neato covers to look at! And where better to start than with the start?

Behind the cut: TEN more great/cool/cracky Bronze Age covers by artists like Ernie Colon, Jim Aparo, and Jose-Luis Garcia Lopez! )

Next up: Part Two of the Bronze Age, with covers by Gene Colan, Tom Mandrake, Dick Giordano, and another by Jim Aparo! Because you can never have too much Aparo!
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Note: I started this post as part of the Hugo Strange series, but it became much more than that. I hope you'll indulge this extreme departure from the usual Two-Face topics, as this is a subject which has been haunting me for days now.

With "Interlude on Earth-Two," Alan Brennert was the first DC Comics writer to asked the questions, "If you go to a world where an alternate version of yourself got older, married, had a full life, and died... wouldn't that be kinda upsetting? Not just for you, but the people who knew and loved your alternate self?"

They're questions that no DC writer had considered by 1982, and Brennert answered them by throwing in an additional question: "What if that alternate Earth's Hugo Strange didn't escape unscathed from his final Golden Age adventure?"

This is one of the finest comics by Alan Brennert, who wrote only about nine DC stories over twenty years, including the wonderful Batman classic, To Kill A Legend.

It is a testament to his abilities that I've had an insanely hard time editing these scans, so while scans_daily shall receive a butchered edition of this post, you readers here shall get the expanded version which does better justice to the story. At least, until such time as DC reprints it someday (probably in a theoretical fourth or fifth volume of DC Showcase Presents the Brave and the Bold).

When even the cover has to ask that question, you know it's either gonna be a confusing mess, or something awesome... )

As I said before, Alan Brennert only wrote nine stories for DC Comics over about twenty years. His career there rivals only Alan Moore's for most prolific body of work over a very limited tenure, and if there were any justice, fans would be clamoring for DC to publish a Complete DC Comics Stories of Alan Brennert collection. Doing this past makes me want to write about them all in a Brennert Master Post. Perhaps I will, once I've tracked down the last three I have yet to read.
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The Untold Legend of Batman was a three-part miniseries from 1980 by Len Wein, John Byrne, and Jim Aparo that served as my first introduction to all things Gotham. And what an introduction! The mini served as a perfect distillation of Bat-mythos up to the Bronze Age, all in the framework of a mystery.

Like any good mystery, one needs suspects, and this led to Batman giving a brief tour of Rogues 101, with the Joker and Two-Face getting full page origins. In keeping with the series, they boiled Harvey's origin down to the pure, iconic minimum, and you can bet this page made an impact on li'l Heffie:

Between this and my other earliest comic, the third part of A Lonely Place of Dying, Aparo's Batman cemented itself as the Batman in my mind for many years, and his Two-Face (usually wearing an oh-so-70's white turtleneck) remains one of my personal favorites.

So yeah, you can throw The Untold Legend of Batman on the list of great comics that are sorely in need of being collected. Keep an eye out for the back issues, if you can find them. Sure, it's a bit hokey, but if you have a taste for Bronze Age Batman, this is truly one of the best gems that era ever produced.

Fun fact: I got these issues as prizes in the Batman movie breakfast cereal. I think they just recycled the same crap for the Mario/Zelda cereal. I can still taste them now. Oh, so gross.
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Dig that great Aparo Two-Face, eh? I have a deep-rooted fondness for Aparo's turtleneck!Harvey.

While the story I bring you today is sadly not drawn by Jim Aparo, it's a fascinating one nonetheless: Two-Face's canon origin from 1977-1987, as seen in DC All-Stars #14: Secret Origins of the Super-Villains. The key twist to this take is the revelation that Harvey Dent wasn't Maroni's real target when the acid was thrown!

See for yourself in... The Secret Origin of Two-Face: Double Take! )

It's an interesting take only because it gives Harvey full cause to see himself (and by extension, everyone else) as pawns in the hands of destiny, and he's cool with that. The "vengeance" mentioned in the teaser image doesn't seem to matter to him either way. He's calm, sometimes even joyous in his madness: a common take on the character, especially in the Bronze Age up to the post-Crisis era, and this story gives it a sensible enough foundation.

However, it's precisely this take which makes Two-Face a character who only works as a supporting figure to make others react. He himself is almost a non-character, because action reveals character, and this Harvey makes no action unless the coin tells him so. One could say this applies Two-Face in general, but smart writers know how to subtly reveal character in other ways, which I'll explore in future posts.

This is why Two-Face was (and to many, still is) an under-loved character: because he was less of a character than a foil. As a result, the Bronze Age which brought Two-Face back into comics is also what kept him from becoming one of the greater presences in DC until the post-Crisis era. Yet even now, some writers go back to this take, which is frustrating. It can make for good stories of other characters, but it doesn't make Harvey himself an interesting character.


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