You are viewing about_faces


Art by Ron Wagner from The Book of Fate #4

Welcome to about_faces: a fanblog dedicated to discussion and celebration of Batman's fallen ally and second-greatest foe, Harvey Dent, AKA Two-Face!

Here you'll find in-depth reviews, analysis, and critiques of Two-Face appearances both old and new, from feature roles to silly cameos, as well as essays, news, interviews, fan-art, fanfic, and miscellaneous geekery! In addition to Two-Face, this blog's secondary mission is celebration of classic Batman comics and the villains in general, as they are some of the greatest characters ever created in any medium! Well, except for Hush, because screw Hush. ;)

For full information--including disclaimers about scan usage--please read my User Info. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, complaints, requests, or whatever, please feel free to leave me a comment wherever or send me a Private Message! Comments in general are highly encouraged, as is discussion, ranting, etc.

Complete Table of Contents, Greatest Hits, and Entire Two-Face Comic Appearance Chronology coming soon!


Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
Welcome back! Let's have a quick recap of what's happened in DD3 thus far.

In the wake of his meltdown with Silver St. Cloud, Batman tries to distract himself by going to London, where Killer Moth has supposedly been on a crime spree. However, both Batman and Killer Moth were being manipulated by the Penguin, who wanted to ensure that Batman would be too distracted to thwart Ozzie's scheme to unleash bird flu upon all of London in a mad bid to finally be taken seriously. After being beaten up by both Batman AND the Penguin, Killer Moth decides to high-tail it back to Gotham, while the Penguin's hired gun—Deadshot—teams up with Batman to prevent the pandemic, because even an assassin has his scruples.

Meanwhile, the vampire Dala is trying to kick the blood habit, but there's only so much that she can do without Batman's help, and he's been rather preoccupied as of late. And back in Gotham, there's still a whole other major subplot which I've barely mentioned, one which will have a major impact on Gotham City and Batman's life, assuming that he survives his London adventure (spoiler alert: eh, probably). So let's get back to the Penguin's descent into full-blown evildom, already in progress!

My world just goes a little crazy sometimes...Collapse )

No matter what the reasons were for DD3's cancellation, I hold out hope that the continuation of the DD-verse will see the light of day. After all, regimes change, and even if the people who are currently at DC are against the DD saga, perhaps the next regime will be more interested. If so, then hopefully it'll happen sooner than later, as the surviving greats of DC's Bronze Age sure ain't getting' any younger! As much as I love the attention this blog gets, I'd rather not have this review be the final word on the Dark Detective saga.

From the collection of Aric Shapiro, who commissioned this piece just weeks before Rogers' death. As such, this may well be Rogers' final completed Batman artwork. RIP Marshall.

No matter what happens, I'd like to issue one last "thank you" to Steve Englehart for sharing the script and artwork of DD3 with me. If you'd like to read the script in full for yourselves, you can purchase it from Mr. Englehart himself over at his website, along with a number of his other unpublished Batman stories like a Mad Hatter tale, plus an Elseworlds take on Batman as Hamlet!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
UPDATE: The second half is now up!

Today's review was exciting for me as it was bittersweet. It's not often that I get to review the unpublished sequel to one of the greatest Batman storylines of all time, and with the blessings of the writer himself, to boot!

Long-time readers will know that I love love love Steve Englehart's 1978 run in Detective Comics, the one which gave us The Laughing Fish and its perfect take on the Joker, as well as new characters like Silver St. Cloud and Rupert Thorne, plus bold new takes on once-obscure villains like Deadshot and Hugo Strange (whose subplot I reviewed on its own merits). This run has been collected under two unofficial titles, Shadow of the Batman and Strange Apparitions, but Englehart himself prefers to call his saga Batman: Dark Detective. And here's where things get a bit complicated.

Various covers for different editions of Dark Detective, which will henceforth be referred to as "DD1."

Of course, the title of Dark Detective was what Englehart used for the SEQUEL mini-series that he wrote thirty years later, reuniting him with original series penciler Marshall Rogers and inker Terry Austin. Two years ago, I devoted three lengthy reviews to this delightfully weirdo story which brought Silver St. Cloud back into Bruce's life while featuring another all-time great take on the Joker, plus a unique twist on the Scarecrow and one of the most interesting (and bizarre) examinations of Two-Face's psychology that I've ever seen. It was a damn odd story, but a damn fascinating damn odd story, one totally in keeping with the idiosyncratic touches that made Englehart and Rogers' run so great.

Henceforth, this mini shall be referred to as Dark Detective II or DD2. Sorry in advance for the confusion!

At the end of my review of DD2, I mentioned that there was intended to be a third part of the DD saga, but it was canceled (supposedly) due to the untimely death of Marshall Rogers in 2007. The good news, however, is that Englehart sells the scripts over at his website, and thus, after two years of waffling, I finally contacted him to purchase and—with his generous permission—to review the scripts on this very blog. After years of wondering about Stories That Never Were, I've been given to the incredible opportunity to read one for myself!

So how is it? Well, that's not something I can easily answer. As with Dark Detective, I adore it for being a continuation of everything I love from Englehart's Bronze Age work, but I'm not sure that I could recommend it to the casual Batman fan. Perhaps this is one reason why it never got published (although there are several other possibilities, which I'll address later), but just speaking personally, I find that it's also one of this story's biggest appeals.

Read the review behind the cut! It's the RATIONAL thing to do!Collapse )

This seems like a good place to stop for now. Sorry for meandering around more than usual, folks. Click HERE to read the second half of DD3, wherein I'll try to focus more on the actual plot details as we ramp up to the grand (but frustrating) conclusion of DD3! Will Batman and Deadshot stop the Penguin in time? Will Dala be released from the Betty Ford Vampire Clinic with a new lease on unlife? Will Killer Moth manage to get a flight back to Gotham at a reasonable rate, and if so, what will his in-flight movie be? And, hey, wasn't Silver St. Cloud supposed to be in this? Have I been entirely ignoring her subplot with Evan Gregory to save it for next review? Yes, yes I have.

In the meantime, if you're interested enough to read the scripts for themselves, you can purchase them directly from Steve Englehart himself over at his website!

(Disclaimer: All comic art, including the unpublished pencils, are © DC Comics)

*tap tap* Anyone still there?

Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
Hey everyone, since the last couple posts didn't get many comment beyond three or four of the ol' regulars, I've been a bit concerned that most people have fled this LJ for greener, more active pastures. I'd understand why that might happen, given my lack of activity over the past six months, plus LJ's tendency to be hacked and shut down on a semi-regular basis, but I certainly hope that isn't the case, especially since I have a few big posts coming up!

So if you're reading this, even if you're normally just a lurker, would be you so kind as to comment with a "here!" or something to let me know that there's still an audience? It'd mean a lot to me. In the meantime, I'll get back to work on the next big two-part post which I've been working on for a couple months.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
As you may have heard from the annoucement at Comic Con, there's a major Batman event coming up in November centered around Two-Face! No, it's not the follow-up to The Big Burn (dang it), but it's every bit as awesome in its own way: the "lost" Two-Face episode of the 60's Batman show will be adapted to comics with an all-star roster of talent!

Cover and solicit behind the cut!Collapse )

In anticipation of this event, I've taken down my previous reviews of the '66 scripts and will revise them into two separate reviews before the issue's release, reviewing The Lost Episode as the third and final part of the series. Maybe I'll also give a full review of Wein's Batman: Black and White story, but only if I can make the time for a story which may not even deserve that much attention. In the meantime, I'll get back to my reviews just as soon as I send my laptop off to Dell to see if it can be fixed, because it died this morning and I haven't backed up my files and ha ha ha ha ha I'm stressing like hell oh god. So, yeah. We'll see.

By the way, sorry if the formatting on this blog is off. LJ changed stuff around and I still haven't figured out how to go back a plain white background for the actual posts. Eh, maybe it's high time that I gave this whole blog a facelift (so to speak).


Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
Geez, it's been five months since I last posted anything? I guess I kept holding off until we found out whether or not Harvey actually survived the cliffhanger ending of The Big Burn, which we still haven't yet. Damn it, I need closure! Knowing DC, they'll probably just forget about TBB entirely and Harvey will pop up alive and well just in time for Batman: Arkham Knight. And that's if we're lucky...!

In the meantime, I've been working on a lengthy review for a major unreleased Two-Face appearance which I've managed to read thanks to its author, a legendary DC writer from the Bronze Age and one of the greatest Batman creators of all time, who graciously agreed to let me review these scripts. What's more, he's even allowed me to go into extensive detail, revealing all the spoilers, since this blog may, regrettably, be the only place it'll ever get coverage. I sure hope not, but I'm nonetheless excited and honored for the opportunity to review a Story That Never Was (man, I need a snapper term), despite it being a deeply bittersweet experience.

I've also been slowly working on the Long Halloween review. No, really, I swear! I'll try to have the first part out by Halloween, and maybe we can post them in real time if I can stick to the schedule. That's a big “if,” of course. Thanks to everyone's continued understanding and patience on that front, and thanks in general for your continued support and contributions to this blog. You folks are the lifeblood of about_faces, and I would have abandoned this long ago if it weren't for your comments and insights.

There have been a lot of little Two-Face-related stuff in the media over the last few months, so I'll try to make a short post here and there just to keep things active between major posts. In the meantime, though, I'd like to give a quick plug to stalwart commenter psychopathicus, who has launched a YouTube channel dubbed WEGAF (“Wild-Eyed Golden Age Fanatic”) Reviews, a webshow wherein he reviews obscure Golden Age comics with the same combination of insight and smartass geekery which has made him one of the most thoughtful contributors to his humble blog.

Finally, just to bring this back around to both Two-Face and my own personal life, Henchgirl surprised me with a fantastic anniversary present: this print of a Two-Face portrait by collage artist Alec Goss. I've had this piece proudly hanging over our bed for the past month now, and I'm still blown away by how perfect a gift it was for me, considering everything I love about Two-Face.

For one thing, Mr. Goss has made the surprising, wonderful choice to go with the Jim Aparo turtleneck version, a design which I hold very close to my own heart given that my very first comic-reading memories were for the third part of A Lonely Place of Dying and the second issue of The Untold Legend of the Batman. Combined with the use of panels from Eye of the Beholder, it's a beautiful synthesis of my favorite Two-Face story with the design that caught my attention for the character in the first place. I also love the use of that quote from Matt Wagner's Faces, because 1.) I never realized how great a line it was, and 2.) it's a quote from something other than The Dark Knight, which is the only story that anyone ever seems to use when it comes to quoting Harvey. I don't know about you folks, but for me, there's so much to love about this piece.

My only real question is who the model is, or if he's anybody at all. When I posted this on Tumblr, some people likened him to Hugh Laurie and Christopher McDonald, who voiced Harvey in Beware the Batman (don't get me started). Whoever he is, he's not the ideal model for Harvey in my mind, but that's a very minor nitpick. I'm also both amused and bemused by the subtle inclusion of Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face, especially since Aaron Eckhart's influence is nowhere to be seen. Overall, I'm impressed with the unusual choices that Goss has made here, which has resulted in one of my favorite works of unofficial Two-Face art ever.

With that, I shall get back to work on my next review. As always, I look forward to your thoughts! Thanks for sticking with me through the doldrums!

EDIT: Oh, you may also have noticed that my LJ's format has changed. Yeah, that's because LJ changed it FOR me at some point, and I don't know how to get it back the way it was. I don't know about you, but I kinda preferred the plain white background for the posts. Well, maybe I'll take this opportunity to play with new layouts to try and zazz things up around here a bit.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
Note: This is the second half of my latest review which I've had to split because it was too long, which I believe is a first for me. If you haven't read the first part, read it here now and follow the link at the bottom back here! And as with the last part, I'm adding a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm.

Heads you burn, behind the cutCollapse )

If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend picking up these issues, which you can purchase digitally at Comixology. For my part, I will continue to follow Batman and Robin to see what Tomasi has in store, and even if he never does follow up on Erin or Harvey’s stories, I’m sure whatever comes next will at least be more interesting than almost any other Batman book coming out today.

Seriously, though, he’d damn well better have a sequel planned. You can’t leave us hanging like this.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!
Note: Due to the size of this post, I shall be splitting it in two parts. Click the link at the bottom to read the rest! Needless to say, I have a lot of thoughts on this particular story. Also, I should probably slap a trigger warning on here for suicide, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm.

Now, finally, let’s take a look at the first true major Two-Face storyline in the New 52 continuity: The Big Burn, from Batman and Robin Two-Face #24-28 (2013-14). This is the third and final review in my trilogy quartet of posts examining TBB, starting with my examination of the original abandoned version of the story followed by my review of Harvey Dent's new origin. Please be sure to read both if you haven't yet, as they'll be vital to understanding this... very interesting finale.

Despite the tagline, this never actually happens in this issue

As with the last post, I should warn you that this review won’t do justice Peter Tomasi’s full story, which I’ve hacked in two pieces and Frankensteined the hell out of the first piece in order to review the new origin on its own merits rather than its place in the context of the complete work. While I stand by that decision, I nonetheless urge everyone to read The Big Burn on its own first so that you can get the full impact rather than relying on my butchered version of events. Much of The Big Burn’s full impact—when read in order—is how the backwards-running flashbacks play off the unreliable information we get from the likes of Erin McKillen.

As you’ve already seen from my review of the new origin (which is literally half the story right there), this is a rich and fascinating new take on Harvey with much for us to chew on and discuss, but nothing there compares what Tomasi has in store for us in the finale.

My sweet Irish rose... you finally crawled out of your hole...Collapse )

This seems like as good a place as any to cut this post in half. Click here to continue to the next part!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Right off the bat upfront, I'll say this much for Harvey Dent's new origin The Big Burn from Batman and RobinTwo-Face #24-28: it sure as hell is not what I had expected. Even as I was reading it and kept thinking that I knew where it was going, the damn story kept subverting my expectations and surprising me. Which, as it turns out, was probably by design.

Batman and Robin writer Peter J. Tomasi made the unusual choice to reveal Harvey's new backstory through flashbacks that run backwards scene by scene, ala Christopher Nolan's arguably best movie, Memento. As such, the first issue showed how Harvey got scarred and gave some clues about what led to that moment, and then the next issue showed what happened right BEFORE the previous scene, with information that fleshed out what we'd already learned. In this way, Tomasi was able to set up expectations and toy with the readers' assumptions.

Frankly, I resented this kind of open manipulation. At least in Memento, it served a very specific purpose that was directly relevant to the main character's affliction. Here, it serves only to screw with the reader. I'm not saying that this choice wasn't effective on a certain level, as it kept me on my toes and I was genuinely surprised a couple times there. I suppose that garnering an emotional response should be the basic goal of every storyteller, but I can't shake the suspicion that those reactions were empty, and that there was no depth behind the twists. A twist for twist's sake is one of the cheapest forms of writing, with little more worth than a "BOO!" scare in a horror movie. 

Thus, at the risk of betraying the integrity of Tomasi's story, I want to review this one a little differently. Rather than examine the origin as presented, via backwards flashbacks in between the modern day stuff, I'm going to do like I did with my review of Two-Face: Year One and examine the origin's events in chronological order.

You’re going to begin at the beginning? How pedestrian!

This is not the way that Tomasi intended you to read this story, and the truth is that, yes, it's more emotionally effective to read it in context. However, the real test of this origin's worth is if it can still hold up when read chronologically, without any of the twists and misdirects. My goal is to examine how TBB works as a character piece for Harvey Dent and as an origin for Two-Face (NOT as a story as a whole), and if it doesn't hold up when told as a linear narrative, then it's a failure. So let's tear into it together, shall we? 

Note: All that said, if you are able to read The Big Burn yourself, I highly recommend that you do so first. Just start here and read on. Seriously. It's worth reading for much the same reasons that Tomasi's Nightwing: The Great Leap is recommended: it's flawed as hell but filled with so much great stuff for Two-Face fans that I'm tempted to put it high on my list of recommended stories despite some huge reservations. Don't just rely on my reviews here if you can help it, as I'm going to tear this story apart and piece in back together in a way that will fundamentally alter the intended reading experience. Again, I'm reviewing the ORIGIN more than the STORY, so please try to approach this review with that in mind as much as possible.

I believe everyone deserves a fair trial...Collapse )

This concludes the first half of my Big Burn review, and the look at Harvey’s new origin. Keep in mind that there are one or two important wrinkles to this which we won’t learn until the modern-day plot, but I’ll save that for the second half. For now, I think we already have enough to make an assessment about whether or not this new backstory works.

Personally, I think it all serves as more evidence that Tomasi is greatly influenced by The Dark Knight. Just as with Christopher Nolan’s film, The Big Burn’s origin is a lousy story for Two-Face while also being a rather powerful one for Harvey Dent.

Next time: Part 2 of my Big Burn review, wherein Harvey confronts Erin, Erin confronts Bruce Wayne, everyone confronts the mob, and it all ends with a stunning one-two punch that I can’t even begin to describe here but just trust me on this OMG holy crap.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Just replace her with Harvey, no one will know the difference.

I'm still reeling from the finale of The Big Burn, the current storyline in Batman and Robin Two-Face #24-28 which serves as Harvey Dent's new origin and first major storyline in the DCnU continuity (the less said about whatever the fuck Tony Daniel was trying to do, the better).

The short, spoiler-free version is that it was a surprisingly different take that I mostly found very interesting, occasionally wonderful, and sometimes frustrating and even upsetting. I've been drafting up reviews all week in preparation for the finale, and now that it's out, I fear that all my plans and criticisms have been shaken to their very core. I'm going to need another week or three to write up the reviews.

And yet, even after all's said and done, and I can't help but wonder what the original plans were for The Big Burn. Because there's one thing of which I'm certain, and it's that this isn't the story we were supposed to have gotten, the story that writer Peter J. Tomasi originally intended to tell.

At this point, I'm convinced that The Big Burn was originally supposed to go very differently, and that it was drastically changed at the last minute for reasons we can only speculate. The prospect of Harvey getting a rebooted origin for the Ne2 52 was stressful enough in the first place (look at what the hell they've done to Penguin, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Mister Freeze, Clayface, and the Joker so far), but it's mind-boggling to consider that Harvey's new history is something that was sabotaged and then Frankensteined back together from the scraps of the original plans.

Bizarrely, this whole mystery seems to be centered around the appearance (and then disappearance) of Carrie Kelley: the Robin from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns who had been introduced into mainstream DCnU back in April 2013. There had been big plans for Carrie Kelley, whose origin was to be revealed in The Big Burn and tied to Harvey Dent's own origin in some way. She even appeared on the covers as they were originally solicited, but when the actual issues came out, she'd been scrubbed and replaced entirely.

Just replace her with Harvey, no one will know the difference.

So before we delve into The Big Burn as it is, please join me in retracing the past year of hints and foreshadowing to try and determine that The Big Burn was originally supposed to be, and how much has potentially affected this new version of Harvey Dent that we're stuck with, for good or ill.

Whatever Happened to the Girl Wonder of Tomorrow?Collapse )

And for poor, ever-misused Harvey Dent, this is yet another case to be filed away under "Stories That Never Were," with the character, as always, at the mercy of capricious, fickle fate in the form of DC Comics' writers and editors.

Coming up next, I shall be splitting my review of The Big Burn (which I'm going to finish as soon as possible, because OH MY GOD WHAT) into two parts, separating them into flashback and modern-day storylines. What's more, I'm going to do like I did with my review of Two-Face: Year One and edit the flashbacks to review them chronologically rather than in the backwards, Memento-esque way they were originally written and published. This is not the way that Mr. Tomasi intended them to be read, but I'm mainly interested in examining what this new origin means for Harvey Dent and to see if it holds any water, so I hope that I may be forgiven for any creative critical liberties I take here.

See you folks whenever the hell I manage to get both reviews finished! And from there, I promise to finally get back to work on the reviews for The Long Halloween!


Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Latest Month

September 2014



RSS Atom
Powered by
Designed by Teresa Jones