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!
Scott Snyder—DC's current architect of all things Batman—had teamed up with Marvel legend John Romita Jr to bring us My Own Worst Enemy, an arc which kicks off a year-long epic featuring the classic rogues! With Harvey at the center and two influential superstars at the helm, this story has the potential to define Two-Face for years to come, just as Snyder has already done for the Joker and Riddler! In fact, as of last week, this issue sold around 350,000 copies, making it the highest profile major Two-Face story since The Dark Knight! So yeah, there's a lot at stake here for those of us who care about a well-written Harvey.
First, here's the spoiler-and-scan free review, accompanied just some of the many, many variant covers.
Sadly, I've yet to find a decent-sized high quality version of this Jae Lee variant.
After receiving a desperate plea from the good side of Harvey Dent, Batman vows take his old friend across the country to a secret location that will supposedly cure Harvey and destroy Two-Face one and for all. However, Two-Face has other ideas, and kicks off a plan that pits Batman against everyone from hired assassins, ambitious D-list rogues, average people looking to get rich, and perhaps even members of the Bat-Family!
Nothing remotely like this happens in the issue. That's Neal Adams for you.
All in all, I found the debut issue of ASB to be a very promising start. While it's not quite worth the absolutely ridiculous $4.99 cover price, this story nonetheless has great potential despite some flaws. While Snyder does indulge in his penchant for having the villain monologue about biweekly BIG IDEAS THAT WILL SHAKE BATMAN AND HIS FAMILY TO THE CORE, the story is breezy, action-packed, and rather fun.
The art by JRJR and the daytime setting gives the story a tone and atmosphere that sets it apart from the average Batman story, particularly those by Snyder, who has always emphasized the “dark” part of “dark knight.” A potential downside, however, is that JRJR's distinctive art style is not everyone's cup of tea, as he's one of the few comic artists whose quality can vacillate between being gorgeousness and hideousness. While I didn't particularly like his work here (with inks by Danny Miki), the general fan consensus seems to be that JRJR is at the top of his game, so YMMV.
Yeah, this just... this just seems awkward to me. Especially Harvey's proportions.
The biggest problem with this issue is that the first half is told in a series of needlessly jumbled flashbacks, starting with modern day, then going back 22 minutes, then 2 hours ago, then 2 weeks ago, then 20 minutes ago, then modern day again. The cuteness of the gimmick isn't really enough justification to jump around like that, especially when the art briefly makes things even more confusing. Thankfully, this doesn't derail the story right out of the gate, and it picks up again once the it becomes linear and bloody well gets on with it.
Rodolfo Migliari's variant here might just be my favorite of the lot.
As for Harvey himself, I'm relieved to say that he's well-written, and that he's not the creature of pure ultimate evil that I was expecting/fearing from Snyder. Or at least, Harvey Dent isn't, but the same can't be said of Two-Face. Yes, Snyder is one of the rare writers to give Harvey full-blown Dissociative Identity Disorder, where he has two distinct personalities that can keep secrets from one another. This is not my platonic ideal for Two-Face's mental illness, and it doesn't fit The Big Burn, which will supposedly be addressed in a future issue. That said, the use of DID worked wonders for Harvey in Nightwing: The Great Leap, and Snyder seems to be playing with a similar internal struggle, to the story's great credit.
The other great pleasure of this story is the appearance of four classic villains (ranging from B to D list), as well as the promise of more obscure rogues to come. This is the first time I've ever seen Snyder not only go deep into Batman's classic rogues (as opposed to creating his own whole cloth), but also write them in a fun way that isn't dependent of trying so hard to make them inhumanly menacing. After being worn out by Snyder's villains like the Joker, James Gordon Jr, Thomas Wayne Jr, the Court of Owls, Mister Bloom, and Doctor Death, it's damn refreshing to see him just have fun with normal schmoes like Firefly and Killer Moth.
Between the unusual setting, the classic rogues, the fun action, and an intriguingly fresh take on Two-Face, My Own Worst Enemy has a lot of potential to not suck. Naturally, I'm going to remain anxious for the next year, as I await to see where this Harvey will fit into Snyder's overall All Star Batman epic. But for now, it's a good start, and I'm itchin' to delve into spoilers and scans already!
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Welp, for better or worse, this is the start of a defining event in the history of Two-Face. If you want to check it out for yourself, All Star Batman is available at finer retailers everywhere under a number of variant covers, as well as digitally on Comixology.com!
Snyder's Two-Face as drawn by Greg Capullo and Jock
Now Snyder is making good on that interest by featuring Harvey in the first arc of All-Star Batman, which he's described as "my Long Halloween." By that, I assume that he means "epic Batman mystery featuring a whole mess of classic rogues," which would be refreshing given how Snyder's only interest in older villains pretty much consists of "ALL THE JOKER, plus a dash of Riddler." Each villain will be drawn by a different superstar artist, with the first story arc going to veteran Marvel artist, John Romita Jr. Which brings us back to Harvey.
See? Wheel! At least, I think that's meant to be a modified steering wheel-turned-batarang.
The first story arc of All-Star Batman, entitled "My Own Worst Enemy," will feature Batman taking Two-Face on a wacky road trip adventure that's being described as some kind of unholy mashup of The Defiant Ones, Midnight Run, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Death Race 2000. Via Comic Book Resources and Blastr:
"Batman takes Harvey Dent cross-country with an offer to fix his face," Snyder said, teasing the first arc. They note... that Two-Face offers "a massive reward to anyone who can stop them.
"Two-Face causes every bad guy in Gotham to hire assassins, everyone from Killer Croc, Cheshire, Killer Moth, Firefly, all kinds of crazy stuff on the road hunting them, along with everyone that lives on the road hunting them. It's like monster trucks and motorcycles... it's very out-of-control, but it's also a very personal story.
"In my version, Two-Face is a character who says 'We all have a monstrous side in us, and that monstrous side wins out.' Batman says, 'No it doesn't.' And Two-Face says 'Let's just see how it goes on the road. And if you lose, you lose big.'"
I have to admit, that sounds quite promising! And speaking as someone who loves both Two-Face and epic road trips, I'm honestly jealous that I didn't think of it first! There is so much potential here for a story that's both action-packed and character-oriented, which every good Two-Face story should be. But what kind of characterization can we expect from Snyder's "new take" on Harvey?
Snyder added, "This is Two-Face like you’ve never seen him. I want to make him really scary, a modern Jekyll and Hyde. When he was D.A., Harvey exploded his job to get dirt on everyone. Two-Face is about to exploit all that...sort of like the hacker group Anonymous."Okay, I love the idea as Harvey Dent being the one with dirt on everyone, especially if he uses it to exact his own twisted sense of justice, but there's no telling just yet if Snyder's Two-Face will be an antihero/antivillain, or just out-and-out villain (yawn). I will be far less interested if he's just a walking engine of blackmail and descrtruction seeking to expose everyone's dark sides, since that would basically make him the Harvey from Batman: Jekyll and Hyde, and nobody wants that. At least, I sure as hell hope that nobody does.
Two-Face is always more interesting when his stories involve aspects that keep one from just writing him as a monster (being Bruce and/or Batman's friend, his desire to see justice done, donating to charity, being a vigilante, etc), so I hope that in his drive to write Harvey as "scary," Snyder doesn't forget the character's humanity.
If anything, the fact that Harvey can occasionally be noble, that he's a tragic and suffering figure makes his monstrousness all the more unpredictable and disturbing, which is something that writers like Ty Templeton and Greg Rucka understand perfectly. I'm hoping that Scott Snyder will understand this, despite his tendency to write ALL of his major villains (James Gordon Jr, Thomas Wayne Jr, the Joker, the Court of Owls, the Riddler, Mister Bloom) as figures of ultimate, irredeemable capital-e Evil. At present, I'm honestly not sure if Snyder is capable of writing a villain of moral complexity, so it will be very interesting to see his take on Two-Face. I mean, without the Joker present to make Harvey look like a chump.
It's a good thing that Harvey isn't a reckless and mentally ill man who is compelled to flip his coin whether to perform or not perform an action no matter what anyone else says. Because if he were, this scene would be bullshit! Whew!
Meanwhile, artist John Romita Jr went into some detail about his approach to Harvey, and how it relates to Snyder's fresh take.
There's only a certain amount you can veer from the norm, but I didn't want to get too hideous in the visual because it's too easy to do. Sometimes artists have a tendency to overcompensate for lack of ability with too much -- too much detail, too much hair on arms, too many muscles -- and I didn't want to get carried away with Two-Face's grotesque part. It's not important how grotesque he is, the point is he's got a marred face.
So I said, "I want to dial it back a little bit." We know who he is. It's gonna be bloodshot eye, it's gonna be the scarring, but I didn't want it to get carried away. He said, "Yeah, yeah, that's fine." He gave me an idea of a mechanical looking disability. I said, "I want to try it. Let me mess around with it," and that's where we left it. So I'm gonna play around with it, but I did say I want to dial it back a little bit.
The amount of the grotesque isn't that important. What he's doing with the character is important, and what he has in mind is dialing back the insanity of the character. This is not gonna be the Joker. This is gonna be somewhere between the Joker and Lex Luthor; the brains of Lex Luthor and the insanity of the joker, but this is a different type of villain. And that plays into the story about Batman dragging his bony ass across the country.
That's how good the story is. The power of Harvey's evil side is he's got his fingers all over the evil world. Everybody knows who he is and he's got connections to get people through things. No matter where they go at any time of the day or night they're gonna get attacked because Two-Face is out in front of it. Batman has no idea what he's in for.
As much as I love the purely visual impact of a great Two-Face, I respect that his focus isn't on the character's appearance so much as how it plays with the story itself. This suggests that their approach to Harvey is not to make him a grotesque gimmick villain, which is very encouraging.
So many artists get so carried away on the detail of the scarring that they neglect the unscarred side, which (while fun!) is far more important in terms of showing character, personality, and emotion. The unscarred side should be where readers should see all of the characterization, with the scarring being cosmetic dressing. As such, I will be very, very interested to see JRJr's restrained take that emphasizes Snyder's take on Harvey's personality rather than being just another cool visual.
Art by Jock
Especially Midnight Run. I only just watched that film for the purposes of this post, and I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't seen it before. I don't think that it's a masterpiece by any means, despite the praise it gets from genre film geeks, but I really love what it tries to accomplish, and I would love to see it oserve as an inspiration to a Batman/Harvey story. If nothing else, I would at least love to see a variant cover with Batman carrying a handcuffed Harvey Dent over his shoulder like a grumpy sack of homicidal laundry.
All-Star Batman drops in August. You can bet that I'll be back to review each and every issue.
On one hand, I’m interested in the suggestion that Harvey would be utilized to expose the dark inner selves of others. On the other hand, I’m concerned with Snyder’s focus on those dark inner selves—and by extension, Harvey’s own dark side—over and above the more humane aspects of Harvey like his friendship with Bruce and his heroic past.
Snyder kinda makes it sound like most Two-Face stories focus on those, whereas the reality is that most writers depict Harvey as an all-evil, one-dimensional monster without a trace of good left in him. While there is a great deal of potential in exploring “the monster inside of us,” past experience leads me to worry that Snyder’s ideas will lead only to the same old tired Two-Face characterizations, only with more speeches and philosophy thrown in, ala Death of the Family.
More importantly, Snyder already has written Two-Face, and it was not good. Not good at all. He got Harvey wrong in a couple very important ways, all in the name of making the Joker look awesome. Between that evidence and the way he talks about his big plans for Two-Face, I fear that Snyder is someone who puts Big Ideas and philosophy above character depth and development. I don't want to see Two-Face used as little more than a vehicle for some grand philosophical idea. After all, the last time we saw that was Batman: Jekyll and Hyde, which you'll recall was ALSO about bringing out people's inner darkness that they've tried to suppress.
So yeah, while I’d like to see someone FINALLY address Harvey’s status in the year and a half (!) since his apparent suicide in Batman and
If anyone could have the pull to bring Harvey back to the mainstream DCU, it’s Snyder, so if he gets his wish to write a Two-Face story, here’s hoping that all my reservations will end up being for naught. As it is, though, I still wish and hope that Peter Tomasi will be the one to bring Harvey back. He's the only DC writer out there who I trust to do a halfway decent job with the character, and I would sincerely hope that whoever does tackle Harvey doesn't just sweep The Big Burn under the rug.
Of course they will, because they always do, but I'm still hopeful that they'll actually build upon that story instead of ignoring the suicide attempt and the history with Bruce. As always, we'll have to wait and see.
So what will be included instead? An out-of-context issue of The Long Halloween (which, of course, HAS been in print and reprinted many, many times since its release, unlike EotB), and Joker’s Asylum: Two-Face, one of the worst Two-Face stories I have ever read.
Oh, and of course, the O’Neill/Adams classic Half an Evil, which is an important issue historically, but a pretty lousy Two-Face story in its own right. And it too has already been reprinted many times in several different trades over the years. Oh, and while I can’t fault them for wanting to include something from the New 52, the Forever Evil issue was absolutely fucking terrible.
Also, they’ll be including the 80′s two-parter by Gerry Conway, which was okay but nothing special, but not the Marv Wolfman story with the return of Gilda?! Geez, that one’s vastly more interesting and important!
Also also, they’re reprinting that weird Silver Age issue written by a teenage Jim Shooter where Batman is brainwashed into believing that he’s Two-Face to fight a brainwashed Superman who believed that he was the classic Superman villain, Kralik! Who, you ask? Exactly. Why the hell is this story included? It’s fun and all, but it doesn’t even really feature Two-Face!
At least the Harvey Kent trilogy will be collected again, so that’s something. The most important inclusion is DeMatteis’ Batman/Two-Face: Crime and Punishment, which has never been reprinted. It ALMOST makes up for snubbing EotB. Another obscure classic finally getting reprinted is the Batman Chronicles story where Gordon and Harvey team up to find Maroni, who had broken out of prison. I hate that making TLH canon rendered that story out of continuity, and I’m glad to see it getting the spotlight for once.
All in all, it’s still a better collection than either of the only two Two-Face-centric trades we’ve seen over the past decade (Batman VS Two-Face and Batman Featuring Two-Face and the Scarecrow), but it’s still damn frustrating to see some overused, awful, and/or middling stories included at the expense of some other worthy stories, particularly the single greatest Two-Face story of all time, which still isn’t even available digitally on Comixology! I’m just so... so... peeved. Damn peeved, I say!
The full solicit is as follows:
BATMAN: ARKHAM – TWO-FACE TP
Written by BILL FINGER, DENNIS O’NEIL and others
Art by BOB KANE, NEAL ADAMS and others
Cover by BRIAN STELFREEZE
On sale OCTOBER 21 • 296 pg, FC, $19.99 US
BATMAN: ARKHAM—TWO-FACE collects this villain’s greatest stories from the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS #66, 68, 80, and 513, BATMAN #234, 346, 410 and 411, WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #173, BATMAN: TWO-FACE #1, BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN #11, BATMAN CHRONICLES #8, THE JOKER’S ASYLUM: TWO-FACE #1 and BATMAN AND ROBIN #23.1: TWO-FACE.
Hell damn poop piffle.
What stories would you folks have wanted to see in an ultimate collection of Two-Face short stories? Besides EotB and the Wolfman two-parter, I'd also have gone with Walt Simonson's story from The Judas Coin, Ty Templeton's Father's Day from Gotham Adventures, and Rucka's first meeting between Renee and Harvey as candidates.
Back in 2011, when DC announced the graphic novel Batman: Earth One that would be set in an alternate continuity akin to Marvel's now-defunct Ultimate Universe, I asked myself the same question I always do in these kinda situations: “Oh god, what are they going to do to Harvey Dent this time?” As you may recall, Harvey's appearance barely amounted to more than a cameo, so the answer had to wait for the long-delayed second sequel to B:EO, which just dropped this week. And I was not looking forward to that answer.
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Despite all my complaints, I imagine that the second volume of Batman: Earth One, just like the first, will be a massive success. It's a very well-told story, one that would be perfectly fun and thrilling to those who are less discriminating (i.e. picky and opinionated about Batman lore) than people like me. Even with all my reservations, I'm interested to see where Johns and Frank take this saga into the third volume, which will hopefully be out before another three years rolls by.
Batman: Earth One Volume 2 is available at comic stories and major bookstores for $24.99 retail price US, and available digitally online at Comixology, iTunes, and Kindle for about $17.
My anxiety and depression have been getting worse and worse, but hopefully things will be looking better from here on out. For one thing, I will have a new review here tonight or tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that! Without intending to, I cranked out a review of Batman: Earth One volume two over the past three days, so expect to see that here very soon!
In the meantime, feel free to say hi and let me (and your fellow commenters) know how you've been during my long absence. If you have something you'd like to plug, by all means, have at it! I'll start by once again recommending the reviews of our very own psychopathicus, who has continuing his series of entertaining and informative Golden Age review vlogs!
It's good to be back, for however long it'll last. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on my next review!
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!
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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!
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)
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.