April 10th, 2011

Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

"The Face Schism," by Moench and Kelley Jones: possibly not the worst Two-Face story ever maybe?

If you asked me six months ago what I considered to be the worst Two-Face story of all time, I'd have immediately answered, The Face Schism, published in Batman #527-528, by Doug Moench, Kelley Jones, and John Beatty. Now, I'm not so sure.

Over the past few months, I've given Moench's work far more consideration and analysis than ever before, and my last few posts make me feel like I should step back and look at where Two-Face stood when this story was published. Let's contextualize Harvey in comics by this point with a little help from our li'l pal, Schizy: the Smiley/Frowny Face of Continuity!


Heya pals, go to hell! It's your old pal, Schizy! Let's take a gander at how Two-Face's character and motivations (d)evolved over just six years! Yippee yee-ha I hate my life!

In 1990, we got Eye of the Beholder, which was the first story to really show Harvey breaking down psychologically before the acid even hit, putting a strain on his partnership with Batman! Oh noes! Then, in 1993, Doug Moench took this idea a bit further, retelling the scene with Batman outright calling off their partnership, leaving Harvey feeling abandoned and betrayed, and thus giving Two-Face a reason to hate Batman! Motivation, in MY comics? GTFO! Finally, a year later, Chuck Dixon ran with that motivation like wowzers, writing Two-Face as a vindictive madman who raved about dealing his own fixed brand of "justice" in the Prodigal storyline!

So as you can see, Harvey went through several filters from his 1990 reboot by the time Moench wrote him again for
The Face Schism in 1996! It really instills confidence about the story you're about to read, don't it? Have fun, suckers, I'm outta here! Wheeeeeeeeee continuityyyyyyy!


Thanks, Schizy! You make continuity such a not-at-all-tedious thing to understand!

In all fairness to Moench, I suppose he deserves credit for continuing using actual character development, even if it's to go straight downhill. At the same time, he once again deserves credit for giving Two-Face an actual motivation. It's the right thing to do with the character, but done in the worst possible way.

Also, clowns are involved. Clowns and Kelley Jones art. You've been warned.

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Personally, I think I might have to grudgingly give some major credit to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, whose Long Halloween was released that very same year. Maybe that's why I was such a huge fan of their story when it was released, because it was the first story since Eye of the Beholder to actually treat Harvey Dent like a heroic, tragic figure, while the rest of DC's Bat-books were depicting him like the above.

That's right. This story actually made me admit respect for The Long Halloween. On second thought, maybe I wasn't being too harsh in the first place.

If you'd like to read this story in full, you can find it collected this Batman VS Two-Face compilation, where it's included instead of such far superior and out-of-print Two-Face stories as EotB and Straczynski's amazing Harvey/Cyborg story from Teen Titans Spotlight. Seriously, WTF, DC?!