October 15th, 2011

Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Analysis: the small but vital role of Harvey Dent in Miller and Mazzucchelli's BATMAN: YEAR ONE

Batman: Year One is obviously not Harvey Dent's story. Hell, it's arguably not even Batman's story, since the main focus and arc belongs more to Jim Gordon than Bruce.

It's more about the first year of Batman being active in Gotham, as seen through the eyes of Jim Gordon. And sure, there are secondary characters who are more directly involved, such as Selina Kyle, Commissioner Loeb, Sarah Essen, Carmine Falcone, and Arnold Flass, each of whom act and react accordingly to the actions of Gordon and Batman. And then you have the bystanders such as Barbara Gordon and Holly Robinson, the characters who are largely powerless to the events going on around them.

But what about assistant district attorney Harvey Dent? He's a relatively tiny character, making fewer appearances than anyone else in the story. And yet, he's a unique character in a very important way, which we learn in the second page of the first issue, just after Bruce Wayne and James Gordon roll into Gotham for the first time:

In trademark Frank Miller fashion, exposition is revealed via newscast that Harvey Dent has once again tried and failed to bring down the corrupt Commissioner Loeb. While this panel is meant to serve as a segue into Loeb's first scene (now that we, the readers, are fully aware that Loeb is hardly a nice fella by the time he welcomes Gordon to Gotham), it also tells us that Harvey Dent was already fighting the good fight before Gordon and Batman ever arrived. In fact, based on what Miller tells us about how rotten and corrupt pretty much everyone in Gotham is, it's reasonable to assume that ADA Harvey Dent has been the sole crusader for justice in all of Gotham City.

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P.S. Of course, as I'm sure you've guessed, this post was written in anticipation of the Batman: Year One animated film adaptation, which comes out on Tuesday but is available to download on iTunes right now.

In case you're wondering: yes, I've seen it, and yes, I'm planning to give it a full review with the help of dr_von_fangirl. We're both fighting a flu right now, but hopefully we'll have it out by this weekend. We have a LOT to say about the movie as a whole, and specifically about what it does to our two favorite characters. Does Harvey make it into the film, and if so, how much of it? You'll find out soon enough. In exhaustively obsessive detail. With ranting. And snark. Because that's how we roll.

Note: all scans are cropped from the digital copies of Batman #404-407, which were purchased at DC's official Comixology site. Sign up for an account and you can buy all four issues for just $1.99 apiece. As you can see, the quality of the scans is quite good, and taken from the recolored graphic novel rather than the crappy four-color print of the original issues. If you'd still rather prefer a hard copy in paperback, it can be purchased pretty much anywhere. Read it one way or another, if you haven't already. It's a fucking fantastic story.