January 27th, 2012

Hugo Strange

Hugo Strange returns to less-than-greatness in Doug Moench's "Batman: Terror," the sequel to "Prey!"

Okay. I've put this one off long enough.

One of the reasons why I've come to love Hugo Strange is because of how the character was uniquely developed over the decades by a handful of writers, each of whom directly built upon the previous stories. While Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, and other villains varied wildly in how they were written (Continuity? Character consistency? BLASPHEMY! MOAR EVIL PLOTS AND DEATH TRAPS!), Hugo was the only character to have a linear progression from the Golden Age all the way to the early 2000's! It was so rare, so precious, so goddamned unusual, that it was well past time for SOME writer to come along and fuck things up. That writer happened to be Doug Moench.

Now, I know I've ragged on Moench a lot, but until this point, his track record with Hugo Strange had been stellar! He wrote two fantastic Hugo stories, including one of the greatest Batman stories ever. I suppose it was only inevitible that his general Moenchness would catch up with him by the time he made the foolish decision to write a sequel to Prey over a decade after the fact, so he could properly depict the return of Post-Crisis Hugo Strange.

Yes, Catwoman, spines work that way.

Here's a thing, though: Devin Grayson already told Hugo's return a few months earlier in the pages of Gotham Knights, in her fantastic Transference storyline. That story, set in modern continuity, made it clear that Hugo hadn't been seen since the events of Prey way back around the Year One continuity. Got all that? Well too bad, because Doug Moench decided to make that even MORE convoluted with Terror, which clashed with established continuity!

More importantly, though, is the fact that Terror sucks. The main problem is that Moench tries to cram in several plotlines--all of which he's regurgitated lazily from earlier in other, better stories--and falls flat in every instance. But I don't want to undersell its quality, nor conversely, oversell its entertainment value for awfulness.

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If you'd like to read Terror in full--including the extensive Catwoman subplot and full details of the Scarecrow's revenge campaign--both it and Prey are finally being collected in one single volume. It's probably the smartest thing to do, even if the sequel is vastly inferior, but the whole collection's worth tracking down for the first story alone.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

News: Walt Simonson's upcoming centuries-spanning Batman/Two-Face graphic novel "The Judas Coin"

So holy crap, DC has just announced that comics legend Walt Simonson is releasing a new graphic novel called The Judas Coin, featuring Batman and Harvey!

Holy crap. Well, this certainly helps make up for the fact that Tony Daniel is most likely doing Harvey's new origin.

According to Simonson, this story has been in the works for years. It was originally going to be published in Solo, one of the best series that DC has ever done, sadly cancelled before its time. Solo was one of the many brilliant projects by artist/editor Mark Chiarello, and his involvement in getting Simonson to create The Judas Coin marks yet another example of Chiarello's ongoing connection with Harvey. With Solo cancelled, Simonson ran the idea by Dan DiDio (whom I understand is a huge Two-Face fan), who greenlit the project. Now, several years later, it's finally coming out!

Here's the official press release:

This fall, DC Entertainment will be releasing THE JUDAS COIN, an original 94-page hardcover graphic novel written and illustrated by industry legend Walter Simonson.

THE JUDAS COIN features characters from all across the DC Universe. Today, take an exclusive first look at the book’s cover based on a featured showdown between Batman and Two-Face.

“The cover for THE JUDAS COIN was designed and drawn with inspiration provided in part by movie posters from the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Simonson exclusively told THE SOURCE. “In particular, I was thinking of the posters of Bob Peak, who did such beautiful work back then with montage. Peak was a master at creating a strong central image and surrounding it with smaller, often fairly loose images derived from various scenes in the movie.

I make no claims to Peak’s draftsmanship, but for a work like THE JUDAS COIN, comprised as it is of six separate but related stories, I wanted a cover that would provide both a strong visual image at its core, and a series of small drawings that would reflect the structure of the book’s interior. Batman and Two-Face, eternal enemies, provided a good focal point. The vignettes around them echo the individual stories within the book.”

Look for THE JUDAS COIN in bookstores everywhere on September 18th and be sure to keep checking THE SOURCE as more details about the book become available.

In the video interview up at the link, Simonson gave no further details as to what role Harvey would play, but added that the story takes place over two thousand years, and will feature cameos of many, many old DC characters. Naturally, one of them will be Bat Lash, a character of whom I am rather fond. A gunslinging fop who was once voiced by Farscape's Ben Browder? What's not to love?

That said, if there was going to be a western flashback, this could have finally been a way to tell a story with both Harvey and Jonah Hex, but eh, never mind. Maybe we'll just have to wait for some story where Harvey encounters Hex's stuffed corpse, because that's totally what happened to Hex. Seriously, look it up.

Man, why does big Two-Face comic news always hit mere hours after I've finally posted a long review?