September 10th, 2021

Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

The Grace of Gilda, Part 5: Reexamining Gilda Dent in “Batman: The Long Halloween” (Part 1 of 2)

Note: This is the fifth part of my Gilda Dent retrospective, analyzing the complete history of the oft-overlooked woman who loved and lost Harvey Dent. New installments will be posted weekly! Previous installments can be found at the tag or in the following links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Special thanks to my Henchgirl, who extensively edited the following critique. I’ve struggled for decades to articulate the following thoughts, and they wouldn’t be nearly as coherent if it weren’t for her. Also, if something is funny, that was almost certainly her contribution.

I assume pretty much anyone reading this retrospective will have already read Batman: The Long Halloween (1996-1997), as it’s still one of the most popular Batman stories of all time. On the off chance you haven’t, I will make this as accessible as possible, but it will include MAJOR SPOILERS for TLH and its sequel, Batman: Dark Victory (1998). 

But let’s start with spoiling the twist ending for a whole different story: Presumed Innocent, the 1987 best-selling legal thriller by Scott Turrow which was turned into a 1990 movie starring Harrison Ford and Raul Julia. The film is especially important, as I strongly believe it served as the basis for Jeph Loeb’s reinterpretation of Gilda for TLH. You be the judge.

Collapse )
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

The Grace of Gilda, Part 5, cont’d: “Batman: The Long Halloween” (Part 2 of 2)

Read Part 1 here! For all previous installments of the complete Gilda retrospective, check out the tag!

For Gilda Dent, New Year’s Eve was the turning point. And for a brief time, things seem to be improving in her marriage to Harvey. 

Despite his ever-pressing work load, Harvey actually manages to come home for Valentine’s Day, surprising her with chocolates and romantic snugglebunnies. For a brief moment, despite all that’s happened before, finally everything’s comin’ up Gilda!

Meanwhile, the Holiday murders continue. Only this time, the victims aren’t the Roman’s men, but rather those of his gangland rival: Salvatore “The Boss” Maroni. This change in targets is interesting, given the fateful destiny of Harvey(’s face) and Maroni(’s bottle of acid). These murders aren’t up close and personal like the Roman’s men, but are now far more spectacular and explosive, with the killer mowing down nine men at once with the .22 as if it were a machine gun. The change in both targets and methodology would suggest a different Holiday than the first, which supports Gilda being the first and Harvey (or someone else) being the second. 

By Father’s Day, Maroni has lost everyone to Holiday, including his own father. He suspects that the Roman is behind the Holiday killings despite the first victims being the Roman’s own men, because mobsters… well, they generally ain’t deep thinkers. But then, many characters in this story become stupid for plot reasons. Take Harvey, for example. 

Over the course of these months, Harvey makes the incredibly foolish decision to target Bruce Wayne, whom he suspects of being mobbed up with the Roman. Yeah, Loeb decided against having them be friends, instead opting to have Harvey detest Bruce because of his wealth and status. When Harvey botches the case due to his sloppy work, he becomes embittered, believing that Wayne, “with all his money,” has escaped justice like so many others. The concept of the dogged civil servant persecuting the poor innocent billionaire is something which hasn’t aged too well. 

Then, in a moment that directly references Andrew Helfer’s “Eye of the Beholder” (1990), Harvey makes the horrible decision to go visit his abusive dad on Father’s Day. And he comes home with a souvenir along with, presumably, a whole lot of renewed trauma. And Gilda (who has been curiously absent for several issues by this point) is the one who has to deal with the fallout. 

Collapse )

Next time: Gilda the ghost, plus a surprising detour into Marvel Comics!