about_faces (about_faces) wrote,

IMPOSTORAMA: The Fake Two-Faces! No. 5: Alfred Pennyworth

Hey, it's been awhile since I posted another part of my series on all the Impostor Two-Faces, hasn't it? This next one is part of a larger story arc, Nightwing: Year One, which reunited the team of Chuck Dixon and Two-Face familiar Scott McDaniel.

Of course, it wouldn't be right to have a story about Dick Grayson in a formative period of transition without Harvey along to help! Unfortunately, the real Two-Face was unavailable, so instead, we have... Alfred?

Be warned: scans are a bit smaller than I intended. It doesn't help that the actual letterer seems to be writing smaller than usual. But I'm too lazy to upload and recrop the images again, especially for this trifle of an appearance. But for the sake of completion, here it is, hopefully presented in a way that won't strain your eyes too much.

Scans are from Nightwing #105 and #106.

Geek observation: I think the coin is based on the Batman Forever design.

I like the idea that it's canon for Harvey's "evil" voice to be gravelly and harsh. I also think it's cute how Alfred constantly ramps up the puns. Or at least, it would be if Dixon didn't write the actual Two-Face the exact same way.

So, why is Bruce having Alfred go undercover as Two-Face? Maybe I missed a detail somewhere, but I'm honestly not sure. Possibly to infiltrate the mysterious new mobster showing up, but as we see near the end, Bruce might be up to something decidedly more dickwadish.

Gee, I wonder who it could be?

I should mention that this is, of course, all a subplot. The main focus is the meeting and reluctant team-up of Dick Grayson (very new to the role as Disco!Wing) and Jason Todd at the height of his snottishness. Really, Jason here almost makes Damian Wayne look laid-back.

One thing I really like about Dixon is that he's one of the few writers to remember that Croc was a gang boss, not just an animalistic, cannibalistic thug or muscle-man. One of my favorite takes on the character was in Dixon's Robin during NML, where Croc was wearing a fine suit and giving orders. It makes such a striking image to contrast tailored suit with the body inside, much more so than he is now, which is essentially a larger version of the Lizard. Poor Crockers gets no respect, and Jeph Loeb made it that much worse with Hush.

Yeah, I like Croc being a streetwise gang boss much better. It gives him so much more character diversity than just being the feral sewer-dweller who wants to eat people all the time. Honestly, I'd like to see it proven that his cannibalism is just a myth he's cultivated to scare people, something just for show. I'm sure he learned such theatrics and scare tactics as a method of survival, not to mention as showmanship during his gator-wrestling days. Dixon's one of the few writers to really appreciate the wasted potential in Waylon.

Wait, I'm supposed to be talking about Alfred as Two-Face, aren't I?

The rest of this story already ramped up the "Batman is a controlling, manipulative asshole" take on the character, which served to show how the Batman/Robin dynamic dissolved. But was this truly Bruce's intention: to test Dick somehow by dressing Alfred up as the man Dick hates the most? To prove that Dick would be willing to rescue even Harvey Dent? I don't have the issues handy, so I can't recall, but I'm hoping that this is just Nightwing reading things that simply aren't there.

I see what you did there, Dixon. Eh, he's allowed. After all, Chuck Dixon did create the Birds of Prey, which many people don't actually realize. It doesn't help that Dixon's lenghty run is out of print and entirely ignored in favor of Gail Simone's.

Oh, Alfie. There really isn't anything else to say about this, other than how it relates to Dick's hate-on for Two-Face. If Batman really was being a manipulative ass, then we at least get further evidence of just how towering a figure Harvey remains in Dick's psyche.

I've never really liked the actual circumstances behind their first meeting (I'd like there to be a way to retell it without making Two-Face a total monster, but the fact of the matter is that he beats a child nearly to death, so retelling the story might be impossible), but I remain continually fascinating by how much Harvey seems to haunt the Robins. Or at least he did, until Steph and Damian broke the pattern. Someone needs to rectify that.

Since I may not have done this story justice by posting a middling subplot out of context, you can read the full thing in the complete Nightwing: Year One collection, which is... out of print? Jesus, DC, what do you have against Chuck Dixon that most of his works are out of print?!
Tags: alfred pennyworth, chuck dixon, dick grayson, impostors, jason todd, robin(s), scott mcdaniel

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