about_faces (about_faces) wrote,

A die-cast figurine, plus a pretty great (and occasionally mind-boggling) comics history of Two-Face

So I've been seeing these die-cast lead figurines of DC and Marvel characters for the past couple of years, which are apparently imported from either the UK or New Zealand. Have you guys seen these as well? This is the Harvey figure:

Many more pictures of it and other DC figures can be found at this Flickr account. They're all rather neat, especially the Riddler and Scarecrow figures. What I like most about the Two-Face one is how it makes the interesting choice to put the tacky suit on the good side, letting the horrific scarring play off of a rather nice light gray suit. It's very much Two-Face as ganglord, the kind of guy who gives orders and passes judgment rather than getting his own hands dirty, if he can help it. So yeah, it's neat.

But what interested me way MORE is the booklet that came with the figurine, which included the origin and history of the character, three recommended stories, profiles on allies and enemies, and more.

I was hesitant at first, fearing that it would be nothing more than one great big Jeph Loeb wankfest. And while it was a lot of that, it was also surprisingly comprehensive when it came to a post-Crisis history of the character! This is the only time I've ever seen anybody (in a professional publication, no less!) go into detail about Harvey's abuse, plus include the "contribution" of serial killer Dr. Rudolph Klemper to the unleashing of Two-Face. It's quite well-written and compiled, thanks to Jim McLauchlin, whom I believe was the same Jim McLauchlin who helped make Wizard magazine halfway readable back in the 90's. I keep forgetting if it was McLauchlin or Pat McCallum who made that mag great when it great.

That said, there are flaws. I know that some of you suggested the idea that Eye of the Beholder and The Long Halloween didn't have to negate each other, and could both count as canon. That's exactly what this does, and it actually kinda works... until you get to the part where the twist ending absolutely makes NO FUCKING SENSE. Don't take my word for it! Read it for yourself, both in the origin and in the last scan, which provides a synopsis for TLH specifically.

Warning: SPOILERS for The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Hush, and Face the Face. Really, is there anyone reading this who HASN'T read those storylines? If not... well, you ain't missing much. There's a reason why I haven't reviewed them here yet, even though those are arguably the most high-profile Two-Face appearances to date.

Wait, wait, here it comes. If you remember the ending of The Long Halloween, see what you make of McLauchlin's assessment of the big revelation:

Okay. Freeze. Stop right there.

So. Survey: how many of you think that Holiday was both Harvey and Gilda? Which is to say, how many of you took Gilda's speech at the end as being the whole truth? Here's the thing: this article seems to think that Alberto just took credit for the murders when he himself wasn't a killer. Except, um, for the whole fact that he DEFINITELY killed Sal Maroni, using the exact same methods and manner as Holiday. Thus, Alberto was *definitely* Holiday for ONE of the murders at least. In fact, there's no proof whatsoever that Harvey committed any himself, or that he tried to kill Alberto. Indeed, it's just as likely (if not far more likely) that Alberto faked his own death, as is pretty clear to me.

BUT THAT JUST RAISES FURTHER QUESTIONS! Like, if Gilda was Holiday up until Alberto's faked/botched murder attempt supposedly at the hands of Holiday (either himself or Harvey), and if she didn't know that was going to happen, then why wasn't she trying to kill Alberto or someone else herself? Did she suddenly, randomly decide to STOP being Holiday, after the Halloween, Thanksgiving (never mind how a mousy housewife, still recovering from her severe injuries, could actually manage to kill five experienced Irish gangsters at the same time with a fucking .22 popgun), and Christmas murders? It makes no fucking sense! Especially not if either Alberto or Harvey, by sheer coincidence, decided to carry on being the killer after her without actually being in on the murders with her too!

Honestly, what fucks this all up is Gilda's involvement at all. I've heard a theory that she's just gone nuts by the end and was making the whole thing up. The only way TLH could make any logical sense would be for Holiday to be either just Harvey or Alberto, unless they discussed things out together about who would stop when and who would take over.

Okay. Rant over. Carrying on (and notice that the continuity completely bypasses events from Robin: Year One and Prodigal, as if nothing happened with Harvey between Loeb and No Man's Land):

Sighhh. I'm going to have to review Harvey in Hush sometime, aren't I? *whines* But I no wannaaaaa! I suppose I must, if I really want to properly rant about the wasted potential of Face the Face. Of course, since Harvey's entire bald look is a yet another example of Loeb riding on ideas created by Frank Miller in the 80's, I suppose I should also review Harvey's subplot from The Dark Knight Returns first! Oy. I might as well, considering that if TDKR gets made as a 75-minute animated film, I can all too easily imagine Harvey's story getting edited out.

Good lord, what an ignoble place to end Harvey's history: Countdown and Salvation Run, the lowest point in DC over the past years, both of which are already pretty damn well forgotten and relegated to dollar bins. I find it interesting that stories like Batman/Two-Face: Crime and Punishment and Batman: Jekyll & Hyde weren't included, although it makes sense. The former would screw up the narrative McLauchlin had pulled together, and the latter is shit.

It just really puts in perspective the fact that Jeph Loeb is kind of the only writer who, for better or worse, actually treats Harvey as character with development and arcs, rather than a villain to pop up and be thwarted every now and again. Helfer set a great Post-Crisis foundation for the character, and no one but Loeb has really run with the ball from there. Well, no one but Greg Rucka, and even he undid pretty much all that growth by the end of Half a Life.

God, that's sad.

That opening sentence makes me so goddamn happy. I want to just plaster it around Two-Face message boards, comic shops, and the offices of DC Comics until they finally put it in print again.

I really, really don't like this story. It focuses on Two-Face as a superficial character, playing up to the idea held up by some writers that he's insecure and vain about his looks, before and/or after the scarring. I think this story would have much better fit characters like the Penguin or Croc, since they're far more compatible with those themes, and wanting to find some place where they belong. Besides, I don't like the idea that Harvey is the "real monster," or that if he was a monster, it was by choice. I don't like the suggestion that it's as cut-and-dried as all that.

Oh, and for those who wanted McLauchlin's interpretation of The Long Halloween's ending spelled out, here you go:

Yes, the readers were knocked flat! They never saw it coming... BECAUSE IT MADE NO GODDAMN SENSE. Again, regardless of what McLauchlin said above, we know for a fact that Alberto was at least ONE of the Holiday killers, even if he took credit for more than he actually did. So even if Harvey did "sense" that Gilda had been the killer and was going to stop, that would still make THREE Holiday killers, thereby ruining the clever prospect of it all being a "nod to duality."

The rest of the booklet looks at profiles of allies and enemies (with Harvey, sometimes they're both), which was an assortment of choices that were alternately basic (Batman, Gordon, Gilda, Renee), knowledgeable (Paul Sloan), acceptable (Penguin? I guess) and bizarre (the Suicide Squad? Oh, Salvation Run, yeah, I guess that kinda doesn't make any sense at all?). After that, we get a history of Gotham's organized crime, from Falcone up through to Black Mask, which of course completely goes for the skull-face Mask characterization. Whatever. Why do I care? I'm really wondering. Eh.

I know my tone was largely critical and exasperated, but in all honestly, this was a pretty great history of the character. I'd be very happy if this were somebody's first exposure to Two-Face, rather than just any one story. It's certainly a fair sight better than his pages on Wikipedia or ComicVine, although I'm certainly doing my part on that count.
Tags: andrew helfer, chris sprouce, christopher dent, don kramer, gilda dent, greg rucka, jeph loeb, jim gordon, moroni/maroni, origins, renee montoya, tim sale, toys and collectibles

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