Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

NEWS: Scott Snyder wants to do a Two-Face story! Oh dear...

Hey everyone! As usual, it's been a while between posts, and while the item I have today broke over a month ago, it popped up again over the past NYCC weekend, so I figured that it's time to prepare ourselves for what may well be Harvey Dent's long-awaited return to mainstream DCU... courtesy of Scott Snyder!

On one hand, I’m interested in the suggestion that Harvey would be utilized to expose the dark inner selves of others. On the other hand, I’m concerned with Snyder’s focus on those dark inner selves—and by extension, Harvey’s own dark side—over and above the more humane aspects of Harvey like his friendship with Bruce and his heroic past.

Snyder kinda makes it sound like most Two-Face stories focus on those, whereas the reality is that most writers depict Harvey as an all-evil, one-dimensional monster without a trace of good left in him. While there is a great deal of potential in exploring “the monster inside of us,” past experience leads me to worry that Snyder’s ideas will lead only to the same old tired Two-Face characterizations, only with more speeches and philosophy thrown in, ala Death of the Family.

More importantly, Snyder already has written Two-Face, and it was not good. Not good at all. He got Harvey wrong in a couple very important ways, all in the name of making the Joker look awesome. Between that evidence and the way he talks about his big plans for Two-Face, I fear that Snyder is someone who puts Big Ideas and philosophy above character depth and development. I don't want to see Two-Face used as little more than a vehicle for some grand philosophical idea. After all, the last time we saw that was Batman: Jekyll and Hyde, which you'll recall was ALSO about bringing out people's inner darkness that they've tried to suppress.

So yeah, while I’d like to see someone FINALLY address Harvey’s status in the year and a half (!) since his apparent suicide in Batman and Robin Two-Face #28, I have some serious reservations about the prospect of Scott Snyder writing a Two-Face epic, potentially one which could influence the character for years to come.

If anyone could have the pull to bring Harvey back to the mainstream DCU, it’s Snyder, so if he gets his wish to write a Two-Face story, here’s hoping that all my reservations will end up being for naught. As it is, though, I still wish and hope that Peter Tomasi will be the one to bring Harvey back. He's the only DC writer out there who I trust to do a halfway decent job with the character, and I would sincerely hope that whoever does tackle Harvey doesn't just sweep The Big Burn under the rug.

Of course they will, because they always do, but I'm still hopeful that they'll actually build upon that story instead of ignoring the suicide attempt and the history with Bruce. As always, we'll have to wait and see.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

DC is releasing a new Two-Face collection, and guess what ISN'T included?

That’s right: Eye of the Beholder! Despite the earliest solicits bearing Neal Adams’ cover for the issue, they have YET AGAIN snubbed this important and influential issue. What. The fuck, DC.

So what will be included instead? An out-of-context issue of The Long Halloween (which, of course, HAS been in print and reprinted many, many times since its release, unlike EotB), and Joker’s Asylum: Two-Face, one of the worst Two-Face stories I have ever read.

Oh, and of course, the O’Neill/Adams classic Half an Evil, which is an important issue historically, but a pretty lousy Two-Face story in its own right. And it too has already been reprinted many times in several different trades over the years. Oh, and while I can’t fault them for wanting to include something from the New 52, the Forever Evil issue was absolutely fucking terrible.

Also, they’ll be including the 80′s two-parter by Gerry Conway, which was okay but nothing special, but not the Marv Wolfman story with the return of Gilda?! Geez, that one’s vastly more interesting and important!

Also also, they’re reprinting that weird Silver Age issue written by a teenage Jim Shooter where Batman is brainwashed into believing that he’s Two-Face to fight a brainwashed Superman who believed that he was the classic Superman villain, Kralik! Who, you ask? Exactly. Why the hell is this story included? It’s fun and all, but it doesn’t even really feature Two-Face!

At least the Harvey Kent trilogy will be collected again, so that’s something. The most important inclusion is DeMatteis’ Batman/Two-Face: Crime and Punishment, which has never been reprinted. It ALMOST makes up for snubbing EotB. Another obscure classic finally getting reprinted is the Batman Chronicles story where Gordon and Harvey team up to find Maroni, who had broken out of prison. I hate that making TLH canon rendered that story out of continuity, and I’m glad to see it getting the spotlight for once.

All in all, it’s still a better collection than either of the only two Two-Face-centric trades we’ve seen over the past decade (Batman VS Two-Face and Batman Featuring Two-Face and the Scarecrow), but it’s still damn frustrating to see some overused, awful, and/or middling stories included at the expense of some other worthy stories, particularly the single greatest Two-Face story of all time, which still isn’t even available digitally on Comixology! I’m just so... so... peeved. Damn peeved, I say!

The full solicit is as follows:

Written by BILL FINGER, DENNIS O’NEIL and others
Art by BOB KANE, NEAL ADAMS and others
On sale OCTOBER 21 • 296 pg, FC, $19.99 US
BATMAN: ARKHAM—TWO-FACE collects this villain’s greatest stories from the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS #66, 68, 80, and 513, BATMAN #234, 346, 410 and 411, WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #173, BATMAN: TWO-FACE #1, BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN #11, BATMAN CHRONICLES #8, THE JOKER’S ASYLUM: TWO-FACE #1 and BATMAN AND ROBIN #23.1: TWO-FACE.

Hell damn poop piffle.

What stories would you folks have wanted to see in an ultimate collection of Two-Face short stories? Besides EotB and the Wolfman two-parter, I'd also have gone with Walt Simonson's story from The Judas Coin, Ty Templeton's Father's Day from Gotham Adventures, and Rucka's first meeting between Renee and Harvey as candidates.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Review: An in-depth look at the Dent twins' saga in “Batman: Earth One” vol 1 & 2

Back in 2011, when DC announced the graphic novel Batman: Earth One that would be set in an alternate continuity akin to Marvel's now-defunct Ultimate Universe, I asked myself the same question I always do in these kinda situations: “Oh god, what are they going to do to Harvey Dent this time?” As you may recall, Harvey's appearance barely amounted to more than a cameo, so the answer had to wait for the long-delayed second sequel to B:EO, which just dropped this week. And I was not looking forward to that answer.

Collapse )

Despite all my complaints, I imagine that the second volume of Batman: Earth One, just like the first, will be a massive success. It's a very well-told story, one that would be perfectly fun and thrilling to those who are less discriminating (i.e. picky and opinionated about Batman lore) than people like me. Even with all my reservations, I'm interested to see where Johns and Frank take this saga into the third volume, which will hopefully be out before another three years rolls by.

Batman: Earth One Volume 2 is available at comic stories and major bookstores for $24.99 retail price US, and available digitally online at Comixology, iTunes, and Kindle for about $17.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

New review announcement, and hey, how've you all been?

Hey everyone, sorry for the very long absence. There have been times when I've seriously considered just officially announcing a hiatus, just because there have been so many things which I've wanted and failed to review. Not just The Long Halloween review (which IS on indefinite hiatus, sorry to everyone I've left hanging), but also Beware the Batman, TV's Gotham, Batman '66: The Lost Episode, and The Question: Convergence, plus one or two things I'm probably forgetting.

My anxiety and depression have been getting worse and worse, but hopefully things will be looking better from here on out. For one thing, I will have a new review here tonight or tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that! Without intending to, I cranked out a review of Batman: Earth One volume two over the past three days, so expect to see that here very soon!

In the meantime, feel free to say hi and let me (and your fellow commenters) know how you've been during my long absence. If you have something you'd like to plug, by all means, have at it! I'll start by once again recommending the reviews of our very own psychopathicus, who has continuing his series of entertaining and informative Golden Age review vlogs!

It's good to be back, for however long it'll last. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on my next review!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

The Conclusion of Steve Englehart's Unpublished "Dark Detective" Sequel (And Why It Got Canceled!)

Welcome back! Let's have a quick recap of what's happened in DD3 thus far.

In the wake of his meltdown with Silver St. Cloud, Batman tries to distract himself by going to London, where Killer Moth has supposedly been on a crime spree. However, both Batman and Killer Moth were being manipulated by the Penguin, who wanted to ensure that Batman would be too distracted to thwart Ozzie's scheme to unleash bird flu upon all of London in a mad bid to finally be taken seriously. After being beaten up by both Batman AND the Penguin, Killer Moth decides to high-tail it back to Gotham, while the Penguin's hired gun—Deadshot—teams up with Batman to prevent the pandemic, because even an assassin has his scruples.

Meanwhile, the vampire Dala is trying to kick the blood habit, but there's only so much that she can do without Batman's help, and he's been rather preoccupied as of late. And back in Gotham, there's still a whole other major subplot which I've barely mentioned, one which will have a major impact on Gotham City and Batman's life, assuming that he survives his London adventure (spoiler alert: eh, probably). So let's get back to the Penguin's descent into full-blown evildom, already in progress!

Collapse )

No matter what the reasons were for DD3's cancellation, I hold out hope that the continuation of the DD-verse will see the light of day. After all, regimes change, and even if the people who are currently at DC are against the DD saga, perhaps the next regime will be more interested. If so, then hopefully it'll happen sooner than later, as the surviving greats of DC's Bronze Age sure ain't getting' any younger! As much as I love the attention this blog gets, I'd rather not have this review be the final word on the Dark Detective saga.

From the collection of Aric Shapiro, who commissioned this piece just weeks before Rogers' death. As such, this may well be Rogers' final completed Batman artwork. RIP Marshall.

No matter what happens, I'd like to issue one last "thank you" to Steve Englehart for sharing the script and artwork of DD3 with me. If you'd like to read the script in full for yourselves, you can purchase it from Mr. Englehart himself over at his website, along with a number of his other unpublished Batman stories like a Mad Hatter tale, plus an Elseworlds take on Batman as Hamlet!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Review: Steve Englehart's Unpublished Sequel to His "Batman: Dark Detective" Saga! (Part 1 of 2)

UPDATE: The second half is now up!

Today's review was exciting for me as it was bittersweet. It's not often that I get to review the unpublished sequel to one of the greatest Batman storylines of all time, and with the blessings of the writer himself, to boot!

Long-time readers will know that I love love love Steve Englehart's 1978 run in Detective Comics, the one which gave us The Laughing Fish and its perfect take on the Joker, as well as new characters like Silver St. Cloud and Rupert Thorne, plus bold new takes on once-obscure villains like Deadshot and Hugo Strange (whose subplot I reviewed on its own merits). This run has been collected under two unofficial titles, Shadow of the Batman and Strange Apparitions, but Englehart himself prefers to call his saga Batman: Dark Detective. And here's where things get a bit complicated.

Various covers for different editions of Dark Detective, which will henceforth be referred to as "DD1."

Of course, the title of Dark Detective was what Englehart used for the SEQUEL mini-series that he wrote thirty years later, reuniting him with original series penciler Marshall Rogers and inker Terry Austin. Two years ago, I devoted three lengthy reviews to this delightfully weirdo story which brought Silver St. Cloud back into Bruce's life while featuring another all-time great take on the Joker, plus a unique twist on the Scarecrow and one of the most interesting (and bizarre) examinations of Two-Face's psychology that I've ever seen. It was a damn odd story, but a damn fascinating damn odd story, one totally in keeping with the idiosyncratic touches that made Englehart and Rogers' run so great.

Henceforth, this mini shall be referred to as Dark Detective II or DD2. Sorry in advance for the confusion!

At the end of my review of DD2, I mentioned that there was intended to be a third part of the DD saga, but it was canceled (supposedly) due to the untimely death of Marshall Rogers in 2007. The good news, however, is that Englehart sells the scripts over at his website, and thus, after two years of waffling, I finally contacted him to purchase and—with his generous permission—to review the scripts on this very blog. After years of wondering about Stories That Never Were, I've been given to the incredible opportunity to read one for myself!

So how is it? Well, that's not something I can easily answer. As with Dark Detective, I adore it for being a continuation of everything I love from Englehart's Bronze Age work, but I'm not sure that I could recommend it to the casual Batman fan. Perhaps this is one reason why it never got published (although there are several other possibilities, which I'll address later), but just speaking personally, I find that it's also one of this story's biggest appeals.

Collapse )

This seems like a good place to stop for now. Sorry for meandering around more than usual, folks. Click HERE to read the second half of DD3, wherein I'll try to focus more on the actual plot details as we ramp up to the grand (but frustrating) conclusion of DD3! Will Batman and Deadshot stop the Penguin in time? Will Dala be released from the Betty Ford Vampire Clinic with a new lease on unlife? Will Killer Moth manage to get a flight back to Gotham at a reasonable rate, and if so, what will his in-flight movie be? And, hey, wasn't Silver St. Cloud supposed to be in this? Have I been entirely ignoring her subplot with Evan Gregory to save it for next review? Yes, yes I have.

In the meantime, if you're interested enough to read the scripts for themselves, you can purchase them directly from Steve Englehart himself over at his website!

(Disclaimer: All comic art, including the unpublished pencils, are © DC Comics)
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

*tap tap* Anyone still there?

Hey everyone, since the last couple posts didn't get many comment beyond three or four of the ol' regulars, I've been a bit concerned that most people have fled this LJ for greener, more active pastures. I'd understand why that might happen, given my lack of activity over the past six months, plus LJ's tendency to be hacked and shut down on a semi-regular basis, but I certainly hope that isn't the case, especially since I have a few big posts coming up!

So if you're reading this, even if you're normally just a lurker, would be you so kind as to comment with a "here!" or something to let me know that there's still an audience? It'd mean a lot to me. In the meantime, I'll get back to work on the next big two-part post which I've been working on for a couple months.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

News: The cover and solicit of "Batman '66: The Lost Episode," the debut of '66 Two-Face!

As you may have heard from the annoucement at Comic Con, there's a major Batman event coming up in November centered around Two-Face! No, it's not the follow-up to The Big Burn (dang it), but it's every bit as awesome in its own way: the "lost" Two-Face episode of the 60's Batman show will be adapted to comics with an all-star roster of talent!

Collapse )

In anticipation of this event, I've taken down my previous reviews of the '66 scripts and will revise them into two separate reviews before the issue's release, reviewing The Lost Episode as the third and final part of the series. Maybe I'll also give a full review of Wein's Batman: Black and White story, but only if I can make the time for a story which may not even deserve that much attention. In the meantime, I'll get back to my reviews just as soon as I send my laptop off to Dell to see if it can be fixed, because it died this morning and I haven't backed up my files and ha ha ha ha ha I'm stressing like hell oh god. So, yeah. We'll see.

By the way, sorry if the formatting on this blog is off. LJ changed stuff around and I still haven't figured out how to go back a plain white background for the actual posts. Eh, maybe it's high time that I gave this whole blog a facelift (so to speak).
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

State of the Fanblog: Still Not Dead (Again)

Geez, it's been five months since I last posted anything? I guess I kept holding off until we found out whether or not Harvey actually survived the cliffhanger ending of The Big Burn, which we still haven't yet. Damn it, I need closure! Knowing DC, they'll probably just forget about TBB entirely and Harvey will pop up alive and well just in time for Batman: Arkham Knight. And that's if we're lucky...!

In the meantime, I've been working on a lengthy review for a major unreleased Two-Face appearance which I've managed to read thanks to its author, a legendary DC writer from the Bronze Age and one of the greatest Batman creators of all time, who graciously agreed to let me review these scripts. What's more, he's even allowed me to go into extensive detail, revealing all the spoilers, since this blog may, regrettably, be the only place it'll ever get coverage. I sure hope not, but I'm nonetheless excited and honored for the opportunity to review a Story That Never Was (man, I need a snapper term), despite it being a deeply bittersweet experience.

I've also been slowly working on the Long Halloween review. No, really, I swear! I'll try to have the first part out by Halloween, and maybe we can post them in real time if I can stick to the schedule. That's a big “if,” of course. Thanks to everyone's continued understanding and patience on that front, and thanks in general for your continued support and contributions to this blog. You folks are the lifeblood of about_faces, and I would have abandoned this long ago if it weren't for your comments and insights.

There have been a lot of little Two-Face-related stuff in the media over the last few months, so I'll try to make a short post here and there just to keep things active between major posts. In the meantime, though, I'd like to give a quick plug to stalwart commenter psychopathicus, who has launched a YouTube channel dubbed WEGAF (“Wild-Eyed Golden Age Fanatic”) Reviews, a webshow wherein he reviews obscure Golden Age comics with the same combination of insight and smartass geekery which has made him one of the most thoughtful contributors to his humble blog.

Finally, just to bring this back around to both Two-Face and my own personal life, Henchgirl surprised me with a fantastic anniversary present: this print of a Two-Face portrait by collage artist Alec Goss. I've had this piece proudly hanging over our bed for the past month now, and I'm still blown away by how perfect a gift it was for me, considering everything I love about Two-Face.

For one thing, Mr. Goss has made the surprising, wonderful choice to go with the Jim Aparo turtleneck version, a design which I hold very close to my own heart given that my very first comic-reading memories were for the third part of A Lonely Place of Dying and the second issue of The Untold Legend of the Batman. Combined with the use of panels from Eye of the Beholder, it's a beautiful synthesis of my favorite Two-Face story with the design that caught my attention for the character in the first place. I also love the use of that quote from Matt Wagner's Faces, because 1.) I never realized how great a line it was, and 2.) it's a quote from something other than The Dark Knight, which is the only story that anyone ever seems to use when it comes to quoting Harvey. I don't know about you folks, but for me, there's so much to love about this piece.

My only real question is who the model is, or if he's anybody at all. When I posted this on Tumblr, some people likened him to Hugh Laurie and Christopher McDonald, who voiced Harvey in Beware the Batman (don't get me started). Whoever he is, he's not the ideal model for Harvey in my mind, but that's a very minor nitpick. I'm also both amused and bemused by the subtle inclusion of Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face, especially since Aaron Eckhart's influence is nowhere to be seen. Overall, I'm impressed with the unusual choices that Goss has made here, which has resulted in one of my favorite works of unofficial Two-Face art ever.

With that, I shall get back to work on my next review. As always, I look forward to your thoughts! Thanks for sticking with me through the doldrums!

EDIT: Oh, you may also have noticed that my LJ's format has changed. Yeah, that's because LJ changed it FOR me at some point, and I don't know how to get it back the way it was. I don't know about you, but I kinda preferred the plain white background for the posts. Well, maybe I'll take this opportunity to play with new layouts to try and zazz things up around here a bit.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

REVIEW: The Doubly-Shocking Finale of "The Big Burn" (2014)

Note: This is the second half of my latest review which I've had to split because it was too long, which I believe is a first for me. If you haven't read the first part, read it here now and follow the link at the bottom back here! And as with the last part, I'm adding a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm.

Collapse )

If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend picking up these issues, which you can purchase digitally at Comixology. For my part, I will continue to follow Batman and Robin to see what Tomasi has in store, and even if he never does follow up on Erin or Harvey’s stories, I’m sure whatever comes next will at least be more interesting than almost any other Batman book coming out today.

Seriously, though, he’d damn well better have a sequel planned. You can’t leave us hanging like this.