Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

The animated DCAU Two-Face movie that never was (at least, not in movie form)!

Back when I was first planning out my series of Two-Face Stories That Never Were, one of the big rumors I wanted to explore was one that I could have *sworn* I'd read somewhere but couldn't back up: namely, that Paul Dini and company were planning on making an animated Batman movie featuring Two-Face, but that idea was scrapped in favor of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm!



I read about this years and years ago and could find no information online to verify or debunk this, so I was hesitant to write about something based on my own fuzzy recollections. Regardless, I've been dying to know what such a story might have been like, and how it might have affected Two-Face's popularity as well as future stories in the DCAU. I figured that, if Harvey was a central enough figure, it might have followed his character development after the events of Two-Face Part II in some capacity, probably revolving around Batman trying once again to save his friend. If Mask of the Phantasm delved into Bruce's past, perhaps the Two-Face movie would have done the same, possibly giving some much-needed backstory to Harvey and Bruce's friendship. And if it had been as good as MotP, then that means we could have gotten the Two-Face epic that the character still deserves. So yeah, it almost hurt to speculate on what could have been if only it had been made.

Well, as it turns out, the Two-Face story WAS made, just not for a movie or even in the animated series! I was skimming through an old issue of Wizard magazine from November 1995 whilst looking for a rare ad for the third Loeb/Sale Halloween special, when lo and behold, look what I discovered in the listings for new issues coming out that month! I've highlighted the pertinent bit, but I'm including the full page for the nostalgia factor, as well as a reminder of Wizard's somewhat douchebro sense of humor.



So yes, as it turns out, the potential Two-Face movie was repurposed for comics as "Two Timer" in The Batman and Robin Adventures #1 and 2! Y'know, I was *wondering* why that was one of the only multi-chapter DCAU Batman comics rather than a one-shot like all of the others! Wow, just imagine what it would have been like to have seen Two Timer as an animated film with Richard Moll performing Harvey in perhaps the most heartbreaking and tragic Two-Face tale from the whole DCAU!



Well, ultimately, I think everything worked out for the best. While I objectively think Two Timer is an excellent story, it's not one of my favorites. I've gone into details over at my review, but the short version is that I think it's too depressing, too hopeless, too much of an emotional "rocks fall, everyone dies" story where it just sucks for all involved. I especially dislike how it dashes all of the bittersweet, poignant hope explored in the episode Second Chance by destroying Harvey's friendship with Bruce as well as with Grace: "There's nothing left to save." Still, maybe it would have made more fans appreciative of the walking tragedy that is Two-Face who always seemed/seems to get the short end of the sympathy stick compared to Mister Freeze (see the "Batman Books" solicit in the Wizard page). That would have been nice.

All in all, though, things worked out for the best. Mask of the Phantasm was not just the better story, but it's also one of the best Batman stories ever created in any medium. While it would have amazing to heard Moll and Mark Hamill's performances in Two Timer, at least the comic version gave us some absolutely gorgeous artwork by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett, some of the best art to appear in any of the DCAU Batman comics. I'd argue that it's right up there with Bruce Timm in Mad Love. And while Two Timer was a major downer, at least it led to Templeton writing this and two other absolutely fantastic Two-Face stories, three of the all-time greatest for the character. The only downside to this is that far too few people have read these stories. Man, I have got to get back to my DCAU reviews one of these days.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Preliminary thoughts on Two-Face's new origin in B&R #24: "The Big Burn," pt. 1 (SPOILERS)

The first part of "The Big Burn" came out today in Batman and Robin Two-Face #24, featuring our first look at Two-Face's new origin in the DCnU. I think I will hold off on doing a full review/analysis until it's concluded five months from now, where can I properly examine it as a whole, but there's some stuff that I want to talk about right away.

My initial, overall thoughts? It's... interesting. Not bad, really, and certainly much better than most of the awful new villain origins. It's only the first issue, and it's clear that there's more backstory details to be revealed, but for now, count my interested... with some reservations, especially where poor Gilda is concerned.

UPDATE: You can see the origin pages for yourself over here at my Tumblr!

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So after a disappointing start with last month's "A Tale of Two Faces," it looks like "The Big Burn" is shaping up to be an interesting new origin with potential for greatness. Again, I won't give it the full review treatment until it's wrapped up, but I may post thoughts like this here every now and then. Mainly, I'll be posting scans and scattered thoughts about stuff over at my Tumblr, so keep up over there for all the latest rants and ramblings!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

NEW COMICS REVIEW: Two-Face in "Forever Evil" #1 and "Batman and Robin" #23.1 (2013)

This week, Harvey Dent was featured in a one-shot story that not only set the stage for "The Big Burn" (his upcoming new storyline in Batman and Robin, which may or may include a new origin), but also served as a direct tie-in to DC's latest massive crossover event, Forever Evil, where the villains of the DCU take center stage. That's right, it's a double dose of Two-Face! But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Find out with me, and let's pass judgment together!



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And thus, on that note, the stage is set for The Big Burn, the five-part storyline that will begin in the next issue of Batman and Robin Two-Face, and which see Batman "unraveling the mysterious connections between Harvey Dent’s life and the origin of Carrie Kelley," the Frank Miller transplant who may or may not become the next Robin. If she does, then at least this will be a return to the grand tradition of Harvey being the villain to break in the new sidekicks. Sometimes literally. That will be nice, even if this issue doesn't give me much hope that Tomasi's Two-Face will have much to offer.

If you would like to buy these issues for yourself and get in on this current event, both Forever Evil #1 and the Two-Face solo issue are available via Comixology for $3.99 and $2.99, respectively. Otherwise, you can track them down at your local comic shop, which may still have a few copies left of the 3D Two-Face cover, if that's your thing. Fun fact: the 3D covers have been known to melt if left in your car, so for extra fun, everyone should try to leave their Two-Face issue half in sun, half in shade! Harvey would want it that way.




*That said, every time I see fan art of the Bat-Family, I keep hoping that someday, someone will put Harvey in there. After all, they put Jason Todd as the Red Hood in there, and Harvey was one of Batman's very first allies. Besides, everyone knows that Two-Face is the Robins' wacky uncle. I'm just saying, if some people can see Lex Luthor as being part of the Superman Family, I'd damn well hope to see Harvey be the black sheep of the Bat-Family as well as a member of the Rogues Gallery.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Hey, where'd that last entry go?

I have friends-locked my newest post from last night, just as a (possibly already too late) precautionary measure. If you're not LJ friends with me and you want to read it, now's the time to stop lurking and friend me (and create an LJ account to do so, if necessary). If you don't feel up for that, then don't worry, I'll probably be back sometime next week with a new review of Peter Tomasi's Forever Evil Two-Face story!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

NEW COMICS REVIEW: "The Beautiful Ugly" from "Legends of the Dark Knight" #56-58 (2013)

In case it hasn't been clear from how much I've been taking this up, I absolutely love The Beautiful Ugly, the latest Two-Face story from DC's Legends of the Dark Knight. Although only a one-shot issue in length, it's a story that works on multiple levels as a crime thriller, character study, urban tragedy, and as a exploration on both vigilantism and the limits of our criminal justice system, something which has become depressingly topical of late. It's also one of the best Two-Face stories I've ever read, largely because it's one of the few stories to really tap into the character's rich-but-wasted potential.



If you'll pardon the pun, Harvey Dent has always been criminally misused by writers. Over the years, he's played a number of roles--thief, bank robber, gang leader, mob boss, terrorist, supervillain--but none of them has ever made much sense for the character when you consider the character's history before the acid hit. This guy was a crusading district attorney, one of the only people fighting crime rather than committing it or simply just trying to survive in the corrupt hellhole that was Gotham City. Why would such a character just suddenly become the antithesis of everything he stood for and become the very thing he once fought? Why did he essentially become an entirely different character?

Part of the problem is that the majority of writers think of Two-Face as a scarred, coin-flipping, duality-obsessed gimmick gangster who once was a good guy. By only focusing on who he is now with little thought to who he was then, this has all too often led to the character being a cipher, one not rooted in any real personality nor motivation. This is probably the single biggest reason why there are so many mediocre Two-Face stories out there. Even still, the character has endured because, beyond the iconic visual appeal and his gimmick, there's the great idea of a character, one who could be used for many excellent stories if only someone would break him out of the usual villain roles and stop relying so much on the coin-flipping as a plot device.

Thankfully, comics writer (and sometimes inker) Derek Fridolfs felt the same way. He's an old-school Batman fan after our own hearts, and it comes through in his work on titles like Batman: Arkham Unhinged, the villain-centric tie-in comic for the Arkham Asylum/City games wherein Fridolfs frequently married comics and TAS elements into the Arkhamverse. In that series, Fridolfs was the first writer to really explore Killer Croc and Black Mask origins since both characters were created in the mid-80's, and his take on Talia al Ghul was far more in keeping with the character's morally gray canon than the Vigo-the-Carpathian-esque mustache-twirling villain she's become in the mainstream DC comics.

Point is, this is a guy who both loves and understands villains, so it's no wonder that The Beautiful Ugly--co-written by promising newcomer Kenneth Elliott Jones, who deserves at least half the credit here--is one of the only stories that seems to have some real insight as to what makes Harvey Dent tick.



Ultimately, though, to simply describe TBU as a character study for Harvey Dent--no matter how excellent--would still be a disservice to all the great stuff that Fridolfs and Jones--along with artist Jason Shawn Alexander (Arkham Unhinged: End Game)--have crammed into this taut little tragedy of Gotham City.

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If you're interested in owning The Beautiful Ugly (and you should!), all three parts from Legends of the Dark Knight #56-58 are available digitally via Comixology, as well as on iTunes, Kindle, and Nook stores, direct links to which can be found here. I also highly recommend you check out Derek Fridolfs' blog for tons of in-depth discussion about this story with his co-author, Ken Jones. It's a rare insight in the creative process of a comic by two very interesting, very cool guys who understand how to tell a great Batman tale worthy of the Legends of the Dark Knight banner.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

APB: "The Beautiful Ugly" finale is out and it's great, so go buy it

It'll take me a few days to write a full review of The Beautiful Ugly, the new Two-Face story from DC's digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight series, and my review will also be spoiler-heavy. For now, though, I do want to quickly mention that I absolutely loved this story, and that everyone should check it out. LotDK isn't exactly a top-selling title, and stories like this deserve our support.

It's one issue, split in three parts (LotDK #56-58), each just 99¢, so that amounts to $2.97 for the full story. Not bad at all, I'd say, and it's certainly a better deal than DC's usual $3.99 cover price for stories that have far less actual content. If you're unused to LotDK, there are at least four ways you can buy it: 1.) from Comixology.com (1, 2, 3), 2.) from iTunes for iPad/iPhone (1, 3, Part 2 not found), 3.) from Amazon for Kindle (1, 2, 3), or 4.) from Barnes and Noble for Nook (1, 2, 3). If you don't have a tablet or don't like reading from your phone, you can read Comixology purchases via your home computer, like I do! All in all, I prefer Comixology, as I often enjoy using their "guided view" reading format.

If you still prefer to read your comics physically, well, you're going to have to wait a while. You see, the original plan for DC's digital-first books was to release weekly installments online, which they would then collect and publish as full monthly issues. However, DC has cancelled LotDK as a monthly series, and will instead be reprinted the stories as collected editions only. This means that the only way you will be able to read The Beautiful Ugly in physical comic format will be to, 1.) wait about six months or more, and 2.) buy it in a full-size collection that will probably go for about twenty bucks.

Now, if you want to do that, awesome! LotDK is a neat mixed bag that's worth supporting, and I also rather enjoyed the Riddler/Black Mask story that ran just before TBU, so these stories would certainly make the whole collection worth owning. But I also know that most of us can't afford that kind of splurge, so you'd probably be better off sampling them individually for 99¢ per installment. Ultimately, I'd still recommend that everyone buy and read the digital version ASAP, especially if you're planning to read my extensive autopsy of a review. Two-Face stories should be supported anyway, but man, this one especially deserves attention. And again, do be sure to check out the authors' commentary over at Derek Fridolfs' blog!

Okay, that's enough shilling for me. See you back here in a few days for my full review of The Beautiful Ugly, assuming that nothing else of note pops up!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

NEWS: Zero Two-Face in "The Zero Year," plus Harvey's "first epic in The New 52" is announced!

As I mentioned a couple months back, Scott Snyder had announced that a young Harvey Dent would be featured in the upcoming new Bat-origin, Batman: The Zero Year. At the same time, DC's solicit for Batman #22 said (and still says), "The second chapter of “Zero Year” delves into Bruce Wayne’s past with the Red Hood Gang and his run-ins with aspiring District Attorney Harvey Dent!" And guess what, that issue just came out today!

So, much as everything I'd seen from the first part of TZY left me cold, I couldn't resist plunking down an outrageous $3.99 to buy Batman #22, only to discover... no Harvey. Nothing. You might even say, ZERO. Instead, all I have is a story with a more-dickish-than-usual young Bruce Wayne goes up against the Red Hood who already acts just like the Joker, whom Capullo insists on drawing with a mouth, thus ruining the simple elegance of the hood's design while making the character look stupider than ever. There's also more with Edward Nygma and Bruce's duplicitous uncle, plus a flashback to Bruce's training that didn't seem to serve any real purpose. All in all, this was one of the lightest, breeziest 40 page comics I've ever read. Nothing really happened. I never thought I'd say this about Snyder, but it almost feels like Tony Daniel never left the title!

So I guess we'll have to wait for next month to see Harvey, as it kicks off six months of non-stop Two-Face as his next big storyline is released. Which brings me to something I should have written about weeks ago. Last month, I neglected to post about how DC is dedicating an entire month to their villains, including around a dozen one-shot issues for the Bat-villains alone. On top of that, the covers will be 3D, because we have to out-90's the 90's when it comes to gimmick covers.



I should have posted about them all, but I just couldn't bring myself to care. Look, many of these just aren't the versions of the rogues that I'd want to read about (like Scarecrow, Freeze, and the new Ventriloquist), and as for the rest, well, I'm pretty much just expecting the worst from DC these days. It's just for self-preservation, mind you. I like being a pessimist because it allows me to be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than I'd expected, so hopefully that'll happen with several of these.

Well, a month has passed, and this month's solicits have given us a few more scant clues about what to expect, especially where Harvey is concerned. After a teaser page in a recent issue of Batman and Robin (Whoever) and Peter Tomasi's big Two-Face story--the one tying into The Zero Year--has finally been announced in DC's newly-released October solicits, with a cover image to boot.



BATMAN AND TWO-FACE #24
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
On sale OCTOBER 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
“The Big Burn” part one of five! Two-Face’s first epic in The New 52 sees Batman unraveling the mysterious connections between Harvey Dent’s life and the origin of Carrie Kelley!


My initial impressions and concerns haven't changed, so I'm still in "wait and see" mode. I will say how that's a nice cover, and the scarred eye is rather reminiscent of Lee Bermejo's in how it's all in shadow rather than showing the evil eye bulging out even in pitch darkness, as most other artists would do. That said, who's the blond woman? Guess we'll find out.

The solicit details also interest me, first because of how Harvey is sharing the ever-shifting byline of what was formerly Batman and Robin before that Robin was killed off. Since then, we've seen Batman and the Red Hood, Batman and Batgirl, Batman and Red Robin, and so on. So does this mean that Harvey will be allies with Batman in some capacity? I doubt it, because it doesn't seem like any writer ever wants to tell that kind of story. What I'm also wondering about is what--if any--connection Harvey will have in Carrie Kelley's origin, now that she's been brought into the DCnU. Will we be seeing a return of the grand tradition of Two-Face having a hand in Robin origins?

Harvey will also be popping up as an ensemble member in the main Forever Evil event series, if that cover is any indication, as well as in the special all-Bat-villain issue, also written by Tomasi:



FOREVER EVIL: ARKHAM WAR #1
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by SCOT EATON and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by JASON FABOK
1:25 B&W Variant cover JASON FABOK
On sale OCTOBER 9 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
As FOREVER EVIL hits the world, no corner of the DC Universe is in worse shape than Gotham City! Madness and mayhem hit the streets as both Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison unleash their prisoners upon the helpless citizens of Gotham. And with no Dark Knight to protect the city, what horrors will follow?


As it's also written by Tomasi, it's likely that it will somehow tie together with "The Big Burn," so this will also be a must-read. That said... man, does anyone else look at that cover and feel a wave of apathy twinged with sadness? I call it "sadthapy!" But seriously, until this image, I didn't realize how much I didn't recognize the Bat-rogues in DC Comics anymore. It doesn't help that I'm not a fan of the art either, but still, I really have lost touch with what DC has become. Whether that's a flaw in me (old 30-year-old fogie that I am) or in the company itself, I suppose only time will tell. Well, at least I still have comics like Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman '66 to follow!

That's all for comic news, but before I wrap this up post to continue preliminary work on my review of The Beautiful Ugly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Harvey-related awesomeness that happened on the most recent episode of The Venture Bros! For those who don't know what VB is, it's a great big homage to geekdom of all sorts that was wrapped up in the pretense of a Jonny Quest homage before it quickly blossomed into its own unique mythos. It's also one of my very favorite shows, and this new season is no exception. If you're in the US and if you have a participating cable provider, you can watch the newest episodes of VB here for free at the official Adult Swim site!

In the newest episode, Momma's Boys, the titular characters wind up inside "Dunwich Asylum" (get it? I didn't at first!) whereupon they meet a number of insane costumed criminals, including a one-off bit role by of a new character who is relevant to our interests.



I absolutely love Radical Left, as he--just like VB's perfect Cobra Commander stand-in a couple episodes ago--is that rare and wonderful combination of parody and homage. Those lines wouldn't at all be out of place with Harvey himself, except that with Radical Left, his desire for anarchy and "a nice home with a family" don't have to be exclusive at all! Well, as long as you take "anarchy" by what it literally means rather than just using is as a substitute for "chaos," a mistake that most people make, including Christopher Nolan. Really, they could have just stopped with the visual pun of calling him "Radical Left" (they have a history of one-joke name parody villains such as Dr. Septapus) but that quote just took it the extra mile! If they do bring back Radical Left, hopefully they won't wear the joke out too thin.

Okay, back to the review for The Beautiful Ugly. The final part comes out tomorrow on Comixology.com, so definitely pick it up! One way or another, I think it's safe to say that this is a Two-Face story worth supporting!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

Miscellany! My son is two (god help me), Derek Fridolfs is cool, and have a happy/angry 4th of July!

First things first, I wanted to mention this yesterday, but my son Hal just turned two, and oh my god, the Terribles Twos have arrived in (what I sure as hell hope is) full force. As a fan, this amuses me greatly. As a father, my ears will never stop ringing from the tantrum screams and I will never sleep again. Hey, look, I'm of two minds about it! Whee! ... Well, what do you want from me, I'm exhausted and have a toddler, it's the best I can do right now.

Secondly (enough two puns, Hefner!), guess what, you guys? After I posted about The Beautiful Ugly--the newest Two-Face story appearing in the digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight--I was contacted via Facebook by the story's co-author Derek Fridolfs! Besides the nice things he had to say about this blog, he brought to my attention that he's hosting an interview/discussion about The Beautiful Ugly with co-author Ken Jones over at his own blog! The first part from last week is here and the second just came out today, in conjunction with the release of the second part of TBU!


I had my reservations about the art last week, but wow, THAT is a Two-Face!


These discussions by Fridolfs and Jones are very cool, as they provide a rare insight into the creative process of writing a Batman story without any of the PR-soundbite-ness that comes from normal interviews at comic news sites. Reading through Fridolfs' blog, it's clear that this is a guy who loves Batman and the villains the same ways that I (and presumably many/most of you) do, which certainly explains why his work on Batman: Arkham Unhinged was always a solid read, often handling the villains better than the regular DCU did. He's first writer to actually explore the origins of Killer Croc and Black Mask for the first time since... well, since their original stories in the 80's, and he also has a greater understanding and appreciation of Talia than certain other comic writers and filmmakers do. I now wish I'd reviewed more of Arkham Unhinged, but I put it off so I could first review the rest of the Hugo Strange stories and then Arkham City itself, so I'm taking the opportunity to talk it up now.

Fridolfs is a cool guy and a great writer, so he's definitely worth supporting. Definitely check out his blog and read his discussions on TBU, and hopefully I'll have my own review ready to go shortly after the final issue and discussion both come out next Thursday. With one or two reservations, I greatly enjoyed the second part, and I'm anxiously awaiting to see how it wraps up!

With that, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my holiday. I was thinking about maybe doing a picspam of whatever patriotic Two-Face stuff I could find, but ultimately, I think I'll just stick with this. I've always been ambivalent about this piece from Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's Arkham Asylum, mainly because--in true Morrison fashion--it's all about using a character as symbolism rather than as a person. In this case, it's showing how America itself is two-faced, which is a perfectly valid idea, but not exactly one which applies to Harvey himself, especially considering that he's supposed to have written it. Nonetheless, for today at least, it's appropriate enough.



On that cheery note, I'm off to find a TV network that's airing 1776, which has its own things to say about the light and dark sides of how this country was founded. I shall try not to incessantly sing "The Lees of Old Virginia" around Henchgirl for the next week, but I make no promises.
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

New Comics: "The Beautiful Ugly" in LotDK #56 (2013)

Once again, there's a new Two-Face story appearing in the "pages" of DC's digital-premiere Legends of the Dark Knight series! The first issue (read: the first part of three, the first 1/3rd of what will be a one-shot-length story) came out yesterday, and surprisingly, USA Today even ran a promotional article about the story! Why they did, I can't imagine, as neither the writers nor artist seem notable enough to warrant the special attention, and Harvey himself has never been that big of a draw. Still, it's great to see smaller, under-the-radar series like LotDK getting this kind of exposure. It's also neat to see Harvey treated as the star focus of the USA Today piece, even though the details of the article suggest that, just like with the last Two-Face story in LotDK, the real protagonist of this tale will be a regular guy stuck in the middle between Batman and Two-Face.



According to the USA Today article, Harvey "revisits a case he lost and, wishing to make it right, tries a former criminal again in his own twisted way." According to co-author Derek Fridolfs--a capable writer of many digital Bat-books including the solid Arkham City comics and the delightful Li'l Gotham--described the story as thus: "Without spoiling too much, this story asks the question: Is there any way to live a good life without being held accountable for past sins? If you turn your life around for the better, is there any way to escape the evils you did in the past?"

I've read the first part, and while I'm not going to do a full review here (how can you review 1/3rd of a story?), the story so far looks poised to depict Two-Face as a merciless living reckoning--presumably a combination of Javert and Anton Chigurh?--for the new character's past sins. And the emphasis here is "past," as the article makes it clear that this guy has atoned and doesn't deserve Harvey's "justice," delayed or otherwise. Quoth co-author (and newbie comics writer?) Kenneth Elliott Jones, "We see how an innocent person can get swept up in a lunatic's whirlwind almost at random." Even though it sounds like Harvey will be in the wrong here, I think this is a great use for him as a character, one which emphasizes the strengths of his background and the ideas he represents better than just having him be a bank robber or a mob boss. Harvey should always be seeking justice, one way or another. Not only is that perfectly in keeping with the Harvey Dent who was, but it also plays into how he's a twisted mirror of Batman himself.



So how is the story so far? Well, as usual with digital comics, the first part is all set-up, but the gist of it goes as follows: [Spoiler (click to open)]a new gang of wannabe masked criminals have been gas-bombing subway stations, and while the gas itself isn't lethal, the ensuing panics have caused fatal tramplings and other injuries. As the hospitals are flooded with the wounded and the dying, a weary nurse ends her shift and goes home to her boyfriend, Aiden, and everything seems peaceful and calm... until Two-Face and his gang break into the house, looking for a score to settle with Aiden.


That's all that happens thus far, and just like many a classic Simpsons episode, the (ostensible) real story doesn't kick in until the end of the first act. Maybe the gassing gang will play into this further, but I'm not counting on it. The gang's actions mainly serve to play into the story of the nurse, Marissa, through whom we get a rare chance to see Gotham through the eyes of a civilian bystander of the daily chaos that comes with that city. I'm a big fan of these little-utilized trope, especially in stories like John Ostrander's Gotham Nights minis (anyone read those?), so I'm interested in seeing how Marissa's story plays out as she learns that her boyfriend may have been a part of that chaos at one point.




The art is by Jason Shawn Alexander, an artist I've never heard of before who has worked on some Conan and Abe Sapien comics, as well as the epilogue comic, Batman: Arkham City: End Game, which I haven't read yet. Jones praises Alexander's art by saying that it "takes it to a whole other level. His ability to capture and depict the energy and emotion of each moment is amazing. It drives the story home. And it looks fantastic." While the co-author of the book may be biased, I generally agree: Alexander's art is moody and atmospheric, sketchy in ways that remind me a lot of Bill Sienkiewicz with Dave McKean touches. It's very Vertigo Comics, especially akin to Hellblazer-type books from the late 80's and early 90's. Many, I'm sure, will find it ugly, but I liked it a lot... right up until we saw his Two-Face.



I think that has to be the single ugliest Harvey Dent I've ever seen. I'm intrigued by several of the unusual details--the solid white suit suit, the opaque eyeball--but my god, he looks like a dessicated half-zombie half-drug addict. Granted, everyone in this story looks rather filthy and unkempt because that's the artist's style, but it's always jarring to see a Two-Face who looks like a wreck even on his good side. Well, I'll say this for Mr. Alexander, the Two-Face he drew for the cover is rather excellent. Hopefully we'll see more of that Harvey in the interior art over the next two parts.

All in all, I am mightily intrigued by what the writers have planned for The Beautiful Ugly based on what we've seen here and what they said in the article. Fridolfs' last words sentences that a heavy, shades-of-gray ending is in the works, saying, "Gotham breeds tragedy, whether you dress up as a hero or a villain, and whether you live in the city or are visiting. There are very few triumphs in Gotham. Even victories can be hollow. The punishment of crime is something everyone has some feelings toward. And I think by the end of the story, it will be interesting to see if the readers side more with Two-Face or with Batman." (Emphasis mine)



If you want to pick up the first part of The Beautiful Ugly, it's currently available for 99¢ at Comixology! The next part will be out next Thursday, and the finale will be out on the Thursday after that! I may or may not do a full review of the story, as it will depend on how much I'll have to say about it when all's said and done. I'm afraid that I simply don't have it in me to write a whole review for something if I don't care about it. Not anymore, anyway.

So since we're on the topic: hi, everyone! Wow, it's been a longer absence than usual, hasn't it? Sorry about that. I fear that I will be updating here less and less for the foreseeable future. It's been too hot here to blog, and what little energy I've had for writing has been devoted to stuff on Facebook and Tumblr, plus a bit of dabbling in book reviews at my Goodreads page. Most importantly, I'm trying to focus on writing fiction, including a couple collaborative projects with Henchgirl and captaintwinings, plus I'm slowwwwwly chipping away at the next part of Dent. Well, with the annoucement of Amazon's Kindle Worlds (read: officially-sanctioned fan fiction!), I figure it might be smart to have that novel ready to go if WB/DC starts licensing out its properties, and if I decide to take that risk.

All that said, I don't want to abandon this LJ, nor do I ever plan to do that. But the fact is, the next big posts I have yet to write are ones that I really don't WANT to write, ones which I've put off writing for years now. You can probably guess what some of them are, concerning things such as The New Batman Adventures, The Long Halloween, and Half a Life. These are all things that I *have* to write about, as they're all major Two-Face stories in one form or another, but they're also some of the most frustrating ones for me. As such, I'm in no rush to finally tackle those, which is resulting in me generally neglecting this blog. In the meantime, do feel free to follow me on any of the above-linked sites, if you're so inclined. I'd hate to lose touch with any of you due to my slacking-off here!
Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

NEWS: Two-Face to appear in Tomasi's "Batman & (Whoever)", and here's his first appearance!

As killermoth pointed out to me in my last post, writer Peter Tomasi has announced that Harvey will soon be appearing in Batman & Robin! As I said before: not sure if want. On one hand, Tomasi's last big Two-Face story, Nightwing: The Great Leap might be one of my favorite Two-Face stories, despite its considerable faults. On the other hand, there are those considerable faults to... well, consider.

What's worse, I love it for reasons that seem to go against what Tomasi's own narrative WANTED me to feel. I can't tell whether or not the narrative is siding with Nightwing's own awful, offensive, and incorrect view of Harvey, especially since it seems to give Dick the last word while making Harvey just look like an evil monster. Furthermore, I hate the direction it took by suddenly turning into another bland "Two-Face goes on a rampage" story. Also, I hate Gilda being supplanted by Not!Rachel Dawes in Harvey's heart, because the idea that Harvey had an emotional affair with someone while staying with Gilda only out of his marriage vows? Wow, bullshit. Never mind that Carol was a bland non-character who was written as little more than a talking MacGuffin.

Also also, Tomasi was the show-runner on Batman: Face the Face, one of the worst Harvey Dent stories ever written. What made it especially bad was how it had a couple good ideas, then utterly pissed them away in a story riddled with plot holes, cheap writing, and an annoying ending that remains maddeningly unresolved. I guess no one cares about that story and/or Harvey and/or the Great White Shark to actually give Harvey some goddamn closure in regards to his business with both Batman and Warren White. Honestly, I think the closest we're ever going to get to a proper follow-up to that waste of a story is this fan-doodle by Shark role-player blog Business-and-Bites:



... So yeah, okay , there is a LOT going against Tomasi here. But he's still a great writer, generally speaking (his first run on Green Lantern Corps was especially excellent), and if he can tap into the good parts of his Harvey from N:TGL, then that will be awesome. Or at least, definitely worth reading. Even if his track record with the character is mixed, I'd rather see him try than anyone else on the Bat-books currently. Just as long as he doesn't delve too much in Harvey's past. So far, I haven't seen a single villain origin reboot that hasn't been disappointing at best and infuriating at worst. Funny/sad thing is, despite Tomasi's last retcon of Carol Birmingham, I think I'd still rather see him try tackling Harvey's past over any other writer at DC right now.

Hot on the heels of Tomasi's announcement, Harvey did indeed appear at the very end of Batman and Robin the Red Hood, making a full page cameo after an issue that featured Carrie Kelly (yes, Frank Miller's Robin from TDKR, she's here now) being caustically annoyed with Bruce, followed by Bruce being an utterly selfish ass to Jason. After that unpleasant fallout, the issue ends inexplicably ends on this quiet, minimalist note:

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As you can see, it's nothing more than a teaser for Harvey's next big appearance, with no indication of what it might be or what he might do if that coin came up scarred. Really, this page could fit in with any Two-Face of any era, which is a major reason why I like it so much. Even if the story doesn't amount to anything, at least we've gotten the neat above page out of the bargain. It's certainly the best Two-Face material to come out of a mainstream Bat-book from the New 52 so far! It only took DC about two and a half years, so that's appropriate!

Incidentally, I've edited this page a little, as it originally featured a next issue blurb in the corner that read "NEXT: BATGIRL IN THE BARGAIN!" and I thought that we were all better off seeing this art unencumbered by the distraction. The page's artist, Patrick Gleason, apparently agreed with me, as he was one of the few to reblog this image when I posted it to Tumblr! Neato! Thanks, free MS Paint knock-off software!

So yeah, I'm now good an' interested in seeing how Tomasi and Gleason's upcoming Two-Face story will play out. Only thing I'm wondering is if Harvey will retain Gleason's same molten-face look--one reminiscent of Dick Tracy villain Haf-n-Haf--from his cameo early on in this book's run.


From Batman and Robin #4. Will he look the same in his first full appearance about twenty issues later?