thehefner: (Two-Face: FOREVER!!!)
[personal profile] thehefner posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Got it just under the wire! For North America, anyway! Nya-ha!

Y'know, back when I was but a wee fanboy, I actually used to wonder if there was any feasible way the JLA could go up against Two-Face. It seems far-fetched to say the least, but I suppose the Joker's done it several times. So imagine my delight when, a couple months ago, I discovered this story existed!

In this two-part JLA story from 1975, our favorite bisected anti-villain teams up with the JLA to save the world from aliens inhabiting statues of Julius Caesar, Ben Franklin, and Napoleon! No, really.

These scans are two sets of seven pages from JLA #125 and JLA #126. First, Part 1: "The Men Who Sold DESTRUCTION!!!"

The heroes rush to the scene to battle the superpowered prisoners, as the events are recounted by the Dronndarians to the Weaponers of Qward, who become the main bad guys in the second part. But before that, the JLA saves the day, with a little help:

Hawkman's new fighting tactic: dropping crazy people on bad guys! Throw a villain at 'em, Katar!

The Dronndarians abandon the statues of Caesar, Franklin, and Napoleon, letting Hawkman, Flash, and Two-Face wail on three priceless antique statues until they caught on. Harvey doesn't think it'll be over that easily. And the issue ended.

Honestly, I almost didn't want to read the second part. I wanted to believe it could end with Two-Face being a good guy for once (as he really should be more often, honestly), and that he and the JLA would, I dunno, go out for Slurpees afterward.

I didn't want the story to continue because I knew what was going to happen. We all can guess, right? The coin would come up scarred, and Two-Face would betray the League, good guys beat the bad guy, and there are no Slurpees for Harvey Dent. It's obvious, that's how it'll go, right?

Well... not exactly!

At the end of part one, Two-Face advises the League, "If I may be allowed a touch of second sight, I have a feeling that whoever animated these statues has too much at stake to simply give up! They'll be back... if in fact, they're really gone!"

Then, at the start of Part 2--"The EVIL Connection!!!" (emphasis mine)--the League basically says, "Thanks for helping us save the world, Crazy Man! Back to a dank cell in Arkham for you!"

Aw, Harvey has a friend! I wonder who he could be?

Man, Hal is my second favorite character of all time right under Harvey, and I hate it when people dismiss him as being a dick... but dang, I kinda sympathize with the crazy dude's perspective here.

See, this is actually rather cool. The League preempts the reader's expectations by saying, "Uh, yeah, we're not going to keep Two-Face around long enough for the coin to come up scarred so he can betray us!" It's smart, yes. But they do it in a most dickish manner, totally ignoring the fact that Harvey, y'know, went to them to explain what the aliens' master plan was. Instead, they shrug and send him right back to Arkham Asylum, the place that makes Hell look like Kooeykooeykooey.

As such, when the Qwardians ask Two-Face for help (and really, didn't they learn anything from the Dronndarians?), Two-Face actually has motivation for screwing over the JLA! This is a refreshing improvement over the time-honored comic book tradition of "Welp, time to be evil now!"

When Superman and Aquaman discover a non-straitjacketed Two-Face, he tells them that the Weaponers blasted GL and make Harvey an offer, but that he turned them down. He says that the Qwardians are continuing the Dronndarians' plan to siphon off our universe's energy through our own acts of violence, and Superman questions a Weaponer.

The League travels around the Earth, beating up Qwardians rather easily. A little too easily. Flash takes Two-Face along to keep an eye on the bad guy, and during the fight, Barry realizes that the Qwardians aren't using the Dronndarians' power just before he's knocked out by a blast.

Atom realizes that they've been had, and that the devices Two-Face planted on them has rerouted the energy into the Leaguers themselves. In short, "WE'VE been doing the Qwardians' work FOR them!"

Ohhh, so that's his friend. Wow, it really does suck to be Harvey Dent, doesn't it?

Kind of a lame punchline, and somewhat anticlimactic to not even have an epilogue of the League with Two-Face. But all in all, it's a neat Silver Age gem that makes me wish we'd see more stories like this today.

Some of the most interesting superhero stories occur when characters are taken out of their usual circles. Like, Ra's al Ghul being revealed as the big bad guy in a LEGION OF SUPERHEROES story! Or EMPEROR JOKER! It's a simple, engaging, and underused trope of comics. They're the kind of stories that require a bit of imagination and originality on the writer's part, which is probably why they're not done that often.

Me, I'd love to see more of characters like Two-Face being used outside of Gotham, pitted against characters who aren't part of the Bat-Family. We already got a taste of the possibilities between this and the TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT issue where he faced off against Cyborg. For one thing, I'm hoping that JMS actually does the Two-Face/Hawk&Dove issue of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD that he talked about back in May 2008. That'd be a great start.
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