thehefner: (Two-Face: FOREVER!!!)
[personal profile] thehefner posting in [community profile] scans_daily
The Two-Face of B:TAS is easily one of the finest depictions of the character. It stayed true to his spirit even while the origin was notably altered* in both the physical and psychological causes for Harvey's transformation.

The psychological explanation for Harvey's dark side--dubbed "Big Bad Harv," and after all these years, I still don't know if I find that silly or not--is it's the result from years of Harvey's suppressed rage, stemming from his guilt at attacking a bully.

As far as psychological motivations go, it's rather specious. I mean, really, one moment like that doesn't create Two-Face. But it was written for kids who were likely familiar with the pain of bullies, and hey, ongoing child abuse isn't exactly the stuff of afternoon cartoons.

But then we have the comics based on B:TAS, which weren't afraid to introduce darker themes. As such, leave it to the great Ty Templeton (an underrated master; dig this awesome interview with Ty conducted by our own [personal profile] zegas) to delve past the "bully" theory, and introduce a twist on the regular DCU origin:

Really, what the hell were the game show's producers thinking? Everything about this show practically begged Two-Face to rob them, even under more normal circumstances than this. It's like how Gotham museums should know never to house any jewels or artifacts that are in any way cat-related. You'd really think they'd figure this out by now.

Two-Face sits in the audience, disguised. His henchman, disguised as an usher, asks if he's sure he wants to flip the coin to make sure he wants to go through with this heist.

Two-Face replies, "No. Every part of me wants to do this."

I don't suppose I have to stress how rare it is that both sides of Harvey agree on something and don't bother tossing the coin.

So Two-Face makes his move, seeing his father for the first time in twenty years. Also, they reveal that Lester Dent was a used car salesman, which appeals to me. Like lawyers, used car salesman know how to manipulate the truth and sell it back to somebody.

And really, if Two-Face really is the manifestation of the sins of the father, then suddenly Harvey's fashion sense in the comics makes so much more sense.

Lester is furious, demanding why Harvey had to come and ruin his "lucky day."

A fascinating twist on the "abusive father" origin, as introduced by Andrew Helfer in BATMAN ANNUAL #14, "Eye of the Beholder." There, the game was always rigged. The father would force Harvey to be tails, convince him that he had a fair shot the whole time, and then beat him senseless.

And Harvey loved his father so much that he was in total denial that his father could ever possibly be so cruel, so unfair, while at the same time, his brewing darker self knew the game was rigged all along, and burned with fury and resentment as the years went on. Thus we have a complex and powerful cause for the schism in poor Harvey's head long before the acid hit.

And it makes Harvey's own use of the coin more meaningful, because unlike his father, he actually is playing fair.

But here, the game actually was fair, even though losing meant a horrible beating. And this twisted fairness with horrible consequences has more clearly direct influence on what Harvey becomes. I prefer the comics' version, complex as it is, but there's something very compelling about this take, and Lester's meek confession, "I had to teach you something..."

I dunno, which take do you guys prefer? Do you prefer the bully origin from the show? Or do you just prefer it being that Harvey simply went crazy when he had acid thrown in his face?

So Harvey tosses the coin on his father, and it comes up scarred, but Batman and Batgirl show up to save Lester's pathetic little life.

Huh! So if comics!Harvey acts against his unfair father by being "fair," DCAU!Harvey turns his father's twisted fairness against him with a no-win situation.

In comics, I really dislike it when writers have Two-Face do this, which is one reason I hate the Two-Face of PRODIGAL and ROBIN: YEAR ONE (subjects I'll tackle in a future post), but in this case, where both sides of Harvey are in rare agreement, it actually works perfectly.

Harvey and Big Bad Harv both want to get back at Lester. The bad side wants to kill him, while the good side is content with just taking away Lester's money, which was always more important to the man than his own son. It's decisions like this which make for the best Two-Face stories, where there's a lot more going on in that coin flip than simply deciding between "good" and "evil" choices.

After the cops have rounded everyone up:

How about that? Every now and again, it doesn't entirely suck to be Harvey Dent.

Finally, a request: does anybody have scans of the BATMAN newspaper comic strips that ran from 1989-1991? I'm very interested to read the Two-Face story, naturally, but also the Mad Hatter one. They're damn hard to find! Apparently, they ran in COMICS REVUE, but I can't find what issues.

*I have to wonder if the network censors at FOX had a hand in this, or they were both creative choices on the part of Dini/Timm et al. Check out check out this Bruce Timm drawing of all the things the censors wouldn't allow. See how many you can find!

Date: 2010-02-02 08:33 pm (UTC)
stubbleupdate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stubbleupdate
Censored - we have smoking, tits, booze, harm against children, gunshots, gunshot wounds, strangling, breaking windows and anything to to with The Cross

Did I make like a Pokemon trainer and catch them all?

Date: 2010-02-02 08:44 pm (UTC)
stubbleupdate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stubbleupdate
I saw the syringe, but forgot to mention it.

I claim my (Marvel) No Prize

Date: 2010-02-02 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] theanswer
This kind of justice is...
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Date: 2010-02-02 08:57 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
In the "Batman Animated" book there are a selection of comments made to the scripts after the notes from the censor, along the lines of

"Sorry, but the Penguin isn't allowed to make a "drop the soap in prison" comment"

"Bane cannot pick Robin up by the head, they're worried about kids trying it on their younger siblings."

"It'll break Paul's heart, but the hyena's cannot be seen to stick their heads into the baby carriage and chow down"

I think I have some of the newspaper strips, but not all of them.

Date: 2010-02-03 02:03 am (UTC)
cmdr_zoom: (oops)
From: [personal profile] cmdr_zoom
"It'll break Paul's heart, but the hyena's cannot be seen to stick their heads into the baby carriage and chow down"

Yeah, that's Dini for ya.

Date: 2010-02-03 02:51 am (UTC)
jelly_ace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelly_ace
I'm imagining Conroy!Batman capturing a speedster type of criminal and dropping a one-liner like The only race you're gonna run in is the prison soap relay.


Date: 2010-02-02 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What's the deal with the host? From the sounds of things, it seems like he engineered this alongside Two-Face.

Date: 2010-02-02 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I did. Whoops. Damn you, hindsight!

Date: 2010-02-02 10:25 pm (UTC)
silverzeo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverzeo
What is with Bruce's TV? It looks like that ana-montior from "This Island Earth"

Date: 2010-02-03 01:31 am (UTC)
retro_nouveau: AARP Bruce (16)
From: [personal profile] retro_nouveau
Great post! :)

I don't suppose I have to stress how rare it is that both sides of Harvey agree on something and don't bother tossing the coin.

I actually don't like this part of the otherwise very good story. I think it's absolutely vital that Harvey should be a conflicted dual persona, and that he can't get out of bed without the coin. For whatever reasons, it's tied to his face -- if you fix his face, the issues he has get revert back down into his subconscious... Your mileage, it may vary.

I dunno, which take do you guys prefer? Do you prefer the bully origin from the show? Or do you just prefer it being that Harvey simply went crazy when he had acid thrown in his face?

As with all things, I like to pick and choose what gets admitted into retro fanon, and when I like two things, I try to make them both fit (heh). If he was abused for most of his childhood, it could set him up for only one event with a bully to make him snap, and out comes Big Bad Harv. I love the DCAU aspect where it's not just his face, but the catwalk blocked half of the explosion across his entire body.

For the acid in half of the face, it has to be linked with the long-term vanity aspect for me. Very attractive, hot shot legal mind, who can wrap a jury around his finger with his charm and presence, heads (on both sides) I win, tails you lose -- splash, it's all over, everything is gone. What to do now...?

In one panel where they're watching Harvey on the monitors outside, Jim's just drinking coffee and taking a wait-and-see approach, but Renee's thinking really, really hard about something... Save yourself some trouble, Renee, neither of you will ever change. :)

Date: 2010-02-03 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
While I agree, I do kinda like the versions where his left hand is burned, too. That makes for an interesting visual, and makes sense, too, since it would be quite likely that he would bring his hand up to shield/clutch at his face when the acid was tossed at it.

Date: 2010-02-03 04:57 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
What would be interesting would be if one hand was scarred and the other one was gloved. It's fairly common for Harvey to have a glove on his left hand, but personally, I think it'd fit just as well on his right - I mean, if it was a kid glove or something, it could be seen as part of the good side's refined sensibility. Or, for that matter, it could be a tantalizing mystery - we're used to seeing the left hand gloved and the right hand bare, but here the left hand is scarred, therefore definitely part of the evil side, and the right is gloved, which is ALSO traditionally part of the evil side! It would be choose-your-own-interpretation time - either it would show the evil/good split in the normal way, with the glove equalling 'refined gentleman', and the bare hand like the naked claw of some hideous monster, or a sinister indication that the bad side was slowly but surely reaching out, and had now claimed part of the good side as well. It would be pretty subtle, but interesting.

Date: 2010-02-03 05:03 am (UTC)
retro_nouveau: AARP Bruce (44)
From: [personal profile] retro_nouveau
That Harvey would agree on what but not on how makes a lot of sense, but "Every part of me wants to do this" just doesn't sound right. It would have worked better for me if he'd said something like "That's not the dilemma, and it's not the time yet for the decision I need to make. Go warm up the Duesenberg, we're leaving in two minutes".

The entire-body vs. just-the-face dichotomy works better for me because he wears the nice Italian suit on one side, and the ugly plaid suit on the other, but there are two nicely manicured hands coming out of the sleeves. I would not have thought about it before the DCAU introduced the idea. I took to it immediately, and it also neatly explains the rather straight dividing line on his face, unlikely for a splash of liquid. I think his catastrophic obsession with the number two fits better when he's evenly divided. It's not indispensable, but it's grown on me.

I like an unusually strong vanity in Harvey before the acid for more direct causality. If he's normal until hit with the acid, why wouldn't he just take a few weeks off from work, go to the plastic surgeon, and go along business as usual? I guess the trope of snapping during a single event of intense pressure gets rolled out pretty often (starting with Bruce, and the line goes around the block), but I think it's appropriate in Harvey's case. I also like when Harvey's good side is as gorgeous as his bad side is hideous (and I'm of the opinion that the beautiful people tend to be at least a little vain). I might have been influenced by Jack Nicholson's Joker, who was shown to be dapper and more than a little full of himself before the Axis Chemicals mishap. Again, just my two cents.

Date: 2010-02-03 01:52 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
I really love this story. It also reminds me of the conversation we once had about Two Face being the 'shooting mobsters one day and helping old lady's across the street the other day'. I think the Harvey Dent side was responsible for rigging the money with explosives whereas the Big Bad Harv side went for a lot more straight up approach by humiliating him on live television.

By the way, I was wondering what did you think of the Batman: Gotham Knight anime shorts they released a few years back?

Date: 2010-02-03 02:32 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
Ooh, I like that idea! I wish we could have more stories that leave the reader guessing as to what actions were done by which side. It would add a wonderful level of ambiguity to a character who lives in black and white.

Plus once you build stories around the writer himself flipping a coin to decide the outcome, which aaron_bourque came up with, it adds a lot more ambiguity in Two Face.

Eh, I was rather underwhelmed. I barely remember it, honestly. Only thing that comes to mind was Brian Azzarello's bit, which had that typical Azzarello trait of it being a really ambitious idea that wins points for effort but just kinda fails into pretension (he can't reach up to Alfred because he's holding all those guns! IT'S SYMBOLIC, MOLTAR).

Frankly, I liked it compared to most people. I still watch Rucka's (Cross Fire), Azzarello's and Alan Burnett's (Deadshot) ones from time to time. The animation was nice but to be honest I wish someone other than Kevin Conroy would get a chance to voice Batman. I know Conroy is pretty much Batman's defining voice but there are other voice actors out there who could do a good job voicing Batman.

Date: 2010-02-03 04:08 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
Looking back on it, aaron mentions that he would like to see a Two Face story where the story is determined by the writer's coin flip and alias_grace mentions she wants to see a 'choose your own adventure' style Two Face story.

Jeremy Sisto? Yeah he works as a Batman voice but I think Diedrich Bader would have been a better choice considering the story was very evocative of the Golden/Silver Age. Jeremy Sisto would be my choice if they ever do a darker Batman movie, I like the low, silent and somewhat whispery voice he does.

Date: 2010-02-03 04:34 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
To my knowledge, they haven't aired that episode yet. I hear Conroy and Mark Hamill will be voicing the Phantom Stranger and the Spector in an episode and I can't help but glee over how much roles fit for the actors.

Yeah, Bader really is growing on me for that Silver Age style Batman. I have yet to catch up with recent episodes of B:TB&TB

Andrea Romano has an incomparable ear when it comes to Voice/Casting Directing.

Date: 2010-02-03 02:42 am (UTC)
jelly_ace: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelly_ace
I always liked how the BTAS and TNBA comic books always add to the characters in the show, and not just be action-filled extensions. And this issue was no exception. You get a very logical Two-Face backstory, a nicely done revenge, and just a few pages of action to satisfy your testosterone needs.

Date: 2010-02-03 02:48 am (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
Ultimately I think the comics version is still Two-Face for me, but this is a great variation on the character that sort of illuminates even the original version if you think about it. Especially since the unfair coin toss is something I could someone cruel doing to a kid.

Also I agree that it's cheating and so undermines the character when Two-Face is cheating. It's like the Joker in a way, in a convo that was here recently. If he's always a psycho murderer it's not chaotic. If Two-Face's coin is just a gimick for drama, it's not Two-Face.

Date: 2010-02-03 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
In regards to the strips, if it's the 'Harvey Apollo' version of Two-Face you're looking for, those can be found in the 'Batman in the Forties' TPB. I don't have scans of them, I'm afraid, but the TPB is easy enough to find - I'm sure Amazon has it.

Date: 2010-02-03 04:59 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh, OK. I was unaware of that one. I take it this is a strip created due to all the publicity over the Tim Burton film?

Date: 2010-02-03 05:32 pm (UTC)
lamashtar: Shun the nonbelievers! Shun-na! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamashtar
Oo neat. Reminds me of Morrison's Arkham Asylum.

Date: 2010-02-03 06:06 pm (UTC)
lamashtar: Shun the nonbelievers! Shun-na! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamashtar
::sigh:: I never watched my DVD collections...

Date: 2010-02-04 06:28 pm (UTC)
lamashtar: Shun the nonbelievers! Shun-na! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamashtar
...I spend too much time on the computer.


Date: 2010-02-04 03:52 am (UTC)
ar_feiniel: (tdk)
From: [personal profile] ar_feiniel
"Not with that money, Lester. It's got to be bagged as evidence."

Great ending there.

I heart DCAU and BTAS Batman so much. They really did right by Two Face. Even the "Big Bad Harv" origin is good as executed in the show.

Date: 2012-07-24 08:51 am (UTC)
person4: (Default)
From: [personal profile] person4
Latest reply ever (I was just going through old Gotham Adventures posts), but I find it interesting how Templeton chose to have Harv call himself a lawyer in the present tense. Just gave me a bit of an "Oh, Harvey..." moment.


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