thehefner: (Two-Face: FOREVER!!!)
[personal profile] thehefner posting in [community profile] scans_daily
First off, did anyone else notice in the DC Solicits that the MANHUNTER co-feature in STREETS OF GOTHAM is going to be replaced by a TWO-FACE co-feature? It's going to be written by Ivan Brandon, who wrote via Twitter, "I've made two-face's life decidedly worse."

This... could be very, very interesting. Particularly considering that I've been hating the use of Harv in MANHUNTER thus far. But it appears that I may have been too hasty. All in all, very interesting indeed!



Now, back to more Grayson-y goodness!

When Dick upgraded to Batman status like everybody bloody well knew he would in the wake of Bruce's "death," it felt strangely like both the writers and the fans had forgotten that this is actually the second time that he'd donned the cape and cowl. For instance, Winick's five-issue BATMAN run went out of its way to have Dick complain about how he'd never realized just how heavy Bruce's cape was.

The Continuity Cop in me was appalled. "What?! How could these people forget the 1994 multi-Bat-issue crossover storyline 'Prodigal?!'"

And then I actually reread "Prodigal," for the purposes of this post. It's... well, it's not bad, per se, it's just... so very of its era: the time of Chuck Dixon on DETECTIVE COMICS (and ROBIN), Doug Moench on BATMAN, and Alan Grant on SHADOW OF THE BAT. And even though I still consider Dixon the best of the trio, his Two-Face even back then was... well...





... with anger? (ten points if you get that reference)

Even though this came out eight years before ROBIN: YEAR ONE, consider 1994's "Prodigal" to be the official sequel, if that makes any sense. Oh, and the puns get a bit worse from here too (two? Just getting into the spirit of things).






In "Prodigal," Bruce Wayne--fresh from having reclaimed the mantle of the bat from Jean-Paul "Azrael" Valley in "Knightsend"--has left the country for personal reasons, temporarily leaving Gotham in the hands of Dick Grayson... as not Nightwing, but the new (third!) Batman!

Either way, Dick plays the role of Batman to the hilt, handily facing down varying levels of threats like Croc, the Ventriloquist, and Ratcatcher. But of course, the real enemy is behind the scenes the whole time, lying in a musky cell in Blackgate Prison (while Arkham is being rebuilt after Bane blew it up good and let the crazies run loose in KNIGHTFALL):







Call me a nitpicker if you like, but the trick of Two-Face fooling people into not recognizing him by standing sideways is just so 1952. And really, it'd be one thing if this were someone more nondescript slipping away, someone like the Riddler or even the Scarecrow, but you'd really think that there'd be at least one more wave of guards keeping an eye on the hardened cons to notice that, hey, why's one of the most infamous Gotham criminals just walking out of the courthouse?

Not that Dick!Batman notices right away, as he already has his hands full with the Ventriloquist. Now, unlike Morrison and Winick's run, Dick instantly takes to the job (it helps that he has Tim as his Robin, not Damian). But more than that, perhaps it's because Dick knows that the gig's just temporary, not struggling to support Bruce's legacy.

I mean, compare the Dick Grayson Batman of the first story arcs of Morrison and Winick's runs with this:




And that's just in Part Two. Boom, he's already in full-blown scary Bat-god mode. In fact, you never once see a trace of the grinning joyful Dick Grayson in his Batman throughout "Prodigal."





I'm not too fond of Bret Blevins' artwork during this period, but there's something wonderfully SWAMP THING about that Two-Face image there.

And of course the coin came up scarred. Why wouldn't it? Really, I'd be more interested in the story that would've happened if the coin came up clean. Would Two-Face have set about trying to repair the screwed-up justice system?

Also, wouldn't that be chaos he's unleashing, not anarchy? If so, you'd think Alan Grant would know this, being as he's the creator of Anarky and all. Not that Anarky was ever a good representation of anarchist thought anyway, but that's a whole other rant for someone else to give.

The story continues over in ROBIN, by Dixon and with art by Phil Jimenez.











Wait, why is Harvey blowing up a statue of Tim!Robin? He's never even met that one! You'd really think he'd be blowing up a mannequin in the speedos and pixie boots. Does he think that it's the same kid he faced all those years ago? Does he just hate the idea of Robin? Either Dixon or Harvey himself didn't really think this through.

Two-Face crashes a banquet of the Bar Association, wherein he delivers his sentence for whatever unspecified crime of which he's accusing them:





...

"Kill the lawwwwwyers"...? It's HENRY VI Part Twoooo...?? It's Shakespearrrre?????



READ A BOOK!





Oh, so instead of Two-Face "avenging" Harvey (as Dixon had him in ROBIN: YEAR ONE), he's... self-loathing? Or both? Oh hell, when your character is crazy, who gives a shit about consistency? Everything goes! Whee!

In the basement of the courthouse, Two-Face and his henchmen discover the database for the entire legal system: trial dates, juror lists, parole hearings, and more. As he monologues like any good villain, one of the technicians sends out a distress call, which only infuriates Two-Face.





They're IN the computer?





Sorry, I'm just realizing that there's no real commentary nor insight I can give to this story, so I think all I can do is make fun of it. I mean, really, this is all the finesse that a master criminal like Harvey can give? Good grief, he's just an insane thug!











Two-Face escapes with the files on floppy disk (hee!), while back at Wayne Manor, Dick confesses his fears about facing Two-Face again. Also, Dick is huge here, for some reason. He looks like Bruce with a mullet.





Awwww, boys are unsanitary.








Wait, Harvey, didn't you already flip to unleash chaos (or anarchy, or whatever) on the city? Are you getting wishy-washy, or did Moench not get clued in?

And again, man, of course the coin comes up scarred. I want to see a Two-Face story where he's on the cusp of his big plan, and then the coin comes up clean, making him take it in a whole other direction than the heroes expected.

But like the Two-Face of ROBIN: YEAR ONE, this is a character with a single-minded evil goal, who flips the coin simply to find out how to get there. At least that Two-Face had a sense of evil fun. This one is just a sneering, bitter, hateful villain who you just want to see trounced.

As the criminals run rampant over Gotham, Two-Face decides to kill his henchman for no particular reason.








Seriously, how do the Gotham villains keep getting henchmen, when there's a very good chance that they'll get killed by their bosses? Do they get great benefits? A dental plan? Or is work really that hard to come by for lowlifes in Gotham City?

Back to Messrs Grant and Blevins. And sorry for the wonkiness of the first scan. Perhaps a side effect of me having rewatched the Adam West BATMAN, which--for the record--was even better than I remember. God love the villains and their Dutch Angles!

















With Dixon and Graham Nolan taking over the finale here, Tim Drake discovers where Two-Face is hiding, and rushes in to save the day. How does that work out?














Hey, hey, remember when I did my first Two-Face Tuesday, and some people wanted to kill me for ending it by saying "TWOodles!"? Yeah, go after Chuck Dixon first:











... ugh. Dent's game should never be a loser's game. Dixon's writing Two-Face the same way he writes the Riddler, as someone obsessed with their own games who rage against anyone else for "cheating" when they, in fact, are always ready to manipulate the rules however they see fit.

Don't get me wrong, I can see how that makes a great challenge for the hero to overcome: how can you beat someone at their own game when the game is rigged? But again, it undermines everything that makes the villains great as characters, not just as villains.

So yeah, Dick beats Harvey by using his first experience as a guide to shutting him down. Personally, in terms of a sheer rematch between Dick and Harvey, I found this story rather anticlimactic.

Sure, Dick defeats Two-Face, and overcomes his fears and shame... except that he doesn't. Two-Face continues to be one of the bigger sore spots for Nightwing, and Harvey himself never actually knew that he was facing off against the kid he hated so much over the years.

That is, not until NIGHTWING: THE GREAT LEAP, which was far more cathartic and satisfying, while being mightily frustrating in its own right. If I hadn't already posted that one, I'd have done so next week, since it's their third round together.

So if all goes as planned, I'll just have to skip ahead to Round 4: the five-part Dick-as-BATMAN story by Judd Winick. It's one to which I've been giving an awful lot of thought over the months, and I honestly think it's been sadly underrated and ignored in favor of Morrison's BATMAN AND ROBIN.

Date: 2010-04-20 04:14 am (UTC)
autumn_lily: pedo bat (batman)
From: [personal profile] autumn_lily
"You've got a real mad on for the kid Two-Face"

At this point, who DOESN'T?!

Date: 2010-04-20 04:21 am (UTC)
q99: (Default)
From: [personal profile] q99
-
Seriously, how do the Gotham villains keep getting henchmen, when there's a very good chance that they'll get killed by their bosses? Do they get great benefits? A dental plan? Or is work really that hard to come by for lowlifes in Gotham City?-

From what I understand, a high success rate and good pay. Unless Batman gets in the way, these villains almost always succeed and often bring in good hauls. Run with them for just a few jobs, and you've made more than you would running with the mob for a year. More prestigious than being a common criminal too, a good villain henchperson can get work with other super villains (view Dylan Battles in Manhunter). So the normal thugs are criminals in it for the money.

Except for the Joker's minions. Those ones are just crazy.

Date: 2010-04-20 04:35 am (UTC)
kingrockwell: he's a sexy (Mod Hat)
From: [personal profile] kingrockwell
Could I trouble you to list the actual issue numbers somewhere?
And I think you might have an extra page on that last issue there.

Date: 2010-04-20 05:00 am (UTC)
autumn_lily: jason todd (Default)
From: [personal profile] autumn_lily
Always glad to bring a chuckle to someone.

Date: 2010-04-20 05:01 am (UTC)
thokstar: Spot (Default)
From: [personal profile] thokstar
First off, did anyone else notice in the DC Solicits that the MANHUNTER co-feature in STREETS OF GOTHAM is going to be replaced by a TWO-FACE co-feature?

Not only did I noticed, but I wondered what your reaction would be. But I figured it wasn't my place to make a post of the form "Hmm, I wonder what thehefner's reaction will be" when I'm not that much of a Two-Face fan.

Date: 2010-04-20 05:38 am (UTC)
q99: (Default)
From: [personal profile] q99
BoP did once visit a henchperson party. Everyone had to have henched for a big gotham name like Riddler, Penguin, etc. to get in, and Dinah and Helena had to dress up accordingly to get past the door (where they'd check things at the door like weapon umbrellas).

Date: 2010-04-20 05:51 am (UTC)
mistersandman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mistersandman
Yikes... I can guess why people choose to forget Prodigal. If the captions hadn't told me, I would never have guessed that was Dick under the cowl.

I do like the reference to Harvey Kent, the "Golden Age" Two-Face.

Date: 2010-04-20 11:36 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
You wonder why Two-Face is getting hacked off with the modern Robin mannequin instead of the pixie boots version one? He's met Tim, and knows he must be the current Robin (or at least a modern one), that's all he needs.

This story, more than most, shows that Two Face just plain doesn't work as a Robin villain, he exists to be a warped reflection of Batman's dual nature, Robin doesn't really HAVE a dual nature, so his Robin obsession makes no real sense at all.

Plus, also as mentioned before, to give Dick such a major neurosis about Harvey in their first appearance suggests that he would have had a similar reaction every time they fought for all the years he was Robin, and that's a helluva retcon to throw in.

If Robin had to inherit one of the Bat-villains for his own nemesis, it should have been the Riddler. Eddie Nygma wants to outsmart Batman, that would have some cachet. To be outsmarted by the smart-alec sidekick (and Tim would be a natural for Riddler like clues, given his nature) would be a serious thorn in his side and render the R-bearer as a serious candidate for revenge.

Date: 2010-04-20 02:06 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
There have been a couple. A number of them get together a form a new criminal gang called, "The Hench Men", who made a one off appearance in the World's Finest 12 issue maxi series years ago.

IIRC One of Harley's gang, The Quintette's was an old pro who had worked for most of the Gotham bad guys, and had a lot of respect, mostly because, well he's worked for the Gotham bad guys and was STILL ALIVE.

There's an old Batman story I have to dig out which explains why people work for the modern, completely psychotic Joker. It's a risky, INSANELY risky job to take, but the Joker really doesn't care about the money or jewels or art that he steals, those are usually just bait to get Batman's attention, so (as long as he has enough to fund his lifestyle and build the odd deathtrap) he's quite happy to give a couple of million dollars, or handful of gemstones to a henchman because it doesn't matter to him. He might kill them, but he might make them wealthier than they could ever dream.

Date: 2010-04-20 02:21 pm (UTC)
sun_man: this is Dick Grayson (Default)
From: [personal profile] sun_man
This isn't round two they did not even fight

Date: 2010-04-20 03:08 pm (UTC)
airawyn: (Brothers - Nightwing and Robin)
From: [personal profile] airawyn
I want to see a Two-Face story where he's on the cusp of his big plan, and then the coin comes up clean, making him take it in a whole other direction than the heroes expected.

I remember an issue with Commissioner Gordon's retirement party. Two-Face invaded with thugs, flipped his coin - and the clean face came up. He put down his gun and gave Gordon a nice retirement speech. They even hugged before Dent let himself be handcuffed and taken away.

Date: 2010-04-20 04:18 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
I'm looking forward to your posts on the JW story!

Yipes, Dick looks more deformed than Harvey there. Look at his tiny head on those HUUUGE shoulders!

Meh, these stories are disappointing because you can see what the writers want to do with them, but the way they set Harvey up, as was said in the last one, they make him easier to deal with instead of less. It's just as simple as dealing with any other criminal. This one just has a gimick with the coin, and gimicks just give you time to work a plan.

I really do want to now see stories where Harvey's coin turns up unscarred. Honestly, why don't people get that he would sometimes do the opposite? It seems like the kind of stories people used to do all the time, where the bad guy turned good. Even the Legion of DOOM on Superfriends I think briefly made themselves the Legion of GOOD. (I was expecting the Legion of MOOD myself.) It would be great trying to keep up with him. At least the Freefall story was actually dealing with the dual natures both being honest (I'll have to go back and read what you thought of that story.)

Date: 2010-04-20 07:15 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Now THAT's Two-Face! :)

Date: 2010-04-20 11:37 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
Oops--I think I meant The Great Leap.

I was enjoying Winick's Batman, actually. It wasn't fantastic but there were a lot of things I found to like in each issue. I liked it better than I've liked TD's.

Date: 2010-04-21 12:14 am (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
OMG. That's fantastic.

Date: 2010-04-21 04:45 am (UTC)
thanekos: Kouhei " Principal Garren " Hayami, the Libra Zodiarts, is bugged. (Default)
From: [personal profile] thanekos
oh god, and i thought harvey's " that bitch sent out her SHE-MAIL " or whatever in that batman/daredevil crossover was horrible

Date: 2010-04-21 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Interesting. That's kinda-sorta a reference to the Golden Age Joker, who almost never seemed to actually exchange what he stole for money - he kept most of it for his collection. There's a great moment where he's meeting two mob bosses at his Ha-Hacienda, and they whip out pistols and announce that they're ransacking the place, because he's "got more loot here than anywhere else in town", and if they rob HIM, who's he gonna go to for help?

Date: 2010-04-21 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Personally, the way I read this (or rather, the way I'm reading it NOW, with your commentary in mind) is that Harvey is kinda slipping here. Arkham's blown up, he's probably off his meds, he likely hasn't gotten any proper psychiatric care for weeks - it's no wonder that he's going a bit off the deep end. It's not that he's gone completely over to the dark side - he DOES have a few indecisive moments where he might NOT have followed through on his plan, had the coin come up good - it's just that he's discombobulated due to the sheer chaos that Gotham has been plunged into lately (not to mention a rattling previous encounter with Bruce not long before where he came perilously close to at least admitting that yes, he DID have some real problems). Note the last page of the story, the one you didn't show here, where he's strapped down to a gurney going 'On. Off. On. Off. On. Off.' Two-Face is never exactly in what you'd call his 'right mind', but he's really gone loony here.

Date: 2010-04-21 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh, and I'm pretty certain that that quote about the lawyers is actually from Mark Twain, isn't it?

Date: 2010-04-21 11:25 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
The notion that it was BTAS which made Harvey cool again is interesting but doesn't quite work with the timing of this story. Tim's debut as Robin was 1989, and BTAS came out in 1992, Prodigal was 1994.

I was even more irked when Robin didn't get Eddie, but instead got Cluemaster, the bargain basement Riddler as a redurring badguy.

Date: 2010-04-21 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh. OK. Wow, I was sure that was Twain. What was I thinking of?

Date: 2010-04-21 09:34 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
'Bat-Trinity'? I don't quite get the reference. Anyway, no, I didn't, but it sure seems to back up my theory, doesn't it?

Date: 2010-04-21 10:39 pm (UTC)
alienist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alienist
Oh, I would so read that.

Catwoman's storyline in No Man's Land featured her henchmen pretty heavily. It was neat.

Date: 2010-04-21 11:09 pm (UTC)
wetstereorebel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wetstereorebel
Look back in anger?

Date: 2010-04-22 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh. Right. See, unless it's a really significant story, or something otherwise particularly noteworthy, I don't generally think of mainstream superhero comics that way. I just go 'oooh, that was good!', or 'well, that was lousy', and move on. As far as I'm concerned, it's all Batman. I suppose I SHOULD pay more attention to such details, considering that I aspire to enter the field myself some day, but it's just the way my mind works - I'm here for Batman, dammit! You writers get out of the way!

Date: 2010-04-22 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh, absolutely. Just one word balloon could do it - have some psychiatrist drop a line about how 'his mental state has fluctuated wildly depending on various factors', or some such thing. I mean, he's CRAZY - it shouldn't be too difficult to give a reasonable explanation for why he acts differently at various times, should it?
I suppose that writing a character like this is something like what they say about special effects - if you're REALLY doing it well, nobody notices it; they just accept it unconsciously and move on. It's similar to watching a terrible ham actor bellow and sob his way through 'to be or not to be', then watching a really good actor does it - the latter one makes it seem NATURAL.

Date: 2010-04-25 09:35 pm (UTC)
freddylloyd: (Default)
From: [personal profile] freddylloyd
I think Dick does inherit Two-Face as a special bĂȘte noire. But, like a lot of things we inherit, that legacy tells us more about our parents than ourselves.

Dick got saddled with Harvey Dent because of Bruce's lingering hope for his old partner-in-crimefighting and symbolically because (as you wisely note) both Two-Face and Batman have dual natures.

I think Dick's main nemesis is Deathstroke, who arose within New Teen Titans independent of Batman. Now that Tim is no longer Robin, we can see who sticks to him.

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