thehefner: (Two-Face: FOREVER!!!)
[personal profile] thehefner posting in [community profile] scans_daily
So seriously, what the hell has DC been doing with Two-Face for the past year and a half?

I ask because I wanted to review the final part of the first-ever Two-Face solo story wrapped up in Batman: Streets of Gotham, which came out today. But I realized that such a review was impossible without looking into the events that brought the character to this point, as written by Tony Daniel, Judd Winick, and Marc Andreyko, neither of whom seemed to read the other's stories and utterly ignored continuity when it came to Two-Face.

Has anyone else noticed this? Has anyone else been confused?

Let's take a blow-by-blow look at Two-Face over the past year and a half, and you let me know if this makes any sense, or if I'm missing out on some crucial detail somewhere along the way. Please, seriously, help me out here. I feel like no one else is even noticing these glaring inconsistencies.

And while I'm at it, I'd like to rant a bit about Andreyko's Manhunter co-feature from Streets of Gotham. Hope you don't mind.








In March 2009's Battle for the Cowl, written and drawn by Tony Daniel, there was a whole subplot about the ongoing gang war between Two-Face and the Penguin for control of Gotham's underworld:





However, they were both being played against one another by the new Black Mask, who blew up Arkham Asylum and released a bunch of inmates, including Jane Doe, who we'll be hearing about more soon enough. In the end, Black Mask won and became the sole boss of crime in Gotham, leaving Penguin defeated and forcing Two-Face to flee the city in shame:





All well and good, right?

Except no! Come September 2009, Judd Winick's excellent five-part run in BATMAN #687-691 does the best thing possible when it comes to Tony Daniel's Battle for the Cowl: it pretty much ignores BftC. Not all of it, just large details.

In Winick's story, Two-Face and the Penguin are still battling for power. Only this time, Harvey is multitasking, attacking the Penguin while trying to figure out what seems off about Batman lately:





The whole story is excellent and well worth reading (I previously posted the Harvey-centric portions here, but you really should just go out and buy the darn thing).

Cutting to the chase: Winick's story again shows the Black Mask taking over power, but in a different way than Daniel's. Mask manipulates and forces Penguin to work for him, then saves a Bat-beaten Two-Face from going to jail, giving Harvey an ultimatum:







"... but the Black Mask will manage."

And there we go. Black Mask is now King, and once again--in a totally different way--Harvey is deposed and run out of town. So, two different tellings that ultimately amount to the same thing. A bit of a continuity headache, but nothing that really affects anything, right? All pretty cut and dry, right?

Nope!

Because by November 2009, two issues into Judd Winick's run, we see ANOTHER Harvey appearance in Marc Andreyko's Manhunter back-up feature in Batman: Streets of Gotham (#4 through #10), which totally ignores BOTH Daniel and Winick's stories by having Two-Face still in Gotham, at full power, at the same time Black Mask is running things.

No, seriously, the Black Mask unmasking becomes a major plot point in the story itself later on. But before that, we have Two-Face being targeted by Kate Spencer, AKA Manhunter, first on the streets and then in the courtroom.

Kate's become the new D.A. of Gotham after the old one was murdered by Jane Doe--creepy identity thief and murderer--and for no particular reason, Kate makes the assumption that Two-Face hired Jane for the hit.



Here's the thing about that panel: that is literally the first time that ANY mention of Two-Face was made in the Manhunter story so far.

I've scoured through the first three parts, and there's absolutely no mention that Two-Face hired Jane Doe. There's no mention of Harvey at all! All of a sudden, Andreyko has Kate randomly assume that Two-Face was behind the D.A.'s murder.

Now, granted, that's an assumption that we the readers would make. But there's no reason in the story itself for Kate to make that leap in logic.





Y'know, it's one thing for Kate Spencer to believe that Two-Face is a remorseless monster, a mockery of a once-great human being, with no actual humanity left inside him. That fits her character.

However, the story itself seems to support her view of Harvey:








... Y'know what, I'm just gonna tangent from my original point, because I need to rant here.

This view of the villain and Kate's own smug glibness is one of the main reasons why I never liked Andreyko's Manhunter, but it's particularly annoying to see it done with Two-Face. Look, "one-note remorseless sadistic killer" is a take that many go with for Harvey, but at least one can read those choose to see it as just Harvey's bad side in control. Not so here, as Andreyko's story entirely enforces Kate's view of Two-Face.

Anyway, Harvey's arrested, charged with ordering the murder of the previous District Attorney, thus pitting ex-D.A. Harvey Dent against current D.A. Kate Spencer in the courtroom:











Kate tries to strike a plea bargain with Jane Doe to testify against Harvey. But unbeknownst to Kate, Harvey makes a counter-offer to Jane herself. We never hear what it is, but I assume he plots with her to help them both escape.

I don't know for sure, because it's one of several plot points left dangling and unaddressed, right along with why the old D.A. was murdered. Because even though this Two-Face is a cold-blooded murderer, he is actually innocent of ordering the murder of the old D.A.:





Jane Doe later admits that Harvey is "the wronged party here." But just because Harvey's innocent of this particular murder, that doesn't stop Kate from trying to put him away. However, that proves to be increasingly difficult, thanks to Judge Van Dyke:








I get what Andreyko's doing here. He's making Kate the underdog in a case where the Judge (and press and public?) is already biased to side with Harvey, either out of sentiment or bribery. None of it matters, though, because Jane Doe blows up the courtroom with one of Black Mask's Arkham-busting bombs. In the confusion, Jane and Two-Face both escape, and the Judge is missing.








TO BE CONTINUED!!!

Except... no, it isn't. No, in the next issue, all anybody can talk about is Jeremiah Arkham being revealed as the Black Mask, and then the rest of the Manhunter co-feature is entirely devoted to Jane Doe trying to kill Kate. And we still get no explanation as to why Jane Doe murdered the old D.A.

And all throughout the rest of Manhunter, there's absolutely no mention is made of Two-Face or Judge Van Dyke's murder, much less why Harvey killed the Judge in the first place. Hell, he wasn't even acquitted of the charges of murdering the D.A.!

But those of us who read the DC solicitations were secure in the knowledge that Harvey's story still was "to be continued" in another format. Here's what the actual solicit said for Streets of Gotham #14

"And in the new Two-Face co-feature, writer Ivan Brandon picks up where the trial of Two-Face left off in the Manhunter co-feature! Despite his innocence, Two-Face is a man on the run, and discovers that even when he thinks he has nothing left to lose, he hasn’t quite hit rock bottom!"

All right! We'll finally get answers! Maybe even closure!

Except, as you'll see when I post the actual story... no, we don't. Ivan Brandon's Two-Face story completely ignores Andreyko's, which itself ignored Winick's, which itself ignored Daniel's.


...

What?!

Is this all due to some editorial clusterfuck, ala Countdown, Death of the New Gods, and Final Crisis all contradicting one another in various ways? And unlike that clusterfuck, no one else seems to be noticing THIS clusterfuck!

And then there's the actual Two-Face solo story by Ivan Brandon, the one that just today wrapped up in Streets of Gotham. That one seems to be another clusterfuck for some reason, not to mention the story itself is frustrating in its own ways. But I'll address all that in my next post, when I tackle Two-Face: The Long Way Down heads-on. Hopefully no one else will post scans of it in the meantime.

Date: 2010-09-23 06:51 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ebailey140
I think it's mainly a case of Winick being the only writer involved that has a good handle on Harvey.

Daniel is a good artist, but not much of a writer. Aside from Winick, none of the main writers of the Batbooks have been writing Harvey during this. No Morrison, Dini, Rucha, Miller, Simone, Nicieza... It's especially noticable that he didn't turn up in Dini's Detective run, since just about everybody else did, even Roxy Rocket.

While the editors are such easy targets to blame, the Bat books have been, over all, very good for the last four years. The exceptions have been in stories that just weren't well written.

So, in this case, I think it's just the wrong writers writing the character. Dini, Rucha, or Simone I'd trust to write a great Two-Face story. Unfortunately for Harvey, he wasn't part of the arcs they were writing.

Date: 2010-09-23 08:13 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ebailey140
It was probably Winick's idea, but if so, it likely would have worked a lot better if he'd written the whole thing. As it was, his part was very good. It was the other writers who dropped the ball. So, it would have been a case of something that would have worked with the right writer.

It's especially too bad when you take the final issues of Nightwing into account, where it appeared Harvey was being set up to be Dick-as-Batman's Joker.

One thing where the whole Arkham as Black Mask thing hasn't reached it's full potential is the folks who should really be after him in a big way aren't. Steph and Selena should have major mad ons over someone taking up that identity. Ivy should hold a grudge. And Harley... Considering exactly why she disturbed him far more than any other patient, why, of all the patients, she was the one locked away in the bowels of the Asylum, kept away from everyone...

(by Kesel and the Dodsens)...



Harley kind of got the last laugh, there, didn't she? She could completely break him, now. She'd enjoy it. Considering what the original Black Mask put Selena through, and what this one tried to do to Ivy, she'd be pretty much justified.

Date: 2010-09-23 07:10 am (UTC)
superfangirl1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superfangirl1
What's your opinion with two-face senseless act of violence in Streets of Gotham #16?

:)

Date: 2010-09-23 07:27 am (UTC)
superfangirl1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superfangirl1
If nobody post the second story in the comic. I be more then happy to post some scans for discussion. :)

Date: 2010-09-23 07:56 am (UTC)
superfangirl1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superfangirl1
Okay! :D

Can't wait to see what you write about the story.

Date: 2010-09-23 07:09 pm (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
:finally reaches the Manhunter scans:

what the fuck?

By which, I'm talking specifically about Harvey's dialogue and character, not Kate or the story, Kate's cool. That....doesn't even remotely sound like any version of Harvey I've ever read.

Maybe we can say that it Jane Doe's twins working together and the real Harvey is chilling out on a tropical island.


Date: 2010-09-23 07:31 pm (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
That would be great as well.

Maybe they can bring back the Paul Sloane from Brubaker's run. Arkham got blown up and he could have easily escaped, he has every reason to attack Harvey plus he's an actor and make-up artist. It could be a way to reassert the complexity of Harv's duality with Harv returning and basically saying 'YOU ARE DOIN' IT WRONG!1!'.

Date: 2010-09-23 09:10 pm (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
If I worked for DC my first initiative would be to search for a 'John Hefner', relative of Hugh Hefner and ham actor.

Your last paragraph made me think Sloane/Doe OTP. They can be the Bonny/Clyde team of DCU.



Date: 2010-09-23 10:31 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
A split personality a multiple personality, THAT would get confusing pretty fast.

Date: 2010-09-24 08:02 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
I've had had moments like that with Harvey and several other characters. I think the reason why we like some characters are because we can see a little of ourselves in them.

Hahaha, yeah it could make for all sorts of hilarious and great stories.

'ummm why is Poison Ivy and Dick Grayson banging each other?'

'Forget that, last night I swear I saw the new DA coming on a little too hard on a guy dressed like one of those sidekicks in green shorts!'

Date: 2010-09-23 10:29 pm (UTC)
kingrockwell: he's a sexy (Ferdinand)
From: [personal profile] kingrockwell
Oh, isn't that the island on the Nile? The one where Scott and Barda are having their eternal weenie roast with Roy's characterization and Lian?

Date: 2010-09-23 10:34 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I think the current bet is it that it's the island Dick created many moons ago, after it's been de-irradiated.

Date: 2010-09-24 03:32 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: (ask the questions)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
i miss Kate... :( any word on where she is now (where she is going Story wise?)? did she end up staying on as DA?

Date: 2010-09-25 06:52 am (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
I haven't heard anything yet but I haven't really poked my nose into any comic book news sights in a while. Currently S_D is my only comic book related place.

Date: 2010-09-24 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I think the thing about Manhunter is that it kind of HAS to take the 'not giving crooks the benefit of the doubt' POV, because that's more or less the whole reason she became Manhunter in the first place - she was tired of seeing crooks get off scott-free, and decided to take the extremist view of things. It doesn't always work as well as it might.
As for the continuity errors... perhaps Harvey cut a deal with Black Mask at a point after he'd left which allowed him to return?

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