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!
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