thehefner: (Two-Face: FOREVER!!!)
thehefner ([personal profile] thehefner) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-02-15 11:51 pm

The Batman Newspaper Comic Strip (1990), Part 4: the Trial of the Joker

Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

I should have mentioned it in the last entry, but we're now in the middle of a trilogy of sorts, with today's entry being part two of a continuous storyline within the comic strip started in the previous storyline. But it could just as easily be argued that it's all one big story: that of Harvey Dent's rise, fall, rise again, and...?

I think it's fair to say that Harvey is the true protagonist because he's the only one who really changes, and not just in ways you'd expect from the character who becomes Two-Face. Even when he disappears and we get standalone story arcs about Robin's origin (followed by the Most Pathetic Riddler Story Ever), the final storyline still comes right back to Harvey. Obviously, that's why I love it so much.

So with that said, this storyline is the hardest for me to take. This is the point where Harvey crosses a line, and Bruce--for whatever reason--decides to not step in, but actively oppose his supposed best friend. Do the characters have justified reasons? Absolutely. Do I like it? Of course not. Does it work within the context of the story? You be the judge (pun not intended, I swear).

Note: Scans taken from Comics Revue magazine, #51-52, the only known compilation of the newspaper comic strips

Heh, Ostrander vs. Yale. Also, poor Harvey, so desperate to redeem himself, especially after Bruce and Alice talked him out of resigning.

That's one of the few Joker moments from this entire series that I love. It actually feels like classic crazy, scary Joker. Although his next trick ain't so bad either:

Aaaand thus he finally crosses that line. Harvey, you idiot. But then, he really tried to resign because he knew, he knew that he had that dark side, and that he couldn't keep it in check.

I wonder how Harvey would feel if he knew that Bruce was helping defense? What's more, I don't understand why Bruce isn't actually trying to stop Harvey. Is he so disgusted with the wiretapping that he's writing Harvey off entirely now in favor of helping defense? Bruce is about justice above all else, and rightly so. And yet, this doesn't sit entirely well with me either.

Also, Carla's last name is Drake now? Any relation to Tim? And what's more, her name was Deevers before! Did she get married, or is there just rampant continuity issues with Messner-Loeb's story? I love this strip, but it really needed an editor.

In truth, he's not actually aware about what's being done at the word of his assistant, Mark (assuming the threatening phone call actually did come from Mark's orders, and wasn't just one of the many Gotham citizens who were already after the Joker's blood even before the trial started), so if he's guilty of anything, it's of turning a blind eye. And even that, I'm not sure about.

All the same, I still kinda want to smack him for his callousness here. Where was the man so filled with self-doubt

To me, this feels like a writer kinda betraying his own character in order to show, "Oooh, oooh, see? Now he's

Anyone else get the distinct impression that it was the Joker himself who called up Drake's grandmother and terrorized her into a heart attack?

... Damn!

Okay, so I'm gonna guess that you felt like I did when this story started: you figured that this story would have the Joker himself being the one to scar Harvey. It'd make perfect sense. Hell, they let the maniac wear his acid-shooting lapel flower right there in the courtroom! It would have worked just as well in this context, more so than Maroni/Moroni showing up at the last minute. And hell, there's certainly something to be said for the idea of the Joker having a hand in the creation of Two-Face.

But this is so much better. Bruce has already been arguably complicit in helping create Two-Face (flaunting the laws by being a vigilante, giving Harvey the coin, not trying to stop his friend from going down a corrupt path but actively helping his opponents), but it's now sealed by the fact that Harvey got burned because Batman saved the Joker.

To twist the knife even more, the acid still wouldn't have hit Harvey, but rather Alice. In an action which still proved that the corruped D.A. still had good within himself, he actually saved Alice and took the facefull of acid for her. In case that complex turn of events wasn't clear, take a look at the penultimate strip, which I edited out in favor of a more powerful reading experience:

The only downside to this version of events is the sudden appearance of a brand-new character, Jack Estrada. I wish he'd been established during the Joker storyline, so that his motive could be clear, but I think he still works so long as you view him not as a single person, but rather the culminated rage towards the Joker on behalf of Gotham's citizens in general, and Harvey Dent in particular. Harvey gave himself over to vindictive rage, and it could be argued that he essentially took his own bullet.

Coming up next... well, do I really need to say it?

[personal profile] poussifeu 2011-02-17 05:36 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah but he doesn't realize that what he did was wrong, he just knows he's liable to be punished for it if he's held responsible. There's a huge difference between knowing something is wrong and knowing that you can be punished for it. The Joker's a sociopath that really doesn't know right from wrong and views the world and all the people in it as his personal playthings, and he's basically playing his own version of cops 'n robbers. He's trying to fake a completely different insanity, a more "lolrandom" kind, akin to disorganized schizophrenia - this doesn't mean he's not insane, just that he's faking one kind of insanity while being a different kind.
sadoeuphemist: (Default)

[personal profile] sadoeuphemist 2011-02-17 07:52 am (UTC)(link)
This is a legal construction, not a moral one. If you realize what you are doing is illegal and you will get punished for it, and you take steps to avoid being punished, then yes, you can distinguish "right" from "wrong" and are legally sane.

[personal profile] poussifeu 2011-02-17 05:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I'll be honest I've never heard the legal construction separated and defined that way from the societal one. I was under the impression that legally insane meant you were diagnosably unable to differentiate right from wrong the way most other people can.