thehefner: (Default)
[personal profile] thehefner posting in [community profile] scans_daily
All good things, and all that.

If you haven't been reading these strips, you can find them all at over here, which I figure will be easier than giving you a whole bunch of links. For those who have been reading it, thanks for all your comments. This has been a labor of love, and I'm gratified by all the thoughtful responses for this lost gem I've been obsessed over for the past month.

I don't know why the Batman strip ended on what I can only assume was due to cancellation. Poor response from readers? The impending release of Batman Returns? Some editor didn't like it for whatever petty reason? Maybe we'll finally get the answers should this strip ever see print someday.

Either way, it's strange that the strip should end with a Mad Hatter story. But even still, Messner-Loebs manages to bring the story to an end which I found surprising and moving. As with the entire strip, this final story is not without its flaws, but it's also more bold and intriguing--in its own quiet way--than many Batman stories in recent memory.








Note: Scans taken from Comics Revue magazine, #53-55.











So, as you see, we're dealing with Mad Hatter who combines the physical appearance of Impostor Hatter with the mind-control cybernetic expertise of classic Jervis, but with absolutely no references to Alice in Wonderland.

TAS Jervis was my second favorite villain after Two-Face, and I was saddened to discover that Comics!Jervis was nothing like him, even after the show. Part of the problem is that most writers just lean on the Lewis Carroll references more than trying to make Jervis an actual character. Perhaps we need Impostor Hatter (or "Hatman," as Grant Morrison recently dubbed him) in the comics, since he has a better chance of holding his own as a character.

Obscure trivia time! In Dark Detective, Batman has statues for his villains, each inscribed with their real names. Impostor Hatter's name is "Jarvis Trent." So, yeah, the more you know!





... wwwwwwait, isn't this the Superman III/Office Space scheme?













Is this the first time a story's depicted the Joker temporarily becoming sane, only to be instantly tormented with anguish and guilt? I think it might be! Another example of Messner-Loebs getting there first!









I like this origin for Jervis! His actual connection to hats in tenuous at best, but like many of the great tragic villains of TAS (including Mr. Freeze and Clayface), this Hatter is turned into a monster thanks to the greater evil of unscrupulous businessmen.

Considering that the comics' Mad Hatter still has no origin, I personally vote for some combination between this and the TAS version. With no mention of pedophilia. Because seriously: goddammit, Grant Morrison, way to make the character unusable.









When my Henchgirl was reading the Two-Face storyline, she suspected that Alice and Bruce were actually sleeping together. Or if they weren't, they soon would be once Harvey was in Arkham. There was just too much going on between them, too many private moments for them not to.

Instead, Alice completely dropped out as a supporting player during the Robin and Riddler stories, and this marks her last speaking appearance in this storyline. If she and Bruce actually were having an affair, or if Harvey at least suspected them (and he could have been forgiven for thinking so, considering how often those two would see each other alone), this scene could have been more climactic than it actually was.

That said, I'm reminded of the fact that Paul Dini DID write a story where Harvey believes his wife and Bruce are having an affair in Batman and Robin Adventures #1 and 2. That's yet more evidence for me to believe that Dini and company were fans of this strip, and it influenced their animated version of Harvey Dent.








Once again, this strip plays with some interesting and complex themes. Batman refuses to compromise the law (as Harvey himself once did), but he's quickly betrayed by the very same people he was trying to save.

It looks like Harvey was right to call Batman an "idiot," except for the fact that latter's actions actually inspire the former to action. Even though Harvey says he's going to let the coin decide, that doesn't seem to be the case when an actual opportunity for choice presents itself in the next few panels. Thanks for Batman's heroism, what's been awakened inside Harvey Dent?





... AWESOME!













Have you ever read something that made you want to hug the book? That's how I felt about this.

First was the fact that Harvey's breakdown was stopped not by Batman, but his own quiet realization that the coin was powerless. It's unthinkable to imagine Harvey Dent, in any medium, looking at his hand and saying, "The coin says... it says... it doesn't say anything. It's just a coin." But then, to follow that with Bruce unmasking himself, taking that leap of faith with the hope that it'll reach his friend deep within the monster... god!

Tangent: Y'know, I wish that had happened at the end of The Dark Knight. If Bruce had unmasked himself, Harvey would have realized that someone else actually understood his pain, and whether it would have saved Harvey or led him to choose his own suicide, it would have been more powerful than pushing a crazy person off a building.

In essence, what we have here is the only attempt at retelling the original Golden Age Harvey Kent trilogy, which wrapped up with Harvey saving Batman and being rehabilitated. It's a story that cannot be told in regular continuity, which demands that he always become Two-Face again, thereby making any happy ending feel empty and doomed.

That said, there are (appropriately enough) two factors that make this ending feel more hopeful. First is that this Harvey isn't plagued by any secondary personalities which may manifest to torment him. Second, and more importantly, is that Harvey's accepted his scars, no matter how his surgery may have turned out. In comics and TAS, it's always been about trying to bring back the Harvey that was, when here, he's come to terms with himself and is ready to move forward.


So at the end, what is there to say about the Batman comic strip? It wasn't perfect, partially due to the daily nature of the format, and partially due to creative inconsistencies. The series ended abruptly, with little in the way of a last word for major characters like Dick, Alfred, Jim Gordon, the Joker, or even Alice Dent. Even Bruce's own arc seems only sketched out at best, leaving us to fill in the blanks.

But as I said before, the true protagonist of this strip--at least, ever since Messner-Loebs and Infantino took over--was actually Harvey Dent. His arc frames the entire strip, which ends exactly when his own story does. Warts and all, this is one of the greatest Two-Face stories I have ever read.

Date: 2011-02-21 03:17 am (UTC)
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
From: [personal profile] skjam
I like the tough that the Hatter's drugging seems to have caused his permanent rictus; which would have been a clue to what was wrong with him if there were any competent doctors at Arkham.

Date: 2011-02-23 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Of course, if the strips above are anything to go on, there are a number of other inmates there who grin JUST 'CAUSE THEY CAN, so they may not have noticed that his particular grin was any different.

Date: 2011-02-24 01:53 am (UTC)
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
From: [personal profile] skjam
Also, it looks like if the strip had continued, we would have seen the "crazed actor" version of Clayface at some point.

Date: 2011-02-24 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Yeah, I was thinking that, too. That would have been sweet; I always liked the original.

Date: 2011-02-21 03:49 am (UTC)
pseudo_tsuga: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudo_tsuga
This was a great reimagining of Batman! Thank you for sharing it. It either skipped or changed some of the more ridiculous moments in the origins--like making Robin his sidekick just because both of their parents were murdered.

Date: 2011-02-21 04:12 am (UTC)
venatosapiens: griffin vulture (Default)
From: [personal profile] venatosapiens
I got shivers at Harvey's "I will become...a bat! I concur that this is one of the best Harvey Dent stories I've ever read. I think, if DC ever does get around to doing an Ultimate style universe, that this is the Two-Face story I'd like to see told.

Date: 2011-02-21 07:06 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Now THAT'S an epic mustache.
The absence of Alice-imagery is consistent with this particular Hatter's M.O - he didn't see himself as the character of the Mad Hatter, he just reeeaaaaaally liked hats for some reason.
I agree - this was an interesting origin for the Hatter. I personally don't think this version of him really NEEDS one - 'crazy guy obsessed with hats' is enough - but he comes across as much more sly and cunning than he usually does, and actually has a very good reason to be pissed off at the world. It's also interesting in that he didn't come up with his 'Hatter' identity because of an association with hats, but because of one with MADNESS - he KNEW he was mad, and was DRIVEN mad, and he figured that if he was going to be mad, he might as well be the maddest he possibly could be.
I do, however, have a few quibbles.
A: He's not wearing a hat. This is BASIC, people - the Mad Hatter needs a hat!
B: The whole 'computer controls the hats, so let's unplug it' thing strikes me as terribly iffy. I mean, what was he doing, keeping that PARTICULAR computer up and running 24-7? What if there had been a power outage? And for that matter, he CAN'T have been controlling them through the computer, come to think of it, since his hats were already controlling people at the beginning, before he had access to it. That's why he needs a hat - it's a much more elegant solution than looping his control through a computer.
C: Those corporate crapwads never got a comeuppance! Come on, Batman should have at least had them thrown into jail. I mean, they were jerks and they broke the law, thereby ruining a man's life and turning him to crime - I'd say they deserve a stretch in the pen.
As for Harvey - yeah, this is a great end to his story. It's one that never can and never SHOULD take place in the main DCU, because it would rob it of a good character, but that makes it all the more interesting that it happened here.
As a whole, a bunch of interesting stories. Thanks!

Date: 2011-02-21 10:57 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
B: The whole 'computer controls the hats, so let's unplug it' thing strikes me as terribly iffy. I mean, what was he doing, keeping that PARTICULAR computer up and running 24-7? What if there had been a power outage? And for that matter, he CAN'T have been controlling them through the computer, come to think of it, since his hats were already controlling people at the beginning, before he had access to it. That's why he needs a hat - it's a much more elegant solution than looping his control through a computer.

The perils of centralization!

Also, I love those corporate guys. They're so over the top they're practically supervillains with a corporate gimmick. "We might swing a leveraged buy-out of Tetch's vengeance!"

Date: 2011-02-21 11:01 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Yeah, they're total cartoon characters. 'We're evil! It makes good business sense!'

Date: 2011-02-23 04:09 pm (UTC)
roguefankc: Leomon (Default)
From: [personal profile] roguefankc
Those corporate crapwads never got a comeuppance! Come on, Batman should have at least had them thrown into jail.[/quote]

You weren't the only one annoyed by that.

But then again, it definitely doesn't justify the Mad Hatter killing all those people.

And I disagree; Batman shouldn't have thrown them into jail, but Bruce Wayne could have easily led an EPA investigation, gotten them fired with a measly severance package, and then take over their entire corporation and restructured its business plan to be better for the environment and nicer to its employees. THAT would have been a lot harsher than jail.

Date: 2011-02-23 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, you'll note I said 'at least'. Jail is the MINIMUM punishment they deserve.
As for the Hatter killing people, THAT may not have been justified, but revenge of some variety certainly was.

Date: 2011-02-21 11:00 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
"It doesn't say anything. It's just a coin." That line is great, just the total disintegration of his psychosis.

I don't think an unmasking would've worked in TDK though. Bruce and Harvey weren't even friends in the movie.

Date: 2011-02-22 10:29 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
But Harvey bought into the playboy act. He thought Bruce was just a shallow gadabout, he didn't know Bruce was seriously trying to get back with Rachel. His reaction would've been less "Bruce Wayne shares my pain!" and more "Batman is Bruce Wayne???"

And I don't get the emotional arc part.

Date: 2011-02-21 11:39 am (UTC)
mistervader: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mistervader
... wow. That was riveting. I guess if comics weren't the medium that it were, this would've been the perfect way to close things out for Two-Face.

Date: 2011-02-22 07:34 am (UTC)
mr_neutron: Mr. Neutron (Default)
From: [personal profile] mr_neutron
You know, I don't think I'm alone in being very grateful to you for this series of posts. I knew of the Batman newspaper strip (I might have even read one or two at the time) but had dismissed it as likely being no better than the Spiderman strip. How wrong I was! As retellings of origin stories, the strips you've posted are original and engrossing, far more so than most re-origins. Even when the angle looks unpromising (Riddler as a loser for example), the execution is excellent and assured.

And as everyone else has noted, Two Face has rarely been better used than he has here. I don't know how much credit goes to Collins (for his bible) or Loebs, but the result is perhaps the best long-form Two Face saga ever told. No post-89 Batman comics have bettered it. So thanks again!

Date: 2011-02-22 09:03 am (UTC)
lbd_nytetrayn: Star Force Dragonzord Power! (Default)
From: [personal profile] lbd_nytetrayn
This has been awesome. I almost feel like the newspaper strip "gets it" better than the books from which the material is derived. Sort of like that crazy, wonderful Mole Man/Aunt May arc of the Spider-man comic strip.

And I hate that status quo thing for Two-Face. I'd much rather see him get a resolution, rather than... well, the habit they seem to have of making these characters recurring, like villains of the week.

--LBD "Nytetrayn"

Date: 2012-04-28 06:01 pm (UTC)
maridee42: (rogue)
From: [personal profile] maridee42
these are hysterical! so many unintentionally (or not) funny lines. Mad Hatter making the guard quack like a duck. k-floppy computers. "No one thinking here, sir!" "Maybe we shouldn't have stolen his company, drugged him, and left him in a madhouse."

*snort*

and, oh gosh, Harvey. gah.

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