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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.
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