thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Note: I figure there are a couple people interested in the new Batman film here who also don't read [ profile] about_faces, which is where I usually now post all my Bat-fan stuff. Just trying to make your skimming easier, my non-comic-reading friends!

So, a couple weeks ago, I finally started a fan project wherein I looked at every single appearance of Hugo Strange, Batman's first arch-nemesis and Moriarty equivalent.

In my first post, I expressed my belief that one of Hugo's most famous appearances--1990's Batman: Prey, by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, one of the best Batman stories ever--would make an absolutely perfect basis for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Just pump up Catwoman's role as an origin, and boom, you have a great film that is pure Batman while not being in the shadow of Heath. Pure fantasy on my part, you understand. I figured and still do figure that Nolan wouldn't do that, because Prey and Hugo are just not well known to anyone but the most hardcore Bat-fans. Far as I know, I'm the only one to have this idea.

Literally days after I said that, rumors started popping up saying that Prey actually WILL be the basis for TDKR. In fact,, which usually avoids most of the 99%-bogus sea of Bat-rumors, just ran a story today with a source claiming that it'll be Prey plus Clayface (wha? How the hell would that work? And Clayface? This guy is so rigid in his "realism" that he can't imagine using the frickin' Penguin, much less someone like Mr. Freeze! No way would he use Clayface unless it was original Basil Karlo without powers), which still sounds bogus to me.

But damn, this is nuts. Did I inadvertently start this rumor by someone reading that scans_daily post and spreading that idea around as truth? With s_d's readership of a couple thousand people, I suppose it's not beyond the realm of internet possibility. More likely, I probably wasn't the only one to remember that beloved but little-known (and long out-of-print!) storyline, and make the connection to Nolan's films. Or, just as likely, it's just a weird damn coincidence.

Tangent: Heh, Henchgirl's actually hoping that Hugo won't be in it. Not because she doesn't like Hugo, but because she fears it'll ruin the character in fandom, much like Spider-Man 2 ruined Doctor Octopus in fandom. Seriously, try to find anything about Otto, and it's all Movie!Otto. And while I absolutely adore Movie!Otto as one of the best takes on the character, these fans clearly have never and will never read a comic in their lives. You can't talk with them about anything, because the adapted version dominates and obliterates all stories that created it. It's very frustrating.

Either way, hopefully it'll encourage people to get interested in the character of Hugo Strange. If you'd like, please feel free to check out the three Hugo posts I've done so far on [ profile] about_faces:

Part 1: The original Golden Age Hugo Strange trilogy, wherein his Moriarty influence is very apparent, and the character lays the foundation for subsequent villains like the Joker and Scarecrow later on.

Part 2: Hugo's return subplot in Strange Apparitions, one of the greatest Batman stories ever. It kills me that I had to edit out all the other great stuff from that whole story, including most of the Joker epic, "The Laughing Fish."

Part 3: the obscure Bronze Age classic, Interlude on Earth-Two, by Alan Brennert, a writer who I'm increasingly read to consider one of the best DC authors of all time, even though he only wrote nine stories, most of them just single issues. He deserves the Alan Moore treatment of getting a Complete DC Stories collection for tales like this one.

I have about seven more Hugo stories to come, particularly Prey. That's the greatest of those to come, but I have to work my way up, as every single Hugo story is directly influenced by the ones that preceded it. He's a character who seems to get dusted off and brought back only by the most hardcore, dedicated Batman writers, the ones who've read and clearly remembered his every single appearance, which I think speaks to what makes this character so great and essential to Batman.

So yeah. I don't think the Prey-for-Dark-Knight-Rises rumor is true, and I don't know if I'd want it to be. I've kind of liked Hugo as being a private joy shared by a handful of Batman fans and writers. But if they can do him justice, hell, maybe he'll finally get the status that geeks like me have known he's deserved for... well, seventy years.
thehefner: (Two-Face: O RLY YA RLY)
In the first Two-Face Tuesday post since Fresno three weeks ago, I've posted what I consider to be the definitive Harvey Dent story, my gold standard for everything related to this character up at [ profile] about_faces.

I strongly resisted the urge to just post the whole damn thing here too. Besides being my favorite Two-Face comic, it's just plain one of my favorite comics period, Batman or otherwise. If you haven't read it, I urge you to check it out.

As a side note, I'm really pleased with the edit I did for the scanning. I cut out an entire subplot (which is honestly the weakest part of the whole story), and the result is even leaner and tighter than the actual issue.

In other (more general) comic news, Comics Alliance has a fascinating interview with Greg Rucka. Normally I hate interviews because they're all full of pabalum and bullshit, especially in an industry where everyone is so afraid to speak their minds or discuss comics critically in any way but to boost sales. Rucka's is a breath of fresh air on a number of front, from how he talks about Wonder Woman...

Diana – there are people who hate her. I mean, they just hate the concept of a Wonder Woman. They really do. You've seen – I don't even want to call it "fan-based art" – but I'm sure everybody's seen the various images out there. That speaks to something going on. Somebody is real scared of her. He's really afraid of her. And I don't know why. I don't understand where that comes from. So there's that. And people want to simplify her, so they go, she's Superman with tits. Well, no. She's not. It's a completely different background...

... to the ever-present problem of dwindling readership in comics and what should be done about it:

I'd put comics back in the spinner racks and 7-Elevens and grocery stores and Walmart. That's what's killing us. I was talking to Dan DiDio today -- the best-selling Marvel or DC book today is going to sell a quarter of a million. That's nothing, guys. That's nothing. If a TV show has a quarter of a million people watching it, it would not make it through the second episode. It might not even make it through it's first broadcast. I'm serious. I'm not joking.

Look at manga -- it has millions of readers. Europeans comics, in the millions. What the hell is going on in this country with our comics that we can't break out?

I'd sorta fallen out of love with Rucka's with stuff like OMAC PROJECT, but this interview--coupled with his recent work--has reminded me just how much of a loss it is that he's leaving DC for the foreseeable future. And not just because I want my Renee Montoya and Two-Face reunion/rematch, damn it!
thehefner: (Batman: Jervis)
THE WOLFMAN was terribly disappointing, particularly because I feel like I could just see all the good intentions scattered somewhere inside the horribly-edited mess of a film. Could a different cut salvage it? I'd love to think so, but I doubt it. Sigh. In fairness, the original WOLFMAN wasn't that great either, what with the stalker-tastic love story which could have easily been called--as Henchgirl quipped--THE WEREWOLF WALKED ON TIPPY-TOES. But still! Sigh.

That said, I'm still not sure if crushing disappointment is better than intense horrified loathing. Which brings us to my thoughts on ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

There are few words to describe just how much I loathed Burton's film (which he made, as I understand, without having ever read the actual books), and if I had the time/energy, I would rant about it wholeheartedly instead of doing this kind of cheap, unsupported drive-by complaint. But really, when it comes to a film that makes the Mad Hatter a badass revolutionary, tries (and utterly fails) to combine the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen, and ends with a song by Avril Fucking Lavigne, what else do I really have to say? I mean, seriously.

That said, I want the soundtrack. The Hatter's dance music was the first time I've heard Danny Elfman write anything sounding like Oingo Boingo since even before Oingo Boingo broke up. Too bad it had to happen in the brain-meltingly-awful moment when the Hatter danced the Robot. I mean, seriously, do I really have to defend these points? Really? Whyyyyy???!?!

On the plus side, I now want to write my essay on why Batman's Mad Hatter, Jervis Tetch, is a woefully abused character who deserves more love.

Speaking of Bat-Rogues, I posted my first Two-Face Tuesday entry in two weeks, the first part of Harvey vs. the Robins, with a focus on the first appearance of Tim Drake. I'm kinda disappointed that it didn't get more attention at scans_daily, what with their adoration of the Robins and all, but hopefully that'll pick up with the next entry, focusing on Dick Grayson's ties to Harvey in PRODIGAL.
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
The Two-Face of B:TAS is easily one of the finest depictions of the character. It stayed true to the spirit of the character 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 [ profile] zegas) to delve a bit deeper past the "bully" theory, and introduce a twist on the regular DCU origin:

A Dent family reunion behind the cut )

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!
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
Last week's post on Harvey's sides(s) in NIGHTWING: THE GREAT LEAP provoked some absolutely awesome discussion over at scans_daily (as well as on this very LJ), which was so great to see after all the work I put into that'un. I realize that most of these posts are catering to a specific niche, and will usually just get a handful of comments.

But hey, I love the character. And besides, when it comes to being the best damn comics-discussion community in the world... well, what can I say? I believe in [ profile] scans_daily (and, of course, all you fine minions--is that better, [ profile] lillbet--here on my flist).

That said, this week's entry is gonna be much lazier. No essays or opinion pieces, just a two-fisted double-feature of Harvey-centric short stories, both of which s_d old-timers will remember from the original community. In the first one, Harvey and his old buddy Commissioner "Jimbo" Gordon briefly reunite to track down none other than "Boss" Moroni himself (still alive in this story, natch).

In the second, Harvey fights a werewolf in Arkham. Because sure, why the hell not?

Unusual Two-Face pairings behind the cut! )

Finally, it seems only fitting to end this post with a preview of my upcoming entry on having finally seen Richard O'Brien's SHOCK TREATMENT, which I watched with Henchgirl. I find it hilarious to note that when this song happened, Henchgirl asked, "Do you know who this reminds me of?" And here I thought it was just me, the obsessed fanboy imposing his own fannishness into something that's not really there.

Why no, I didn't listen to this song (along with the rest of the SHOCK TREATMENT) soundtrack obsessively over my thirteen-hour drive back from Tuscaloosa. And I certainly didn't celebrate my memorization of "Duet Duel" by singing it as both Harvey and Two-Face. Heavens, no. *cough*
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
NIGHTWING: THE GREAT LEAP is beloved story by pretty much everyone. And I can understand why, if you're a Nightwing fan. Me, I like Grayson all right, but obviously, my focus on THE GREAT LEAP was Two-Face and only Two-Face. And appropriately enough, I am very torn on how Tomasi used Harvey in this story.

This was Harvey's first major appearance since he was so clumsily rescarred and recrazied in FACE THE FACE, which was itself his first major in-canon appearance since HUSH four years earlier (I sure as hell ignore the beautifully-drawn crapfest that was BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE). His appearance in NIGHTWING served as a tie-in to THE DARK KNIGHT, and aspects of the Aaron Eckhart Two-Face are used throughout THE GREAT LEAP.

And for the most part, it's a pretty excellent take on Two-Face. At several points, it's one of the most refreshing and exciting depictions of Harvey Dent. So why would I have any problem with THE GREAT LEAP, if it's a generally-solid tale?

To answer the question, I present my edit of this story, focusing almost entirely on Harvey's arc, with pretty much all of the Nightwing stuff cut out. The original story as presented is Nightwing vs. Harvey "Crazypants" Dent. But that's not how I read the story. To me, it was "Harvey Dent vs. Harvey Dent (with Nightwing and a Rachel Dawes substitute in the mix.)"

Ultimately, it's a matter of perspective.

That's really the question, isn't it? What do YOU see? )

Honestly, if I'd call bullshit on anything, it'd be the retconned inclusion of Carol into Harvey's past, and the emotional affair they had. Hell no. Vow or not, I reject the thought that Harvey loved anyone more than Gilda, his sole lifeline relationship to humanity.

So for me, I see no more fitting note to end on than a reminder of that love, which I (relevantly enough!) commissioned from Rags Morales at New York Comic Con last February:

Now that's the only person who can break up the one-man OTP that is Harvey Dent.
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
So I neglected to repost my Two-Face Tuesday entry for last week, which is the modern reinvention of the Paul Sloane character. I'm rather proud of that one, so if you want, please do check it out over here at scans_daily in two parts: Part One and Part Two. Sometime, I plan to use them as the basis for a whole separate rant, but there they are for now.

For this week, I'm included an expanded version of my scans_daily post for you, my dear sugarplums.

Three weeks ago (with my "JLA teams up with Two-Face... wait what?!" post), [ profile] lamashtar asked if I was going to post this particular issue, or if it was "too schmaltzy." To be honest, I wasn't sure (of either)!

Who here has read the Hal Jordan SPECTRE series (which ran 27 issues from 2001 to 2003)? I'm genuinely curious as to what anybody made of it. Personally, it was one of the more frustrating reading experiences I've ever had.

Issue #5--the topic of this week's post--is no exception, namely because it features the unlikely meeting of my two all-time favorite characters. And the results are... well... I'm still not really sure even now.

Here's the thing: when I was a teen, I loved Hal Jordan. Not as Green Lantern (although that would come later), but rather as Parallax. Considering that Two-Face is my number one favorite, I loved the idea of a fallen hero striving for redemption and justice but always screwing it up by being so darn crazy. I wanted him to actually grow as a character, to be redeemed, even exonerated. Then they killed him off in a "heroic" manner to pay lip service to his fans, then get him out of the way so that Kyle could be a special little pumpkin.

So I was very excited by the prospect of Hal!Spectre. The character would finally get some development and redemption, and be a hero again! And it would be written by the great J.M. DeMatteis! Even better!

But the actual series was... well, I'm still not quite sure what it was. For one thing, Hal just doesn't work in this kind of context. But mainly... look, I'm an agnostic who loves the stories of religion but has no personal grasp on concepts like souls and karma beyond a layman's utilitarian knowledge. And reading THE SPECTRE, I felt bogged down in all the metaphysical wankery DeMatteis was packing into every issue. Just like with so much philosophy, I responded with a mixture of "so what?" and "SO BORED."

This was made especially frustrating when my two favorite characters actually met in the pages of THE SPECTRE #5. Surely, such an unlikely pairing-off was possible only in my fanboy imagination! At least, that was before Hal became the Spectre.

Crazy murderous ex-heroes, the question of redemption, alien ghost cop spirit guides, and metaphysical theological jibba-jabba behind the cut! )

Okay. So what do you make of this? Me, I just can't make heads or... I mean, I still don't know.

Like, the actual metaphysical stuff about karma meant absolutely nothing to me, but just flew right over my head. It all seemed so maddeningly vague: what old debts? We don't even know why poor Harvey has to suffer through this? What debts does he have to pay? How could he possibly have chosen this from a spiritual standpoint?

It was all so frustratingly unsatisfying. I suspect this could have been interesting if DeMatteis had paced it out over two or more parts, really explored what it meant for the sides to be separated like that.

If "good" Harvey (note the quotation marks) is still capable of violence, what would "big bad Harv" be capable of doing if he were unleashed? Really, it could be the Gotham version of Italo Calvino's THE CLOVEN VISCOUNT, wherein a man is split into his good and evil sides, both of whom are themselves capable of good and evil acts.

(forgive for the snobby literature reference; once I heard about the story in Mazzucchelli's brilliant graphic novel, ASTERIOS POLYP, I felt it was perfect for Harvey insight)

But no. Ultimately, this story feels too rushed, with only one insight to offer: "No, really: It Sucks to be Harvey Dent."

All that said, between this and their meeting in that JLA story, I'm in agreement with [ profile] nymphgalatea when she expressed a wish for a proper Hal/Harvey teamup. Because, she said, "Hal is so very pragmatic, and has no patience for the crazy, and Harvey would take a deep and abiding delight in fucking with his head."

Seriously, I would pay good money to see J. Michael Straczynski write this as an issue of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, considering how he wrote Two-Face in the TEEN TITANS story and Hal in the most recent issue of TB&TB (with Dr. Fate).
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
So this was to be a post about the "Hal Jordan tries to fix Harvey Dent" issue of THE SPECTRE, but that's gonna require a lot more essay writing than is possible right now. I'm gonna actually have to bring in a special guest commentator (i.e. my loyal Henchgirl) to parse out that particularly frustrating story.

So instead, let's tie in the new and old years with this Two-Face Tuesday two-parter on a guy named Paul Sloane... AKA Two-Face.

"A-bwUUUHHH?!?!?!" I hear you gasp?

Actually, Sloane is one of five different Golden Age iterations of Two-Face. [ profile] superfan1 was kind enough to post the original Paul Sloane story at my request a couple weeks back, along with another non-Harvey-Dent Two-Face. But Sloane is notable in that he's the only other Two-Face to actually return to modern continuity!

In Part 1, I present excerpts DETECTIVE #580 an #581, by Mike W. Barr (who writes one of the corniest Two-Faces ever, full of terrible, smackable puns) with art by Jim Baikie.

The return of Paul Sloane: the OTHER Two-Face )

The idea of a new Two-Face is an intriguing prospect that should have been utilized while Harvey was "healed" in the years between HUSH and FACE THE FACE. A new Two-Face shouldn't be a carbon copy of the original, but should rather be used to explore themes of duality, fate, and justice in ways that Harvey Dent can't (or shouldn't), while Harvey himself could have gone on to have much more interesting character development as a wild card antihero. Not just for Harvey, but for Sloane as well, as you'll see soon enough.

Next week, Part 2: the great Ed Brubaker re-imagines Paul Sloane in 2003, published in a story that nobody noticed because everyone was reading HUSH instead.
thehefner: (Default)
Got it just under the wire! For North America, anyway! Nya-ha!

Y'know, back when I was but a wee fanboy, I actually used to wonder if there was any feasible way the JLA could go up against Two-Face. It seems far-fetched to say the least, but I suppose the Joker's done it several times. So imagine my delight when, a couple months ago, I discovered this story existed!

In this two-part JLA story from 1975, our favorite bisected anti-villain teams up with the JLA to save the world from aliens inhabiting statues of Julius Caesar, Ben Franklin, and Napoleon! No, really.

God, I love the Silver Age )

Some of the most interesting superhero stories occur when characters are taken out of their usual circles. Like, Ra's al Ghul being revealed as the big bad guy in a LEGION OF SUPERHEROES story! Or EMPEROR JOKER! It's a simple, engaging, and underused trope of comics. They're the kind of stories that require a bit of imagination and originality on the writer's part, which is probably why they're not done that often.

Me, I'd love to see more of characters like Two-Face being used outside of Gotham, pitted against characters who aren't part of the Bat-Family. We already got a taste of the possibilities between this and the TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT issue where he faced off against Cyborg. For one thing, I'm hoping that JMS actually does the Two-Face/Hawk&Dove issue of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD that he talked about back in May 2008. That'd be a great start.
thehefner: (Two Face: A Lonely Place of Dying)
Wanted: scans of BATMAN # 50 and particularly # 68. They're not reprinted anywhere, not even in any of the hardcover archive editions! Heck with it, I may just do a request post at scans_daily.

I very much want to do an epic essay about the five different Two-Faces in the Golden Age, with a special focus on the three different takes on the character of Paul Sloane. And heck, I'm interested to actually read the original Sloane story, as well as the Wilkins the Butler. Yes, Harvey even has a butler who dresses up as him to commit crimes. I love the Golden Age!

[ profile] jlroberson was awesome enough to post the BATMAN newspaper strip version of Two-Face # 2. In this version, he's not Harvey Dent, District Attorney, but rather Harvey Apollo, ham actor.

I kind of love this version. I imagine him sounding like Calculon.


On that scans_daily post, psychopathicus_rex responded to my discussion of the five Two-Faces by saying, "I kind of like the concept of Two-Face as the ultimate legacy villain, an identity assumed by countless people obsessed by the horrific original. It's even plausible - after all, all you would need to become Two-Face is to have half of your face scarred or disfigured somehow, and there are hundreds of ways that that could happen. Acid, fire, car accidents, a stroke - or, of course, something deliberate and removable like makeup. He could be like the Dr. Mabuse of Batman's rogues."

I think it'd actually be fascinating to see what happens with that in the modern continuity. It'd certainly allow poor Harvey to grow free from his Sisyphean lot in life and explore themes of duality in other ways.

Me, I quixotically hoped that Harvey would stay healed and sane (ish) as a vigilante antihero post-ONE YEAR LATER and that the mantle of Two-Face would have been taken up by Alexander Luthor, having survived the Joker's gunshot. I would have loved to have seen that, even if the risk was we'd get more of the wanky, petulant Luthor we say in INFINITE CRISIS. But hey, if Superboy-Prime can be made interesting, anything's possible!
thehefner: (Two-Face: Mounds! No Almond Joy!)
First off, GIP, courtesy of the amaaazing [ profile] disc_sophist


Behold... the cover of WEDNESDAY COMICS, plus *tons* of previews of the bloody amazing comic book goodness it shall contain )

I'm so nervous that this is going to flop, though. Response from fans has been a lot of concern about the oversized format and the price, capped off with this report from a recent convention:

At Saturday’s DC Nation panel, editors Ian Sattler and Brian Cunningham provided fans with a first-ever look at a printed copy of “Wednesday Comics.” The weekly, star-studded, 16-page comic produced on massive newsprint pages, was described as one of the most unusual, impressive, projects in DC’s recent history, a “Kramer’s Ergot” #7 with superheroes.

But DC Nation, or at least the cross section attending the panel, showed more interest in the tedium of DC continuity. Not a single question was asked about “Wednesday Comics.”



Holla at my GL flist buddies--particularly [ profile] nymphgalatea, [ profile] kali921, and [ profile] kagome654--What think you of James Robinson's depiction of Hal in these preview pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE # 1?

I mean, I've been a bit unimpressed by Geoff Johns' take on Hal, so this suddenly proactive take on Hal is rather cool. But is it in character? It definitely seems to be more in keeping with the Hal that Parallax exploited, but that Hal wasn't really in character in the first place.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is, when you look at this page, do you think, "BADASS" or do you think, "Wow, what a dickhole"?

Judge for yourself )

On one hand, hey, awesome, he's actually showing off leadership capabilities, and it's keeping with someone who has crazy huge amounts of willpower! On the other hand, even Scott Summers might think Hal should cool it down a little.

I look forward to seeing how this storyline pans out. Either way, I want smart-ass fun-loving wise-cracking Hal Jordan back. My ideal Hal is like the bastard child of John Crichton and James T. Kirk with liberal dashes of Bruce Campbell thrown in for good measure.


How Zatara brought peace to two warring kingdoms. )

... huh.

I can't even call crack on it, like Golden Age Wonder Woman, because damn, it actually seems damn well straightforward! So to speak.

And damn, Zatara is a sharp motherfucker. But then, he's the father of Zatanna, so he'd have to be. We need more dash and top hats in comics, says I.


The Robot 6 blog did a piece on "The 6 Comics That Made Us Cry," and folks have been responding with their favorites. For me, there have been several, but only one gets me choked up just thinking out it: the one-two punch of that issue of I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, when they find Ice in Hell.

First, when Guy Gardner, of all people, just keeps whispering, “Please come back, Tora. Please come back. Please come back.”

And second, at the end, when Bea and Guy hold each other, sobbing.

There was more genuine, heart-wrenching emotion in this silly comedic B-list superhero spin-off than in all of the INFINITE CRISIS titles going on at the same time. I’m getting misty just *thinking* about that issue.

What about you, folks? What comics have made you mist up or sob?

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