Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
Well, it's my 100th post. So why not review an annual? The 1990 Batman Annual #14 is one of the finest Two-Face stories ever told, and a prime example of why you should always let your kids read comic books.
The Eye of the Beholder is a Two-Face origin story which adds a fresh twist to an old tale. Two-Face's trademark silver dollar is revealed to be a family heirloom from his abusive father, who beat him every night. Dent Sr. used to play a little game with his boy, letting the 'coin decide' whether he'd been bad or good. Only much later, as an adult, would Harvey discover that the game had always been rigged: both sides of the coin were heads.
Much of the book draws a contrast between a young Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon on one hand, and a young Harvey Dent on the other. All three men are tempted to murder criminals, but ultimately only Harvey succumbs to that temptation, which proves to be a slippery slope. The implication is that it is Harvey's past of childhood abuse which separates him from Wayne and Gordon. Fate then conspires to deliver a second, final blow.
In the ensuing murderous rampage, Two-Face finds his way back to his alcoholic father, who barely remembers torturing the boy. Here Harvey comes face-to-face with his abusive past, and gives voice to the tortured feelings of many abused children.
This book, which is written in the style of Year One, actually rivals that book in psychological depth and memorable moments. It does not hold back, and many of the scenes are simply terrifying. As the story ends, cosmetic surgery appears to have covered Harvey's wounds, and the future appears a bit brighter. There are echoes here of The Dark Knight Returns.