Sunday, October 21, 2018

Retro Review: Detective Comics #66 (1942) - "The Crimes of Two-Face"


Flip a Coin

Written by: Bill Finger
Art by: Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, and George Roussos
Cover Price: 10¢
Release Date: June 20, 1942

Batman has such a great Rogue's Gallery and though most put Joker on the top of the heap, I like a couple of the others a lot more.  Two-Face is one of those and I am going back to review this first appearance at a time when Harvey is making a big splash in the current books.  So, did he kick ass the moment he hit the page?  Let's find out...


The issue opens with Harvey Kent heading into the courtroom for his next big case.  Yes, I said "Harvey KENT".  That was originally his name and was only changed later to avoid confusion with Clark.  It even looks odd on the page reading it, but we are back on familiar ground when Harvey goes through his case against gang boss, Maroni.  After calling Batman to the stand, Maroni looks like his goose is cooked, so he does what any crime boss would do...he throws acid on Harvey's face.  The attack leaves Harvey scarred on one side of his face and even Batman can't help him.



Finger and Kane do a good job of building up suspense after the accident by only showing the "good" side of Harvey's face.  Of course, reading it now, the reveal isn't much of a shock and I kind of feel envy to those reading it for the first time not knowing how hideous Harvey has become.

 As Harvey walks the streets to his fiancee's place, the people on the street are pretty shaken up by Harvey's new look.  When he finally shows his fiancee, she is scared and Harvey snaps!  He starts wrecking house and then focuses on the coin that was the key piece of evidence that put Maroni away.  He slashes the heads side and then decides to put his entire life on the line with one toss of the coin...  Guess which side came up!

From that moment, Two-Face decides everything by the flip of a coin, going from robbery to charity and back again in a crazy montage.  My favorite thing, though, is his hideout that is divided in two with one side being fancy and the other looking worse than a bum's house.  It's like a messed up I Love Lucy scene and I love it.



We continue with yet another flip of a coin that leads Harvey and his gang to rob the Brown Bond Company Messenger, but Batman and Robin are on the scene.  It's a big fight scene on a double-decker bus that shows Batman that his longtime friend, Harvey, is no longer the guy he once knew as
he tries to kill Batman twice before Robin saves the day.

After this, we do see that Harvey's good side might still be there, but it's quickly extinguished by the flip of a coin that leads to one more death on Two-Faces' hands.  We then get the target of the next crime and it's a double-feature movie house and that's when he (and the reader) notices the duality of Harvey Dent's crimes...double-decker bus...double-feature movie...yep, it all started right away in this first appearance.

In a neat little meta deal, the movie theatre is showing a Superman movie when Harvey comes on the screen and demands everyone's money.  Of course, Batman and Robin arrive and a fight breaks out with Harvey slipping out the back. 

The issue ends with Batman catching up to Harvey at his hideout and pleading with him to turn himself in.  He even promises Harvey he will speak on his behalf.  Harvey, though, leaves it to a coin flip and the cliffhanger leaves everything up in the air to be continued a couple of months later.

Well, everything is here to set up Two-Face as we know him.  Yea, his name changed and so did parts of his character later on, but the basis of what makes him so interesting was there from the start.  I loved how the issue ended in a cliffhanger of whether Harvey would pick to be good or bad and guess that Finger and Kane waited to see what people wanted more.  Who could pass up such an awesome villain, though, and of course, he has been a Batman staple ever since.

Bits and Pieces:

This is another great origin story of another great Batman villain.  Readers will find all of the tropes packed into this story from the coin, the dual nature of crimes and the idea that Batman wants to save his former friend.  It's pretty easy to see why Two-Face continued on and is still a major player today.


9.5/10


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