Wes Serafine

Equinox Staff


Up until now we have explored superheroes of all kinds, but any comic book reader will tell you that the heroes are only half the story. A superhero is nothing without villains to vanquish.

Super villains often times can be just as compelling as the heroes they fight, and in many cases have become just as popular.

Some of the best villains in comics come from the rogue’s gallery of Batman. All this month, we will be exploring different stories that feature one of Batman’s greatest enemies and one of my personal favorite super villains, Two-Face.

Two-Face, a.k.a. Harvey Dent, is in my opinion, a brilliant character and in many ways far more compelling than many other villains to face off against the Dark Knight, including The Joker. Once, Harvey Dent was Gotham City’s District attorney, a man of great virtue, seemingly immune to corruption, refusing all bribes from organized crime.

Comic Column

Comic Column

Though his origins have been told and retold for over 50 years, the accepted story is that Harvey Dent was Batman’s ally in justice who worked side by side with him to deal with the criminals of Gotham who believed themselves above the law. During a trial, a vindictive crime boss threw acid in his face, permanently scarring one half of his face and, in turn, fracturing his personality and inciting his obsession with duality.

Driven mad by these events, Two-Face starts a crime spree in Gotham City, each crime reflecting his obsession with duality and the number two.

Two-Face’s trademark, as well as his greatest weakness, is his signature coin–a dual sided silver dollar that has one side defaced. When choosing who lives or dies, or other such decisions, it is not Two-Face who makes the decision, but the result of the coin flip: heads you live, tails you die.

If he loses the coin, he finds himself unable to make decisions, allowing Batman to take advantage. Though Dent has had facial reconstructive surgery many times in order to rid himself of the Two-Face personality, the monster within him always comes back to wreak havoc on the people of Gotham.

It is time once again to dive back into the Golden age of comics with the first ever appeaAance of Two-Face back in 1941. Little known fact: in this first issue, Harvey’s last name is “Kent.” It was later changed to Dent in order to avoid confusion with Clark Kent, the alter ego of Superman.

However, for the purposes of this article and the others to come this month, we will be referring to him as “Dent” from here on out. Our story opens rather abruptly, with the aforementioned trial already in progress.

Dent is trying to put away notorious Gotham City gangster, Salvatore “Boss” Moroni, by using his star witness, none other than The Batman himself. In this version, Two-Face’s coin originally belonged to Boss Moroni, though in later retellings, it was rewritten that the coin originally belonged to Dent.

Moroni throws acid in Dent’s face, and though Batman is able to subdue Moroni, it still scars Dent’s face and drives him insane. Ashamed of his appearance and finding that even his beloved wife Gilda is repulsed by him, he turns to a life of crime, with his decisions driven only by the flip of a coin.

After several encounters with Batman and Robin, Batman is finally able to track him back to his hideout. Two-Face flips his coin to determine The Batman’s fate, the coin lands in a crack in the floor, remaining on it’s edge, leaving Two-Face unable to make his decision.

Though an important issue for obvious reasons, this still leaves a lot to be desired. This was still the very early days of Batman and the character we all know today had not been fully fleshed out. Two-Face is okay, but suffers from the same problem that most Golden Age villains suffered, being generically evil.

However, he was far better than some other characters of that age, due mostly in part the unique gimmick of the coin determining his choices. It is a good thing that aspect of the character has endured to this day. Without that, one could easily swap out Two-Face for The Penguin or Lex Luthor and the story may be largely unchanged. The action is also hard to follow and the dialogue very clunky.

The artwork present in this issue is poor, even by Golden Age standards. Too many heavy inks that make the action difficult to make out. Two-Face doesn’t fair too well either, his disfigured half simply looking like it was painted Green.

However, this is a necessary start to our month long look at this character, but not a story that has aged well. Two-Face has been introduced to the world, but it would still be a long time before he becomes the character that most comic fans have grown to love.

Next week, we will be looking at a more modernized version of Two-Face’s origin when we review the critically acclaimed graphic novel, Batman: The Long Halloween.

Wes Serafine can be contacted at


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