My Comic Book Crisis

A woman of a certain age, a computer, and a love of comics

Two-Face in Detective Comics #66

Two sides of the same coin?

There are all kinds of bad guys in the comic book world, but one of my favorites (at least so far) is Two-Face, who is one really, really good bad guy.

And I say “good bad” guy on purpose: Two-Face is a fascinating study in contradictions. Like the really nice pair of sweaters I got at an awesome sale recently, he’s a kind of two-for-one deal.

We all know the back story. Handsome and successful DA Harvey Kent (later Harvey Dent) has acid thrown on his face and suddenly he isn’t handsome anymore — or at least half of him isn’t handsome anymore. The other side looks the same as always, although that seems to be lost on his fiancee Gilda who can’t seem to look past the half that has been disfigured. Shallow wench. I bet Maggie Gyllenhaall’s Rachel Dawes in the “Dark Knight” wouldn’t have left Harvey; she seemed like a solid kind of gal. Or at least she did until she got blown up. Then she wasn’t all that solid, I guess.

But I digress.

Two-Face in Detective Comics #66From the start (Detective Comics #66, 1941) Harvey is the embodiment of good versus evil. Or from a Freudian point of view, he could represent the struggle between the ego and the id.

Or maybe he’s just plain nuts.

To take the duality even further, all of his clothes have two contrasting sides and even his home is divided in half; one side impeccably decorated, the other in shambles – it’s as if his decorator went to the sturm und drang school of design, and quite frankly, he might want to get his money back on that one.

It all adds up to one guy with two sides. As everyone knows, the way he decides which side to heed is with the flip of a coin — fate decides whether he robs a bank at night and divvies up the spoils among his band of merry men or robs a bank during the day and gives the money to charity. He’s like Robin Hood with a personality disorder.

Two-Face in Detective Comics #66Or maybe he’s just a Gemini.

On top of that, they guy is seriously obsessive-compulsive — aside from his (oddly) single-minded need to flip a coin in order to make any decisions, he bases all his crimes on the number two – like stealing the proceeds of a double header baseball game — all the while saying delicious things like “How appropriate that Two-Face should make his getaway on a two-wheeled vehicle!” and “Ha! What irony! I based all my crimes on the number two and end up finally being double-crossed by one of my own mob!”

No two ways about it: this guy is one messed up criminal, which is why he’s my really good bad guy #1.

On second thought, perhaps he should have been #2.

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