Hello everyone and welcome back to yet another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read every issue of Detective Comics, in random order, and with basically no context. And, as you may have seen, Detective Comics just celebrated their 1,000th issue, meaning I’m going to be talking about these stories forever! Or, at least until my sanity shatters. But, hopefully that’s a long-time off, and I get to keep talking about fun little issues like today’s story, featuring one of my absolute favorite Batman villains of all time, Two-Face. And, as a bonus, it’s a wonderfully goofy story from the late Golden Age, which is one of the best sources of goofy stories that are available for us to talk about. Because who doesn’t want to see a story from Two-Face’s history from back when he was obsessed with crimes involving the number 2?
The issue begins with Batman and Robin arriving at a large theater in Gotham City that’s about to host a public exhibition of Batman’s treasure room, along with a lecture about their crime-fighting. They head inside to find that several displays of their trophies have been set up, organized to the various villains they came from, all of which are being looked over by the theater manager, George Blake, who is very amused by the artifacts. The Dynamic Duo introduce themselves, and get ready for their special guest, Two-Face! Well, Harvey Dent. Apparently this issue is taking place during a time when Harvey Dent had been rehabilitated and had his face fixed, so Batman and Robin have invited him to come give a personal lecture about his life of crime to inform the crowd. And, for some reason, they’ve decided that Harvey should use makeup to replicate his Two-Face scars for this talk. So, when he arrives he heads back to a greenroom with George Blake to help administer his makeup before giving his speech.
And, an hour later Harvey Dent walks out onto the stage while a full crowd watches, ready to hear his story. He begins dramatically discussing his history as Two-Face, telling them about how his world was determined by the results of coin-flips. He even gets his original coin out of the trophy case to explain, flipping it while he talks about what happens when he gets the bad side. And, as he’s explaining, the scarred side of his coin lands in his palm, causing Harvey to suddenly freak out, switching back to his Two-Face persona. So, he immediately charges Batman and Robin, knocking them out and taking some more trophies in order to make his getaway, including a motorcycle that he uses to speed away before the Dynamic Duo can stop him. Which means that it’s now up to Batman and Robin to stop Two-Face, since they kind of vouched for him.
Batman and Robin begin looking into any possible crime Two-Face might be drawn to, specifically looking into businesses and events that related to the number 2, including some sort of twin convention. But, they aren’t able to cover all of their bases, and Two-Face ends up arriving at a Gotham City tour company, where he steals their payroll and escapes in a double-decker bus. And, the next day, as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are returning from a business meeting, they see Two-Face outside of a bifocal store, getting ready to rob it. They get into their costumes in an alley, and get out just in time to see Two-Face get the scarred side of his coin after it strangely lands on a manhole cover. Batman and Robin attempt to stop him, but he sprays them both with some sort of chemicals that cause them to see double, before racing inside and stealing their money.
After the robbery Two-Face escapes in a pushcart, causing Batman and Robin to give chase on a tandem bicycle, which is hilarious. They chase Two-Face as he approaches a dock. They then watch as Two-Face goes careening into the water and watch as he approaches a large twin-wheel boat, which just so happens to be an excursion of that twin conference they mentioned earlier. And, while Batman and Robin attempt to chase him, Two-Face is able to get onto the ship, and use the make-up for his scarring to give himself a new face, as well as the exact same face on a balloon that he uses to fake a twin. Which…is insane. But, it manages to fool Batman and Robin, but not before giving Batman a theory.
Batman and Robin return to the theater from earlier, and see that the make-up that Harvey Dent used to make his scars a few days ago have been recently used. So, they lurk around, and sure enough they find Two-Face arrive to re-apply his makeup. However, before they can confront Two-Face he triggers a trap that locks the crime-fighters together. But, as Two-Face starts to leave, he apparently trips down the stairs and knocks himself out. Batman and Robin free themselves eventually and find Harvey Dent passed out. The police arrive, and Dent is carted away, but Batman is convinced this isn’t the whole story. He races to the offices at the top of the theater, and sure enough finds another Two-Face escaping. Batman gives chase, and the two eventually find themselves fighting on a building ledge, before both falling off. Both Batman and Two-Face land on two large clocks on the sides of the building, and Batman is able to think fast and save himself and Two-Face. And, he does so in a way that also hogties Two-Face, because he’s the goddamn Batman. And, as you’ve probably figured out, this isn’t Harvey Dent. It’s George Blake, who has been impersonating Two-Face and Harvey Dent from the very beginning, until he switched out the real Harvey after fake falling down the stairs. It turns out that he had developed as scam where he only hit companies who were struggling financially, and who were in on it so they could get insurance money. But, the day has been saved, and the real Harvey Dent has been cleared of all charges.
This is such a goofy story. As I say each week, this project revolves around me using a random number generator to pick issues, and as such I’m often missing context. I had no idea that for a time in the early 50’s Harvey Dent apparently got his scars repaired and rehabilitated himself. And, what’s even crazier, while pulling some information about this info from a DC wiki, I saw that this version of Two-Face was labeled as the fourth! There were two other Two-Faces besides Harvey and this guy? That’s so strange. But, none of that really has anything to do with the issue at hand, which is pretty fun. I love these early Two-Face stories where he was still so obsessed with his gimmick, and I love seeing writers bend over backwards to come up with ridiculous things in Gotham City that would apply to that obsession. I mean, there was a twin convention in this issue! And, it also leads to wonderful things like Batman and Robin riding a tandem bicycle, which I also very much enjoyed. The whole twist of this Two-Face not really being Harvey Dent is pretty easy to see coming, but it’s handled well enough that it doesn’t matter that it’s a little obvious. We haven’t gotten to talk about Two-Face enough during this project, so I’m always happy to see the guy, and this issue didn’t disappoint.
“The Double Crimes of Two-Face!” was written by Don Cameron, penciled by Dick Sprang, inked by Charles Paris, and edited by Whitney Ellsworth, 1952.
Categories: Bat Signal