March 1, 2012
I already posted about the gnarly death-metal violence of Jean-Paul Valley fighting Bane, but Bruce Wayne got his share of hits in during Knightfall. This was a moment I don’t even remember noticing when I was a kid, but as an adult it gave me pause. Beyond the obvious “wh–” factor of Batman whipping a batarang right at Poison Ivy’s face, I had to stop and go, “Wait–don’t those things have razor edges? Was Batman seriously prepared for the possibility of slicing half a woman’s lips off?”
February 29, 2012
Probably hundreds of artists have drawn Two-Face over the years. The scarred half of his face ranges from “boilsome and poxy” to “scratched and ridged” to “latex fishman” to “puked-up applesauce” based on who’s doing it. For my money, the one to beat is Klaus Janson’s rendition. Even if it’s not the best Two-Face story by a long shot (that’s the Batman Annual that Andy Helfer and Chris Sprouse did, re-telling his origin and making it brutally grim and tightly-clenched), no artist has ever managed to make Two-Face look quite as horrifically ugly in a way that still conveys the essential nature of his character–keeping him as a human being who’s been partly ruined, rather than a handsome guy with half a Halloween mask.
February 28, 2012
I’m a child of the 90s, so I have a soft spot for Jean-Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azrael, Azbat, Batman II, and that dorky shithead with the ponytail and the voices inside his brain. I fell hook, line and sinker for Knightfall when it happened, and re-reading it as an adult, it actually still holds together for me. Part of it is the relative tightness of the narrative–it reads like a Law & Order episode, if that makes any sense, where all the pieces that aren’t necessary have been stripped away, leaving only the parts that advance an already-sprawling story of Batman getting run into the dirt. Another part of that is the difference between Bruce Wayne and Jean-Paul Valley, when Azrael takes over as the replacement Batman. Suddenly it turns into this gnarly, delirious, super-angry story, like the soundtrack switched from Wagner opera to Slayer–especially in moments like this, where Bane is confronted by the psychotic, ultraviolent Azbat: