Review: Joker’s Asylum: Two-Face

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It’s really too bad that I haven’t had the time to write a review for each of the Joker’s Asylum issues as they came out, but now that I’m getting back into the groove, I might as well follow up yesterday’s review of Joker’s Asylum: Scarecrow (released last week), with a review of this week’s concluding issue in the series; Joker’s Asylum: Two-Face.

twofacecover_1.jpgIn this story, Two-Face receives some in Arkham counseling from someone who has gone through the same tragedy he has – well almost.  In this case, Holman Hunt had half his face and hand burned off when he was fighting a fire and became trapped.  Fortunately, Batman saved him, and thanks to the support of a loving wife, he’s become a mentor and motivator for others with similar afflictions.  Unfortunately, Holman discovers there’s no rehabilitating Two-Face.

When Two-Face does make his escape, he high-tails it to Holman’s house to prove just how alike the two are.  After kidnapping Holman and his wife, Harvey gives his would be mentor two choices; kill the captured Batman, or have his wife’s face burned off by sulfuric acid.

What makes this tale really dark isn’t the choice that Holman was given, or the fact that Two-Face is manipulating the event to prove a point, but rather the terrible fallout that occurs with Holman’s wife over the event, after the real Batman shows up to rescue everyone.

Playing off the concept Holman was given, the issue ends with an almost “choose your own adventure” flair, with only two choices to the reader can make; happy or tragic.  David Hine ends the issue with the Joker telling the reader to flip a coin to determine the fate of Holman.  In a sense the reader is put in the same situation, letting a flip of a coin decide if someone lives or dies.  While most readers won’t actually flip that coin just because this is a fictional story, those who do may come to a deeper understanding of choice, fate, and how lives are controlled.

The more I think about this choice, the creepier Hine’s notion has become; could you decide if someone lives or dies by a mere heads or tail flip of a coin?  It’s a hard choice for almost anyone to make, and considering Harvey Dent/Two-Face is so willing to go with that flow, emphasizes how scary this villain truly is.

I think David Hine has told a great tale that is truly in the spirit of what is trying to be accomplished with the Joker’s Asylum series – using Batman rogues to tell DC’s own Creepy Tales.

The art is good, too.  Andy Clarke does what he does, and does it well.  His art style creates a very realistic looking human, which is fine for most of the characters, but his interpretation of the Joker and Two-Face doesn’t really work for me.  Both Holman and Harvey have their faces burned right down the middle – you can actually see the dividing line on each.  While this has been a Two-Face convention for years, I can’t keep thinking that a real acid burn or flame scorched face wouldn’t look so symmetrical, and I hope future artists think about this the next time they tackle Harvey Dent.  The Joker looks like a regular fellow with white makeup and green hair – there’s nothing distinctive about this character other than that as far as the art goes.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fragging Clarke’s work on these two nitpicks, his work is really good otherwise.

It’s too bad DC only gave Joker’s Asylum five issues to cover the top Batman villains, as  DC could have continued this series with every one of Arkham’s inmates.  These tales are not your kid friendly Batman tales, but ones to really disturb the reader, and I think this final issue did just that.  This was the most intense of the Joker’s Asylum tales (even more intense than Poison Ivy chopping a guy to death), and earns Joker’s Asylum: Two-Face 4 out of 5 Stars.

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