Batman: Two Faces

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Cover to Batman: Two Faces.

Batman: Two Faces is a DC Comics Elseworlds special published in 1998. Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, pencilled by Anthony Williams and features Tom Palmer as the inker.

This story is based on the novel Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. A Victorian-era Bruce Wayne tries to purge both his own evil side and that of Two-Face while a serial killer named the Joker roams the streets.

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Bruce Wayne: A millionaire and celebrated criminologist, he desperately wants to help his now insane friend Harvey Dent.
  • Alfred: Bruce Wayne's butler and confidant.
  • The Joker: a grinning homicidal maniac who carves his victims' faces into smiles. He preys on prostitutes, making him akin to Jack the Ripper.
  • Selina Kyle: Owner of a brothel and a masked crime-fighter who looks out for the girls under her protection. While Selina Kyle is obviously based on Catwoman, her costume is similar to that of Black Canary and her fate (crippled by the Joker) reflects that of Barbara Gordon, making her something of a composite character.
  • Two-Face: District Attorney Harvey Dent was driven into a state of schizophrenic insanity when half his face was hideously scarred. Described as a theatrical criminal, he has an obsession with dual natures and the number two.

Secondary characters and cameos[edit]

  • Peregrine White: in this story, Perry White is the proprietor of the Daily Planet.
  • Pamela Isley: The Botanical Institute's chief officer.In this story, Pamela Isley is blond, while she is normally represented as being red-haired.
  • Detective Bullock: makes a brief appearance in the investigation of Batman.
  • Annie: the Joker's fourth victim, she was a friend and employee of Selina Kyle. She may be named after Annie Chapman, who was Jack the Ripper's second victim.

Plot[edit]

It's the year 1886, Bruce Wayne is organizing a gala to exhibit the Twilight Orchid, a rare flower with unique characteristics, during the day, the flower is exquisitely colored and perfumed and attracts a large amount of insects. At night however, it turns into a weed, attracting only pests. Miss Pamela Isley, Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon and many of Gotham's finest attend the gala when Two Face storms in and steals the flower. Bruce attempts to stop the criminal, but he easily bests him and takes Pamela as a hostage. As Two Face and his thugs escape, they kill Pamela while Bruce Wayne watches helplessly.

Bruce blames himself for Pamela's death, and Alfred tries to comfort him. Bruce reveals that he hopes to create a potion derived from the flower, which was retrieved from Miss Isley's dead hands, a potion which would cure Two Face from his dual personality. Finalizing the potion, Bruce tests it on himself. He suddenly develops super-human strength, agility and a new sense of courage and purpose. He puts together a costume and sets off to battle crime on Two Face's terms.

While Batman destroys Two Face's criminal empire, Annie, a prostitute who works at Selina Kyle's brothel accompanies a strange gentleman. The man starts laughing hysterically and kills Annie, who is revealed to be his fourth victim.

Commissioner Gordon asks Bruce Wayne for help, this serial killer who calls himself the Joker is murdering women and mutilating them to look like they are smiling. Bruce dons his cape and cowl and gets ready to take down the psychopath. Selina Kyle, donning a crime-fighting outfit of her own, attacks him. After revealing to her his identity, they decide to team up in their efforts to capture the smiling murderer.

Selina comes upon the Joker, attacking a group of Two Face's lackeys. Selina tries her best to stop him, but she is no match for his super-human strength. She tries to run, but is injured by the Joker, and by the time Batman arrives to her help, her condition has gotten worse. She is paralyzed from the waist down and will never walk again. Alfred tries to convince Bruce to stop drinking the potion, which seems to be having some detrimental effects. Bruce dismisses his advice and consumes a more powerful batch. He falls in a deep sleep and wakes up with a head full of revelations. He writes a letter to Gordon, and another to Two Face, summoning them to a meeting that will be most revealing.

Batman reveals to Gordon that he is putting himself at the Law's mercy, and to Two Face that he has a potion that may cure him of his duality. He handcuffs himself and then transforms into the Joker, the opposite side of the Batman. Just as one side was courageous and doing his best to stop crime, the other was bent on destruction and chaos. Two Face, Gordon and the Joker fight, and just as the Joker is about to kill Harvey, the Batman takes control of Bruce's body and he falls to his death. Acting upon Bruce's last wishes, Two Face takes the potion and creates a new identity for himself, a superhuman who dons the cape and cowl of Batman, fighting for the side of justice.

Perry refers to a story that occurred in Bavaria around the same time as this tale, one that is filled with Inhuman tragedy and blasphemous outrages against nature. This is revealed in the sequel, The Superman Monster to be a retelling of Frankenstein featuring the Superman cast.

See also[edit]

Other Elseworlds that involve Jack the Ripper: