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Batman 81
"Two-Face Strikes Again!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND February - March, 1954

Script: David Vern
Pencils: Dick Sprang
Inks: Charles Paris

One face, split down the middle. A soul twisted and torn with hate. A cunning mind. These all belong to one criminal who lurks in Gotham City -- the man known as Two-Face! Now he has returned -- more deadly than ever! Back with a desire for revenge which forms a challenge for the Dynamic Duo in the case entitled... "Two-Face Strikes Again!"

One night in the downtown area of Gotham City, a couple buying a magazine at a newsstand notice the man passing by them. Harvey Dent, the lawyer -- the one who was once known as Two-Face. The husband was just reading about him in the magazine. He notes the strange coincidence about buying a magazine with an article on Two-Face -- and the next moment coming face to face with him. The lawyer has had his face restored with the aid of plastic surgery. He is unaware that in a matter of minutes, things will come undone once more. He sees safe-crackers at work in a TV sales shop. There was a time when he was Two-Face -- that he would be pulling off such a deed. Now as a concerned citizen, he must act. The next moment finds the lawyer charging into the shop, where he scares the two safe-crackers, and the explosive is lit before the charge was set. Although the two crooks manage to get away, Harvey Dent is caught in the explosion. Racing out of the store, his face is seared in agony, and the lawyer takes a taxi home. In his bedroom, he looks into a mirror, and sees what the explosion has wrought. He has become Two-Face once more.

The damage has gone further than on the surface. Dent regards the incident as proof that he was meant to be a criminal. His physician had warned him that plastic surgery couldn't be performed a second time. He will bear this appearance for the rest of his life. Time for one final test. He carries a duplicate of his own Two-Face coin as a memento. Dent decides to check out how its decision bears against fate. If the scarred side -- the evil side should appear -- then the Dynamic Duo are doomed. The silver dollar is flipped into the air, then when it comes to rest on the floor -- the evil side is up. Two-Face is ready to begin his criminal career once more. The next night at the Gotham City Circus, the audience bears witness to a surprise attraction with Two-Face riding in on two white horses. Although believed to be after the gate receipts, the bizarre criminal heads for the dressing room of Tarando, the world-famous clown. Aiming the gun at the startled clown, he demands the fabulous diamond stickpin collection in his possession.

The next hour finds Two-Face aboard the yacht, "Supreme" at the Gotham Boat Club. The yacht has a twin-screw propeller assembly. Charles Ford, the millionaire deep-sea diver receives a right hook from his unexpected visitor, and is robbed of his gems from the buried treasures he has encountered at the ocean's bottom. The following day at headquarters, the Dynamic Duo answer a call from Commissioner Gordon. They learn about John Fields Benson, the actor famed for portraying Abraham Lincoln, has been robbed by Two-Face. At the actor's apartment, Batman and Robin listen as Benson tells them how the bizarre criminal entered when he was between performances. His collection of Lincoln's papers were taken. In the Bat-Cave, the Caped Crusader mulls over the strange crimes which are being committed by Two-Face. The Boy Wonder theorizes that Dent is just striking out at random, but Batman has figured out the common link between the three crimes.

In the crime lab of the Bat-Cave, Bruce shows Dick how each of Two-Face's victims have one thing in common -- they also are men with two-faces. They see pictures of Tarando the Clown with and without makeup, Chas Ford with and without his deep sea diver's helmet, and John Benson with and without his Lincoln makeup. Two-Face has just declared war on the other Two-Faces in Gotham City. Now that they know how the criminal is operating, the list of possible victims has been narrowed down considerably. In his lair, Two-Face is savoring his initial victories, and is now ready to begin interviewing for members of his gang. As each thug steps up for an interview, their opportunity for criminal employment is determined by a toss of a coin. The following day finds the Jekyll-and-Hyde criminal and his gang entering a new two-tone car, and on their way to visit another man with two faces. One of the hoods mentions that the Caped Crusader is another man with two faces. Two-Face is well aware of that, but his attack on Batman will have to wait. Their next victim will be "Chicago" Al Garver, the big-time gambler. The others in the two-tone car wonder how Garver could possibly have two faces?

In the Bat-Cave, the Dynamic Duo overhear a radio report about Two-Face being spotted heading north on Gotham Point Road. The Caped Crusader knows that there are only four large estates on Gotham Point! One of them must be of special interest to Two-Face. The Boy Wonder knows about Edgar Fanley, the writer -- Dr. Friend, the surgeon -- "Chicago Al" Garver, the gambler -- and Nick Reo, the restaurant owner. Why would the bizarre criminal strike out at one of them? As the Batmobile makes its way to Gotham Point, Batman figures that "Chicago Al" must be the man with two faces. The gambler has his regular face -- and the one used to play cards, his poker face! At the palatial mansion owned by Garver, the Dynamic Duo burst in, and watch as Two-Face and his gang run up a giant pool table. Having started as a rack boy in a pool hall, "Chicago Al" had the giant table built as a memento. Batman and Robin climb up the giant pool cue in pursuit of their quarry. Once on the table, a rack of balls have been upended, and the giant pool balls are heading towards them.

The Dynamic Duo dive down a side pocket, but as they whiz down the runway, the Boy Wonder gets his foot caught. One of the giant pool balls is about to come down the pocket, with the Caped Crusader having to save his partner before it's too late. His silken bat-rope is swiftly used to fashion a net to trap the ball. After Robin's foot is freed, they check on "Chicago Al" and find that Two-Face has already made his escape. From the looks of things, Batman knows that they can scrap their list of possible Two-Face targets, and things aren't going to be as obvious as they thought. The following morning at Stately Wayne Manor finds millionaire Bruce Wayne reading the headline of the Gotham Gazette concerning a Japanese envoy being recalled, and cited for misconduct by his own government. Dick Grayson knows that when one is disgraced, he has "lost face". The Japanese envoy would have two faces -- his own and the one he has "lost".

The Dynamic Duo make their way to the headquarters of the foreign diplomat, where they spot the statue of one of their national heroes. Since Two-Face has already robbed the two-faced diplomat, he decides to leave his calling card -- by defacing the landmark. Batman and Robin scale the giant statue -- where the battle begins. When one of the hoods swings his pickaxe in an arc, the pickaxe cuts the Boy Wonder's rope, and he starts to fall. Moving swiftly, the Caped Crusader wraps one leg around his rope, and reaches out for Robin. Using their trapeze routine, the Boy Wonder twists up, and climbs over his mentor to the rope. Once this is done, Robin reaches out for Batman, and pulls him in.

Two-Face has once again eluded capture, but the Dynamic Duo plans to present an opportunity of their own. Later that night, the millionaire playboy remembers how the local Sioux reservation wants to honor him for his charity work by making him an honorary chief. This could serve as a way to catch Two-Face. When Bruce Wayne is crowned as chief, this will make him a paleface "Indian"! The newspapers are certain to run with that angle -- and give the millionaire two-faces. Two days pass, with a crowd gathered to witness the ceremony at the Sioux reservation. The Dynamic Duo prepare to search the area -- if Two-Face isn't around, Batman will change clothes, and accept the award as Bruce Wayne. Robin spots an old biplane with two-motors landing nearby. When Batman and Robin come up behind the biplane, they fall into a trap created by sand behind the whirling propellers. They are seized and brought to the hideout, where everything has been planned for their arrival. At the hideout, a grim tableau awaits the helpless heroes. Two-Face's lucky coin will decide their fate, only this particular coin will be giant in size, and they will be strapped to it. The giant coin will be flipped by a device into the air over the spikes. If they should land wrong-side-up, no more need be said.

The Dynamic Duo are strapped with wire across the good side of the large coin. This may seem to be a fifty-fifty chance, but their own weight will surely cause the coin to come down on the spikes -- and Two-Face is well aware of that. The mechanism is fixed and the toss is made. Minutes later, the catapult is prepared, and the signal is made. The coin is sent into the air, with the bizarre criminal savoring the greatest feat of his career. The coin continues its spin, at the top of its arc -- it starts turning over and over... Down... down... it spins... getting closer and closer towards the spikes. One last flip and the coin lands on the good side up! After the safe landing, their bonds are snapped, and the Dynamic Duo take advantage of these developments. Batman and Robin wade in on the startled criminals, who learn that their captives have been bound too tightly with wire. By straining against it just before landing, the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder were able to draw it trigger-taut. The sharp landing impact caused it to snap. Two-Face demands to know how they were able to land good side up. Surely this would have been an impossible feat! The Jekyll-and-Hyde criminal slipped up when he strapped them to the coin in such a manner that their hands could reach their belt radios. He never saw them fiddling with their radios, changing connections, turning the radios into electromagnets! By connecting the magnets with the wire which bound them, a powerful negative magnetic field was set up, and it repelled the spikes -- causing the coin land the way it did.

This story was reprinted in "Batman: From The Thirties To The Seventies".

The hideous face of Two-Face which dwarfed the view of the stunned Dynamic Duo was very well rendered by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris.

By reading comics at an early age and attending comic book conventions in later years, I was able to have many delightful coincidences with several comic book creators over the years.

As a law-abiding citizen, Harvey Dent should have called for the police, and left the crime fighting to them.

It would have been much safer for him if he had.

Thanks to Two-Face, Gotham City can be said to be a "two horse" town.

When confronting Tarando the Clown about his fabulous diamond stickpin collection, the bizarre criminal resorted to a common stickup approach.

On a yacht with a twin-screw propeller assembly, it could be said of Harvey Dent that one of his own screws was loose.

John Benson the actor had a bad time with his role of Lincoln, just as the late President had with an actor at Ford's Theatre.

Leave it to Two-Face and his gang to play some dirty pool with the Dynamic Duo on a giant pool table.

A giant statue is where the Jekyll-and-Hyde criminal chooses to pick a fight and pickaxe to use on the Caped Crusader.

Two-Face had his captives down to the wire, but Batman and Robin managed to repel his deathtrap with their fighting belt radios.

Steve Chung
"Two-Face Reviews Again!"