by Alan Kistler
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Harvey Dent. Harvey's father was a gambler and an abusive alcoholic who enjoyed collecting silver dollars. Mr. Dent would often abuse his son. But he made a game of it. He would take out one of his silver dollars and flip it saying "Heads, I beat you. Tales, I don't." Harvey watched the flipping of the coin, always praying for tails. But there was one small catch. All of the silver dollars in Mr. Dent's collection were double-headed.
Harvey grew up as an aggressive child. Harvey was full of rage and bitter anger, wishing to exact vengeful "justice" on his enemies. But he had no outlet and so he bottled it all in. By his late teens he was bordering on schizophrenia.
Harvey finally did find an outlet for his anger. The law. As he went through law school, Harvey was less troubled by the voice in his head that screamed for bloody vengeance. He became a fuller person, eventually marrying a woman named Gilda and becoming District Attorney in Gotham City.
When Harvey Dent became D.A., Gotham was suffering a rise of political corruption and mob violence. On numerous occasions, the current GCPD Commisioner Gillian Loeb and several mobsters offered Harvey bribes in exchange for favors. Harvey was unwavering in his stance and was fully prepared to stand alone against such criminals if he had to. But this was not to be the case.
Sometime after becoming D.A., Gotham City began to run rampant with rumors of a sinister bat-creature that was terrorizing criminals and police alike. Harvey investigated and found that all the cops who were attacked were those who'd been on the take. He wondered if perhaps this creature, whatever it was, was on the side of the angels. Weeks later, the "Batman" publicly humiliated local mobster Carmine "The Roman" Falcone. The next night, he payed a visit on Dent, requesting evidence to aid him. During the visit, they were interrupted by Lt. Jim Gordon, who was attempting to solve the Batman's identity. He questioned Harvey, one of his suspects, while the Dark Knight hid beneath the D.A.'s desk. Acting purely on instinct, Harvey protected the vigilante and did not expose him to Gordon. This began an understanding between the two that they were on the same side. During the next several months, the Batman would on rare occasions ask Harvey for help and the two gained a mutual respect.
Months after their first meeting, Harvey was overjoyed when he, Gordon and the Batman were able to collectively wipe out most of the corruption in the police department and implicate Comm. Loeb himself so that the man was forced to retire. Soon afterwards, he visited his father, trying to bring closure to his past. His father wanted to make amends and gave him one of his silver dollars as a peace offering. However, it had the opposite affect as it triggered a series of recurring nightmares in which he relived the abuse of his past. The nightmares specifically concentrated on how Harvey's father used to constantly flip his silver dollar in order to taunt the boy. As time went on, Harvey became noticeably more aggressive and obsessed with his work.
A short while later, Captain Gordon (who'd since become allies with Batman) called Harvey and Batman to meet together. Gotham was still being plagued by some mob crimes, particularly those run by "Boss" Maroni. Gordon suggested the three of them form a partnership and work closely in conjunction to put the mob away. Harvey and Batman agreed and the three made great progress, becoming friends in the process.
However, as the next few months went by, the trio also hit several snags in their war with Maroni. At the same time, his nightmares began to worsen. The toll it took on him became quite noticeable. Harvey suggested on a few occasions that Batman plant evidence in order to help with arrests and each time he was refused.
The turning point came when Batman and Gordon tracked down a serial killer named Rudolph Klemper. Despite their best efforts, not much evidence could be obtained and Harvey lost the case when it came to court. After the trial was over, Harvey personally met with Klemper to ask how he had remained so calm and detached from the trial. Klemper explained that he suffered from MPD and that it was in fact the other personality who had done the killings. Klemper said that he sensed a like mind in Harvey and goaded Harvey into releasing his dark side. That night, Harvey took Klemper's advice and bombed the man's house, killing him in the process.
The Batman noticed that Harvey was becoming obsessive in his war against Maroni and became increasingly worried that the D.A. was growing unstable. He asked Gordon to investigate for him.
Finally, Maroni was brought to trial. Unbeknownst to Harvey, his aide Fields was secretly working for the mob. Fields passed Maroni a bottle of "medicine" for his ulcers. Batman went to the trial using a disguise. He watched in horror as Maroni took out the medicine bottle and threw its liquid contents, acid, into Dent's face. Dent was able to turn instinctively, but he wasn't fast enough and the left side of his face was horribly scarred. Batman blamed himself for not being able to act in time to save his friend.
While in the hospital, Harvey also realized that the silver dollar he'd kept had also been scarred on one side. As he pondered the situation, he thought back on Klemper, the killer with two personalities. He began to grow obsessed with duality and with the notion that all reality was dependent on chance, operating on a constant shift between chaos and order, good and evil. After all, how else to explain the "evil voice" in his head? How else to explain the state of the world? It was all dependent on chance. And so, from now on, he would make all his decisions based on chance. Taking the double-headed silver dollar he had, Harvey scarred one side. From now on, this coin would be his only decision maker. The clean side would make the decision in favor of good and order, while the scarred side would rule in favor of chaos and evil.
That night, Harvey was visited by the Batman. Batman told his old friend that even before the trial he had made the decision to end their partnership, concerned that Harvey was taking the law too far into his own hands. He then explained how he'd discovered Fields was a traitor. Harvey told the Dark Knight to wait and make sure the evidence was air tight. Batman agreed and left his friend. Later, Harvey himself escaped and killed Fields, simultaneously exposing files the man had on various mob affairs, enough evidence to put away Maroni and several others for good. Batman then pursued Harvey to his father's apartment and apprehended him.
Harvey (or "Two-Face" as the papers were calling him) went to Arkham Asylum for treatment. Harvey began undergoing massive therapy and seemed to be on the road to health. They even used an experimental surgery treatment to fully repair his scars. But a mere two weeks after the sucessful surgery, the voice came back, screaming "Let me out!" In a maddened frenzy, Harvey clawed the left side of his face until it was fully scarred once more. Now, for reasons not fully understood even by him, he had embraced his life as Two-Face.
Since then, Two-Face has made occasional escapes from Arkham in order to implement his own form of justice and revenge, particularly on the Batman, whom he believed had betrayed him by ending their partnership and bringing him to Arkham. During one adventure, Two-Face captured Aldrich Meany, his successor as Gotham D.A. and threatened to kill him. Dick Grayson had just recently taken on the mantle of the original Robin and he joined Batman on this case. Before he knew what was happening, Two-Face had imprisoned Batman as well and offered Robin a choice between who would die, Batman or Meany. Robin attempted a risky ploy but it failed miserably and Meany was killed outright. At that point, Robin was brutally attacked by Two-Face's group of henchmen and it was only through some quick thinking and fast tactics by the Batman that the two survived. Although Two-Face was incarcerated once more, Dick Grayson would always be haunted by the memory of their encounter in the back of his mind.
Years later, Two-Face began to believe that Robin was in fact more than a mere sidekick. After several encounters where one of the many Robin's had ended up aptly saving the day, Two-Face fell under the impression that Robin was in fact the Batman's secret weapon, that without him many of the Dark Knight's victories would never have succeeded. Thus, he grew an unhealthy obsession with killing the Boy Wonder. What's more, he realized from memories of past encounters that over the years there must have been at least two, possibly three, Robins.
At one time, Maroni escaped from prison. Commissioner Gordon wanted to track him down quickly but soon found himself getting nowhere. Seeing no other alternative, Gordon went to Two-Face for help. Two-Face agreed but only if he could accompany Gordon on the case. At one point, Two-Face escaped Gordon's custody and confronted Maroni himself. Holding the man at gun-point, Two-Face considered using a red hot poker to scar half of Maroni's face. At that point, Gordon broke into the room and ordered Two-Face to surrender. To his utter astonishment, Two-Face complied, whispering only "All right, Jim." As both Two-Face and Maroni were taken back into custody, Gordon pondered whether or not there was still a piece of Harvey Dent that was alive in Two-Face after all.
When Gotham suffered a cataclysmic earthquake, Two-Face found himself in a ruined city. Again, he flipped his coin to see whether he should work for good or evil. The coin landed on its clean side and Two-Face began busying himself by helping as much as he could with the relief efforts. To everyone's surprise, he was very good and dedicated to this new role. GCPD Officer Rene Montoya was especially impressed and believe that with some guided counseling, Two-Face could be brought back to sanity. The Batman also saw this possibility and desperately hoped that his old friend would at last regain himself.
What happened immediately following the congressional decision to turn Gotham into "No Man's Land" is unknown. Through circumstances which are shady, Two-Face apparently left his new life and months later returned to his old ways, taking over feudal territory which he stole from Batman and the Penguin. It is interesting to note however that for a short time, he wore a simple matching suit, whereas it had been his long-time trademark to wear a double-suit that was divided between two styles. Whether this was just a whim or whether it meant that Two-Face was regaining a single persona is all unknown at this point in time. At the moment, he is a mystery.
Two-Face is well versed in the law. He is a student of psychology and well-versed in police tactics. He is an excellent tactician and a better-than-average hand-to-hand combatant. Even before embarking on his criminal career, Two-Face has kept a habit of regular exercise, through use of gyms and lifting weights. Thus, he is very athletic and strong for an average man.
Two-Face's obsession with duality and the number two have sometimes made his motives and operations predictable. Also, he is utterly dependent on making decisions with his double-headed silver dollar.
This article is © 1999 Alan Kistler.
All characters are © DC Comics