In the Black Label series Catwoman: Lonely City, Two-Face face has turned over a new leaf and may prove that there’s still hope for every Harvey Dent.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Catwoman: Lonely City #1, on sale now from DC Comics.
Two-Face is undoubtedly one of Batman’s most famous rogues. Throughout the years, there have been a number of compelling stories analyzing the ongoing battle between the self-righteous lawyer Harvey Dent and his binary loving alter-ego. Among many of the faces in the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery, he’s one of the few who has always seemed most deserving of redemption. Now, in DC’s newest Black Label series, it looks like one version of Dent may finally have achieved that which has eluded him for years.
An older Selina Kyle, released from prison after many years, returns to a very different Gotham in Catwoman: Lonely City #1 (exclusively by Cliff Chiang). Although Batman and his tragic death are partially to blame for how the city has turned out, another major force behind the change is the new mayor of Gotham City.
Harvey Dent serves as the mayor in Catwoman’s troubled future. The scarred face of one of the Dark Knight’s most formidable adversaries is no longer a sign of trouble for Gotham’s citizens, but one of hope, at least to a certain degree. Looking at the city from Selina’s point of view, there isn’t much to love. For one, Gotham has essentially become a police state run by heavily armed militia using Batman’s image. Additionally, some areas of Gotham have been restricted to the public, and the citizens of the city are monitored.
However, as Barbara Gordon points out though, a lot of good has come to the city as well. Thanks to the Wayne family fortune being bequeathed to Gotham when Bruce died, there are now better housing and social programs available. The former Batgirl even argues that things are better with Dent than they were with Batman. The mayor’s stricter laws have driven away big name villains like the Penguin, with Oswald Cobblepot moving his casino to Gotham Bay, beyond the city’s reach.
Hearing the story from Two-Face himself, it really seems like he has changed his ways and is fully committed to a new life. Rather than run away from the Two-Face persona, Dent embraced his other side and confronted what was wrong with him during his criminal days. He even keeps the iconic coin on his desk as a reminder of his mistakes. Now he actively tries to be a hero, following the example of his old enemy and honoring him rather than cursing his name.
This isn’t the first time Harvey Dent has tried to turn away from his alter ego, but it is the first time the changes have proven to be more than temporary. The classic Batman story “Hush” had Harvey as one of many possible identities for the bandaged villain. When Dent removed his bandages though, he revealed that the scars that turned him into Two-Face were gone thanks to extensive plastic surgery. However, in the story “Face to Face” a few years later, he had fallen back into his old ways. Although Batman trusted his old friend enough to leave him in charge of Gotham, being framed for a string of murders pushed Dent over the edge and brought Two-Face back into the picture.
A repaired face may fix the physical trauma, but it never seems to get rid of the mental scars. The Dark Knight Returns featured a similar story, wherein Dent still saw his alter-ego despite facial reconstruction. Perhaps the fact that his scars aren’t fixed in Catwoman: Lonely City shows that in those other stories, he was never truly on the path to a cure. It looks like this Harvey Dent addressed the mental issues, the true root of his criminal persona, rather than glossing over them by was of plastic surgery.
Even though Harvey still has glaring shortcomings in this issue, overall he is on the path to redemption and appears to be sticking it out. This gives hope for the other versions of the character, and opens the possibility of the classic Batman villain finally gaining the chance to really escape his darker side.
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