How a Comic Book Controversy Almost Destroyed a Huge Batman Villain

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In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out if the Comics Code Authority banned DC from using Two-Face as a Batman villain.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and nineteenth episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first part of this episode’s captions.

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COMIC CAPTION:

The Batman villain, Two-Face, has been banned from appearing in the comics due to the Comics Code Authority.

STATUS:

False

I’ve done a caption like this before on Catwoman, and I realize that the same basic story existed for Two-Face as well. Again, let me note that I am not choosing the article I quote here, as many people have written similar things (and really, this is a very well written article. So I’m actually sharing it because it’s WELL written, it also happens to repeat a popular belief which I think is slightly off):

Two-Face hasn’t always been such a vital part of Batman’s dark cabal of enemies. In fact, Harvey Dent was almost entirely absent from DC Comics for over a decade. Following its introduction in 1942 Detective comics #66, the character only appeared a handful of times in the 1940s and 1950s before disappearing altogether. The creative team didn’t really know what to do with the character once they figured out his gimmick (which was significantly less nuanced than today, as we’ll see later), and so just didn’t. not used. so much. They were also bound by changing trends in the world of comic book publishing, itself inspired by the strict censorship of the Comics Code Authority which controlled the content of all mainstream comedy books. A violent, chaotic, and hideous villain like Two-Face probably wouldn’t have passed the CCA’s checklist of kid-friendly content, and DC was leaning more toward that younger demographic anyway. It’s been dropped in favor of more “kid-friendly” villains, as we assume the Joker is somehow less terrifying to a toddler than a guy with a weird face flipping a coin.

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On the surface, the answer seems to be clear. As this article notes, Two-Face did not appear in a new issue of Batman or Detective Comics between the institution of the Comics Code Authority and the 1971 relaxation of the Comics Code rules.

In fact, Two-Face made his return to the new Batman comics in June 1971it is Batman #234 (by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)…


which happened to be the exact same month that this same creative team released the famous Green Lantern/Green Arrow Drug Trouble (with Speedy revealed as a drug addict), a comic that DC specifically waited to release until the Comics Code changed its rules to allow more leeway on things…



It was around the same time that DC and Marvel were now able to release monster characters that they hadn’t been able to use before. So it seems hard to believe that it’s a total coincidence that the relaxation of the Comics Code led to Two-Face’s return, isn’t it?

I think the answer is that it was NOT a coincidence, true, but at the same time, Two-Face was not banned by the Comics Code. You see, the Comics Code was run by a psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham, who launched an anti-comics crusade in the media even before he published his book, Seduction of the innocent, which REALLY caused an outcry in the public, leading to the US Senate convening a subcommittee to review the content of comic books that have gone really bad for the comics industry, because they don’t really didn’t have a particularly good argument for why. was acceptable for children to read comic books with covers depicting decapitated women.


However, to quote me from the Catwoman piece, here’s where it gets tricky. The comic book code and Seduction of the innocent were too separate things. Seduction of the innocent had a lot of themes and it just got enough public attention for the Senate to get involved and the comic companies to react with the introduction of the Comic Book Code. In other words, a lot of the things Wertham complained about couldn’t be dealt with by the Comics Code, because DC was BASICLY using its own form of the Comics Code for YEARS by the time the Comics Code the comic came into effect. As Stan Lee once pointed out, when he hated Wertham, the Comics Code itself wasn’t a burden on Marvel (then Atlas) because the comics were already held to the same basic standards as the Comics Code ANYways. The Comics Code was much more a “fuck off” for EC Comics (the company with the decapitated head on the cover) than it was for DC or Marvel/Atlas.


So it seems unlikely that DC was even particularly concerned about the Comics Code itself. They feared that the government would interfere in their affairs, and they feared that public opinion would be driven by Wertham.

Therefore, it was DC itself that decided Two-Face was probably a bit too much, not the Comics Code. How do we know? Because Two-Face DID appeared at the time of the Comics Code! But not in new appearances in Batman titles, that’s all.

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The 1960s was a great time for reprints (because it was cheap for publishers and readers didn’t have access to back issues like they do today) and DC made a lot of giant filled comics of reprints, including one that reprinted Two -Face’s Origins and the Comics Code DID apply to those reprints and of course, as I noted in a caption many years ago, when DC reprinted the origin of Two-Face II (from 1951 Batman #68, by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, either Sheldon Moldoff or Lew Schwarz as ghost artist for all but the Batman characters and Robin and Charles Paris on inks) in 1962, the Comics Code required them to change the scene where Paul Sloane (an actor playing Harvey Dent) is acid struck and becomes the second Two-Face…



with a new version of the scene where a light explodes instead…


And, by the way, even the article that I quoted had an additional element where it was written: “He made a brief and notable appearance in 1968. The best in the world #173, the Superman-Batman team-up book, where the caped crusader tricked him into thinking he was his most feared enemy, due to his unpredictability.

Two-Face isn’t technically IN the comic (by Jim Shooter, Curt Swan, and George Klein), but rather, Batman disguises himself as Two-Face in the issue and we see a statue of Two-Face in the issue) , but whatever , pretty close…


Still, the gist is that Two-Face DID make appearances in the Comics Code (just changed to reflect the Comics Code), so it obviously wasn’t banned by the Comics Code, rather, DC was making decisions by himself to avoid the villain. That said, when the Comics Code relaxed, it seems likely to me that when DC and Marvel were rushing into now Code-approved monster comics, it WAS an influence on Two-Face’s reappearance and that was DEFINITELY the reason Neal Adams could draw Harvey Dent having his face full of acid in a Code-approved book…



Boy, Adams draws one hell of a Two-Face, right?

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