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Two Faces, One Perfect Villain

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DC's Batman: Jekyll & Hyde, a six-issue mini series debuting on April 20, explores the dual nature of the psyche of one of the Dark Knight's premier rogues -- Two-Face. Written by Paul Jenkins and art nicely split between Jae Lee and Sean Philips who each handle three issues, look for the mini to explore both Harvey Dent's past and present, wrapped up in a mystery Batman is hard-pressed to solve.

According to Jenkins, who likes the character a lot, Two-Face is the perfect villain for Batman, so, naturally, the writer is having a blast scripting the upcoming mini series.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Batman: Jekyll & Hyde is all about Two-Face. Why did you decide to write a story focusing on one of Batman's prime villains?

PAUL JENKINS: To me, Two-Face is the perfect villain for Batman - hell, he is Batman! It's just that the two of them have taken separate paths in life. But you can see that they are each dominated by a darker side. Two-Face seems to be the only one willing to admit it though.

BF: What kind of Two-Face will we see? What does the character stand for in your opinion?  

PJ: Well, we are going to learn a big secret about him - that's one selling point for fans, I guess. But more importantly, we're going to examine why he is the ultimate slave to his duality. He wears both Jekyll and Hyde on his face - in a way, he represents truth, albeit an ugly truth.

BF: The mini series tells the story of Two-Face's past and present. Does that mean that you'll start somewhere in the past and then move gradually to the present or that the story is set in the present day with flashbacks looking at the character's history?

PJ: It's set in the present, although honestly, I have no idea if it is within current continuity. Jim Gordon is still a police captain, so I guess not. I have always been a little suspicious of the fact that Two-Face became the way he did just because someone splashed acid in his face. We're going to explore why Two-Face was probably always bubbling under the surface and we'll do that by showing events from Harvey's past. 

BF: Is the tale strictly told from Two-Face's perspective?

PJ: No. It's a detective story with a mystery that Batman has to solve while Two-Face is running around being a bastard.

BF: Given that the mini series has "Batman" in its title, what exactly is the role of the Dark Knight?

PJ: He's trying to solve a series of gruesome crimes that have no apparent explanation: ordinary people with no history of any mental problems are suddenly going off the deep end and killing people. It's as if these people have switched off their good side. Two-Face is responsible… and he has a good reason for doing it.

BF: Since you'll be playing with Two-Face's balancing act between rationality and irrationality, is that a theme you'll be applying to Batman's inner conflicts as well?

PJ: You hit the nail on the head. As I said, Batman and Two-Face are pretty similar. Maybe Batman learns something here as well as Two-Face.

BF: Aside from someone trying to cope with his inner demons every day, what else does the character of Batman represent to you?

PJ: Batman is one of the greatest tragic characters in modern literature, and I don't really give a toss if people say he cannot be simply because he is a comic character. He witnessed the death of his parents and has spent all these years trying to fix it. He's never going to fix it though.

BF: Artwork on the story is delivered by Jae Lee in issues #1-3, with Sean Phillips taking over for the final three issues. Will the pacing of the story change at the same time as the art, or won't readers notice much of a difference aside from the art?  

PJ: Well, they each have a unique style. But putting the book into the hands of each is a pretty neat way of creating a story about duality divided into two halves.

BF: How would you describe the distinctive art-styles of Jae and Sean respectively?  

PJ: Fucking genius. Sean is better looking but Jae can hum the Star Spangled Banner underwater.

BF: We've touched upon the overall structure of the story already. Is there anything you're willing to give away as to what else we can expect?

PJ: Just look for a big secret revealed. I think you'll be pleased with what we are saying.

Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge

BF: Should the opportunity present itself, would you jump at the chance to write a mini series on one of the other (major) members of Batman's rogues gallery? If so, who would you prefer to tackle?

PJ: All of them. I love Batman. There's a lot that can be said with that guy. But it would have to wait a while since I am out of my mind with work.

- Frederik Hautain

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