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Batman Annual Vol 1 14

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"The Eye of the Beholder": After Batman's first year as a vigilante, Gotham is plagued by a serial killer who specifically targets senior citizens. The "Senior Slasher" is eventually identified as a deranged surgeon named Rudolph Klemper, but despite the best efforts of Batm


Quote1 "Why are we doing this? Because we are now two faces. One good, the other bad. Half-and-half. Fifty fifty. Opposite and equal. And we're deadlocked. When that happens... we let the coin decide." Quote2
-- Harvey Dent (New Earth)



Appearing in "The Eye of the Beholder"

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Synopsis for "The Eye of the Beholder"

After Batman's first year as a vigilante, Gotham is plagued by a serial killer who specifically targets senior citizens. The "Senior Slasher" is eventually identified as a deranged surgeon named Rudolph Klemper, but despite the best efforts of Batman, Captain James Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Klemper is able to win a verdict of "not guilty" at his trial. The trial's outcome takes a heavy toll on Dent, especially when Klemper reveals his "secret": the murders were committed by a split personality of his named "Little Rudy", which allowed him to totally disassociate from them and maintain an air of innocence. Shortly after his acquittal, Klemper is killed by an unexplained explosion inside his own house.

Several days later, Batman, Gordon, and Dent agree to formalize their alliance and improve their information-sharing, so the justice system will actually be able to convict the criminals that Batman brings in. This alliance quickly bears fruit, even allowing the trio to arrest major mob kingpin Vincent Moroni. But despite these successes, Batman grows more and more suspicious of Dent's mental state, especially when Dent begins to seriously suggest that they plant evidence inside the homes of known criminals.

Unbeknownst to Batman, Dent possesses a split personality of his own, born from the childhood abuse he'd suffered from his alcoholic father: a "game" where the elder Dent would flip a coin to decide whether he would beat young Harvey. Only recently did Dent discover that the coin was the same on both sides - a novelty "two-headed" silver dollar that would ensure the elder Dent never "lost". Due to the abuse, Dent's alternate personality was violently dismissive of all rules, believing there was no choice to any man-made system; the discovery has only fed its strength, causing Dent to be plagued by nightmares. Despite this, Dent insists on carrying the coin as a good-luck charm, believing himself strong enough to overcome his traumatic memories.

Meanwhile, Moroni and treacherous Assistant D.A. Adrian Fields attempt to delay Moroni's upcoming trial, but to no avail; even a hitman sent after Dent is beaten senseless by Dent's alternate personality. Resigned to the trial and probable conviction, Moroni asks one last favor of Fields: that some weapon be smuggled into the courtroom so Moroni can take personal revenge. On the day of the trial, Fields smuggles a bottle of acid to Moroni, who uses it to horrifically scar Dent during cross-examination; immediately after, Moroni is shot and killed by the bailiffs.

While Dent recovers from his injuries in the hospital, his wife Gilda brings him the silver dollar as a sign of comfort and luck. Unfortunately, the coin only inspires Dent to finally give free rein to his lawless, no-choice personality - but only at the "right time": when the coin's marred face (produced by Moroni's acid) comes up during a flip. After a secret visit from Batman that confirms Fields had given the acid to Moroni, Dent escapes from the hospital and assaults Fields in his own home. Despite intervention from Batman and offers of information on Gotham's criminals (enough to "control half the underworld") from Fields, Dent kills Fields and flees, leaving Batman badly injured.

After recovering and learning of Dent's past from Gordon and Gilda, Batman tracks Dent to the welfare motel where the elder Dent currently lives. There, Dent - now calling himself "Two-Face" - has resurrected their old game: if the coin comes clean-side up, his father lives; if it comes scarred-side up, he dies. When the coin comes clean-side up, Dent peacefully surrenders to Batman, and is taken to Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Several months later, Arkham's doctors use plastic surgery to repair Dent's scars as part of Dent's therapy. The process initially appears to be a success, and Dent himself begins to hope for a normal life again. Without warning, however, Dent's alternate personality resurfaces and forces him to re-open the scars, reminding him that they have "no choice. No choice at all."



Notes

Parts of this story were incorporated into, and other parts overwritten by, the limited series Batman: The Long Halloween. Most notably, both Adrian Fields and Vincent Moroni were given new names and slightly different fates by the latter story.

Trivia

  • Writer Andrew Helfer originally scripted an entire scene giving an in-depth description of how Harvey Dent rigged Dr. Klemper's house to explode. This scene was cut from the final version of the story, as the editor feared that readers would use the scene for instructions on creating homemade explosives.



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