"The Eye of the Beholder": After Batman's first year as a vigilante, Gotham City is plagued by a serial killer "specializing" in the elderly. The so-called "Senior Slasher" is eventually identified as surgeon Rudolph Klemper, who - despite the
- "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."
- — Two-Face
Synopsis for "The Eye of the Beholder"
After Batman's first year as a vigilante, Gotham City is plagued by a serial killer "specializing" in the elderly. The so-called "Senior Slasher" is eventually identified as surgeon Rudolph Klemper, who - despite the best efforts of Batman, Captain James Gordon, and District Attorney Harvey Dent - acquits himself at trial. This deeply unsettles Dent, especially when Klemper explains the murders were directed by "Little Rudy" - a split personality which allows him to disassociate all guilt and maintain perfect composure against any interrogation. Shortly after his acquittal, Klemper is killed by an unexplained explosion inside his own house.
Several days later, Batman, Gordon, and Dent codify their alliance and agree to improve their information network, so Batman's many apprehensions can better navigate the justice system. This alliance quickly bears fruit, even allowing the trio to arrest mob kingpin Vincent Moroni. But despite these successes, Batman grows more and more suspicious of Dent's mental state, especially when Dent begins to suggest that they plant evidence and kill suspects.
In truth, Dent possesses a split personality of his own, born from a childhood "game" where his father would flip a coin to decide his beatings; to cope with the abuse, this personality was violently amoral, believing the "game" rigged from the start. Only as an adult has Dent seen the coin for himself, and found it a novelty item with identical sides - a way for the elder Dent to always justify the beatings. Vindicated by this, his alternate personality now plagues his dreams on a near-nightly basis; nevertheless, Dent insists on carrying the coin as a good-luck charm, believing himself stronger than his trauma.
Meanwhile, Moroni and treacherous Assistant D.A. Adrian Fields attempt to delay Moroni's trial, to no avail; even a hitman proves useless when Dent's alternate personality takes over and savagely beats him. 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 pursues Dent to the welfare motel where the elder Dent now 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."
Appearing in "The Eye of the Beholder"
- Dr. Rudolph Klemper (Only appearance; dies)
- Adrian Fields (Dies)
- Vincent Moroni (Dies)
- "Mad Dog" Pike (Single appearance)
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Christopher Dent
- Barbara Gordon
- Gotham City Police Department
- Officer Smith (Single appearance)
- Officer Roger (Single appearance)
- Officer Marshall (Single appearance)
- MacMillian (Single appearance)
- Christopher (Single appearance)
- This story is reprinted in the following:
- This story served as the first retelling of Two-Face's origin in the Post-Crisis continuity. However, most of these events have been overwritten by the limited series Batman: The Long Halloween, which was loosely based on this story. Among the most notable differences in the stories are:
- Adrian Fields and Vincent Moroni were given new names and slightly different fates in the new story.
- Harvey Dent's traumatic childhood was not used again and therefore, it's unclear if it remains canon.
- This story also refers to Harvey Dent's wife as Gilda Dent and Grace Dent, simultaneously. The name Gilda is the same name given to the character since the very first appearance in the Detective Comics #66. Grace is the name given to the character in the "Who's Who" entries of Detective Comics Annual #2.
- Writer Andrew Helfer originally provided an in-depth depiction of how Dr. Klemper's house had been rigged to explode. This was truncated in the final version of the story, over concerns that readers would attempt to imitate it in real life.
- The names of Police Officers Rogers and Marshall are most likely a homage to Bronze Age Batman artist Marshall Rogers.
- Two-Face Recommended Reading