Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How Does Two-Face Fund His Crime Sprees?

Reprinted from The Underground #1 by Chris Yost and Pablo RaimondiAnyone ever wonder how Two-Face gets funding for his schemes? With other Batman villains, it's not so much of a problem. The Penguin, for instance, runs a "legitimate" restaurant/night club, from which he earns most of the resources he needs to continue funding criminal activity in Gotham City. The Riddler is now a semi-legitimate private detective. Villains like Killer Croc don't need to worry about money, as the extent of his rampage through the city involves roaring and smashing. Then there's Poison Ivy and Harley, who occasionally rob a bank and go on shopping sprees, but spend the majority of their time housed in Akrham Asylum. The Joker is a tricky one, since he always seem to have an army of henchmen, but I attribute this more to the crippling fear throughout the underworld of refusing to partake in any scheme which the Joker might concoct.

That leaves us with Two-Face. Former District Attorney and golden boy of Gotham, Harvey Dent, took a tragic turn towards villainy when Boss Maroni threw acid on his face, shattering him both physically and mentally. Since then, Two-Face has held Gotham at ransom numerous times (though never succeeding thanks to Batman), has hired plenty of henchmen, bought several weapons, hideouts, cars, clothes, etc., and staged elaborate schemes that inevitably involve large sums of money in order to capture Batman. This begs the question: Where does he get this money from?

One might argue that Two-Face has enough saved up from his time as District Attorney, that he hasn't needed an additional source of income. But consider this: surely the government would have seized whatever assets he owned once he escaped from Arkham for the billionth time. Further, his pay as DA of Gotham City was likely meager, considering that public prosecutors do not get paid that much. Take a look at this image, reprinted from Payscale.

Median District Attorney Salary, Updated May 3, 2009, reprinted from Payscale.



Clearly, Harvey was a young gun: he had just been a DA for a few years before his accident. Conservatively, I will say that he served as DA for 1-4 years. That means his average annual salary was approximately $57,000 a year. And this is by 2008 standards. Recall that by modern continuity, his accident occurred in 1996. All of this means that Two-Face cannot possibly have enough money saved up to conduct his elaborate schemes against Gotham City and Batman.

Here's another theory: perhaps Two-Face has all his money from bank robberies or underground drug trafficking, criminal activity, etc. This could be true, but we happen to know that the Batman is pretty good at rooting all of these mechanisms out. And I do not think that Two-Face has pulled off enough successful robberies to sustain him throughout the years.

So what's left? We know he does not launder money through a business as the Penguin does. We can assume he does not have money saved up and that he has not scored big enough through crime to sustain his operations for over a decade. And now post-RIP, Two-Face is in a gang war against the Penguin, requiring even more resources to keep up.

The only theory I have is that perhaps he has a private investor; someone deep in the underworld of Gotham benefits politically or financially from Two-Face's successes. I used to think this person was the Penguin, but being that they are now at war with one another, this is unlikely.

Any thoughts from the readers?

52 comments:

meghan. said...

clearly, two-face is a pimp. he collects 60% even when he's behind bars.

Ben said...

60%?!?! Meghan, you aren't beating you Nick enough. Keep that pimp hand strong and hold out for 70%.

Sean said...

Nick, here's a more relevant payscale list - for NYC. http://nymag.com/guides/salary/14497/index1.html

Note that a first-year ADA makes 50,000, and Dent was actually district attorney - the analog would be Robert Morgenthau, who makes $150,000 a year.

However, I'm not convinced that salary is what has gotten Dent by for all these years. More likely would probably be more "petty" criminal activity, that isn't quite interesting enough to make it to the comic book pages:

1) Gotham city's notorious problem with corruption: Dent certainly could have embezzled or extorted plenty of money from the criminal underworld during his time or at the point where he decided to go bad.

2) Along these lines, it strikes me that Joker, Two-face, and other "big kahuna" villains would need to have strong networks in the criminal underworld to survive with the likes of Salvatore Maroni, i.e. "human" mafioso. I presume that folks like Two-Face and Joker have their own families (or at least shifting groups of loyal subjects), with which they can extract money via typical gangster means like extortion and racketeering.

Gotham seems to be a pretty corrupt city, and if it's as big as Manhattan, there's tons of room for many crime families to exist simultaneously and send money/resources to the top. I'd sooner believe this is the source of income for all of the big shots than any day jobs they keep/have kept.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if with his legal skills Harvey is an arbiter or advocate of some sort in the criminal community. The Gotham Bar Association has almost certainly revoked his law license, but the Gotham Underworld bar is likely more forgiving of offenses ...

Gerald Fnord said...

Their current feuding does not preclude some past support; it brings to mind something a friend-of-a-friend once said of someone:
      Why does he hate me so?; I've never
      done anything for him.

J. L. Bell said...

He's slowly selling off the collection of rare coins he inherited from his wife.

Valla said...

Considering that District Attorney is a political position and that like any political race, a lot of money needs to be raised in order to win election. As Dent was sitting as DA, he would have a war chest being built in preparation for his next campaign. (DA is also often a launching pad toward higher office, requiring even more money).

Likely Dent would still have access to these funds even after going rogue. While holding the city hostage might not be the best campaign strategy, it is great for name recognition! A true accounting of the funds would be required, but the Federal Election Commission is really slow in acting, and typically hesitates when it believes it might effect the outcome of a race...

So vote Dent!

Also as a perk, all this money is tax free!

John Seavey said...

I've assumed for a long time now that Dent, along with many other Gotham City villains, is being bankrolled by Bruce Wayne. After all, what good is it to spend millions of dollars on bat-shaped shuriken, cars, planes, grappling-hook launchers, kevlar costumes, motorcycles, et cetera, if you don't have any criminals to beat up?

Clearly, he funds the criminals as Bruce Wayne, then beats them up as Batman. (This also explains why Batman can take such slim clues and always immediately draw the proper conclusions from them. As a backer of most of the criminal enterprises in the city, he knows who's doing what when.)

Scipio said...

Blackmail and corruption are the mainstays, because those are crimes that blur the lines of good and evil.

Oh, and selling stolen chewing gum shipments on the black market.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he sued Boss Maroni for the attack and received a large award. Is there enough time for a lawsuit, in the current continuity?

doktorholocaust said...

I was under the impression that two-face inherited a good portion of his wealth. as Harvey Dent, he seemed to move in the same social circles as Bruce Wayne, and while he may not have inherited as much, he supplements it with profits from street-crimes and whatever he can loot from criminal rivals like Penguin and Joker.

Goldbug said...

First I would like to say that I'm thrilled I found your blog lol. Thrilled. Second, I'm more inclined to think that Two-face funds his crime sprees through private investors. Possibly before the government could seize his assets he placed is funds in an off-shore account and put half in T-bills lol. OR maybe he did some house-flipping during the housing bubble.

Eric said...

Valla was right to point out that District Attorney is a political position. Though, campaign finance regulations would likely prevent him from retaining full access to a political war chest post-election (if we're to assume Gotham is in New York State and its legal codes apply).

What seems more probable is that Two-Face's original seed money comes from time as a private attorney, family money, or connections. The latter two explain themselves, so I won't bother.

To become D.A. at an extremely young age (as young as 26 some sources cite) he would have likely come out of a prestigious law school at the top of his class. He'd likely also have gotten some substantial scholarships minimizing his post-graduate debts if he were that kind of blazing talent.

The offers from big Gotham City law firms for this golden boy would likely have be substantial (starting salaries beginning in six figures). It would be fair to say that if he worked a couple years (I'm assuming that he likely skipped several grades in this scenario and graduated from law school around the age of 19) he could have easily amassed something close to half a million dollars after taxes before becoming DA. Supposing his expenses were very frugal, he could have retained as much as eighty percent of this (his fancy dinners and lifestyle were probably charged to a company card).

Now assuming 2% annual interest (very conservative)of just that total money----not even compounding----he's got about 8,000 dollars to play with a year for crime sprees without ever touching the original capital.

If he rents his equipment and welches after arrest, offers to pay his thugs a percentage of the take rather than a flat salary (his reputation as a supervillain and former D.A. would likely draw curious/money-hungry hires), and then performs only one crime spree or so a year (he spends most of the year in Arkham, remember) I'd say he's in pretty good business for a blaze of with a low upfront capital investment of $8,000. He probably couldn’t sustain an offensive for more than a couple days, but any more than that is less than likely with Batman hounding his ass.

The only question we have left in this scenario is: how long would this last for Two-Face? There's only so much reneging he can do before folks wise-up and view him as a risky investment.

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