Gilda Dent is a fictional character who has appeared in Batman comic books since Detective Comics #66 (August 1942), alongside her fiancée Harvey Dent (soon to be the criminal mastermind Two-Face) . She has since been a recurring character throughout Batman stories with Two-Face.
In her first appearance, Gilda Dent was the fiancée of Harvey Kent (later renamed Dent), the brilliant and handsome district attorney of Gotham City. When acid was thrown into Harvey's face by gangster Boss Moroni, his fragile mind snapped. Because Gilda was a sculptor, Harvey believed that Gilda worshipped beauty and that she, nor anyone else, could ever love or accept so "hideous" a monster as he. She created a bust of Harvey, which he smashed with a mallet to symbolize his new self. As Two-Face began a dual career of crime and Robin Hood-style philanthropy, he nonetheless longed passionately for Gilda, and she for him.
In Detective Comics # 80 (1943), she was in the audience when Two-Face and his gang tried to rob a classical concert. Gilda followed Two-Face to his hideout, just as Batman and Robin burst in. When Two-Face, having the drop on the caped crusader, pulled his gun and fired upon his former ally, Gilda leapt in front of the bullet. Pleading to Harvey that she had to make him "understand… before it was too late…", she passed out, shocking Two-Face into thinking he killed her. He turned himself in, realizing that he'd been a "blind fool," and Gilda was sent to the hospital.
When Harvey learned from that doctors that "she doesn't seem to want to live! She keeps saying over and over, Kent doesn't love me enough! Kent doesn't love me!", he vowed to give up his life of crime for good. After a final tussle with the last of Two-Face's men, Harvey underwent plastic surgery and was released from jail after one year. His face and sanity restored, Harvey Kent promised to finally marry Gilda.
However, Harvey's sanity was short-lived. When he tried to intercept a group of bank robbers, he was caught in an explosion of dynamite that undid the plastic surgery, dooming him to be "Two-Face… FOREVER!"
Gilda did not return to comics again until the late 70's in Teen Titans #48 (June 1977), page 2, panel 2 where Harlequin (Duela Dent) claimed to be her daughter, conceived apparently during the brief period seen in Batman #234 where Harvey Dent was cured of being Two-Face. After Dent's reversion to Two-Face (also seen in flashback in Batman #234), Gilda left Dent. Gilda Dent is seen carrying baby Duela in one hand and a suitcase in the other. DC later published a story where Two-Face (now known as Harvey Dent) once again tried to get plastic surgery so he could have a normal life with her. When this surgery failed, Two-Face's madness escalated, and he eventually trapped Batman inside an abandoned courthouse. However, before he could pull the trigger, Gilda interceded.
Gilda did not reappear until Secret Origins Special # 1, where she (here named Grace) appears on a TV talk show focusing on Gotham's villains. She talks about a time when one of the criminals Harvey put away as D.A. returned for revenge by taking Grace hostage. Two-Face eventually rescued her, beating the ex-con to the point of death, but holding off because Grace demanded he stop. She tried once again to appeal to his "good" side, but failed. At the end of the interview, she professed her belief that, one day, Harvey would return to her.
Gilda returns in Batman: Two-Face Strikes Twice. Here, she finds herself at odds with her now-ex-husband, as he believes their marriage failed because he was unable to give her children. She later marries Paul Janus, a reference to the Roman god of doors who had two faces, one facing forward, the other backward. Two-Face attempts to frame Janus as a criminal by kidnapping him and replacing him with a stand-in, whom Two-Face "disfigures" with makeup to make it look as if Janus has gone insane just as Two-Face had. Two-Face is eventually caught by Batman and sent away, and Gilda and Janus reunite. Years later, Gilda gives birth to twins, prompting Two-Face to escape once more and take the twins hostage, as he had erroneously believes them to be conceived by Janus using an experimental fertility drug. The end of the book reveals a surprise twist; Batman learns from Gilda that Janus is not the father of Gilda's twins - Dent is. Some of his sperm had been frozen after a death threat had been made against him, and she used some of it to get pregnant. Batman uses this information to convince Dent to free the twins and turn himself in.
In Superman Family #211, Harvey Kent (causing confusion with the name of Clark Kent) and Gilda attend the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (the now-retired Catwoman). It is presumed that this version of Harvey and Gilda lived happily ever after. This was Gilda's last appearance before the 1985 reboot of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Her role in Harvey's past was updated in what some consider the definitive Two-Face origin: Batman Annual # 14 (1990), a story called "Eye of the Beholder." In this story, it's revealed that Harvey's father was an abusive alcoholic who would nightly play a game with his young son: "I'll flip a coin: if it's heads, I beat you. Tails, I don't." Harvey spent a lifetime burying his rage and resentment, only to discover that the coin was two-headed all along. She clearly shared his resentment, but without the love he felt that was tearing him apart. She scoffed that after a lifetime of abuse and cruelty, the only thing he ever gave Harvey was a coin.
Gilda tried to calm Harvey down as his mental state deteriorated. She pleaded after him when, upon awakening from a nightmare, he raced out of their bed in the middle of the night and went to his office, "where it's safe." After the acid hit his face, Gilda visited Harvey in the hospital to try and give him back the coin. It was his in pocket during the trial, and was also hit by some acid, scarring one side of the coin. The last we see of Gilda in this story is right after Two-Face's murder of Adrian Fields, tearfully explaing Harvey's childhood abuse to Batman.
Gilda has a larger role and story arc in The Long Halloween, a maxi-series that is part of Two-Face's origin in Batman Annual #14. During the nearly year-long story of the Long Halloween, a serial killer called Holiday began murdering prominent gangsters. Gilda is shown struggling with Harvey on their marriage; she wants to settle down and conceive a child while he is persistent on capturing Holiday. In a private monologue at the end, Gilda revealed that she was the original Holiday killer, having committed all of the murders up until New Year's Eve. Gilda indicates that Harvey attempted to assassinate Alberto Falcone on New Year's Eve, taking her place, and that he was the one responsible for the crimes from that point on. This confession is ambiguous, since Alberto did not die on New Year's and confessed to all the Holiday murders upon his capture. Considering that Gilda was in the hospital at the time of the first killings, it is unclear where she would have obtained a gun and how she could have gotten to her targets without getting caught.
Gilda destroyed the evidence of her crimes and left Gotham City for parts unknown. Due to the success of The Long Halloween, the events of the story have generally been accepted into continuity as the "official" year one/year two story, given that Zero Hour erased the events of Batman: Year Two and rendered them non-canonical. In Batman: Dark Victory, the Calendar Man mentions that the real Holiday could have been female, to which an enraged Two-Face cuts him off. In the "One Year Later" story arc Batman: Face the Face, Harvey mentions Gilda when recalling his past life, but the Two-Face side of his mentality states "No, Harvey. She's gone now," without explaining what that means.
Appearances in other media
Gilda/Grace appeared in Batman: The Animated Series as Grace Lamont, fiancée to D.A. Harvey Dent. Alongside Harvey's best friend Bruce Wayne, she is helpless to stand by and watch as Harvey quickly degenerates into Two-Face. As he scours the underworld, trying to wipe out the empire of gangster Rupert Thorne, Thorne plots to use Grace against Two-Face. A couple of Thorne's men disguise themselves as police officers and offer Grace a handheld tracking device, in case Two-Face ever approaches her. Two-Face eventually does, bringing her to his lair and wearing a hood to cover his scars. She nearly succeeds in bringing back out the good in Harvey, when Thorne's men show up, revealing that Grace inadvertently betrayed Harvey.
Grace returned to animated continuity in the comic series The Adventures of Batman and Robin issues # 1 and # 2, where The Joker fooled Two-Face into thinking that Grace and Bruce were having an affair. Two-Face abducted her and tried to kill Dick Grayson, but was ultimately thwarted when Grace jabbed the jagged edge of the scarred coin into the deformed side of his face. The story ended with the implication that any relationship Harvey and Grace had was now damaged beyond repair.
Grace appears again in The Adventures of Batman and Robin issue #22 where Two-Face's life is thrown into chaos when an unplanned breakout from prison makes him lose his coin.