Scott Snyder told Newsarama that he was bringing back a character from "obscurity" in this week's All-Star Batman #3, and today the character has been revealed - Harold Allnut.
According to Snyder, Allnut represents the "other side of the coin" from all the villains who are chasing Batman in order to free Two-Face.
"One of the reasons I wanted to use the character," Snyder told Newsarama, "is that I wanted to give examples [of characters] throughout the story who, in their private lives, are good - and have no reason to be good. But they're people who were touchstones in Batman's life as well."
Harold Allnut died in the post-Crisis "Hush" storyline of Batman by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, having been manipulated into helping Hush, but later trying to warn Batman and getting killed by the villain as a result.
The character, who was mute and born with Kyphosis, was introduced in 1989 as a pawn of the Penguin, but he similarly turned on that villain to help Batman. He became one of Batman's allies, and he was often utilized by writers in the post-Crisis continuity as an engineer that helped Batman build and maintain his high-tech gadgets, even living within the Batcave for some time.
The return of the character in today's All-Star Batman #3 has him living on a walnut farm, helping Batman and Duke Thomas after a fight leaves Harvey Dent's face injured. Harold works on Harvey's injuries and is described in the comic book's captions as "genius inventor, mute, family." Batman introduces Duke to Harold by saying, "He's made equipment for me for years. The old aqueduct pipeline allows him to ship material downriver."
Most characters in the All-Star Batman story have turned on Bruce because of Harvey's threat to expose their secrets - even Alfred Pennyworth betrayed him in issue #1. But in issue #3, Harold acknowledges (via sign language) that he is aware of Harvey's threats, but appears to be loyal to Batman, thus fulfilling Snyder's aforementioned "example" of a character who is good.
All-Star Batman not only returned Harold Allnut to continuity as part of the Bat-Family, but established that as youths Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne were both sent to a "home" for the sumer - an Arkham estate that had been turned into a home for "struggling children." The two boys became friends for just that summer.
No names were used at the home (because, the text says, "no guilt, no stigma"), so Harvey and Bruce didn't recognize each other immediately when they met years later as adults. Now, however, as part of the story in All-Star Batman, Batman is trying to take Harvey back to that home in order to give him a "cure," while Two-Face is trying to stop him.
The story continues in All-Star Batman #4, due out November 9.