Gilda first appeared alongside Harvey Kent (later renamed Dent, to avoid confusion with Clark Kent in Detective Comics #66 (1942). She was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger to be the saintly love interest for the tragic villain, and ultimately proved to be the focal point for his eventual redemption.
Gilda Gold was the fiancée of the young and handsome Harvey Kent, Gotham City's crusading District Attorney. After Harvey's face was scarred with acid by Vincent "Boss" Moroni, he became convinced that he would be shunned not only by society, but Gilda as well. She was a sculptor, and therefore, she worshipped beauty. When Gilda recoiled in horror at the sight of Harvey's face, he took this as validation of his fear, and proceeded to desecrate a bust of himself which she had sculpted in his honor. Shortly after that, he became the criminal known as Two-Face, and embarked on a life of crime, never realizing that Gilda still loved him regardless.
Over time, Harvey began to long for his better life with Gilda, and used make-up to make himself look like he had plastic surgery. He reunited with Gilda, who professed her love for him, but urged him to give up the life of crime. He was on the cusp of agreeing when the candle from their romantic dinner began to melt the wax makeup, revealing the true hideousness beneath, indicating to Gilda that Harvey enjoyed his criminal life too much to give it up entirely. When Batman intervened, the paranoid Two-Face falsely assumed that Gilda had betrayed him, and escaped cursing her name.
In the grand finale of the Harvey Kent trilogy (Detective Comics #80, from 1943) Gilda decides to follow Harvey in one last-ditch effort to save her beloved, using a purple cloak to conceal her identity. When Two-Face decided to finally shoot Batman once and for all, Gilda leaps in front of the caped crusader, taking the bullet. The horror of what he did destroys the monster of Two-Face, bringing the noble Harvey Kent back to the surface. Shortly thereafter, Harvey Kent turned himself in, and received a commuted sentence for assisting Batman in apprehending the last of Two-Face's goons. He successfully underwent plastic surgery, and once he was released a year later, the two were finally married.
In the alternate reality of Earth-Two, Harvey and Gilda Kent remained married for the rest of their lives, and were last seen at Batman and Catwoman's wedding. In the regular comics continuity, which was dubbed Earth-One, Harvey (after being renamed Harvey Dent) had his plastic surgery destroyed in a freak explosion, and returned to his criminal career as Two-Face in a story which did not feature nor reference Gilda in any way. Later stories would reveal that Harvey and Gilda divorced after he became Two-Face again, but this would never actually be seen in canon.
Through flashbacks, it's revealed that Harvey and Gilda had a child named Duela (who grew up to become the Teen Titan known as the Harlequin), but it's unclear whether she was born before Harvey become Two-Face the first time, or after the freak explosion which undid his plastic surgery. According to Duela, Dent resented Gilda for not giving birth to twins, and thus wanted to kill Duela. (Teen Titans #48)
In modern continuity, Gilda remarried Harvey's former assistant, Dave Stevens. Just as she finally achieved a semblance of stability and happiness, Stevens was murdered. What she never realized was that Dave's killer was none other than "Boss" Maroni, who wanted to hurt Harvey by destroying Gilda's happiness. She soon began a new romance with a man named Carl Ternion, who eventually avenged Stevens' death by "accidentally" killing Maroni in a confrontation.
She soon discovered that "Ternion" was none other than her ex-husband, Harvey, who wanted her to be happy again, and to have a normal life with her once more. Gilda was approached by Batman, who had a plan to both stop and help Harvey before he did any more damage. Batman disguised himself as Maroni, and Gilda pretended to let herself be kidnapped, so that Harvey would follow and try to save her. At the courthouse where Dent suffered his injuries at Maroni's hands, Two-Face finally had Batman in his sights, ready to execute his enemy, when Gilda intervened. She called Harvey out on his use of the coin, and told him that if he killed Batman, coin or not, she would leave him forever. Finally forcing him to choose between the coin or her, Dent broke down and begged for help. After Dent asked her to wait for him, Gilda thanked Batman for his kindness, and their story seemed to end on a hopeful note.
While Two-Face reappeared in later stories, with no reference to these above events, Gilda made no more appearances, nor were there any mentions made of her. She was effectively ignored by continuity.
In Secret Origins Special #1 --the first Two-Face origin set in the rebooted continuity following the Crisis on Infinite Earths (which destroyed Earth-Two in the process)--Gilda was renamed "Grace," a name would be referenced in several stories to come
This story establishes that she and Harvey actually were married before he became Two-Face, and that she still lives in the same house that she moved into with Harvey. This proves to be her downfall when she's attacked by an ex-con seeking revenge on her ex-husband.
Two-Face saved her, and proceeded to beat the ex-con within an inch of his life, but something remarkable happened when Gilda/Grace told Harvey to stop: he did. Without the coin, he obeyed her word. This was proof that Harvey still loved her, but even when she reached out to him, that love wasn't enough to hold back the monster inside. Two-Face fled, but Gilda/Grace remained at their home, faithful in the belief that Harvey would return to her someday.
Gilda's history with Harvey was further updated in Eye of the Beholder, published in Batman Annual #14 Batman: Year One (in which story, Harvey used Gilda as an alibi to prove that he wasn't Batman, as Jim Gordon suspected). She was depicted as being both loving toward and protective of her husband, discouraging him from trying to make peace with his abusive father. When Harvey became Two-Face and went on a rampage, it was Gilda who tearfully informed Batman and Gordon about the horrible truth of Harvey's abuse and childhood manipulation.
Gilda most recent appearance in modern continuity occurred in Batman: Two-Face Strikes Twice , which told stories in retro-style flashback and painted modern style for the present-day events. In the flashback, Gilda planned to marry a fertility doctor named Paul Janus, but their wedding was sabotaged by Two-Face in a twisted show of affection for his ex-wife. While she and Janus were able to properly marry and settle down, the fertility doctor was ironically unable to give Gilda children. Remembering that she and Harvey had his sperm frozen just in case he was killed on the job, Gilda secretly impregnated herself and let Janus believe that he was the father. Nine months later, she gave birth to twins: James and Luke.
Once Two-Face learned this his ex-wife and Janus had given birth to twins, he couldn't resist kidnapping the children for himself and holding them for random. When Dent finally learned that he was the biological father, he surrendered the twins, betrayed his own men, and gave himself up. Janus forgave Gilda for her deceit, and the two were happily reunited.
Batman: The Long Halloween
Gilda's story and character were given a major overhaul in Batman: The Long Halloween, the story for which she is most well-known. Here, she was no longer the strong, brassy character depicted in Secret Origins Annual, but was now depicted as being shy and mousy, very concerned about Harvey's safety and sanity, while dreaming of being able to someday settle down and start a family just like James and Barbara Gordon.
She was greatly injured in an explosion meant to kill both her and Harvey, and spent two months recuperating. She spent November at Gotham Hospital, then was released to go home, where she was told to stay in a wheelchair, despite claiming to be well enough to stand. After the apparent murder of Alberto Falcone, Gilda began to suspect that her husband was the mobster-killer known as "Holiday," and began to worry about Harvey's sanity as he became more and more obsessed with destroying organized crime. She confronted Harvey on the day of the Maroni trial, having found one of the guns used by "Holiday" in their basement workshop. He dismissed her suggestions, saying that it was merely evidence for the trial. Later, Harvey was scarred by acid at the hands of Maroni, and Gilda went to be by his side at the hospital, only to learn that he escaped. She would not learn what happened to Harvey for two months, until he resurfaced as Two-Face, and was subsequently sent to Arkham Asylum.
At the conclusion to The Long Halloween, Gilda was showing burning the hat, coat, and guns of "Holiday" in their basement furnace, while she delivered a monologue to "Harvey" (who was not there to hear it, as she was alone), explaining how she was the first Holiday killer, murdering mobsters so that Harvey would have less work and thus would be able to spend more time at home. She took credit for the first three murders, including the ones on Thanksgiving (where she was already shown recuperating at the hospital) and Christmas. But, for whatever reason, she decided to stop on New Year's Eve, which is--by sheer coincidence--the night that Alberto Falcone decided to fake his own death and make it look like he was the next victim. Not realizing that Alberto wasn't dead, Gilda assumed that Harvey had picked up where she left off, and proceeded to become the new Holiday killer.
Since Alberto was revealed to not only be alive but definitely a killer--since he murdered Sal Maroni as Holiday--Gilda's revelations have been the subject of much controversy. It has never been definitively just which characters were Holiday, or how many Holidays there were. A popular theory among some is that Gilda herself had simply gone insane, and that her monologue at the end was merely the stuff of mad fabrications while she burned Harvey's courtroom evidence of the Holiday killer.
In Daredevil: Yellow, a story set in the early days of the Marvel hero's career, Loeb and Sale featured a minor character named "Grace," whose backstory and physical depiction matched Gilda, making this an uncredited and unofficial cameo.
New Earth (After Infinite Crisis)
While Gilda has not actually appeared since The Long Halloween, she's still in canon, after having been mentioned in Batman: Face the Face, set during One Year Later. In a conversation with his dark side, Harvey mentioned that Gilda was always there for him, but Two-Face says "She's gone now." Whether this indicates that she is dead, or simply out of his life forever, is not made clear. In the next retelling of Harvey's origin, Two-Face: Year One, Gilda is ignored entirely, indicating that Harvey was never married and thus further complicating the possible identities of Holiday.
Gilda returned to current continuity in the Batman storyline Pieces, written by Tony Daniel, who seemed to be building solely upon the events of The Long Halloween rather than any other previous canon. According to the Riddler, she had faked her death (apparently she was to have died at some point of unexplained causes) and was institutionalized following the events of TLH, where she met Mario Falcone, who suffered a similar breakdown following the events of Dark Victory. After getting involved upon their release, Falcone kept Gilda like a prisoner, and she conspired with the Riddler to steal Two-Face's coin and entice him to rescue her. Knowing that Falcone was on Dent's tail, Gilda faked Harvey's death by seeming to shoot him point blank. When they were finally reunited, she explained how much she missed him, and that she now believed in Two-Face as well as Harvey Dent.
Feeling betrayed and manipulated, he was about to kill her but hesitated, only to be stopped by Batman. To save Harvey, she shot Batman with a .22, knocking him out for them both to escape. Her ultimate fate remains unknown, and Dick Grayson even expressed doubt that she was in fact the real Gilda Dent.
The New 52
Following events of DC Comics' 2011 Flashpoint event, Gilda's story is very different. In this continuity, Gilda was killed several years ago by a Gotham City crime Boss called Erin McKillen. She was stabbed to death by Erin, who also attacked Gilda's husband Harvey Dent, burning his face with acid. It's pretty safe to assume that the two events pushed Harvey's psyche to split, creating his alter ego, Two-Face.
At this stage little else is known about Gilda's life, but after her death, Erin McKillen went into hiding, presumably in part at least, to hide from a deranged Two-Face.
Batman Newspaper Comic Strip (1989-1991)
On the alternate reality of Earth-1289, Gilda is renamed Alice. Her husband, D.A. Harvey Dent, resented Batman for being a vigilante, and she had to increasingly deal with her husband’s inner conflict. At one point, the Penguin took Alice hostage, but she was smarter than Cobblepot gave her credit, and worked with Batman to defeat the villain. She had to later convince her husband that Batman acted to save her life, not further endanger it, and that Harvey needn't have felt helpless to save her.Alice became good friends with Harvey’s best friend, Bruce Wayne. When Wayne suffered injuries from a “polo accident,” Alice visited Bruce on her own, offering company, books, and support. Bruce gave her a silver coin to give to Harvey as a birthday present, which Harvey loved and made his lucky charm.
She became increasingly concerned for Harvey, who entertained ideas of bending his own ethics and started to lose his introspective nature. But even when Dent attempted to resign, Alice and Bruce talked him out of it, insisting that he not abandon the job he loves. However, it only got worse, and Harvey became harder, more obsessed. When Dent had the Joker on trial, she brought her concerns to Bruce Wayne, who dismissed them as on-the-job pressures. When an unhinged drifted tried to throw a jar of acid in the Joker’s face on the courthouse steps, Batman saved the Joker, sending the acid hurdling toward Alice. Thinking quickly, Harvey shoved her out of the way, taking a face full of the acid.
In the hospital, Harvey became obsessed with duality and fate, and when Alice questioned his newfound philosophies, he lashed out at her. She fell into a deep depression, made all the worse when the bandages were removed, and she felt helpless to save her husband. Things seemed to improve when Harvey went home, but she began to suspect that her husband was living a double life as D.A. and mob boss. She followed her husband, who refused to answer to any name but “Two-Face,” and tried to have her killed. She was saved by Batman, who crippled Two-Face psychologically by using a second coin, sending Harvey into a breakdown of indecision. Alice held him, crying, until the police arrived and took him to Arkham Asylum.
She visited him for months, but he always treated her coldly, trying to force her out of his life. Finally ready to give into the divorce, she paid her husband one more visit, not realizing that it was Batman in disguise, undercover to stop the Mad Hatter. Knowing that a part of Dent still loved Alice, Batman won back Alice’s heart and kissed her passionately. In his own mind, Bruce acknowledges that a part of him has always “cared” for Alice. The real Harvey Dent was rehabilitated soon thereafter, and was released to be reunited with Alice.
Batman: The Animated Series
Gilda was once again renamed, but the spirit of the character remained intact. Following the name-change from Secret Origins Special, her name in Batman: The Animated Series was Grace Lamont, Harvey Dent's girlfriend and eventually fiancée before the accident that turned him into Two-Face. While Dent abandoned her to wage his vendetta against gang boss Rupert Thorne, Grace waited in misery for her love to return, and unwittingly found herself manipulated by Thorne's goons to help them find Two-Face. When Harvey eventually reconnected with Grace, he brought her to his hideout, and tried to convince her of his new way of life, but she believed that he still had goodness inside of him. It wasn't enough to stop Two-Face, who was only brought down by a psychological meltdown created by Batman, and Grace held her lost love in her arms before he was taken away. She was voiced by Murphy Cross.
In Batman & Robin Adventures #1 and 2, we learned that Grace and Bruce Wayne paid Harvey regular visits in Arkham, offering him much support during his recovery, which was by this point nearly complete. That is, until the Joker tricked Harvey into believing that Grace and Bruce were having an affair. Enraged, Two-Face escaped and tried to have them killed, and even when Dent learned the truth, it wasn't enough to repair their relationship. Her final appearance in the DCAU was in Batman & Robin Adventures
#22, in which Harvey redeemed himself by warning her that her life was in danger, thanks to mobsters who wanted to manipulate Two-Face to their own ends. She ran out of the house and called Bruce, who--as Batman--was subsequently able to save Harvey.