Batman Knightcast 13: DETECTIVE COMICS #573

Chris Franklin and Ryan Daly try not to flip their lids over the Mad Hatter’s crazy continuity and this mad cap tale from DETECTIVE COMICS #573. Also, listener feedback from last episode.

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Thanks for listening!

23 responses to “Batman Knightcast 13: DETECTIVE COMICS #573

  1. Maybe Jason Todd was predestined to be the most hospitalized Robin. Between his treatment in this installment and the conclusion of the story, as well as his fate in Legends, the poor kid never stood a chance. Wow. He truly is the “middle child,” isn’t he?

    I’ll save my Jason postulations for the highly anticipated Barr introduction to the post-Crisis JT. I just hope Rob Kelly and his murderous conspirators are plagued by night terrors for sending this wide-eyed child to a gruesome fate.

  2. This was a fun story, and I don’t care too much about which Mad Hatter shows up so long as it isn’t the modern pervy version – I wish today’s comic writers would work out their kinks at home rather than on the page. I do like it best when Tweedledum and Tweedledee are to hand.

    Those pages look fantastic. That painting of the Waynes is soooo big, as you say, and boy, does Martha have Alan Davis hair. From his days in Captain Britain through to today, he’s stuck with the massive lady locks. I wonder if he was at art college one night, struggling over a page, and someone smashed the window with a can of volumiser.

    I’m good with an orange cover, it’s unusual for a Batman book so really stands out. Why DC ever change the Detective Comics logo is beyond me, the original had the amazing Art Deco styling and set straight, reeks of Batman gloom, while slanted, as here, yells FUN!

    1. I would say the only reason this Detective run is REMEMBERED is Alan Davis, but I’m not prepared to say he’s the only thing that makes the stories any good. I’ve had problems with each issue, but none of them are deal-breakers. Most of my complaints are based on tonal inconsistency, which–throw a dart at a pile of comics from the ’80s and you could hit an issue that suffers from the same problems.

      I think this run looks like the Ugly Stepsister to Year One, which came out at the same time, but even without Davis these stories are better than the Collins-written or Legends tie-in comics we read earlier in this podcast. They’re not perfect, but they’re still fun and I enjoy them.

    2. You are pushing your BATO hate agenda Siskoid. :)

      These are good stories. Barr is actually one of my favorite Batman writers, as I have stated in the past. Better than anyone before or since, he can blend the “Policeman’s friend” as Shag likes to call him with the obsessed vigilante and make a convincing character. You even see that a bit in the scene with Gordon in this issue.

      Yes, he may push things a bit TOO far in some instances (the prison rape angle, and of course the human shield) but Barr brings Balance to the Force like few others have attempted. The animated crew, mostly.

      The art is beyond reproach. Davis is one of the best to ever grace the comic page, but the stories are good to great in my opinion.

      The little niggles that have jumped out at me while covering this series only come from the underbelly of podcasting: that we have to examine what we love and like with an objective eye. Flaws and problems are bound to surface.

      Go read Barr’s Brave and the Bold team-ups, pre-Outsiders. There are some more fantastic Batman stories there.

      Chris

  3. This issue makes me sad, knowing it’s basically the last true “classic” of the run, where Batman and Robin are facing a villain and trying to stop their caper. I’m not sure why Chris’ co-host Crotchy McGrumpypants found so many things wrong with it, but to each their own.

    How the hell does The Mad Hatter earn a release from Arkham, at all? Damn Democrats, so soft on crime!

    BTW, I’m totally convinced Bruce’s official party affiliation is Republican. Better disguise that way.

    How did Bruce even get that portrait of his parents into the house? Maybe he had Superman rip the roof off and they lowered it in?

    David Wayne as The Mad Hatter was always one of my favorites TV series villains. I could see why the movies have stayed away from him, but I’m still sorry he’s never been given the chance to tangle with a movie version of the Dark Knight.

    Great show!

    1. I never got around to saying it on this episode, but as I stated on our big Batman ’66 celebration on Super Mates (episode 66, natch), David Wayne’s Mad Hatter was my favorite TV villain that WASN’T one of the big 4.

      I’m guessing Bruce got the Wayne portrait in the Manor the same way he got the giant penny and dinosaur into the Batcave…!!!

  4. Another winner of a review episode. And another issue with just gorgeous art by Alan Davis. One thing I like is how effortlessly Davis can show emotions with the characters. The ‘Bruce as playboy’ panels are great showing just how over the top Wayne went with this ‘performance’.

    As for the Mad Hatter, may I recommend the Landry Walker/Keith Giffen/Bill Sienkiewicz one shot during the Joker’s Asylum II mini-series. It is absolutely chilling. It leans on the BTAS version heavily. But it is just fantastic and horrific. I reviewed it at length on my site. Here is that link:
    http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2010/06/review-jokers-asylum-mad-hatter.html

    I doubt these are in dollar boxes but I’ll have my peepers open!

  5. Really enjoyed all of the talk about the Mad Hatter, who was always a favorite villain of mine thanks completely to the excellent performance by David Wayne, who I later loved seeing as Ellery Queen’s father in that excellent, but short-lived series.

    I also liked the shout-out to Roddy McDowall’s performance in the animated series. He made Bookworm another favorite villain of mine thanks entirely to his performance in the 1960s TV series. I was actually disappointed as a kid to later learn that he wasn’t a major villain in the comics … hahaha … Darrin

    1. Bookworm turned up in the excellent Gotham Academy series where he served as the school librarian.

  6. Man I miss a couple episodes and I miss out on all the fun discussions

    Well I’m
    Back and here to comment
    On the topic of hatter my first time seeing this character was the animated version and I enjoyed his episodes especially a certain one with dreams
    While I liked that version I loved the 66 version my favorite take on the character
    Other then that I feel the writers have a hard time with hatter as his motif there’s not really much to go with.
    with the arkham game doing a cool take on him I feel he’s kind of stuck in character development there has t been a definite hatter story yet
    Abd was definitely not a fan the pedo angle they tried a couple years ago
    Though I did see someone do a pic where the animated hatter had the character baby doll from the same show dressed up as Alice wich is tla interesting take .

    Anyway this issue I really enjoyed first I love that these issues were attempts at doing 40s abd the 66 show style story’s dose it mesh well and work no but I really appreciate the attempt.
    It’s a shame there hasn’t been more attempts st that style.

    Abd the hatter good god I like this take there is a sense that this guy is mad.
    I like the attempt by bats to try abd scare him straight but he’s too far gone to care I like that some of bats villains have no interest in changing there ways abd rejoining society.
    that cover with the buzzzaw hats abd his other hats just really cool
    This versions feels like he should be in the injustice fighting game.

    Abd Jason getting shot.
    his days where just numbered weren’t they

    That’s all for me great review guys
    Mad hatter for injustice 3.

    Here is the pic I was talking about
    http://subjub.deviantart.com/art/Mad-Hatter-and-Baby-Doll-BTAS-139847655

  7. Oh abd one thing
    I know it’s far off but when you guys get to year 2
    A good song for one of the issues especially with Bruce and Rachel’s relationship
    I feel is Alan parsons projects
    “Don’t awnser me” was listening to that and felt it was a good fit

  8. The Hatter history was fascinating, especially the story about stealing Batman’s headgear. Is that the original Battle for the Cowl?

  9. Yet another great episode, gentlemen. I continue to enjoy Davis’ art, particularly the exchange between Bruce and Gordon at the party. Above all, I liked following the change in Jason’s expression as you move through the panels, and watch as he realizes that Gordon is about to step on a landmine.

    Regarding the lack of visible blood in the final panel, isn’t that the very reason Batman has Robin wear the red vest… to hide the blood? Wait, is that a vest or is it technically a doublet? Darn it! Now, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.

  10. Well, I don’t really like the art. I find it too light and insubstantial. There is a fluidity, but no balancing solidity. Too often the faces are too cartoony. I have more dislike for the story. You guys pulled it apart perfectly. Batman steals a car and abandons it. The clue Bruce needs is really forced. This feels like a Riddler story, but with less depth. I’m surprised there wasn’t a revival of “Panama Hattie” at the Gotham bijou. RYan, you mentioned that this was like a throwback story, and that if it was published 4 or 5 years earlier, it would have fit in. No. That was the era which Michael Bailey and Andrew Leyland will be covering in their much-anticipated (by me ) podcast. The over-looked Batman stories. Len Wein, as writer and later editor, started introducing more supporting characters to the Bat-titles. He and Gerry Conway gave us a continually unfolding narrative, eventually threading through both Batman and Detective Comics, making it in effect a bi-weekly book. Characters like Lucius Fox, Harvey Bullock, and Julia Pennyworth made their debuts. Storylines about Gotham politics, Bruce’s evolving relationship with Dick, Batman’s changing dynamics with Robin, Batman/Bruce and Catwoman/Selina navigating their relationship gave great flavor to the cover-featured villain-of -the-month story. Oh, and Vicki Vale was back after 30 years! This is the stuff that was ignored in the wake of the Crisis. Editor O’Neill did not seem to have a firm grasp on what these books should be, as you’ve commented. This Barr/Davis run on Detective was an obvious attempt to do some old-fashioned Batman and Robin stories. There were no secondary or tertiary threads. Except for references to “Jason,” these stories could have taken place anytime between 1940 and 1960. As a reader back then, I was conflicted. I was eager to read Batman and Robin stories, as there had been very few in my years of comic buying. But I had trouble justifying that this Batman was the same one who had already worked with Dick Grayson. It was as if the creative teams were trying to re-start the books, without re-starting the books. They wanted me to think that Wonder Woman had just made her initial appearance in “man’s world,” and that Batman had been fighting crime for at least ten years, long enough for Dick to grow up and get out. And all the conflicts that Gordon had had with City Hall, and that Bruce had had with the Department of Families, are ignored. These Barr/Davis stories are great examples of Batman and Robin stories. One can give them to a new reader, or a non-reader who wants to read a Batman story, and not worry about getting lost in the minutiae. But for the long-time reader and fan, well, this one at least, they are disappointing. What is not disappointing is this podcast. I believe that I will keep listening to you, even as we get closer and closer to “the story that made me stop buying Batman comics!”

    1. This was my favourite period too, but a wee correction… While there’s no denying Gerry gave him the spotlight, Harvey Bullock was actually created by Archie Goodwin for Detective Comics 441 in 1974.

      1. Thanks, Martin, I did not know that! I’ve read precious little of Goodwin’s Batman work. Conway also recycled his Arthur Reeves, Gotham City Councilor, character from a mid-70’s story.

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