Batman Knightcast 15: DETECTIVE COMICS #574

Chris Franklin and Ryan Daly review DETECTIVE COMICS #574 by the team of Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis! Clips of Batman’s past are revealed as Robin’s life hangs in the balance, but don’t worry, Robin will be fine. Nothing bad will ever happen to him.

Let us know what you think! Leave a comment or send an email to: or

Like the BATMAN KNIGHTCAST Facebook page at:

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK.

Subscribe to BATMAN KNIGHTCAST on iTunes:

Or subscribe via iTunes as part of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST:

Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister.

Thanks for listening!

32 responses to “Batman Knightcast 15: DETECTIVE COMICS #574

  1. Yay! Knightcast is back! When I turned my phone on to start my morning run I felt something was in the air tonight.

    Even though she is a product from “my” Golden Age of Comics, I never liked Leslie Tompkins. The character itself was fine, but I never liked the idea that Bruce had any other surrogate parents other than Alfred. To me, it dilutes their relationship and gives Bruce too normal a childhood for the damaged man he would grow up to be. And as Ryan pointed out, her being the only person who works in the Crime Alley clinic just makes no sense. When you start giving Bruce all these surrogate parents, I don’t care anymore.

    So while I’m sad that the Barr-David all-too-brief era wraps up with this story, and not another take on a classic villain, against all odds I liked it. (I know, I know, they do the first chapter of Year 2 together, but that has always felt like a separate thing to me)

    Also glad that Ryan pointed out I was “brought in” to bump off Robin. True that, and don’t you forget it. Let’s just say I won’t be happy if I have to wait this long again for another episode of the show. Without this show I’m in a land of confusion.

    Trying to jam Dick Grayson’s tenure as Robin into an ever-shrinking time frame reminds me of the don’t-think-too-hard-about-it time for MASH (IACBTM). The Korean War lasted three years, let the 4077th had massive turnover in its staff. That means some characters who we saw over multiple seasons were stuck there for maybe a year, tops. The idea that Jason “served” longer than Dick is an abomination, and not the cool Gamma-radiated kind.

    Anyway, thrilled the show is back and maybe will resume a sort of regular schedule. You guys are great together and I always appreciate your relatively contrasting viewpoints on any given issue, I always like hearing both sides of the story.


          1. If Deadman was in the story and brushed passed Leslie, would she be saying she had an invisible touch?

          2. “Can we stop these Phil Collins/Genesis song title references?”

            “It’s too late – we’re in too deep!”

  2. Ah, the saga of Jason Todd: Teen Casualty continues! I can’t think of any other Robin that was as beat up and abused as often old JT. As far as send-offs go, it’s not a bad end for Jason Todd’s Barr/Davis run.

    I saw what child-killer Rob Kelly wrote above, and once again I disagree. I liked the idea that Bruce had an “aunt” in Leslie to keep tabs on him. It doesn’t surprise that a set of parents dumb enough to walk down a place called “Crime Alley” wouldn’t have someone in place to watch their child in the event of their deaths. It always struck me that Bruce never recognized Alfred as a surrogate father, so he’d be the last guy to recognize Leslie as a surrogate mom. His stunted emotional growth blocks him from understanding complex, adult relationships. It’s why he such an idiot to his Bat-Family.

    I have a feeling Ryan wasn’t fully awake for the show. I could sympathize with the barely-there sound of his decaying voice. But it passes, old chum. It passes. Look at Franklin. He’s still recovering!

  3. The cover with Batman carrying a mortally wounded Robin is some sort of visual trope in comics, though I don’t know if it was the first or simply the most popular example.

    While having surrogates like Alfred and Leslie might seem to detract from Bats’ orphan status, Leslie herself was no Aunt Harriet. A more acerbic personality, she struck me as an aunt married to her work or cause who would make infrequent visits to a growing Bruce.

    Leslie really is a Swiss army knife for creative teams. You need a senior citizen or a hottie, she’ll transform. A healthcare worker crusading for the impoverished, or someone who’d let a young lady die to teach Bats a lesson… Leslie’s your tool.

    1. I can’t believe I failed to mention the cover to the classic Batman #156, “Robin Dies at Dawn”. Heck Grant Morrison made a cottage industry out of it!

      Batman 156

      From this story and what we’ll see in Year Two, I really do think Barr thought Leslie was going to be Bruce’s full-time, live-in surrogate Mom in flashbacks. It didn’t take, of course.

      Please don’t mention Leslie and her “War Games” role. Ugh. I can’t decide which is worse, that, or the whole Gwen Stacy shagging Norman Osborn thing.

  4. Finally able to listen to this and glad you guys are back on the air. I have never read this issue and it seems a bit odd to shoehorn an origin issue between the two minis Year 1 and Year 2. Still, as someone who has seen Leslie Tompkins move in and out of the Batman legend, I was glad to have seen the pages and hear you talk about it.

    I understand everything you say about Tompkins medical treatment Ryan, trust me. I don’t know what kind of doctor she is but I doubt she has trauma surgery training. I also doubt her free clinic would have any of the instruments she would need do more than the simplest procedures. I don’t know exactly where the bullets went, but if she is operating on internal organs she’d need anesthesia, appropriate surgical trays, and maybe blood for transfusions. There is no way she has all that there. And even if she did, she can’t do all that. It’s why an OR has an anesthesiologist, a team of nurses, and a couple of clinicians.

    All that said, as my kids remind me, if I can accept Zeta beams, plant elementals, backwards magic, and even some of the things Batman can do like disappear, dodge bullets, and have a powerful handheld grappling gun, the medical skills of Tompkins should be acceptable. If we don’t accept that, we are living in a land of confusion.

  5. Welcome back, guys. Knightcast is back. HUZZAH!

    I was fascinated by the discussion, involving Robin getting shot. I wonder how Ryan feels about the episode of Batman ’66, where Shame shoots (Burt Ward) Robin in the leg.

    I’m glad to hear “CHRIS 2218” will be joining “SHAZAM!” and “THE WHIP!” as one of your recurring sound effect gags.

    P.S. Just as you made a reference to The Overlooked Dark Knight covering Post-Crisis Batman, Mike and Andy recently gave a shout out to “Midnight: The Podcasting Hour.” (As well as Ryan’s old “Count Drunkula” moniker)

    1. What, we never referenced The Overlooked Dark Knight. You must be mistaken. 😉

      Yeah, ol’ Shame did indeed shoot the Boy Wonder in a shocking turn of events on Batman ’66. Almost as shocking as Robin being eaten by that giant clam, which traumatized a generation!


  6. Still not saving Mike “Outsiders” Barr for me… 😉

    “…My Beginning… and my Probable End.” is the title readers like Rob Kelly remembered when asked whether Jason Todd should die. But if he hadn’t, can you imagine “A Coma in the Family” becoming a classic?

    1. The thing is, I openly question whether or not Death in the Family actually is a classic. All anybody seems to remember about it is Jason’s death. Half the folks don’t even seem to remember that Joker being the Iranian ambassador is the main thrust of the story up to that point.

          1. Around the time of the books initial publication and they were hot commodities, I had someone offer me around $100 for all four issues–which, to a high school kid, was a fortune. But of course I said NO! These will be valued treasures one day.

            Of course, I think in less than two years they were just four more books in the boxes of comics I sold to help pay for the Kubert School (ah, the irony).

            Martin is right, the whole story is garbage. Even Aparo’s work isn’t very good, which hurts to type.

  7. In an odd way I almost feel like Leslie Thompkins works as a case study in what the post crisis mentality brought to comics and then would later cause it to go horrifically off the rails. Because if you’re going to do the more ground, realistic or “gritty” version of this character then Robin kind of becomes the elephant in the room. And if you’re not going to just erase the character then having somebody call out Bruce on this is kind of needed. Of course, this would later get twisted into the worst possible logical extreme with the good doctor’s actions in the War Games and War Crimes storylines, which were so catastrophically received they required a pretty thorough retcon. I feel like that embodies the entire DC cycle at this point. Go in a bold new “who cares if we piss of the old fans” direction, stick by it for a couple of years then apologetically backpedal with a retcon or other correction when it becomes clear you didn’t get a ton of new retained fans with the move. It’s part of the DC tonal whiplash from cycle to cycle: “look how SERIOUS and DARK we are,” followed by “wait, come back, we can still be fun!” and then repeat every five years or so.

    Also, can I just say how much I HATE Jason’s hair? That pair of symmetrical spit curls is just awful. I seriously shuttered in the final surprint style image where he’s facing the reader head on. It’s the goofiest thing I’ve seen in a while, and I say that while being fully aware that he’s standing next to a man in bat ears.

    PS. Thanks Ryan for throwing in my defense of Gotham and saving me the time. If you want a test episode to see if it’ll be worth giving a second chance to, allow me to suggest the season two episode This Ball of Mud and Meanness. Gordon begins sniffing around Edward Nigma, Hugo Strange is conditioning the Penguin full on Clockwork Orange style, and Bruce confronts the man who killed his parents. It’s relatively stand alone and if you see that and go “nope, I still don’t see the appeal” then know that the show will probably never be for you and be confident in not coming back. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll see what I see. Oh, and if it matters it features Lori Petty as something of a proto-Harley Quinn (don’t worry, she’s not actually that character.) I only mention that because I know her inclusion in anything is always a bonus for me.

    1. Well said on the DC cycle of dark vs. light. The must frustrating spin in that cycle was Infinite Crisis, aka “Everything has gone wrong, and dark! And now…let’s kill Earth-Two Superman! And punch Pantha’s head off!”
      They didn’t even get out of the series before they changed courses twice.

      I just accept Jason’s hair like Superman’s spit curl. It’s a hold-over from the original character design. Given, Jason wasn’t Dick Grayson, and should have had his own look, but in my opinion, he should have stayed a ginger with his Don Newton costume…because it was all kinds of boss.

      I will give that Gotham episode a try. If it’s a done and one with all of that, I should be able to enjoy it on some level anyway. Thanks for the head’s up.


  8. I never liked Leslie as a doctor, I liked her as a sweet, kind lady, a footnote in the legend. She should have been well dead by the time Bruce was an adult.

    As for this issue, they went too far; the only sand way it could go after Jason is so badly injured is Batman retiring him – if he wants to come back and play hero as an adult, fine, but for now he has to be sent far away from Gotham, for his own safety. As it is, Batman is left looking like a an irresponsible, selfish, needy fool.

  9. It was interesting hearing your comments about the continuity of Batman at this time and whether the Barr/Davis stories should have been done with Dick Grayson as Robin. Thinking about it, if you had the Barr/Davis run with a slightly older Grayson/Robin, you could have him shot in Detective 573 as before, have him recover in 574 but Batman, taking heed of Leslie’s arguments, decides the time is right to retire “Dick” and then lead into Batman 408 with Jason Todd taking over as the new Robin. Probably won’t satisfy those who feel the sacking of Dick Grayson was a bad move, but at least continuity-wise it would fit and you would not have to do two “Robin gets shot” stories one after the other, especially as they played out so differently.

    Then again, at least in Batman 408, Robin gets shot by the Joker. Imagine how you would feel if you had to retire as Robin because you got shot by the Mad Hatter! Would not do Dick’s confidence any good in that scenario!

    Great to have Knightcast back and congrats to Ryan on his new fatherhood status.

  10. Great show, Ryan and Chris!

    There’s a no-prize solution to the mustache-less Thomas Wayne, the young Bruce who punches Joe Chill and the bloodless Bruce who sees the inspirational bat. Batman is filtering his memories through his current experiences. So, he imagines his older self in the Thomas Wayne role, hence no mustache. He associates his younger self with the active, crime-fighting Jason Todd — so, young Bruce Wayne fights back just as Robin would. He ruminates on how Robin has been hurt and not him — so in this set of memories, Bruce is not bloodied and the verge of death when the bat inspires his disguise. So, what we see is a combination of truth and fantasy. Sadly, I can’t use this approach to explain the Hawkman continuity glitches.

    Aside from the throwaway line to the close-call with Dick, you would think there had only been one Robin in this new continuity — Jason. It does feel like they are cutting Dick out of Batman’s past. I remember when I bought Batman #408 (on a friend’s suggestion who thought the changes were doing with Batman were great, although he may have been thinking of Year One which I missed until the hardcover) . I did not like 408. I had read a lot of Dick’s journey in the Titans and this new story invalidated it. It removed Dick Grayson’s agency. It took a story of Dick Grayson becoming an adult and made it a story of how Batman feels. Maybe I’m misremembering. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I re-read it. And maybe Chris will be singing its praises on the next show too. Or not.

  11. Another great show, and what great comments! I have nothing to add, as I agree with most of the commenters regarding Leslie, Dick, Jason, and boneheaded DC decisions. I don’t want to be “same old song” Terry, but once again we see the importance of the character of Uncle Phillip! Leslie may have been at the scene of the crime initially, but the courts are going to find a relative to take care of Bruce. He can be an older adult, not exactly a hands-on parent surrogate, so Bruce grows up “alone and unloved.” Bruce learns how to be “Bruce Wayne,” and Alfred comes later.
    The references you guys make to later stories, War Crimes, etc., make me SO glad I’ve never read them! I haven’t even read “A Death In the Family.” I was never a comics speculator, and I thought the entire premise of the call-in campaign was very distasteful. Harrumph.
    Ryan and Chris 2218 have got me hooked, though. I expect I’ll keep listening even though you’ll be covering a lot of Batman stories I’ve not read. Or stories that I wish I hadn’t read, like Year 2. Oh, well. Keep up the good work, lads!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *