Batman Knightcast 19: DETECTIVE COMICS #576

Chris Franklin and Ryan Daly continue to chronicle the Dark Knight’s sophomore year in DETECTIVE COMICS #576. It’s part two of “Batman: Year Two” featuring the series’ new artist Todd McFarlane.

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult; “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel.

Thanks for listening!


22 responses to “Batman Knightcast 19: DETECTIVE COMICS #576

  1. “well, it’s part two….”

    My heart is with you guys. It’s a hard one. I think your new strategy is sound.

    The art will improve by part 4 in terms of consistency. It’s totes McFarlane at that point. Totes!

    Keep the signal shining bright, lads. You’ll be hitting the good years before you know it!

    1. I agree – I’m so glad that you’re stepping up the tempo on these books. The unmitigated despair in your voices as you slogged through the synopsis and critique of this issue made me feel guilty for listening; I don’t want to hear you torture yourselves by forcing your way through stories you can’t stand!

      Blow past the duff issues and revel in the good stuff!

  2. “Todd McFarlane is the comic art equivalent of hair metal.”


  3. This issue may have been my initial realization of the jarring impact a change in creative teams can make. I wonder how Davis and Farmer would have presented “gleeful Bruce” or the Reaper’s fatalities.

    But playing Reaper’s advocate, why not a stylized pistol sword? Real versions go back to the 17th century, and they show how Caspian so isn’t in the business of preserving life whether in melee or ranged combat. His disregard for the GCPD may be likened to Neo mowing down hapless security guards and SWAT officers. The police may represent the law but not justice in Caspian’s eyes, and those tools would sooner kill him than the scum their system is protecting. Compared to the other characters, the Reaper may be the most consistently portrayed in this issue.

    And hearing you lay out Batman’s stilted logic – 01:12:00 – took me back to season 3 of ARROW.

  4. When you began covering this storyline, I dug out my Batman: Year Two trade paperback (from 1990) to follow along. It had been such a long time since you reviewed part one, when I grabbed my Year Two trade for this episode, there was a thick layer of dust on the bookmark.

  5. When this series came out, I loved it to pieces. Not as much as Year One but a ton. I thought the Reaper looked cool. I thought the two art styles were wildly different but both were solid. And, as I said before, bring back the ‘Batman reveals his identity to Joe Chill who is subsequently killed’ hit me in the continuity feels.

    I have the trade but it isn’t a story that I revisit a lot.

    Then I have heard you guys scrape the very flesh off the bones of this story. This was about as brutal a review as I have heard on the network.

    Could my memories of this story be so off? Is it this bad?


    I still like that the Joe Chill part was brought back into continuity.

    1. You are in the same boat as me Anj. I remembered really liking this, like all the Barr/Davis run. The rest of the run has held up just as I imagined. Year Two…not so much.

      The Joe Chill addition is my favorite part, because I love the original story. Not exactly happy with the story logic that puts them together, but still it’s nice to see it homaged.


  6. Despite anticipating a plug based on all the Spawn talk, it still threw me to hear Mr. Fixit’s voice suddenly boom on your show. I’m not sure if anybody else has ever run a Spawnometer promo. Glad we rerecorded the horrendous audio from the initial promo, and appreciate your offering it here.

    As with Year One, I only ever bought one issue of Year Two off the stands (and unintentionally did the exact same thing with Year Three, which serendipitously all came from a mall bookstore back when 7-11 was still my primary comics source.) I caught the last issue of Year One, loved it, and it was among the first dozen trade paperbacks I ever bought (also at the mall.) Obviously, I got in much earlier for Year Two, and I suppose could have made an effort to pick up the rest of the run. I did not.

    I remember thinking the issue was okay, and I think I may have been subconsciously influenced by the cover in my own home room “hair metal” drawings back in the day. I did so love sharp objects, trickling blood, and exceptionally impractical shredded capes.

    The fact is, this was almost certainly my first purchase of a Todd McFarlane comic, but I never remember it as such (my recollections always favoring Incredible Hulk #340 or Amazing Spider-Man #313.) Much like Chris, I was drawn to all the kewl rawk elements, but experienced cognitive dissonance from the oil & water mix of artists. I’m an Alfredo Alcala fan, and I can see the appeal of McFarlane, but they each play to the other’s weaknesses. I’m sure I dug all the violent mayhem, but the storytelling was trash and I was bored by the parts with normal people pushing poor b-plots and backstory uphill. Creators before and since had much fresher and more engaging takes on both the “dark mirror” and “Batman meets The Shadow” stories. I’ve never mooned over Mask of the Phantasm as many fans do, but it’s certainly superior to this junk.

    It perhaps goes without saying that I never bough the Year Two trade, and have never read the full story. I had planned to read along with you guys, but after doing so with part one, I’m content to just listen to your breakdowns. I used to question Denny O’Neil’s judgment in scrubbing Year Two from continuity (especially in light of Year Three still standing) but I have not been at all enamored with the Detective Comics issues you’ve featured this far (Alan Davis notwithstanding.) I’ve long asserted that Mike W. Barr played as major a role in conceiving the modern interpretation of the Dark Knight as Frank Miller (perhaps more so, in fact) but I also now realize he’s responsible for many of the reasons I grew to hate Batman as well.

  7. It’s a shame Alan Davis took the huff and walked off the book. We regular folk have workplace disagreements and just get on with it, but that’s ‘artistic personality’ for you, I suppose. Todd Macfarlane gets points for an easily recognisable style, but as you say, his storytelling wasn’t great.

    Mind, a story this bad doesn’t deserve a great artist. Batman with a gun, Batman with a nun, Robin with a pun… if only.

  8. I remember when MacFarlane took over the art chores on Infinity, Inc. He quickly distinguished himself by his unique page design, figures in the margins, panels superimposed on figures, using the gutters between panels, etc. For me, this refreshing approach soon became tedious and annoying, but the initial efforts were exciting.
    Joe Chill’s cap is also known as a scally cap.
    And now, my beef. You two did a very nice job of articulating the weaknesses of this story, but there’s one thing in particular I want to weigh in on. Bruce Wayne’s love life. I have never liked Bruce/Batman’s romantic interests, with the exception of Earth-2 semi-retired Bruce waiting for Selina after she’s done her time in prison. Catwoman, Talia, Nocturna, etc. should not be able to distract Batman from his mission/job/duty. I think that Bruce would sublimate his sexuality the way he would any other interest that takes his mind off of fighting crime. Any romance that Bruce gets involved in would be just to shore up his image as wealthy care-free playboy. He has no intention of courting a woman long-term. (He may have no sex drive at all.) So, this story’s subplot of Bruce trying to find time to date Rachel is nonsense. If Batman had already figured out who The Reaper was, I could see him trying to get close to Rachel as Bruce to get more information. If Bruce had nothing else going on in his life, like tracking down a homicidal maniac, I could see him trying to date someone who would be going away soon. If he had no respect for a woman’s decisions about her life, and no thought for how his making a move on his friend’s friend would affect all three of them, then he’s just a shallow jerk. A cad, if you will.
    Thanks for letting me rant here.

    1. This was before Bruce was a total Bat-loon – he did fall for women. I can easily believe a chap so attracted to the night could be enchanted by the likes of bad girls Nocturna and Talia, Daughter of the Dullard. It’s all about a dark romance. Please don’t deny me me Silver St Cloud stories, or Selina Kyle romance. The only regular girlfriend – heck, fiancée – I can recall Bruce deliberately using as a cover was Julie Madison.

      1. Martin, I was thinking of Silver St. Cloud later on after I had posted. (While I was setting up for my Science Magic Show!) I worked through the timeline. She meets Bruce in his yacht, because Batman needed to be close to an off-shore power plant. Bruce has a party to help Batman, and he burnishes his image by inviting the elite of Gotham. She makes the move to introduce herself. They go out a few times, probably lunches, as Bruce is busy nights. She is active in the relationship! She goes to visit him at the clinic. Then she drops in, uninvited, to his office. Her concern motivates her to call Dick. After she’s attacked by Hugo Strange’s goons, and is hospitalized, Bruce visits her in the hospital. Now we really start to see his interest. Possibly motivated by the concern she showed for him! Even as they start to get closer, Batman’s work coincides with Silver’s work. That, of course, is the beginning of the end. Silver St. Cloud is that rare character who took the time to cultivate and build a relationship with Bruce. His thoughts, during that time, were almost exclusively on Batman stuff. Too late he realized that he may have been falling in love.

  9. And the text read at the funeral!!!!!!!!!!! Who does that? Has anyone ever been to a Christian burial service where this was read? Maybe that’s what led Rachel to convert to Catholicism.

  10. Hi, first time long time !

    As a kid/teen , I loved McFarlane’s art on Spider Man but gradually learned the error of my ways. I have never read an issue of Spawn as his writing on the Spider-Man title was an instant red flag to me and the only Image book I’ve read to this day has been Saga, obviously Image is a different company now then when McFarlane and friends decided to change comics. Has anyone seen the Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics on AMC ? The episode on Image was very interesting. The episode on Siegel and Shuster is an entire topic on its own.

    I have nothing much to add on Year 2 as it’s already been stated on the show, so i’ll focus on a topic brought up in the feedback segment. You guys mentioned binge watching Dark Shadows, but did you start with the actual first episode or the first Barnabas episode ? Im currently in the middle of the Laura The Phoenix storyline.
    Anyway love the show !

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