Batman Knightcast 20: BATMAN ANNUAL #11

Ryan Daly and Chris Franklin review two oddball love stories from BATMAN ANNUAL #11. First up is a story written by the legendary Alan Moore and drawn by George Freeman that finds Clayface III unhappy with his marriage, and jealous of a certain Dark Knight. Then, Norm Breyfogle makes his Batman debut in a story by Max Allan Collins that sees the Penguin promising to give up his criminal ways for the love of his woman, but the Caped Crusader has his doubts.

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship; "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

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26 responses to “Batman Knightcast 20: BATMAN ANNUAL #11

  1. Welcome back gentleman!! Always good to find a new Knightcast in my feed.

    I remember picking this book up of the rack back in the day. Really liked it then and still like it now. Even then I could never quite figure out where these stories fit into continuity (if they ever did). And as you guys discussed it’s not really all that clear now. The Penguin story seemed to be jettisoned immediately as if it never actually was in continuity. Maybe it was never intended to be. I can’t recall if there was ever a direct call back to this story with respect to Clayface. I will look forward to you guys reminding me! As I get older, I find that I am okay with stories, if they are good, not being in continuity. And an annual seems to be a good place to tell them. Or in a separate one shot – like the Killing Joke. I seem to recall that that story was originally intended to be out of continuity. But then it was retroactively made canon when subsequent creators picked up story elements and used them and because it fit more with the gritty Batman that the company wanted to push at the time. Makes sense I guess. I still love the Killing Joke as a stand alone story. The positives and negatives of making that story part of regular continuity can be, and certainly have been, debated. Is that story one you are planning to cover here on Knightcast? It certainly falls within the timeframe you are covering. Would love to hear you guys’ take on it! I certainly have some thoughts of my own on the topic.

    Nice to get a sneak peek of Norm f— Breyfogle’s Batman here. Wow, maybe with the right artist, Collins run better would have been remembered with the very best after all! 🙂 This sarcastic comment is of course referring back to the article with an interview with Collins that I sent you when you started your coverage of his run. Will be interested to hear you guys dissect that interview a little, maybe when Collins’ run is completed– if you can muster the strength! Lots to unpack there.

    Great episode as always and looking forward to the next one!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Scott. Yes, I still hope to take a look at that interview with MAC you forwarded to us, most likely when we wrap up his run in a couple episodes.

      1. Looking forward to discussing that article Scott. Hoo boy. And the Clayface story was referenced again, since we see Preston and “Helena” in Arkham in both Secret Origins and the “Mudpack” storyline.


        1. Thanks Ryan/Chris. I think your audience will appreciate the discussion…but man that interview is something else. I appreciate your willingness to dive into it on the show as it is a pretty crazy read with some real WTF moments.

          And thanks Chris for the reminders about Clayface and “Helena.” I was pretty sure that both of those stories picked up on continuity from the story you covered in this episode. Although I listened to Ryan’s Secret Origins episode, I have not read those original books since they first came out and just couldn’t remember for sure. I’ll probably pull them out and give them a re-read sometime soon. And I think I’ll give myself a little bit of a break for not remembering clearly. After all, it was about 30 years ago that I read those stories. Man, suddenly I feel old…

  2. What’s this? Merriment and joy in the voices of our hosts? And for a Max Alan Collins story?

    I’m so relieved to hear you guys enjoying something again. Yes, you did you sound that defeated. I suppose it took Starship and Johnny Cash tracks to help lift you from your collective funk.

  3. Nice to hear you guys enjoying Batman again.

    The Clayface story really underscores that Alan Moore deserved all his plaudits–sure, everyone knows the big stuff like Watchmen and Killing Joke, but he was just as inventive and clever even when playing in a minor key, like this story. It helped, of course, to have George Freeman drawing it, who IMO is one the best guys ever to do comics. As Chris said, it’s too bad he worked so relatively infrequently.

    Jiminy Jillikers, was Starship not, like, the worst band ever? Yeesh.

  4. I’ve never read the Death Note Manga either, I just know the Anime, and three mixed bag Live Action adaptations. It’s not my intention to defend Year Two, Year Two sounds horrible.

    I like Mortal Clay way more then The Killing Joke. I still have gotten to read this Penguin story, it sounds interesting.

  5. Thanks for this episode, a return to greatness.

    I am surprised that Moore gets trashed. There is no denying that Watchmen is great. It isn’t Moore’s fault that there was fallout. But certainly Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and Miracleman all stand the test of time. Add to that his GLC shorts and this and his stuff is just memorable.

    And yes, the theme to Mannequin was appreciated. Kim Catrall at the height of her power.

  6. After you read the synopsis of the Clayface story, I said, out loud, to myself, that’s a damn good story. As Ryan paused for breath before delivering his assessment, I felt my mental defences rising to do battle should he disagree! But, he didn’t, of course. Moore was a comic book writer who understood the medium better than the great majority of comic book writers. Not only his awareness of the potential of the characters in a given milieu (Batman, Superman, Swamp Thing, etc.), but his mastery in knowing what should be shown in each panel, and, especially in this story, how the accompanying text could re-inforce, or contradict, the drawing.
    On the other hand, Collins, with this Penguin story, does not fully embrace the full potential of the comic book. He instead stays in his comic-strip comfort zone. For example; the need for a quick-moving plot, no clear indication of the passage of time, no sense of the richness of auxiliary character. 1. The plot. The overall idea is wonderful, but the execution…why involve Batman and Robin in liquor store hold-ups? Why is Batman’s first question for Commissioner Gordon about The Penguin? How did The Penguin acquire capital, property, raw materials, distributors, etc. to start a manufacturing business? In a daily strip, these elements can be introduced quickly and neatly, but in a comic book one can take a few panels to explain these things, and leave some red herrings. I don’t expect a story published in an annual to have subplots and the background characters of the regular book, but a little more care is greatly appreciated.

  7. Glad to hear both Ryan and Chris enjoyed the stories on this podcast – both were very good and a huge step up from the more recent stories in the podcast.

    With respect to the Penguin story, it was referred to subsequently, although not in the comics. Around the time of the 1989 Batman film, there was an anthology of short prose stories issued under the title “The Further Adventures of Batman”. One of the stories was written by Max Allan Collins, titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping”, which started with the Joker being mad about a letter sent to him from the Penguin gushing over his new love. This led to the Joker falling head over heels for the Mime, which I believe will be coming up in a future episode.

    Indeed, Collins repurposed part of the original comic story in a subsequent anthology series, The Further Adventures of the Batman Vol 2: Featuring the Penguin in a tale called “Robber’s Roost” where the Parole Board scene is done again.

    The Alan Moore tale was excellent, with great art by George Freeman. This was my first introduction to Clayface 3 and it was a brilliant tale of love, horror and madness.

    1. I have both of those books Jimmy, but I completely forgot that any of the stories tied into this Penguin tale! I did remember Collins wrote some stories for those books, including one with the Mime, but that was it. I need to re-read those…or maybe not.


  8. Fantastic episode, guys!! Loved hearing you love these comics!! Pure joy!! The MANNEQUIN music was hilarious and inspired! Alan Moore and Norm Freakin’ Breyfogle in one comic. Sounds like a dream come true! Never read it, but sounds like I should based upon your enthusiasm.

    Forgive the delayed comments, but wanted to touch on the past couple episodes (as I’m behind on my comments).

    You mentioned the Bob Kane swipe of McFarlane from YEAR TWO. Somehow one of my parents got the BATMAN 1989 press kit the year it was released. So I had lots of BATMAN stuff with that image. Here is a pic of the button which I still have (notice the Bob Kane signature, but clearly McFarlane stance). I also had a folder with this image, a notepad, and much more. Really cool stuff!

    Regarding YEAR TWO in general, I bought these as back issues when I was probably about 17 years old. A very EXTREME age for little Shaggie. So I thought McFarlane’s art AMAZING! I had seen him on INFINITY INC during CRISIS, but this blew me away. I also was completely sucked in by the Reaper. He was cool, edgy, push Batman to the limit, and looked so awesome! I realize with hindsight the flaws (which y’all are so kindly pointing out each episode, slowly whittling away at my childhood happy memories), so I’ll choose to just mis-remember these comics as great. They are better in my memory than reality. 🙂

    Finally, thanks for the KANSAS shout-out in the previous episode. To return the favor, here are some lyrics only slightly altered. In fact, they worked for Batman with almost no alterations, so I made more just for fun.

    Carry on my Gotham son
    For there’ll be peace when you are done
    Lay your weary cowl to rest
    Don’t you brood no more

    Once I rose above the circus and the tent
    Just to get a glimpse beyond Killer Croc
    I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
    Though my eyes could see I still was a Robin
    Though my mind could think I still was a sidekick
    I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say

    Carry on my Gotham son
    For there’ll be peace when you are done
    Lay your weary cowl to rest
    Don’t you brood no more

    Masquerading as a man with a mission
    My charade is the event of the season
    And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
    On a stormy sea of moving emotion
    Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
    I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say

    Carry on my Gotham son
    For there’ll be peace when you are done
    Lay your weary cowl to rest
    Don’t you brood no more

    Carry on, you will always remember
    Carry on, nothing equals the Batcave
    Now your life’s no longer empty
    Surely Arkham waits for you

    Carry on my Gotham son
    For there’ll be peace when you are done
    Lay your weary cowl to rest
    Don’t you brood no more

  9. Before Chuck Dixon reinvented Oswald Cobblepot as a racketeer/crime lord, The Penguin was pretty much stuck in Burgess Meredith mode. (Even during the Englehart and Rogers run, ALL I hear is Burgess Meredith’s voice, whenever I read “The Malay Penguin”)

    BTW: When you said they had attempted to make the Penguin kind of “thuggy”, my first thought was: “DC tried to turn the Penguin into Mola Ram, from Temple of Doom?!? How did I miss that!?!”

    Then I realized you meant “thuggish”, not Thuggee.

  10. Dear Ryan and Chris,

    I have that Starship song from Mannequin stuck in my head, and I cannot get it out.

    Other than that, great episode.

    1. What Chris said!!! I check here every week for a new episode of Knightcast and there is no joy in Gotham City.

      I think I’m in a minority of listeners who have fond memories of this era in Bat-History. Yes the wildly inconsistent tonal shifts make it a little hard to put into any kind of coherent context, but the same could be said for the period in the mid-to-late ’70s when Denny O’Neil, David V. Reed and Bob Haney were all writing their own versions of Batman in the various Bat-Titles and people didn’t seem to get so bent out of shape over it.

      I really love what you guys do on Knightcast even though you don’t always sound like you love doing it. Here’s hoping you’ll find your way back to the batcave in the very near future to shine the Batsignal on some positive aspects of these less celebrated stories.

      When compared to the multiple Zero Hour/Year Zero/Rebirth retcons that have muddied the waters in the decades since…Max Allan Collins & Mike W. Barr’s befuddled continuity doesn’t seem so hard to follow after all.

      “Groovy” Mike Decker

  11. Ok, shining the bat signal here for help. Big sale on Comixology on Detective comics and looking for recommendations

    Got my eye on some issues from the 40’s with the Boy Commandos but what issues from the 80’s or 90’s do I check out? I missed DC in the 80’s and just discovering them now thanks to the network, especially JLI cast

    Hope the show returns soon, I enjoy it as it is a window into comics I haven’t read but fun to hear about

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