Batman Knightcast 25: DETECTIVE COMICS #469 and #470

Batman Knightcast Phase 2 kicks into action when Ryan Daly and Chris Franklin review DETECTIVE COMICS #469 and #470. A radioactive madman is poisoning Gotham City, and the Dark Knight Detective must stop him in a two-part story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Walt Simonson. Hear that? It’s the crazy sound of Ryan and Chris finding their joy!

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps.

Thanks for listening!

21 responses to “Batman Knightcast 25: DETECTIVE COMICS #469 and #470

  1. Detective Comics #1000 had a side story where Bruce melts down the gun and put it behind the yellow oval. That might be what Chris was thinking about.

  2. A great start to the all new, all different Knightcast. Starting with these stories is the right way to go when covering the Englehart/Rogers run even though Rogers wasn’t really involved. I have the Strange Apparitions trade and the Shadow of the Bat reprints, which I did find in the wild as a set and grabbed because of the covers. This is one of those classic eras and I think you guys are doing right by it.

    The subject of Englehart having something to do with the Batman ’89 film came up and reminded me of a Comics Interview Special I have that is full of Batman related articles. Englehart was interviewed and was very salty about the fact that he didn’t get paid for his treatment as much as most people are paid for movie treatments. I guess he was far enough away from DC at that point that he felt he could spill the tea.

    Again, great episode. Can’t wait for the next one.

    1. I just read the Englehart written article in Back Issue #118, and hoo boy, he’s more than salty about how his contributions to not only Batman ’89, but several Batman films have been overlooked/uncompensated. It’s unfortunately so bad he turned down writing any further Batman work for DC, including a proposed story for Detective #1000, to be drawn by Neal Adams.

      Chris

  3. Pre-Crisis DC is the best! This tale is in some ways a retelling of the golden age tale of Professor Radium from Batman #8.

  4. Hi, guys!
    Love the show! I’ve stuck by you and listened to every episode regardless how badly you tore apart my fond memories of the early Post-Crisis Bat-titles. Well, I guess not that fond. After all these years, I had vaguely remembered the disappointment of those early years, but I didn’t realize until your podcast just how bad they were. Regardless! Just when you are getting to the better stuff, you’ve decided to change formats?! Oh, well. You got me because you wisely chose to dive into the Englehart, Simonson, Rogers, Austin, etc. run! I just couldn’t stay mad and go away.
    A couple of things to mention, in case you haven’t found out already:
    1. Silver St. Cloud did show up in the Legends of theDark Knight in a six-issue run by Archie Goodwin and Marshall Rogers.
    2. According to an interview with Sam Hamm the screenwriter of Batman ‘89, when he got the earlier drafts of the screenplays, he was wondering who this Silver St. Cloud was because he remembered Vicki Vale from the comics he read as a kid and changed it. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know.
    Anyway, can’t wait for the next episode!
    Hang in there and take care!
    Hiley impressed

  5. Nice show, gentlemen.
    I’m always up for listening to discussions about the legendary Englehart/mostly Rogers run on Detective, as it is probably my favorite set of consecutive Batman issues.
    As to the question of Simonson’s art in these two issues covered in this show, I think it was overpowered by Milgrom’s inks in both, to the point that it seems like he may have just done layouts. This may have been an earlier phase in Simonson’s career, but I don’t think we can really talk about him being in a phase where he was still finding his legs as an artist. You just need to look at his work on the Manhunter stories (from 1973-74!), which you mentioned, or the Dr. Fate story in First Issue Special #9 (1975) or Metal Men #s 45-49 (1976) to see that he’d pretty much hit the ground running as a fully formed artist with his own distinctive style.
    By the way, Ryan makes a good point about Silver St. Cloud and the fact that she hasn’t really appeared much in the comics, but is still considered one of Batman’s major love interests. It’s a testament to the storytelling craftsmanship demonstrated by Englehart and Rogers in this run. For me, there’s a trio of love interests I find acceptable for Batman: in first place is Selina/Catwoman, while Talia is a more distant third (mainly because of some inherent trustworthiness problems). In a close second to Selina, though, is Silver, based solely on the strength of her appearances in this run. (I actually found her reappearance in Dark Detective a bit disappointing, like that series as a whole – but that’s a discussion for another time I think.)

  6. Hi Chris & Ryan,

    I enjoyed the show.

    Jerry Serpe colored the original comics and Marshall Rogers recolored them for the Shadow of the Batman reprints. If you notice in the Shadow reprints, some of the caption boxes are changed as well, like from “last issue” to “previous story” when the previous issue was reprinted in the same book. I had to buy Shadow via mail order, since I had some, but not all, of the original Detective issues. The recolored Shadow versions were used in Strange Apparitions.

    According to Steve Englehart, Simonson was supposed to draw his entire run, but backed out. I don’t know if it was because Milgrom’s inks overpowered his pencils, or what. Englehart said he wrote 469-470 “Marvel style” with a basic plot, letting Simonson work out the pace and then Englehart did the dialogue. After Simonson’s departure, Englehart had to switch to DC style and do full script, since he was planning to leave comics and the U.S. He didn’t know that Rogers and Austin would do the art. Apparently, Rogers liked the full script method, because he was unhappy with Len Wein writing Marvel style.

    As for the issue, I thought it was great when I was 5 and still do. The scene that really burned itself into my memory was the bit where Phosphorous used the laser light show to project his image at the concert. That was awesome. Since I discovered Batman via the TV show, I didn’t realize Chief O’Hara’s appearance wasn’t a common occurrence in comics. I loved the reintroduced Bat-Cave as well. Notice the name of the Alley that Batman uses to exit the Batcave. I didn’t appreciate that as a kid, but I love it now! The issue has a lot of action and is very colorful for a young reader and has a lot more for more mature readers. It is just a success at all levels.

    The first comics I bought had September/October 1976 on sale dates, and I think Detective may not have been distributed in my area as much as other titles. Detective 470 was my first Detective, even though I already had plenty of Batman, B&B and Batman Family. I got 471 while I was on vacation in Florida, but more on that next time. The Detective logo on these issues is still my favorite. I think I remember reading it was a Chan/Chua design, but don’t quote me on that. As much Batman stuff as I’ve read over the last 43 years, I sometimes mis-remember some of it.

    Oh, and thanks for letting me know that you guys were too young to buy these of the spinner rack. Still, I got the thrill of getting them new during my first year of collecting, so there! :-)

  7. When I was a Junior in High School My Dad took a new Job in Long Island so we had to move there. Naturally, Of course, I changed schools. A week or two before I left Connecticut, My High School Librarian gave me a huge stash f her son’s old comics that he “outgrew” (personally, I hope he just lost interest in them because to a born-again Batfan like myself, they were a treasure trove!)
    This was among the Batman and Detective comics included in the stacks along with a host of Brave and the Bolds and some World’s finest comics. It was a few years later that I learned that these issues led to the now Infamous Detective 472 Cover “The Batman is Dead! Long Live the New Batman!”

  8. I did buy these issues off the spinner rack – who could resist that first cover, and Dr Phosphorus looked just as good inside; the heaviness of the finishes certainly screams Milgrom to me, but I love the result. The script is a tad heavy handed, Englehart’s narration is especially painful, ‘amigo’, and even then Bruce making speeches to himself seemed weird. But yeah, it’s the start of a classic run, so respect!

    I always liked that logo except for the word ‘Batman’s’ – the possessive nature didn’t sit well with me, if people are really so stupid they have to be told the spooky guy on the cover is on the book, just give us a little, proper ‘Batman’ logo.

    I loved that Alfred/Gordon scene in #470, but why was there no Wiki back then to tell me what a ‘ward heeler’ was? There was no problem with the new Batcave in terms of when Alfred helped put it together, it says right there that it was during Robin’s last school break, it wasn’t a couple of days previously. They probably put Dr Wayne’s study together at the same time. Again, though, we have Batman chuntering out loud to himself… was Englehart the first thought balloon hater?

    Netministrator is so right about the similarities with Batman #8, especially the way Dr P is removed, compare and contrast, chaps!

    The biggest thing about this story is the arrival of Silver St Cloud, the chemistry with Bruce is immediate. What a shame he likely poisoned her with radiation…

  9. Gotham City must have some of the most diligent process servers in the country! Unless I missed something, that guy was ready with the legal papers just outside where Batman just happened to be nabbing a safecracker? Did he put the safecracker up to the heist to lure Batman in?
    So many questions.

  10. I always liked Dr Phosphorous–great look, cool powers, always thought he should be bigger in the RG than he is.

    Nice to hear you guys not sound like you want to kill yourselves on an episode of KNIGHTCAST!

  11. Impressive Pod cast. Most impressive. Was fun to hear ya’ll cover this comic. I missed Walt’s run on bats. Though for all the bits ya’ll noticed ware they opssed ya’ll missed 3. 1. How does the water Poison not get in Bats skin when Doc has him submerged?

    2.Waaait his cape that he can rip is fire proof? Wouldn’t he just have touches on his hands after hitting the Doc? If it’s fire proof how did he rip it? And why isn’t the rest of his suit fire proff? I’m guessing this is before bats added Kevlar to the cape. Since I think Chuck Dixon basically made it a Ballistic vests. Not seeing that tare easily. Even for a guy of Bats size,

    Granted in Who’s Who at the time he has Triple H stats. I don’t see him riping that. He’s not Mark Henry Or the Wall from Game of thorns. hhhm, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Bane could work. Any way.
    3. How is his hair wet? Isn’t he waring his cowl. And if water can get in it how does it keep the radocative ness out? Or did he shower before going back to the party. I hope he showered. Or he just risked all his guessed getting Poisoned. Sorry I don’t remember much about her. I mostly remember this time line of when Hugo Strange realized who Bats was and his want to try and become him.

    But, yeah of corse she’ll notice his hair is wet. I think most people would. My guess is she’ll see this an then other minor things to make her note Bruce’s jaw line and build. One of my reading teachers had a few comics in the class that we could read in study hall. If we had no home work. It was a smart way to get kids to read. The one ware ugo as Bats has the fake mansion fights bats was one. The last Huntress story was another. And an Invaders comic.

    Any way with that the 70s D comics that had a bunch of DC comics thrown together in TBS form. It worked getting people to read. Oh and some issue of GL ware he fights Star what’s his face. The guy with the Star thing on his hand that’s basically an evil Green Lantern. Save a Star Mask. Any way he doesn’t age., Back to the comic at hand. I can see why so many people like this run. These too guys re great. I missed it. I had a sub to the Munch run in the 80s. But, My first comic was Giant Sized X-Men No. 1 and a random issue of Plas. So this came out before I started reading or maybe I was just reading one of the other Bat titles while they were on this one.

    Glad ya’ll have found ya’lls joy on this comic. Oh did I mention I have a u-tube page? That’s Elizabeth Anne Oswalt. On U-tube.

    Oh while I’m pluging my own U tube page. That’s Elizabeth Anne Oswalt. Here’s a few other folks I kind of know on U-tube. That have cool pages.

    Kiri Morning
    That Junkman
    Robert Willing

    Any way can’t wait to hear the next pod cast.

  12. Batman’s villains fall into three main categories (though they’re a little fluid):
    Madmen (who also tend to be Gimmick Thieves)
    Crime Lords
    and Monsters

    Like Man-Bat and Killer Croc, Doc Phos falls into the latter category. He’s too cool to have been used so little.

  13. I think the first time I saw Dr Phosphorus was on a DC house ad showing covers of upcoming issues. He really freaked me out, but was such an amazing look! The glowing skeleton, and those cut-off jean shorts. I don’t know what those shorts are made of, but thank the lord for them. There’s some bones we just don’t need to see. (oh god, I’m so sorry for that.)

    For the rock band, I got a Mick Jagger vibe off the lead singer, but I’m no kind of expert on that. But yikes,Dr P killed everyone in that stadium?! And rich folks having a party on a yacht the next day? No fundraisers for the victims? No memorials? No calls for action by their families? Dang, I call BS on Batman’s rosy vision of Gotham.

    I haven’t read many issues from this era of Batman, so thank you for giving me a reason to try some. A great couple of issues to start with, that’s for sure. Thank you, All-New All-Different Knightcasters!

  14. Great episode. Yes, I was looking forward to your coverage of Ten Nights of the Beast and A Death in the Family, but life is full of disappointments.

    And man, am I glad you covered these issues. I’ve had a fascination with Dr. Phosphorus ever since I first encountered him in issue No. 6 of the original Who’s Who series; in fact, these two comics were among the first two back issues I ever purchased, from the Heroes World in my local mall. I remember DoPho just freaking me out, especially that rock-concert scene (although yes, I always wondered why nobody seemed to care about thousands of teenagers dying a gruesome death).

    Yes, he should have been a more prominent villain, but he’s had his moments in the sun: He even had a brief spotlight in the Crisis, when he nearly burns the golden age Hawkman to death during the awesome villain war. (Although that scene always made me wonder: If he can practically kill someone just by touching them, why isn’t his death count much higher during a melee battle like this? I mean, shouldn’t he just be running around, grabbing every superhero he can?) And of course, James Robinson used him very nicely in Starman—in fact, it was his appearance that got me interested in that series, which has since become one of my all time favorites. I owe Dr. Phosphorus so much.

  15. I am very pleased you’ve switched formats, as you had been heading towards Batman stories I haven’t, and won’t, read. However, THIS story is one of my absolute, all-time favorites! Detective #469 was the first issue of Detective that I bought. Coincidentally, that same month I also bought my first issues of Batman and Brave and the Bold! I was initially put off by the art. As a letter writer stated in the letters page with comments on this issue, Milgrom’s inks do not enhance Simonson’s pencils. (That was very likely an important letter for me on learning how to recognize art styles!) But, the story was easy to follow and exciting to read.
    One of the first things I loved about this chapter is how Englehart and Simonson show Batman doing the detective work trying to determine what happened to Alfred. He’s methodical, he’s thorough, and he’s smart enough to know when he needs a break. It’s such a good sequence.
    On of the things I admire about Englehart’s writing from this era was his respect for previous stories. He was able to knit together elements from older stories in Captain America, and the Avengers to tell some really good tales. (50’s Cap, origin of the Vision, etc.) He does something similar with Batman here. He wants to include a scene at Wayne Manor and a scene in the Batcave, two story elements which were no longer being actively used, but central to the bulk of the character’s stories. Englehart doesn’t suddenly upend the previous seven years worths of comics, or cavalierly dismiss other writers’ stories. He constructs a very clever way to get those scenes in! Bruce Wayne can honor the memory of his father without having to fetishize him. A modern penthouse (include your own reference to deluxe apartment in the sky here) would have modern, stylish furnishings. Where to put some of the favorite, probably antique, pieces from Wayne Manor? Build a separate room for them in a sub-basement! How can we have a cave in a great metropolis? A man-made subway tunnel, abandoned for 30 years! Brilliant! Here the homages start. Over the course of the whole story arc, Englehart and his artists salute the writers and artists who came before them. There are specific call outs, Finger Alley and Sprang Arena in this issue, as well as more subtle ones, like this scene in Bruce’s study, a callback to his first origin story.
    Another great touch in this two-parter, is the careful laying out of events that will have consequences. For those who have not read this, yes, getting radiation burns will lead Bruce Wayne to seek outside medical care. Trouble. Meeting an intelligent beautiful woman on his yacht will lead to more than one date. More trouble. Running afoul of the City Council will hamper Batman’s effectiveness. Big trouble. And all those troubles lead up to a great finish!
    I am fortunate to still have my original grabbed-from-the-newsstand, actually variety store, copies, as well as the higher quality Shadow of the Bat reprint, so I compared the original Jerry Serpe coloring to the Marshall Rogers coloring, and there are quite a few differences! The big one is that Serpe did not color Dr. Phosphouous. Yes, he colored the “flames” on the outside, but within the body outline it was just black bones against a white background. Rogers gives Phosphorous an eerie green glow. There are other minor changes, sometimes Rogers does more detailed colors where Serpe did just a color wash , and vice-versa. Some furnishings, clothing, and backgrounds have different colors, but no other huge differences.
    There have been many nights over the last forty years, where to try and relax and calm my thoughts, I will lie in bed and actively try and remember this story. With panel by panel, or more often, story beat by story beat. It holds together so well. It’s how Batman should be done.

    1. Great analysis Terry. As regards homages to earlier eras, I love that we start getting thicker panel borders and dropped caps in narrative boxes… if memory serves there’s even the odd circular panel. It all feels so classic Batman.

  16. Congratulations on a fabulous episode. It was very interesting to read these issues – I was not a big fan of Simonson’s art in this (it felt very clunky to me, especially compared to Marshall Rodgers art in later issues) but the story was excellent.

    They had a call back to this in Detective Comics 825 with the return of Dr. Phosphorous, who went after those that fooled him into investing in the tax scheme, including Dr. Bell and an incarcerated Rupert Thorne. It was an ok one and done issue, not much to it.

    It would be interesting if you cover the story that has an analog of Dr. Phosphorous, namely the “Night People” story from Detective 587-589 by Wagner, Grant & Breyfogle that introduced the Corrosive Man. Fun storyline, although Batman never pondered the on the similarities between Corrosive Man and Dr. Phosphorous.

    Looking forward to the next episode.

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