Batman Knightcast 26: DETECTIVE COMICS #471 and #472

The New Look Batman Knightcast continues as Ryan Daly and Chris Franklin review DETECTIVE COMICS #471 and #472. In the aftermath of his battle with Doctor Phosphorous (DoPho from now on), the Dark Knight Detective seeks medical treatment at an exclusive facility…and walks right into the trap of an evil mad scientist thought to be dead for years! The Steve Englehart era kicks into high gear when penciller Marshall Rogers and inker Terry Austin jump on board. Are you ready to join them?

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day.

Thanks for listening!

18 responses to “Batman Knightcast 26: DETECTIVE COMICS #471 and #472

  1. Great episode. I honestly didn’t know Silver St. Cloud was that actively involved in stories instead of just being the background love interest for a few issues. No wonder Kevin Smith was so determined to use her in his Batman stories, for whatever that’s worth.

    You guys talking about the Hugo Strange/Batman “epic rivalry” reminds me of the Ned Ryerson dialogue from Groundhog Day.

  2. Guys, I’m enjoying the show immensely. I can tell a great difference between the last two episodes and the episodes prior to them. Listeners should be able to recognize the love and affection for these particular stories compared to the early issues of the Denny O’ Neill-edited run. The continuity from story to story is there and there is a set direction that writer, artists, letterer, and editor are following. In that O’ Neill run, everything was so scattered and directionless. I did enjoy a number of issues during that run, but I can easily tell O’ Neill was struggling to get a hold of the reigns of the Batman line.

    Ryan and Chris, I do have to disagree with you on the cover to Detective 472. I thought the cover image of a supposedly dead Batman floating in front of a large tombstone declaring he is dead and a new one has taken his place. The Batman silhouette on the tombstone hovering over the “dead” Batman added to that creepy feel. I remember first seeing that image as a young child on the bottom corner of the letters page in Detective 475. I was mesmerized and freaked out by that image. I had not read this Hugo Strange story and had no idea what that image signified. For years, I wondered what story the image was telling me and would attempt to create stories around that image. Most of those stories were erased from memory when I picked up the Strange Apparitions trade from a Books-A-Million store.

    Keep up the great work and I hope you keep going with the review of the Englehart/Rogers/Austin run.

  3. I voted to continue with Englehart/Rogers, since Englehart’s run is really one big story…I also see that option is in last place. Oh well.

    Great show guys and I really enjoyed the coverage.

    This was one of the earliest issues to name stuff after creators. I like that Englehart named the Batcave exit Finger alley so that Finger would get mentioned in other Batman comics, something, as Batman’s then unacknowledged co-creator, he deserved. Remember, DC didn’t really start crediting creative people until the 60s and, in the case of Batman titles, almost the 70s, so these little mentions that Englehart throws in may be the first mention by name that some of these creators got in a Batman comic. Did you pick up that the friend Bruce mentions is Jerry Robinson?

    As for the art, you guys mentioned the most iconic artwork in the issue. Bruce’s line, “What a nightmare! Wait a minute. I never have nightmares. I give nightmares,” is one of my favorite bits of Batman dialogue ever!

    Even though Hugo Strange hadn’t made a new appearance since the Golden Age, the Batman #1 Famous First Edition would have been published just a few years before this, so some readers may have recognized Hugo Strange from there.

    Ok, my personal experience with issue 471. Detective must not have been heavily distributed in my area, because this was only the second issue I bought. I bought every comic with Batman on it, and if I found Detectives, I would have bought them.I distinctly recall getting 471 at a store called the Carousel in Panama City Florida while I was on vacation. I got lots of comics there on the yearly family vacations. I didn’t get to read the conclusion of this story until the Shadow of the Batman reprint in 1986. Unfortunately, due to the spotty distribution back then, nine years isn’t the longest I’ve had to wait between reading a part one and part 2.

    I don’t remember what other comics I got with this one, but I remember five or six year old me being disappointed that Batman lost. Since I was introduced to Batman via the TV show, you would think I would have understood the cliff-hanger concept. I just thought Batman being unmasked was the end! Even at that young age, I was amazed by the Rogers/Austin artwork. I had seen Rogers here, Adams (although unsigned) in Stacked Cards and the Ra’s treasury, Novick in the Ra’s treasury, Aparo in Brave and the Bold, and Infantino in some Batman Family reprints. Why didn’t the Batman stories in Batman look as good as those?

    I love my mom (She bought my comics. How could I not?) but to this day I’m still shocked that my deeply religious, over protective and squeamish mother bought me a comic where it looks like Hugo Strange is ripping his own face off on the cover.

  4. Impressive pod cast. Most impressive. Ah almost there the one ware Hugo becomes the fake Bat Man. Ah So that’s Silver. In truth I only knew her briefly in Bats Story. As well as Thorn. Only When Thorn is running from the “ghost” of Hugo and ends up dyeing did I see Thorn. And Sliver getting a lift from Thorn, but getting out the car when he flips out. I like Marshal’s art. The capage is impressive, but his leaner verson of Bats is pretty cool. He looks like a fighter and not the weightlifter look Adams and others give him.

    That Miller takes way over the top in DKR. All of them are great looks it’s just kind of cool he takes this to a very different look and yeah that explains Keton as Bats. And the other Bat Men actors save Afflak. The collage of the Nightmare Bruce has is exalent. And leads your eyes from charcter to charcter. And the type ography of it is great. And how that word Night mare moves your eye with the art. As I learned in the Joe Kubert Correspondence course Lettering and art should flow together. And each leading to the other. And Why charcters in a comic cover will lead your eyes to a title.

    And this story tells well. From Rash and Talia all the way to Bruce facing the image of a Bat. Probly his enter demons and not Man Bat, but still it all works. Ah the cover to the next issue every word fits to draw to the images and vice versa. Hmm I guess physically Bas Rutten could play Hugo in this. LOL. Give him the Amush Bear and glasses and go from there. Ah page 5 must have been what upset the Editor. Verry little back ground no establishing shot. Still Mashal makes it work. He uses shiloetes well. other than the desk , keys and Hugo’s chair. Very little in the way of back ground stuff is drawn, but it works.

    The last three panels being the best here, but if a lesser artist tried it I don’t think it would work. Robin coming into the fight was great. ut, yeah he needed to get a new costume as a grown Man. Thorn at the end was pretty cool. I can see why they brought him to the cartoon with bits like this. And I can hear John Vernon’s voice when I read his dialogue. Any way can’t wait to hear the next pod cast.

  5. Loving this look back at this incredible run.

    I can remember getting the second part of the Joker Fish story at a yard sale as a kid. I found the first issue you covered this episode in a bargain box, albeit relatively scragged. And I have tried to find other issues since then when affordable. But I was lucky enough to get the trade so I was able to read all of this story finally!

    Yes, Rogers is incredible. His Silver is gorgeous! His Batman is athletic and strong. And here, Strange is … well ..strange. Just perfect art to fit this story’s tone.

    Can’t wait to hear you cover all these issues.

  6. After listening to your discussion on how Silver St. Cloud was drawn in these issues and how Englehart worked some subtle comments on how she and Bruce formed the beast with two backs have caused me to somewhat reevaluate the issues I have with contemporary writers and their need to show Batman having sex on rooftops or docks or wherever the likes of Azzarello and Miller set these scenes. It’s not that I think they are suddenly a good move on the part of the creators. Far from it. I’m not a prude and I’m not one of these people that is fine with wholesale violence but clutch my pearls as I fall on my fainting couch when the mere mention of two consenting adults engaging in whatever activities they want to engage in. However I think context is key.

    To be fair, Englehart was working during a much more restrictive time in mainstream comic books. The publishers and the Code had started to relax a bit during the seventies, but you would have never seen Catwoman and Batman getting it on in full view of the reader back then. So, this is not an apples to apples situation. Personally, I don’t read a Batman story for the love interests. Sometimes that works out very well. Sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s not why I’m coming to the party. But, if you are going to explore that side of him, for my money Englehart’s style is preferable. It’s not that I am adverse to Batman having relations, but I don’t need to see them in all their four color glory. There is a maturity to Silver and Bruce’s relationship, which is where the context thing comes in. There was probably a bit of a “say no more, say no more, wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” going on with Silver making a sly joke about their nocturnal activities, but it comes off as being cheeky and fun, rather than, “Look at what Batman and Black Canary are doing! They’re having SEX. In public. Because comics are for adults and adults have SEX,” which is how a lot of modern romantic Bat encounters feel like.

  7. Oh, yeah. This is where it all came together: Englehart’s stories start kicking into high gear, accompanied by lovely and lush art courtesy of Rogers and Austin. This is the reason why – as I commented on the preceding show – that this is probably my favorite run of consecutive Batman stories ever.
    I would say that one thing I like about this Hugo Strange story in particular is that it portrays Batman as fallible and also gives Robin a chance to shine. And, naturally, there’s more character-building for Silver St. Cloud. It’s just great stuff all around.
    Enjoyed the discussion gentlemen, and l’m looking forward to future shows, whatever you decide to do.

  8. Oh, how I wish I could have been in on the discussion! I can’t write nearly enough of what i want to talk about regarding these comics. First, memories: I remember being simultaneously disappointed and intrigued by by Marshall and Terry’s first go at this storyline. Part of the disappointment was a carryover form the previous Simonson-Milgrom issues. I remember my older sister asking me “Why is art on Batman so bad now?” She judged comic art based on Mike Grell, and well, this wasn’t quite up to Grell-level. And yet, and yet…there were those neat buildings; and action shots; and detail to wardrobe, and, and , and…
    Even now, looking at it, I can see the stiffness in the figures in the first few pages, the tentative linework of Terry Austin on the male faces, the lack of heft and depth. But ny the back half of the book they are starting to hit their stride. Regarding the story that Chris related about Rogers and Austin getting chewed out by Joe Orlando; I don’t doubt it. Their work does not match what DC was publishing then. Think Dillen-McLaughlin, Swan-Oksner, Novick, Aparo, Kubert, and the mystery stories. Rogers was carving the page in many more panels, and Austin was using a much thinner line than those veterans. Even to my 12-year-old eyes it was a little odd. All credit to Julius Scwartz for choosing them and sticking with them, despite his lack of credit on the splash page.
    Gothosmansion got the Jerry Robinson reference! But, you guys missed that Dr. Todhunter (tod=death in German) is drawn like Dr. (Stephen) Strange!
    Why didn’t Hugo kill Bruce? He needed him alive until the last minute. His plan was to deliver The Batman to the highest bidder. That was going to take a few days. Arrange the auction, execute the auction, arrange delivery, kill Batman within an hour of delivery. He probably didn’t want to have a days-old corpse on hand, in case anything went wrong.
    The page of Silver and Dick on the phone is a frickin’ masterpiece.
    I was already a Robin fan. This appearance cemented it! Why, oh why couldn’t Dick look like, act like this in all his other stories? The hair; not only did Marshall update his original hairstyle, it was also utterly contemporary! That was, essentially “the Look” in 1977. Parted in the middle and blown dry. Think Tom Petty on the cover of Damn the Torpedoes. Look a little closer at the fight. One of the man-monsters has grabbed Robin’s tunic and ripped it!
    I was greatly disappointed by your continual references to “future appearances” of Hugo Strange, Boss Thorne, and Silver St. Cloud. I was also greatly disappointed when writers like Conway and Moench and Englehart used them. This story, from Detective #469 thru Detective #476 is one story. Complete and perfect. There are endings in this story and they should have stayed ended. It is truly remarkable how well-developed and potent these characters were in only these issues that other writers have tried to keep using them. Develop your own well-developed and potent characters!
    JOHN WORKMAN!!!!! Look at those letters! Look at the shape of those balloons! This was the final piece! We are doing an homage to Batman’s earliest stories, and that includes the look of the captions! Also, the colring of Jerry Serpe. All you need to do is look at how he colors Silver in that panel of her in bed. Her skin has some sort of peach tone that somehow looks like no other character’s skin tone! Amazing!
    Oh, one more thing (I hope). Even though I love, love, love the sequence on page two, that’s not what chimneys look like from the inside. I’m sure that Rogers and Austin, with their architectural acumen, knew this, but why ruin a great page?

  9. Ever since you changed formats, I’ve been trying to decide what my favorite Batman story/run is and coming up empty. I mean, does Lego Batman count?

    And is Batman and the Outsiders on the table, or do Rob and I still have to cover it somewhere?

  10. Long-time listener to FW Podcast Network, first time posting, because I couldn’t pass up the chance to comment on what is probably my all-time favourite Batman run.

    I read all these issues as they were being released, and the first issue of Detective Comics with the iconic creative team of Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin was like snorting a line of pure coke (not that I would have known what snorting a line of pure coke was like in London ‘77 – I was only 12 – but it seems apropos of the time period).

    The whole run exuded sophistication; from Englehart’s portrayal of suave playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne, in contrast to a grim, forceful, but not infallible, Batman, to Silver St. Cloud, the best damn girlfriend Bruce ever had, to Roger and Austin’s amazing Gotham cityscapes, to a very sexy Dick Grayson. I just wish they’d been able to include Catwoman at some point.

    The run works so well because it was finite. Englehart only signed a contract to write a year’s worth of Batman and Justice League of America for DC/National Periodicals after leaving Marvel, planning to move to Europe and write novels. He wrote what he planned to be ‘his’ Batman story in one go, without even knowing who would be drawing it, or where it would appear. Rogers and Austin being assigned the comic after the first two issues created the magic. Those first two issues with Walt Simonson and Al Milgrom are fun, but the creative team doesn’t quite gel, and Rogers’ two issues with Len Wein, immediately following Englehart, suffer from Wein’s weak scripting (I recently read the Len Wein Batman collection, having fond memories of his time on Batman, but came away deflated and weirdly fixated on the number of times that Wein has Batman call someone a punk – seriously, Wein’s Batman is ripe for a drinking game. Down a shot every time Batman users the pejorative ‘punk’, and you’ll come away absolutely legless.

    Thank you Ryan and Chris for a great podcast; maybe you could tackle the later 2000s mini by the all-time best Batman creative team at some point down the line.

    1. Isn’t it a shame, Englehart and Rogers did the same number of issues, but not the same ones… if only we could have swapped the Simonson issues for for the Rogers ones.

  11. I believe I first came to be aware of these stories when I purchased The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told in that magical summer of 1989. As an ardent Aparo/Adams fan, I was blown away by the sophistication and inventiveness of the Rogers/Austin art team. Their Batman is up there with the aforementioned Adams, Aparo and possibly Jerry Robinson as THE definitive Batman. And what to say of Englehart’s story/scripting? I think this is the closest we ever came to a “Marvel” style Batman, a true creature of the night and harbinger of justice, but not the grim, humorless “BatGod” that is so prevalent today. This Batman could induce nightmares in criminals, but also worry about relationship problems with Silver St. Cloud, the greatest Batman love interest of all. This Batman was a SUPER HERO. It’s been noted that Englehart signed on for a finite amount of stories, wanting to go to Europe and write a novel. On the one hand, it’s a shame that we didn’t get a few more years of this collective team together to chronicle Batman’s adventures, but the thrill of this being a contained story, with a beginning, middle and end, also makes it that much more satisfying. Here’s to having you gentleman tackle more of these issues, if for nothing else, we listeners getting to hear Englehart’s gripes about Batman ’89 which, when rereading these and the following issues, seem well founded. He even thinks that Christopher Nolan was influenced by his Batman stories when making his Dark Knight trilogy! Thanks for the amazing podcast, it’s a little light in the darkness we’re all living through! Can’t wait to hear what you boys tackle next!

  12. These are first reads for me, as my comic collecting hadn’t kicked into gear yet. I’ve heard about it before, of course, and now reading on the DCU app, wow! I can see why this run is so beloved. It’s great to follow along with you guys, and I’m glad you started the all-new Knightcast with it. Thank you!

    Side note: I heard “Hugo Strange first appeared in 1940”, and my nerd brain thinks “wait, wouldn’t that be an Earth-2 Batman adventure, so isn’t this the first appearance of Earth-1 Hugo Strange?” But then I thought about Robin’s awesome fight scene, so I’m good now.

    Does anyone else see similarities between the artwork in these issues and Bill WIllingham’s style?

    Thanks for another great Knight, casters!

    1. I see your point about Earth 2 Hugo, Tim, I just assumed Earth 1 Batman had enjoyed his version of the stories a few years later, but we hadn’t seen it.

      Anyway, what everyone says, this run is pretty all-out stupendous. Silver St Cloud was the first intelligent girlfriend ever had – transposing her name for Vicki Vale’s in the film is just insulting! Also, Silver has the most perfect job for someone debuting in a throwback run…

      Dick really is great as Robin, but gee whiz, he’s needlessly cruel to Silver – why the heck couldn’t he have said he’d check up on Bruce, he could have come up with a reason later as to why Robin subsequently showed up. Of course, it wouldn’t have fooled her, the first time she saw Dick in swimming trunks, it’d be over,

      I’m talking about his LEGS, get your minds out of the gutter!

      I wonder if Dick’s tunic getting ripped was in the script, I suspect it was Rogers’ idea, a way to make the now adult Robin look a little sexy. I love that look.

      Isn’t John Workman a gem, those Golden Age dropped caps are terrific at helping set the mood? I just did a retro review at Too Dangerous For a Girl of Wonder Woman #230 – the one with the fantastic José Luis García-López Cheetah war bonds cover – and there the villain’s word balloons have little spikes dripping off them to match the issue’s ‘claws of the Cheetah’ gimmick. As art director for Heavy Metal at this point, I don’t doubt that Workman came up with this sort of thing himself. He’d be a brilliant interviewee for some podcast or other.

      I wondered if ‘Todhunter’ wasn’t a nod to Tod Browning, director of Freaks – well, it fits the Monster Men bit!

      As regards the process server, I wound back a few times and yet could not fathom what Chris was saying… ‘slutwork powers’?

      1. Thanks for reminding me, Mart, that John Workman played an integral part in the success of this run. Did you read the first arc of Tom King’s Batman run? I remember seeing Workman’s lettering on it and thinking at the time that the KIng, Finch, Hope and Workman team was reminiscent of the Englehart, Rogers, Austin and Workman team on Detective Comics. Something else to note is that the title of Detective Comics #472 is “I am the Batman” while that first arc in Batman (2016) #1-5 is “I am Gotham”. Coincidence? Or homage?

  13. Another excellent episode. Hugo Strange is very much up there in the pantheon of Bat-villains, but is a character that does not make a lot of appearances. Looking at his Wikipedia entry, Apart from the story you have just covered, the main Strange story I remember is “Prey” from the Legends of the Dark Knight series by Moench and Gulacy. I wonder why Strange is a character that writers do not wish to cover – is it just the fact that having someone know that Batman is Bruce Wayne limits the type of stories one can tell? In any case Englehart and Rogers drew an excellent tale out of Strange and sowed the seeds for future stories with Thorne, Penguin, Joker and Silver in these two issues. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we catch up to these tales with you.

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