Batman Knightcast 30: DETECTIVE COMICS #473 and #474

On this episode of Batman KnightcastChris Franklin and Ryan Daly continue their examination of the fan favorite run of Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin on DETECTIVE COMICS #473 and #474. First, Batman and Robin pursue the Penguin. Then, the Caped Crusader finds himself in the crosshairs of the redesigned Deadshot, while Bruce Wayne finds his secret double life in the crosshairs of his lover, Silver St. Cloud.

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" by Cher.

Thanks for listening!

28 responses to “Batman Knightcast 30: DETECTIVE COMICS #473 and #474

  1. Another fun episode, gents.

    “Why is the Penguin even talking?” Really, Ryan? So Oswald talks to himself. So what? Exposition or not, maybe the Penguin started talking to himself as a habit early on in life due to not having a lot of friends and it just sorta stuck into adulthood. And maybe I’m projecting here a bit. Either or.

    Chris suggests red for the sky? There’s no Crisis here! But yeah, we don’t need 70’s Batman appearing to fight in the daylight. At least he’s not judging beauty contests or attending police charity balls, right?

    I kinda want the Deadshot signal to shine when there are sales at Target. Thank you for putting that in my head, Chris.

    Ryan, if you want to wake up before you record (as per your own words), might I suggest coffee? (Yeah, yeah, cliche, but I’ve got like one shtick.)

      1. God, I hope I’m the only one. The world is crazy enough with just me. Can you imagine if there were multiples? (Another of the many good reasons I don’t appear anywhere in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths.)

  2. I got both of these issues off the newsstand when I was 8. My parents were separated and my mom and I were staying at my grandparents. I remember reading these over and over and being totally distracted from the stuff going on in real life. Therefore these are the best comics ever made.
    I believe that the actor Chris was trying to recall when referring to Mr. Reed’s attitude was Gale Gordon from Our Miss Brooks, Dennis the Menace and every Lucy show after I Love Lucy. (I’ve been watching a lot of old tv since I got furloughed from my job. And commenting on podcasts,)
    And thank you for saying “Pudgy Purveyor of Perfidy”.

  3. Darn. I was hoping you guys would buck the trend by covering issue #474 before #473. That being said, I enjoyed your coverage of these two issues despite your slavish adherence to outdated comic book podcast conventions.

    Seriously though, I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Bruce and Dick in the first issue. As for why Robin didn’t return to help Batman after the Titans disbanded? He was probably busy reading classified ads, looking for another teen super hero group to lead.

    Thanks for another incredible episode.

    1. Gord, I think it might be difficult to do justice to the source material — starting with finding a whole cast of people who look this good and can act.

  4. Thanks for another fine review of outstanding Batman comics, Chris and Ryan. I’ve only read the second of these, so this is an uninformed opinion, but I think Oswald was playing the clue game to try and divert Batman’s focus to the Malay Penguin — wait, except that Pengy used legit aviation terms that Batman then used to see through the ruse.

    Hmm…perhaps the Penguin’s renowned integrity and sense of fair play forced him to play the game straight? Nooo…that don’t make no sense a’ tall, as they say back home. Maybe it’s about Penguin’s ego, and he played it straight to gain the satisfaction of fairly outsmarting the world’s greatest detective ™️?

    I dunno. Lawton’s plan of, “I’ll just shoot him!” seems elegantly simple by comparison.

    When I was 10, my brother was seventeen, and he had basically the same “angsty rift” with our father that Dick had with Bruce for chunks of the seventies and eighties—depending upon the creative team, the phase of the moon, and of course, sunspot activity. Back then, Dad tended to channel the Batman’s attitude whenever John Wayne’s was unavailable, and my brother was often distracted by his desire to go down to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, or possibly to meet some girl, which is more understandable. I never saw the draw of those power converters. Anyway, for this reason, I never found the rift unrealistic. For the same reason, I was happy to get any respite from it, like the one we get here.

    In case you’re wondering what role I played in all this, you’d have to ask them. I‘m afraid I might’ve been Urkel.

    One correction from the previous comments section: I accidentally misled you both by giving too little information — a crime of which I am *rarely* accused. Browning was not guilty of war profiteering, to my knowledge. The Axis started issuing their 9mm semi-autos after the blitzkrieg conquered a factory in Belgium. So, any aid and comfort to the enemy was presumably under great duress.

  5. Whitney Ellsworth in Deadwood is played by Jim Beaver, better known as Bobby in Supernatural. Beaver is a big fan of the ’50’s Superman show and was working on a book about the show and George Reeves. He served as a consultant on Hollywoodland. Apparently his character, by coincidence was named Ellsworth and Beaver asked he be named Whitney after Ellsworth although it isn’t meant to be the REAL Whitney Ellsworth. Here’s an interview with Bever about his upcoming book about Reeves.

  6. Impressive Pod cast. Most impressive. Lien probly asked to be the guy Bats is fighting on the cover. He was a fan before becoming a writer. So yeah I could see him wanting to be on the character on the cover. Yep it’s messed up that the crooks get away with giving Bats crap. Yep the hand signals between Bats and Robin was pretty cool. Me and my Mom do stuff like that from time to time. Bruce doing the nap thing over going to Paris makes since. After all he’s got to sleep at some point. Moving on. Yep Dick looks sexy shirtless.

    As does Silver in her hospital gown. Good on Dick blocking the door for Bruce…. why didn’t Bruce do the same when Dick had a date with Harley Quin in the movie. Sigh. Bats broke the Bro code. Any way. The posse with Bats and Robin looks cool. Yeah the eye is covered, but Robin is right there. So he’ll see any thing he misses. Also I’m blind in my left eye so I don’t see the second eye as that much of an advantage any way. Not a bad fight seen between Bat , Dick and Penguin. Funny ya’ll mention the hench men from the TV show. Since I just got the Mego action figure of Sparrow in the mail the other day. That I bought from Amazon.

    Yep that is a lot to pay for that bit. So Penguin could steel the bird statute. Geez Bruce is kind of jerk to Dick there. You could have had the Dana Carvey SNL bit ware he had the round table bit and he yelled wrong. That could fit. The Dead Shot cover looks cool. I could make jokes about ware Dicks com link is and the pose of Wonder girl, but I won’t. Hew dated Dula. This comic mentions it thus it’s cannon. Doesn’t matter if it was seen any ware else. It’s here. Also you saw how Wonder Girl looked and she is calling for Grayson. Of course he quickly went back.

    Glad they brought Dead Shot back. Mr. Swarts made a good call. I just thought Bats snuck in as Thorn was doing what he was doing. Silver looks great, but Bruce that Vest…. no. Just no. The Bats shadow works. Thought fight was cool. But, hey Bats avoids shots all the time he shouldn’t. Even when he wares Amor. No one just shots him in the face. So you just let it go. Like how he can beat Super Man with Prep time.

  7. Deadshot has one of the strangest career tracks in comics history. If he hadn’t been turned into a disposable supervillain type, he wouldn’t have wound up in Suicide Squad and thus become one of DC’s most popular and complex villains.

  8. Hi guys,

    As always, I enjoyed the show. I’ve only listened to the part covering the issues so far, so I apologize if my comments are covered in the comment section.

    I was amazed when I read the Englehart had his series plotted out for 7 issues originally. The story is very well paced and never lags. I’ve always been amazed at how much he crammed into 8 issues. Of course, if the story came out now, Bruce and Silver’s lunch would have lasted two issues.

    The Jerry Serpe coloring….Serpe colored all the original issues, but Marshall Rogers recolored them for The Shadow of the Batman reprints. I know that Strange Apparitions reused the Rogers coloring. The Deadshot Ricochet and The Laughing Fish/Sign of the Joker were re-colored again for the Greatest Batman and Greatest Joker stories respectively. If you want to see the original Serpe coloring, you have to get the original issues.

    Detective 473- Due to the spotty distribution of Detective in my area, I didn’t get to read this story until the Batman’s Villains Digest…and digests aren’t exactly the best way to appreciate Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin’s intricate artwork.

    I’m going to disagree with you about the cover. At a convention in 1994, I picked up a very nice copy of the original issue in a dollar bin. I really only bought it to get the cover, since I had the story reprinted in Shadow of the Batman at this point. The two guys who were with me, neither of whom were familiar with Rogers, were blown away by the cover and couldn’t wait to crack it open and look at the interiors. I’ve seen the cover without text in Batman Gallery and I think there would have been too much blank space at the top without the logo. I do wish the scroll with the “Shadow of the Penguin” text had been omitted.

    As for the guy on the cover looking like Len Wein…kind of makes me wonder if Rogers drew it months after the issue was completed. We know that Rogers hated working from Wein’s Marvel style script, so maybe he drew this cover after he began working with Wein. If you notice, one of the crooks at the beginning of Detective 478 looks like Wein, too. Maybe Rogers was getting out his frustrations with Wein in his art. I hate that the two of them didn’t like working together, because I’m a huge fan of both.

    Detective 474 is one of my favorite Batman covers, period. I kind-of wish the Deadshot’s Revenge text had been left off. Usually, I might think the orange-is background was a little too garish, but I think it makes Deadshot’s face With this being the extra unplanned issue, I do feel like it is the only one that suffers from a pacing issue. Batman’s fight with Deadshot ends too abruptly. Still, the eight-issue arc itself is just so well paced. This series really deserves all the praise it gets.

  9. Well done on another good listen, Chris and Ryan. The Deadshot cover chat interested me especially, I’d never realised that the mask was meant to be reflective, I took the image as symbolic. It’s shaped like cloth, not metal. Whatever is going on, it’s magnificent, #474-476 had the best three covers of the run. Rogers was much better at panel-to-panel storytelling than cover compositions. Heck, I’ve had #473 since it came out and I never even noticed that bloomin’ big, bent Pengy shadow, the image is so cluttered until today – even with the blurb mentioning the shadow of the Penguin! Mind, if you’re going to say a shadow is being cast over someone, actually have it on them – that brightly clad Robin is spectacularly unshadowed.

    Anyway, great show, I enjoyed these two issues, with the highlight being the other shoe dropping for Silver. Once she twigged Bruce was Batman, I just knew she was dead meat! Which would be a rotten shame, get her to give up the cancer sticks and she’s perfect.

    The #473 art is just spectacular. I was amazed to hear qualms about Batman having his cape over his eye for probably a single second on page 10 – it’s drama! A dread creative of the night has to strike a pose. Heck, he’s doing it again the next issue, on page 16 – on top of a giant typewriter!

    So far as the next issue goes, that Donna panel has always looked off to me, her body is out of proportion to her body. Most of the issue, though, looks great, especially Bruce’s day wear, he SHOULD be a peacock to contrast with his dour alter ego.

    Does anyone know where the Batcave’s giant chess set appeared?

      1. Mart, I reacted the same way, but the rest of the issue is so good I had to let it go.

        I actually agree with all your opinions above except the Donna panel. Okay, I’ll admit something *is* slightly off (maybe the head’s too big?), but it’s a full-length portrait In only a small panel, so I think it’s a challenging shot. She’s still quite fetching, and the phone call (even audio only) was enough of a reminder that Dick allowed Bruce to chase him away.

        Yeah, I know they never dated, but I always got the impression that the thought had crossed both their minds. I mean, they’re still teenagers at this point.

  10. Hey Guys great episode as always.
    I was initially upset that you guys changed the format of the show. that being said, I’m really loving the current crop of Batman comics you guys are covering. Plus with Michael and Andy covering the Jim Starlin run on overlooked, I still
    I first discovered these issues when I read the greatest Batman stories ever told trade back in 1989 when I hit my second big Batman phase between the A death in the family and the movie coming out. Lately I’ve been rereading the run on comiXology and/or the DC Universe service and have really enjoying your discussions. Your reading of Death at Midnight and three is particularly enjoyable as I really love that story and you guys did a fantastic job of making an audiobook of it!

    The Right?/WRONG!!! bit actually was in an episode of the 60s TV show. In Come Back Shame/It’s how You Play the Game, Batman starts following a string of logic to find where SHAME has taken four Black Angus Steers that he stole from a rodeo. in a surprising turn around, it’s actually Robin who stops him up short and says WRONG!

    Batman: Steers have to be fed right?
    Robin: Right!
    Batman: And it’s not easy to hide four such enormous well-know animals! Right?
    Robin: Right!
    Batman: Therefore, they must have gone back to the Gotham City Stockyards! Right?
    Robin: WRONG!
    Batman: Wrong!….Wrong?
    Robin: If you wanted to hide a person, would you hide ’em in a crowd?
    Batman: Right!
    Robin: Right? It’s easy to spot a person in a crowd. But it’s not so easy a person in some isolated spot, where you wouldn’t have looked in the first place!
    Batman: ergo…
    Robin: ergo… Shame has probably taken those cows to the Corrall!
    Batman: Sound thinking, Robin!

    Now about Michael Keaton returning as Batman….
    I’m really not on board for this for a couple of reasons.
    First, let me be clear…. I am and have always been a huge fan of Michael Keaton!
    When he was first cast as Batman, I had already seen a bunch of films with him where he either got into a fight or had intense scenes with someone, so I had no trouble accepting him as someone who could believably pull off the Dark Knight. (The fact that Keaton doesn’t usually play an “idiot” helped as well!)

    As to why I don’t feel enthusiastic about his return…well there are three real reasons

    First…Flashpoint! I’m sick to death of Flashpoint! We’ve already had three versions of it! (The comic, the animated feature and the CW adaptation) We don’t need any more! We get it! Johns put a lock on his retcon giving Barry Allen a Batman style childhood trauma, so that no other writers could undo it without rewriting all of DC history!

    Second….It smells of stunt casting to draw in extra interest for a film that many comic-film fans are unenthusiastic about to begin with. Now I’m a huge Flash fan myself! I was waiting for a Flash film to be made several times over the past thirty years since the 90s series wrapped! As The DCEU started to take shape and we started getting the standalone films after Justice League, it became bit more of a reality that wee were finally getting it made. except… well delay after delay, then Covid, then the choking incident and yes the fact that rather than doing a straight origin story, it would be yet another rendition of Flashpoint…yawn!
    So after CW hits several home runs of nostalgia feel goods with Robert Whul, Burt Ward and John Wesley Shipp as 1990 Flash…It was inevitable that someone would say…”this is what the movie fans want! They don’t want the current actors, they want the old guys!” So they rush to get Michael Keaton signed…Not because he’s a great actor who would do well in the role! but because it fills the nostalgia quota that WB thinks is their Golden Goose!
    Third…. At best Keaton’s role will be either a cameo or a supporting role! When they hype this kind of casting so early on, It sounds like he’s going to be the most important member of the cast even more so than the titular character! First of all, That’s bad because It’s no longer about pulling in New fans with a young actor in a movie about a hero that never got one, It’s now about pulling in 40-50 year olds watching their cinematically established hero, take the spotlight from the character who is supposed to be the film’s lead! And for all that effort of getting Keaton to sign (and maybe even getting him to agree to wearing an updated version of his old suit for at best, one scene!) the finished product never lives up to the hype.

  11. 1. Silver. Hooo-weee! I daresay, that’s a fetching-looking woman. And looking forward to seeing how “figuring out Batman’s identity” plays out.

    2. Deadshot’s costume. I’ve always liked it, and the intro in issue #474 was done really well. I was definitely overdue reading that issue, being a fan of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad.

    Great show as always, guys!

  12. Guys, there’s another heavy prose story. George Peréz wrote one in the Who Killed Mindi Meyer? story. It was a police report with very flowery prose and limited word balloons.

    You know who would make a great 70s Batman? John Saxon. And wouldn’t Brandon Lee have made the perfect Dick Grayson?

    Adam West is a good Batman. But THE Batman, please. It’s Kevin Conroy. To quote LL Cool J, “Over the competition I’m towerin'”.

    But i digress… great stories and great coverage.

  13. I should start my comment by thanking Martin Gray who was involved in the reprint of The Deadshot Ricochet that I own. It was in the 1991Batman Annual with Batmite’s New York Adventure and the 2 part Laughing Fish story. Glorious to see the Rogers/Austin art in a larger format. Reading Martin’s account above might explain why they used the Walter Simonson cover from Batman 366 for that annual.

    I’m a huge fan of Steve Englehart but I think he tends to overstate his influence on the Tim Burton Batman movie. I’ve seen him repeatedly state that Kim Basinger is playing a renamed Silver StCloud. I’ve even seen him claiming that Vicki Vale was too obscure for the film to pick up. Englehart clearly didn’t read the Doug Moench run. Englehart’s run is influential but it’s not unprecedented.

    My favourite case of someone overstating their influence is Neal Adams. I read an interview where he says everyone who does X-Men just copies his run by doing Magneto, the Sentinels and Ka-Zar. Um, Neal, Jack Kirby did that X-Men run nearly 10 years before you. Maybe they’re not copying you.

    As for the debate about why no-one is the Christopher Reeve of Batman I have a theory. The reason it is hard to create the perfect Batman is that the character is so vague and malleable. Batman stories are not really about a person, they are about the idea of Batman. Bruce Wayne is a charade. He is pretending to be something other than what he is. I’m sure this is part of his popularity because fans can construct their own idea of who he really is and can pick and choose stories that reflect their own ideals.

    Anyway I can’t wait for your coverage of the Joker story next. I hope we’ll get the Grant/Wagner/Breyfogle Detective soon and I’d love to see you cover more of the early 80s stories particularly the Len Wein and Walter Simonson Joker birthday story which who be a great follow up to Laughing Fish.

  14. something just occurred to me and I wanted your opinion.. For well over thirty years we’ve referred to Batman as the Dark Knight. Prior to Dark knight Returns he was always the Caped Crusader. or in some instances the Masked Manhunter. How did the Dark Knight come into being? Well I was watching the World’s Greatest super Friends today and I think I might have found a possible answer to that question
    in The World’s Greatest Super Friends episode “Space Knights of Camelon” Batman uses a hologram projector to distract the guards. The Hologram introduces himself as “Sir Batman!” Is this how Batman Became the Dark Knight? what do you think?

    1. Batman #1 actually has the first reference to this nickname:

      In the ’70s, they used “Darkknight Detective” for sure. Frank Miller has said that’s what inspired the name for his story.

      1. Wow! I didn’t know it went that far back It just seemed to come out of nowhere in 86 then it was all over the place. To be fair, I will admit that in the 70s I was watching Batman in the old TV show and the cartoons more than I ever read the comics. I didn’t actually start reading Batman regularly until after A Death in the Family..

  15. I love these issues so much! All I want to add to the conversation is; The Penguin’s plot. If Batman hadn’t been Bruce Wayne, Penguin would have succeeded. Batman figures it out because Bruce is given the clue! Also, I just realized! Penguin is in Gotham because of Hugo Strange’s auction. He figures that it’s going to take some time, so he devises the phony Malay Penguin threat in order to both distract Batman and to amuse himself until the flight leaves for Paris! I also disagree with your interpretation of Bruce saying “wrong” to Dick. (I am fully aware you were doing a bit and exaggerating for comic effect.) He’s not saying a long drawn out “wrong” like Dom Deluise in “Blazing Saddles.” I interpret it as a short, sharp, decisive “wrong!”
    I don’t think I ever realized that the Joker was putting on his hat in that silhouette. Thanks!
    I can accept that Deadshot missed Batman with his bullets in the same way that I accept the unrealistic prison, the improbable prison escape (by which I mean the leap to freedom and evasion of authority, not the laser monocle. The laser monocle is cool!), and Lawton’s managing to arm and costume himself so quickly. (Gambi’s of Gotham?)
    Rogers’ body language of Batman and Robin, Bruce and Dick, and Bruce and Silver is better acting and directing than most TV shows.

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