Batman Knightcast 34: DETECTIVE COMICS #400 and BATMAN #452

Riddle me this! When is the Batman more Man than Bat? On the first Batman Knightcast episode of 2021, Ryan Daly and Chris Franklin take on the opening chapters of two different fan-favorite trilogies. First, the Dark Knight's first encounter with the Man-Bat in DETECTIVE COMICS #400. Then, the Riddler challenges Batman like never before in "Dark Knight, Dark City" from BATMAN #452. All that, plus listener feedback from last episode.

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: "Midnight Confessions" by The Grass Roots; "Cities in Dust" by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

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14 responses to “Batman Knightcast 34: DETECTIVE COMICS #400 and BATMAN #452

  1. Thanks for another inspiring episode, gentlemen. After your comment about Batman sticking the rescued baby in a Robin costume, I’m now imagining a new reality TV show, where orphaned toddlers compete in a contest to become Bruce Wayne’s new ward. For some strange reason, the tots would have to complete various tasks like escaping from handcuffs and solving riddles, before participating in a final no-holds-barred steel cage match. The panel of judges would consist of Bruce Wayne and his butler, along with a rotating spot for one of Bruce’s former wards. I’d call it Who Wants to Be a Billionaire’s Ward?

    You know, I think I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for too long. Perhaps, I should go for a walk, and reconnect with reality.

  2. Thanks for another Bat-tastic episode, two very interesting stories there. Somehow I’d never noticed that Man-Bat has no wings in that first story. That’s fascinating!

    Have you seen Man-Bat in Justice League Dark? He spend most of his time in a mid-shift form and looks ridiculous, like Dr Dillamond in Wicked. And what’s he doing in there, he’s not supernatural, he’s science!

    This may shock you but I don’t violently disagree with you boys that the Detective Comics #400 cover is too busy with logos and irrelevant figures. It would look better if it were cleaner.

    I don’t ‘dig’ that new Batmobile, it’s very dull – just a sports car with a black Bat-blotch. Any Batmobile worthy of the name needs at least a big bubble on the back containing a crime lab. Heck, where does he even keep the whirly-bats? Overall though, a classic debut for Kirk Langstrom.

    As for the next story, woh, we’re going to to Barbathos! What an impressive opening to a classic three-parter. I don’t actually like the idea of Gotham as sort-of sentient, a haunted city, but I can overlook the odd bit of narration by putting it down to a writer getting overly flowery. The Riddler is too dark here, and what’s this about a Hanged Man ‘codeword card’? That’s just odd.

    The most interesting thing this issue, above all else, is the revelation that Bruce Wayne has a gold lavvie with matching bidet. So classy.

  3. I’ve read the second part of the Man-Bat trilogy in “Batman 30s to 70s”, but never got around to the other issues, so this is a treat! And yes, Alfred as guinea pig for testing gadgets is a riot. “I need exploding batarangs when working with the Justice League. Alfred, you stand behind this concrete wall and let’s see if it blasts thru.” “… Of course, sir…”

    But I did read “Dark Knight, Dark City” back in the day. Looking forward to revisiting it. Kieron Dwyer’s artwork is wonderful in this issue. You guys place his take on Batman just where I do. Love it!

    After you joking about putting the baby into a Robin costume in a few years, why wait? The little one could wear one now, and Batman carries them around papoose style, just like Jack “Nomad” Monroe does in his 90s series. Wait a sec, let me check. (“Yoooooou, light up my liiiiiiiife”) The first issue of the Nomad mini-series is just 4 months after Batman #452! Holy guacamole!!

    Maybe Harold can whip up a floating bulletproof baby carriage that closes up when the fighting starts. (Hey, Captain America AND Mandalorian references! Winning!)

  4. I recently picked up some discounted Batman Automobilia issues, including issue 5 which came with the Batmobile from Batman 400.

    The magazine features a lot of details from this arc.

    Aren’t I awesome!

      1. Paul, I have no authority on this network. That said, I sense that this is the type of environment where insults and harsh judgment based on simple errors are in welcome. That even includes errors regarding topics as important to all of us as Batman comic book trivia. Let’s all be kinder nerds — not just to one another,* but to ourselves.

        *Does not apply to Shag if Rob Kelly makes the error. Does not apply to anyone, including network guests, if Shag makes the error. Verbal abuse based on personal characteristics and history (e.g., state of origin, nation of origin, fondness or dislike of certain characters and creators, financial status during childhood, etc.) still highly encouraged. Family members, children, and animals off limits. Generally.

  5. Happy new year to both Ryan and Chris. I take, given your hopes for a quieter wold both in terms of the pandemic and US politics in 2021, that you recorded the episode in 2020? 😉

    The Riddler is one of my favourite Bat-villains and this story is very much the high point in terms of good Riddler stories. Apart from some Chuck Dixon Riddler stories (and I believe Kieron Dwyer also drew the Dixon Year One annual on the Riddler), this story is the one which I think of in terms of great Riddler stories.

    Peter Milligan crafted an excellent story. I enjoyed his run on Detective Comics when Jim Aparo was moved over to Detective, swapping with Breyfogle – he had some nice 1-2 issue stories which were very thought-provoking. He also had a 4-issue crossover between Batman and Detective called “The Idiot” which took place in Brazil is definitely worth a look over again (plus, it had some great Breyfogle and Aparo art).

    The Man-Bat story is one I read many times in The Greatest Batman stories ever told but I never read the immediate follow ups so I look forward to listening to your coverage on same.

    Excellent show as always and look forward to the next parts in the Man-Bat/Riddler stories.

  6. Okay, I was shocked to look back and discover that it had been more than three weeks since you posted this episode, and I still hadn’t posted the comment I wanted to make — only a wiseacre response to the Aussie envoy. Well, the good news is, it’s much shorter than it would have been if I’d written it right away.

    After listening to this and ruminating, I determined that I have never read ‘TEC #400. All I know about the origin of Man-Bat came from The Greatest Power Record Ever Made ©. But hearing the review here, and especially Chris’s synopsis, I realized that in addition to all of Adams’ and Robbins’ other achievements, they may have inspired the great children’s book series SkippyJon Jones! See the link below — specifically the portion from 2:05 to 2:24 — to hear what I’m talking about.
    Of course, it’s also possible that SkippyJon inspired Chris. Either way, it’s all great stuff.

    Regarding Batman #452, most of it was way too dark for my taste. I say “mostly,” because the creative team seemed to be going out of their way to show that Batman isn’t going too dark, as we see when he’s holding the baby. I genuinely appreciate that, especially since it’s such a common error. And the Barbathos angle, sinister and occulty as it is, mitigates the damage a little by giving Riddler a reason to be so uncharacteristically bloodthirsty. But all that isn’t enough to save the story from being a bleak downer reminiscent of the worst episodes of Gotham.

    And, as often occurs, I agree with Martin. I don’t need Gotham to be a mystical Kobayashi Maru of crime and human atrocity where Batman can never make a dent. He, the Wayne Foundation, Leslie Thompkins, Commissioner Gordon, and all the honest citizens and civil servants of Gotham can see a return for their efforts and still have enough crime left over to keep Batman decisively engaged. It worked in the seventies, dang it, and I don’t even mind if you’re on my lawn.

    Anyway, it was still a very fun episode, so keep up the great work and I look forward to hearing you again soon.

    P.S. Tim, you know I think the world of you, but I will ask you to please update your hold music. Not everything from the seventies held up as well as Adams’ and Robbins’ Batman.

    1. One more thought (hmm, maybe this comment is just as long as it would have been in early January): If what I’ve read is accurate, Thomas Jefferson was one of our most zealously anti-British founding fathers, at least prior to and during the Revolution. Is it possible that, by involving TJ in this wicked scheme, Milligan is getting his revenge?

    2. Suggestion taken:
      He was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.
      One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.
      I like short short flying purple people eaters…

    3. Cap – We recorded the next episode last weekend, so unfortunately your comments won’t make it onto the feedback section. But thanks for sticking with us anyway.

      1. Ryan, I understand. You had no obligation to let me know that, but it was very kind of you to do so. I think I appreciate your doing so even more than when you read my comments, and I appreciate those instances quite a lot.

        So, you entertain me AND make me feel welcome. Of course I’m sticking around. Be well, brother.

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