Batman Knightcast 7: DETECTIVE COMICS #570

Chris Franklin and Ryan Daly review DETECTIVE COMICS #570, continuing the thrilling adventure by Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis!

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Music from the Batman and Batman Returns original motion picture soundtracks by Danny Elfman. Additional music: “Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go?” by Soft Cell.

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34 responses to “Batman Knightcast 7: DETECTIVE COMICS #570

  1. Try as I might, I just can’t find anything wrong with these Barr/Davis stories. I LOVED the whole bit of Batman and Robin in the bar, giving the Boy Wonder a chance to see some of the seamier corners of Gotham. I’m not sure I get Ryan’s distress over this scene–would ANYONE in that bar(r) dare to lay a finger on Batman’s junior partner when he’s in the next room?

    In fact, this whole scene reminds me why I essentially gave up on Batman comics after the movies started influencing everything: Batman went from The World’s Greatest Detective to The World’s Greatest Face Breaker, someone inclined to bust skulls mostly just because he can. I prefer this Batman who prefers to save physical violence for super villains–all the other criminal denizens of the city can be kept in check by sheer intimidation.

    I do agree, the ending is a bit abrupt–Batman smiling in the next to last panel is probably a bit too much, considering what has just happened to Catwoman. Maybe an extra or page or two would have made the conclusion work a bit better. And yeah, maybe finding a way to turn Selina without actually scrambling her brain might have left a better after taste. Still, messing with someone’s mind is a very Joker-type scam, and dragging in Dr. Moon is a nice touch–I like how, in his own way, he’s just as much of a sociopath.

    It’s a crime that DC messed with Alan Davis to the point where he finally just bailed on the company. What a waste! He is one of superhero comics’ best talents, I can’t believe DC let him slip away like that. Chris mentioned his first BATO, and I remember the panel of the original JLAers and always wondering man, what could have been…

    Yeah, Aquaman might have been given a greater boost if Davis had done the mini. Part of the reason the mini-series has never been reprinted is because it basically became a continuity dead end, and that’s because Hamilton’s inability to make his deadlines ended the new era before it began. It sounds like Davis would not have had that problem… oh well.

    Great episode all around. Soft Cell FTW!

  2. Going off what Rob wrote; back in 2005 I was on a panel at DragonCon and after we finished talking about what we were talking about the subject of who would win in a fight came up. At one point someone was talking about Batman and this guy in the audience said, “He’s not the world’s greatest fighter. He’s the world’s greatest Detective.” I realized in that moment that as much as I enjoyed the majority of the Batman comics I had read in the late ’90s and early 00’s something was missing. It seemed that fandom was more focused on Batman’s ability to beat someone silly became more important than his keen mind and detective skills. I don’t think this was intentional but there it was and that idea has only gotten stronger after three Nolan films that put more emphasis on the action rather than the detective work.

    Fun fact; that guy was Shag. It was our first meeting. Weird.

    Your coverage of the issue was so amazing that I can’t disagree with any part of it and I can’t add anything to it. The only thing that stood out was Chris suggesting that Davis might have been a better choice for Infinite Crisis than Phil Jiminez. Chris cited Phil’s lateness but I got the feeling that everything about the project was late and that creators that were ahead of the game back then were unhappy because of how last minute the publishing was. Davis would have been amazing even if I like the fact that Phil and George Perez and Jerry Ordway all got to contribute to that story.

    See…even in not completely agreeing with you I don’t disagree with you. Again, weird.

    Put me down as someone that loves when the creators have maps and such for a fictional city. I ran into why I liked it so much recently when I was read an issue of ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and a blackout happened. One of the characters said the power was out from one area to another and then power went out to Stryker’s Island. I checked the map from the Superman Sourcebook and sure enough sandwiched between the two area that were blacked out was the Island. It was also really cool to see maps during No Man’s Land as areas were continually changing hands, so you were able to follow who controlled what area and where it was in relation to the action. It’s not a deal breaker if it isn’t there but I love it when it is.

    Great job, citizens. Now on to Year One.

    1. You and Rob bring up some good points on how Batman slowly went from “intellect” to “thug”. Yeah, the physicality was always there, after all, a Batman fight scene was enough of a trope that it made it into EVERY SINGLE TV EPISODE, sometimes more than once! But at some point, Batman began delivering more beat-downs that mystery-solving expositions.

      I’m surprised Shag had an opinion on Batman. He seems to have moved past such things. 😉 But seriously, what a fortuitous meeting!

      Year One? What’s that?


  3. Profile would probably be running the prison inside a week.

    The “Think clean thoughts” line from For The Man Who Has Everything comes to mind.

    You guys touched on my Earth-2 thoughts as well.

    Those 3 packs go back to the 70s, as I had some early Kamandi and Demon issues from one.

    BATO isn’t really BATO unless you include the letters pages, as Barr let the fans run wild. TM Maple, the Bucketlung Brigade, and the continuity debate of Brave & the Bold 123, a Zaney Haney classic. Good and crazy times.

    1. I think the 3-packs go back to the 60s at least! They’ve come and gone over the years. I had many a DC Whitman 3-pack, with the little smiling “W” instead of the DC Bullet back in the late 70s!

      Barr really was good at opening a dialog with the readers. I remember those BATO debates!


  4. FYI Recently, Mike W. Barr, Alan Davis, & Alan Grant participated on a panel discussion at the 2016 Akron Comicon. I thought you guys may find it of interest. Maybe you can do an interview with them yourselves.

      1. Ah, this does look good, I’ll be watching the whole thing to see Alan Davis cracks a smile. Despite sharing a birthday with me, the happiest boy on Earth, he’s always come across as very dour. But my word, what a talent!

  5. If Robin can go anywhere near the Joker, he can go to McSurley’s. Despite the presence of lowlifes, there’s still a line to be drawn where kids are concerned. That’s a branding. And maybe Batman was trying to “do right” by Robin in introducing him to Rhonda, get him more worldly-wise than Bruce may have been growing up a traumatized rich kid.

    It’s great to see such a multifaceted Batman. Paternal w/ Robin, tender w/ ladies, unscrupulous w/ informants, furious w/ Joker, and body-shielding w/ gunfire (oh, not yet). It’s funny that the character became so aloof, mopey, and surly as his Bat-family increased w/ decent figures like Dick, Barbara, and Tim.

    1. Barr’s layered take on Batman is one of the reasons he’s up at the top of Bat-writers for me. Few others blend the many moods of Batman like he does. And few try, preferring “emotionally devastated sociopath”.


  6. I have this one in a Joker collection and think it is brilliant.

    Batman sticking two fingers inside a narrow glass and breaking it with his fingers while saying how popular Profile would be in prison is a graphic and effective image. How did that get by the code?

    Thanks so much for filling in the details about Davis leaving the book. All over a Mauser pistol! Amazing. My guess is DC didn’t have to guts to ask the superstar team of Miller/Mazzuchelli to change their work. Good for Davis to stand up for his artistic rights. But in reality, why was DC being such a stickler? Was the type of gun such a key detail to keep congruous?

    I am right on the Davis bandwagon. There is something very natural and organic about his work. Nothing is angular or sharp. Everything is fluid. He would have been perfect for Aquaman. And, as I said last time, if he can make Excalibur look good, he can make anything look good.

    I collected Batman sporadically over these issues so won’t be able to comment too often. But I’ll be listening!

    1. I was big on the Blue and Gold X-Men teams but, when I collected old Excalibur issues many years later, I found new appreciation for this group that certainly featured a lot of Davis’s creative input as artist and writer. His is my definitive Nightcrawler.

      I too am grateful to know the behind-the-panels story surrounding his departure. I was blown away by his one issue of Year Two and, even as an action junkie kid, was turned off by the inharmonious McFarlane follow-up.

  7. Taking Davis off Aquaman to place him on Outsiders? That’s one of the worst editorial decisions I think I’ve ever heard.

    1. In hindsight, yes. But BATO was one of DC’s best selling books at that time, so they didn’t want it to lose momentum when Aparo left to start the Baxter book. Aquaman hadn’t been able to keep a book afloat since the early 70s (sorry Rob).


        1. Well, I’m assuming it was, since it was lumped into “The Baxter Experiment” like Titans and Legion, which I know were some of DC’s top-selling books at the time (yes, along with Firestorm, Shag. We know).


  8. Another excellent show Ryan and Chris and great spotlight on Alan Davis. It is a pity his DC output is limited – one project you missed on your roundup was the two part Prestige Format “Superboy’s Legion” with script from his regular inker Mark Farmer – talk about an artist that is well suited to the Legion of Superheroes. He also managed to put a Batman cameo in there as well! Was a bit shocking to hear how badly he was treated by the Bat Office at the time – a big loss for DC.

    1. Yeah, I had Superboy’s Legion in my notes, but I figured Ryan might want to talk at some point in this episode, so I lumped it in with “projects LIKE JLA: The Nail” or whatever I said. I personally haven’t read this one, but now I feel the need to track it down. Thanks for reminding me!

      Yeah, the Bat-office really dropped the ball with Davis, especially after Dick G went to all the trouble to court him and put him on books that needed him.


  9. Davis gives Batman and especially Robin SO MUCH personality, it actually MAKES the story elements work. Think of a middling or lesser Batman artist and make him draw some of those sequences and we might have a very different opinion of Robin hanging with prostitutes, etc. Or am I wrong?

    Great episode, as always. I hope you didn’t mind me and Bass plodding through your garden this week, but can’t wait for you to address the Invasion issue next year.

    1. I don’t think you’re wrong at all. Davis totally sells these scenarios like few others could.

      I really enjoyed your Invasion episode! Batman belongs to all of us…well, except for Shag. He’s a Batman snob.


  10. Am I the only one who can’t remember which is Dr Moon and which is Prof Milo – I think the latter has the pudding bowl haircut. (I’ve a similar problem with JLA utility evil scientists Prof Ivo and Ira Quimby.

    Of course your correct, Catwoman didn’t have to be (ugly non-word alert) ‘revillainised’ but I guess Denny just wanted to stamp on the work of others, because they just didn’t get Batman like he did.

    Call me old-fashioned but I don’t think Batman should be threatening guys with prison rape, and even pretending he’s willing to plant evidence. I’m all for hanging out with Rhonda, though, I expect Batman was planning to eventually send Jason to her for lessons on how to be a sophisticated young man.

    1. The only reason I can keep Milo and Moon apart in my head is a combination of ethnicity and haircut. Both have a similar schtick and frankly you could switch them out and not really lose all that much.

  11. Thank you, gentlemen, for helping me to realize what a big Alan Davis fan I am, without ever knowing it. I have to start by saying I am not an artist nor do I have an artist’s eye. I’d be hard pressed to identify any comic book artist by his or her work, whether you offered me money or held a gun to my head (FYI, I’d prefer the former). That being said, your profile of Alan Davis made me realize how much of his work I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’ve never been a big fan of the X-Men, but I could not get enough of Excalibur back in the day. While on the DC side, The Nail is a favorite that I still like to revisit from time to time. Thank you again for the continuing art education.

  12. I wonder if John Workman worked ahead of schedule like Alan Davis, and he lettered the comic when Gordon was a captain? I know that is a terrible joke, but I like to post something on here!

  13. Ok, I’m WAY behind and I know the episode and conversation has long been put to bed. But I’m jumping in anyways, mainly on the bar scene. I’m glad you guys took a few minutes to examine Rhonda. To put it bluntly, I miss the content prostitute as a character archetype. It’s gone the way of the functional alcoholic as something that’s just not shown anymore. That Batman seems not only happy to see her (as you noted, perhaps a bit too happy) but also is insistent on a certain level of respect towards her is something I can’t imagine would ever be depicted now. Rhonda feels rather in line with Jamie Lee Curtis’ character from Trading Places. You know, the whole “I don’t do drugs, I don’t have a pimp, this place is a dump but it’s cheap and it’s clean and it’s all mine,” woman making her way using what talents she has to their full extent. Today prostitution and sex work in general is always depicted as something women are forced into or otherwise turn to out of desperation so extreme it borders on fetishistic. And while that does happen, the reality is that people get into sex work for a multitude of reasons (just like any other criminal enterprise.) We still have thieves in our fiction who do it for the thrill and have some degree of honor, but we won’t extend that to sex work anymore because then we might give female characters too much agency. Nope, there needs to be a crippling drug problem or a violent pimp involved, lest we allow a woman to control her life in any meaningful way. Ok, I’ll get off that soapbox.

    Here’s something I really can’t believe you guys missed. So, when Batman is threatening Profile (quick side note, I’m so over Batman threatening and beating up people for information that even when it’s done well like this I still don’t like it) he rather conspicuously has his two fingers inserted upwards into this quite snug wine glass and puts heavy emphasis on the word “inside.” Like you guys said, HOW did this get code approval? And one last thing about Profile, I can’t decide how I feel about his level of feminization. The pinky up when drinking the wine and painted nails frankly seem unnecessary. Yet at the same time his shuddering at what Batman is suggesting plays against the stereotype usually associated with this kind of male character. I’m usually all in favor of that kind of subversion, but I don’t think it was intentional here. I think they were just leaning into the “prison butt stuff” joke so hard that they accidently ended up sending mixed messages.

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