Author Topic: Mikishawm: I think I know who you are!
Batman Fan 31593
posted September 07, 2000 07:14 PM

Mikishawm - I saved your Spook post on my computer. Here it is:

The Spook loved green, whether it was the neon glow of his shroud or the glorious color of money. It should come as no surprise, then, that his primary goal in most of his clashes with Batman was the accumulation of vast sums of cash.

The shrouded rogue first appeared in a puff of smoke inside the jail cell of "Big Turk" Ramis, "four-time loser and one-time syndicate boss" (1973's DETECTIVE COMICS #434). Despite being imprisoned in an escape-proof new maximum security penitentiary (Blackgate ?), Ramis was assured by the Spook that he could be freed easily. Because Big Turk had refused to accept the hood's "introductory offer," his "'escape-insurance' policy will cost you double!". Within minutes, Ramis' cell was empty, save for a Spook doll atop his bunk.

Taking part in the subsequent manhunt for Big Turk, Batman began to wonder if the Spook might be the bigger threat. Stopping to arrest two small-time hoods, the Dark Knight found them surprisingly cocky, confident that they would be freed with ease. En route to the police station, Batman was forced to bring the Batmobile to a screeching halt when the Spook himself sprang up in his path. Leaving the vehicle to investigate, Batman quickly realized he'd been duped "by the simplest fool-the-eye 'illusion' stunt in the magic books! An inflatable 'Spook' figure ... blown up by underground city-steam" from a man-hole. Alerted by the abrupt absence of his car lights, Batman turned to find "my Batmobile -- my prisoners -- the whole works -- gone!". The vehicle eventually turned up -- minus the prisoners -- in the police department impounding lot, complete with a Spook mannequin cuffed to the steering wheel.

Elsewhere, we learned that the villain had an elaborate surveillance system in place, one that tracked beepers on multiple "clients" throughout Gotham, alerting the Spook when one of them was taken into custody. Discovering such a device on the recaptured Big Turk's glasses, Batman took his place and returned to prison, anticipating a face-to-face encounter with the spectral racketeer (DETECTIVE # 434). The Spook had anticipated Batman, who was unaware that there was a back-up beeper on Ramis, and he sent a hypnotized surrogate in his place.

Eventually, the Dark Knight tracked the villain to his nerve center, based in an abandoned section of the Gotham Subway tunnel. Defiant to the end, the unmasked villain vowed to Batman that "neither you nor all the bars in creation will ever hold the Spook!". A fingerprint check came back with positive identification on the mastermind's identity -- and a stunning fact: "Ten years ago -- Val Kaliban was executed in the electric-chair!" (DETECTIVE # 435).

Brought to life by artists Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, the Spook was the last great creation of the outstanding (if often overlooked) late 1960s/early 1970s Batman writer Frank Robbins. With years as the writer-artist of the JOHNNY HAZARD comic strip under his belt, Robbins was accustomed to the balance of fantasy and reality that Batman scripts required.

Always a man of logic, Batman was confident that all of the rogue's seemingly unearthly escapes had a simple explanation. "Make no mistake, we're dealing with a man -- not a 'spook' who can cheat even the electric chair!". With Alfred Pennyworth and investigator Jason Bard recruited to draw the Spook into the open, Batman trailed him to the site of the now-abandoned original Gotham prison (in current continuity, probably the original Blackgate, seen in DETECTIVE # 629) and ended up in a seeming deathtrap. Even strapped to the same electric chair that "killed" Val Kaliban, Batman beat the odds and brought the Spook to justice.

Kaliban had been "convicted for killing his boss, head of a large engineering firm involved in city planning." Batman concluded that "Kaliban's employer caught him messing around with plans ... plans for Gotham's new jail system. That could explain the Spook's secret prison-escape routes." Addressing the Spook, Batman related his conclusions. "It would've been simple for you to escape from death-row, Kaliban...but you needed to be listed as 'dead' to accomplish your long-range scheme -- setting up a gangland 'escape-insurance' racket. So you had to provide a stand-in for your execution. Some nameless look-alike outside prison -- whom you brought back here, hypnotized ... and let go to YOUR death without a telltale whimper. For who would check fingerprints afterward ... ?"

Discussing methods of keeping Kaliban in custody with Commisioner Gordon and the warden, Batman produced "the product of Kaliban's supreme ego ... a blueprint I found while searching his hideout." The warden continued, "He couldn't resist the challenge to design an escape-proof cell not even the Spook could break out of." The case had an impact on Batman's life in other ways. Framed for the murders of Ra's al Ghul and Talia only months later, Batman was able to escape prison only thanks to one of the Spook's as-yet-unsealed secret passageways. By DETECTIVE COMICS # 470 (1977), Batman had transformed a portion of the abandoned subway tunnel into a secondary Batcave that was situated near the Wayne Foundation building.

The Spook proved to be a favorite of later Batman writer David V. Reed, who first used the villain in BATMAN # 276 (1976). This time, Kaliban's motive was pure revenge. Using psychological conditioning, he intended to manipulate Batman into killing him, thus rendering the Dark Knight ineffectual from then on. Batman turned the tables by faking his OWN death and "haunting" the Spook.

Soon after, with (ultimately unfounded) rumors of the Batman's death in circulation, a series of underworld trials were set up to determine the true killer. While seated in the jury box (BATMAN # 291-294), the Spook came up with a scheme that would remove Batman AND make a fortune. Using a virtual reality-type setting, the Spook nearly convinced a drugged Batman that he was dead. Filming the scenario, the villain planned to auction off the video. The Dark Knight regained his senses in the nick of time and captured the Spook once more (BATMAN # 304; 1978).

In the Cary Burkett-scripted DETECTIVE # 488 (1979), the Spook returned to the "escape-insurance" gig, while trapping Batman on death-row as a bonus.

After an appearance with other Batman rogues in DETECTIVE # 526 (1983), the Spook did not reappear until 1992's SHADOW OF THE BAT # 3 and 4, inexplicably depicted as an inmate in Arkham rather than a traditional prison. Ironically, the plot for SOTB # 1-4 revolved around a villain (Mister Zsasz) who, like the Spook, had access to secret passages lined throughout the asylum.

A chronologically earlier Spook appeared in 1998's BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 102-104 (by James Robinson and Paul Johnson). This version was a "a government operative ... undercover special ops ... a Spook." Unhinged after a mission gone bad, the Spook believed himself to be a real specter and, garbed in a glowing shroud, he intended to murder the corporate heads whose companies he blamed for his "death."

posted September 09, 2000 11:13 AM

Thank you, Batman fan. Are there any more biographies in that thread that we haven't seen in this?

May I also add that the great Mikishawm have produced biographies of bat-villains Sterling Silversmith, Bag O´Bones/Cyclotronic Man/One Man Meltdown, Snafu, Ubu, Baffler/Headbanger, and Nimrod the Hunter in this thread:

Batman Fan 31593
posted September 09, 2000 11:20 AM

Originally posted by Hellstone:

Thank you, Batman fan.

Don't thank me. Thank Mikishawm!

posted September 09, 2000 02:36 PM

I have done that so many times already. (Count the thanks and praisings in this thread. Not that he doesn't deserve it.) Thanks for digging up the stuff.

posted September 09, 2000 02:40 PM

Merci, Batman Fan! There were about four other bios that I did back then -- each in its own thread. They were Black Spider, Hugo Strange, Mr. Zsasz and a mini-history of Mr. Freeze. I'm a little pressed for time this weekend so it might be a good time to post all those histories here.

Mister Zsasz was the creation of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, introduced in BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 1-4 (1992), and it was Grant who wrote most of his subsequent appearances, including his origin (THE BATMAN CHRONICLES # 3, 1996).

In TBC # 3, an Arkham therapist found herself unable to understand why the serial killer did what he did. "You don't exhibit the usual signs of mental illness. No voices, no hallucinations, no dementia. Why," she asked him. "do you kill ?"

"I have no dysfunctional family background. I suffered neither childhood abuse or trauma. I kill for ONE reason only, doctor -- because I CHOOSE to." The child of wealthy parents, Zsasz grew up to become "the toast of the markets, the man with an in to a string of billion-dollar deals."

At twenty-five, Zsasz lost his parents in a boating mishap and found distraction in high-stakes gambling. He gradually squandered his entire fortune, ultimately betting everything he owned against the Penguin at a Gotham casino. "my body flushed with adrenaline. I'd never felt so excited. Surely, this was the ultimate rush." Zsasz lost.

Stunned, he became convinced that "there was nothing at all at the center of me -- no reason for being, no motivation, no purpose. I was just a robot, sleepwalking from one distraction to another, hiding from the truth."

As he prepared to leap to his death from a bridge, Zsasz was accosted by a knife-wielding street person. Overpowering him, Zsasz looked into his eyes and saw "nothing. He was a robot, driven by forces he didn't even know exist. He was a beast, an animal, a subhuman. Only death could ever save him from his own emptiness." Hacking the man to death, Zsasz recalled "I had found my calling, to help poor beasts shuffle off this mortal coil." Making a cut on his arm, Zsasz began a tally on his body that would grow to include more than 143 other scars.

Luring the doctor to the edge of his cell, Zsasz thrust his arm out, grabbing her by the throat ("There's no use struggling. I practice isometrics for sixteen hours every day.") Dropping the corpse to the floor, Zsasz repeated "I kill because I want to kill. Because I choose to kill."

Zsasz was first imprisoned in Arkham several years ago but escaped at least once before being brought to justice by Batgirl (1998's BATMAN: BATGIRL # 1).

Probably the best Zsasz story was the first one published (SOTB # 1-4). The appearance of a copycat serial killer in Gotham left Batman convinced that Zsasz was somehow sneaking in and out of Arkham. Faking a breakdown, Batman was "subdued" by Commissioner Gordon and committed to the asylum. What followed was a series of mindgames, with Zsasz toying with both Batman and the hospital's administrator, Jeremiah Arkham.

The secret was ultimately uncovered: Arkham's builder Zolly Hiram had built a series of secret passageways into the structure and had sold the knowledge to an unknown number of subjects ... including Zsasz.

Zsasz was spotlighted in a rare non-Grant episode in BATMAN # 493. The Doug Moench sequence was reprised by Dennis O'Neil on pages 75-83 of the "Knightfall" novelization. Zsasz continued to make memorable cameos in many of Grant's later Arkham-based stories and escaped into the quake-ravaged Gotham at the end of the last one (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 82). He surfaced again, seriously injured, near the end of the "No Man's Land" cycle in a story written by Devin Grayson (THE BATMAN CHRONICLES # 18). Featuring Bruce Wayne's confidant Leslie Thompkins, the story dealt with the philosophical question of whether to fight for the life of someone who lived to kill.

Best Zsasz-related one-liner (from Garth Ennis' HITMAN # 2): As Tommy Monaghan walks past his cell, Zsasz lunges at him. Tommy responds: "I saw the movie, thanks."


More tomorrow!

posted September 10, 2000 06:11 PM

"The most dangerous man in the world! Scientist, philosopher and a criminal genius ... little is known of him, yet this man is undoubtedly the greatest organizer of crime in the world." With those words from Bruce Wayne in 1940's DETECTIVE COMICS # 36, readers got their first inkling of the evil that could be expected from Professor Hugo Strange.

Hugo Strange had a bald misshapen head, complete with bushy eyebrows, coke-bottle glasses and a thick beard accenting his jaw. Just as The Batman was familiar with him, Strange knew of his soon-to-be-adversary. Cursing an underling for not killing him when he had the chance, Strange declared that "The Batman is the only man with the imagination to sense the exact nature of our plans."

The Batman had chanced upon the looming threat of Strange in Gotham thanks to the dying words of F.B.I. agent John Davis. A list of banks and other financial targets, coupled with a cryptic reference to fog, put the Dark Knight on the alert. The next evening, Gotham was virtually hidden beneath an unnatural fog that helped shield the first in a series of robberies. Heading to the next target on the list, Batman handily defeated a sextet of Strange's men. In his quarters, Strange reacted with naked fury towards the man who had interfered, shattering a wine glass in his hand: "I'll CRUSH him as readily as I crush this glass!"

In a one-to-one match, though, Strange was no match for Batman, who beat the professor into submission. Freeing the electrical engineer whose device had created the fog, Batman soon cleared the Gotham skyline.

Even in the scant ten months The Batman had been in existence, Strange was not the only recurring foe to appear in the strip. The first had been Karl Hellfern (a.k.a. Doctor Death), seen in back-to-back stories in DETECTIVE # 29 and 30. The story in # 31 and 32 (guest-written by Gardner Fox) had introduced the vampiric Monk and Dala. Still, Bill Finger and Bob Kane had plans to do more with the mad professor. Shaking his cell bars at the end of DETECTIVE # 36, Strange vowed to escape and "devote the rest of my life in revenging myself upon The Batman!"

That return bout was scheduled for DETECTIVE # 38, an issue that ultimately changed the entire texture of the series when the origin of a Boy Wonder named Robin appeared there instead. The second Hugo Strange story did not make it into print until BATMAN # 1.

Escaping from prison, Strange abducted several inmates from an insane asylum and went into seclusion for a month. His return was heralded by a fifteen-foot monster with herculean strength that rampaged through the streets of Gotham. The plan was to exhaust the city's resources on other such behemoths while Strange and his mob looted with impunity.

Trailing the creatures to their lair, Batman once again faced Professor Strange, who injected him with the same chemical that transformed the madmen into mindless beasts. Escaping, Batman knocked Strange out the window of his headquarters, conveniently located on the edge of a seaside cliff. With Strange left to "fall to murky waters below," Batman turned his attention to running through a gauntlet of monsters and devising a cure for himself before he joined their number.

Taking to the sky in the Batplane, Batman prepared to round-up the other marauders, literally in one case, when a creature is hung by the neck from the plane until dead. Batman had used guns in the past but this episode took things to another level and featured a machine-gun mounted to the craft, which the Dark Knight used to dispatch the rest of the monsters: "Much as I hate to take human life, I'm afraid this time it's necessary!" The final creature, a la King Kong, was blasted from the top of a skyscraper.

With the addition of a boy to the cast, such antics were simply no longer tolerable. Bill Finger recalled in STERANKO'S HISTORY OF COMICS # 1 that "I was called on the carpet by (editor) Whit Ellsworth. He said 'Never let us have Batman carry a gun again.' He was right."

Strange still had a little more life in him, though, and turned up one last time in 1941's DETECTIVE # 46. Using fear dust that reduced all in its path to quivering wrecks, the good professor no longer aspired merely to great wealth. Now he boasted that "they will let me take over the reins of the government. I can be dictator of America!" It was, in some respects, a throwback to 1939, with Robin absent from the story until the climax. Once again, the Dark Knight and his nemesis were locked in battle at the edge of a cliff. Reeling, Strange fell over the edge. "This time," Batman remarked, "it really looks as if it is the end of the evil career of Professor Hugo Strange!"

And, with a new breed of criminal represented by the likes of the Joker, the Penguin and the Catwoman, it seemed that the days of pulp villains like Professor Strange and Doctor Death were coming to a close. In 1975, however, DC reprinted a BATMAN # 1 facsimile in FAMOUS FIRST EDITION # F-5 and a new generation got its first look at the mad doctor.

Enter Steve Englehart. Putting together an eight-issue run of stories for 1977's DETECTIVE COMICS # 469-476, he decided to pay homage to every era of Batman's career from the science-fiction period of the late 1950s and early 1960s (represented by Doctor Phosphorus) to the pre-Robin days of 1939 and 1940. Illustrated by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, the return of Hugo Strange in DETECTIVE # 471 and 472 was a sensation!

Checking into a private clinic after his battle with Phosphorus, Bruce Wayne had unknowingly stumbled onto an elaborate scheme that transformed wealthy patrons into his monsters. Confronting the hospital's Chief of Staff, Batman was stunned when Doctor Todhunter pulled off a mask and revealed himself to be...

"Professor Hugo Strange! I thought you were dead! But I should have known better. You always were one for miraculous returns -- and you've turned men into monsters before!"

For his part, Strange credited Batman as "the reason I abandoned Gotham City for Europe after our last battle -- and the reason I have returned after so many years of success there. Only The Batman can offer Hugo Strange a challenge."

With Batman drugged and in his power, Strange usurped his Bruce Wayne identity, intent on divesting the Wayne Foundation of its fortune while simultaneously engineering an auction for the secret of the Dark Knight's true identity. Preferring not to wait, mobster Rupert Thorne had Strange abducted but no amount of beating would release the truth from his lips.

With his dying breath, Strange gasped, "To learn The Batman's secrets -- you must triumph over him -- not me. I was a fool --to ever think of -- selling them. The Batman is too good for such as you -- Thorne! He and I -- we are two -- of a kind! I will -- never -- betray -- "

Rescued by Robin, Batman was oblivious to Strange's true fate. Thorne was not so lucky. Over the course of the next two issues, the crime boss would be haunted by the spirit of Hugo Strange, a specter that warned "Your murderous life has run its course. When you see me a third time, it will be -- the end!" Driven to a desperate flight in issue # 475, Thorne could not escape his fate. On a lonley, rain-swept road in Ohio, Thorne confronted someone -- a ghost, his conscience, or something else --and had been reduced to madness by the time the Highway Patrol came across his vehicle the next morning (# 476).

In a subplot that began in 1981's DETECTIVE # 507, Thorne was released from Arkham, intent on rebuilding his criminal organization. Over the course of several issues, Gerry Conway reprised the haunting of Thorne by Hugo Strange's ghost, culminating in a two-parter that saw "ghost breaker" Doctor Thirteen brought in to debunk the supposed spirit (DETECTIVE # 520). Thirteen found evidence that the haunting had, in fact, been a hoax and an enraged Thorne headed for the office of the political rivals he imagined were responsible. Gunning down one official, Thorne was shot by another. Observing from a limousine outside, a laughing Hugo Strange bid Rupert Thorne a "good night" (BATMAN # 354).

Professing to have faked his death using yoga techniques, Strange now found himself compelled to adopt The Batman's identity for real. When his attempts to drive Bruce Wayne insane with lifelike mandroids met with failure, Strange blew himself up (BATMAN # 356; 1982). Or did he ?

It was left to Doug Moench to provide final answers in 1986's BATMAN ANNUAL # 10. The Strange who died in BATMAN # 356 was said to have been a mandroid with the genuine article (or so he said) remaining in the background to initiate a complete takeover of the Wayne Foundation and move into Wayne Manor himself.

"Can you think of better vengeance ? Crushing Bruce Wayne ... framing Batman as a criminal ... and then conducting a media tour through the famed Batcave to reveal that Wayne IS Batman ?"

Batman succeeded in capturing Strange but insisted on a blood test to prove the prisoner was a human being. Along the way, the Dark Knight manipulated Hugo into believing that Bruce Wayne was the LAST person he could really be.

Doctor Strange's last appearance was, chronologically, his first. 1990's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 11-15 (by Moench, Paul Gulacy and Terry Austin) documented a key period in the early life of Batman, introducing the Batmobile and Bat-Signal and culminating in a wary truce with the Gotham Police Department. Central to the plot was a media-savvy psychiatrist named Hugo Strange.

Strange was fascinated with the forces he imagined were fueling the mysterious figure and he eagerly accepted a consultant post on Mayor Wilson Klass' Vigilante Task Force. Indeed, in the privacy of his home, Strange's interest was clearly an obsession, one that led him to dress in a bat-outfit of his own.

Strange's own schemes grew to involve Max Cort, the Task Force's second-in-command. Strange induced Cort to become an ultra-violent costumed vigilante himself (dubbed the Night-Scourge) and went to the media with an expression of outrage that The Batman was inspiring even more dangerous copycats. With the kidnapping of Wilson Klass' daughter by Strange (an abduction that Batman was framed for), the manhunt for the Dark Knight became Gotham's number one priority.

A face-to-face confrontation between Strange and Batman, left the Dark Knight reeling from hallucinogens and, in a frantic cry to his long-dead parents, provided the doctor with the clue he'd been looking for. Already convinced that Batman was motivated by the death of a loved-one, Strange could now narrow his search. Within hours, Bruce Wayne was his prime suspect and only fast work on The Batman's part convinced him otherwise.

A search of Strange's apartment revealed the imprisoned Catherine Klass and sent the fugitive doctor on a desperate retreat. Struck down in a hail of bullets, Strange fell into the Gotham River. No body was recovered (unlike the Night-Scourge, slain in a separate police confrontation). A grateful Mayor Klass called off the manhunt for The Batman.

LEGENDS # 11-15 functions as an origin for Professor Strange, a prequel to everything else that came to pass. Though he apparently suffered a degree of memory loss as a result of his shooting and near-drowning (given his later, seemingly genuine surprise at the fact that Bruce Wayne was The Batman), Strange retained his obsession with Batman, fighting the Dark Knight on three more occasions early in his career and returning a few years later for his fateful encounter with Rupert Thorne.

A 1981 issue of THE BRAVE & THE BOLD # 182 (by Alan Brennert and Jim Aparo) found the parallel world of Earth-Two being menaced by its own version of Professor Strange, believed dead since the 1941 fear dust affair. Reduced to a near-invalid state by the fall in that debacle, Strange claimed to be seeking vengeance when, in fact, he truly wanted a release from his miserable existence. With the aid of Starman's cosmic rod, Hugo Strange reduced himself to atoms.

In the early 1990s, "Batman: The Animated Series" did a VERY loose adaptation of DETECTIVE # 471-472 and this version of Hugo Strange showed up in an excellent three parter in BATMAN ADVENTURES # 34-36 (by Ty Templeton, Kelley Puckett, Mike Parobeck and Rich Burchett) that hinged on the murder of the professor's son, David.

And now, of course, Strange is being featured in GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 8-11 (is he the mysterious narrarator ?) and a sequel to LEGENDS # 11-15 is slated to begin in LEGENDS # 137.

What next ? Keep reading!

Scott Thiel
posted September 15, 2000 02:41 AM

Hey Mikishawm,

Did you pick up the Batman Masterpiece Edition?

A neat book by Les Daniels.
A reprint of Batman #1.
An Awesome Golden Age Batman action figure.

posted September 15, 2000 05:57 AM

No, I didn't buy it -- though I'd love to have the statue and facsimile comic. I do have the original edition of Daniels' book and the FAMOUS FIRST EDITION of BATMAN # 1, both of which are great.

posted September 16, 2000 10:22 AM

June 27, many years ago -- High above the hushed audience, Mary Grayson waited for her husband to complete his triple flip. With her legs curled around the trapeze bar, she swung forward and clasped her hands in his. "Nicely done, John." Before he could reply, there was a sickening snap. The trapeze ropes had snapped and the Flying Graysons, operating without a net, had only enough time to scream out each other's names (1940's DETECTIVE COMICS # 38, by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson).

The junior member of the Flying Graysons was a boy named Richard John (otherwise known as Dick), born into the family some ten years earlier on March 20. Dick could only watch in horror as his parents fell to their deaths. He would be haunted in later years by the oddly reflective mood that his mother had been in on that summer evening. The family of acrobats, already dressed in their red, green and yellow tights, had been approached that evening to pose for a picture with a visiting couple, Jack and Janet Drake and their son Tim. Afterwards, Mary wondered aloud if she might be depriving Dick of a more normal childhood.

"I keep thinking what it would be like to stay in one place like a real family," she told her son. "Your grandfather ran away to the circus when he was nine. I never had a home of MY own ... oh, ignore me, honey. A girl can't keep from wondering, can she ? I LOVE you, Dick"(1989's BATMAN # 436, by Marv Wolfman, Pat Broderick and John Beatty). Unknown to the youngster, Mary was also troubled by a disturbing incident -- a murder, she feared -- that she and John had witnessed while the Haly Bros. Circus was touring the European country of Kravia (1995's NIGHTWING (mini-series) # 3, by Denny O'Neil, Greg Land and Mike Sellers).

Dick's last conversation with his father had been portentous as well. The youngster had overheard circus owner Garrison Haly being threatened by thugs demanding protection money and he had a dark expression on his face when he re-entered the family trailer.

"Hey, Dickie, you been checking on the world ?" Father smiled and winked. "The old world still a'spinning, is she ?"

"Dad, is there really a bat-man ?"

"Like I'm always saying, son, if you believe a thing hard enough, it's true. You believe in a bat-man ?"

"I don't know. If he DID exist, would he be good or bad ?"

"I'd kinda like to think good."

"Your father would like to think EVERYTHING's good," Mary chimed in.

"I'll tell you something I don't BELIEVE in, I'm CERTAIN about, and that's that our young world-checker here is going to hit that arithmetic book" (1990's SECRET ORIGINS # 50, by Dennis O'Neil and George Perez, partially reprised by O'Neil and Dave Taylor in 1997's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 100).

School books weren't all that Dick hit, of course. More than once, John found the youngster shining a flashlight under the covers as he read about the mysterious bat-man of Gotham (1991's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 23, by Mike W. Barr, Bart Sears and Randy Elliott) or the astonishing Man of Steel in Metropolis (1998's LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE # 6, by Kelley Puckett, Dave Taylor and Kevin Nowlan). Imagining himself a mystery-man, Dick often played tug-of-war with strongman Sando, who generally bowed to the boy's "superior" strength as John and Mary giggled in the background (1960's BATMAN # 129, by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris).

Dick had been initiated into the high-flying world of his parents on his fifth birthday. After a good amount of practice, the youngster grabbed a low-hanging trapeze and prepared to go "flying without a net for the first time." Buoyed by his father's encouragement ("If you're sure of yourself up there, you've got nothing to fear."), Dick made an impromptu attempt at the famous triple flip -- and nearly plunged to his death. Some fast acrobatic work on John's part knocked the boy onto a nearby mat. "Your old dad isn't about to lose his boy wonder on the first time out." Mary was in a panic but Dick's proud papa couldn't help grinning. "He's a Grayson through and through" (1987's SECRET ORIGINS # 13, by Dan Mishkin, Erik Larsen and Mike DeCarlo).

Ensuing years would find Dick learning more such lessons. "Sure, it's about bravery, son," John explained. "But that's only a part of it. For the rest you need a strategy. You need a plan, Dick. It's not the next bar. It's the bar after that and the one after that. And so on to the other side." Swinging forward, the youngster pushed his hands forward and was caught in his mother's loving hands. "I've got you --Mommy's HERE, little Robin. You did GREAT!"she cheered. "You're learning SO fast" (1997's NIGHTWING # 7, by Chuck Dixon, Scott McDaniel and Karl Story).

On occasion, John's fatherly concern crept through, as on the day when Dick over-reached in a practice session, missing the trapeze and falling into the safety net. His father's scolding left Dick in tears, the boy crying that "You alway said ... we've GOTTA keep reaching ... 'cause that's the only way we can GROW!"

"What your father meant," Mary explained, "was only that you should make absolutely SURE of your abilities, Richard. KEEP reaching ... but when you reach, KNOW what you're reaching for. Be SURE of yourself -- and you can NEVER reach too far."

"Listen to your mother, Richard. SHE knows what I mean -- even if I don't."

"Dad was right," the adult Dick Grayson would recall. "He taught me to be careful, to know my limitations and never over-reach myself ... and Mom taught me to keep on trying to extend my reach, by learning about myself ... my skills ... my potential. They made it safe to work without a net" (1981's BATMAN # 339, by Gerry Conway, Irv Novick and Bruce Patterson). John and Mary Grayson were, in a sense, Dick's REAL safety net (1999's NIGHTWING SECRET FILES # 1, by Devin Grayson, Phil Jimenez and Mark McKenna).

In the wake of his parents' deaths, Dick Grayson was uprooted from the circus he loved and found himself in the custody of a Gotham City millionaire named Bruce Wayne. Wayne's request to adopt the youth was rejected by a judge "but since you've obtained the consent of his nearest relatives, I hearby appoint you his legal guardian" (1969's BATMAN # 213, by E. Nelson Bridwell, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito). Revealing himself as the Batman that the boy had idolized, the Dark Knight offered Dick an opportunity that he'd never had -- the chance to avenge his parents' deaths.

On the eve of the Graysons' funeral, Dick had a dream -- a dimly-remembered memory of a high dive off of a pile of toys when he was only two-years-old. Mary consoled the tot, assuring him that "it's okay, little Robin. Mommy's got you. You were trying to fly so high like Mommy and Daddy, huh ?" Responding to John's own concerned entrance, she told him that "our little Robin tried to take off. He's going to be a professional aerialist before he's out of diapers." Gazing back at Dick, she added, "I call you Robin because you came to us on the first day of spring. I didn't know you'd want to BE a little bird ..."

After six months of training, Dick Grayson was finally deemed ready to fight alongside The Batman. Alfred and Bruce suggested a plethora of names for his masked alter-ego but he was horrified by them all: "'Bat-Boy.' "Bat-Teen.' 'Bat-MITE' ? Uck." Recalling his mother's pet name for him, Dick made another suggestion (1995's ROBIN ANNUAL # 4, by Chuck Dixon, Jason Armstrong and Robert Campanella). Somewhere, John and Mary Grayson were smiling.


The dates for Dick's birth and the death of the Flying Graysons come from Chuck Dixon's ROBIN ANNUAL # 4 and Denny O'Neil's NIGHTWING (mini-series) # 1, respectively. Pre-Crisis, according to the 1976 DC CALENDAR, those dates were November 11 and July 15. Dick's middle name was established in Devin Grayson's NIGHTWING ANNUAL # 1.

Some of you may have noted that the Graysons were not among those requested on this thread for a bio. Given the subject of tomorrow's entry, though, I though this would make a good prologue. Stay tuned ...

posted September 17, 2000 04:28 PM

Dick Grayson had adjusted to the deaths of his parents as best he could. He had a loving father figure in the form of Bruce Wayne and a thrilling double-life that other kids his age could only dream about. In Autumn of 1943, however, his happy life came crashing down around him.

The dark period was heralded by the arrival at Wayne Manor of a fifty-ish couple, a balding man named George and his grey-haired, spectacled wife Clara. As the man and woman began to hug him, Dick was sent reeling by the revelation that this was John Grayson's brother and his new wife. "Dick's coming home with us," George announced. "It's only fitting that the boy live with his blood relations. After all, he is my brother's boy and MY nephew."

Bruce, already skeptical of the couple's claim to have been stranded in war-torn Europe for four years, would hear nothing of it. "You can't take Dick away now! Not after all these years. He's like a son! I WON'T LET YOU!"

In a custody battle, Bruce pleaded from the witness stand that "Dick is like my own son. I've even changed my will so that in case of my death, Dick will get my entire fortune. Your honor, I ... I love that boy. Please don't take him from me!"

Unfortunately, Bruce's previous efforts to mask his Batman persona proved to be his undoing. George Grayson's attorney gleefully declared that "I will prove Mr. Wayne is not a fit guardian. I submit in evidence these newspaper clippings ... all reporting Mr. Wayne's activities as a nightclubbing, shiftless, cafe society playboy!" In the end, the judge felt compelled to award custody of Richard Grayson to his uncle.

The next morning, Bruce and Dick took a last walk around the Manor and Batcave. Choking back tears, Dick suggested that Bruce check the Batmobile's motor ("It ... it didn't sound t-too good yesterday") and finally began sobbing. "Easy, Dick ..." Bruce murmured, hugging him one last time. "Be a good soldier."

A downhearted Alfred left Bruce alone in his study. "In order to cover up my Batman work, I had to pretend to be a playboy. And now it's made me lose the person I love the most! It isn't fair! It isn't fair!" The faithful butler returned in the evening with the master's cape and cowl, insisting that "the show must go on, and all that sort of thing."

The scourge of Gotham's criminal element was not at his best that night. Distracted and disconsolate, The Batman struggled to capture members of the "Fatso" Foley gang. Unexpectedly, a ray of sunshine entered the picture when a voice called out behind the Dark Knight: "Hello, Batman. Mind if I stick my two cents in ?" Robin was back!

The reunion was short-lived and Dick had to slip back to his bedroom before Uncle George noticed his absence. Nonetheless, a spirit of optimism swelled in The Batman's chest. "Robin ... Dick ... stick this out ... It won't be long ... I promise you."

Indeed, dear old Uncle George finally decided to play his hand that evening. As Clara pulled off her wig, let her red hair fall across her youthful face and put on a revealing dress, George phoned Bruce Wayne with a startling proposal: "How would you like to buy back Dick Grayson ? For just ONE of your few millions, Clara and I will put on an act that will make us look so wicked, the judge will be glad to award Dick back to you."

An appalled Bruce related the story to Alfred, who had a simple suggestion: "Why not let The Batman act for you ?"

Returning to the Grayson household, the Dark Knight ordered George and Clara to sign a confession and "get out of town -- but quick!" George had no intention of backing down without a fight. In the hour's grace period that Batman had given him, George contacted Fatso Foley and an ambush took the Dark Knight down for the count. While the hero was imprisoned in an air compression chamber, Dick's uncle phoned Bruce Wayne to gloat that his intermediary had failed.

It had been Alfred who answered the phone, however, and Dick awoke that night to find the butler rapping on his window with an umbrella. Together, they raided Foley's stronghold. The thugs who weren't defeated by Robin were sedated by Alfred, wielding the Penguin's gas umbrella, which he'd taken "the liberty of carrying ... from the trophy room."

Batman accompanied the police to the Grayson residence, taking great satisfaction as the "loving couple" turned on one another.

"You worm!" screamed Clara. "You got me into this with your talk of a million dollars!"

"Shut up before I push your face in!"

Matters were quickly rectified and the judge informed George and Clara that fortunately for you both, your nephew, Dick, prefers to drop any charges ... because he wouldn't want to send his father's brother to jail. Now, you two vultures ... GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!"

"Mr. Wayne, Dick is yours again. Incidentally, I'm inclined to agree with The Batman. He visited me before and said that in spite of your playboy activities, you were really a good man."

"Well," stammered Bruce, tugging at his collar. "Of all people, he should know ... eh, Dick ?"

Father and son left court arm in arm as a beaming Alfred walked behind them. "Well, the mawsters are back together again. Everything turned out to be a bit of all right, after all ... eh, wot ?!" (BATMAN # 20, by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson).

Fortunately, other members of the Grayson clan had greater strength of character. In February of 1942, The Batman had discovered that Charles "Chuck" Grayson, a close friend of the All-Star Squadron's Robotman (first seen in STAR-SPANGLED COMICS # 7), was actually Dick's cousin, albeit "a couple times removed." The delighted Boy Wonder arranged for a personal meeting with Chuck and revealed his alter ego to him (1983's ALL-STAR SQUADRON # 24, by Roy Thomas, Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan).

And then there were Dick's "nearest relatives," the people who granted Bruce permission to take the boy as his ward (1969's BATMAN # 213). These were evidently the "relatives upstate" whom the young man was visiting while Batman was having his historic meeting with Superman aboard the cruise ship Varania in 1952 (SUPERMAN # 76, by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and John Fischetti).

Harriet Cooper had doted on her younger brother, John, and worshipped Dick as well. Tragically, however, Harriet's husband had been left an invalid after suffering a grave injury and Mrs. Cooper became the breadwinner for the household, working two jobs to make ends meet. Unable to care for Dick herself, the offer by Bruce Wayne to serve as the youngster's guardian seemed to be a godsend. Bruce, for his part, offered to provide Harriet with enough money to live a more comfortable life but the proud woman wouldn't hear of it. Fortunately, she never connected the generous checks related to Mr. Cooper's injuries with a certain Gotham millionaire.

The death of her husband left Harriet Cooper at loose ends. She was no longer obligated to work two jobs to pay for medical treatments but the unexpected time on her hands and the emotional void in her life were taking their toll. It was around that time that she received tragic news from Gotham City.

(The account of Harriet's invalid husband, as many of you have probably figured out, is my own invention, inspired by the character of Summer Olson from Milton Caniff's legendary STEVE CANYON comic strip.)

When Julius Schwartz became editor of the Bat-books in 1964, he shook things up with a more realistic art style (personified by Carmine Infantino in DETECTIVE # 327), added a circle around Batman's chest emblem (all the better to trademark), updated the Batcave (with an elevator replacing the steps behind the grandfather clock, plus a hotline to police headquarters) and Batmobile, introduced a prospective romantic interest (the GCPD's Patricia Powell) and launched a new recurring series (the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City).

And, to break up the all male household in Wayne Manor, he ordered the death of Alfred, who heroically died while shoving Batman and Robin out of the path of a falling boulder. Arriving on the scene within days of Alfred's death was Dick's Aunt Harriet, who announced her intention to take care of the boys in the manner to which they'd been accustomed. "You youngsters are so helpless you'll need someone to see to it that you take care of your health." While Bruce stammered, Dick could only grin. When Aunt Harriet made up her mind, there was no changing it (DETECTIVE # 328, by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella).

Almost immediately, she began tumbling onto odd details in the Wayne household. Answering the phone at mealtime, Harriet heard nothing but "a peculiar buzz," a detail that alerted Dick to an incoming call on their "hot-line" from Commissioner Gordon. As her nephew rushed off, a disgusted Harriet wondered "why I bother cooking for you and Bruce. Neither of you eats enough to keep a bird alive" ('TEC # 331, by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella).

Paranoid that Aunt Harriet might suspect the truth, Bruce began to read double meanings in the woman's comments to him and Dick. "I still can't shake the feeling that Aunt Harriet knows that we're secretly Batman and Robin. ... She seemed to insinuate something in her remarks" (1965's BATMAN # 170, by Finger, Moldoff and Giella).

The continuing telephone buzz ('TEC #340 and BATMAN # 184) and flashing lamps (WORLD'S FINEST # 168) only heightened Harriet's suspicions. In March of 1966, she seemed to get the answers she was seeking. While cleaning the wall in Bruce's study, she unwittingly triggered the hidden panel that revealed the elevator to the Batcave. "But what's the Batcave doing under the Wayne Mansion -- unless -- unless Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin! Oh, but that's ridic -- I mean, they couldn't be -- yet -- it WOULD explain -- "

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the approaching Batmobile. She rushed back to the study, then paused. "Hold it, Hattie! Don't panic. You can't leave the car up here. Better send it down as it was originally -- or they'll suspect what I've found out."

The sound of the elevator setting down, combined with the lingering scent of Harriet's perfume, was enough to alert Batman and Robin and they immediately went into spin control. "She'll have to PROVE her suspicions first," Bruce asserted. "And we're going to make it tough on her by giving her plenty of room for DOUBT."

When Aunt Harriet inquired about the secret elevator that night, Bruce asked her to show it to him. The door opened to reveal a closet. ("A newly installed electronic remote-control device will still let US work the elevator -- but nobody else," thought Dick.) Harriet was undeterred. "The boys think they've fooled me, but I'll have the last laugh yet!"

The next few days became a battle of wits between "the boys" and Aunt Harriet. Outside the disguised Batcave entrance, Dick discovered that "she's coated our exit road with wet pitch. If we'd driven over it, she'd know which road we took and maybe find THIS entrance to the Batcave. I'll bet she's done the same thing to ALL the roads around the estate." Using a hydrofoil attachment, the Batmobile was slightly elevated off the ground by compressed air and glided right over the pitch. After they were a mile out, the Dynamic Duo dropped the car back onto the highway.

Batman and Robin's evening patrol brought them into contact with the latest villain to menace Gotham -- the Cluemaster. Secretly coating the Batmobile's tires with "a special chemical," the mastermind imagined he could trail the heroes back to the Batcave. He imagined without the tire tracks stopping abruptly in the middle of the highway. While the Cluemaster's gang wondered if the Dark Knight and his squire were "aliens from another world and the Batmobile is really a spaceship that suddenly took off," Batman and Robin took satisfaction in the fact that they'd outmaneuvered Aunt Harriet once again. If they only knew ...

The battle of wits continued when Bruce and Dick found a hidden camera trained on the elevator. Dick found a second one by the highway exit but, curiously, it's film was fogged "by some radiation." Batman quickly deduced that the radiation must have come from the painting/clue that the Cluemaster had left after his latest heist. "That means the Cluemaster could use it to seek out the Batcave!"

Moving quickly, the Dynamic Duo established a secondary cave "some miles from Gotham City" and allowed the villain's gang to "discover" it. Trailing the thugs back to their own hideout, Batman and Robin brought the entire group to justice.

No less disgusted than the Cluemaster was Aunt Harriet, who developed her film the following morning to discover Batman and Robin stepping from the elevator to greet Bruce and Dick. Satisfied that he'd fooled her with the trick photography, Batman admitted that she'd averted disaster in the Cluemaster caper. "I suppose someday we'll tell Aunt Harriet the truth," predicted Robin, "just as we did with Alfred" (1966's 'TEC # 351, by Fox, Infantino and Sid Greene).

About that time, the "Batman" TV show came along, revealing for the first time Aunt Harriet's last name and status as a widow (by way of the reference to her as "Mrs."). Belatedly, the details were added to the comics ('TEC # 373).

Alongside Aunt Harriet in the series was good old Alfred. Julius Schwartz felt he had no choice. Alfred had to return to the comic book and the mysterious villain known as the Outsider would be his vehicle. In the summer of 1966, 'TEC # 356 (by Fox, Moldoff & Giella) revealed the "Inside Story of the Outsider," finally seen on-panel as a hairless albino covered with white lumps clad only in purple briefs.

The final pages restored Alfred to normal. A heartbroken Aunt Harriet was prepared to pack her bags and leave but Bruce and Dick insisted she stay. Alfred himself added "that I -- need you most of all -- since I'm not entirely well yet, and your cooking will speed my recovery."

"Oh, bless you all!" Harriet exclaimed. "I'll go and prepare a dinner to celebrate our reunion." Indeed, when Alfred was stricken with fatigue in March of 1967, Aunt Harriet was delighted to take over ("We must make sure you stay well, you know."), even rejecting Dick's offer to help with the dishes. "No, no! Goodness! It will give me something to do. Now you two just run along" ('TEC # 364).

On the TV series, Aunt Harriet was reduced to a pair of cameos in its third (and final) season, appearing in the Batgirl premiere (September 14, 1967) and the London three-parter (Nov. 23-Dec. 7, 1967). The move was a response to actress Madge Blake's ill health and, sadly, she died on February 19, 1969.

Coincidentally, Aunt Harriet's diminished film presence was reflected in the comics, where she also fell ill. A recurring health problem (mentioned in late 1967's 'TEC # 371) blossomed into a full-scale crisis and Harriet was rushed to Gotham General for emergency surgery in early 1968. Doctors used cryosurgery on Mrs. Cooper and, when the device failed, Batman and Robin made a desperate flight to retrieve Mister Freeze's cold gun and cannibalize it to save the woman's life ('TEC # 373).

She recovered at Wayne Manor, with Alfred now playing caretaker for her (appearing for the last time in 1968's JIMMY OLSEN # 111 and 'TEC # 380, plus mentions in BATMAN # 201 and 'TEC # 383). Not wanting to be a burden and regarding herself as redundant alongside Alfred, Harriet moved out. She continued to stay in touch, though. Characteristic of her eclectic taste in art (as in 'TEC # 358), she sent a unique housewarming gift when Bruce moved into his Wayne Foundation penthouse -- an Oriental gong (mentioned in BATMAN # 226).

Harriet's last recorded visit with Dick, Bruce and Alfred was over the 1975 Christmas holidays (BATMAN FAMILY # 4). Now associated by many fans primarily with the TV series, Aunt Harriet is regarded as a reminder of that campy chapter in Batman's history and has been banished from the comics because of it. I like to think she's still out there, travelling abroad, finding romance and having the time of her life. Dick Grayson's beloved aunt deserves no less.


So ... was this worth the wait ?

John Moores
posted September 17, 2000 06:53 PM

Beautiful as ever, Mikishawm. Glad I stopped by!

[Incidentally, I remember being puzzled at Dick's middle name being John (stylish, suave and sophicated a name though it is! ) because the Earth-2 Robin's already had a middle initial- it was revealed to be 'M' in Last Days Of The JSA. (Wonder what it stood for? Might I suggest 'Moores'? - but seriously? Matthew? Michael? This was actually a mini-trait of Roy Thomas, adding an undefined 'M' as a middle initial to characters. He did it to Charles McNider too, in Secret Origins!)]

Still, lovely work. See you later!

posted September 18, 2000 05:53 PM

I also liked Roy's addition of middle initials myself. He also gave us Jonathan J. Law. Dick's middle name in AMERICA VS. THE JSA made me think of Richard M. Nixon. Maybe Dick's middle name was Milhous. Of course, I really like Richard Moores Grayson, too! Makes me think of all-time favorite cartoonist -- Dick Moores of GASOLINE ALLEY fame.

Thanks for checking in. Glad you're enjoying the show!

Scott Thiel
posted September 21, 2000 03:33 AM

Since Catman has been mentioned many times; How about a recap of his career?

Does the Catman from Catman Comics have any relation of the DCU version? From the B/W covers in the Overstreet Price Guide; both costumes look similar.

Norm Breyfogel's new costume design is 100% better in my opinion.

Animated Question.

I only saw part of "Cult of the Cat" and missed the closing credits. Who was the voice of Thomas Blake/Catman?


posted September 21, 2000 11:36 PM

Ooh! Ooh! Do Batgirl next! (I missed the whole shot by Joker/transformation into Oracle/dating Blue Beetle(?!) stuff. Okay, I missed basically everything from two months ago back to her first appearance, and since she's a regular in the current Batbooks (and plays such an important role) I figure I should bone up. After all, she _is_ going to be the future Mrs. Grayson!
Also, can you give a history of Dick and Babs' relationship? Are they making up the history of flirtation in the current Nightwing series or is it based in fact? It'd be interesting to see their history together.

posted September 22, 2000 06:13 AM

Scott --

No, there is no connection between the Golden Age (and non-DC) hero Catman but they really do have similar costumes. I did a bit of digging but couldn't turn up the name of the actor who played Thomas Blake.

Batgrrl --

I actually wrote a Barbara Gordon timeline for the BIRDS OF PREY board. I just bumped it back to the top so you'll be able to find it. Enjoy!

posted July 08, 2000 07:29 PM

Sure to generate controversy and discord, here’s my stab at a Barbara Gordon chronology:

Like most DC characters, Barbara Gordon’s history has suffered some rough blows since the post-CRISIS timeline adjustments, perhaps most significantly the revelation that she was Commissioner Gordon’s adopted niece and not his biological daughter (a development that BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 6 may have partially undone).

The compression of DC’s modern heroic age into a twelve (originally ten) year timeline has also made it difficult to properly include all of Babs’ history. Of necessity, I had to make compromises, beginning with the revised origin in SECRET ORIGINS # 20. In this one, Batman had been around for 6-8 years BEFORE Barbara ever became Batgirl. The latest "official" version of the DCU timeline has her taking the mantle on the Bat in Year Four of the Dark Knight’s career. To resolve this, I concluded that Babs was sixteen (not thirteen) when she moved into Jim and Barbara Gordon’s household.

Barbara’s juvenile crush on Batman was first explicitly recounted by Len Wein in THE UNTOLD LEGEND OF THE BATMAN # 3 and retained in SECRET ORIGINS # 20.

There are two conflicting accounts of Batgirl’s origin, the original Killer Moth affair and the later LEGENDS IN THE DCU # 10-11/BATMAN CHRONICLES # 9. The former has been reaffirmed several times (most recently in SECRET FILES 2000) so the latter must be classified as a "legend." I retained the other major questionable post-Crisis story on the timeline (HACKER FILES # 5-6) but I’m not sure whether DC still regards it as canonical.

Although it isn’t apparent in this particular timeline, Batgirl has actually been around since the early days of the Justice League. As the recent SILVER AGE event revealed, she was operating prior to Hawkman’s induction into the JLA (pre-Crisis, it was in JLA # 31, published two years BEFORE Batgirl debuted in ‘TEC # 359).

Batgirl’s official discovery that Bruce Wayne is Batman is still presumed to have coincided with the mutual identity exchange between her and Dick Grayson in BATMAN FAMILY # 3. The first post-CRISIS story to establish that she knew Bruce was Batman was THE KILLING JOKE.

BATMAN & SUPERMAN: WORLD’S FINEST # 5 (not to mention LEGENDS OF THE DCU) suggested that Commissioner Gordon suspected his daughter was Batgirl almost from the start. A reading of a line in BATMAN CHRONICLES # 1 could be interpreted to mean that Gordon didn’t learn Babs was Batgirl until after she was shot. It’s actually pretty ambiguous and, as there’s at least one post-Crisis flashback where Jim and Babs are discussing her Batgirl activities (BATMAN ANNUAL # 13), I’m treating the original 1972 unmasking scenario as canon.

I’ve retained Barbara’s tenure in Congress, using Barbara Randall’s age solution from SECRET ORIGINS # 20 along with own suggestion that she only served part of a term.

Though I resisted referring to her as Batwoman, I also included Kathy Kane’s appearance in BATMAN FAMILY # 10. Kathy’s murder by the Bronze Tiger, at least, is still part of DC history.

With further ado, here are THE BATGIRL YEARS:


Following the death of Senator Harold H. Knight, several diverse forces, including Senator Thomas (Black Condor) Wright and (through intermediaries) the soon-to-be-dismanted O.S.S. lobby for Knight’s daughter Sandra (a.k.a. O.S.S. operative Phantom Lady) to complete his term. Too young to hold office, Sandra is allowed to take her father’s seat thanks to the Knight Dependents Bill (based in part on SECRET ORIGINS # 20).


Barbara Gordon is born to Roger C. and Thelma Gordon in Ohio on September 23 (1976 SUPER DC CALENDAR).

James W. Gordon marries Barbara Kean in Chicago on October 11 (WORLD’S FINEST # 53).


Young Barbara comes into possession of a letter from her mother that suggests that James W. Gordon (not Roger) is her biological father (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 6).

Thelma Gordon and her sister are killed in a traffic accident (SECRET ORIGINS # 20).


As a new heroic age dawns, Babs and her best friend Marcy fantasize about being female versions of Superman and Batman (SECRET ORIGINS # 20).

Roger Gordon dies (SECRET ORIGINS # 20).


Taking a homemade "Batgirl" doll from Marcy as a keepsake, Babs moves to Gotham, where she is adopted by Jim and Barbara. After observing a visit between Jim and The Batman, a smitten Babs resolves to be his partner. The young woman begins training in the martial arts and quickly becomes a fixture at the Gotham Public Library, studying maps of Gotham. Forced into an early adulthood by the demands of caring for her alcoholic father and gifted with a photographic memory, sixteen-year-old Babs graduates from high school in the spring and begins classes at Gotham State University in the fall (SECRET ORIGINS # 20).


Robin debuts as Batman’s partner (ROBIN ANNUAL # 4).

Over the course of the year, two separate Gotham millionaires are exposed as costumed villains -- the Cavalier (DETECTIVE # 89) and Killer Moth (BATMAN # 63-64).


Babs wraps up her accelerated college studies and becomes Head Reference Librarian at the Gotham Library (SECRET ORIGINS # 20).

Anxious to break her studious image, Babs designs a Batgirl costume (based on Marcy’s doll) with the intention of surprising her father at the Policeman’s Masquerade Ball. Instead, she stumbles onto an attack by Killer Moth on Bruce Wayne and finds a new career as a super-heroine (DETECTIVE # 359, reaffirmed in SECRET ORIGINS # 20, BATMAN: BATGIRL (1997), SECRET FILES 2000 # 1).

In Batgirl’s second major case, Batman appears to take her into his confidence and unmasks as a heavily made-up Bruce Wayne. Already displaying a grudging respect for her detective abilities, the Dark Knight correctly gambles that Batgirl will conclude that he was impersonating Wayne to throw her off the trail (DETECTIVE # 363).

Batgirl and Robin team up to keep an eye on an ailing Batman (DETECTIVE # 369).

Convinced that Batgirl has romantic designs on Batman, the Catwoman makes an attack on the novice heroine (BATMAN # 197).

Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon meet Superman for the first time in a case that also involves the Thorn and Batman. The Commissioner asks the Man of Steel to "make sure nothing happens to her ... She’s still someone’s daughter" (BATMAN & SUPERMAN: WORLD’S FINEST # 5).

At the behest of Deadman, Batgirl joins a band of heroes including archaeologist-lecturer Adam Strange, war hero Blackhawk and costumed adventurers Mento, Metamorpho and the Atomic Knight in defending the planet Rann from an attack by the Injustice League, including recent adversary Catwoman. (SILVER AGE: SHOWCASE # 1; SILVER AGE 80-PAGE GIANT # 1).

With Batman and the other male Justice Leaguers in the thrall of Zazzala the Queen Bee, Batgirl comes to the team’s defense (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 60). Batgirl turned down an offer to serve as a League alternate but was named an honorary member for her efforts (AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS # 14).

Batgirl and Batman defeat Copperhead (BRAVE & BOLD # 78, reaffirmed in WHO’S WHO ‘91 # 6).

Batgirl faces The Joker for the first time (1997’s BATMAN: BATGIRL).

Babs meets army vet and aspiring detective Jason Bard at the library and they quickly discover a mutual interest in crime (DETECTIVE # 392-393).

While knocking Commissioner Gordon out of a hail of bullets, Batgirl accidentally calls him "Dad" but convinces herself that the sound of the shots drowned out her voice. Gordon, who had long suspected the truth, did hear his daughter but kept his silence. (DETECTIVE # 417). "I found the mask and the cape among her things. And there was no lying to myself anymore" (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 1).


When Gotham’s Congressman leaves office in mid-term, James W. Gordon is nominated to run in a special election to complete his term. Her father’s opposition to the nomination ("I’m just a policeman -- plain and simple!") and her own growing belief that she could do more to fight crime through legislation than fisticuffs convince Babs to run in her father’s place (DETECTIVE # 422). Seemingly to young to hold political office she "put an obscure old law to good use ... Under the provisions of the Knight Dependents Bill, passed into law in 1946, my accelerated schooling and college degree allow me to register as a candidate" (SECRET ORIGINS # 20).

The issue of Commissioner Gordon’s secret knowledge of his daughter’s alter-ego becomes moot when she tells him herself (DETECTIVE # 422). Babs wins the special election on an anti-crime platform (DETECTIVE # 424).

Distance cools the relationship between Jason Bard and Barbara Gordon. In Washington, she develops a close friendship with Senator Robert Thomas "Bobby" Cleary (SUPERMAN # 268; BATMAN FAMILY # 3, 6, 17-18; DETECTIVE # 481-482).

While covering a White House reception, Clark Kent is abducted by the political power brokers known as M.A.Z.E. Investigating the kidnapping, Batgirl joins with Superman in exposing a branch of the spy ring (SUPERMAN # 268).

Dick Grayson spends a brief period as Barbara Gordon’s aide and Batgirl and Robin team up twice in close proximity (BATMAN FAMILY # 1, 3) . In the wake of the second encounter, Robin refers to his partner as "Congresswoman," leading a momentarily thunderstruck Batgirl to respond, "You can call me Babs -- if I can call you Dick!"(BATMAN FAMILY # 3) Infatuated with Batgirl, Robin works with her regularly throughout most of the year (BATMAN FAMILY # 5, 7, 9, 11, 13-16, 20).

Alongside circus owner and former acrobat Kathy Kane, Batgirl faces an alliance of the Killer Moth and the Cavalier (BATMAN FAMILY # 10).

Jason Bard and Batgirl cross paths briefly while she is fighting Killer Moth and he is investigating Kirk Langstrom’s connection to the Shotgun Sniper (BATMAN FAMILY # 15).

Batgirl finds herself the target of an occult villainess known as Madame Zodiac (BATMAN FAMILY # 17-18).

Barbara Gordon’s age and liberal record work against her in a re-election bid and she loses her seat in Congress to Della Zigler (DETECTIVE # 487).


Still depressed over her rejection at the polls, Babs returns to Gotham (DETECTIVE # 488). Dick Grayson, in a similar funk over his split with Lori Elton (BATMAN FAMILY # 18; DETECTIVE # 483), becomes romantically involved with Barbara in a brief affair(NIGHTWING # 43).

Babs becomes "head of the Social Services Department" at the Humanities Research and Development Center, an agency "dedicated to solving urban problems and encouraging cultural development" (DETECTIVE # 492).

Batgirl’s confidence suffers another blow when she is shot and left for dead by the assassin Cormorant on orders of General Scarr. Barbara briefly considers giving up her costume but rallies and joins Batman in defeating the villains (DETECTIVE # 491-492).

On the rebound from Dick, Babs begins a tentative relationship with attorney Jim Dover (DETECTIVE # 494, 496), who helps defend her against a trumped up murder charge (# 497-499).

An inconclusive battle with the Velvet Tiger (DETECTIVE # 518-519) and a subsequent encounter with Mister Zsasz convince Batgirl that "I need ... some time off" (1998’s BATMAN: BATGIRL # 1). Soon after, Babs leaves the HRDC to return to her library post (BATGIRL SPECIAL # 1).


When political machinations force Commissioner Gordon from office, Barbara joins Jason Bard in rooting out the corruption at City Hall (BATMAN # 346, 348-349, 352, 355).

While her father recovers from a heart attack, Barbara defends him from an assassination attempt at the hospital (DETECTIVE # 533).

During the Great Crisis, Babs briefly resumes her Batgirl persona but feels insignificant alongside Earth’s metahuman community (CRISIS # 4, 5, 7, 12).

Batgirl joins Jason Todd, the new Robin, in a clash with Two-Face (BATMAN ANNUAL # 13).

Marcy visits Babs in Gotham and tells her that, having created the Batgirl doll years earlier, she immediately knew who Gotham’s flame-haired heroine really was. Marcy’s concern for Barbara’s well-being finally convinces Babs to give up the gray tights for good. Tapping into her growing computer expertise, Batgirl concludes her final case -- the renewed presence of Cormorant -- and retires as Batgirl (BATGIRL SPECIAL # 1).

Coming soon: THE ORACLE YEARS!

posted July 09, 2000 04:09 PM

Picking up where I left off, here are THE ORACLE YEARS:


Babs is left a paraplegic after being gunned down by the Joker in an assault at the Gordon home (BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE).

During her rehabilitation, Babs increases her immersion in the internet and she challenges a dangerous cyber-criminal known as Interface. Seeking a means of defending herself, Barbara is directed (by a veiled Batman) to martial artist Richard Dragon. Working with Dragon, Babs begins to regain her self-confidence and adopts a new persona that is uniquely her own: Oracle (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 5).

As Earth mops up from an alien invasion, Oracle offers to serve as a resource for the Suicide Squad (SUICIDE SQUAD # 23-24).


Amanda Waller rescues Barbara (using the alias "Amy Beddoes") from an attack by a cyber-punk known as the Thinker and invites her to take a more visible role with the Suicide Squad (SUICIDE SQUAD # 48-49).

News that the Velvet Tiger is in Washington, D.C. brings Barbara to town, where the former Congresswoman solicits the aid of the Hawk and the Dove in finally capturing her elusive foe (HAWK & DOVE # 23-24).

During a visit to Suicide Squad headquarters, Batman recognizes "Amy" as Barbara Gordon and the two play dumb on the issue of the Dark Knight’s true identity for the benefit of any hidden microphones (SUICIDE SQUAD # 59).


The Suicide Squad is dissolved (SUICIDE SQUAD # 66).

Jim Gordon marries Sarah Essen (LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT ANNUAL # 2).

After an illegal document is sent to Barbara's computer, her apartment is raided by federal authorities. Awakened from a sound sleep, Barbara pulls out her gun and wounds one of the agents, leading to an overnight stay in jail. Though her Oracle alter-ego remained concealed, Babs abandons her apartment, intent on leaving Gotham for parts unknown rather than remaining a target (THE HACKER FILES # 5-6). Bruce Wayne brings his resources into play, downplayingthe event in the media and purging the events from public record.

Batman begins using Oracle as a key source of information (BATMAN: SWORD OF AZRAEL # 1).

When Black Canary is abducted by Symitar, the Huntress asks Oracle to connect her with Nightwing to arrange a rescue (BLACK CANARY # 10).


During a temporal crisis, Barbara meets a still-active Batgirl from an alternate timeline (BATMAN # 511).

Tim (Robin) Drake contacts Oracle for the first time (DETECTIVE # 680).

With moral support from Dick Grayson, Babs falls back on her martial arts skills to defeat a stalker (SHOWCASE ‘94 # 12).

Barbara rejects Neron’s offer to restore her mobility (UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED: PATTERNS OF FEAR # 1).

Oracle recruits Black Canary as a regular operative (BLACK CANARY/ORACLE: BIRDS OF PREY # 1).

Oracle refuses Batman’s request for help in proving the Joker innocent of a murder (THE JOKER: DEVIL’S ADVOCATE).

The Huntress and Black Canary meet again, with the Canary (now sporting a new look)reintroducing herself. Against Oracle’s better judgment, the Canary joins the Huntress and Catwoman in pursuit of Braun and Lady Shiva (BIRDS OF PREY: MANHUNT # 1-4).

Oracle coordinates the world’s metahuman community in their humanitarian efforts after the sun is extinguished (THE FINAL NIGHT # 2-3).

A difference of opinion breaks up Oracle and Black Canary (BIRDS OF PREY: REVOLUTION # 1)but circumstances eventually lead to a reconciliation (BIRDS OF PREY: WOLVES # 1).

Oracle’s conversations with Azrael begin to take on a flirtatious tone with comments like "You have a girlfriend yet ?" (AZRAEL # 32) and "When you gonna come see me ?" (AZRAEL # 35).

Barbara finds herself back in the guise of Batgirl, actually an illusion cast by the Spellbinder, who'd located and kidnapped Oracle with the intent of learning Batman's secrets on behalf of Blockbuster. Oracle outfights her opponent and escapes (BIRDS OF PREY: BATGIRL # 1).

Batman announces that, as Data Central, Oracle is the newest inductee of the Justice League of America, though, of necessity, "a secret member" (JLA # 17).

Cheshire, Pistolera, Termina and Vicious join forces as the Ravens (BIRDS OF PREY: THE RAVENS # 1).

A massive earthquake rocks Gotham. Arriving at police headquarters, Barbara takes charge of the disoriented officers on the scene and begins pulling together relief efforts (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 73; BATMAN # 553).

A private moment between Dick Grayson and Barbara is interrupted by Robin, who meets Oracle in the flesh for the first time (NIGHTWING # 20).

At the urging of her father, Barbara finally leaves her GCPD base and returns to her home (DETECTIVE # 724).

Black Canary meets Jason Bard on a case in Rheelasia that leaves the private eye temporarily blinded (BIRDS OF PREY # 1-3). Elsewhere, Major van Lewton in the Pentagon begins a search for the mysterious hacker tapping into their computers, Barbara continues an online relationship with Bumblebeeb (# 1) and Oracle begins electronically siphoning Blockbuster’s stolen funds for her own purposes (# 3).

Dick Grayson takes Barbara on outing that is officially "NOT a date." When Dick suggests that they become a couple, Babs flatly rejects the offer (BIRDS OF PREY # 8).

As the government prepares to isolate Gotham from the rest of the country, Barbara announces her intention to stay. "I’m not letting ANYONE run me out of my hometown. I didn’t let the Joker do it and I’m damn sure not going to let a bunch of BUREAUCRATS do it!" (BATMAN # 562).


With Gotham now a "No Man’s Land," Oracle puts together a network of operatives to keep tabs on opposing factions and offer assistance when possible. Elsewhere, with Batman missing for three months, a mysterious nw Batgirl appears (BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND # 1).

Barbara’s section of Gotham is liberated from gang control by her father and the police as Batman returns to town and renews his ties with Oracle. The Dark Knight confronts the new Batgirl, refusing to sanction her actions but stopping short of asking her to cease and desist. "Just don’t disgrace the symbol" (BATMAN # 563).

Barbara learns of the new Batgirl’s existence and explodes in anger at Batman (DETECTIVE # 732).

Black Canary battles the Ravens while Oracle diverts Major van Lewton’s forces in the direction of Blockbuster as they seek their mystery hacker (BIRDS OF PREY # 4-6).

Azrael finally meets Oracle, who apologizes for giving the wrong impression in her earlier suggestive remarks. The naive Azrael merely "thought you were being sisterly" (AZRAEL # 54).

In a fiery phone conversation, Oracle tells the new Batgirl that "I KNOW who you REALLY are" (BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 119).

One of Oracle’s key operatives proves to be the daughter of assassin David Cain. Barbara’s impression of the mute girl grows when she prevents Cain from murdering Commissioner Gordon (BATMAN # 567; DETECTIVE # 734).

Now revealed as the Huntress, Batgirl is confronted by Batman over her failures and gives up her new persona. Assuming the mantle of Batgirl in her place is Cain’s daughter, operating with the complete approval of Barbara Gordon (BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 120).

Oracle and Black Canary are manipulated into freeing a war criminal in Koroscova (BIRDS OF PREY # 9-11).

The villain responsible for the Koroscovan debacle is revealed as Pharzoof, a Parademon who pulls the Canary and a train of metahuman criminals to Apokolips. Oracle calls in Power Girl for a rescue mission (BIRDS OF PREY # 12-14).

Recovering from his injuries sustained in his evacuation of Blackgate Prison (NIGHTWING # 37), Nightwing shares an embrace with Barbara at her apartment just as the Huntress and a band of rogue policemen rush in (# 38). Under siege, Oracle and Nightwing succeed in expelling the invaders (# 39).

The "No Man’s Land" order is rescinded and a January 1 deadline is cited as Gotham’s reopening (DETECTIVE # 740).

Sarah Essen is murdered by the Joker (DETECTIVE # 741) and a grieving Jim and Barbara bury her as the "No Man’s Land" comes to and end (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 94).


Barbara finally has a face to face meeting with Bumblebeeb, who turns out to be Ted Kord, the former Blue Beetle. Meanwhile, Black Canary takes an apartment in her old hometown, Gotham (BIRDS OF PREY # 15).

The Joker’s threat to launch a nuclear strike on Manhattan forces Oracle to call in Power Girl once more and reveal her existence to Major van Lewton (BIRDS OF PREY # 16-17).

Recovering from eye surgery, Jason Bard calls Barbara in the hope of rekindling old sparks but Babs offers only "a professional relationship" (BOP # 18).

Batman learns of Barbara’s long-held letter that suggests that Jim Gordon is her biological father (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 6).

On the heels of a date with Ted Kord, Babs is reunited with the still-blind Jason Bard, who belatedly learns that she is confined to a wheelchair (BOP # 19).

Barbara is forced to become a fugitive as Blockbuster begins hunting for her in earnest (NIGHTWING # 45-46; BOP # 20-21).

posted July 11, 2000 06:33 PM
I asked Mark Waid about THE SILVER AGE and he was most emphatic that, despite a few glitches (like Batgirl's presence and Metamorpho's reference to rejecting JLA membership), the story occurs just before Hawkman joined the League (JLA # 31) was NOT a remake of "Operation: Jail the Justice League."

If THE SILVER AGE took place in the timeframe of JLA # 61, he pointed out, Barry and Iris would have been married and Hal Jordan would have been selling insurance.

In the case of Adam Strange, I note that Alanna is wearing something on the order of her 1964-era Lee Elias costume. Adam actually nearly married her in 1966's HAWKMAN # 18 but the ceremony was interrupted and, for some reason, they didn't repeat their vows until 1975 in JLA # 121.

(Now we just need a HISTORY OF THE JLA project to fit all this into place. Maybe DC will ask me to write it. Ho ho.)

I made the same observation that the Time Trust did. Barbara's short run as Batgirl in the modern DC timeline is a bit disturbing (mitigated just slightly by THE SILVER AGE's slight backwards extension of her career).

It's tough to find two DC issues of SECRET FILES whose chronologies agree so I just went with the most recent (SECRET FILES 2000) as my template. It places INVASION! (and, thus, Oracle's debut) "five years ago" so I did the same.

And, finally, thanks again to everyone for your enthusiasm and kind words. It's been more than enough to encourage me to do a Black Canary chronology (I have Dinah I mostly covered already) though it may be August before I post it. Or maybe sooner. Who knows ?

posted September 23, 2000 08:49 PM

Another rerun, this one from my early Ed Brubaker related posts around March:

"Life is sacred. They taught me that at Sunday School a long time ago. Of course, I didn't listen. Bet you didn't know I was a church kid, huh, Batman ? But I was. Mom and Dad used to send me every Sunday, until Mom died. Then Dad sort of drifted away. It was like a part of HIM had died. He didn't have much time for me anymore.

"I guess that's when I found the streets. And heroin. Why start ? I've asked myself that a hundred times, and the best I can do is: why not ? I missed my Mom. Dad was drinking. The other guys did it. I wanted to be a rebel, too. And to be honest, I liked it. At first. It helped to fill the black, aching hole inside me." --from the last will and testament of Eric Neeham (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 5).

The background of the man who would become known as the Black Spider was revealed piecemeal by Gerry Conway over the course of three issues, 1976's DETECTIVE COMICS # 463 and 464 (art by Ernie Chan & Frank McLaughlin) and 1978's BATMAN # 306 (art by John Calnan & Dave Hunt), with further details being provided by Alan Grant in 1992's BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 5 (art by Norm Breyfogle).

Eric was first sentenced to prison after mugging and nearly killing an elderly woman but, as a minor, he was out in three years. Over the next twenty-four months, Eric hooked up with another junkie named Linda Morrel and they had a son, Michael. Needham continued to steal to support his habit, culminating in a fateful liquor store robbery. Gunning down a customer who'd lunged for him, Eric realized far too late that he'd just murdered his own father.

Months later, Gotham's drug dealers found themselves marked for death by a mysterious assassin. At the site of the second killing, Batman confronted the sniper and was stunned to hear the man in the dark purple body-suit declare that "I've been trying to emulate you, Batman, to do as you do -- bring scum to permanent justice --justice without recourse! .... The drug-dealers -- the superflies -- are the dregs of the Earth -- and what better man to catch and kill a superfly -- than a Black Spider ?"

Batman again failed to stop the rampage at the Gotham International Airport. Here, the Black Spider displayed the latest addition to his arsenal, a gun mounted on the top of his wrist that fired a deadly "sting" at his targets.

The conflict came to a head atop a speeding commuter train, where the Spider, whose background had finally been unearthed by the Dark Knight, was attempting to bomb the car carrying another dealer: "That motorman's gotta die, and if some punk commuters gotta die, too -- that's TOUGH!" A lurch of the train sent the Black Spider and his bomb flying from the car. Needham was presumed dead when the bomb was detonated.

Gravely injured, Needham made his way to a free clinic, where "hate nursed me through the months of operations...and recovery...and therapy...and re-training...". The bomb, it seems, had gone off prematurely. Needham had been bankrolled by a supposedly benevolent financier named Hannibal Hardwicke, who was, in fact, a major druglord himself. Once the Black Spider removed his competition, Hardwicke had intended for Needham to die. Instead, Hardwicke found himself at the top of the Black Spider's "Most Wanted" list and only Batman's intervention allowed him to survive to see a prison term.

Inevitably, Needham's goals became compromised and he found himself allied with villains that he might otherwise have opposed to participate in grudge matches against Batman (DETECTIVE # 526 and BATMAN # 400). Even when Batman was absent from Gotham during the case that led to the formation of the Outsiders, the Black Spider found costumed opposition in the form of the beautiful Nightshade (SECRET ORIGINS # 28).

With Linda Morrel was still firmly in heroin's grip, the Spider's next targets were the men who were supplying her with the drugs. As the war escalated, both Linda and Michael were murdered and Needham went on a suicide run, determined to take down everyone. Dying from multiple bullet wounds, the Spider was dragged before the gloating druglord only to have Needham reveal his trump card. He'd attached plastique explosives to himself. "I'm ... wired to blow! ... right about ... now!" And he did.

The Black Spider's name would survive, though now in the hands of a mob assassin named Johnny LaMonica, an egomaniac who hated to cover his beautiful face with a mask. After infiltrating the Black Mask's mob with the intent of killing the crimelord, the new Black Spider was brought down by Batman. Having smashed into a broken mirror, his handsome face was now a "web of scars" (1995's BATMAN # 518-519, by Doug Moench, Kelley Jones and John Beatty).

Meanwhile, Eric Needham's story was not quite over. In Hell, Lucifer had, for reasons of his own, set all the dead free, a turn of events that would eventually lead many back to Earth (SANDMAN # 23). Eventually, the angels Duma and Remiel took charge of the dark realm. By then, most of the dead had returned (SANDMAN # 28). Most, but not all.

Eric had no intention of going back and seems to have struck an unholy bargain to remain of Earth. When next seen, he seemed to have become a successful businessman, though he kept the specifics of the business vague. Ominously, he frequented a nightclub overseen by Lucifer himself (SANDMAN # 57, 59). As the Black Spider, Eric was last seen with other villains hoping to strike a deal with the demonic Neron (UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED # 1, page 27, panel 2).


Tomorrow, the villain you've all been begging for -- Mr. Polka-Dot!

posted September 24, 2000 03:54 AM

The businessman in Sandman who got his arm crushed by Lyta was...BLACK SPIDER??? Holy Moly!!!

Have you had this confirmed by someone, or could it just be two guys with the same name?

Interesting twist, nonetheless. Returning from Hell as a more ruthless man, I mean.

posted September 24, 2000 11:15 AM

The Eric Needham/SANDMAN theory is mine. Neil Gaiman had lots of sneaky bits in "The Kindly Ones" and I've always been convinced this was one of them. I don't know if Gaiman has ever confirmed it, though.


DETECTIVE COMICS # 700: Dixon & Nolan's "Legacy: Part One." 'TEC # 600: Sam Hamm & Denys Cowan's "Blind Justice: Part Three." 'TEC # 500: Alan Brennert & Dick Giordano's "To Kill A Legend" and a whole lot more! 'TEC # 400: Frank Robbins & Neal Adams' "Challenge of the Man-Bat." 'TEC # 300: Uh.. would you believe "The Bizarre Polka-Dot Man ?"

One could be forgiven for laughing when they saw that costume, an all-white number save for black shorts and a red visor. And spots. His outfit was covered with colorful spots! In their first encounter with the bandit at the Spot Service Cleaning Company, Batman and Robin had no time to find amusement in his fashion sense. They were too busy dodging the flying buzz-saw that had metamorphosized from a spot tossed at them by Mister Polka-Dot. A second growing disk expanded into a makeshift flying saucer, operated by his control belt.

"Inside my costume are wires connected to each dot. While a dot is ON my costume, the dot is neutral ... but when I rip OFF a dot, it is activated electronically -- and then does the job for which it was gimmicked."

Dots also proved to be the rogue's downfall when he abducted Robin and forced him to write a message lring Batman into a trap. Mr. Polka-Dot failed to notice the holes punched in the paper, actually Braille dots that alerted the Caped Crusader to the threat.

By this point Batman had ascertained a pattern in Mister Polka-Dot's crimes, observing that his string of robberies had created a connect-the-dot stick figure on the Gotham map. By travelling to the probable head of the figure (a map company, whose cities were designated by dots), Batman caught the villain in the act and handed him a hard punch to the jaw. "Right on the dot. By now, you should be seeing spots before your eyes, Mr. Polka-Dot."

The sensational character find of 1961 did NOT return, eventually warranting a "Bureau of Missing Villains" retrospective in 1977's BATMAN FAMILY # 15. He finally turned up in 1996's BATMAN: GCPD # 1 (by Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo and Bill Sienkiewicz), declaring in response to an insult that "I'm NOT specked! I'm the Polka Dot Man." He now had only a non-gimmicked spotted outfit that necessitated his use of a baseball bat as weapon of choice. During a jewelry heist, he ended up smashing Officer Foley's knee before Harvey Bullock grabbed the bat and gave him a taste of his own medicine. The Polka Dot Man -- a.k.a. Abner Krill -- "filed a brutality complaint" in response.

For now, the Polka Dot Man sits in comic book limbo, dreaming of that day when DC and Harvey Comics unite to publish a prestige format Batman-Little Dot one-shot. Who could be a more appropriate villain ? Until then, as Abner Krill once said, "Dot's all she wrote!"

Scott Thiel
posted September 26, 2000 02:18 AM

I don't think MAXIE ZEUS has been done yet. I have always liked him. The one disappointment on the animated series was how Maxie was handled. It just didn't feel right.

Keep up the GREAT WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted September 26, 2000 06:01 AM


Here's the list of characters I'm still due to write up bios for:

Calendar Man
The Eagle
Johnny Witts
Julia Pennyworth
Killer Croc
Lucius Fox
Maxie Zeus
Thomas & Martha Wayne

Scott Thiel
posted September 26, 2000 07:45 AM

We better slow down on the requests or Mikishawm's head will explode.

Here is something that I found on 'Other Topics' board about a Mirror Man-Mojo, the invisible criminal connection. I thought it was intesting and posted a link below. Good work Rajah.

posted September 26, 2000 12:23 PM

Thanks, Scott. I would have posted that here but I had momentarily forgotten where this thread was located.

Who is this Julia Pennyworth? Alfred is one of my favorite characters and I had no idea he had relatives either Pre- or Post-Crisis.

Personal Helicon
New Member
posted September 26, 2000 04:43 PM

Hi everyone. First of all, Scott Thiel - if you haven't already found out, Scott Cleverdon played the part of Thomas Blake (not actuallly called Catman in the credits) in the episode "Cult of the Cat," but I unfortunately can't tell you anything about him, as I've never heard of him! If you have anymore questions about the animated series, I'll do my best to answer them, as I have an extensive video collection.

Now, to Mikishawm and all the others who have helped with character bios, two words - thank you. You've informed, entertained and amused myself and many other readers with your superb work. You all have got great talent, and thanks very much for sharing your knowledge with us. Don't worry, I won't add to your already heavy workload, but you keep writing them, and I'll keep reading them!

The Clarion
posted September 26, 2000 06:11 PM

Scott Cleverdon was born in Edinburgh in 1969. He did the voice of Carnage in Spider-Man and also frequently appeared as a voice in 'Gargoyles'. He was in the movie McHale's Navy and does the voice of Obi Won in the Star Wars Game Jedi Power Battles.

Scott Thiel
posted September 29, 2000 02:21 AM

Julia Pennyworth was Alfred's daughter pre-crisis. Alfie had a relationship with a French resistence fighter called Millie Marie during World War Two. She gives birth to a daughter that is unknown to Alfred until the 1980's.

Detective #501-502 tells how Alfred first meets Julia.

Later Julia moved to Gotham and lived in Wayne Manor before getting her own apartment. She got a job helping Vicki Vale. Deadshot and Mr. Freeze almost killed her in her various adventures.

I believe her last appearance was Batman #400.

posted September 29, 2000 03:23 AM

Um...MINOR correction here. That's Mlle (as in Mademoiselle) Marie. She is an old war comic character that was first seen in Star Spangled War Stories #84 (Aug 59).

posted October 08, 2000 04:55 PM

First off, to repeat what I said in my "Message .." post, I want to thank everyone for the kindness and concern you all showed after my grandmother was hospitalized. It REALLY meant a lot! Thanks again.

And now, I think you've waited long enough ...

"I saw pain beyond imagining in the final days of the second great war -- as I did my part to help countless refugees escape the Nazi oppression. And Heaven forgive me for the pain that I myself inflicted in the course of that noble endeavor -- so that men of good will everywhere could be free once more. It was a terrible -- a lonely time -- but there was still satisfaction in the knowledge of a job well done. I was saving lives -- precious lives -- and, in the end, that was all that really mattered ..." -- the recollections of Alfred Pennyworth, who also remembered a kiss from a grateful blonde Frenchwoman (1980's UNTOLD LEGEND OF THE BATMAN # 2, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo).

Every French school child in the DC Universe knew the legend of Mademoiselle Marie, a short-haired brunette in a red beret and blouse who was the renowned leader of a cell of freedom fighters during World War Two (beginning in STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES # 84-91). Her ultimate fate, however, was a mystery. On August 24, 1944, the eve of Paris' liberation from Nazi occupation, Marie was said to have been shot by an unknown party, surviving only long enough to give birth to a child (1981's DETECTIVE COMICS # 501, by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Dan Adkins).

The Batman knew none of this until two of his most trusted friends, Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, were both summoned to Paris by a cryptic telegram: "He who is interested in justice for Mlle. Marie will attend a gathering of 'the faithful' at the old farm. ... Contact Julia at Hotel Vendome upon arrival." Concerned for the men's well-being, Batman discreetly followed them to France.

The Dark Knight contacted Inspector Dupre of the Surete, who possessed an astonishing amount of information on Mlle. Marie and Alfred and Lucius' ties to her. Both had "served with Mlle. Marie during the war ... Fox in 1943, on behalf of the O.S.S. ... and Pennyworth, in 1944, as an officer in British Intelligence."

Arriving at the Hotel Vendome, Batman found Alfred and Lucius being held at gunpoint by a raven haired woman in her mid-thirties named Julia and, when he tried to free them, Alfred knocked his employer over the head with a fireplace poker. "I couldn't let you hurt her, not her, not Julia." The woman expressed her gratitude by pointing her gun at Alfred and identifying him as the killer of Mademoiselle Marie ('TEC # 501).

A rural French family revealed that they had rescued the wounded, delirious Marie from the St. Joan River in 1944 and tended to her needs over the next few months. "In all that time, she said only one word ... 'Alfred' ... the name of a man, repeated again and again." In January of 1945, they delivered the young woman's baby girl. Marie subsequently vanished and, within three weeks, the body of a disfigured woman was pulled from the river. Marie was presumed dead and the mysterious Alfred was regarded as her killer. Meanwhile, Marie's daughter was raised by another former Resistance fighter, Jacques ReMarque.

With the aid of Inspector Dupre, Batman found a copy of the coroner's report on the disfigured corpse and learned that the body possessed no scars and no sign of a bullet wound. Whatever her fate, Mademoiselle Marie had not died that winter day in 1945. Further investigation turned up the name of Roget, a member of Marie's cell who had secretly been a Nazi collaborator. Gizelle Revel, part of the French family that had taken care of the wounded Marie, even revealed that she'd saved the bullet that had struck her "in hope that someday it might be matched to Roget's gun."

Three shots fired at the elderly woman made it clear that the conversation had been overheard and Batman raced to the house where Marie spent the final months of 1944. There he found Roget -- whom plastic surgery had transformed into Inspector Dupre.

Dragging Dupre before Julia and the former members of the Resistance, Batman explained that Marie "suspected him ... confronted him ... and he shot her with a gun given to him by his German masters. Gizelle and Paulette Revel suspected that Marie had been attacked by one of her own comrades ... that's why they never contacted the Resistance, until after you were born and Marie disappeared."

"But -- then why did my mother repeat Alfred Pennyworth's name in her delirium ?"

Glancing at a silent Alfred, Batman replied, " I don't know, Julia. And does it matter ? You have the proof you wanted ..."

Speaking privately to Alfred before he and Lucius returned to the United States, Jacques ReMarque urged him to reveal the truth to Julia. "Tell her what, Jacques ?" he asked. "That I loved her mother ... and that I would have married Marie, if the war hadn't forced us apart ? Should I tell her that I didn't even know she was alive -- until you wrote me in America, two years after she was born ? Can I tell her how I sent you money all these years ... on the condition that she must never know who I was, or what my relationship was to Marie --and to her ? How can I tell Julia that I was afraid to disrupt her life ? How can I tell her ... how much I've loved her from afar ..." ('TEC # 502).

Julia returned to Alfred's life in mid-1983, courtesy of writer Doug Moench, and became a fixture in BATMAN and DETECTIVE for the duration of Moench's run. Arriving unannounced at Wayne Manor (BATMAN # 364), Julia told Alfred that she had learned that he was her father ('TEC # 532) in a posthumous letter from Jacques ReMarque. Her appearance in America, however, was due to her suspicions that the old man had not"died of natural causes" (BATMAN # 366).

Any doubts they might have had were erased when Alfred and Julia went to Montreal to confer with LeTrope, a man whose name had been in Jacques' journal. They found LeTrope hanging from the ceiling opposite a message painted on the wall: "Stay away Julia or your neck is next!"(BATMAN # 368)

"I hardly KNOW you," Julia told Alfred, when he pressed for more details on her suspicions. "But I love you more than anything save the memory of my mother ... and it is LOVE which makes me reluctant to involve you in this affair. Now ... knowing that it could spell death for anyone falling within its web ... do you STILL wish to KNOW ?"

"If you're in trouble, Julia, YES -- more than ANYTHING ... and even at the risk of WORSE than death" ('TEC # 535).

Jacques had been presumed drowned in France but his body was never recovered. While looking through Jacques' effects, Julia found evidence that suggested he'd been hoarding Nazi treasures. In fact, she learned from the Surete, he'd been RETRIEVING them, and had been on the verge of discovering a major cache of lost artwork. Julia was convinced that her adoptive father had been murdered and the address of Henry LaRouche (a.k.a. LeTrope) in his journal had led her to North America.

Still in Montreal, Julia and Alfred found themselves targetted by a sharpshooter who forced them to run for their lives. Julia regarded the gunman as an amateur but Alfred differed. "All three shots very nearly succeeded in killing us, Julia -- the DIFFICULT way. Far from being a POOR shot -- I would hazard to say our would-be assassin is a SUPERB marksman ... and I think we should account ourselves almost miraculously fortunate to have escaped him." Over the objections of Julia, who regarded vengeance as their personal responsibility, Alfred summoned The Batman.

The gunman in question was Deadshot and his conflict with Batman nearly provided him with a perfect opening to kill his original target, Julia. Instead, the Dark Knight managed to create a ricochet effect that caused Julia to accidentally fire her gun into the master marksman's leg. The killer claimed to have been hired by Jacques Remarque (BATMAN # 369). Escaping custody, Deadshot stole a police car and drove directly to the lair of the terrorists who'd enlisted him ... followed by Alfred, Julia and Batman. As the villains were brought into custody and Deadshot prevented from killing the Frenchwoman, Julia collapsed into Alfred's arms. Finally accepting that Deadshot had lied about Jacques' survival, she sobbed "H-hold me ... please hold me ... father" ('TEC # 536).

In the aftermath of the Deadshot affair, Batman rushed back to Gotham so that Bruce Wayne could greet Alfred and Julia when they arrived at Wayne Manor. Bruce graciously offered Julia an indefinite stay at the mansion, providing the structure with its first female occupant since Aunt Harriet's departure (BATMAN # 370).

Outside of Alfred and Bruce, no one was particularly happy with the arrangement. Unaware of her host's other life, Julia regarded him as cold and arrogant even as she displayed a transparent romantic interest in him (BATMAN # 371, 372, 374). Bruce's current girl friend, Vicki Vale, gave the new houseguest an icy reception (BATMAN # 371 and 'TEC # 538) and new kid Jason Todd was openly jealous, alerting Julia to an apartment for rent in a weak moment ('TEC # 539).

Julia vowed to move out and get a job. "Vicki Vale is the photo editor of Picture News, is she not ? Surely, SHE has the power to hire a new employee" ('TEC # 539). Vicki was less than open to the idea of providing a potential rival with employment but Alfred's daughter assured her that "you have nothing to fear, as I have absolutely NO designs on Bruce Wayne." Feeling guilty over her harsh behavior (BATMAN # 573), Vicki gave Julia a low-level position as a file clerk (BATMAN # 375).

The truce ended the moment Julia accompanied Bruce to a party hosted by Vicki. While Bruce stammered that, since they shared a home, "it would have been foolish to attend separately," Vicki stormed off (BATMAN # 374). Once again, Julia was forced to deny any interest in Bruce Wayne: "He's too arrogant for my tastes -- and besides, I prefer a less idle man ... like The Batman, for example" (BATMAN # 375).

Proclaiming that "the position of file clerk is not suitable," Julia invited herself along with Vicki on a visit to the site of Mister Freeze's latest attack. The women were taken hostage but acquited themselves by distracting the villain long enough for Batman to capture him. Julia wrapped her arms around the Dark Knight as he carried her to safety and laid a smoldering kiss on him. Pleased, Vicki Vale snapped a photograph to commemorate the moment (BATMAN # 375).

Julia ReMarque's account of the Freeze story was handed off to a veteran reporter for a rewrite (BATMAN # 379) but Vicki had been impressed enough to upgrade her title to "personal assistant" (BATMAN # 376). Vicki would have been appalled if she'd known that Julia had used the position as a means of getting a date with Bruce Wayne meant for her ('TEC # 543) and stealing photos of the millionaire from her desk (BATMAN # 377).

Arriving at the scene of a structure fire for her first official writing assignment, Julia was snubbed by TV personality Olivia Ortega, who sneered that "print journalism is finished." Infuriated, Julia framed her report with the larger issue of print vs. film and produced a piece of writing that won her accolades. Vicki suggested that she continue to do more personal articles, beginning with an account of the Jason Todd custody hearing (BATMAN # 379).

Though his daughter had possessed the name of ReMarque since infancy, Alfred found himself regretting that she couldn't take his name (BATMAN # 379), even irrationally thinking of Julia Pennyworth as her "real name." Worn down by recent events with Jason and Bruce, Alfred found his feelings tumbling out one evening when Julia paid a visit to Wayne Manor. Hugging her father as he wept, Julia began to think about what he'd said ('TEC # 547).

After meeting another of Bruce's old flames, the Catwoman ('TEC # 548 and BATMAN # 382), Julia and Vicki each made dates with Bruce independently of the other only to have him oversleep and miss both of them (BATMAN # 383). For Vicki, it was the last straw. The romance, she declared, was over (BATMAN # 384).

Alfred seized the opportunity to arrange a date between Julia and Bruce ("There's no one I'd rather see striking sparks with my daughter, sir.") but ended up entertaining his daughter by himself when Batman left to pursue the Calendar Man. Alfred's defense of Bruce fell on deaf ears but he did receive one heartening bit of news. She told him that "the byline of my next story for Picture News will NOT be 'Julia Remarque.' It will be ... Julia Pennyworth." A misty-eyed father and daughter raised their glasses in tribute to Jacques ReMarque (BATMAN # 384).

Julia's first story with the new byline was another human interest story, this one dealing with the removal of a generations-old tree in the name of progress ('TEC # 552). Buoyed by the response that her articles were getting, she even aspired to writing a true crime book on the recently captured Roman "Black Mask" Sionis and hoped to exploit her budding relationship with Bruce Wayne to get kernels of information about his boyhood friendship with Sionis. Still mooning over Vicki and distracting by his Batman duties, Bruce left Julia in mid-sentence (BATMAN # 388). Disgusted, she told her father that "we're BOTH wasting our time" (BATMAN # 390).

Julia threw all of her energy into an investigative report on the background of a madman she'd named the Film Freak. Enraged by the attention, the killer made several attempts on her life before The Batman brought him to justice (BATMAN # 395, 'TEC # 562 and BATMAN # 396). Within weeks, Julia played the victim role again when the Scarecrow abducted her as part of a scheme orchestrated by Ra's al Ghul (BATMAN # 400).

For Alfred, the stress had been too much. The trials with Jason, two attempts on Julia's life, his own abduction at the hands of Killer Croc and, finally, Bruce Wayne's loss of his fortune were nearly more than he could bear. When Alfred was confronted by Hugo Strange in Wayne Manor, he collapsed of a heart attack. As he lay comatose in his hospital bed, Alfred sensed that Julia was by his side, holding his hand and murmuring words of encouragement (1986's BATMAN ANNUAL # 10).

Alfred awoke with a start, shaking with head with amazement at the strange dream that he'd just experienced. Fighting in World War Two ? He'd served in the military (BATMAN ANNUAL # 13) and had become adept with handling firearms through summer outings with his father (BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1) but, contrary to what Master Dick once thought, he wasn't THAT old! Mademoiselle Marie ? He'd heard of her, of course, but knew relatively little of her life. Hadn't she still been around at the time of the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944, though ? (SGT. ROCK SPECIAL (second series) # 2) And Julia ReMarque ? Was that the name of the woman who wrote that lurid quickie biography on Black Mask just recently ? Ah, but enough dwelling on nightmares. It was time to greet the day. With the rising of the sun, it seemed like a whole new world.

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posted October 08, 2000 05:25 PM

Hi. Mikishawm, I hope that you could answer a question for me. Could I have a character bio please.....about you! OK, not really, but I'm just curious about a few things. What is your comic collection like? How many do you have? How do you get all this information? Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others?

As a great man once said, "I knew more now than I ever did before." Thanks for everything!

(add my name to the "Get DC to take notice of his talent" list)

posted October 08, 2000 10:44 PM

A bio on me ? Well ... okay.

As many of you already know, my real name is John Wells and I live in Batavia, Iowa (near Ottumwa -- home of Radar O'Reilly and Tom Arnold). I've worked for, as they say, a major retailer for exactly fourteen years. Its not comics but I guess its more secure.

My total comics collection (including ALL publishers) consists of 31,000 plus issues. The DCs are stacked on shelves here in my office for easy access while the rest are stored upstairs. I'm also a huge comic strip fan, with Gasoline Alley as my all-time favorite (I discovered it during Dick Morres' peak in 1973) and the works of Milton Caniff, Roy Crane and their successors also ranked highly.

Do I enjoy sharing data ? You bet! I just wish I had more time ...

Here's a bio that I wrote when I joined CAPA-ALPHA last year:

"In those days, the feeling that Marvel created for the reader was one of progression; characters were having lives that unfolded. I thought about that in terms of CAPTAIN AMERICA. A lot of other writers would come in under one theory of comics and say, 'Well I'm gonna start writing this series, so everything starts now with me. I will recreate the character the way I want it; I will do whatever I'd like. This is my run, this is what'll happen.' I always felt that the characters had pre-existed me and would post-exist me. If I wanted my Captain America to be different from the Captain America that I inherited, I would take the Captain America I inherited and then change it over time, visibly, into the guy that I wanted him to be." -- Steve Englehart, THE O'NEIL OBSERVER # 1 (Spring/Summer 1999).

I suppose it may seem strange to open a column devoted to DC with a quote about a Marvel comic book. But Englehart's approach to writing super-heroes in the 1970s and 1980s,whether on Avengers or Cap at Marvel or Batman, the JLA, Green Lantern, et al. at DC, still resonates with me. By building on the past instead of ignoring it, Englehart made his characters richer and I think his stories benefited from that. I try to bring that same sensibility to the character sketches and histories I write.

After a five year love affair with Disney comic books, I got into DCs in a very big way shortly after my tenth birthday in the spring of 1974. This was the era of the 100-Page Super-Spectaculars and Limited Collectors' Editions and I adored them. By year's end, I had been exposed to dozens of characters, most of them in stories selected from periods when they were in their prime. Consider this line-up:

Adam Strange, the Atom, Batman, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., Challengers of the Unknown, the Creeper, Dan Dare, Doctor Fate and Hourman, Doll Man, Elongated Man, Flash I and II, the Gay Ghost, Green Arrow, Green Lantern I and II, Hawkman, Ibis, Jimmy Olsen, Johnny Quick, the JLA, the JSA, Kid Flash, Lance O'Casey, Legion of Super-Heroes, Little Boy Blue, Lois Lane, Manhunter, Mary Marvel, Matt Savage, Metal Men, Metamorpho, Mister Terrific, the Newsboy Legion, Rip Hunter, Robin, Roy Raymond, Scoop Smith, the Sea Devils, Sierra Smith, the Spectre, Spy Smasher, Star Hawkins, Superboy, Supergirl, Superman, the Viking Prince, Wildcat, Wonder Woman ...

A friend of mine recently commented that "DC had as rich and intertwined a history as Marvel ever did." In terms of sheer diversity, I'd say that DC surpassed them.

During the 1980s, my passion for DC's action heroes led me to begin compiling listings of all their appearances. Soon I was doing the same for the villains. And the supporting casts for all those strips. And on and on. Thanks to friends like Mike Tiefenbacher, Murray Ward and the late Ronald Bialkowski, I've gotten much further with this project than I ever imagined I would. The master list of the heroes alone (names and first appearances) checks in at 200+ single-spaced pages.

Tapping into my DC Checklists, I was involved with the DC Index series in the latter half of the 1980s and have written articles for AMAZING HEROES, CBG, COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE, COMIC EFFECT and THE O'NEIL OBSERVER. I've been a regular contributor to IT'S A FANZINE since 1984. Though my interest in Marvel titles is much more casual, I was even drafted into service on the most recent incarnations of the AVENGERS and X-MEN index series.


And since I wrote that, I've gone on-line and taken taken the user name of Mikishawm (frequently mispelled on the boards with an "n" on the end), originally the name of the Golden incarnation of Skartaris in the "Mark Lansing" series seen in 1940-41's ADVENTURE COMICS # 53-62. You can see an episode of the series in the Millennium Edition of ADVENTURE # 61 (Starman's first appearance).

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posted October 09, 2000 05:10 PM

Mikishawm, thanks very much for the "getting to know you" bit. My respect for you and your love of comics increases by leaps and bounds every time I read one of your posts. I'd just like to say a big "Danke Schon" for all your work, and for taking the time to entertain and inform so many. Thanks again, and best wishes to you and your grandmother. It's people like you that make me glad I stumbled onto this crazy world of the internet.

31,000 comics......wow.

posted October 11, 2000 06:06 PM

Just a li'l surprise mid-week bio. Enjoy!


Once upon a time, there was a world where costumed men and women dressed in colorful costumes took to the streets and fought crime. The heroes flourished in the 1940s but their numbers had dwindled by the 1970s. Their hair had turned gray and one of the greatest of their generation -- The Batman -- had died (1978's ADVENTURE COMICS # 462). A relative handful of heroes --including the Huntress, daughter of the Dark Knight -- stood poised to replace them.


It's one thing to read about crime in the newspaper but it's quite another to experience it first hand. Such was the case with Charles Bullock, a young African American lawyer recently added to the roster of Gotham City's Cranston, Grayson and Wayne in 1981 (WONDER WOMAN # 281-284, by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Steve Mitchell). When a super-villain named Karnage attacked the law offices in search of senior partner Arthur Cranston, Bullock rushed forward to oppose the intruder only to be swatted away like a fly (# 286-287, by Levitz, Staton and Bruce Patterson).

Karnage was soon brought to justice by The Huntress (secretly Helena Wayne, another partner in the firm) and Arthur Cranston tried to assure Charles that he had nothing to be ashamed of. "You're a lawyer," he said, "not a bouncer." The young man was not appeased, however. "I have some heavy thinking to do ... about the way Karnage's attack is going to CHANGE my life" (WW # 289). Digging through the firm's library, Charles found "a fairly complete file on The Huntress in the clippings. Good. I wonder if it has everything I NEED ..." (WW # 290, by Levitz, Staton and Mike DeCarlo).

Levitz's plans for Charles Bullock were never realized and it fell to his successor, Joey Cavalieri, to resolve the subplot in the latter half of 1982. The "Huntress"episode in WW # 297 opened with Charles witnessing a pair of hoods harrassing a local grocer. "What can we do about it ?" the old man asked. "We're too small to fight them. In the old days, there was The Batman, God rest his soul. He was there to PROTECT people like us. Saw to it slime like that didn't get into the neighborhood. But now, who STANDS up for people like us ? What can we do ... ?" For Charles Bullock, it was a call to arms.

The following evening, a bat-scalloped shadow fell over the thugs, momentarily stopping them -- and a concealed Huntress -- in their tracks. The source of the shadow was a man in a variation of The Batman's costume -- light blue replacing the gray, a more stylized bat chest emblem and utility belt, yellow bands around his wrists and calves and a sharply arched yellow-tipped face mask that evoked bat-ears in silhouette. His dark blue cape functioned as a hang-glider. "Stand back!" he commanded. "NONE may threaten the people of this city while Blackwing stands!"

Unhappily, Blackwing was grounded almost immediately when one of the thugs partially shredded his cape/glider. The would-be hero was beaten into unconsciousness and unmasked. Watching from a distance, the Huntress recognized Charles instantly (WW # 297, art by Staton and Sal Trapani).

Blackwing was presented to the mastermind behind the gang, a snake charmer of sorts named the Boa. The Huntress crashed the party and was left to the mercies of a boa constrictor as the villains made their exit. Blackwing, who'd been feigning unconsciousness, used a dagger to slash the serpent and free the Huntress (WW # 298-299, art by Staton and Frank McLaughlin).

"I was a top notch lawyer," he explained, "but that only gave me a ring-side seat as I watched criminals slide through the revolving door of justice. I felt the need to do something MORE -- something lasting! My hero had always been The Batman. The heart of this town nearly quit beating altogether when he died. But then The Huntress swung into action -- and I knew in my guts that if SHE could do it -- I could, too!" (WW # 298)

"Maybe it was stupid but I became Blackwing to be that symbol for people again ... to restore their pride in Gotham ... and SPUR them to take charge of this city once more. I tried to THINK the way The Batman would. I had the presence of mind to keep my miniature tape recorder in my utility belt running ever since I was kidnapped."

"Evidence!" The Huntress exclaimed. "Good work, Charley. We'll nail them YET. You would've made The Batman very proud, Charley. You've certainly made ME proud." The daughter of The Batman captured the Boa and his gang that night (WW # 299) but Charles never took to the sky as Blackwing again.

And, yet, history may yet see the Bullock name enshrined as a costumed hero. A Gotham youngster named Charlie Bullock, possibly a namesake cousin of Charles, had crossed paths with Wildcat three years earlier on a late winter's evening in 1979. Charlie proved to be a natural fighter and helped the Justice Society member take down a quartet of muggers.

Wildcat realized that kids like Charlie could achieve great things with a little positive reinforcement. Pulling off his mask, Ted Grant introduced himself to Charlie and decided, in that moment, that he would leave his JSA responsibilities to become a mentor to any of the youth in Gotham that he could help. Announcing his leave of absence, Ted noted that "SOMEONE's gotta start worrying where the NEXT generation of super-heroes is coming from"(ADVENTURE COMICS # 464, by Levitz and Staton). Will Charlie Bullock return as the Blackwing of the current DC Universe ? Only time -- and future issues of JSA -- will tell.

posted October 14, 2000 07:44 PM

The muscular man burst into Wayne Manor, catching Alfred Pennyworth by surprise and rendering him unconscious in a matter of moments. "Get it straight," he'd said earlier in the evening. "I'm doin' this for one reason only ... to break The Batman's back." Years before Bane came on the scene, there was Killer Croc.

"He was born thirty-five years ago in a Tampa slum area near the 22nd-Street Causeway and though the name on his birth certificate reads Waylon Jones, by the time he was ten, all the neighborhood kids were calling him -- Croc. No parents ... living with a dead-beat aunt who spent more time in jail on D-and-D charges than she did at home ... alienated and cursed with a hideous skin disease ... is it any wonder the kid went bad ?"

Jones was a regular visitor to the juvenile detention center and was finally tried and convicted as an adult when he was sixteen. He killed a prisoner who mocked his appearance but nonetheless was out on parole "after eighteen years behind bars. Out of prison, he found a job in a carnival sideshow ... wrestling alligators" (BATMAN # 359). "I broke their backs with my bare hands," Jones later recalled. "Then I got smart. I had the strength, I had the hate -- why shouldn't I USE it to get what I wanted ? 'Killer Croc' -- that's what they called me. But some day, SOME DAY, I knew they'd call me KING!" (BATMAN # 358).

Croc had established powerful mob ties in Tampa that he was anxious to put to use elsewhere. He'd discreetly established a foothold in Gotham and assembled a gang before returning to Florida to take care of "some personal loose ends." After snapping the neck of the deputy who brutally beat him when he was ten (noted in BATMAN # 359), he returned to discover that his followers had affiliated themselves with the simple-minded Solomon Grundy. Croc kept his temper in check but left the gang to its fate. Within hours, the entire crew was killed when Grundy flew into a rage (DETECTIVE # 523, by Gerry Conway, Gene Colan and Tony deZuniga).

Croc shifted his allegiance to the Squid, a mobster who was poised to fill the power vacuum in Gotham's underworld left by the downfall of Rupert Thorne (BATMAN # 354) and Tony Falco. Initially, Croc was content to work a protection racket at the visiting Sloan Circus (BATMAN # 357, by Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala) but he soon wanted more. After he witnessed Batman's escape from a deathtrap, Croc sauntered away, informing the would-be crimelord that "this outfit smells of loser."

The Squid was furious, shaking Croc by the lapels of his jacket and knocking off his hat to reveal red eyes and reptilian green flesh. "NOBODY touches Croc, little man," he snarled. "Especially not a five-cent hood like you." Jones' sharp eyes spotted the concealed Dark Knight as he made his exit but he kept his silence. Returning later in the night, Croc fired a high-powered rifle at the Squid. Looking down at the corpse, Waylon Jones smiled. "Like I said -- NOBODY threatens Croc" (DETECTIVE # 524, by Conway, Newton and Dick Giordano).

While Batman began tracing the gun that killed the Squid, Croc approached the members of Gotham's Tobacconist Club and announced his intention to take over the city's mobs. The president of club's inner circle proposed a test and directed Jones towards a state-of-the-art Air Force Computer at S.T.A.R. Labs.

"Mister, I was born a freak -- I've had to prove myself to creeps like you all my life. I could break you in half. But that wouldn't get me what I WANT ... so I'll STEAL your crummy computer. And then I'll shove it down your fat throat."

The robbery was a success and, after a cursory "we'll be in touch" from the movers and shakers, Croc returned to his apartment. Seated in an easy chair, The Batman was waiting. Jones went ballistic, lunging at the Dark Knight and screaming that "this was MY place, my SPECIAL place! Built this place -- my HOME -- nobody could call me a freak HERE! But you've SPOILED it -- YOU RUINED IT!" Firing his gun into a space heater, Croc watched the room go up in flames and plunged into the river (1983's BATMAN # 358, by Conway, Curt Swan and Rodin Rodriguez).

A natural swimmer, Jones threw off his business suit and stripped down to red briefs to maneuver more easily. The killer toyed with Batman in the water, striking and choking him and leaving only when he thought the Dark Knight had drowned. "I thought you were tough," he sneered. "Someone I could respect. But you're nothing but a loser, like all the rest" (DETECTIVE # 525, by Conway, Dan Jurgens and Giordano).

Croc issued a summons to the chiefs of Gotham's mobs for a meeting at the Gotham Zoo's reptile house two nights later. Attendance was NOT optional. Still wearing his red shorts, Jones walked amongst the alligators and addressed the crowd as King Croc. His claims to have killed The Batman were ridiculed, however, and the mobsters contained to pledge allegiance to the jailed Tony Falco. Determined to make the mobs his own, a knife-wielding Croc broke into prison and slashed Falco to ribbons. Batman traded blows with Croc for a third time but with no more success.

Elsewhere, Joe and Trina Todd, a pair of acrobats from the Sloan Circus, were doing some investigating of their own. They'd agreed to help Robin break the protection racket that the circus had been threatened by and took off in pursuit of one of the mob enforcers. Untrained in the art of surveillance, the Todds were spotted immediately by their subject and a warm welcome awaited the husband and wife when they crept into the reptile house. The lights flashed on and Joe and Trina found themselves on a stage before an audience of mobsters -- a stage they shared with an approaching Croc (BATMAN # 359, by Conway, Jurgens and Giordano).

Robin arrived at the reptile house alongside Batgirl and was greeted by a gray Commissioner Gordon. When the Teen Wonder inquired about the Todds' welfare, the veteran cop was horrified that he'd involved civilians in the case. Directing him to their corpses, lying amongst the crocodiles, Gordon said, "We can only hope they were already dead when he threw them to his friends below. YOU brought them into this, Robin. It's on YOUR HEAD." In a state of hysteria, Robin plunged into the pit, beating the reptiles aside with the butt of a gun, cradling Trina Todd's corpse in his arms and unleashing an agonized, grief-stricken scream.

Elsewhere, the Joker was attempting to cement his status in the Gotham mob's new hierarchy. On one hand, he'd mobilized the long-established super-villains of the city to kill Batman before the upstart Croc could do so. On the other, he revealed the plot to Croc (minus his own role), gambling that the opposing forces would take each other out and leave the field clear for him.

Talia and Catwoman had alerted the Dark Knight to the looming attacks on his life and the trio wound up in the abandoned Adams Brewery. They ended up being captured anyway, all three chained to a faulty brewing vat that was likely to erupt when it got hot enough. Croc stepped past a gloating Joker and demanded that Batman be released so that they could fight out their differences "man to man." As for Talia and Catwoman, Croc answered, "You win, they live. You lose, they DIE. Simple as that."

This time, Batman came out on top, freeing himself from Croc and sending the thug reeling with a steel barrel thrown into his torso. "NO!" the reptile man shrieked. "Nobody ever broke my grip -- NOBODY!"

"That was your mistake, Croc -- my name isn't 'nobody!'"

Forgotten in all this was Joe and Trina Todd's acrobatic young son, Jason, who'd stumbled onto the Batcave after Dick Grayson left him at Wayne Manor. Concerned for his parents' safety and an unapologetic thrill-seeker, Jason put together a variation of Robin's costume and headed in the direction of the Adams Brewery. He arrived just behind Robin and Batgirl, who revealed the horrifying news of the Todds' demise to Batman.

Leaping from a rafter, Jason knocked a ten-foot pipe from Croc's hand, allowing Batman to get in a final punch to the killer's chin. In a state of rage, Jason struck blow after blow on the reptile man before Batgirl and Robin pulled him away.

In the aftermath, Bruce Wayne did his best to console Dick Grayson but the young man would be haunted by the faces of Joe and Trina Todd every time he wore the Robin costume from that point on. Dick was insistent on adopting the orphaned teenager but Bruce wouldn't hear of it. As man and boy walked onto the grounds of Wayne Manor, Alfred whispered "My goodness. Master Dick, you don't suppose ... ?"

"I think you'd better open up my old room, Alfred." (DETECTIVE # 526, by Conway, Newton and Alcala)

A new era was about to begin. The next months were full of excitement for Jason Todd, who fought for and ultimately won the right to be the new Robin.

Killer Croc returned in 1986, part of a corps of villains freed from prison by Ra's al Ghul to capture those close to The Batman. Croc, delighted at the prospect of snapping the Dark Knight's spine, dutifully abducted Alfred from Wayne Manor, unaware that he was kidnapping Batman's butler. Jason Todd seethed at the thought of his parents' killer running free and, mercifully, was absent when Batman took down Croc with a gas pellet from his utility belt (BATMAN # 400, by Doug Moench, George Perez, Art Adams & Terry Austin and Ken Steacy).

The 1987 revamping of Jason Todd's origin in BATMAN # 408-411 erased the second Robin's circus origins and Killer Croc from the post-Crisis Dark Knight's history. And yet, a scant two months after BATMAN # 411, Croc was back.

He and Batman fought across a two-page sequence in SWAMP THING # 66 (by Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala), smashing into the office of Arkham Asylum administrator Robert Huntoon. "Doctor," Batman reported. "This thing goes by the name of Killer Croc. He just murdered thirty innocent people with an incendiary device in midtown. Lock him up."

Croc was far from defeated, rising to hammer the Dark Knight with a series of crushing blows while delivering a Hulk-like monologue: "Rodent not superhuman like Croc! Rodent soft as jelly! Breaks easy ... tastes goooood!" Reflecting the grim, violent tenor of the times, Batman sprayed him nerve gas and informed Huntoon that "this man shouldn't give you any more problems ... unless it's from a wheelchair."

The events of DETECTIVE # 523-526, et al. were still largely canonical, after all, with details such as his skin condition and wrestler origins (THE DEMON # 11) and his ousting of the Squid (BATMAN # 489) being specifically cited. Eventually, it would even be revealed that Croc had made a second attempt at taking over the Gotham mobs, coming into conflict with Black Mask (mentioned in ROBIN # 71). Notably absent from the post-Crisis account were, in addition to Joe and Trina Todd, Dick Grayson himself, who failed to recognize Waylon Jones' name prior to going up against Croc in BATMAN # 512.

The idiot strongman routine was a fake, though, as Veitch (with art by Brett Ewins) revealed a few months later in SECRET ORIGINS # 23. "Can you imagine," he thought, "putting ME in an institution for the criminally insane ? Actually it's my OWN fault. I've always projected the old 'mindless engine of destruction' image to others." By playing a brain-damaged wheelchair-bound patient at Arkham, Croc was privy to all manner of secret, from guards who stole drugs or were involved in a sinister conspiracy to the innermost thoughts of Jason Woodrue, whom he regarded as a friend.

Supposedly paralyzed for life thanks to his exposure to the nerve gas, Croc awoke with a start from a nap and realized that he could move his neck. Stunned by his good fortune, he decided to keep the discovery to himself. "Yes. I'm healing. Just like a good reptile. LET them think I'm a basket case. Soon I'll jump up, murder a few for good measure, and walk out of here ..."

By 1989, the truth had come out (though the amount of blood shed is unknown) and Croc was placed in solitary confinement, exercising regularly to maintain his wrestler's physique (DETECTIVE # 604). He even managed to engage in Batman once more while the Joker had temporary taken control of Arkham. Croc suffered a nasty spear wound in the course of the conflict (ARKHAM ASYLUM, by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean).

Temporarily back in a wheelchair, Croc was now restrained with steel clamps on his wrists and ankles. Tired of faking madness, he snapped at a doctor who referred to him as Killer. "That's MISTER CROC to you, chump. An' I'll tell ya somethin' ELSE -- I shouldn't even BE here. I ain't CRAZY!" The unexpected arrival of a demon conjured by fellow inmate Tenzin Wyatt gave Croc the opportunity he was looking for to escape (1991's THE DEMON # 11, by Alan Grant, Val Semeiks and Denis Rodier).

A brief alliance with the Riddler ended with capture by Superman (LEGENDS OF THE WORLD'S FINEST # 2) and Croc was soon back in Arkham (# 3). Subjected to numerous sessions of electroshock therapy, Croc finally tore loose of his restraints, screaming that "I'm Killer Croc! This brain ain't for fryin'!"

Fleeing to an abandoned subway tunnel beneath Gotham, Croc found refuge with other street persons. For the first time in his life, Waylon Jones had found people who accepted him as he was, including a surrogate mother he called Aunt Marcy who gently patted his head as the tormented man rested in her arms.

Croc's thefts of food and appliances for his new family eventually led Batman and "bat-hound" Ace to the sewers and Croc reacted just as violently as he had on the last occasion that his home had been invaded. The long-overdue rematch between the two was abruptly curtailed when the Dark Knight revealed that new water tunnels were being opened that night. As the flood began roaring towards them, Croc and Batman put their backs into holding up the deteriorating walls until the rest of the family could seek higher ground. Aunt Marcy slipped and Croc insisted that Batman rescue her.

As water began pouring past him, the green man defiantly shouted that "I'm Killer Croc! I can do ANYTHIN'! This is MY home! Ain't NOBODY takin' it away from me!" It was not enough. As the flood swept him away, Croc's shell-shocked, weeping family, led by Aunt Marcy, began to sing the lullaby that had soothed their friend: "Hush little baby, don't say a word -- Mommy's gonna buy you a mockingbird ..." (DETECTIVE # 471, by Grant and Norm Breyfogle)

Is this the end of Killer Croc ? Tune in tomorrow for more on the fall and rise of Waylon Jones!

posted October 15, 2000 09:29 PM

Croc had survived, living on rats and river water and existing for weeks without human companionship. When a group of derelicts stumbled onto him and ran in terror from the "monster," all of the taunts from Waylon's youth flooded back into his fogged brain. In a state of delirium, Croc went on a rampage through Gotham, imagining that everyone from the people on the streets to the mannequins in storefronts were his childhood tormenters.

The reign of terror attracted Tim Drake (the third Robin), Jean-Paul Valley (dressed as Batman) ... and Bane. After nearly crushing "Batman's" rib-cage, Croc turned his attention to Bane, who wished to test the marauder's mettle. Powered by Venom, Bane effortlessly broke both of his opponent's arms and left as quietly as he'd come (BATMAN # 489, by Doug Moench and Jim Aparo).

Within days, Bane had freed the inmates of Arkham and Croc, his arms wrapped in fresh casts, was among the escapees (BATMAN # 491). Thirsting for revenge, Croc used his enhanced senses to zoom in on Bane's scent and interrupted the Santa Priscan villain's interrogation of Robin. Without an infusion of Venom in his system, Bane suffered a few rough blows before recovering and smashing Croc's right arm again. Locked in combat, they fell into the rushing waters of the sewer (DETECTIVE # 660, by Chuck Dixon, Jim Balent and Scott Hanna) and Croc vanished underwater once more (BATMAN # 494).

Elsewhere, Killer Croc was among the villains featured in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. With vocals by Aron Kincaid, Croc debuted in October 5, 1992's "Vendetta" and was later prominently featured in May 3, 1994's "Sideshow," a rewrite of a 1971 O'Neil-Adams story from DETECTIVE # 410 that Croc fit seemlessly into. A later episode, 1998's "Love Is A Croc," revolved around Waylon's romance with Baby-Doll. Brooks Gardner took over the role of Killer Croc with that episode. In the comics based on the series, Croc was spotlighted in two character-based episodes, one dealing with his friendship with his wrestling manager (1993's BATMAN ADVENTURES # 7) and the other with his one-sided romance with reporter Summer Gleeson (1997's BATMAN & ROBIN ADVENTURES # 23).

Back in the mainstream DCU, Killer Croc was lurking near the Gotham River, his broken limbs healing rapidly during the weeks since his beating by Bane. A succession of deaths near the river led Robin to conclude that the culprit was the missing villain and he and the latest temporary Batman (Dick Grayson) took off to investigate. Going toe-to-toe with Croc for the first time, Dick acquitted himself nicely, breaking free of the ex-wrestler's back-breaking hold by clapping his hand around the green man's ears (BATMAN # 512, by Moench, Mike Gustovich and Romeo Tanghal).

As he recovered from multiple gunshot wounds sustained in that last adventure, Croc found himself dreaming of a more serene existence in the swamps (SHOWCASE '95 # 11) and, his mental faculties now truly reduced to Hulk-level proportions, broke out of Arkham. Croc found himself instinctively drawn to Houma, Louisiana and Batman was close behind, following the trail of wreckage (1995's BATMAN # 521). As the Dark Knight prepared to capture his foe, both men were stopped by the Swamp Thing, who revealed that he had summoned Croc to the bayou.

In his current state of mind, Croc was regarded as "a primordial being" whose "madness and torment ... his fierce yearning for a place of peace ... his piteous rage ... has created a profound disturbance in the Green." Swamp Thing called Waylon Jones to his home and "changed him. He will kill now ... only for food ... only to exist as part of this swamp ...where it could take a man YEARS to find him ... yet I will know where he is ... I will ALWAYS know ... through the consciousness of the Green. And if ever again ... he becomes a threat to the world of man ... I will make you aware of it."

Reluctantly, Batman accepted the proposition and left (BATMAN # 522, by Moench, Kelley Jones and John Beatty). The swamp environment proved less than ideal. The Swamp Thing, distracted by his ascension through a series of elemental parliaments, had little patience for his new guest, physically strking Croc to teach him "his place ... in the pecking order of the swamp" (SWAMP THING # 160, by Mark Millar, Phillip Hester and Kim DeMulder). It was one more bully in a life that had seen too many and Waylon Jones hopped the next train out of Houma, enjoying a prize bull for a meal en route to Gotham (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 3, by Dixon, Gabriel Gecko and Robert Campanella).

A more mellow Croc took up residence in Gotham's underground, his solitary existence interrupted by a wounded Man-Bat, whom he offered food and sympathy. As his house guest flew off, Waylon cautioned him to "watch yourself out there this time, okay ? It's a rough world, pal" (1996's MAN-BAT # 2).

Inevitably, Croc was recaptured (by Wolverine, of all people, in MARVEL VERSUS DC # 2). He escaped one prison for another when Lock-Up and the Fabulous Ernie Chubb made Waylon Jones one of the feature attractions in a murderous pay-per-view series of wrestling matches. Thanks to weeks of torturous, abusive treatment, Killer Croc once again lived up to his name (1997's BATMAN/WILDCAT # 1, 3; by Dixon & Beau Smith, Sergio Cariello and Dan Miki).

Once Batman had hauled him in after a botched robbery (RESURRECTION MAN # 7), Croc settled into a comfortable routine at Arkham, his mental stability actually helped by the regular interaction with other people for the first time in years. He watched "Seinfeld" (HITMAN # 3), formed a close friendship with environmentalist and kindred spirit Poison Ivy (BATMAN: POISON IVY), played cards with the Ventriloquist and the Mad Hatter (BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT # 2) and joined in the regular inmate uprisings (BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM - TALES OF MADNESS # 1; THE CREEPER # 7-8; BATMAN VILLAINS SECRET FILES # 1).

Part of Croc's docile behavior was due to the regular supply of sedatives prescribed to him at Arkham. With the asylum in disarray following the Gotham earthquake, the Joker quietly slipped into the computerized records files and began changing the prescriptions. Suddenly, Croc was receiving amphetamines six times a day (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 80). The geared-up Croc eventually killed fellow inmate Pinhead during a grudge match (# 81) and escaped with the other criminals just as Gotham was declared a "No Man's Land" (# 82; by Grant, Mark Buckingham and Campanella).

As various parties began to seize different sections of their own, Croc became "a nomad, fighting whomever he finds" (BATMAN: NO MAN'S LAND # 1). He also put together his own gang (glimpsed in BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 86 and DETECTIVE # 737) and, for the first time in years, began entertaining thoughts of calling himself KING Croc again. He was not pleased, to say the least, at news that a good samaritan providing services to the disenfranchised of Gotham was being referred to as the King. Croc tracked down the so-called King -- a reformed crook named Stanley Demchaszky -- and threatened to kill him. For the second time during the NML (the first being in BATMAN CHRONICLES # 17), Batman traded punches with Croc. He ended up sending the green man on a four-story tumble from a building with debris raining down on him. "He's survived worse," the Dark Knight thought. "It'll just put another dent in his ego" (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 89, by Ian Edginton, Jason Miller and Sal Buscema).

Croc had characteristically formed close bonds with the men in his gang and was outraged when one of them was critically injured by serial killer Mr. Zsasz. Though desperate to kill Zsasz, himself a patient of Doctor Leslie Thompkins, Croc agreed to abide by the cease-fire that she had declared in the makeshift hospital. All bets were off when Zsasz escaped. Batman separated the two killers as the wrapped their hands around each other's throats, restraining Zsasz while Croc escaped (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 18, by Devin Grayson, Dale Eaglesham and Jaime Mendoza & John Floyd).

As the NML was winding down, Croc was preparing to return to the persona of gang lord that he'd once craved. Now wearing an expensive designer suit, he proclaimed to his followers that "I ain't going back to the sewers! That's over! That's history! I'm not going BACK to that! You WITH me on this ? I used to RUN this town 'til the cops and Blackmask and Bane HOUNDED me into the sewers. And I blame NOBODY but myself! But I'm KILLER CROC, damn it, and I'm back for what's mine!"

Croc intended to "expand east and south and crush ANYBODY who stands in the way." A crew that included Robin, the GCPD, Alfred Pennyworth and even the Penguin faced down the gang and the Boy Wonder managed to end the uprising by getting Croc to drop a car on himself (ROBIN # 71-72, by Chuck Dixon, Stza Johnson & Gordon Purcell and Wayne Faucher).

With order restored in Gotham, Croc was again reduced to committing burglaries (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 3) interspersed with stays in Arkham (# 5). His NML experiences have emboldened him, though, giving Killer Croc an appetite for power that convenience store heists just can't satisfy. "I'm BACK, baby!" he announced during ROBIN # 72. "The Croc is back to STAY!"

posted October 18, 2000 06:53 AM

Wasn't there a villian called Moth-Man?

Or am I confusing Killer Moth with the Grasshopper Gang?

posted October 18, 2000 12:58 PM

Miki, you amaze me as ever. I may be obssessed with Batman lore but your efforts humble my own knowledge of trivia.

Not that I want to add to your considerable workload, but I have a question about Ubu. Ra's al Ghul seems to have had many bodyguards over the years, including Ubu and lookalikes named Lurk and Grind. Now it seems as though all his bodyguards are called Ubu. Is this just a codename for his honor guard? If so, what happened to the original Ubu (the one created by Dennis O'Neil in "Daughter of the Demon")?

posted October 18, 2000 02:16 PM

Miki actually covered Ubu and his/their lookalikes months ago in the thread "Obscure DC Characters" on the OTDCUT boards.

Sadly, the thread in question has been erased, and my copy of it has mysteriously disappeared. Does someone else have it?

If not, I do have a printed paper version of Mikishawm's Ubu biography. If no one can find the original thread, I can at least quote it and post it here.

posted October 18, 2000 06:57 PM

Ask and ye shall receive:

"Infidel! My lord Al Ghul leaves the chamber first!"

As first impressions go, Ubu made a most emphatic one, shoving The Batman to one side when the Dark Knight was presumptuous to consider exiting the Batcave ahead of his new would-be partner Ra's Al Ghul. Ra's explained that the hulking, bald man was "trained to my complete service ... and a trifle overzealous."

It was Ubu who unwittingly tipped off Batman to the fact that the abduction of Robin and Talia was, for the most part, a set-up. Nearly killed by a leopard in a darkened room, the Dark Knight had one question in retrospect -- why didn't Ubu allow the Master to enter that doorway first ? The answer, of course, was that it was all a test that Ra's had orchestrated to test the detective's abilities as both his successor and prospective son-in-law. For his part, Ubu played the alleged kidnapper, briefly confronting the Dark Knight with a ram's head mask and having his head handed to him (1971's BATMAN # 232, by O'Neil, Adams and Giordano).

"You've been getting by, by scaring people. Well, The Batman doesn't scare!"

Ubu returned briefly in # 243, now serving as bodyguard to Talia in Switzerland. Knocked unconscious by Batman, the underling was forgotten as Ra's (newly-resurrected by the Lazarus Pit) and Talia fled in # 244.

The Pit had not been shut down properly and, within hours, an explosion rocked the Swiss Alps. The semi-conscious Ubu was caught at ground zero. The accident left Ubu with severe burns and an unwavering green glow that made it clear that the man had been permanently altered. Ra's' servant was taken into the care of two Swiss doctors, Varnov and Kolb, who hoped to ascertain the secret of immortality from the giant's body. Muttering about revenge against millionaire Bruce Wayne, Ubu fled and the doctors followed, gambling that he would seek out Wayne in Gotham City. Ubu ended up in Wayne Manor, the now-abandoned sight where he had seen Bruce unmasked as Batman. Ubu had killed Kolb and left Alfred for dead before Batman arrived on the scene and learned of Varnov's true motives. Ubu lunged at Batman and, caught in a stranglehold, the desperate Dark Knight kicked the giant in the stomach, knocking him backwards, where "he impaled himself on that splintered railing." (1973's DETECTIVE # 438, by Archie Goodwin and Jim Aparo).

Life went on for Ra's and, by 1978, he had replaced Ubu with a lookalike named Lurk (DC SPECIAL SERIES # 15, by O'Neil, Michael Golden and Giordano). "I've fought your kind back on that mountain in the Himalayas," Batman said between punches. "and it won't be any different here. You're immensely powerful -- but Ra's does your thinking -- and battles are won by brains as much as by brawn."

In DETECTIVE # 490, Lurk deviated from Ra's instructed attack on the Sensei's men to take a shot at Batman and ended up failing in his primary mission. "You really fouled this one, friend. Ra's is going to be very unhappy. If I were you," the Dark Knight suggested, "I'd find a place to hide -- preferably on another planet."

The opening chapter of Marv Wolfman's "Lazarus Affair" multi-parter (in late 1980's BATMAN # 332) added another wrinkle to the origins of Ra's' underlings when Batman was confronted by several bald, hulking "mutates," ordinary men who been altered in a laboratory to become "unstoppable dreadnoughts." It was no great surprise to learn that the master of the mutates was Ra's Al Ghul himself (# 334-335).

Mike W. Barr and Trevor Von Eeden introduced the next of Ra's' bodyguards in 1982's BATMAN ANNUAL # 8. Though he possessed the same temperment as his predecessors, Grind actually had hair -- a black crewcut. He returned in Barr's SON OF THE DEMON (1987) and BRIDE OF THE DEMON(1990). Left for dead by the mad Doctor Carmody, Grind was presumably killed in the subsequent explosion of Ra's' mountain fortress.

Ubu made a surprising reappearance in 1998's BATMAN: BANE OF THE DEMON # 1-4 (by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Tom Palmer), his face now hidden behind a hockey-like mask. Wearing a variation of BATMAN # 232's ram's head mask, he appeared to perish once again in # 4, this time at the hands of Bane, who took the giant's place at Ra's and Talia's side.

Mistaking Bane (his face hidden by the ram's helmet) for Ubu, Batman explained to Tim Drake that "there seem to have been many Ubus. I'm sure I've never encountered this one before" (DETECTIVE # 700). More recently, Ubu had appeared (with the hockey mask) in Dixon's BATMAN: THE CHALICE and (without) in Mark Waid's JLA # 43.

There are, it seems, still mysteries to be resolved with regard to the servant of the Demon's Head. Stay tuned, fellow Bat-maniacs!

The Ubu of the animated universe can be seen in THE BATMAN & ROBIN ADVENTURES # 10 and 25 while other variations have appeared in BATMAN: DARK KNIGHT OF THE ROUND TABLE # 2, JLA: THE NAIL # 2 and SUPERMAN AND BATMAN: GENERATIONS # 3.

posted October 19, 2000 10:03 AM

Let's lean back for awhile and recap all the characters we have gone through in this impressive thread:

Dr Double-X
Mad Hatter(s)
Linda Page
Gentleman Ghost
Professor Milo
Cavalier I-II
Clayface II
Crime Doctor
Arthur Reeves
Getaway Genius
Killer Moth
Gorilla Boss
The Mole
Monarch of Menace
Spellbinder I-II
Zodiac Master
Ten-Eyed Man
Planet Master I-II
Doctor Tzin-Tzin
Lady Lunar
Mirror Man
Atom Master
Solly Bean
Vernon Jamson
Clock King
Terrible Trio
False Face
Blockbuster I
Ruby Ryder
"Brains" Beldon
The Network
The Bouncer
Silken Spider, Dragonfly, and Tiger Moth
Electrocutioner I-III
Mr. Baffles
Ali Babbles
Elemental Man
Colonel Sulphur
The Dagger
Captain Cutlass
Zebra-Man I-II
Frederick Rhino
the original Batwoman and Batgirl
Chief O´Hara
Shotgun Smith
Mister Esper
Tweededee & Tweedledum
Dr. Phosphorus
Knight and Squire
The Monk
Ace the Bat-Hound
Mister Zsasz
Hugo Strange
the Flying Graysons
Aunt Harriet
Black Spider I-II
Mister Polka-Dot
Julia Pennyworth
Killer Croc

All in all, more than 80 characters.

Then consider the fact that Mikishawm have contributed with 95% of the information here.

Then consider the fact that there is more to come.

Then consider the fact that he actually seems to ENJOY educating us.

Kudos to you, O Great One.

posted October 19, 2000 01:08 PM

Thanks again, Mikishawm. Just to add to your list, there was a new Ubu of African descent in Detective's recent Whisper/ Abbot storyline.

Was the Ubu that Bane defeated the same one that was in the original story arc leading up to Detective #438? Or was that the beginning of the multiple Ubus?

Batman Fan 31593
posted October 19, 2000 07:34 PM

Mikishawm, can you help out Azrael0626, who posted the following questions in another thread:

Topics on the other Bat-boards have raised my interest in the character Richard Dragon and I was wondering if anyone on these boards could help. I've been collecting the series from the 70's, but I still have a few questions.
1. What other books has Dragon appeared in?
2. I heard he was crippled. How did it happen and what issue?
3. Has Batman ever met him and in what issue?
I pretty much just want to find appearances with the Bat universe.

Scott Thiel
posted October 20, 2000 01:58 AM

paladin, Moth-Man returns in Robin: Year One.

posted October 20, 2000 06:29 AM

I was wondering about Ubu myself so I posted an inquiry at Dixonverse and got this response from Chuck:

"There have been many Ubus. Ra's chooses them from his followers. They must be huge, strong and fanatically devoted to him. When a new Ubu is needed trials are held in which many of the candidates die. When the number is down to two those two fight. The survivor dons the ceremonial mask becomes Ra's' most loyal servant. They can be any race or national origin. The next Ubu you'll see in one of my stories is a Samoan. And he's quite possibly the meanest one of all.

"THE CHALICE does predate "Legacy." We can assume that the events in "Legacy" are what spurred Ra's to find the Wheel of Plagues and set his plans in motion since Talia had made it clear she did not wish to become an immortal like her dad and so his schemes would have to be accomplished in her (normal human) lifetime."

Chuck also mentioned awhile back that the Mothman reference in DC's solicitations for ROBIN:YEAR ONE was an error. The villain in the mini-series is Killer Moth.

After being marked for death by an assassin, Richard Dragon went into seclusion rather than risk the deaths of innocent bystanders. In time, Dragon learned that his assailant was his friend Ben Turner, now brainwashed as the Bronze Tiger. Ultimately, Dragon learned that their true enemy was their one-time employer, Barney Ling, who was presumed dead after an encounter with Turner (DC COMICS PRESENTS # 39).

Once an agent of the Central Bureau of Intelligence, Richard eventually vanished from the agency's roster without a trace (SUICIDE SQUAD # 38). Dragon maintained a reclusive existence thereafter, periodically agreeing to train subjects in the martial arts on behalf of old comrades The Batman and Lady Shiva. Among his students were Barbara (Oracle) Gordon (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 5) and the Question, the last of whom Dragon trained while pretending to be wheelchair-bound (QUESTION # 2).

Dragon pretended to be handicapped because the Question was "full of macho" and would have otherwise perceived him as a threat and learned nothing from his experiences. Dragon also "allowed myself to be handicapped as part of my own learning process" (THE QUESTION # 36).

Richard Dragon first met The Batman in THE BRAVE & THE BOLD # 132, with the Dark Knight establishing enough respect for the martial arts master that he later sent Barbara Gordon to him after she'd been shot by the Joker (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 5).

Batman met Dragon's friend, Ben Turner, while Turner was brainwashed into operating as the Bronze Tiger. The Tiger murdered Kathy (Batwoman) Kane in DETECTIVE # 485 and the recovering Turner met Batman in # 489.

The Brave and The Bold # 132
DC Comics Presents # 39
Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter # 1-18
Who's Who '86 # 19
World's Finest Comics # 248 (behind the scenes)

The Batman Chronicles # 5
Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood # 3
The Question # 2, 34-36
The Question Annual # 1
Suicide Squad # 38 (mention)

posted October 20, 2000 07:35 PM

Hi guys!

Can we get some information on the following Bat-characters:

1. The Creeper
2. Man-Bat
3. and Harlequin


posted October 21, 2000 06:00 PM

The Creeper and Man-Bat may be a bit too major for this thread but I'll see what I can do. As for request # 3, I presume that you're looking for something on Harley Quinn, right ?


He was, to hear him tell it, "the crime-boss who was always one step ahead of Batman." And for a time in mid-1965, it seemed as if that might truly be the case, leading one of his henchmen to boast that "he isn't named Johnny Witts for nothing!"

Batman and Robin were near the height of their public acceptance and accessibility at that point, waving at the beat cop or milkman or paper boy who happened to out when the Dynamic Duo was on patrol. And then there was Apple Annie, an elderly woman who, in recent weeks, had never failed to give the heroes an apple when she caught sight of them.

This particular morning, though, Annie was visibly nervous when she made her offering and Batman whispered to Robin to pretend to eat the fruit " -- and keel over in pain." Supposedly rushing to a hospital, Batman stopped the car only a block away and doubled back to follow the man who'd been observing from the shadows. The stranger reported to his boss in a luxurious apartment, noting that, with Batman out of the way, "all's clear for our caper."

While the Dark Knight remained behind, Robin followed the thugs in the trunk of their car. Stopping in a remote country setting, the hoods popped the lid on the trunk and demanded that the Boy Wonder get out. Johnny Witts, they informed him, had expected him to hitch a ride. In the course of the short fight, Robin was unwittingly guided directly into an underground pit and abandoned.

Elsewhere, the mastermind had invited The Batman into his room, informing him that Apple Annie was part of his gang. "I could have killed you at any time. Look up. You'll see my man on the roof. He could have sliced your Batrope at my signal. Always remember, Batman -- Johnny Witts is thinking one move ahead of you every step of the way."

Batman pursued Witts through an apartment door only to find himself plunging down an empty elevator shaft. The Dark Knight saved himself, as Johnny expected, but the crime-boss was too far ahead of him, laughing that "I'll keep your Batrope as a souvenir of our first encounter."

Unable to find Johnny Witts, Batman and Robin set their sights on Apple Annie, soon discovering that she was really a young blonde named Flo Murcell. The Dynamic Duo attached a police wiretap to Flo's dress and kept her under observation for the next day. Once she finally hooked up with her boss again, Batman and Robin discovered that Witts had manipulated them again. While Flo kept the heroes occupied, Johnny's gang had pulled another robbery. Even the bugging device had been discovered and discarded by Flo several hours earlier.

To Johnny's astonishment, the police had located his headquarters despite his precautions. Batman had attached a second bug to his own costume. As the Dynamic Duo grappled with his gang, Johnny clutched his head and found himself at a loss for a solution. "Oh, for a little peace and quiet so I can concentrate how to get out of this!" Unfortunately, he didn't figure anything out until he'd been booked and led to a cell. "It doesn't do any good now," he thought, "but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing I COULD have done it. Now I must think up a way of escaping from jail -- so I can match 'witts' with Batman again" (DETECTIVE # 344, by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella).

True to his word, Johnny soon left Flo Murcell and company cooling their heels in jail and returned to the Gotham underworld. Rather than alert Batman to his presence, Johnny took the persona of the Swami, a goateed mentalist in a blue-black suit, red cape and the requisite turban. He assembled a quartet of thugs to act on his behalf, dubbing them the Fearsome Foursome, and quickly garnered a reputation as an omniscient mastermind who would "pull off only those crimes his crystal ball reveals will be successful."

In April of 1967, Batman and Robin clashed with the Swami's gang during a robbery in Gotham's Chinatown and believed they'd gotten their big break when they nabbed Silent Stan, one of the Foursome. Disguising himself as Stan, Batman headed to the address on the bandit's driver's license and found nothing less than the Swami's headquarters.

Batman's concern that he was "getting TOO many lucky breaks" proved to be right on the money. Gazing into his crystal ball, the Swami announced that one of the Foursome was an imposter, no less than Batman himself. As the thugs began to sweat and make accusations, the so-called mentalist waved his hand over the glowing orb. "By your psychic light expose the enemy of evil -- the foe of felons." To the Dark Knight's astonishment, the words "I am Batman" appeared across his chest.

Glued to his chair by the Swami's "mystic powers," Batman was helpless beneath a barrage of punches from the other three hoods. He awoke to find that, while his Silent Stan make-up hadn't been removed, he was now clad in his Batman costume. The Swami, unmasking himself as Johnny Witts, was emphatic that "when you're found, the whole world must know you died as Batman --the victim of the one man who outwitted you!"

In anticipation of the day when his gang finally faced Batman, the Swami had arranged for Silent Stan to be captured, fully expecting the Dark Knight to take his place. "My foresightedness accounts for the glowing letters that betrayed you -- as well as the gimmicked chair that was bolted to the floor." Witts left Batman to die before a heat lamp/torture device called the Lensolator but forgot that his captive's feet were still free. Desperately kicking off his boots, Batman disabled the lamp "and by smashing the Lensolator at the same time -- I've shut off the power that kept me glued to this chair."

Arriving at the site of the gang's art gallery heist, Witts was once again too flustered to conceive an escape. "I didn't bother to think one step ahead of Batman this time -- because I thought he was dead!" The Dark Knight assured him that he was "very much alive ... as you're going to find out!" (BATMAN # 192, by Fox, Moldoff and Giella)

Johnny's pair of battles with Batman earned him the respect of several of the Dark Knight's other foes, including the Joker, the Penguin, the Catwoman, the Mad Matter, the Cluemaster and the Getaway Genius. In 1968, Witts was invited to be part of their plan to quell an incursion of a west coast crime syndicate and their plot to kill Batman. Ironically assigned to save Batman's life, Johnny detonated a buoy loaded with explosives before Gotham's guardian could touch it (BATMAN # 201, by Fox, Chic Stone and Giella).

In prison, Johnny had also met his share of criminal scientists, including, he claimed, Lex Luthor. "From them, I learned to make the gadgets ... to fake super-powers." By August of 1979, Witts had used the super-science to create a false Justice League, all part of a plan to unmask and murder The Batman. Johnny posed as the Dark Knight himself and he hired several disgraced athletes to fill the roles of Aquaman, Robin, Superman and Wonder Woman.

As a public relations exercise, the League had established a sub-group known as the Super Friends that was based in Gotham and served as a training operation for teen heroes such as the extraterrestrial Zan and Jayna, the Wondertwins. Johnny was convinced that the siblings could lead him to his prey and, as Batman, he requested that they "come to my place tomorrow in your John and Joanna identities."

Witts was certain that the Wondertwins were John and Joanna Fleming "because they're fairly new around here. Since the Super Friends are headquartered in Gotham City, I reasoned the twins would be staying with a pal of The Batman's. So I checked out his friends -- and found a pair of foreign teens had come to live with Prof. Nichols about the same time the Wondertwins made the scene."

The plan seemed to have worked. On the following day, Witts and his partners discreetly followed John and Joanna up to the door of a suburban Gotham mansion, shoving the butler aside and firing bullets into the millionaire from all angles. Almost immediately, Johnny realized that something was wrong. Not only had the "corpse" shed no blood, it was still breathing. As one of Johnny's partners insisted that "not even The Batman can come back from the dead," the body rose to add "but then, I'm NOT The Batman." Opening his shirt to reveal a big red "S," Superman started mopping up the gang and his Super Friends comrades finished the job.

Johnny's final indignity came when John and Joanna walked in -- alongside the Wondertwins, who announced that they'd "borrowed the identities of our friends here" to help break the case. In fact, the siblings had spotted Witts' impersonation of Batman when they first met him, based on details such as elevated boots to make him taller and his unawareness of a previous engagement that the team already had scheduled.

Fearing that they might be under surveillance, Jayna secretly contacted the League via a transmitter bracelet she wore on her wrist. To safeguard their own identities, the Wondertwins made a special request of the couple that they were originally supposed to have met on that Saturday. Marvin White and Wendy Harris, Zan and Jayna's predecessors in the Super Friends program, were delighted to impersonate John and Joanna (SUPER FRIENDS # 26, by E. Nelson Bridwell, Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith).

posted October 22, 2000 06:45 PM

Time got away from me today so I never had a chance to write up a bio. In their place, here are a couple checklists for Taz:

THE CREEPER (Jack Ryder; Earth-One):
Action Comics # 563 (Ryder)
Adventure Comics # 445-447
All-Star Squadron # 54
The Amazing World of DC Comics # 14 (text)
Beware the Creeper # 1-6
Blue Devil Annual # 1
The Brave and The Bold # 80, 143, 177-178
Cancelled Comic Cavalcade # 2 (Showcase # 106)
Crisis On Infinite Earths # 5, 9-10
DC Comics Presents # 88
Detective Comics # 418, 445 (Ryder), 447-448
First Issue Special # 7
The Flash (first series) # 318-323
Infinity, Inc. # 22
The Joker # 3
Justice League of America # 70
Karate Kid # 2 (Ryder)
Legends of the DCU: Crisis On Infinite Earths # 1
The Secret Society of Super-Villains # 9-10
Showcase # 73, 100
Super-Team Family # 2
Swamp Thing (second series) # 46
Teen Titans # 46 (Ryder)
Who's Who '85 # 5
World's Finest Comics # 249-255

THE CREEPER (current):
Action Comics # 668
Adventures of Superman # 504
Adventures of Superman Annual # 4
Armageddon: Inferno # 1
Batman Annual # 13 (Ryder)
The Creeper # 1-11, M
Eclipso # 3-6, 9, 11-13, 14 (corpse)
Eclipso: The Darkness Within # 1-2
Hawk and Dove (third series) # 18-19
Invasion! # 2-3
JLA # 27, 38
JLA: Year One # 2 (Ryder)
Justice League # 2 (Ryder), 5-6
Justice League International # 7, 8(Ryder), 24
Millennium # 8
Secret Origins # 18
Showcase '93 # 12
Silver Age Secret Files # 1
Sins of Youth: Kid Flash/Impulse # 1 (Ryder)
Superboy (third series) # 65
Superman: Man of Steel Annual # 1
Timber Wolf # 3
War of the Gods # 4
Who's Who '91 # 7
Wonder Woman (second series) # 26

THE CREEPER (Earth-96):
Kingdom Come # 2, 3 (photo), 4
Kingdom Come: Revelations (text)

THE CREEPER (Earth-992):
Adventures In The DC Universe # 17

THE CREEPER (variants):
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual # 4 (Ryder)
JLA: The Nail # 2-3
JLX # 1
JLX Unleashed # 1
Lobo # 51
The Outsiders (first series) # 6
Super Soldier # 1 (Ryder)

The Creeper # 1M

MAN-BAT (Kirk Langstrom; Earth-One):
Batman # 254, 341-342, 348, 361
The Batman Family # 11-20
Blue Devil Annual # 1
The Brave and The Bold # 119, 165
DC Comics Presents # 35
Detective Comics # 400, 402, 407, 416, 429 (Langstrom), 458-459, 481, 485, 492, 527
Man-Bat (first series) # 1-2
Who's Who '86 # 14

MAN-BAT (Earth-32):
The Amazing World of DC Comics # 4-5
Batman Power Record # 30

MAN-BAT (Earth-85):
Batman: Man-Bat # 1-3
Secret Origins # 39
Who's Who '91 # 12

MAN-BAT (Robert Kirkland Langstrom; current):
Action Comics # 600
Batman # 536-538
Batman: Bullock's Law # 1 (mention)
The Batman Chronicles # 15
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual # 5
DC Versus Marvel/Marvel Versus DC # 1
Hero Hotline # 3 (flashback)
Legends of the World's Finest # 1-3
Man-Bat (third series) # 1-3
Nightwing # 16-18
Robin # 75-77
Scare Tactics # 10
Showcase '94 # 11

MAN-BAT (Earth-992):
The Batman Adventures # 11 (Langstrom), 21
The Batman and Robin Adventures # 11
Batman: Gotham Adventures # 18

MAN-BAT (variants):
Batman: Nosferatu
Bat-Thing # 1
JLA: The Nail # 2-3
Super Friends # 28

The Clarion
posted October 22, 2000 07:15 PM

I'd just like to mention that a variant of Kirk Langstrom appears, not in any DC comic, but in a novel by Kim Newman - 'The Bloody Red Baron'. It's set in 1918 and also features Kent Allard, the future Shadow!

Only slightly more information about the book's cast of characters on this site -but it's a really good site anyway, and well worth a good look!:

Scroll down and find out how Batman is related to other legendary heroes, as part of the Wold-Newton Universe!

posted October 29, 2000 11:11 AM


After plugging my Matches Malone article in THE O'NEIL OBSERVER insert in COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE # 83, it looks like that history has been squeezed out (though I'll still be represented by a short look at the life and career of Frank Robbins).

Since I'm nursing a cold this weekend and my energy is a bit low, I thought I'd trot out the Matches piece here. Hope you like it!


"I'm what you might call your UNDERWORLD FIGURE." -- "Matches" Malone, introducing himself to Sergius O'Shaughnessy in DETECTIVE COMICS # 487 (1979).

One didn't have to trained in the art of observation to pick him out in a crowd. The tinted glasses, the carefully groomed hair and mustache, the striped shirt and suit straight out of a 1972 issue of GQ. And that voice. Dick Grayson would later describe it, in NIGHTWING # 14, as "a perfectly mimicked North Jersey accent. Flat and nasal." Most significantly, there was the ubiquitous stick match clutched between his thumb and forefinger, ready to be flicked into life at a moment's notice.

According to legend, The Batman's fascination with Matches Malone actually extended back to the early days of career. Before he'd even met Robin, Bruce Wayne was said to have tapped into Alfred's theatrical training to adopt the persona of the gangster (LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 90, 1996).

For reasons of his own, the Dark Knight never made a move on Malone. Over the years, he'd seen a gang war averted, a life spared, a crime prevented ... each incident traced back to "Matches." To be sure, he was motivated purely by self-preservation but every crisis brought out the diplomat in him. More than once, Batman had seen an escalating dispute defused when the two rivals became angrier at the obnoxious Malone than they were at themselves. Even those who didn't like Malone respected him. Still, if Batman had ever found any evidence behind the Waterfront Mob leader's claims to have been a hitman, he wouldn't have hestitated to deliver him to the GCPD. With the rise of Ra's al Ghul and his global organization, The Batman was forced to go on the defensive. To that end, he "killed" his alter-ego of Bruce Wayne (rather than risk Ra's catching him unaware) and resolved to gather soldiers for the coming war. The first man on his list of draftees was "having a late dinner at his favorite cafe" (1972's BATMAN # 242, by O'Neil, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano).

Smashing past a bodyguard, the Dark Knight addressed Matches Malone: "I want WORDS with you!"

"The feelin' ain't MUTUAL! I don't like my meal DISTURBED!"

While a second guard fell before Batman, Malone fled for the kitchen exit and, finding it locked, desperately pulled a gun! Batman screamed "NO!", the pistol went off and the horrified chef gasped, "HE'S ... D-DEAD!" A ricochet had brought a close to the life of Matches Malone.

The accidental death of Malone -- before the war had even begun -- forced the Dark Knight to reaccess his involvement of others in the battle. Taking Malone's persona as his own, Batman opted to recruit only one other person, Doctor Harris Blaine, whom Ra's had already attempted to kidnap. Circumstances later permited him to secure the services of Lo Ling, one of the villain's former assassins.

Seeking to ensure that no one suspect the truth, "Malone" was careful to be seen in the company of Batman, whether using a realistic mannequin of the Dark Knight (BATMAN # 242) or disguising Dick Grayson as Matches (# 243, art by Adams and Giordano). Once the team set foot on the edge of Ra's al Ghul's Swiss hideaway, Malone vanished. It would be The Batman's responsibility to bring the Demon's Head to justice.

For some writers, that might have spelled the end of Matches Malone, a colorful element in a now-completed classic. Denny O'Neil liked the verisimilitude that such recurring characters added to his stories and didn't forget him.

O'Neil would return to Matches only twice, both in brief sequences. In BATMAN # 247 (1972), Malone hit the taverns of Gotham in search of clues to the whereabouts of fugitive "Chimp" Manners. In 1979, when a strangely familiar writer named Sergius was marked for death by the League of Assassins, Matches offered his services as a bodyguard. (DETECTIVE # 487). This sequence, pencilled by Don Newton, found Malone uniquely off-model, now in possession of a receding hairline but no glasses, jacket or striped shirt.

It would be left to other writers to further the legend of Matches Malone. Bob Rozakis stepped up to the plate first with a late-1976 story that found Matches trailing gambling runner Sneaky Danton onto the subway. The lights dimmed during a routine switchover and, when they came back on, Malone found himself staring at The Batman. Danton had put on the costume to draw attention away from a money transfer, never dreaming that the genuine Dark Knight would be trailing him (DETECTIVE # 467).

During the 1980s, Matches would still make the odd cameo, as in 1980's DETECTIVE # 489 (scripted by J.M. DeMatteis) and 1985's DETECTIVE # 555 (written by Doug Moench), but most of his guest-spots would be more substantial. The first of these, published in June of 1980, appeared in, of all places, E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon's SUPER FRIENDS # 36.

In a clever twist, Bridwell recalled that Plastic Man had an underworld alter ego, too, and arranged for "Eel" O'Brian to run into Matches Malone while on the trail of munitions thief Rupert C. "Warhead" Nall in the Gotham underworld. Working independently of one another, Plas and members of the Justice League made several attempts to capture Warhead but inevitably tripped one another up. O'Brian finally made it into Warhead's inner circle, meeting Nall's back-up man in Gotham -- Malone. Matches recognized Eel as Plas and Plas, in turn, concluded that, given that detail "plus the fact that SOMEONE was tipping your pals to Warhead's jobs," Malone must be The Batman. Finally working in unison, Plas and the JLA brought Warhead to justice.

Mike W. Barr and Don Newton prepared a second Malone spotlight for a 1980 Batman & Robin back-up story but it was put on hold when Marv Wolfman initiated a several-month subplot that found the duo at odds. Originally to have appeared circa BATMAN # 330, the episode didn't make it into print until issue # 353 in 1982.

In this one, Robin had served as spokesman for a fundraiser only to have the organizers claim that all the money was stolen. Learning that the men both had long criminal records, Batman decided that a sting was in order. Claiming to need quick cash, Malone presented himself to the thieves. In exchange for the con artists' $50,000, he offered stolen bearer's bonds that would be worth $100,000 in six months. Unaware of his partner's actions, Robin had made plans of his own to recapture the stolen money and, rather than face the men in the persona they'd duped, confronted the duo as The Batman. Leaping to the forefront, Malone offered to "take care'a ol' pointy-ears myself!" Astonished to find himself facing Malone and hampered by a padded costume, Robin was no match for his mentor and was knocked to the ground in front of the astonished pair of thieves. Taking flight, the con men had crossed the state line before they realized that their $100,000 worth of bonds were nothing more than sheets of paper with the bat-emblem on them.

The final Matches Malone sequence pencilled by Newton showed up several months prior to BATMAN # 353 as a Gerry Conway-scripted two-parter in DETECTIVE # 515 and 516. Seeking entrance into a California "Academy For Legal Arts" that trains thugs in the fine art of crime, Batman arranged for Malone to travel to Los Angeles and have an interview with the Headmaster. Two other "students" tagged Matches as a ringer almost immediately and, when Batman was sighted in L.A., the Headmaster deduced his identity. Batman managed to evade the entire student body when his bluff was called and brought the term to a premature close.

In 1984, Malone was granted an audience with Gotham gang boss Morgan Jones. Professing to represent a coalition of mobsters from Metropolis, Matches offered a sizeable sum of money if Jones could arrange for him to witness the murder of former Metropolis hero Black Lightning. A deal was struck and Malone arrived in time to free Lightning alongside the Outsiders. Ensuring that Malone's reputation not be tarnished, Batman told all present not to "blame Matches ... he's still sleeping off a sedative back in Gotham -- minus his suit!" (Mike W. Barr's BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS # 10)

Barr continued the Malone-Jones partnership in issue # 32 (1986), where Batman hoped to avert a citywide gang war. As Malone offered to betray a Metropolis drug shipment to the Gotham mob, the Outsiders swooped in to capture Jones and most of the gangsters in attendance.

Malone's whereabouts in the wake of the Gotham raid were never disclosed but he was eventually taken into custody out of state and, late in 1987, ended up in Louisiana's Belle Reve prison as a stopover on his way back to Gotham as a courtesy to Commissioner Gordon. Matches' true mission was to investigate reports that a group partly composed of unrepentant villains and headquartered in Belle Reve was operating on the government's behalf as the Suicide Squad.

This time, Batman had overreached. He confirmed his suspicions about the battalion of villains but had compromised his Matches Malone persona in the process. The Squad's Amanda Waller countered that he had left enough evidence for them to determine his own identity ... which they would expose to the public if he made a move against them. Forced into a stalemate, The Batman backed off, asserting that "I'll find ANOTHER way of bringing you down." (John Ostrander's SUICIDE SQUAD # 10)

With the Suicide Squad debacle still fresh in his memory, The Batman allowed his underworld alter ego to slip off the radar for a time. Only in the aftermath of the events known as "Knightfall" did a revitalized Dark Knight put on the tinted glasses of Matches Malone once more, courtesy of writer Chuck Dixon. Though he still had an inordinate fondness for striped shirts, Malone no longer seemed content to merely visit the haunts of Gotham's shadier characters. Instead, continuing in the vein of the Warhead and Morgan Jones affairs, he began to actually worm his way into one Gotham gang after another. The one-time leader of the Waterfront Mob now had ties to the Whiskey Road Gang, Mickey Diamond and others.

He began with Jimmy Navarone's mob, shadowing the gangster as Navarone's chauffeur. Navarone and most of his men were killed in a gun battle between Jigsaw, the Joker and the Punisher (1994's PUNISHER/BATMAN: DEADLY KNIGHTS). As the only survivor of the Navarone massacre, Matches embellished his place in the organization while seeking information on the Black Mask Mob's next target for arson (1995's DETECTIVE # 689). Unfortunately for The Batman, Matches Malone's uncanny survival instincts had a downside.

"You guys know Matches Malone ?"

"Sure. He was with Mickey Diamond's crew, right ?"

"We parted ways."

"When Diamond departed for the MORGUE, huh ?"

"Seemed like a good time to move on."

With mobster Vanya "Hunky" Triplet a potential target of the vigilante known as Lock-Up, Matches tried to infiltrate the gang but found himself at the end of a gun. Triplet was convinced that Malone was a police informant "'cause you're BAD LUCK, Matches. Everybody you get next to gets burned. Now you're pallin' up t' ME."

Triplet found no evidence of wires but decided to kill him anyway. Malone kicked the driver in the head while the other gunmen fired wildly within the car. Inevitably, a crash occurred but Malone escaped with minor injuries while the other mobsters were taken to the hospital (1996's DETECTIVE # 698-699).

The mob brought more trouble down on Malone later in 1996 when he was manhandled by police lieutenant Stan Kitch while the officer was seeking hoods with ties to gangster Jimmy Foran. The name of Mickey Cortese was eventually relayed to Commissioner Gordon -- along with the manner in which the information was requested. Providing the lieutenant with the identity of the suspect, Gordon asked, "Why don't you try your sucker punch on HIM, Kitch ?" (BATMAN: GCPD # 3)

Resuming the role of solo player, Matches sought out the Penguin in 1997, while fishing for details on illegal boxing matches involving metahuman villains. Moments later, Wildcat burst on the scene seeking the same thing. Malone backed off from the snarling Justice Society member: "No problem here. Just visiting." (BATMAN/WILDCAT # 1)

Since his revival in 1994, Malone had been almost exclusively in the control of Chuck Dixon, the only exceptions being a Doug Moench-scripted sequence in BATMAN # 0 (1994), the apocryphal Alan Grant flashback in LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 90 (1996) and a bit in Grant Morrison's JLA # 11 (1997). In the latter, Matches renewed his ties with Eel O'Brian in a New York City bar, hoping to recruit Plastic Man for a Justice League mission.

Dixon himself used Malone in cameos in NIGHTWING #14 (1997) and BATMAN: BULLOCK'S LAW # 1 (1999) before bringing the character back in a most unexpected fashion during Gotham's year-in-exile during "No Man's Land." The glasses and match dangling from his lip were still there but everything else had changed. After months in Gotham, Malone now sported long, unkempt hair, a black trenchcoat and a gun on his hip.

Rumors of a man offering an exit out of the No Man's Land brought Matches to the Fantom Trading Company. After handing over his cash and weapon, Malone was thrown into the same vault where others taken in by the scam had been exiled to die. Confronted by a handful of crazed survivors, Malone changed to Batman and found a way out, handing the mastermind over to the law (LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 124).

Inevitably, Gotham was restored and, with it, a new wave of mobsters moved in. Seeking assistance in stopping the Calendar Man's reign of terror, The Batman made a rather forceful appeal to the head of one of the gangs (BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT # 3, 2000).

Arguing that regardless of The Batman's request, "this creep shut down the POWER. He screwed up the PHONES. I say we find the Calendar Man for us. It's a PRACTICAL matter. Whatta YOU think, Matches ?"

The response came in a familiar North Jersey inflection: "I say we FLUSH the psycho."

Matches Malone lives!

Batman # 242-243, 247, 353, 0
Batman and The Outsiders # 10, 32
Batman: Bullock's Law # 1
Batman 80-Page Giant # 3
Batman: GCPD # 3
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight # 90, 124
Batman/Wildcat # 1
Detective Comics # 467, 487, 489, 515-516, 555, 689, 698-699
JLA # 11
Nightwing # 14
Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights
Suicide Squad # 10
Super Friends # 36

"SWELL! You think we're INTERESTED in your life story or somethin' ?" -- BATMAN # 242.

posted October 29, 2000 06:12 PM

Awesome as always, Mr M. Thanks very much for the info on Killer Croc. Over the years, ol' Waylon has been portrayed with varying intelligence levels; from being able to lead Gotham's criminal organizations, to someone only slightly brighter than the Hulk. Has there ever been an explanation for this disparity?

posted October 29, 2000 07:59 PM

Well, DC has never formally offered an explanation for his 1990s fall from grace but I think it can be dealt with easily.

Right after CRISIS, when Croc showed up in SWAMP THING and SECRET ORIGINS, it was explained that he was faking the Hulk-routine to lull people into a false sense of security about his intelligence. A combination of electro-shock therapy, his solitary existence hiding in the Gotham underworld eating rats to survive and his manipulation by Swamp Thing combined to reduce his intellect for real. Once Croc was returned to Arkham, he thrived in the environment and formed bonds with many of the inmates (the first friends he'd had in his life) that helped revive his social skills and brainpower.

posted October 30, 2000 05:59 AM

Great "Matches" Malone biography, Miki. Complete with your own theories as usual.

About Croc, didn't the nerve gas Bats sprayed him with in SWAMP THING #66 have anything to do with his reduced brain capacity, too?

Isn't your list of future bios getting a little short?

How about adding:

Scarlet Horde

posted November 11, 2000 07:01 PM

"Many years ago a Gotham man came to our remote Pacific island, a hunter, captor of big cats. His name was (Thomas) Blake ... An unpleasant man, he seemed jaded and bored with his life, despite the thrills it brought him. He told us he wished to study the rituals of our sacred cat cult. Of course it was impossible. Only men over 35 and born on our island may be initiated. We did not know our hospitality would be met with deception and greed.

"Blake knew that the (cat) carving -- and the cloth that wraps it -- were supposed to be imbued with magic power. Others would give a fortune for them on the collector's black market. Blake waited till we had drunk the sacred liquids and gone into dream-trance. Our culture did not have a word for theft before he came -- or murder! That night, as my people say, there was blood on the moon. The cloth is imbued with the luck of the cat, and protects those who own it. Things have gone bad for our island since then." -- a member of the Council of Three (1995's BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 43, script by Alan Grant).

The latter half of the 1950s and the early 1960s was a somewhat repressive period for the Batman series and comics in general. The introduction of the Comics Code Authority seems to have left creators running scared when it came to some characters. Catwoman and Two-Face, for instance, had each returned to crime in late 1953 (DETECTIVE # 203 and BATMAN # 81, respectively) but were gone for good by mid-1954. One can speculate that DC feared that Two-Face's facial scars and Catwoman's revealing costume and attraction to Batman, however subdued they may be by today's standards, were considered too extreme to pass the Code.

Filling the void left by Catwoman was Kathy Kane, the Batwoman, who debuted in 1956's DETECTIVE # 233. Unlike Selina Kyle, Batwoman wore a costume that displayed virtually no flesh from the neck down and possessed none of the Catwoman's moral ambiguity. Ultimately, writer Bill Finger found that he couldn't resist the romantic conflict of the Batman-Catwoman relationship and recast it in 1962, reversing the sexes so that Batwoman now found herself attacted to the evil Cat-Man.

Illustrated by Jim Mooney, the first Cat-Man story introduced Thomas Blake as a wealthy animal trapper and a contemporary of Bruce Wayne. An inveterate gambler, Blake had lost most of his fortune but was still part of Gotham's elite social circle. Tom and Bruce's discussion of their boring lives during a dinner party led an eavesdropper to joke that they each put on costumes and fight crime. The suggestion lingered in Blake's mind even as he acknowledged that, in Gotham, he'd never be more than a second-rate Batman.

The prospect of being a villain appealed to the hunter far more, allowing him to match wits with the Dark Knight rather than follow his lead. Searching for a gimmick, Blake patted the head of his panther Felina and recalled the long-absent Catwoman. "She was a mere woman! Think what I, a MAN, could do. Imagine what I with my knowledge of cat lore can do. Yes -- cats will be my CATegory of crime. I shall become -- the Cat-Man!"

As Cat-Man wore a yellow costume and tights with orange gloves, boots, tights and cape & cowl. The initials "CM" were emblazoned on his chest in orange. He also carried an orange satchel, a "kit-bag" that carried various Batman-inspired tools, from a cat-line to a catarang. And, for his getaways, he drove a heavy duty feline-themed "cat-car."

An encounter with Batwoman resulted in Cat-Man falling hard for the beautiful heroine and inviting her to join him as "the king and queen of crime." She sneered at the proposal and Blake never had a chance to make a second offer. Batman and Robin discovered their adversary's true identity and trailed him to an underground catacomb, where the Cat-Man seemed to perish when he plunged into a raging underground river (DETECTIVE # 311).

DC's Cat-Man was not the first character in comics history to use that name. Barton Stone appeared as the heroic Cat-Man (complete with hyphenated name) in two 1939 issues of Centaur's AMAZING MAN (# 5 and 8). From 1940 to 1946, the second Cat-Man appeared in Holyoke's CRASH COMICS # 4 & 5 and CAT-MAN COMICS # 1-32.

Holyoke's character was secretly Army captain David Merrywether. Like Quality's just-created Black Condor (to say nothing of Tarzan), Merrywether had been orphaned as an infant and raised by wildlife (in his case, it was by a tigress). David grew up to possess all the attributes of a tiger, including the nine lives that all cats were said to possess (CRASH # 4, by Frank Temerson and Irwin Hasen). Initially, Cat-Man wore a green costume with yellow cape and bare legs but he changed to an orange-red combo in CAT-MAN # 1 and the outfit evolved over the course of the series.

Evoking comparisons with Batman, Merrywether also had a female ward, Katie Conn, who worked with Cat-Man as Kitten (beginning in CAT-MAN # 5). Most striking was the resemblance that his costume ultimately bore to that of Tom Blake's, complete with the "C" chest emblem in early Holyoke stories. Unlike DC's Cat-Man, though, Merrywether wore an orange costume with red gloves, boots and cape & cowl.

The Cat-Man name (and the concept of a male counterpart to Catwoman) clearly resonated with the Batman team. Late 1951's BATMAN # 69 had introduced the King of the Cats, secretly the brother of then-reformed Selina Kyle. 1959's BLACKHAWK # 141, overseen by BATMAN editor Jack Schiff, featured a villain named Cat-Man, as well.

The Thomas Blake incarnation of Cat-Man resurfaced in mid-1963, miraculously unscathed by his plunge into the cataract, and he launched a new series of crimes revolving around fictional cats. Robin couldn't help but wonder why Blake hadn't simply relocated to a city without costumed crimefighters but Batman observed that "he's in love with Batwoman, remember ? I think he hopes to win her by proving he's a better man than I am."

Indeed, Cat-Man even orchestrated a chase between him and his beloved so that he could save her life. Even as she acknowledged his evil, Batwoman admitted that she couldn't "help having mixed feelings about him."

For a time, Blake seemed to have won the woman of his dreams when Batwoman broke her ties with the Dark Knight and agreed to be the Cat-Man's partner. If she'd questioned his feelings for her before, Batwoman had all doubts erased by the huge portrait of her that hung in Cat-Man's subway tunnel lair and the Cat-Woman costume that Blake had created for his queen. Having ingratiated herself into Blake's confidence, Batwoman summoned Batman and Robin for another inconclusive duel. Cat-Man was seemingly killed when his speedboat hit a buoy and exploded (DETECTIVE # 318, art by Mooney).

Recalling the orange cloth that he'd acquired years earlier, Blake was finally convinced of its supernatural powers. 1964 became the Year of Living dangerously for Cat-Man, who returned to Gotham with a reckless streak that astonished Batman and Robin. After cheating death from a high-voltage wire, Cat-Man boasted of his costume's mystic powers.

Batwoman, who'd kept Blake's Cat-Woman as a trophy, wondered if her outfit would have the same properties and found a message attached to the fabric: "The cloth that protects the idol shall nine lives on the wearer bestow." Kathy speculated that she might drain some of Blake's nine lives away if she wore the Cat-Woman outfit and endangered her own life.

After several adventures in which both heroine and villain risked life and limb, they had a final encounter atop the huge Perisphere at Gotham's World Trades Fair. Cat-Man prepared to leap to the ground but Batwoman assured him that she'd exhausted the properties of the orange cloth and that he would perish. Instead, Cat-Man grabbed her and prepared to throw his beloved to her death. "I love you -- but I love freedom more! I cannot allow you to capture me!" The swift action of Batman prevented Kathy Kane's premature death and Thomas Blake was taken into custody after more than a year as a fugitive (DETECTIVE # 325, art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris).

Within two months of his release from prison in mid-1977, Tom Blake had resumed his costumed career. A trio of acrobatic thugs had aquired cat-like attributes (including the ability to see in the dark and land on their feet) and convinced Cat-Man to serve as their front man, assuring Blake that "you won't regret working with a gang." His infatuation with Batwoman now having faded, Cat-Man brought his team to Minneapolis, Minnesota, convinced that he'd have no trouble with masked heroes in the Midwest.

Incredibly, his first crime, the robbery of a firm known as Cathcart and Company, attracted the attention of the New York-based Freedom Fighters, who perceived a tenuous (and, as it turned out, mistaken) connection between the theft and their own nemesis, the Silver Ghost. Uncle Sam, the Human Bomb and Phantom Lady arrived in time to stop the Cat-Man and company from stealing rare Siamese kittens from a Minneapolis pet shop. Knocking Blake onto his head, the Bomb noted the difference between him and his henchmen: "HE can't be a CAT-Man -- HE didn't land on his feet!"(FREEDOM FIGHTERS # 10, by Bob Rozakis, Dick Ayers and Jack Abel).

By 1980, Cat-Man had struck a deal with Greek "multi-millionaire (and) shipping magnate" Andros Akropolis to acquire an Egyptian cat-god collection currently touring Gotham City. In exchange, Akropolis would provide Blake with the deed to one of his remote islands. Cat-Man's goal was "to turn this island into a sanctuary for wanted criminals, where they can live safe from prosecution -- in exchange for a mere 25% of their loot, of course" (BATMAN # 324).

Cat-Man was glimpsed during the theft of the artifacts (BATMAN # 322) but the crime was blamed on the reformed Catwoman, then living in Gotham as Selina Kyle. Now a fugitive, the Catwoman was determined to clear her name and, more significantly, locate one of the Egyptian urns that contained herbs that might cure the illness that would soon take her life.

Pursued by Batman, Catwoman tracked the thief to a Prohibition-era hideaway in a secluded warehouse only to be trapped along with the Dark Knight in a massive cat's cradle. Described as "a system of cables --covered with a polymer adhesive," the cat's cradle would literally saw its victims to pieces when its cross-section of links began to vibrate rapidly. The Cat-Man stepped out of hiding long enough to gloat (BATMAN # 323), condescendingly referring to the woman who inspired his career as "Kitten," before making his exit and leaving his captives to die.

Though his costume was left in tatters, Batman managed to free himself and Selina as well as turning up evidence that linked Cat-Man to the Greek isles. Catwoman insisted on accompanying the Dark Knight and, together, they traced Blake to "his" island just as he was providing Akropolis with his loot, hidden within a geyser. With his bodyguards holding a gun on Blake, the multi-millionaire attempted to take the artifacts without payment but the fortuitous arrival of Batman and Catwoman provided Cat-Man with an opening to escape. Firing wildly at his "partner," the baffled Akropolis failed to strike his target even once, a development credited to the legend of the cape of nine lives.

Cat-Man was cornered by a desperate Catwoman, who accidentally knocked the villain and his loot to the edge of a geyser. With the corner of his cape clutched in Selina's hands, the geyser erupted, apparently taking Tom Blake AND the life-preserving herbs with it.

Returning to the United States, Selina was stunned to learn that "her disease appears to be in complete remission." Catwoman was convinced that the fragment of the Cat-Man's magic cape had saved her life even as Bruce Wayne expressed skepticism (BATMAN # 324, by Len Wein, Irv Novick and Bob Smith). Ultimately, Batman had to admit that "he's got SOMETHING strange on his side -- whether luck or merely the psychological power instilled by his own belief, I don't know" (BATMAN # 371).

Tom Blake had not died in the eruption but he had been left with an ugly scar on his left temple, the result, he believed, of the magic cape's divided loyalties between him and Catwoman at that pivotal moment. He returned to Gotham in the fall of 1981 with revenge on his mind, kidnapping Selina, leaving Batman for dead and retrieving the piece of his cape that Catwoman had donated to the Wayne Foundation for research. Cat-Man had convinced himself that uniting both pieces of the cape would heal his face but he was sadly mistaken.

He prepared to take out his frustrations on the securely-bound Selina, vowing that "if they ever find your body -- they'll have to bury it in a closed coffin!" Instead, Batman burst in and briefly dodged Cat-Man's blows before knocking him off of his yacht into Gotham Bay. Unable to swim, Tom Blake was forced to beg for his life. It was fitting, the Dark Knight thought, "for as everyone knows, cats HATE water" (DETECTIVE # 509, by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Dan Adkins).

Early in 1983, Cat-Man and more than a dozen other villains were united by the Joker to try and kill The Batman before the upstart Killer Croc could do the job. Instead, thanks to the Joker's treachery, Croc got wind of the plot and left Blake and others "beaten half to death" (DETECTIVE # 526, by Conway, Newton and Alfredo Alcala).

Returned to prison, Blake eventually fell into a weeks-long state of catatonia, staring blankly into space while his cellmate, a burglar named Collins, talked in his sleep about his fifty-thousand dollar cache concealed in Gotham. After a magazine cover-featuring the Gotham Museum and the Egyptian cat-goddess Bast was tossed on his chest, Blake awoke with a start, declaring that "I wasn't cataphoric OR catatonic -- I just like to take cat-naps."

Gazing into the evening sky, Blake observed "the moon -- in its catabibazon descending node -- and a good omen. Even catarchic astrology favors me, indicating its the perfect time to begin a new endeavor ... and its the fourteenth of the month -- catorce in Spanish!"

Shaking Collins awake, the one-time gambler Blake made a proposal, "a bet that I can steal Bast from the Gotham Museum -- and what's more, outwit The Batman in the process. ... If I win, I get your unrecovered loot in the catacombs ... but if I fail -- meaning YOU win -- you get my Catman outfit with its magical properties giving the wearer nine lives." Collins agreed and Tom Blake, using a catgut line to scale the prison wall and a catawba catalpa tree to catch him as he leaped to safety, prepared to make good. An astonished Collins suddenly began to sweat, wondering if the Catman's costume "rubs off even when you're not wearin' it!"

Luck seemed to be with the Catman during the robbery and, with the Dark Knight reeling from a blow to the head, Tom Blake prepared for his final strike with "a Japanese catan sword -- ANOTHER good omen for me." Batman was able to counter the attack with another weapon on display -- a baton, or as he emphasized to a groaning Robin, "a BATon. You might even say my victory was a CATharsis of sorts."

Officially, the Catman was reported to have escaped after critically wounding Batman, a ruse to draw Collins into the open and finally lead the police to the long-sought loot from his robbery (BATMAN # 371, by Doug Moench, Newton and Alcala). Collins escaped and acquired the Catman costume, unaware that every stroke of good fortune that he credited to the magic cloth had actually been orchestrated by Batman and the Gotham City Police Department.

Just as Collins reached the cavernous location where his treasure was hidden, the catacomb began to collapse, its walls weakened by an earlier assault on Gotham by the Quakemaster (DC SPECIAL # 27). Batman crawled from the debris with the stolen goods but soon discovered that he had a new problem. The cave-in had diverted Collins directly into an opening into the Batcave. His confidence buoyed by his belief in the costume's supposed magic, the new Catman proved surprisingly resourceful, using trophies such as Joe Coyne's giant penny to strike back at the Dark Knight. Conceding that he'd "created a monster," Batman finally succeeded in subduing his foe (DETECTIVE # 538, by Moench, Gene Colan and Bob Smith).

Having failed to learn his lesson when he went up against Croc, Catman accepted subsequent invitations to work on behalf of Brainiac (1985's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS # 9) and Ra's al Ghul (1986's BATMAN # 400) and quickly met with defeat each time.

In 1987, Americomics publisher Bill Black acquired the rights to Holyoke's Cat-Man and reintroduced him in early 1989's FEMFORCE # 19. Almost simultaneously, DC's Cat-Man made a comeback in he pages of MANHUNTER # 13 (by Kim Yale, John Koch and Pablo Marcos). The villain's attempt to snatch a Bast statue from a museum was opposed by Mark (Manhunter) Shaw. Shaw sustained a nasty gash on his chest thanks to Blake's clawed gloves but he got his man. As Cat-Man made his escape, he discovered that his car was being towed away and, momentarily distracted, he was tripped up by an energy blast from Manhunter's baton. Mark had noticed Blake's license plate ("GATO-1") when he first entered the museum and reported him for unpaid parking tickets.

The Cat-Man escaped incarceration and, under an assumed name, took up residence in Gotham, living in a mansion paid for with stolen money. On a night in early 1990, Blake's pet, a white Siberian tiger named Rasputin, escaped from his grounds and went on the prowl in Gotham. After "a badly mauled, partially consumed human body" was discovered in Robinson Park, a sensationlistic news reporter suggested that the killer might be the Catwoman.

Soon, Batman, an insulted Catwoman and Catman (now sporting a revised costume with a cat's-head icon replacing the "CM" on his chest and longer ears on his hood) had all taken to the streets, each in search of the big cat. The chase invigorated Blake, who observed that "it's been too long since I felt like this. Wind in my face -- the night wrapped round me like a well-worn cloak -- the thrill of the hunt -- There's no feeling in the world like it!"

Once Catman had been reunited with Rasputin, he decided that his pet needed "a little exercise." A shackled Batman provided just what the big cat wanted but Catman didn't get to enjoy the show. Catwoman wrapped her whip around Blake's ankle, yanking him out of his loft and onto the roof of a van passing below. While Batman succeeded in beating Rasputin, a dazed Catman staggered out on the van, which had been transporting cats for illegal experimentation. Shrieking in terror, the teenage drivers ran away, swearing that they'd "never sell another cat to a research lab as long as (they) live" (DETECTIVE # 612, by Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Steve Mitchell).

In late 1992, Catman joined forces with other so-called "misfits" Calendar Man and and Killer Moth in a plot to kidnap Gotham Mayor Armand Krol, Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne for a ten-million dollar ransom. Catman recruited a fourth partner, a crook named Chancer who, like Blake, relied on good fortune. Introducing the new guy to his latest pet, a black panther named Sasha, Catman observed that "luck is relative. It's the difference between having your throat torn out and merely losing an arm."

Chancer agreed to participate (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 7) and the kidnappings went off without a hitch. Unknown to the others, Killer Moth intended to kill Krol, Gordon and Wayne once the ransom was delivered (# 8). An unwitting Catman even assured Sarah Essen, who delivered the ransom, that "you have MY word they're okay, Sergeant. I'll set them free myself." Through the combined efforts of Robin and Bruce Wayne, the victims were freed and Wayne, as Batman, quickly brought the rogues to justice (# 9, by Alan Grant and Tim Sale).

Outside of mainstream Bat-continuity, Doug Moench and Russ Heath presented an alternate Cat-Man origin in 1993's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 46-49. In this account, set in the pre-Robin era, Blake was a serial killer of women (beginning, apparently, with his mother) who wore a gray Catwoman-like costume that initially led the police to believe that she was the killer. Batman and Catwoman formed a truce for the duration of the crisis and brought the Cat-Man to justice.

Yet another take on Cat-Man's origin appeared in 1997's BATMAN & ROBIN ADVENTURES # 16 (by Ty Templeton, Brandon Kruse and Rich Burchett). As in the LEGENDS story, Cat-Man wore a gray costume, this time out of admiration for Catwoman. Obsessed with the reformed Selina Kyle, the wealthy Blake had initiated a series of copycat crimes and eventually lured Catwoman to his home and a veritable shrine to her costumed career. Cat-Man was finally captured in a duel with the Dark Knight and Selina deflated his romantic fantasies by observing that "in a match with Batman ... the BETTER man just won." Tom Blake (but not Cat-Man) later appeared in the September 18, 1998 "Cult of the Cat" episode of the animated "Adventures of Batman and Robin" (with vocals by Scott Cleverdon).

In 1995, members of the Pacific island cat cult finally caught up with Thomas Blake. When one of their representative Council of Three disappeared after a confrontation with the Cat-Man, the remaining two natives hired the Catwoman to steal the cat idol and the mystic cloth on their behalf (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 43, by Grant and Barry Kitson). "I've never been able to hate him with the intensity such a cruel, callous creep deserves. So this scam really appeals. Stealing Cat-Man's cape and cowl back for its rightful owners will leave HIM with a king-size flea in his ear -- and ME with a million bucks in my king-size pocketbook" (CATWOMAN # 26, by Grant, Jim Balent and Bob Smith).

Unknown to all, Thomas Blake was planning his retirement. A robbery at a Gotham casino brought Catman into conflict with Batman and, inevitably, the Dark Knight and the law would close in on him. The arrival of the member of the cat cult, thus, was met with great enthusiasm by Blake, who promptly subdued the man and dressed him in his original "CM" costume (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 43, by Grant and Barry Kitson).

"I'm tired of being a hunted man, hounded by the law, switching houses every few weeks. I want to be free to ENJOY the wealth my crimes have brought me. And fate sent YOU to help. A half-dozen witnesses saw Tom Blake at the casino tonight. Even more saw Cat-Man ROBBING it including Batman himself. They won't think twice when they find a body in a cat-suit with the remains of the loot -- especially," Cat-Man said as he set the timer on an explosive device, "when there's not enough of you left to identify!"

Blake's plans were disrupted when Catwoman raided him home, battering Blake relentlessly, raking her clawed gloves across his cheeks and finally pulling his cape and cowl into her hands. Pursued by Blake's panthers Khan and Hun, Selina roared away from the estate in Cat-Man's sportscar (CATWOMAN # 26).

Falling back on his tracking skills, Tom Blake followed Catwoman to the sewers, where she had unwittingly stumbled across a plot by the Ratcatcher to poison the city and Batman's attempt to prevent it. Cat-Man's arrival alongside Khan and Hun provided the Dark Knight with the resources he needed to fight the Ratcatcher's army of rodents while he rounded up the ringleader. Upon his return, Batman found Cat-Man lying unconscious and Catwoman and the panthers long gone.

When the Council attempted to renege on their deal, Selina suggested that Khan and Hun might convince them otherwise. Moments later, the Catwoman was carrying away one-million dollars while silently thinking that "you have the idol and A cloth, guys -- but what makes you think I'd give you the REAL one ? Not that I intend to keep it. If Thomas Blake thinks it's lucky, he's welcome to it. I'll let him sweat out Blackgate Prison for a year or so, then send it back to him. Anybody who has pets like these can't be ALL bad" (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 44, by Grant and Kitson).

Blake had scarcely been returned to prison when he and dozens of other villains were freed by the demonic Neron and offered great power in exchange for their soul. Cat-Man declined (1995's UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED # 1, by Mark Waid, Howard Porter and Dan Green). Soon after, in a perhaps apocryphal account, he may have wondered whether he made the right decision. In New York, while wearing a replica of his magic cape and cowl, he was chased up a tree by the alien canine (and former Green Lantern) named G'nort (1998's GREEN LANTERN 80-PAGE GIANT # 1, by Ty Templeton, Steve Ellis and John Lowe).

In any event, Thomas Blake was serving time in Blackgate Penitentiary again when the Gotham City earthquake struck and sent a tidal wave smashing into the prison. Cat-Man was freed along with the other inmates but couldn't resist going back into the prison to loot the cells. Instead, his chivalrous side was awakened again when he discovered the KGBeast attempting to murder a fellow inmate, Jared Manx, as well as a nun and lawyer who'd been with Manx at the time of the disaster. With his acrobatic skills still first-rate, Blake effortlessly distracted the Russian killer until his would-be victims escaped. Grinning, Tom dove into the water (1998's BATMAN: BLACKGATE - ISLE OF MEN # 1, by Doug Moench, Jim Aparo and David Roach). It's unknown whether the Cat-Man ever learned to swim.

posted November 18, 2000 07:13 PM

Beginning this weekend, I'll be looking at the Wayne family relatives, culminating with, of course, Thomas and Martha. This first installment is for the Time Trust:

Trace the Wayne family tree back far enough and you'll find betrayal and murder. The oral history of the family had long insisted that Harold, lord of Waynemoor Castle in northern England, had died in the Crusades. Others, however, recalled a different story, one in which Harold's brother Lorin murdered his sibling and "took over the estate and title." Locals insisted that on "nights when a master of th' manor passes on ... the unlaid-to-rest ghost of the murdered first Lord of Waynemoor roams the battlements." It would be centuries before the truth came out.

That day came in the spring of 1971 when Bruce Wayne received an invitation "to see the ancestral seat of the original Wayne family" at the behest of "a dying old man I'd never seen -- my uncle, Lord Elwood Wayne." Elwood may, in fact, have been Bruce's GREAT-uncle (and brother to Thomas Wayne's father and BATMAN # 120's Silas). In any event, his imminent death seemed to fulfill the condition necessary for Lord Harold's ghost to return to the halls of Waynemoor Castle.

Arriving in the isolated English countryside, Bruce met three other relatives who'd answered the invitation: Elwood's "niece Wilhemina Wayne -- half-Dutch orphan from South Africa ... cousin Rev. Emelyn Wayne -- missionary among the unenlightened Asian 'heathen' ... finally -- Aussie ranch-hand from the 'Outback' -- Jeremy Wayne." In the midst of a thunderstorm, the local undertaker delivered the relatives to the castle in his hearse, noting "t'ain't wise to send a horse-carriage from the castle in thunder an' lightnin'."

Adding to the old world atmosphere, the electricity was out at Waynemoor as a consequence of the storm. The family was met at the door by a candle-bearing man who identified himself as "Asquith -- direct descendant of the first retainer to our original master."

The dying Elwood seemed to brighten a bit as his family came to his bedside. "How good to see ye all -- finally. And to know the Wayne heritage will continue. So, to all of ye -- I leave an EQUAL share of my estate. And in the event of any of YOUR deaths -- the SURVIVORS shall divide EQUALLY." Should a catastrophic set of circumstances take the lives of all four relatives, "ALL goes to my oldest friend and personal physician -- Dr. Merrin."

As Bruce and Wilhemina approached their respective bedrooms, they caught a glimpse of a knight in gold chainmail and a red tunic. Bruce assured 'Mina that she'd imagined it ("you've just been programmed to see 'ghosts'") but Batman realized that something sinister was afoot. In short order, the Dark Knight discovered that the specter was quite solid -- and determined to kill the Wayne clan. Mina was nearly killed by a battleaxe and Jeremy evaded death at the end of a medieval sword.

Muddy footprints outside Mina's room led Batman outside to the marshland. With his movements obstructed by the thick mud, the Dark Knight could do little more than gasp as the Knight and his steed came galloping through the mist with a lance pointed directly at him, "deadly swift as the specter of death riding a pale horse." The spear point made a loud thud as it entered the folds of Batman's cape, striking a hastily broken branch rather than the Dark Knight's torso.

Convinced that the knight would "re-arm from the castle's medieval armory," Batman rushed to the scene for a final confrontation, knocking his opponent to the ground and removing his helmet to reveal Asquith.

"Nay," the man insisted, "Asquith my faithful retainer -- my varlet -- HE would not BETRAY me ... as did my foul brother. Aye, that blackguard -- sending me to a premature grave -- unmarried -- CHILDLESS! So HE could STEAL my title -- my estate -- my never-to-be-born descendants." Lord Harold vowed to kill the heirs of his mad brother but "as long as ANY of his evil spawn lives ... I remain UN-AVENGED! Doomed to eternal wandering within these walls." With all of the surviving Waynes within Waynemoor, Harold could finally have revenge.

Briefly regaining control of his body, Asquith led Batman to a hidden crypt where two ancient metal wrist shackles stood limp above bones and a broken sword. These words were carved in the wall: "To ye who may find my bones ... know ye that my brother Lorin ... cursed be his name ... fouly imprisoned me here to rot! May he and his line ... ROT IN HELL! Harold, true Lord of Waynemoor."

Cheated of his vengeance, Lord Harold blamed his mortal vessel and struck down the loyal Asquith with a massive heart attack. The following morning, it was discovered that "Lord Elwood Wayne had died at the very same moment as Asquith. Recording the case for his archives, Batman was plagued with doubts. Was Asquith "a deranged retainer plagued by a legend inherited from HIS forefathers" or "was he indeed the servant of a bodiless avenger ?" (DETECTIVE COMICS # 412, by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano)

Tomorrow: The Wayne family and the Crusades from the post-Crisis side of the fence.

The Clarion
posted November 19, 2000 04:20 PM

Good show, Mikishawm! This thread's back in business, at last!

BTW, Are you gonna mention (From the '50s) Uncle Silas Wayne, who is disappointed in Bruce not being an action man like ancestors Caleb, Ishmael and Anthony Wayne? Or Bruce's Aunt Agatha, who saved the Dynamic Duo by dressing as the Joker(!)or Bruce's P.I. Cousin, Bruce N. Wayne?

posted November 19, 2000 04:42 PM

Yes, yes and yes. All of them ... and more!

Within current DCU history, the Wayne dynasty has also been traced to the Crusades. Sir Gaweyne de Weyne was a Frenchman. As a "knight of the Scottish court, (he) gave his life on a crusade to free the Holy Land. According to his wishes, when he fell in battle, Sir Gaweyne's heart was embalmed and returned to Scotland. For 600 years, it has reposed in Dunvegan Castle, awaiting the rediscovery of his grave." Circa 1998, that burial place was finally discovered. In a service conducted by the Reverend James Black and attended by Bruce Wayne, the knight's heart was finally placed within his tomb.

The commemoration was marred for Bruce by evidence of recent vandalization of the crypts, which resulted in the theft of pieces of the graves. Investigating with the assistance of Oracle, Batman learned that the the designs atop the graves could be reconfigured into "a stylized map. Of Jerusalem. The holy city of the Knights Templar. ... I've correlated the map with every known Templar plan and building in the world. Parts of the design are echoed in dozens of places, but only ONE matches it EXACTLY -- Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh."

The Batman watched a trio of thugs break into a secret vault of the church and discovered that it held the treasures of the Knights Templar. The leader of the tribe, one Fergus Slith, demanded that the gold and jewels remain untouched. He only wanted a single small box that contained a most important document and prism.

Oracle explained to Bruce that the ancient parchment, which displayed a vortex design, was known as the Devil's Scroll, a means of transforming an ordinary man into "the most efficent assassin the world has ever known. The method works directly on the unconcious mind, harnessing powers beyond our ken. Great strength -- speed --cunning. Normally, it takes a lifetime. But this parchment reveals the fast-track route. It could turn a man into an Azrael in days -- or even hours."

The Batman had several inconclusive encounters with Slith's men, once at Sir de Weyne's gravesite, again (as Bruce Wayne) when his car was attacked and a third time in the Chapel where he finally met Slith, clad in a plaid robe and a boil-encrusted skull face shield, a so-called "plague mask."

Early on, the Dark Knight also met Sheona, a Boston school teacher of Scottish descent who'd been in the area searching for her brother. The young woman had an uncanny command of birds and observed that "animals don't lie and cheat and steal the way people do." She also provided fascinating details on the clan of Slith.

Two centuries earlier, the Slith family was driven from its land of the MacDubh clan, who sought their land to raise sheep after "the Industrial Revolution sent the price of wool soaring." Held at bay by the guns of the MacDubhs, the Sliths were herded onto a boat for America. During the voyage, the family was decimated by the Bubonic Plague and only one man survived to stagger onto the shore of the new world. Clutching his son in his arms, he vowed that one day the MacDubhs and all their descendants would be killed by his family.

Bruce's own great-grandmother had been a MacDubh. It's unclear whether she was was Laura Elizabeth Wayne, the grandmother of Thomas Wayne, or Martha Kane's unnamed grandparent. In any event, Bruce Wayne, who'd already survived an attempt to destroy the Wayne line in DETECTIVE # 412, was once again a target.

Bruce's visit to Scotland was scheduled to culminate at a MacDubh reunion at Edinburgh Castle. Batman had stopped the villains' attack on a train transporting many of the relatives but Fergus Slith would not be deterred. He stole a helicopter and launched an attack on the castle, ultimately facing the Dark Knight with sword in hand. The battle was halted when Sheona's birds stripped Fergus of his mask and the woman stepped forward. "I cannot let you do this ... brother." Lunging at her mad sibling, Sheona pushed Fergus and herself over the ledge to their deaths at the base of the castle. The Devil's Scroll flew away in the beak of a gull (BATMAN: SCOTTISH CONNECTION, by Alan Grant and Frank Quitely).

It would soon be revealed that there was even more to the legend of Bruce Wayne's ancestors. A knight (perhaps Sir Gaweyne, perhaps not) had been entrusted with the defense of the Holy Grail in times past. On his tunic was the crest of a bat.

"Many were those who coveted its power, and all were not moved by God's Love. Legion were the number of those who would use the Vessel to see real their own dark desires. The valiant knight was wary of this and would give his life, nay, his very soul in defense of the Artifact. It was to be protected and revered and kept safe from those who would pervert and twist its promise."

In the late 1990s, that responsibility was passed on to Bruce Wayne in a letter addressed to his father. Bruce arrived at the home of Peter deWettering, who professed to have known "your grandfather Solomon. ... I understand that your father has died ... Pity. I lose track of such things. Then it falls to you, young Bruce. You are of the House of geVain. It is a blood duty you take on. Your line has borne this responsibility many times." Within moments of his servant's presentation of the Holy Grail to Bruce, the man who'd live more than two centuries had died of old age.

Mystified, Bruce left the estate, unaware that a band of assassins was preparing to strike at the mansion he left behind. Two factions seeking the Grail ultimately emerged. One was led by a man named Chaval, who imagined himself the direct descendant of Christ. The other was commanded by Ra's al Ghul, who sought the cup's powers to provide his daughter Talia with eternal life.

Meanwhile, the always skeptical Batman investigated the Grail's authenticity and came away convinced. A recent shooting had left a bullet in his leg -- until water held in the cup was poured on the wound. An astonished Alfred gasped that "the bullet is GONE. There's no evidence of its ever having BEEN there."

Outside the Batcave, forces were mobilizing as the man in possession of the Grail was identified. An unusual alliance of Alfred and Catwoman held off Chaval's assault on Wayne Manor while the Dark Knight faced the Demon's Head in hand-to-hand combat. The latter battle ended in a stalemate when Talia refused her father's offer of immortality.

As long as the Grail was in his possession, Batman would constantly be forced to defend it from those who coveted its power. In the wee hours of the morning in a rural diner, the cup changed hands. "I thought I could protect this. PRIDE, I guess. But it's far too important for EGO to interfere in its safety." Bruce was assured that the Holy Grail would be placed far from human hands. "I know just the place," the mild mannered reporter from Metropolis replied (1999's BATMAN: THE CHALICE, by Chuck Dixon and John Van Fleet).

posted November 20, 2000 03:15 PM

Excellent as always, Mikishawm.

I know you're probably very busy but I have a somewhat unusual request. Have you ever compiled a history of Bat-Mite? Some people may despise him because he's a product of the campy 60s but he's always been a favorite of mine. The Mite has gotten quite a bit of attention lately with World's Funnest and the new plush toy so I thought a bio on this thread might be appropriate. But only if you can find the time. Keep up the good work!

posted November 21, 2000 03:41 PM

Is the Grail thing in continuity? If so, big raspberries to Batman for not doing the following...

-Running over to Babs' house and pouring water all over her back.
-Right after he ran next door and splashed his neighbor, Mr. Drake.
-Heading on over the Arkham Asylum and cleaning up--
Harvey Dent's face
Killer Croc's skin condition
all the other assorted damaged goods who are only in there because of some physical deformity
The Joker (does the grail work on nutjobs?)
Finally, heading on over to Leslie's clinic and just randomly dousing patients.

I mean c'mon, sheesh, at the very least he shoulda done the first two before he went and hid the damn thing on the moon with supes. :P

And I thought this guy was supposed to be such a humanitarian.

posted November 21, 2000 05:19 PM

Chuck had to save SOMETHING for the sequel!

P.S. Bat-Mite is added to the list.

posted November 25, 2000 06:59 PM

"I was fascinated by all the inventions Leonardo (da Vinci) created, but what inspired me the most was his flying machine. It was called an 'Ornithopter,' but it was really the first airplane. It was actually a glider -- a sled with large bat-wings attached to it with a man in the middle. He was supposed to be able to fly by jumping off a mountain and Leonardo actually sent men off the mountainsides in this contraption.

"But in the beginning, even the master had made a mistake. He had designed the wings so that they would flap up and down like those of a bird in flight. The result was that when a man took off he would be suspended in mid-air and then, like in an animated cartoon, sail down to the ground and crash. Da Vinci lost many intrepid experimenters because of his mistake. Then he noticed that seagulls would glide through the air because their wings were stabilized. So by stabilizing the wings of his glider, men were actually able to fly off the side of a mountain and glide to the bottom.

"After discovering this book about da Vinci, I had made several crude sketches of his flying machine and stored them in an old trunk. ... Looking it over (circa 1939), Leonardo's sled looked more clearly like a bat-man to me. In fact, I had even written a quote from him on my sketch -- 'And your bird shall have no other model but that of a bat.' So, I changed the bird-man to a bat-man, with a hypen between the words 'bat' and 'man,' and this became my new superhero." -- Batman co-creator Bob Kane, discussing his hero's creation in BATMAN AND ME (1989).

There is a legend in the Wayne archives of a medieval ancestor who embodied the family's spirit of adventure ... and recklessness. Lancelot Wayne, it seems, wanted to fly like a bat and, to that end, constructed a pair of black wings to help him soar through the sky. "He risked death gliding from a high cliff to a river."

Centuries later, Bruce Wayne duplicated the flight of the first bat-man as part of a publicity campaign for the Gotham City Historical Society (1962's DETECTIVE COMICS # 306). Lancelot's creation reminded Bruce of Leonardo da Vinci's own designs for a bat-winged glider and he couldn't help but be amused that he and Robin had actually MET the legendary Italian scientist during a time-travel expedition to 1499. Batman had even helped adapt his concepts into a functional aircraft (1948's BATMAN # 46).

The hypnotic time-travel technique developed by Professor Carter Nichols had also enabled Bruce Wayne to meet one of his other forebears. It happened in 1947 when a discussion of Bruce Wayne's family dredged up the fact that one of his ancestors was remembered as a highwayman. Bruce surmised that was more to the story, noting that Silas Wayne was never hanged, and he and Dick embarked on a journey to 1787 Philadelphia.

Almost immediately, Bruce and Dick spotted a coach robbery in progress and switched to Batman and Robin in a futile attempt to subdue the highwaymen. Instead, bystanders viewed the costumed duo as bandits themselves and dragged them to the stocks. The fortuitous arrival of no less than Benjamin Franklin enabled the heroes to go free when the great patriot suggested that Batman and Robin might be actors who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Franklin and the Dynamic Duo found another vigilante mob at Silas Wayne's silversmith shop. The evidence against Wayne was compelling -- he wore the same clothing as the masked leader of the highwaymen, had stolen silver on the property and was dazed as an apparent result of a blow that Batman had landed on the ringleader. Silas insisted he'd been waylaid by an intruder and framed for the crime.

While a fire distracted the mob, the highwaymen grabbed Silas, presuming them to be his leader since they never seen the true mastermind unmasked. In the course of his pursuit of the bandits, Batman found the true leaders fingerprint on the list of the gang's loot. Combined with a plaster cast of a footprint discovered in the silversmith shop, the 20th Century detective had enough evidence to prove that Silas' soon-to-be brother-in-law Henry Gant was the culprit. Silas had refrained from accusing him earlier out of concern for his fiancee's ailing mother.

Bringing Gant to the authorities, however, would prove problematic. Henry and Martha Gant's mother, as noted, was in poor health and all involved agreed that the disclosure of her son's secret life would be to much for her weak heart. Ben Franklin offered a solution -- Henry would proceed with an already-announced move to England, now relieved of the spending money that he'd intended to bring with him.

Silas would proceed with his wedding to Martha while Franklin offered to privately testify to authorities on Silas' behalf. Franklin also wrote a letter exonerating the silversmith but neither Martha nor her mother were to be told of Henry's wrongdoing until the elderly Mrs. Gant had passed on. Silas declared that "truth will seek the light!"

Back in 1947, Bruce pondered the whereabouts of the letter and noted that the Latin inscription on Silas' portrait translated as "truth will seek light." Beneath the metal plate, the letter stood revealed. Tragically, Silas had died of pneumonia at the age of thirty, leaving behind a grieving widow ... and mother-in-law. Because Mrs. Gant hadn't died, Silas never took the letter from hiding and Martha Gant Wayne never learned the truth (BATMAN # 44, believed to be by Bill Finger and Jim Mooney).

TOMORROW: "Heroes of the Revolution" concludes ...

posted November 26, 2000 01:07 PM

"Bruce Wayne's first name from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock ... then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne." -- Batman co-creator Bill Finger, discussing the origin of his hero's alter-ego in STERANKO'S HISTORY OF COMICS # 1 (1970).

Twenty-year-old Pennsylvania native Anthony Wayne determined the course of the rest of his life when he joined the American colonies' war for independence in 1775. Within two years, he was a brigadier general and a part of George Washington's own army. In 1779, he led one of the most audacious attacks of the Revolutionary War when he helped recapture a British outpost in Stony Point, New Jersey. "Mad Anthony" retired in 1783, dabbled in politics and finally returned to the military in 1791. This second tour of duty included raids against Indians in 1794. Anthony Wayne died in 1796 at the age of 51.

Bruce Wayne's connection to the real- life war hero was established in 1958's BATMAN # 120, where a portrait of Anthony hung alongside Bruce's fictional ancestors. 1969's WORLD'S FINEST COMICS # 186 and 187 (by Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito) took things a step further by actually having Batman meet his namesake.

Batman had been called upon to oversee the unveiling of a nearly two-hundred-year-old bust at the Gotham Museum but wasn't quick enough to prevent a nervous employee from dropping the treasure and letting it shatter. The Dark Knight called in Superman for a repair job and was astonished to find that the facial features -- which an audience member identified as "Mad Anthony" -- resembled his own. Even more remarkable was the fact that the completely reconstructed bust covered those features with Batman's cowl!

"Is it only a coincidence ?" Superman asked. "Was the anonymous donor aware of the resemblance ? There may be only ONE way to find out." Sure enough, the solution was patented Kryptonian time travel. Within minutes, the World's Finest heroes, dressed in period clothing, set foot in the late 1770s.

The men found it difficult to remain passive when they spotted an imprisoned man in a passing cart. The drivers informed the strangers that General Wayne had captured Major Nichols spying on him and that the British spy was headed for the gallows. Before they could react, Clark and Bruce were assaulted by Mad Anthony himself who swiped his sabre at each of them from astride his horse. While the Man of Steel stepped back ("I don't want to interfere in a family scrap."), Bruce used judo to knock over the horse and its rider.

With their period clothes in tatters, Superman and Batman were forced to wear their costumes when townspeople came upon them. The Dark Knight explained that they were promoting a theatrical troupe while Superman pointed to his chest and announced that "I'm going to play Hamlet. See ? 'S' for Shakespeare!"

In the town, the heroes found themselves compelled to rescue Sylvia Ward, a woman being tried as a witch. Superman discreetly saved her from drowning but it was Batman who pulled her from the water and received a kiss as a reward. Sylvia asked "to see the face of the gentleman who saved my life" and the Dark Knight saw no harm in removing his mask in the 18th Century.

Superman seemed to have taken a rather dim view of Sylvia's interest in Bruce and launched an elaborate plot to convince the locals that Batman was a sorcerer. Once the Dark Knight was convicted, Superman asked the townspeople to "choose his punishment. Lifetime in the stocks or burning at the stake." They chose the latter even as Sylvia screamed in horror.

Batman was left alone for the night in the stocks but a thunderstorm heraldws the arrival of a very important visitor. Benjamin Franklin had been horrified at the "superstitious nonsense" that had condemned Batman to death and vowed to replicate his famous experiment in electricity by attaching a kite to the stock. "The lightning will race down the cord to the padlock it is grounded to. It will smash the metal lock open. But you, touching only wood, a non-conductor, will be unharmed." Time and again, lightning struck the cord. Time and again, it fizzled out. High in the sky, Superman had defied nature to stop the bolts.

With the flames beginning to spring up at his feet, Batman made a counter-accusation against Superman, telling the locals that the "S" on his shirt actually stood for "sorcerer" and suggesting that the barber try to cut his hair. The crowd made a collective gasp when the scissors broke on the Man of Steel's black locks. Leaving hurricane force winds in his wake, Superman flew away, vowing that "you'll all be in British military prisons when I'm through."

Ben Franklin could only shake his head in disbelief. "It's against all the laws of science. Unless -- ? Could he come from an unknown race of 'super-men' ? ... Leonardo da Vinci, in 1490, drew sketches of a flying machine. But this stranger has no mechanical wings. How can he defy gravity ? ... As a scientist, I'll be plagued the rest of my life trying to answer this riddle."

Batman vowed to stop his friend but Sylvia insisted that he'd need help. It turned out that the young woman had connections with General Wayne and arranged a meeting between Batman and "Mad Anthony." Sylvia was stunned to see the two men side-by-side. "I didn't realize it until I saw the two of you together, General Wayne. But you two have the SAME FACE!"

Before anyone could react, Superman swooped down and carried the General's tent and all its inhabitants to a British outpost. Following on the ground was Mad Anthony's young bugler, who vowed, "I'll follow you, sir ... to the ends of the Earth, if need be. And when I've found out where they're taking him -- I'll fetch our men. Then we'll attack the enemy -- and free the General ... as sure as my name's Robby Douglas. If only I had a gun with me ... but I only have a slingshot I carved as a hobby."

Under inquisition, General Wayne refused to divulge any information. "You can kill me! But you won't make me betray my cause. Others will take my place and General Washington will drive you Redcoats into the sea!" Batman interrupted the firing squad, insisting that HE was Anthony Wayne but Superman had a simple method of determining who to kill -- "shoot them BOTH!"

A moment before shots rang out, the Man of Steel suggested they "fight each other to the death ... with their bare hands!" An astonished Batman found himself swung face-first into a pool of mud by his ancestor but, before he could respond, Robby and the cavalry arrived. Stunned by Robby's resemblance to Dick Grayson, Batman felt he could trust the boy to use his slingshot to send a projectile at Superman's forehead. A Kryptonite pebble, long concealed within a lead-lined pocket in the Dark Knight's utility belt, struck the Man of Steel and brought him back to his senses. Once again on the side of angels, Superman made quick work of the Redcoats.

The strange events of the past twenty- four hours had begun when Superman noticed that Mad Anthony had no shadow when they first met. The Man of Steel was convinced that the General was possessed by an evil spirit called an Afreet, which moved from the condemned Major Nichols to General Wayne to Batman in a search of a stable host. Superman hoped to exorcise the demon from Batman by condemning him to death but wound up with the Afreet in his own body (save for the moments during Anthony and Batman's fight, when it briefly helped the General defeat his opponent). Once the Kryptonite struck Superman, the Afreet sought permanent refuge in the body of a British general.

In the wake of the battle, Sylvia rushed up to Batman with a cast she'd made of his face from the impression Bruce had left in the mud. "Obviously," Batman concluded in 1969, "Sylvia made that bust of me. I'll bet one of her descendants donated it to the Gotham City Museum."

"But the REAL scoop," added Superman, "is that both you and Robin had doubles in the Revolutionary period. I wonder, though ... was Robby Douglas an ancestor of Dick Grayson ... Robin ?"

posted December 02, 2000 05:23 PM

All he wanted was a life. Was that too much to ask ? Unfortunately, the lives in question weren't his own and they were discarded with their "throat(s) slit from ear to ear."

Historical documents indicate that the area later known as Gotham City had been terrorized by a killer in the late 1700s (THE BATMAN CHRONICLES # 6), one who preceded each murder with a cryptic letter addressed to them (TBC # 23). In his own words, he identified himself as "Epsilah Clevenger, late of London, England. He is known as 'The Mimic' for his voice and mannerisms of any he chooses. 'Tis said he has sent over a score of men and women to the hereafter. He is either a madman or possessed by unholy spirits and none may say which, I'll warrant."

Upon his arrival in the United States, the Mimic left a string of victims, the seventh of whom was discovered in the wilderness near "the whaling settlement known as Bludhaven." A mulatto named Hiram discovered the corpse while passing through the area, buried him "and said words that commended his soul to the Almighty."

Hiram's report of the murder only enraged Bludhaven merchant Rance Benedict, who figuratively spewed fire-and-brimstone invectives at the traveller. The latest dead man was Benedict's own brother and Rance struck blow after blow against Hiram, convinced that this was his sibling's murderer for no other reason than because of his African American heritage.

"Know you this, mulatto," Benedict decreed. "Within the week, the governor's man will arrive to swear me in as constable. I will then be the law in this area. When that occurs, I will come for you. I will arrest you and, be assured, I will see you hang. I will place the noose around your filthy neck and watch you dangle."

As he left Bludhaven, Hiram was hailed by a bearded Englishman on horseback who professed to "admire" his composure during his confrontation with Benedict. Hiram initially welcomed the company but grew more concerned as the stranger's conversation turned to the Mimic and the recent killings. When they arrived in the future Gotham territory, the rider inquired about the framework of a building in the clearing.

Hiram noted that it would be a "a place of worship for the devout." It would be "nothing so grand" as a church but merely"a temple for those who wish to use it."

"A noble undertaking," the stranger observed. "But I have a better use to which this stone and timber may be put. There are churches aplenty hereabouts. However, what is lacking is -- a place where those who are misunderstood may find shelter and succor. An insane asylum." Moreover, the man claimed that he was qualified to run the sanitarium, having "trained at no less an institution than the Royal College of Physicians. We could establish the asylum here and send to Boston for inmates. The doctors in those cities would be glad to rid themselves of the unfortunates who society wrongly label as deranged. I even have a name for it. We could call it 'Gotham' after a village in England -- where, according to common belief, ALL are bereft of their wits."

Hiram turned down the request as politely as he could and the two men prepared to bed down for the night. Against his better judgment, Hiram also accepted a gun pressed upon him by the doctor. "There are monsters about. HUMAN monsters. Or have you forgotten the murdered men ? Sleep you well."

That night, Hiram awoke to hear a shout of "murder" and emerged from his tent as a stalker approached him in the torrential rainstorm. "You are next, Hiram. I come to slit your throat. Cut the heart from your body." Terrified, Hiram fired the gun and watched as the figure collapsed to the ground. An examination of the corpse revealed it to be Rance Benedict. And standing nearby was the doctor, who admitted to having lured the man to the scene.

Hiram was stunned. "You ... you live! And you speak with a voice not your own."

"Aye. The voice of him who has been a-slaying 'round these parts. Which is proper, for I am he. We share a common trait, for you are also a murderer." Epsilpah pointed out that no one would believe Hiram had killed Rance in self-defense and blackmailed him into concealing the body and agreeing to his earlier suggestion. "Your church will be a madhouse known as Gotham, and populated by my brothers."

Hiram complied and Gotham City's "first citizens were the unfortunate dregs of New York and Boston, brought under false pretenses and let loose." Hiram's subsequent whereabouts remain a mystery but his journal, which concluded with the fateful encounter with the Mimic, eventually ended up in the the Wayne family archives. Indeed, Bruce Wayne later confided in Alfred Pennyworth that one of the figures in the the origin of Gotham was his ancestor. Whether that man was Hiram or Benedict or Epsilpah Clevenger remains to be seen (1996's BATMAN CHRONICLES # 6, by Dennis O'Neil, Curt Swan and John Dell).

In a book on the movers and shakers who founded Gotham, author Cecil Longacre later reported the long-held myth "that Gotham's current sanitarium, Arkham Asylum, is built upon the same field Hiram once cleared to honor his faith" (1997's BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1, text by Scott Beatty). Official records in the Gotham Public Library debunk the story, confirming that Rance Benedict had been killed "on the land that would be known as Robinson Park" (2000's BATMAN CHRONICLES # 23), a considerable distance from Arkham.

In the year 2000, Gotham underwent a rebirth of sorts when it returned from a year as a "No Man's Land." There was plenty of old-fashioned crime in the "new"Gotham, though, and private eye Jason Bard was called upon to resolve one such case.

A woman named Francesca Benedict had received a letter on old parchment with a cryptic, threatening message: "Blood must be spilt, lest the urbanity growing around us go unchristened." In trying to comprehend the note, Jason consulted his former college English professor, who observed that "these remind me an AWFUL LOT of the Mimic's letters." As he studied the records relating to the Mimic, Bard quickly realized he was dealing with a copycat, someone who hoped to "rechristen" Gotham with the blood of another randomly chosen Benedict.

Jason came to the realization too late to prevent Francesca's abduction and raced to Robinson Park to prevent a murder. As it had two millennia before, a rainstorm set the stage. Bard came upon a hooded figure grappling with a woman and heard Francesca scream, "Jason!! He's got a GUN!!" Bard pulled his gun and fired -- directly at "Francesca."

"She" was actually the Mimic and the hooded "assailant" was a bound and gagged Francesca, whom the kidnapper had hoped to trick Jason into killing just as Epsilpah had manipulated Hiram. Standing over the bleeding Mimic, Bard noted that he'd been TOO obsessed with replicating the original Mimic's last known murder. "You left a trail a blind man could follow. If you'd had a spark of originality in you, maybe you wouldn't be lying in a park, bleeding to death. But then -- you DID say that blood must be spilt" (BATMAN CHRONICLES # 23, by Jay Faerber and Paul Ryan).

posted December 03, 2000 04:14 PM

"July 4, 1858: Joshua and I have today prospected a new home, with a view to purchase. A pleasing manor house, far from Gotham to be isolated, yet close enough that I may stay in touch with my property interests. 10 bedrooms in all, with the normal appointments, it was built by the magnate Jerome K. van Derm but 3 years previously, when he thought to drive a railroad past it. Van Derm committed suicide when his company failed, and the house was never even lived in." -- from the journals of Judge Solomon Zebediah Wayne (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 45).

The fortune that enabled Solomon and Joshua Wayne to purchase what would become their ancestral home had originated with their father. "Buying acres for pennies, including quite a bit of swampland, Charles Arwin Wayne deftly managed his family's modest fortune and built a thriving enterprise for his two sons" by the time he "succumbed to tuberculosis at age fifty-two" (1997's BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1, text by Scott Beatty).

Following the death of his father, Solomon had returned to Gotham from his uncle's home of Boston "with a Harvard degree, a law book and a Bible." He "prevailed on a classmate's father, senator Nugent Bolle, to help him obtain a federal judgeship and then, with what a contemporary described as 'zealous glee,' he began his campaign to reform Gotham. As a judge, he dispensed the harsh justice of an Old Testament patriarch and as an entrepreneur, he started a dozen businesses, including the famous Gotham Buggy Whip Works. Within six years, he was Gotham's leading citizen, and its most prosperous."

Shortly before his marriage, Solomon had met an eccentric architect named Cyrus Pinkney and vowed to make his building designs a part of the Gotham City landscape. "What is a city, gentleman ?" Judge Wayne asked the Property Holders Association. "A sanctuary! A stronghold! A fortress! A bulwark against the godlessness of the wilds wherein we may nurture the gifts of Christian civilization and be protected from all the savagery which lurks in untamed nature."

Though met with disgust by many of his fellow citizens ("I ain't got no fancy schooling, but I know ugly when I see it."), Pinkney's designs eventually became a reality "in what is now the center of the city's financial district." By selling off properties and borrowing money, Judge Wayne was eventually able to bankroll more than a dozen gothic structures. The opinion of critics notwithstanding, the skyscrapers "attracted others to locate their ventures nearby -- became, in fact, the focal point for a thriving commercial center" (1992's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 27, by Dennis O'Neil, Chris Sprouse and Bruce Patterson).

Solomon did not restrict his passion for justice to the courtroom. Even as he made plans to purchase Wayne Manor, he and brother Joshua were contemplating using the tunnels and cave beneath the mansion for humanitarian purposes. As part of the Underground Railroad, they could use the secret passages in "smuggling slaves from the South up the East Coast to safety in Canada." The first slave to be rescued by the Waynes gave Joshua "a luck-token from his home in Africa."

"Although not a superstitious man," Joshua observed to Solomon, "I have carried it ever since and, you must admit, brother, our every endeavour has PROSPERED."

The Wayne brothers' heroic efforts took a tragic turn after midnight on November 4, 1860. A slave named Sam Barley had backed out of his plans to proceed with his escape and Joshua vowed to bring him back before bounty hunters killed the fugitive. Clad in dark clothing, with a cape, a hat and a kerchief pulled around his nose and mouth, Joshua fought the men intent on recapturing Sam and returned him to the others in the cave beneath Wayne Manor.

As the other escapees began to express second thoughts, Judge Wayne displayed a bit of his fiery temper. "I will risk my name and reputation to help you -- but I swear I will STRANGLE you with these bare hands should you try to LEAVE this place! The Underground Railroad has helped HUNDREDS like you to freedom. If you return, your owners will TORTURE you to discover WHO helped you and WHERE they might be found. ... No, sirs. You took a vow -- FREEDOM or DEATH!"

Outside the Manor, the Waynes discovered vengeful bounty hunters seeking the Underground Railroad outpost that they were certain was in the area. Over Solomon's objections, Joshua pulled his kerchief over his nose and prepared to divert their attention in the heavy snow showers. "We have no choice, brother. If we are caught, the slaves will be whipped, we three will be jailed, and the Wayne name will be ruined! Fear not. We will laugh about this before dawn."

Joshua's prophecy would not come to pass. In the wee hours of November 4, 1860, he took a knife in the chest as he led the hunters across a rickety bridge. Though he successfully severed the bridge and sent the men to their deaths in the river below, Joshua had been mortally wounded. He "must have known he was dying -- but he couldn't let his body be found. So he crawled into a drainage outlet ... What a terrible way to die," Bruce Wayne later observed. "Alone, freezing, his loved ones so close, but so far away " (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 45, by Alan Grant, Michael Dutkiewicz and Gerry Fernandez).

Solomon, of course, knew none of this and went to his grave without learning the truth behind his sibling's disappearance. The later years of the Judge's life included a role in his family's long guardianship of the Holy Grail (hinted at in 1999's BATMAN: THE CHALICE). The fate of his first wife, pregnant at the time of Joshua's death (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 45), is unknown but Solomon is said to have remarried to a woman named Dorothea in his later years. When the Judge was 77 and his wife 37, she bore him a son, Alan (BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1). Solomon Wayne proved to be made of hardy stock, surviving to the age of 104 years (LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 27).

Alan Wayne followed his father's lead by "spearhead(ing) the development and growth of the Gotham Railroads, the vast network of rail lines intersecting at Gotham's now historic Robinson Central Terminal" and "foster(ing) the growth of Wayne Enterprises, the family's 'umbrella' company."

Soon after Alan's death at the age of 63, his son Kenneth contributed Wayne Chemicals to the growing corporation. Kenneth's early death left his thirty-seven-year-old widow Laura Elizabeth to sustain the family fortune. Laura was a staunch advocate for the banning of alcoholic beverages in Gotham. "Although Laura Wayne's political leanings ran afoul of many Gothamites, particularly those gangsters and bootleggers whose livlihood depended on the repal of Prohibition, she weathered threat and innuendo with a hardiness that would have made Judge Solomon Wayne truly proud had he known her."

Alan and Laura's son, Patrick Morgan, who'd been only an infant when his father died, saw "the Wayne legacy through two World Wars, building WayneCorp out of the ashes of the Great Depression and later WayneTech, whose aircraft plants in Somerset and shipworks in Neville fueled the American war effort to thwart the combined might of the Axis and Imperial Japan" (1997's BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1, text by Beatty; Alan, Laura and Patrick -- plus the otherwise unknown Abigail and Benjamin -- were first identified as names on gravestones in 1995's SHADOW OF THE BAT # 45).

Patrick and his wife had only one child, a boy named Thomas. And it was Thomas' son, Bruce, who would see the legacies of both Solomon and Joshua Wayne revisited in the 1990s. In 1992, a fanatical architecural student named Andre Sinclair vowed to restore Cyrus Pinkney and Judge Wayne's now-obscured Gotham skyline by destroying the newer buildings that had sprung up around them. Sinclair succeeded in destroying all of the buildings on his list but ironically perished when he was struck by a wrecking ball during a battle with Solomon Wayne's great-great-grandson, alias The Batman (BATMAN # 474; LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 27; DETECTIVE # 641, a trilogy that incorporated the cityscape designs created by Anton Furst, the production designer of 1989's "Batman"movie).

In the latter half of 1995, while cleaning a flooded portion of the Wayne Manor cellar, Alfred Pennyworth discovered a decomposed body clutching a diary stamped JTW to his chest. Bruce Wayne instantly realized that they had discovered the remains of his long-lost ancestor. With the details Joshua had scrawled in his diary, Bruce was finally able to piece together how he had died. In a private ceremony at the Wayne family plot, Joshua Thomas Wayne ("A Friend Among Friends") was laid to rest "alongside those who came before him, and those who followed after" (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 45).

From an outsider's perspective, the Wayne family history is looked upon as "problematic." Patrick Wayne has been variously identified as "Gotham surgeon and successful stockbroker Anthony Thomas Wayne" (AZTEK: THE ULTIMATE MAN # 3) and Jack Wayne, who financed the construction of Wayne Manor in the 1930s (BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 133-134). Yet another account describes Revolutionary War hero Darius Wayne as the first master of Wayne Manor and places Gotham's formation in 1635 (ATLAS OF THE DC UNIVERSE). And don't even ask about Thomas and Martha Wayne's institutionalized son (WORLD'S FINEST # 223) or their involvement in occult rituals (THE BRAVE & THE BOLD # 99).

Author Cecil Longacre wrote that "very early on in my studies it became quite evident that over time -- hundreds of years actually -- deliberate tampering had been done to documents concerning the Waynes. From legally binding contracts and compacts to the most personal diaries and letters, inconsistencies arise in all writings involving the name Wayne ... The line between quantifiable fact and deftly-constructed fiction is never so easily defined. Any knowledge, however, is better than no knowledge. And somewhere in the telling, the truth lies waiting" (BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1, text by Beatty).

posted December 07, 2000 01:46 PM

I love this thread, so I have to bump it....but I just thought of a question for you Mickishawn...Wasn't there a Batman Revenge Squad? I remember the pre- and post-crisis Superman Revenge Squad, but how about the Dark Knight. I've gotta say, as a fledgling archivist myself, I love this thread and the one on Obscure DC Characters. I'll be posting over there early next week, after I dig up some info. I'm redoing my comic/toy room and everything is in a shambles. I can't find anything I'm looking for!

posted December 09, 2000 01:52 PM

The Batman Revenge Squad -- from the great Bates-Adams story in WORLD'S FINEST # 175. Another great choice. They're added to the list.


Doting aunts have been a staple of super-hero comic books for decades, from the still visible Aunt May in SPIDER-MAN to one-shot characters played for laughs like Clark Kent's maiden aunt Minerva (1951's ACTION COMICS # 160). Such was the case with Bruce Wayne's Aunt Agatha, seen just once in BATMAN # 89 (by Bill Finger, Sheldon moldoff and Stan Kaye). It wasn't specified which side of the family she came from but, given the abundance of Wayne family relatives, it seems only fair to look on the white-haired, bespectacled Agatha as a sister (or aunt) of Bruce's mother, Martha.

Agatha had arrived at Wayne Manor in late fall of 1954, announcing her plans "to stay here at least a week or two." Fearing that his aunt's presence would get in Batman and Robin's way, Bruce stammered that Alfred was on vacation and that they wouldn't be able to provide her with decent meals. The moment the words were out of his mouth, Bruce knew he'd made a mistake.

"Now I KNOW I must stay! You need someone to look after you -- give you some nourishing home-cooked meals. Where's the kitchen ?"

With a full belly, Aunt Agatha fell asleep in a rocking chair directly in front of the grandfather clock entrance to the Batcave. "Any other time I'd have been glad to see her," Bruce whispered to Dick, "but not now, not while the Rotor Robbers are plaguing Gotham City." With their usual exit blocked, the boys changed to Batman and Robin in the kitchen and slipped out the door -- only to caught dead to rights.

"I MIGHT HAVE KNOWN!" Agatha bellowed. "I might have known you'd try to sneak out to a masquerade party like this. You boys are all the same -- never think of the weather. Now you march right back in here and put on your rubbers. Tsk-tsk. Such a cloudy-looking night. I won't have you coming home in the rain. ... And, Bruce, don't forget your umbrella." Robin was still snickering as they left the grounds.

Elsewhere, the Rotor Robbers, equipped with collapsible helicopter-style units on their backs, were descending on Gotham's spectacular Pyramid Building with an eye on its jewelry company office. Atop the pyramid-like roof, the Dynamic Duo took on the men in the yellow jumpsuits and Batman deployed the handle of his umbrella to snag the backstraps of some of their flightpacks. Raven, the sharp-nosed leader of the squadron, refused to give up so easily. He flew the Dark Knight away from the building and let his captive drop. Umbrella still in hand, Batman popped it open, enabling him "to steer himself toward a penthouse awning below."

Reunited with Robin, Batman had to admit that Aunt Agatha 'knew what she was doing when she made me take this umbrella. That was quite a 'storm' I weathered."

"She was right in more ways than one," the Boy Wonder laughed. "It's starting to rain!"

When Bruce and Dick got home, Agatha handed her favorite nephew an excuse to go out the following night. It seems the Gotham Park costume party had been postponed because of the inclement weather.

During the next day, Bruce and Dick finally got to spend some quality time with Agatha and took her on a tour of Gotham. During a visit to the State Building, each took a turn looking through the telescope mounted on the roof. The eagle-eyed Dick spotted Raven on a warehouse roof while looking through the lens and he and Batman put the site at the top of their itinerary for their next patrol.

"That night, Bruce and Dick brazenly parade(d) before Aunt Agatha in their 'masquerade party' costumes" and headed for the Rotor Robbers' headquarters. Raven, however, had seen the duo on his surveillance camera and had them tangled in a net before they could react. Eschewing the usual deathtrap, Raven pulled out a gun and informed Batman that "it's going to give me extreme pleasure to put a bullet into your heart."

The execution was interrupted when a gun-wielding Joker -- The Joker ?! -- stormed the hideout and demanded that Raven "drop that gun and set them free instantly!" With Batman and Robin pulled free, the Joker removed "his" mask and Aunt Agatha asked, "Are you all right, Bruce ?" Pulling off Batman's own cowl, she casually told the Rotor Robbers that they'd caught Bruce Wayne, NOT Batman. "If you were wearing a 'Batman' costume and saw a chance to capture a thief, wouldn't you do it ?"

Even as Batman and Robin were reeling from their exposure, Raven acknowledged that it was too absurd to be a hoax. "If Wayne was really Batman, you don't really think his own aunt would have unmasked him, do you ?" Shoving Agatha into the Dynamic Duo, Raven fled and jumped into his flight suit. Now holding a gun in each hand, Agatha commanded, "Go after that villain, Bruce. Dick and I can manage these cowards. If one of them moves an eye-lash, I'll shoot!" This was one tough old lady!

Still unmasked, Batman grabbed another jet pack and headed after Raven, ramming his propellers into his opponent's blades when the thug pulled another gun on him. Crawling from the river with the unconscious Raven, Bruce called the authorities and rejoined Agatha and Dick at the Gotham Park party.

Agatha had intended to surprise the boys by playing the Joker to their Batman and Robin but spotted them chasing the Rotor Robbers instead. "And good thing I did! Imagine you two boys trying to pretend to be the real Batman and Robin. I hope you learned your lesson!"

"Believe me, Aunt Agatha -- we learned that and more!"

"And how!" Dick chimed in.

The remainder of Aunt Agatha's visit to Gotham went without incident. As her train pulled out of the station and the boys waved goodbye, Dick wondered "why she never suspected you're the real Batman."

"She could never imagine me as being the famous Batman. In my aunt's eyes, I've never grown up. To her, I'm still her young nephew, a boy."

A decade later, it would be Dick's turn to have an aunt visit Wayne Manor though, unlike Agatha, Aunt Harriet intended to stay awhile (1964's DETECTIVE # 328). Alfred himself had an Aunt Agatha (mentioned in LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 115). It's unknown whether either of them ever dressed up as The Joker.

posted December 10, 2000 02:30 PM

The the century following the Revolutionary War, the heirs of Silas and Anthony Wayne carved out their own paths. From Winslow Wayne to General Herkimer Wayne (BATMAN # 44) to wagon train leader Caleb Wayne to whaling man Captain Ishmael Wayne, they were heroes all. Silas was remembered with a namesake relative who made it his calling to commemorate the heroes of the family's past and prod the present generation into achieving their potential (1958's BATMAN # 120).

Silas was distressed that his great-nephew Bruce was "nothing but a rich idler" and laid a guilt trip on him in 1958. Walking Bruce past a gallery of the Wayne family heroes, Silas stopped in front of an empty frame meant for his nephew. "Bruce, I'm an old man -- but if I knew you were carrying on our great family tradition, I'd die happy!"

Desperate to please the old man, Bruce tried to play the hero only to have police officers turn him away in his efforts to capture a fugitive gunmen and stop a renegade robot. In the end, Batman resolved each crisis.

Bruce's quest took on a renewed urgency when Silas' doctor delivered a bleak prognosis: "He's had a relapse. You'd better notify the immediate family. He hasn't much time left."

After a distraught Bruce agonized that "I just can't let him die thinking I let him down," Dick pointed out that "You certainly can't tell him you're really Batman."

A grim Bruce responded, "Maybe that's just what I WILL do!"

And so it was that Batman unmasked as Bruce Wayne in the wake of the capture of the "Babyface" Muller gang. For an instant, the reporter and photographer on the police beat thought they'd stumbled onto the story of the century. On cue, a second Batman entered to explain that "the hideout was too well protected, so I asked my good friend Bruce Wayne to double for me and lure the gang out in the open where I could jump them." Within 24 hours, a proud Silas Wayne presented his assembled family with "a new portrait in the ancestral gallery" -- Bruce Wayne as The Batman.

Later, with his great-nephew at his bedside, Silas spoke. "Bruce, my boy, you went through so much trouble -- just so I could put that portrait of your action uniform alongside those of the other uniformed Waynes ..."

"I knew that would make you happy ..."

"Yes, but I'm even happier that you told me your secret identity before the family arrived. Your secret will die with me, and I'll die proudly knowing a Wayne is actually the greatest hero of our time --Batman!" (BATMAN # 120, by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff)

posted December 15, 2000 07:12 AM

In Adventure Comics #61 M.E., the 2nd feature is called Mark Lansing of Mikishawm.

Ironic! Isn't?

posted December 15, 2000 04:46 PM

When I was casting about for a user name for the boards (it hadn't occurred to me that I could use my own), I dug up the most obscure DC name I could think of -- Mikishawm, the Earth-Two version of Skartaris and adoptive home to Mark Lansing and others. Who'd have thought that DC would actually reprint a Mikishawm story in a Millennium Edition within months of my taking the name ?

posted December 16, 2000 09:19 PM

As the city of Gotham slept in the wee hours of a 1955 Sunday morning, Batman was clinging to the wheel of a helicopter high above them and desperately trying to avert a deadly explosion. Via the Batplane, the Dynamic Duo had been pursuing diamond thieves but they didn't dare force the chopper to the ground for fear of detonating the bomb that was mounted beneath. Handing the pilot chores to Robin, the Dark Knight manuevered from his own plane to the helicopter, a dangerous enough feat without the added complication of doing so outside the thieves' line of vision. This was Batman, of course, and he didn't merely defuse the bomb. Once the central crisis had been neutralized, he forced himself into the cockpit, knocked out the thieves and landed the whirlybird at the Gotham police station. Batman had no time for accolades, speeding instead to the nearest toy store. "I've got a REAL emergency on my hands!"

Shrouded in secrecy for 45 years, this is the story that official recorders have kept concealed for years. Michael Fleisher's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMIC BOOK HEROES, the WHO'S WHO collections, the various gaming sourcebooks -- no details. Steel yourselves, Bat-fans, for the startling saga of ... "Batman, Baby-Sitter!"

For Bruce Wayne, the crisis had begun late Saturday night with the unannounced appearance of his cousin Jane and her infant son, Junior, at Wayne Manor. Jane made her apologies for the late hour and told Bruce that she was taking a midnight flight to the tropics in response to the news that her engineer husband was gravely ill. With no one else available on such short notice, Bruce was the only person that Jane could trust to care for her son while she was gone.

Before Bruce could stammer out an excuse, his cousin was gone and he was holding a baby clad in nothing but a diaper. "I don't know how to care for a baby! Here, Alfred -- you take care of him."

"But, Master Bruce," the horrified butler exclaimed, "I'm not a baby expert either!"

Junior's high-pitched wailing made the verdict unanimous: NOBODY was happy! Displaying his trademark deductive abilities, Bruce concluded that his second-cousin was hungry. "Get him some milk, Alfred. We have to go out in the Batmobile on our regular patrol."

"We just ran out, sir -- and it's Sunday morning ... the stores are closed."

In the pre-dawn hours, Batman and Robin's patrol was transformed into a milk run. They convinced a driver for Gotham Dairy Farm to pull over but he'd already completed his route and the truck was empty. With no other options, the Dynamic Duo took the milkman's advice and went directly to the source. The sight of Batman seated on a stool and milking a cow is not for the faint of heart. Particularly since the "cow" in question had the horns of a bull.

With the details of their experience best left to the imagination, the milk-splattered Batman and Robin returned to the Batcave, where a relieved Alfred reported that "The brat ... er ... I mean -- the baby hasn't stopped bawling yet!" Bruce helpfully advised his butler that "I believe we're supposed to burp him when he's finished."

With his belly full, Junior cheerfully cooed "Bat -- Man! Bat -- Man!" when he was in his cousin's arms. Bruce was aghast, sputtering "I don't like it ... he could innocently expose me!"

Meanwhile, Dick caught their faithful butler trying to sneak off the premises ("But I -- uh -- just thought you'd like to be alone with the little ... er ... darling."). Bruce and Dick were no better, of course, leaping at the opportunity to escape when the Bat-Signal lit up the sky. As the Dynamic Duo made their exit, Alfred shrieked behind them, "No -- wait! You can't do this to me! What if Junior wakes up ?"

Suffice it to say, Alfred made an emergency brodcast to that effect as Batman was rounding up the jewel thieves and the Dynamic Duo returned to Wayne Manor bearing a spinning top to entertain the screaming Junior. Before the heroes could leave again, Alfred gave them an ultimatum. "I won't be left alone with this young howling banshee. I'll RESIGN first!" The Caped Crusader agreed to a compromise. He'd continue his search for the mastermind behind the diamond theft "and Robin will stay here to help you watch Junior."

"NO!" screamed the Boy Wonder. "You can't do this to me, Batman!"

Left alone for a moment, Junior spotted the passageway to the Batcave and traversed the steep staircase without incident. Seeking his missing top, the infant instead found an Artificial Lightning Generator in the trophy room and primed it for action. Only Robin's swift intervention kept them both from being electrocuted. "Baby was bad!" Dick scolded. "BAD!"

"Bad baby ?"

By the time Batman had returned, Robin was performing an impromptu series of acrobatic feats to keep his young charge entertained. Batman joined his partner in the exercises, culminating with a juggling act in which the Dynamic Duo tossed Alfred back and forth. Without question, the butler would remember this day as the most undignified of his career.

Jane returned shortly thereafter ("My husband's feeling much better.") but raised her eyebrows when her son looked at Bruce and called him Batman. "Why would he do that ?" she asked.

Moving past a speechless Bruce and Alfred, Dick pointed his finger at Junior and said one word: "Bad!"

"Bad -- baby!"

"See ?" Bruce adding, picking up on his partner's cue. "He was calling me ... er ... BAD MAN. Because Dick called him BAD BABY!"

As Jane and Junior left the Manor, Bruce's shoulders sagged and he put his hand on his forehead. "Thank goodness we can go back now to fighting crime. It's so much easier than baby-sitting" (BATMAN # 93, by Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris).

posted December 17, 2000 07:05 PM

In addition to Jane, Bruce Wayne also had a younger cousin Vanderveer, who was approximately the same age and build as Dick Grayson. That was where the similarity ended. Van was a child of privilege ("the scion of a super-fashionable family") and when "family obligations" necessitated his spending a week at Wayne Manor, Dick quickly learned just how insufferable that made him.

Walking in the door, Van sniffed that Dick's jacket was "very nice but leaves a lot to be desired. I'll give you the name of MY tailor ... absolutely the best in Gotham City." In the gymnasium, the former Flying Grayson had to swallow his pride as the houseguest boasted of his fencing capabilities and his superior gymnastic skills. Concluding that "a week of this will be too much," Dick launched a procession of stunts that left Van biting his leap to hold back tears.

Already feeling guilty over his behavior, Dick felt worse after Bruce scolded him. While his youthful acrobatic past covered his tracks, "if you show off like that a few more times, you'll certainly give our identities away!"

Dick's gaffe was nothing compared to Alfred, who was caught red-handed with Batman and Robin's freshly laundered costumes when Dick and Van returned unexpectedly from horseback riding. Bruce quickly asked his butler to hang the outfits in the bedroom "and make sure to return them to the Acme Costume Rental Company, after Dick and I wear them to that masquerade ball next Friday night." The explanation had averted Van's suspicions ... but it had also planted a seed.

While attending a literacy fundraiser, Bruce and Dick were astonished to see Batman and Robin leap into action when light reflected off the sheild of a giant Don Quixote statue caused an adjacent windmill model to burst into flames. Even as he admired "Robin's" agility ("Look at that jump! I don't think I'd dare risk it myself."), Dick observed that his double seemed a bit too well-prepared, with a fire extinguisher and sandpaper (to dull the gleam on the shield) on his person.

Dick was nothing short of astonished when "Robin" discreetly unmasked before him as Vanderveer. "I decided to let you in on a little secret, Dick, Now you know why I let you appear to outclass me in gymnastics. I was protecting my secret identity."

Investigating the exhibit later, Dick confirmed that "they must have come earlier and set this scene up. There's a thin, almost invisible wire leading to the mill ... that's how Van 'leaped.' They set the fire themselves with a powerful lens." Alfred provided more details at home. "I felt so bad about that little indiscretion of mine that I ... er -- kind of eavesdropped on him ... and heard him call a theatrical agency and ask for a well-muscled acrobat. They referred him to a Mr. Jumpy Regan."

"WHAT ?" exclaimed Bruce. "Good work, Alfred ... you've made up for your slip. Regan has a criminal record ... Van could be in real danger. It's time for the REAL Batman and Robin to get into action. We'll start by checking every place we're scheduled to appear today."

Elsewhere, Regan was telling Van that they'd rob the Stuart Ice Cream Plant during Batman's good will visit. When the young man objected ("I was willing to play a hoax -- but that's where I draw the line!"), Regan punched him, noting that "I draw the line HERE, at the point of your chin. I'll lock you in, and go myself, as Batman!" Though he was no Boy Wonder, Van was still a skilled acrobat. "With rope from the window blinds, Vanderveer ties a noose, lassoes the projecting cornice of the neighboring roof"and escaped the apartment.

The battle between Regan and the real Batman culminated as the thief was carrying money from a safe atop a giant working ice cream dispenser. Regan doused Batman in syrup from one of the nozzles but the unexpected arrival of Van (still dressed as Robin) delayed his escape. Rather than have Bruce's cousin risk death with the gun-wielding imposter, Robin insisted that he leap from the ice cream display into the gargantuan spoon below. When Van hit the spoon, Robin was catapulted up to Regan by the handle and sent the crook into a giant dish of ice cream. The imposter was still a threat so Robin pulled the appropriate lever and sent down a rain of whipped cream, enough to "knock that gun out of his hand ... and give him a good WHIPPING besides."

Back at Wayne Manor, Dick complimented Van, noting that, "according to what Batman old me, you may one day be good enough to take Robin's place for real."

Any desire that Van might have had to be a costumed crimefighter had been extinguished, though. "If anyone takes Robin's place," he responded. "It'll be YOU, Dick" (BATMAN # 148, by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff).

Gotham Resident
posted December 22, 2000 09:30 AM

Are we sure that Mikishawm isn't Oracle?

posted December 23, 2000 06:29 AM

It's true! I'm the Oracle of Earth-Prime!


A tense Bruce wayne arrived at GCPD headquarters late in the summer of 1957, gravely concerned over a summons he'd just received from Commissioner Gordon. The Gotham millionaire imagined the worst, observing that "he'd never call ME, an idler he knows only socially, on any detective matter -- unless he was suspicious."

In fact, the Commissioner merely wanted to introduce him to a fifty-something brown-haired man with a flattened nose and a West Coast address -- Bruce N. Wayne. "Why -- you must be my father's cousin!" Bruce exclaimed. "I was named after you, but we've never met before." Gordon touted his visitor as "one of the greatest detectives in the country," a reputation that Bruce N. had always downplayed. "I don't publicize my profession. A detective is most effective when he gets the least publicity."

Bruce N. had trailed a techno thief named Varrel to Gotham, where the crook was expected to target "a new super jet-motor" at the Gotham Aeronautical Company. While he was in town, Bruce also wanted to meet his namesake and the younger Bruce insisted that he stay at the Manor. Privately, though, he regarded the visit as "real trouble -- a detective living in our own home."

Appalled that young Bruce was "just a social butterfly," the great detective vowed to rehabiltate his second-cousin. "Bruce, you're named after me, and I'm going to make a man out of you. And what better way to do it than by teaching you to be a detective, instead of a useless playboy ? ... I'll start by taking you with me on my case here in Gotham City. You'll soon find detective work a bigger thrill than polo."

Assigning his cousin to a rigorous training regimen, Bruce N. remarked that "you've got a fine private gym here ... you should USE it, instead of going to teas." Time and again, Bruce was thrown to the mat by his exasperated cousin. While Dick Grayson struggled to keep a straight face, his guardian wheezed, "This is worse (puff-puff) than playing polo."

Bruce N. dragged young Bruce along to Gotham Aeronautical only to discover that the anticipated break-in was already in progress. Instructing his cousin to wait in the car ("He's too dangerous a foe for a beginner."), the detective raced into action. Young Bruce used the separation to his advantage and had changed to Batman just as Robin drove up in the Batmobile. Though they were forced to let the thieves escape when the super-jets threatened to engulf the factory in fire, the Dynamic Duo prevented the theft from being completed.

The elder Bruce was delighted to meet the legendary Dark Knight but Batman brushed off his suggestion of an introduction to his cousin outside. "Yes," added Robin. "We'd better hurry. Maybe we can still catch Varrel."

While discussing the case with Commissioner Gordon, Bruce N. realized that no one outside of himself, Gordon, Bruce and Dick was aware of Varrel's presence in Gotham. How, then, did Robin know his name ? Thunderstruck, the detective reached the very conclusion his cousin had feared. "My idle playboy cousin ... how could HE be Batman ? And yet -- I couldn't think of a better disguise myself." When young Bruce declined to attend a conference between Bruce N., the Commissioner and Batman, the detective muttered, "I'm not surprised."

Hoping to lure Varrel into the open, Batman proposed using a phony discovery at the Gotham Scientific Foundation as bait. "I'm going to the Foundation now to meet Batman," Bruce N. told young Bruce. "I don't suppose YOU want to come, too ?"

The detective's jaw dropped when Bruce responded, "Why, of course I want to go with you cousin. I'm getting eager about detective work."

As Bruce N. expected, his cousin took the first opportunity to split up. Smirking, the detective said, "I'm sure Batman will arrive soon after YOU leave." Batman, however, had deduced that Varrel would enter an air-conditioning duct and arranged to capture him privately.

The Dark Knight swiftly applied make- up to the unconscious rogue and dressed him in Bruce's clothing. Arriving on the scene, Bruce N. assumed that Varrel had gotten the jump on his cousin. "I'll take him out to the Batmobile," Batman assured him, "And Robin can get him home ... then we'll search for Varrel together. I know all his tricks from our crime-file."

"Bruce can't be Batman, that's for sure," his cousin concluded. "And now I see how Robin knew Varrel's name ... he recognized him from their crime-file photo."

After another lightning-fast change of clothes and make-up, the third Bruce Wayne disappeared and a groggy Varrel was presented to an astonished Bruce N.

At the Gotham Airport, Bruce N. admitted to his cousin that "I'm afraid you're not cut out to be a detective. And to think I suspected ... oh, that's too silly to even mention!"

"Guess I'll ALWAYS be just a playboy, cousin Bruce -- though I'll admit I WAS getting interested in detection" (BATMAN # 111, by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris).


Unfortunately, this will be my only major post here this weekend. Hopefully, though, the story of Thomas and Martha Wayne next week will be worth the wait.

And thank you ALL for the welcome that you've given me on the DC boards this year ... ESPECIALLY here. Your comments and feedback always mean a lot and I can't begin to express my gratitude for your concern when my Grandma was injured this Fall. (She's still on the mend, by the way. Her attitude tends to sink quite often but we're still hoping for the best.)

Here's hoping that ALL of you have a truly wonderful holiday season. You deserve it! In the absence of a genuine snail mail delivery, you can click on this link for the closest approximation I could come up with for a Christmas Card!

Happy Holidays!

posted December 24, 2000 02:22 AM

Just got done reading BATMAN IN THE SEVENTIES--it mentions a trio of Brit adventurers known as the "Bat-Squad." Who were they, and did they ever meet their inspiration?

posted December 30, 2000 07:11 AM

Major Dabney, Margo Cantrell and Mick Murdock helped Batman in THE BRAVE & THE BOLD # 92, becoming a sort of Bat-Squad in the process.


Thomas and Martha Wayne were an afterthought. The Batman had appeared fully-formed along with Commissioner Gordon in 1939's DETECTIVE COMICS # 27 and it took another six months for someone to explain why a jaded millionaire would dress up like a bat and fight weird menaces. Bill Finger and Bob Kane provided the answer in a simple, two-page prologue to "The Batman Wars Against The Dirigible of Doom," an account that nearly every Batman fan knows by heart but which bears repeating here:

"One night some fifteen years ago, Thomas Wayne, his wife and son were walking home from a movie" when a gunman approached them.

"W-what is this ?"

"A stickup, buddy!" Fingering the pearls around the woman's neck, he snarled, "I'll take that necklace you're wearin', lady!"

Commanding the mugger to "leave her alone," Thomas rushed him and was shot at point blank range. "You asked for it!" the killer said.

In hysterics, Mrs. Wayne screamed, "Thomas! You've killed him. Help! Police ... help!" The gunman would have none of that and fired a second bullet. "This'll shut you up!"

"The boy's eyes are wide with terror and shock as the horrible scene is spread before him." Tears streaming down his face, he cried, "Father ... mother! ...Dead! They're d-dead."

Days later, the orphaned boy prayed at his bedside under the illumination of a candle. "...And I swear by the sprits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on criminals."

"As the years pass, Bruce Wayne prepares himself for his career. He becomes a master scientist, trains his body to physical perfection until he is able to perform amazing athletic feats."

Sitting in his study, Bruce observed that "Dad's estate left me wealthy. I am ready... but first I must have a disguise. Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts! I must be a creature of the night, black terrible ... a ... a ..."

"As if in answer, a huge bat flies in the open window." In an instant, everything crystalized. "A bat! That's it! It's an omen ... I shall become a BAT!"

"And thus is born this weird figure of the dark ... this avenger of evil , The Batman."

The story was a veritable archtype of super-hero origins, with its description of an ordinary person driven to extraordinary actions to avenge the death of a loved one. The plot device wasn't unique, with precedents in the comic strips and the pulps (Dick Tracy and the Avenger among them), but, as Bob Kane noted in 1999's BATMAN: THE COMPLETE HISTORY, "Bill and I discussed it and we figured there's nothing more traumatic than having your parents murdered before your eyes." The two-page sequence was reprinted in 1940's BATMAN # 1 with a new splash that read, "The Legend of the Batman -- Who He Is and How He Came To Be." It was in this form that the origin would be reprinted again and again, more than a dozen times, over the next six decades.

It's remarkable, though, to observe how many basic details about Bruce Wayne's parents are NOT revealed in the seminal account . Note, in the sequence above, that one does not learn the name of Thomas Wayne's wife or the identity of his profession (although he was evidently affluent enough to leave his son a hefty inheritance). Thomas' wealth was reaffirmed when Alfred arrived at Wayne Manor, the new butler commenting that "you may remember my father, Jarvis, who was your father's butler for many years" (the Don Cameron-scripted "Here Comes Alfred" in 1943's BATMAN # 16).

1948's landmark "Origin of The Batman" (BATMAN # 47, by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Lew Sayre Schwartz) added the detail of Martha Wayne's first name along with a small twist on the original description of the Wayne murders. By now, DC had its own set of internal standards and the decision was made to soften the circumstances of Martha's death. This time, Thomas was gunned down but, as the caption explained, "that single bullet really killed two people, for Martha Wayne's weak heart stopped from the sudden shock."

Although the original account of the Wayne murders was reprinted more than once in book collections during the mid-1960s and even used in a 1967 imaginary tale (WORLD'S FINEST # 172), "Martha Wayne's weak heart" remained a part of the official Batman continuity for more than two decades, with further references coming in 1952's DETECTIVE # 190 and 1968's BATMAN # 200 and 208. It would take the team of Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams' to restore the shooting death of Martha to the canon (as part of 1971's landmark "Daughter of the Demon" in BATMAN # 232). The weak heart element made its way into one last story, Roy Thomas' account of the Golden Age Batman's birth in 1986's SECRET ORIGINS # 6.

BATMAN # 47 also expanded on why the gunman had failed to kill Bruce Wayne as well. Cursing the killer, the young boy refused to take his eyes off the man's face and completely unnerved him. "Something about young Bruce's eyes made the killer retreat ... they were the accusing eyes that memorized his every feature ... eyes that would not forget ..." This aspect, too, would be retained in subsequent retellings right through to Mike W. Barr's 1987 flashback in DETECTIVE COMICS # 574.

The central story in BATMAN # 47 involved Batman's chance encounter with a shady trucking executive named Joe Chill. The Dark Knight instantly recognized Chill's face as the one he'd burned into his memory years ago and embarked on a campaign to bring his parents' killer to justice. Confronting Chill in his office, Batman related the story of the Wayne murders and emphasized that "Bruce Wayne can still identify you. YOU were the killer! Admit it!"

"Ha! No jury would believe Wayne's identification accurate after all these years! You're bluffing. Besides ... how do YOU know what really happened ?"

Chill lurched backwards in horror as The Batman tore off his cowl. "I know because I am the son of the man you murdered! I AM BRUCE WAYNE!"

"I became Batman because of what you did and I swore I'd arrest you for it some day. I can't prove your guilt, but I'll never stop hounding you until I do. Whatever you do, I'll be watching ... Wherever you go, I'll be watching ... I'll ALWAYS be watching and ... and someday you'll make a mistake ... and I'll be there ... waiting. Remember that," he said as he knocked Chill across the room. "And THIS!"

Terrified, Chill ran to the first of his confederates that he could find, gasping that he'd unwittingly inspired The Batman's war on crime. The crooks, who each had ample reason to hate the Dark Knight, snapped for a moment and began firing their guns. "Almost as one, the hate-crazed thugs mete vengeance to the criminal responsible for their dreaded nemesis." As quickly as they'd gone berserk, the three gunmen regained their composure and realized that the mortally-wounded Chill could tell them Batman's real name.

Batman rushed in to mop up the operation before his nemesis could speak and Joe Chill died in the Dark Knight's arms. "Funny ... because I started you off as Batman, the boys ... plugged me. Yeah ... I guess you got me ... after all. Ahhhh ..."

On a file marked "Murder of Thomas Wayne," a blue gloved hand wrote the word "Closed."

Bill Finger added a major twist to the case in 1956's "The First Batman" (DETECTIVE # 235, art by Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye). While working in the Wayne Manor's attic, Dick Grayson accidentally triggered a hidden compartment on Thomas Wayne's old desk and discovered a bat-scalloped costume along with "a can of movie film and a diary."

The film was from a masquerade ball where the "first prize for the best 'flying creature' costume goes to Dr. Thomas Wayne for his bat-man costume." With a domino mask whose corners rose to suggest bat-ears and rigid wings on his back, Doctor Wayne's costume appeared (in some respects) to be Bob Kane's original design for the Batman costume before Bill Finger suggestions the revisions that made their way into the official version. Prior to going to the party, Tom's son had been fascinated by the outfit. Thomas assured the boy that "I'll save it for you, Bruce -- to wear when you grow up."

At the end of the footage, gunmen raided the ball in search of a doctor and a defiant Wayne agreed to go with them rather than risk the lives of the partygoers. Wayne's diary continued with the explanation that the thugs had wanted a doctor to remove a bullet from bank robber Lew Moxon. Creating a distraction, Tom managed to single-handedly overpower the crooks.

"Ten years rolled by," Tom's diary read. "I'd invested my savings wisely and become wealthy. I'd almost forgotten Moxon until today." The account went on to reveal that the ex-con had vowed to avenge himself. "But I'm too smart to do it myself. The police would arrest me on suspicion fast. I'll get someone else to do it for me!"

Bruce was stunned. "This means Joey Chill only PRETENDED to be a holdup man -- actually he was Moxon's HIRED KILLER! Moxon must have ordered Chill NOT to kill me, too -- so I'd be alive to testify that my parents were killed by a robber! ... He used me as a coverup for his deliberate murder of my parents. Put on your costume, Dick --WE'VE JUST REOPENED THE WAYNE MURDER CASE!"

Incredibly, Moxon agreed to take a lie-detector test regarding the murders -- and passed with flying colors! Further investigation revealed that the hoodlum had suffered head trauma in an auto accident not long after the Wayne murders and could genuinely have forgotten his role in the crime. With Batman's costume in tatters from the battle with Moxon's men, Robin suggested he wear his father's costume. "Yes," agreed the Dark Knight. "It'd be almost as if Dad were arresting Moxon."

The costume had more of an effect than Batman had anticipated, rekindling Lew Moxon's lost memories ("You're dead! I had Joey Chill kill you! Leave me alone!") and sending him fleeing into the street. "A screech of brakes -- a cry -- and Moxon's career of violence ends in violence ..."

"I wanted to take him alive," The Batman thought. "To stand trial for his crimes ... but his own guilt convicted him."

It was a remarkable story, all the more so when one considers that it was produced at the oppressive height of the recently-instituted Comics Code Authority. The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne wasn't depicted in this account and even the death of Lew Moxon was merely suggested. Only the shooting death of Joe Chill took place on-panel.

"The First Batman" had introduced another fact about Thomas Wayne, specifically his medical profession and the fact that the family fortune had originated with him. A 1968 framing sequence by E. Nelson Bridwell, Gil Kane and Jack Abel in BATMAN # 208's reprint giant answered the question of Bruce's whereabouts in the wake of his parents' death. Tom's older brother Philip became the boy's guardian but, because of the extensive travelling his work entailed, Bruce was virtually raised by his housekeeper, Mrs. Chilton. Mrs. Chilton, we learned here, had recognized her adoptive son as The Batman from the moment she first saw the Dark Knight -- but never told him that she knew. Nor was Bruce aware that she saw him as a chance to redeem herself after the dark path her sons had taken. "Bruce must never find out ... that it was MY SON who killed his parents!"

Philip was far from the only Wayne family relative introduced during the Silver Age. Thomas Wayne's father seemed to have had at least three siblings -- Silas (BATMAN # 120), Elwood (DETECTIVE # 412) and the unnamed father of Bruce N. (BATMAN # 111). There were also cousins, among them Emelyn and Jeremy (DETECTIVE # 412). Tom himself had a minimum of two brothers, including Philip (BATMAN # 208) and the father of Vanderveer (BATMAN # 148). With no specifically cited ties to the Wayne clan, Bruce's Aunt Agatha (BATMAN # 89) and cousin Jane (BATMAN # 93) may spring from Martha's side of the family.

Continuing the tradition of adding small wrinkles to the tapestry of The Batman's origin, Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano produced another genuine classic in 1976's "There Is No Hope In Crime Alley"(DETECTIVE # 457). The story told of Park Row, an area of Gotham that had been altered forever exactly twenty-one years earlier. "For one night, two brutal slayings occurred signalling the beginning on the end ... the area known as Park Row acquired a NEW name -- Crime Alley."

A brief reprise of the Wayne murders was followed with this passage: "Later, there were policemen and reporters ... but nobody noticed the boy wracked with endless sobs ... nobody except a woman, who knelt by him and said ...

"I'm Leslie Thompkins. Come with me. I'll ... I'll do what I can."

"And in all the world, there was nothing ... nothing except the warmth of her arms and the comfort of her soothing words ..."

In the present, The Batman and Leslie Thompkins met at Park Row on the anniversary of the slayings. "Call it a memorial," he told her. "A reminder of who I am. ... Of my beginning ... and my probable end. And YOU, Miss Thompkins. What is YOUR reason for continuing to live in Crime Alley ?"

"Oh ... I once saw a HIDEOUS thing -- a child whose parents were MURDERED in front of his eyes. I've never FORGOTTEN the lad. I've devoted my life to doing what I can to PREVENT such tragedy. Forgive me ... but I live for the time when you and your kind will be UNNECESSARY."

"I've heard there's no hope in Crime Alley, Miss Thompkins -- that's WRONG! YOU ... and those like you ... YOU'RE the hope of Crime Alley -- maybe the ONLY hope our tormented civilization has LEFT."

Other flashbacks of the Silver Age offered brief looks back at family friends of Thomas and Martha, including astronomer Thomas Ellison (1964's WORLD'S FINEST # 146) the family of Romas Sionis, the future Black Mask (1985's BATMAN # 386) and Professor Bruner, Thomas' closest friend (1969's BRAVE & BOLD # 83). 1974's BATMAN # 259 (by O'Neil, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano) opened with an extended sequence in which Thomas Wayne and young Bruce witnessed a 1950 gunfight between the Shadow and jewel thieves.

The spirits of Thomas and Martha Wayne were central to a story in 1980's DETECTIVE COMICS # 500 (by Cary Bates, Carmine Infantino and Bob Smith). With his body injected with poison, Batman died on the operating table and his spirit was greeted by his parents. "We've been watching you through the years, Bruce. No two parents in ANY realm could be as proud as WE are of YOU," Martha told him.

" ... And the way you've unselfishly devoted your mortal existence to fighting a one-man war against evil of all forms," Tom concluded. "As MUCH as Martha and I would CHERISH having you HERE ... with us ... we feel it just isn't meant to BE -- not NOW! Not when there is still so MUCH you must accomplish on the Earthly plane."

In order to convince their son that he must fight for life, the Waynes presented him with dozens of spirits ("the best we could do on such short notice") who had benefited from an encounter with The Batman. With great reluctance, Bruce agreed that his parents were correct and he reentered his body. The sequence was echoed in Bob Hall's 1999 BATMAN: DOA, though, in that instance, Bruce had to pull away from his parents inviting arms. "It's all right, son," Martha assured him as they faded from sight. "We'll wait."

1958's BATMAN # 120 had established Tom Wayne (complete with mustache) as having been a Colonel in the Army, where he served as a medic. Twenty years later, Jim Starlin followed up on that in DETECTIVE # 481, where World War One veteran Thomas related a dark story to Bruce of a comrade named Xavier Simon. Simon had been "drummed out of the service and sent to prison for five years" after Tom and three other men testified that he'd raped a woman. In the present, Xavier Simon (his mind now in the body of a white ape) attempted to kill Tom Wayne's son over the course of issues # 481 and 482. Tom Wayne's involvement in World War One, which -- in 1978 -- would have placed him in his fifties before he fathered Bruce, was never touched on again.

And then there were the origin retellings. 1980's UNTOLD LEGEND OF THE BATMAN # 1 (by Len Wein, John Byrne and Jim Aparo) wove Joe Chill, Lew Moxon, Leslie Thompkins, Mrs. Chilton, et al. into a seamless whole while Mike W. Barr, Michael Golden and Mike DeCarlo's 1984 BATMAN SPECIAL # 1 offered several important new details on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Thomas and Martha's murder, among them the fact that the killings took place on June 26 and that the couple was buried at Crown Hill Cemetary. (In 1976's DC CALENDAR, E. Nelson Bridwell had set the date of the Wayne's deaths on June 8.)

Barr had first dealt with the Waynes in 1981's BRAVE & BOLD # 184, in which Bruce suffered a crisis of faith when evidence suggested that his father had been affiliated with a gangster. In fact, Tom's accountant, Amos Randolph, had been embezzling funds in Thomas' name.

In BATMAN SPECIAL ("The Player On The Other Side"), Barr revealed that, simultaneously with the murders, two fugitives had been killed across town by a young cop named Jim Gordon. Like the Waynes, the criminal couple had left a son behind. Their boy, however, grew up to become a criminal and, as the Wrath, his path converged with his opposite number and the man who killed his parents. A final, fiery encounter between the masked men ended with the Wrath's death and, once more, Leslie Thompkins found herself consoling a victim of violence, in this case, the Wrath's lover.

As part of 1985's BATMAN ANNUAL # 9 (in a Jerry Ordway-illustrated sequence), Barr provided his version of what has become a staple of post-Crisis flashbacks -- "The Last Day," a recap of Tom and Martha's final hours. In this case, we learned that Bruce had been an aspiring sculptor and had, in fact, been working on a piece when his parents told him to hurry up. "We don't want to be late for the show." In the aftermath of the killings, Bruce abandoned his artistic side to devote his every waking hour to vengeance. In a parallel story in the present, The Batman hoped to prevent a musical prodigy from making the same decision in the wake of his parents' murders.

A pair of Bob Haney-scripted episodes veered into the outer fringes of Batman continuity. 1971's BRAVE & BOLD # 99 revealed that the Waynes had been cremated and that the ashes were kept in their musty old summer home. In the course of the story, Bruce discovered that "Dad experimented in returning to life after death" and that his parents were trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave! In fact, Tom and Martha's spirits were trapped in a ghastly "valley of limbo where there is no peace." Batman's attempt to restore his parents to life nearly unleashed an army of the undead on Earth before the Flash helped him to break the link and send the Waynes to "the land of eternal peace ... at last!"

1974's WORLD'S FINEST # 223 unmasked the demented Boomerang Killer as an inmate of Willowood Asylum -- Thomas Wayne, Jr. As an infant, Bruce's previously unknown older brother had suffered profound head injuries when he was struck by a car and he'd been confined to the sanitarium for life. Upon his escape, the demented Wayne brother was manipulated into becoming an assassin until Batman learned of his existence and exposed the mastermind behind the killings. The conclusion set up a sequel in issue # 227, wherein Deadman took possession of Tom's body to resume his career as an acrobat. Determined to give his brother back some degree of dignity, Batman tracked down the ghost and demanded that he relinquish his hold on the body. The subject became moot when Deadman temporarily vacated the body and Tom, Jr. dived in front of gunmen to save his sibling's life. He died a hero.

Thomas and Martha Wayne were surfacing in imaginary tales long before the "Elseworlds" phrase had been conceived. Readers saw Thomas Wayne as a cat-burglar (WORLD'S FINEST # 148) and the inventor of an Anti-Kryptonite serum (WORLD'S FINEST # 153) in 1965 while 1980's SUPERMAN # 353 and DETECTIVE # 500 and 1985's SUPERMAN ANNUAL # 11 played out different scenarios in which the Waynes escaped death. (The scenario had also been dealt with in 1959's BATMAN # 127. The Waynes still died in this alternate reality but in an auto accident when Bruce was an adult rather than in a shooting when he was a boy.)

Outside explicitly-identified "Elseworlds," the Waynes have also appeared in more nebulous episodes that don't appear to be part of the mainstream continuity. Andrew Vachss' powerful 1995 BATMAN: THE ULTIMATE EVIL (illustrated by Denys Cowan and Prentis Rollins in its comics adaptation) revealed that Martha had been, in Alfred's words, "a crime-fighter with a secret identity. Specifically, she was "an investigative sociologist ... uncovering an international ring of pedophiles." When Martha got too close to the central players in the enterprise, she and Tom were killed in what appeared to be a random mugging. Joe Chill, in turn, was killed to ensure that he not reveal the truth.

2000's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 133-136 (by Archie Goodwin, James Robinson, Marshall Rogers and Bob Wiacek) offered an illuminating look into the youth of Thomas Wayne, albeit one that conflicted entirely with the mainstream continuity's account of the origin of Wayne Manor and even the name of Tom's father.

In this serial, Thomas was the quiet, scholarly son of tough-as-nails 1920s businessman Jack Wayne. Jack admired the spirit of a roughhousing street kid named Brass and gave the young man a place in his organization even as he looked down on his own son (# 133). Jack's opinion of Tom changed when the boy saved his life after an auto accident. Brass' standing in his eyes took an equivalent nosedive when the young man's ties to the mob became transparent. Jack refused to take the gold that Brass offered him (his "share" of the money from Wayne-related dealings) and the thug dumped the treasure into the fireplace of the Wayne Manor framework.

"How far DOWN does this go ?" Down to the very FOUNDATIONS of this place, I bet. Then here it'll stay. 'Dirty' money at the foundation of Wayne Manor ... just like MY 'dirty dealings' have been at the foundation of ALL you've accomplished since our paths first crossed ... EVEN as those paths VEER from each other" (# 134).

Jack and Tom met on one last occasion, at some point after World War Two. Among those in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kane and their daughter Martha. Here, we learned that "the kids have decided NOT to do anything until Thomas graduates from medical school."

In a hostile confrontation with Jack and Tom, Brass demanded the return of his gold even as Jack insisted that "I've NEVER touched it. It's still THERE where you threw it, under the fireplace. I've never touched it and I NEVER will. And NEITHER will you. It's dirty gold and it'll stay --" Clutching his chest, Jack Wayne collapsed to the floor. With his last words, he whispered something to "Tommy."Demanding to know what he said, Tom roared, "He told me to drive you OUT of Gotham. You HEAR that, Brass ? Get OUT of town! GO!!!" (# 135)

Several years later, Jack's true dying wish was realized as Tom and Martha Wayne hosted a gala masquerade ball to publicize the creation of the Wayne Foundation. Tom, dressed as a bat-man (by way of DETECTIVE # 235), recalled his father's last words. "'Wash the blood clean' he said. 'Take Brass' gold and use it for good. Make GOOD from BAD. I HOPE he'd approve of my choice."

"Approve ?" asked Martha. "I'm CERTAIN your father would consider the Wayne Foundation your family's most GLORIOUS achievement. MORE than ANY building or business achievement."

"I LOVE you, Martha. With Dad gone, you're ALL I have."

"I'm ALL you NEED."

Moments after their embrace, the party was raided by Brass' men. On the surface, it was a robbery but, in truth, Brass wanted to avenge his humilation at the hands of the Wayne family by killing Jack's son. The throngs of panicked revelers threw his plan into disarray and Tom saw red when one of the men pointed a gun at Martha. Like a man possesed, the young doctor knocked the gun from the man's hand and landed a punch on his jaw. A grateful Martha said, "Thomas, that man might have SHOT you."

"I'd take a bullet for you ANY day, darling. ANY day."

Elsewhere, Brass made "a tactical retreat. Swearing under my breath at THAT time, I'd RETURN to murder Thomas Wayne. Never DREAMING a different thug would DISRUPT that plan, TOO, by getting to Wayne ahead of me ..." (# 136)

Brass returned decades later for a final assault on Wayne Manor and killed himself in an explosion after Tom's son had bested him as The Batman. Bruce, who'd been living in a penthouse in mid-Gotham at the time, was affected by the battle in his family home.

"This manor is HISTORY. It's the representation of WHERE I've come from ...the HOME of the two men who made the Wayne name what it IS. And the memory of my father and grandfather gave me STRENGTH that night. It's IMPORTANT that I stay close to that inspiration. PERHAPS the Wayne home should REMAIN Batman's lair after all" (# 136).

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's THE LONG HALLOWEEN # 9 (1997) offered a flashback in which Tom performed an emergency operation on the wounded Carmine "The Roman" Falcone. Martha played a role in Loeb and Sale's 1994 BATMAN: MADNESS and 1995's BATMAN: GHOSTS, consoling a young Bruce (dressed as Zorro) in the latter when his father was called to the hospital on an emergency and couldn't take his son out on Halloween.

In MADNESS, the Wayne family's fateful trip to the theater had been preceded by Martha's reading of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" to Bruce. Thomas was disdainful of the book ("I just don't want you filling his head with fancy tales") and their intended destination. "And this MOVIE tonight ... Couldn't we find something more ... INSPIRATIONAL ?"

"Like one of those dreadful MEDICAL biographies ? Personally, I'm looking forward to "The Mark of Zorro."

Bruce had asked his mother to wear her pearls that night despite her observation that "pearls are for a SPECIAL night."

"Couldn't we MAKE it special." While his mother silently looking into his eyes, he added, "I REALLY liked the book."

Observing that "I never could say 'no' to you," Martha picked up the pearls, a string that would spill to the ground one at a time later that evening.

Grant Morrison and Klaus Janson provided their own prologue to that fateful night in 1990's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 7 and 9. Bruce had begun attending classes at an upstate boy's school ("I can't imagine WHAT possessed my parents to send me there."), where he received a savage beating from the sadistic headmaster, a man named Winchester (# 7). In response, Tom Wayne stormed into Winchester's office. "I don't know what was said," Bruce recalled, "but my father's face was pale when he came out of that office. I didn't care. All I cared about was that I was finally leaving that terrible school. I was finally going home to stay." Upon their return to Wayne Manor, Tom suggested to Martha that "we really ought to celebrate now that Bruce is home again. Let's all go see a movie tonight ..." (# 9).


TOMORROW: Imaginary tales cast a shadow on the official Bat-canon as we look at Thomas and Martha's role in the current DC Universe.

posted December 30, 2000 09:14 AM

A quick correction: The June 26 date of the Wayne murders originated with Alan Brennert in 1980's "To Kill A Legend" (DETECTIVE # 500). Brennert also established a Marlon Brando movie as the film that they'd just exited.

posted December 31, 2000 07:21 AM

And for the 300th post on this thread ... the conclusion of the Biography of Thomas and Martha Wayne:


A 1994 "Zero Hour" tie-in (DETECTIVE COMICS # 678, by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Bob McLeod) found Batman in an alternate reality where Bruce Wayne had been killed on that grim June night rather than his parents. While trying to locate Joe Chill, Batman discovered that he'd been high on drugs and semi-conscious in an apartment when the killings had been committed.

"It wasn't him. All these years .... This is the night. The SAME night. This is some alternate version. Is it a COULD-BE or a MAY-BE reality ? It doesn't matter. The seeds of doubt are sown. Perhaps I never avenged my parents." Back in the mainstream DC Universe, Batman questioned whether the death of Joe Chill (recounted in DETECTIVE # 578) had truly brought his parents' killer to justice. One month later, BATMAN # 0 reemphasized the new status quo, stating that "the crime would go unsolved, the killer's identity never known."

Imaginary tales have a way of making their presence felt on the mainstream continuity, from the Joe Chill development to as disparate an element as Thomas Wayne, Jr. (who surfaced on an alternate Earth in 2000's JLA: EARTH 2). Nowhere was this better exemplified than in a 1986 alternate future. In a dream of his youth, Bruce Wayne recalled chasing a rabbit on the manor grounds as his mustachioed father and bespectacled mother watched. The youngster was stunned when he fell through a hole and into an underground cave. Terrified and hurting, Bruce covered his head to avoid the shrieking bats in the darkness and was confronted by one in particularly, "glaring, hating ... claiming me as his own ... I was only six years old when I first saw the cave ... huge, empty, silent as a church, waiting as the bat was waiting."

Several pages later, Bruce chanced upon a TV rebroadcast of Tyrone Power's "Zorro." Flashing back, he remembered that "you loved it so MUCH ... you jumped and danced like a FOOL ... you remember ..." In slow motion, over the course of four pages, the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne was replayed in a silent, dreamlike fashion. With "Zorro" on the marquee in the background, a bullet again took Tom Wayne's life. And as the gunman struggled to pull Martha's pearl necklace from her throat, a second shot was fired ... and the pearls dropped to the sidewalk, one at a time.

This was Frank Miller's DARK KNIGHT # 1 and his take on the murder of the Waynes would become the defining one for the Batman myth of the modern DC universe. Miller's official DCU retelling of that night was more brief (six panels illustrated by David Mazzucchelli in 1986's BATMAN # 404) but no less powerful and dreamlike.

The identification of the movie that the Waynes had just seen was yet another nod to the sources that Batman's creators had drawn upon. In his 1989 autobiograpy, Bob Kane had noted that Douglas Fairbanks' 1920 silent film "The Mark of Zorro" had a profound influence on the Dark Knight, inspiring both Batman's wealthy, jaded alter-ego and the Batcave itself. (In SECRET ORIGINS # 6, Roy Thomas had offered a Rudolf Valentino picture as the film that the family had viewed in 1924 while Alan Brennert had cited Marlon Brando as the star that the Silver Age version of the Waynes had watched, according to DETECTIVE # 500).

In a Dick Giordano-illustrated piece in 1989's SECRET ORIGINS OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST SUPER-HEROES, Bruce's childhood plunge into the future Batcave was formally added to the canon by Denny O'Neil. This account expanded on the DARK KNIGHT version to depict Bruce's rescue from the cave. "Mommy," he asked. "Was I in Hell ?" Doug Moench's BATMAN # 0 (1994) reprised the sequence and Bruce's question. (1999's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 115 included another earlier glimpse of the caverns beneath the Wayne estate when a flashback depicted Martha's locket falling into a crevice.)

In what may have been a prelude to his subterranean scare, the six-year-old Bruce had also encountered a young Kirk Langstrom during a family outing at the movies. As a five-year-old, Kirk had received a bit of notoriety when he was lost in caves for six weeks. Langstrom's own account of his experience was exaggerated considerably and, even at that age, Bruce knew it. Still, Bruce remembered leaving the theater "with thoughts of secret caves and batmen buzzing in my mind" (1989's SECRET ORIGINS # 39, by Jan Strnad and Kevin Nowlan).

A short story written and illustrated by Klaus Janson in 1996's BATMAN BLACK & WHITE # 3 centered around a letter that Thomas wrote to Bruce on the occasion of his son's third birthday:

"Dear Bruce,

"I have just left you sleeping in your bed ... yet I cling to you still, if but in memory. The snow lies heavy against Wayne Manor. It is so very quiet. I hear you still inside me. Your laugh. From the first moment I saw you, your joy has infected me. It has changed me. For you see, I was also born that day you arrived. I ran through the snow to find you, calm and waiting. Already, you were the teacher. And I was beginning to learn.

"Before you were born, I was a man convinced life was meant to be conquered. And I spent every minute of my life in pursuit of that. I was DETERMINED. I was determined to conquer every disease, vanquish every hatred, put a torch to every darkness. I was OBSESSED. As I hope you will never be. I want better for you.

"Today, we celebrated your third birthday. You have grown so much, my son. I remember you taking your first steps. Courageous. Fearless. Resourceful in the face of great odds. I think of the coming days as I watch you grow to a man. When I can speak to you of such things. The love of children. The need for balance. Disease WILL be conquered. And hate WILL be vanquished. What you have taught me, I will teach to you. There will always be a light to keep us from the dark.

"Your loving father, Thomas."

Bruce's memories of his childhood are filled with joyous outings with his father at amusement parks such as Little Paris (2000's GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 10) and Dinosaur Island (1997's BATMAN CHRONICLES # 8). But there are more serious recollections, too, as on the day when he sought out his father at Gotham General shortly after Tom had delivered a baby. "You shouldn't really be in here, Bruce," he gently told his son, "but since you are, go tell Mister Finch that his wife and new daughter are doing fine" (1994's LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 58, by Andrew Donkin & Graham Brand and John Higgins).

Not all of Tom's experiences as a physician had been so rewarding. With the hospital staff overwhelmed by victims of a train wreck, Tom offered to help Angus MacAbre, a man whose wife was in labor. "I'm not an obstetrician, but I've delivered babies before." Sadly, the infant boy was horribly deformed and Mrs. MacAbre died in childbirth as the result of anesthesia that was improperly administered by an intern and nurse. Angus "filed a complaint, threatening to sue for malpractice but it was dropped before the hearing." On Lachlan MacAbre's thirtieth birthday, his father told Batman that he did not blame Tom for the tragedy. "He only wanted tae help. It wasnae his fault it all went wrang" (1993's SHADOW OF THE BAT # 10, by Alan Grant, Mike Collins and Steve Mitchell).

"As a community service, (Tom) worked three nights a week at a clinic in Burnley." When an emergency required a particular drug to save the life of a gravely ill boy, Tom found himself outside a pharmacy that was closed for the night. With time of the essence, he broke into the drugstore and "found the drug. Unfortunately, the child died anyway. And now he had broken the law. He couldn't just walk away. He decided to pay for the drug and the damages. He would explain what had happened. His intentions were good, despite the outcome. Surely, the proprietor would understand."

Thomas Wayne endured numerous sleepless nights over the coming weeks. Initially, he'd felt guilt when he'd hidden from police investigating the break-in ("He couldn't allow himself to be found in the store, not now.") and his feelings were only magnified when the druggist began, in what seemed innocent at first, to blackmail him. Sensing Tom's distress, Alfred forced the issue ("He was an internal man. Like father, like son.") and his employer revealed the whole story. "You're not the criminal, sir. Mr. Peck is."

"Yes," mused Tom. "And criminals are a cowardly lot ..."

The next day, in full view of customers, Tom informed the pharmacist that he would refuse to pay any further money and demanded the return of the note he'd written weeks earlier, a note that Tom described to a policeman as a forgery. The policeman agreed to let Peck off with only a warning and "Officer" Alfred Pennyworth left the drugstore behind Thomas Wayne.

"In the space of a month," Alfred later told Bruce, "your father committed vandalism, breaking and entering, and theft. Then he took the law into his own hands, lied, made false accusation, and participated in fraud. All to uphold his Hippocratic Oath -- the oath he had sworn to before God, the oath that had been tearing him apart. He slept very well that night"(1999's DETECTIVE COMICS # 733, by Bob Gale, Phil Winslade and Sal Buscema).

Alfred Pennyworth had come to Wayne Manor with high recommendations by his father Jarvis (1994's BATMAN # 0) and quickly won over the lord of Manor when Tom overheard the butler counselling Bruce after a fight with a bully. Alfred soon cemented his relationship with Tom's son, too, when Martha discovered a Zorro magazine in Bruce's room ("You know your father and I FORBADE you to have these ... THINGS! They CORRUPT the growing mind!") The butler insisted that "the offending article is mine" and assured Mrs. Wayne that he would accept appropriate punishment (1996's BATMAN CHRONICLES # 5, by Alan Grant, Scott McDaniel and Ray McCarthy).

Though ambiguous, details in the flashbacks in BATMAN CHRONICLES # 5 and SECRET ORIGINS # 39 were clearly intended to give the reader the impression that they took place on the eve of the Wayne murders, providing an ironic punchline to those events just as the more explicit LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT # 9 and BATMAN: MADNESS had sought to do.

1989's BATMAN # 430 (by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo) offered its own version of the last day, recounting how Tom Wayne, distressed over a reversal in the Stock Market and under the influence of a bottle of Scotch, struck Bruce when his son asked him to play catch. Despite Martha's assurance that "your father loves you," the boy was still furious, shouting, "Well, I DON'T love him no more! I hate him! I WISH HE WAS DEAD!"

"But the end of the day brought a conclusion to the father's financial emergency and a time for reconciliation. It wasn't easy for the man. His son didn't want to forgive him. But somehow the man found the right words and the boy sensed their sincerity. Once again, all was right with the world. To make up for his wretched behavior, Father took the family out to a movie the boy had been dying to see. 'Zorro.' It was probably the best movie the boy ever saw. It was a nice night out, so the family decided to walk home. That was a mistake."

A year later, DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL # 3 (by Archie Goodwin, Dan Jurgens and Dick Giordano) added another wrinkle with the revelation that the Waynes' killer had first attempted to rob a man named Lewis Cord only to learn that he was a runner for the mob. Cursing his "stupid luck," the mugger snarled that "(I) need a quick score ... not something to hound me for life." Chasing Cord away, the gunman turned towards a couple walking his direction from the theater. Wracked with guilt over his unwitting role in the slayings, Lewis Cord demanded that his son Mark help others in penance for his sin. "You must especially be there for that boy, Bruce Wayne."

In the wake of Tom and Martha's deaths, it was up to Leslie Thompkins and Alfred to help Bruce cope and look out for his best interests (assuming the role of the now non-existent Uncle Philip). It was Leslie who told the youngster "that the state intended to assume his custody and care" (BATMAN # 0). Bruce's first encounter with someone from Social Services did not go well and he finally grabbed his files from her and tossed them in the fireplace (1997's BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1). Via his computer, Bruce "quickly prepared and filed various forms and documents -- a blizzard of paperwork. The bureaucracy somehow lost track of him and young Bruce remained in Wayne Manor"(BATMAN # 0). The young man's delaying tactics eventually enabled Leslie to be legally designated Bruce's guardian (DETECTIVE # 574).

Early on in his tenure, Alfred had met Doctor Thompkins, a friend and associate of Tom (2000's GOTHAM KNIGHTS # 7, by Devin Grayson, Paul Ryan and John Floyd). The social worker who'd met Bruce Wayne in the wake of his parents' deaths (1976's DETECTIVE # 457) had evolved into the administrator of the Thomas Wayne Memorial Clinic (1987's DETECTIVE # 574) and a mother figure with a vested interested in the young man's life as of Mike W. Barr's "Batman: Year Two" (DETECTIVE # 575-578). In the 1992 Batman animated series, Leslie was retroactively established as a friend of Thomas Wayne, a detail that Devin Grayson wove into mainstream continuity in 1999's BATMAN # 564.

When Batman asked Leslie why she stayed in the "No Man's Land" of Gotham, she recalled life in the city some three decades earlier. "Back then, your father was my very best friend in the world. One day, when I was assisting him with Gotham's endless parade of gunshot wounds, drug babies and suicide attempts -- I asked him the SAME question you just asked me. Thomas just looked at me with those sad, serious eyes and said, quite matter-of-factly -- 'There's still work to be done.'

"He meant it, of course. Dr. Wayne had no intention of packing his bags until there was simply NO ONE else he could help. I loved your father very much, Bruce. I wish I could say that the only reason I stayed was for all the people who still need me ... but part of me stayed just for HIM. Just for the opportunity to work with a man like Thomas."

The words rang true for Bruce, who recalled a conversation with his parents in regard to the family's extensive holdings(BATMAN # 0). "The Wayne fortune is old money, son," Tom had explained. "Primarily invested in real estate holdings, yes -- and supplemented by the earnings of Waynecorp."

"But what a person OWNS is not really important, Bruce," added Martha. "It's what a person MAKES of himself. Despite our wealth, for example, your father is still a doctor -- helping others, even though he hardly NEEDS to work."

Tom's father had been less than thrilled by his son's medical career, preferring that he involve himself more directly in the family's business empire. Thomas, however, had spent time with "a group of missionaries working to administer humanitarian aid in small island nations, decades behind in inoculation and other medical needs. ... When Cuban forces attempted their aborted 'domino' charge to unite the region in Communism, all but Wayne were killed. ... Perhaps changed by his time as a missionary, Wayne found the time to build a thriving practice in addition to helming the family's economic empire upon his father's death, parlaying a large portion of his inheritance into Wayne Enterprises, a philanthropic think tank that has aided nations and charities both domestic and abroad.

"Wayne even found the time to woo and win the lovely Martha Kane, sole heir to the Kane Chemical fortune and fellow Bristol neighbor. In Gotham's social circle, the marriage was considered a well-made match. However, those closest to the couple, and thankfully removed from such gossip, described the Waynes as 'having distilled the essence of true love and patented the recipe.'" (BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1, text by Scott Beatty; note the references to both Batman co-creator Bob Kane AND the first Batman story, "Case of the Chemical Syndicate.")

"Someday, Bruce, after we're gone," Tom had once said to his son, "all this will be yours" (1993's BATMAN/GRENDEL: DEVIL'S RIDDLE # 1, by Matt Wagner). The heir to the Wayne fortune would give up every ounce of it if he could have his beloved parents back in his arms again. He swore an oath at their grave to avenge them (DETECTIVE # 574) and annually places a pair of red roses on the Park Row sidewalk where they died (BATMAN SECRET FILES # 1, by Devin Grayson, Staz Johnson and James A. Hodgkins, a nod to the identical sequence in 1989's Batman feature film).

There are apparently two monuments to Thomas and Martha Wayne in Gotham. The couple was buried in a grave in Crown Hill Cemetery (1984's BATMAN SPECIAL # 1 and 1987's DETECTIVE # 574, erroneously referred to as St. Michael in DETECTIVE ANNUAL # 3), not far from the final resting place of Dinah and Larry Lance (GREEN LANTERN CORPS QUARTERLY # 3). The repercussions of Ra's al Ghul's recent theft of the couple's remains (2000's JLA # 43) have yet to be detailed. A second private Wayne family crypt resides on the Wayne Manor grounds in recognition of all who have gone before (1994's DETECTIVE # 578 and 1995's SHADOW OF THE BAT # 45). Standing there, as writer Alan Grant so eloquently put it in the latter issue, Bruce Wayne is sometimes overwhelmed.

"He walks amongst the tombs and graves of the Wayne family plot, their names recorded in eternal stone though their bodies are long since gone. Only their deeds live on. And as he reflects on the bones of his ancestors, a sudden thought strikes him with the force of a physical blow -- HE is the LAST of his line.

"It's not something he often thinks about. Master of Wayne Manor -- the LAST of the Waynes. He is the end of a Gotham dynasty, a living breathing family tree toppling in the dust of time. Perhaps he'll get to AMEND that some day -- some NIGHT --when the innocent no longer cry out for justice ... or he is no longer able to hear them."

posted January 03, 2001 04:36 AM

How about the mention of their reappearance in JLA #19-20, the probability of his parents alive. Also, how about some info on The Calculator, I really enjoyed his initial storyline in Detective but would like to know more about his other appearances?

posted January 06, 2001 02:18 PM

Amateurs made Batman nervous. There were exceptions -- including, he'd grudgingly admit, Batwoman -- but generally the would-be crimefighters who'd used Gotham as their launching pad were more trouble than they were worth. Particularly those with hidden agendas. Even now, Deadshot weighed heavily on the Dark Knight's mind.

All of these thoughts ran through Batman's head on a summer evening in 1959 (BATMAN # 127, art by Dick Sprang and possibly written by Bill Finger). While making an appearance at the Gotham Book Fair, he and Robin had leaped into action to prevent the Joker's theft of the proceeds but found themselves locked in an armored car instead. In the darkened interior, the Dynamic Duo watched in astonishment as the reinforced metal doors crumpled before them. Of course, they must have thought, Superman was paying one of his frequent visits to Gotham.

Not quite, they soon learned -- unless the Man of Steel had taken to dressing like a bird. The stranger was covered head to toe in an orange/tan feathered costume, complete with sharpened claws on his hands and feet and a beak to match, brown tufts on his forearms and calves, a feathery brown cape, and a red chest icon displaying the United States' noble symbol. "I must conceal the secret of my REAL IDENTITY, gentleman, but you may address me as The Eagle. With my unusual powers, we can battle against crime side by side."

With the Dynamic Duo bringing up the rear, the Eagle pursued the Joker towards some of Gotham's ubiquitous giant props, in this case gargantuan replicas of books such as "Treasure Island" and "The Adventures of Robin Hood". Escaping the heroes through a passageway in "Doorway To Laughter", the villain cackled that "there's nothing like losing yourself in a good book!"

If Batman and Robin had been surprised by a new hero muscling into their team, they were completely thunderstruck to find him waiting for them in the Batcave. The Eagle was Alfred Pennyworth!

While cleaning the Batcave's trophy room, the butler had lost his balance and become entangled in the wires of a super-weapon confiscated from "Doc" Cranium. The weapon, in turn, fired a bolt of energy into a crystalline space artifact contributed by Superman. The crystal reflected the force back at Alfred and the end result, he declared, was that "I'm INVULNERABLE! I can LEAP hundreds of feet and LIFT a ton. You WILL accept me as a third member of your team, won't you?"

Alfred had always aspired to be a crimefighter, even going so far as to borrow Batman's costume early on and masquerade as the Dark Knight (1944's BATMAN # 22). And Batman had to acknowledge that he'd benignly supported such activities by asking his trusted friend to impersonate him on multiple occasions (BATMAN # 55, 87, 94, 117, 120). What else could he say but yes?

The following morning's encounter with The Joker seemed to fulfill all of Batman's misgivings. Displaying the grace of his namesake, the Eagle soared into the air towards the rogue's perch on a podium. Unfortunately, he overshot the Clown Prince of Crime, leaving evidence of his passage in two successive billboards. Even as the Joker was climbing to the safety of a helicopter and Batman and Robin were swinging towards him, the Eagle was attempting to salvage his first attempt by using super-strength to tear a giant net from the billboard he'd just damaged. Instead of snaring his target, the Eagle only succeeded in tangling his partners in the webbing.

Undeterred, the Eagle promised "an amazing example of super-strength coupled with super-ingenuity" as the Joker and his gang fled the Museum of Egyptology. Blocking the underpass on the escape route with a looming bronze statue of Anubis, the Eagle swooped in to knock the villain out cold. Ominously, the Joker laughed off the blow and responded with one of his own that rendered his opponent senseless. Diving into the fracas with a pair of chariots, Batman and Robin deflected the Joker and company's barrage of spears and left the entire gang sprawled on their backsides.

His powers now evaporated, Alfred took a degree of satisfaction in that evening's Gotham Globe, which played up the Eagle's role in the capture. "I guess I WAS pretty good, after all. A little more experience and I might have surpassed you and Robin."

"No doubt about it, Alfred," Batman smiled. "Lucky for us, you lost your powers."

Whatever Alfred's failings as a super-hero may have been, he was a truly good man and a selfless friend, facts that were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt only five years later. In 1964, taking the force of a falling boulder meant for Batman and Robin, Alfred Pennyworth gave his life for his friends (DETECTIVE # 328).

A medical examiner had confirmed that Alfred was dead and yet, against all reason, the noble butler was discovered days later in a state of semi-consciousness within his refrigerated crypt. The intervention of an eccentric scientist saved Alfred's life that night ... and unintentionally gave birth to the butler's dark side while he tried to restore his health. In possession of an impressive complement of psionic powers, the strange albino-like being declared himself the Outsider, sworn enemy of Batman and Robin (DETECTIVE # 356).

Did dormant super-energy in Alfred's body pull him back from the jaws of death -- and perhaps influence his transformation into the Outsider? The 24-hour career of the Eagle may have been more significiant than anyone realized.

posted January 07, 2001 07:46 AM

taz_19632000 requested a Flamebird Timeline over on BIRDS OF PREY board thread and, since Bette Kane hasn't made THAT many appearances, I gave it a shot for this weekend. Enjoy!


Once upon a time, there was a girl named Betty who dressed up in a red dress and green cape, determined to go out and fight crime like her Aunt Kathy -- The Batwoman --and, perhaps more importantly, to be close to the Boy Wonder whose costume she had emulated. The short career of Bat-Girl began in 1961's BATMAN # 139 (by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff) and continued through half a dozen episodes (BATMAN # 141, 144, 153, 159; DETECTIVE # 322), the last of which was an imaginary tale wherein the adult Betty Kane and Dick Grayson were finally married (1964's BATMAN # 163).

The arrival of editor Julius Schwartz with BATMAN # 164 spelled the end for most of Batman's extended family and Bat-Hound, Bat-Mite, Bat-Woman and Bat-Girl were mothballed in a dark corner of the editorial Bat-Cave. Riding a wave of nostalgia, Bob Rozakis revived Batwoman in December of 1976 for a meeting with the new Batgirl (BATMAN FAMILY # 10) and, when that seemed to click, followed up with a revival of Bat-Girl and several other dormant heroes as part of the one-shot Titans West in 1977's TEEN TITANS # 50-52. Betty Kane was now a tennis pro on the order of Billie Jean King, who had(coincidentally, according to Rozakis)appeared as "Betty Jo Kane" in the Martin Pasko-scripted WONDER WOMAN # 219 (1975).

The nostalgic return of the Silver Age Batman Family passed as quickly as it came and Bat-Girl managed only a short sequence in BATMAN FAMILY # 16 before returning to limbo. Batwoman was less fortunate, having been killed outright in 1979's DETECTIVE # 485. Betty turned up briefly at Donna Troy's wedding in late 1984's TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS # 50 but Bat-Girl seemed to be gone for good.

With the introduction of a streamlined continuity in the aftermath of 1985's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, the official party line was that characters such as Bat-Girl and Batwoman had never existed at all. Writer George Perez and editor Mark Waid found their way around that little obstacle in a 1989 Teen Titans retrospective (SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL # 3) by reintroducing Kathy Kane's niece as Mary Elizabeth "Bette" Kane a.k.a. Flamebird, dressed in a more contemporary version of the old Bat-Girl outfit.

This Flamebird was a one-woman Robin fan club who, in the post-CRISIS spin on TEEN TITANS # 50-52, hadn't met her idol until the fateful Titans West adventure. In pre-Crisis history, Superman and Jimmy Olsen (and others) had occasionally taken the identities of a Kryptonian Batman and Robin known as Nightwing and Flamebird. With Dick Grayson now designated as the DCU's official Nightwing, it seemed fitting that his female counterpart should be called Flamebird. (Bette Kane, just so there's no confusion, took the Flamebird alias because she thought it was a cool name, NOT because she knew anything about Krypton.)

Flamebird's early appearances suggested a familiarity with Robin and Nightwing that may not be deserved. The explanation regarding her references to "Dick" that appears below is my own invention.

The next decade saw infrequent appearances by Flamebird, whose publicity-hungry personality and desire to be accepted as a respected member of the meta-human community were usually played for laughs. Her origin was recounted in three successive text pieces (SO ANNUAL # 3, WHO'S WHO '92 # 2 and the recent TITANS SECRET FILES # 3) but has yet to actually be illustrated. The second and third accounts deviated from the first by suggesting that Bette had actually formed Titans West, with WHO'S WHO '92 remarking that she "zealously stalked and invited all youthful west-coast super-heroes to join." In the timeline below, I've tried to reconcile the two versions by explaining that Bette had conceived the team beforehand but that circumstances beyond her control actually brought the members together.

Bette's Aunt Kathy remains a shadowy figure in the modern DC Universe. SUICIDE SQUAD # 38 reiterated the circumstances of her death (sans Batwoman costume, presumably) as per DETECTIVE # 485 but BEAST BOY # 3 referred to Kathy Kane as though she were still alive. The Kane name is a common one in the DCU as in our world (home of Bob Kane) and the deceased Kathy may simply be a namesake who is no more related to Bette than is Bruce Wayne (son of the former Martha Kane) or Joseph Wilson (son of Adeline Kane). Alternately, though, one can speculate that Ra's al Ghul, who figured heavily in DETECTIVE # 485, may have recovered Kathy Kane's body and revived her in the Lazarus Pit as part of some as-yet-undocumented chapter in The Batman's life.

"Blonde, blue-eyed and beautiful, Bette was used to adulation -- so used to it, in fact, that it sometimes bored her. As a champion tennis player while still in her early teens, a beauty pageant winner since she was five, and an Olympic gymnast and swimmer, Bette quickly found no worlds left to conquer. Fiercely competitive, she needed a new challenge" -- SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL # 3.


Robin debuted as Batman's partner (ROBIN ANNUAL # 4).

Mary Elizabeth "Bette" Kane visited Gotham City "for a national beauty pageant. There she'd caught sight of Batman and Robin swinging across the skies and had been immediately struck by the image of someone just his age out risking his life with only his skills for protection." Now infatuated with the Boy Wonder, Bette designed a Robin costume for herself and the ersatz "Bat-Girl" began mailing fan letters to him in care of the Gotham City Police Department(WHO'S WHO '90 # 2).

On her sixteenth birthday, "Bette vowed that she would meet Robin -- on his own terms. She put together a bright costume of red and gold and adopted the avian codename of Flamebird" (SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL # 3). "Flamebird appeared briefly around California, stopping small crimes, staying to pose for pictures and reap all the available publicity, but never managing to achieve her goal of attracting Robin to California" (WHO'S WHO '92 # 2).


Anxious to break her studious image, Barbara Gordon created a Batgirl costume with the intention of surprising her father at the Policeman's Masquerade Ball. Instead, she stumbled onto an attack by Killer Moth on Bruce Wayne and found a new career as a super-heroine (DETECTIVE # 359, reaffirmed in SECRET ORIGINS # 20, BATMAN: BATGIRL (1997), SECRET FILES 2000 # 1).

With her goal of meeting Robin unfulfilled, Bette retired as Flamebird "and threw herself back into her high school life, forsaking her now professional activities. Previously a poor student, she decided to approach school as another challenge, attacking her studies with the same spirit she'd previously shown for meets and matches" (WHO'S WHO '92 # 2).

Dick Grayson began classes at Hudson University upstate from Gotham (DETECTIVE COMICS # 394-395).


Bette graduated from high school "near the top of her class. Deciding she had no interest in college, she pursued her abandoned tennis career, making a stunning comeback at age eighteen" (WHO'S WHO '92 # 2).

Dick Grayson spent a brief period as Barbara Gordon's aide and Batgirl and Robin teamed up twice in close proximity (BATMAN FAMILY # 1, 3) . In the wake of the second encounter, Robin referred to his partner as "Congresswoman," leading a momentarily thunderstruck Batgirl to respond, "You can call me Babs -- if I can call you Dick!" (BATMAN FAMILY # 3) Infatuated with Batgirl, Robin worked with her regularly throughout most of the year (BATMAN FAMILY # 5, 7, 9, 11, 13-16, 20).

Alongside circus owner and former acrobat Kathy Kane, Batgirl faced an alliance of the Killer Moth and the Cavalier (BATMAN FAMILY # 10).

The revival of the Teen Titans (TEEN TITANS # 44; reaffirmed in SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL # 3) caused Bette to cultivate the idea of her own West Coast team (WHO'S WHO '92 # 2). During an exhibition tour, Bette was on the scene of an attack by Mister Esper and looked on it as "the chance she had been waiting for. To play the hero game again." The calamity attracted several other West Coast heroes (including Beast Boy, Golden Eagle, the Hawk, the Dove and Lilith) and they eventually headed east for a conference with the Teen Titans -- and Flamebird's long-awaited meeting with Robin. Though she remained close to the Teen Wonder for the duration of the case, Robin was oblivious to Bette's attraction to him (SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL # 3, based on TEEN TITANS # 50-52).

Although Robin discouraged the proposed Titans West (SO ANNUAL # 3), Flamebird persisted in trying to make a go of it, joining the East Coast team for their encounter with the doomed caveman Gnarrk (NEW TITANS # 56). An overheard snatch of conversation between Robin and one of his longtime Titans friends provided Flamebird with her idol's first name and she began referring to him as "Dick" (suggested by NEW TITANS # 56 and HAWK AND DOVE ANNUAL # 1).

"Despite Bette's enthusiasm, personality conflicts and the long-distance commute made (Titans West's) tenure a short one" (WHO'S WHO '92 # 2).

While serving as a judge at a Honolulu beauty pageant, Bette became Flamebird to confront a vandal called the Laser Razer only to have the villain knock her unconsciousness. The embarrassing defeat was broadcast live on television throughout the United States (based on the Bat-Girl sequence in BATMAN FAMILY # 16).


Kathy Kane was murdered by a brainwashed Bronze Tiger (SUICIDE SQUAD # 38, based on DETECTIVE COMICS # 485).


Dick Grayson replaced his Robin persona with that of Nightwing (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS # 44).

At Donna Troy and Terry Long's wedding reception, Bette and Charlie (Golden Eagle) Parker) unsuccessfully lobbied to revive Titans West (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS # 50).


When the Gargoyle forced Dick Grayson to mentally revisit his years with the Teen Titans, Nightwing learned of Flamebird's motivation for the first time, noting "I never realized how much she admired me" (SO ANNUAL # 3).

Unsuccessful in her attempts at pumping super-model Kory Anders for information on "Dick," Bette turned her attention to reviving Titans West when she crossed paths with Hank (Hawk) Hall in Washington, D.C. Along with the Hawk, the new Dove, the Bumblebee, the Herald, Chris King and Golden Eagle, Flamebird helped rescue several S.T.A.R. Labs technicians from a team of ghostly villains. The heroes declined Bette's suggestion of uniting as Titans West, asking "What are we WEST of ? This is Washington, D.C." (HAWK & DOVE ANNUAL # 1).


The arrival of dozens of 21st Century Team Titans in the present caused the government to solicit the aid of several former Teen Titans to shepherd them. Delighted at actually having her services requested for once, Flamebird took charge of a group "just outside Torrance, California" (TEAM TITANS # 22, 24).

Guy Gardner's newly-opened super-hero bar, Warrior's, became a haven for Bette, who used every opportunity to get TV coverage while flirting with Tiger-Man and chatting with heroes such as the new Phantom Lady (GUY GARDNER # 29) and Ralph and Sue Dibny (# 39).

Cyberion, the being once known as Cyborg, abducted Flamebird and nearly every other former Titan and plugged them into individually tailored virtual realities. Bette's fantasy, in which she had multiple Robins at her beck and call, was disrupted by Nightwing. As the Titans faction split from the Justice League over Cyberion's fate, Flamebird found herself on the losing end of a fight with the Huntress (JLA/TITANS # 1-2). Afterwards, the two heroines had a debate over Dick's greatest attributes (# 3):

Flamebird: "It's the butt!"

Huntress: "No, no. It's all in his eyes."

Now attending classes at UCLA, Bette waited in vain for a call inviting her to join the revived Titans (TITANS SECRET FILES # 1).


Flamebird was among several costumed applicants interested in being hired for a security post at Project Cadmus (SUPERBOY # 65).


Learning that Garfield (Changeling) Logan was in Los Angeles (BEAST BOY # 1) and falsely accused of murder, Bette sought him out (# 2) and, "borrow(ing) money from my Aunt Kathy," she tried to bail him out of jail. Nightwing stepped in to facilitate Gar's release and requested a private conference with Bette, urging her to give up her Flamebird persona. Just as Dick had reacted when Bruce Wayne made a similar request of him, Bette turned defiant. "Quit ? ... Like Hell I will" (# 3).

With a refined costume, a short haircut and an expanded arsenal (including, according to TITANS SECRET FILES # 2, "electrifying bolas and gloves, tracking devices and flare-emitting contact lenses"), Flamebird returned to rescue Gar (now calling himself Beast Boy once more) from the forces of the shape-shifting Gemini (BEAST BOY # 4).

In Japan, Flamebird impressed the Titans with her newfound confidence ("Dig her new costume."/"Dig her new attitude") as they helped local hero Bushido free Beast Boy from the influence of the Tengu (TITANS ANNUAL # 1).

Momentarily lapsing into her old publicity- hound role (costume and all), Flamebird assured the media during the "De-aging"crisis that "the Titans have everything under control" (YOUNG JUSTICE: SINS OF YOUTH # 2). As Young Justice recuperated from the recent conflict, Flamebird and Beast Boy agreed to spearhead a substitute team that also included CM3 and Lagoon Boy (YOUNG JUSTICE # 20). Batgirl belatedly joined the pinch-hitters during a clash with Lobo, prompting this response from Bette: "Batgirl, huh ? Been there, done that" (YJ # 21).

While Flamebird and Beast Boy defeated the Brain Trust, Gar Logan's cousin Matt took it upon himself to invite every super-hero in Bette's phone registry for an impromptu Titans West recruiting drive. Standing in the debris of the Logan apartment, Flamebird insisted that the team was destined to be reformed and Matt agreed, suggesting Titans Los Angeles as the group's official name (TITANS SECRET FILES # 2).

posted January 07, 2001 08:34 AM

Thank-you very much Miki!!! A truly remarkable if not legendary time-line. Plus I got a bio to go with it as well. A very nice job!!!!

The Time Trust
posted January 10, 2001 10:17 AM

This is a truly remarkable thread.

One thing, Mikishawm: Could you tell me more about the imaginary story which featured Dick Grayson and Betty Kane tying the knot?

And I guess I should post my question about Wilfred Pennyworth on this thread as well. I know he's Alfred's brother, and he's an accomplished Shakespearean actor, but what are the circumstances of his first appearance, and what else is there to know about him?

The Time Trust
posted January 10, 2001 10:11 AM
Alfred's brother Wilfred and he were in the same acting troupe for a while, until Alfred took over for his father as a butler to the Wayne family. Wilfred, however, became a skilled Shakespearean actor.

I'd like to know more about this character, and the story he first appeared in, as well as any subsequent appearances, if any.

posted January 10, 2001 08:57 PM

Wilfred only appeared in two stories -- BATMAN # 216, one of my all-time favorites, and a cameo in SUPER FRIENDS # 5. I'll try to work something up on him and daughter Daphne for the weekend.

posted January 14, 2001 07:00 PM

So, in modern continuity, there was never a Batwoman. That's what I thought. It makes when Batman saw her in Kingdom and said "Kathy?" all the more poignant. Have we ever seen this post crisis Kathy Kane that Bette just recently borrowed money from?

posted January 15, 2001 06:06 AM

Just a short note to apologize for my absence this weekend. I ended up spending all of my time at this thread:

With any luck, I'll get back to Daphne & Wilfred and the Grayson/Kane nuptials this weekend.

posted January 20, 2001 07:43 PM

September, 1969: The Batman had not had a good evening. His efforts at rescuing a young woman from two attackers at the Gotham Theatre had gone awry when she grabbed his arm and left him open to a blow to the head. It’s hard to say who was more surprised, then, when Batman discovered the "lady in distress" walking along the side of the rain-covered backroad, suitcase in hand. The Dark Knight’s jaw visibly dropped when he learned her destination: "I -- I must get to -- Bruce Wayne Manor!"

"I’m going to stay with my uncle," she explained. "Alfred Pennyworth. He’s Wayne’s man’s man and I’m his niece ... Daphne." She dismissed the altercation at the theater as a "misunderstanding" with her boyfriend ("He’s impetuous -- headstrong ... but I LOVE him.") and added that "we’re all actors in the Old Avon Players -- my father, Wilfred Pennyworth, is the lead thespian."

Meanwhile, Wilfred’s brother was tending to a bed-ridden Dick Grayson, laid low by a summer cold. Alerted to the fact that the Old Avon Players and his older brother were in town, Alfred was a bit miffed that Wilfred hadn’t called. "First time here ... and we haven’t seen each other in so long. You’d think I’D be the FIRST person he’d WANT to see ... ? Well, we Pennyworths have our pride. If, for whatever reason ... he chooses NOT to call ME -- I shan’t approach HIM!" Alfred’s mood brightened considerably when he found Daphne at the door ... with Batman -- finger to his lips -- behind her.

Bruce Wayne stepped forward momentarily to greet his houseguest, who insisted that "I can pay my way ... You’re all my ... and father’s ... guests at our Saturday night closing. I’m to do ... Juliet."

From the second floor hallway, a pajama- clad Dick Grayson sniffled, "Did I hear a girl’s voice ?" As Bruce left his ward alone with the statuesque blonde in the mod clothing, he joked, "You must be mending, Dick -- your cold hasn’t affected your hearing."

Thoroughly infatuated, Dick gave Daphne a guided tour of Bruce’s Shakespeare memorabilia, culminating with "something REALLY priceless" beneath a bust of the Bard himself -- "the original manuscript -- in the Immortal Bard’s own hand -- of Romeo and Juliet!" The entire library, Dick explained, was "covered by an electric-eye alarm system -- controlled from here."

The couple said their "good nights" and a starry-eyed Grayson went to bed, murmuring "Ah Juliet ... Juliet. ‘But soft. What light through yonder window breaks ?"

"’Tis the dawn, not Juliet," Bruce answered from his bedroom. "Lower the curtain, lover -- she’s at least five years too old for you. ‘Sides *yawn* she HAS a boy friend ... for better or worse."

"Night," Dick muttered as he crawled into bed, "Killjoy!"

Alfred rose the next morning to find his niece already en route to the theater --and drippings on the floor from a candle that had been fresh the night before. Unbeknownst to her uncle, Daphne had made a wax impression of the front door key to Wayne Manor, which she passed along to "boyfriend" Kevin.

The plot came to a boil on Saturday night, when the Manor was conveniently empty and Bruce, Dick and Alfred were enjoying a performance of "Romeo and Juliet." After "Juliet" had simulated her death on stage, Daphne made a hasty retreat at the intermission, took a cab to Wayne Manor, disabled the electronic surveillance system and plucked the "Romeo and Juliet" manuscript from the vault. "I can thank my photographic-memory," she thought, "developed by script-reading ... remember every number of the safe-combination."

Daphne’s heart skipped a beat when her prize was snatched from her hands. She hadn’t been the only one to take advantage of the intermission. "I - I fought my suspicions," Alfred choked. "Told myself that my brother’s daughter could NEVER demean herself to ..."

Tears streaming down her face, Daphne pulled a gun from her cloak and demanded that Uncle Alfred surrender the volume. He refused even as she pleaded, "Don’t force me to make a choice -- between YOUR life -- or my father’s." There was a struggle ... a gunshot ... and all was silent in Wayne Manor.

Elsewhere, Bruce Wayne was growing concerned over Alfred’s absence, particularly after learning that he’d never made it backstage to chat with Wilfred. The doorman confirmed that he’d left the theater -- shortly after Daphne.

"SHE left -- in the midst of a performance ?"

"Can see you’re not much of a Shakespeare buff, sir. Juliet doesn’t appear again until Scene III of the final act. PLENTY of time for her to grab a snack."

At the Manor, Daphne had passed out and awoke to find her worst fear realized: her uncle’s corpse was draped over a cabinet! Rushing from the mansion in tears, she sobbed, "O father -- father! You have no idea -- WHAT I’ve done for you." Alfred, however, had only been faking, having previously determined that the weapon only fired blanks. "Was she trying to frighten me," he wondered, "or didn’t she know ?"Determined to get answers, he rushed back to the theater -- narrowly missing Bruce Wayne’s arrival at his home.

Backstage, Daphne levelled the gun at Kevin and his cohorts, vowing that they’d hold her father hostage no longer. "You li’l idiot. You think I’d give you a gun loaded with REAL bullets ? It’s a PROP ... with blanks." In a way, she was actually relieved. Her uncle was still alive!

A fortuitous call from the stage prompted Wilfred to shove Daphne through the curtain, insisting that "the show must go on" even as he turned to face the men who’d terrorized him. "Do what you will will me -- but you can’t harm my daughter now!"Kevin, alas, had anticipated her absence and made a substitution in the props of the final scene. "Juliet" would unwittingly commit suicide with a real knife.

Alfred burst from the shadows to defend his brother as did The Batman. Even as the rogues fell in defeat, Juliet’s death scene inched closer and closer. Watching as his daughter prepared to plunge the dagger into his chest, Wilfred stormed the stage and threw herself over Daphne’s body -- even as Dick Grayson leaped from his seat and knocked away the descending blade!

Though he couldn’t argue with the outcome, the Dark Knight couldn’t help but wonder how the young man had known that the knife was genuine. "I didn’t," Dick explained between sniffles. "But I DID know that ‘Capulet’s’ entrance doesn’t come until AFTER Juliet’s death ... and I got so MAD that he was up-staging her ‘great moment.’ ..."

Laughing through her tears, Daphne pecked him on the cheek. "Oh, you darling --idiot!"

Embracing his niece, Alfred consoled her. "Dear child -- knowing now what you went through ... HOW can I condemn you ? In YOUR place, I might well have done the same."

"Poor ‘Will,’" concluded Batman. "If he only knew what he ALMOST caused ..."

"He might have written a NEW tragedy,"added Dick. " ‘Angel -- or Devil ?’"

BATMAN # 216 represented a series in transition. The comics industry was deep into the backlash from the 1966-1968 "Batman" TV show and sales on the Batman titles in particular were plummeting. Editor Julius Schwartz had begun injecting new blood into the series via writer Frank Robbins and penciller Irv Novick (beginning in BATMAN # 204) but, by 1969, it was evident that something more was needed. Schwartz and company decided to distance themselves from the TV show, returning the Caped Crusader to his roots as a solo Dark Knight.

"Angel -- Or Devil ?" would set the stage for Robin’s departure, putting the Teen Wonder on the sidelines while still permitting Dick Grayson to have a final triumph before his departure for college in issue # 217. (Adding a slightly more realistic look to the series were the lush penlines of Dick Giordano, who’d begun inking Novick’s pencils with # 215.)

Perhaps the most symbolic moment in the story was the presence of the Shakespeare bust. For three seasons on ABC, it had concealed the switch that revealed the Bat-Poles. Here, though, it disguised the vault containing the pivotal manuscript. In this quiet manner, Robbins and company proclaimed, "This ISN’T the TV show!"

The developments related to Alfred were momentous in their own way. For several years, fans had considered the butler’s last name to be as mysterious as Commissioner Gordon’s first. Ultimately a fan in BATMAN # 197’s letter column cited a pair of Golden Age stories that identified them as Alfred Beagle (1944’s DETECTIVE # 96) and James W. Gordon (1951’s WORLD’S FINEST # 53). For Alfred, though, the issue was evidently unsettled and, with BATMAN # 216, Pennyworth was officially established as Alfred’s surname.

References to Alfred’s family had been similarly rare. His debut in BATMAN # 16 had referred to his late father, Jarvis, but it would take another 200 issues for any of his relatives to step into a Batman story. Wilfred returned once -- sort of -- in a behind the scenes role as one of the performers at the 1977 Justice League Super-Thon (SUPER FRIENDS # 5).

The beautiful Daphne made a follow-up appearance in Halloween 1970’s BATMAN # 227, scripted by Denny O’Neil with art, once again, by Novick and Giordano. Daphne’s appearance in "The Demon of Gothos Mansion" seemed a bit awkward, with either O’Neil or Schwartz possibly having wanted to use a preexisting character in place of a generic female supporting character. In any event, the young woman was now serving as a tutor to children in the remote Gothos Mansion. Given her chosen profession as an actress, Alfred explained that "she has been ... er ... at liberty these past few months."

Investigating on behalf of her concerned uncle, The Batman discovered that Daphne had been imperilled by Elder Heathrow and his Coven of Gothos Mansion. They hoped to conjure up the demon Ballk and required "a maiden born precisely at midnight on October 31st" as a sacrifice. Daphne met the requirements and Heathrow’s men forced her to wear an ancient pink dress that her lookalike some two hundred years earlier had worn. According to Heathrow, "my ancestor actually SUCCEEDED in liberating the demon. The ghost of the maiden then slain still walks these very halls."

Led by a shadowy blonde woman in pink, The Batman succeeded in thwarting the ceremony and rescuing the bound and gagged Daphne. With the cultists dispersed and Heathrow dead of a heart attack, the Dark Knight left Alfred’s niece for a moment to find the woman who’d helped him. "Filled with an overwhelming feeling of love," the Dark Knight watched helplessly as she ran away. "In besting the Coven, you have FREED me. Fare thee well, Batman ..." By the time he reached the spot where she’d been standing, Batman found only a two-hundred-year-old portrait of the woman who’d been sacrificed. His head in his hands, the Dark Knight wept.


That's all for this week, I'm afraid. Next week, with any luck, it'll be the Batman II/Batwoman II nuptials and a return to villain histories.

posted January 20, 2001 09:43 PM

Just wondering if you have The Calculator on your list?

Jo Sef31
posted January 21, 2001 02:08 AM

Mikishawm, did you ever do that bio on the Calandar Man? I have been away from the boards for a while. Thanks for your time and effort,it has been fun watching you in action.

posted January 21, 2001 07:13 AM

Right now, I've got all the appearances of Calendar Man, the Calculator, Mirage and the Scarlet Horde pulled out so they're pretty high on the list. Stay tuned ...

posted January 21, 2001 06:40 PM

Hey Miki--when did you get the idea to link the Eagle with the Outsider? What a concept!

posted January 22, 2001 05:55 AM

When I was writing the Eagle piece, I wanted to emphasize that, regardless of what BATMAN # 127 suggested, Alfred was a true hero and I decided to mention his death in 'TEC # 328. Then I recalled all the odd aspects of the Outsider's origin -- namely, the facts that (a) Alfred had been pronounced dead but regained a pulse after his burial and that (b) Alfred's body (hidden in silhouette) had been crushed by a boulder but looked unscathed when his body was retrieved from the crypt. The Eagle energy in his body gave me a possible solution and I ran with it.

posted January 27, 2001 08:24 PM

Here's the long overdue Calendar Man history. Hope you like it!


On a Monday morning in March of 1979, the Gotham City Planetarium was invaded by a man from the moon, complete with a spherical lunar craft whose magnetic field sent the guards hovering helplessly in the air. After helping himself to "stamps which had been hand-cancelled by the astronauts during one of the lunar visits," the man with the round, cratered headgear and spacesuit made his exit. The Calendar Man never did anything in a small way.

It seems fair to say that the Calendar Man committed felonies for reasons beyond pure profit. He was a thrill-seeker who got as much pleasure out of designing theme costumes (an incredible SIXTEEN in his first three crime sprees) and developing weapons (utilizing wind machines, lasers, sonic weaponry and customized motorcycles) and matching wits with The Batman. He even had his own above-ground version of the Batcave, a veritable shrine to the timetable --calendar carpeting, a giant calendar rolodex, massive calendars hanging on the wall, ancient stone timepieces and calendar floor tiles. One can only imagine how much all of this must have cost.

And who but a thrillseeker would place an ad in the newspaper challenging Batman to stop him ? The March 17, 1958 edition of the Gotham Gazette noted that an "anonymous letter promises four successful robberies in four days -- each day to correspond to a season of the year -- plus one extra for a 'fifth season.'"

Spring arrived early that year in the form of a man in a flower suit -- petals bursting from his collar, leaves functioning as a cape -- at Gotham's International Garden Show on the 17th. The Calendar Man's debut was tainted a bit by Batman and Robin's interference but he had invited them, after all. "Summer" proved more amenable and he escaped with the proceeds from a March 18 beauty pageant while dressed in a flaming asbestos suit. "Autumn" blew in on the 19th courtesy of a wind machine that helped him pull off an armored truck robbery. And completing the cycle, the Calendar Man became a snowman to steal "ice" from a diamond show for his March 20th winter showing.

Having racked up four consecutive failures, Batman was determined to thwart the robbery intended for the mysterious "fifth season," which he deduced must be India's Monsoon Season. Noting that an entertainer with the stage name of Maharajah the Magician was in town for a five-day engagement at the Bijou Theater, the Caped Crusader correctly gambled that this might be his target. Still wearing his magician's tuxedo, the Calendar Man was taken into custody on March 21 -- the first day of Spring. The crime season had come full circle (DETECTIVE COMICS # 259, by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris).

Despite a 1965 reprint of his debut in BATMAN # 176, the Calendar Man seemed destined to be a one-shot wonder. His return hinged on a feature entitled "Batman's Bureau of Missing Villains," a regular feature in BATMAN FAMILY during 1977. In issue # 16, the lead story had featured a villain who switched costumes (and identities) for each of his crimes. Including the original clothes-horse Bat-villain for that issue's "Bureau" installment must have seemed irresistible.

Incoming Batman writer Len Wein made good use of the BATMAN FAMILY-spotlighted rogues, reviving Kiteman, Signalman, Blockbuster, a new incarnation of Clayface and, in 1979's BATMAN # 312, the Calendar Man. With art by Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano, the story was a visual stunner, one eventually reprinted in THE GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD. Wein added an impressive array of super-weapons to the villain's arsenal while retaining the Calendar Man's trademark one-time-only parade of costumes, each imaginatively realized by Simonson.

The last outfit was a red and white number that played up the calendar motif and wasn't keyed to any particular season or date. Its cape, for instance, was a collection of calendar pages. The costume reappeared on the covers of 1985' BATMAN # 384 and DETECTIVE # 551 though it was nowhere to be seen on the Doug Moench-scripted stories within. Still, the writing was on the wall for the crime-unique costumes, particularly after the red and white suit appeared in Calendar Man's entry in WHO'S WHO '85 # 4 (with art by Pat Broderick) and his subsequent cameo in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS # 10.

WHO'S WHO # 4 and BATMAN # 384 had also simultaneously established the rogue's real name as Julian Day, a nod to the Julian Calendar. In 2000's BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT # 3, Chuck Dixon took the the 1582 revision known as the Gregorian Calendar into account by identifying the villain as Julian Gregory Day.

BATMAN # 312 had found the Calendar Man committing crimes tied to the days of the week. Monday, for instance, was named after the moon, hence the lunar costume and theft. Tuesday, "named for Tiw, the ancient god of war," found Calendar Man in centurian-like garb for his theft of military treasures. And on Wednesday, "named for Woden -- or Odin -- the Norse god of wisdom," the rogue was clad as a viking when he faced The Batman outside the Metropolitan Museum."Calendar Man is playing this farce to the hilt," he observed. "His cycle even has eight wheels to emulate Odin's eight-legged horse, Sleipnir."

Calling the Dark Knight's attention crimson monocle, the Calendar Man shouted that "Odin sacrificed an EYE to gain knowledge -- but I sacrificed MINE to gain POWER!!" A laser from the eye-piece blasted Batman from his Whirly-Bat and the rogue ultimately made his escape. While playing Thor on Thursday (and carefully avoiding any similarity to the Marvel version), the would-be "God of Thunder" left Batman reeling with an ultrasonic blast from his electronically-lined helmet. Sidelined by damage to his inner ear, the Dark Knight was forced to sit out the Calendar Man's Friday and Saturday robberies.

Ah, but Sunday was a day of rest, and Batman realized late in the game that his foe would regard it as "the perfect time for you to skip town with what you've stolen --and what more appropriate means of transportation that the Western SUN Express ?" The civilian-clad Calendar Man took refuge in a train tunnel, taking time to switch to his new red and white costume before resuming his flight. In the end, thanks to a skillfully thrown Batarang and rope, the Calendar Man's second round of March Madness came to a close.

Round three got underway in 1985 when a confederacy of Gotham mobsters put a bounty on The Batman's head and, using the Monitor as an intermediary, hired the Calendar Man to kill him. To Julian Day, it was an agonizing decision. "I've never murdered ANYONE, nor do I DESIRE to bloody my hands -- yet the very calendar itself is BASED on death and rebirth, Autumn to Spring."

Questioning his hesitation, he asked himself, "Could it be that I commit my crimes for reasons OTHER than monetary gain ? Could it be that I derive pleasure from passing my time in challenges of wit and skill ? Could it be that the crime of murder is too mundane, too artless, to satisfy my needs ? Could it be that I actually RESPECT The Batman and LOOK FORWARD to our periodic tests ? Of COURSE it could. And were I to KILL The Batman -- red-letter day aside ... the rest of my days could well be blank boxes. With The Batman dead, would I have any reason to live ? And yet ... the money ..."

It was more than the Calendar Man could resist and he embarked on a new six-day crime wave, scheduled in his day planner for March 16th through the 21st. "If he has not stopped my spree by then -- he will DIE." For this series of robberies, the focus would cover holidays set between New Year's Day and his self-imposed "D-Day" -- March 21, the first day of Spring. The next several days found Batman and his new Robin (a.k.a. Jason Todd) facing the usual succession of specialized motorcycles, weapons and novelty costumes, notably a half-shadowed Groundhog's Day outfit that burst into bright light without warning. When the Calendar Man threatened to kill Robin on March 21, the Dark Knight immediately ordered his partner to halt his costumed activities for the duration of the case (BATMAN # 384, by Doug Moench, Rick Hoberg and Rudy Nebres).

Meanwhile, the villain of the piece was playing an arrow-wielding Cupid for his Valentine's Day crime, silently wondering whether he should move to Green Arrow's home turf "once The Batman is gone." Distracted by a sniper, Batman lost his target once again (DETECTIVE # 551, by Moench, Pat Broderick and Bob Smith). Robin, disobeying orders, was on his trail. The Calendar Man escaped but Batman and Robin reached a truce and the Boy Wonder trailed the rogue to his calendar shrine at the corner of March and Day Streets.

"Now why didn't WE think of that ?"Batman laughed. "You've done good work, Robin -- but remember our DEAL. Your part is finished now -- and whatever you do, STAY OUTSIDE." The Dark Knight had reckoned without the Calendar Man's laser rifle and, more significantly, his weakened condition from a gunshot wound sustained earlier in the evening. Robin felt compelled to intervene and smashed into the lair, knocking the gun to the floor thanks to Calendar Man's collapsing Stonehenge replica. Batman got in the last punch but he had to admit that the Boy Wonder had made the right decision (BATMAN # 385, by Moench, Hoberg & Chuck Patton and Alfredo Alcala).

1985 only got worse for the Calendar Man after that. Transported to the alternate world of Earth-X, with dozens of potential new adversaries rising to its defense, the seasonal scoundrel still wound up being knocked cold by his own foe, The Batman (CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS # 10). The next time, Julian Day was freed from prison (by Ra's al Ghul), he had no interest in participating in a group venture on behalf of his mysterious benefactor. "After being behind bars so long," he explained, "A lot of us got plans of our own ... OTHER than chasin' the wind" (1986's BATMAN # 400). Whatever plans he may have had in mind, the Calendar Man wound up spending most of his time with other down-and-out rogues in a super-villain bar called the Dark Side (1990's JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA # 43).

The glory days of multiple costumes and elaborate weaponry were behind him. Since the Crisis, he'd even been forced to exclusively wear his seasonally generic red and white outfit. He couldn't afford any others. With his change of fortune, the Calendar Man agreed to join other so-called "misfits" Cat-Man and Chancer in Killer Moth's plot to kidnap Bruce Wayne, Mayor Armand Krol and Commissioner James Gordon for a ten million dollar ransom. Even here, Day was whipped into a rage by Cat-Man's persistent jokes about his theme. Cat-Man apologized but insisted that "a calendar is a pretty, uh, unusual gimmick."

"I happen to like dates, right ? There's nothing weird about that!"

Using his technological skills, the Calendar Man crafted a series of traps for the millionaire and the civil servants and predicted dire circumstances for the middle of the week. "Monday's child is fair of face -- Tuesday's child is full of grace -- but Wednesday's child -- Hey, I see nothing but woe! ... Now, if it'd just been Thursday -- 'long way to go' -- they'd have been okay. Guess everybody has to have a bad day sometimes." The abductions went off without a hitch and Killer Moth had to admit, "Calendar Man may be going slowly round the bend -- but he hasn't lost any of his skill with gimmicks."

His eccentricities notwithstanding, Day had only agreed to participate in the caper if the hostages were not killed. Unknown to his accomplices, Killer Moth had intended to do just that and only the intervention of Robin averted that dire fate. In a climactic confrontation between Batman and the Misfits, the Calendar Man stunned the Dark Knight with a barrage of lead-weighted calendar tiles and aimed the Moth's gun at him. Batman sneered at his reluctance to fire, noting that he was "going down for attempted murder already."

Calendar Man was stunned but Killer Moth confirmed it. "They were WITNESSES -- they HAD to die! Forget THEM, you squeamish chump -- SHOOT HIM!" Hanging his head and lowering his gun, Julian Day said, "No." With a punch to the jaw, The Batman said "Thanks!" (1992's BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 7-9, by Alan Grant and Tim Sale)

Within months, Julian Day was approached by the 2000 Committee, an organization devoted to overthrowing the United States government by the turn of the century. In exchange for his freedom, the Calendar Man would orchestrate the escapes of three other time-themed villains, the Clock King, Chronos and the Time Commander and steal a unique hourglass that the latter rogue had once possessed. The jailbreaks were executed flawlessly ("I ALWAYS keep my dates," Day boasted) but the robbery was not. The team had pinned their hopes on the Commander's ability to use the stolen hourglass to step through time but the addled villain insisted that "it's broken."The time bandits quickly ran afoul of the Team Titans, whom Calendar Man desperately tried to hold off with the only tools he had left, his calendar page cape and a miniature stun gun. In a confrontation with the Titans' Battalion, the villain ended up with part of hair burned off from the feedback of his crushed electrical weapon.

Adding insult to injury, the captive quartet was psychoanalyzed by Terra, who observed that "you guys have come up with some pretty peculiar and wasteful -- albeit creative -- ways of addressing your fears about the finite nature of your existence." Day insisted that "even Batman will tell you -- I'm basically a NICE guy. Yeah, I got a mortality fixation. Yeah, I got a problem with death. But I mean who doesn't ?" (1993's TEAM TITANS # 13-15, by Jeff Jensen & Phil Jimenez, Jimenez & Steve Crespo and Will Blyberg, Carlos Garzon & James Hodgkins)

Calendar Man and friends got together for one more outing in 1994, still seeking a device that would allow them to move through time at will. Instead, they were caught in a temporal loop that was as much a result of the Time Commander as it was the massive assault by Extant and Parallax on the timestream. Determined to break the cycle, the Time Commander shattered the hourglass that was causing events to repeat themselves. In an instant, everything went white (SHOWCASE '94 # 10, by Mike McAvennie, Jason Armstrong and Stan Woch).

Julian Day awoke in Arkham Asylum. His head had been shaved and he was looking through the glass at The Batman and Captain (Captain ?) Gordon. Was it his imagination or did they look younger ? No matter. They were offering him a deal. A killer known only as Holiday had launched a series of crimes that coincided with holidays -- Halloween, Thanksgiving -- and the D.A.'s office was "willing to commute your sentence to 'time served,' if you'll help us with these murders."

The Calendar Man, accurately as it turned out, identified Holiday as a woman but his demented recitation of every potential holiday that lay in the future led the Dark Knight and Gordon to leave in disgust (1997's BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN # 3, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale). Day was no more forthcoming on future visits, offering cryptic insights but refusing to divulve any solid data (# 8, 12). In the end, the Holiday killer was officially identified as Alberto Falcone but no one would ever know that the first two murders had been perpetrated by Gilda Dent (# 13). In Arkham, Holiday and Calendar Man ended up in facing cells (1999's BATMAN: DARK VICTORY # 0, 1).

Months later, a killer known only as the Hang Man stalked Gotham, once again committing murders keyed to the calendar. Aware that the Calendar Man had spoken with the authorities on several occasions ("The Calendar Man was being forgotten. That was UNACCEPTABLE."), former D.A. Harvey "Two-Face" Dent had broken Day out of Arkham and put him on a mock trial before several other villains to determine his involvement in the Hang Man killings. The Calendar Man, who now had the months of the year tattooed around his bald head, insisted that he was not involved ("My crimes never included murder.") and observed that, given the evidence, Harvey Dent was the obvious suspect. Looking at the Calendar Man's new tattoos, Two-Face countered that "just as a man can change his face -- he can change his crimes as well" (BATMAN: DARK VICTORY # 7).

Once Two-Face had completed his inquisition, the Calendar Man was free to emerge as a player in the Hang Man plot. A two-way mirror, hidden microphones and secret passages (all installed months earlier by Two-Face) enabled Calendar Man to stalk the paroled Alberto Falcone from the Holiday killer's own home, secretly urging him (in the guise of Falcone's dead father) to resume his killing spree and commit suicide (DV # 7, 11, 12). Realizing that his father would never make such a demand of him, Alberto fired his gun into the mirror. Gazing back, with gun in hands, was Julian Day. "The Calendar Man is being forgotten. And that is unacceptable." Within two hours, The Batman and Jim Gordon found Day on the edge of the property, his jaw broken and Falcone's surveillance bracelet around his ankle (# 12). Alberto eventually died of the gunshot wound he sustained from the Calendar Man (# 13).

Julian Day awoke in Arkham Asylum. At least, he THOUGHT that's where he was. Living in total darkness with no way of keeping track of the passage of time, he was slowly coming unglued and losing himself in fantasies. In one recent nightmare, he'd even imagined his bald-headed incarnation as a jailer at Arkham (2000's SUPERMAN # 160, by Loeb, Ed McGuinness and Cam Smith). For his own sanity, he needed to replay the events that led up to this, to separate dreams from reality.

Certainly, he'd never been around in the days before Batman acquired Robin as a partner, despite the claims on one henchman wanna-be who'd included a "Calendar Man" on his resume (1999's SUPERMAN & BATMAN: WORLD'S FINEST # 2). There'd been "The Four Seasons of Crime," of course, and the red letter day that he'd attempted to ransom the wealthy visitors to the Gotham Museum's exhibit on time. Batman and Robin had spoiled both of those. "The Monsoon Mystery" had been solved a bit too quickly for his liking and "The Fall to End Them All" had been a bust. And the Misfit debacle should have cautioned him against working with other costumed villains again.

In the end, Julian Gregory Day was sentenced to "serve the maximum for his crimes" and wouldn't be eligible for parole until March of 2000. Informed that he'd "spend millennial New Year's behind bars,"Day went berserk in the courtroom and got a one-way ticket to Arkham. He'd escaped briefly thanks to a breakout staged by Bane but a heist in Century City attracted the attention of Power Girl and he wound up in custody once more, this time in Blackgate. His outings with the Time Commander and company had been a disaster, as well.

Freed from Blackgate by the Gotham earthquake, Day spent months in the government- abandoned city before surrendering to authorities. The Calendar Man had been grateful at the time but his opinion changed when he was transferred to Arkham in the final days of 1999. A doctor suggested "a radical therapy" to eradicate Day's fixation with calendars by placing him in solitary confinement, primarily in darkness. No longer capable of determining the passage of time, the Calendar Man snapped. "They've stolen the most precious thing from me," he agonized. "The passing of one millennium to another."

In March of 2000, Julian Day was released from his cell and informed that he was being paroled. He was stunned ("Could they really have mistaken catatonia for good behavior ?") but gleefully returned to the outside world and "the simple glory of watching the shadows chase themselves across the ceiling." The Batman was not convinced and told Day as much when he confronted him in his rented room.

The Calendar Man finally went over the edge in that moment. He'd fantasized about destroying Gotham with three tons of dynamite on New Year's Eve 1999 but now he would make his dreams of death a reality. "If I missed the big show in January, so what ? There are OTHER calendars. OTHER lists of days and moon phases and equinoxes. I will have my wrath on that day!" I will bring suffering down on Gotham on THAT date. And I see now, in a moment's inspiration, how it is to be. I have only MONTHS to prepare. So much WORK to do. And I can't do it ALONE." Dressed in a new costuume, the Calendar Man now wore predominantly red, including hood and cape, with gold shoulder pads and belt and an Egyptian motif that included a Pharaoh's mask and a Sacred Ibis on his chest.

After five months of recruiting henchman and making plans, the Calendar Man delivered a message to police headquarters. With cryptic references to Mai 105, Sextilus Ante Ides X, 12 Tun 17, Sha'ban 23 A.H. and Thoth, the note indicated to Batman, Robin and Alfred that Day was planning his operation around calendars of the ancient world. "Most ancient calendars were based on a three-hundred and sixty-day year ... with five days left over. Those five days came at the END of the year. Most people partied down for those days. But some, like the Mayans, saw those days as a time of uncertainty."

Working for hours on end, Robin was able to decipher the clues. "Mai 105 is near the end of the dry season on the calendar kept by the Nuer tribesman of Sudan" and corresponded to August 19 on the modern calendar. The other dates matched up to the 20th, 21st and 22nd. "And Thoth is the Ibis god of the Egyptians. But he's ALSO the symbol of the last day of the Egyptian year as determined by the flow of the Nile."

Although he'd mined his last known residence with explosives and abducted a dozen calendar girls from the Wayne Motors photo shoot as preliminaries, the Calendar Man remained someone whom most regarded as a non-lethal gimmick crook. That image was shattered in the wee hours of August 19 when the Calendar Man used a rocket launcher to blast incoming Flight 601 from the sky, sending two-hundred plus passengers and crew to their deaths. He followed up with an electromagnetic pulse that effectively shut down the city's electrical grid. "For everyone who thought January first was a letdown," the Calendar Man exulted, "here's your Y2K, Gotham."

With a renewed sense of urgency, The Batman began to tap into every resource that Gotham possessed, notably its criminal element. Using strongarm tactics and his own underworld alter ego of Matches Malone, the Dark Knight successfully transformed the Gotham mobs into a strikeforce that he'd use to take down the Calendar Man and his own underlings.

Even as his troops fell before the mobsters, the Calendar Man fled to ensure that the day of Thoth would come to pass. Aiming his bazooka at the Gotham nuclear power plant, he observed that "a single shot will lock up all electronics in the plant. Their meters and readouts go black. Without the controls, the raw power at the heart of the core is unleashed. Gotham City and the surrounding counties become an irradiated wasteland. Until Y3K." Or they would have if The Batman had not arrived in time to ruin his aim and beat him into submission (2000's BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT # 3, by Chuck Dixon, pencillers Joe Staton, Manuel Gutierrez, Mike Deodato, Graham Nolan, Louis Small, Jr., Dale Eaglesham & Bill Sienkiewicz and inkers Staton, Bud LaRosa, David Roach, Mark Pennington, Caesar, John Floyd and Sienkiewicz).

A jury found Julian Gregory Day guilty on a staggering string of offenses and his lawyer could only shake his head in disbelief. "If you don't get the death penalty then a life sentence is a lock. ... You'll be eligible for parole in eight years if the judge doesn't elect to FRY you." The Calendar Man could live with that. "Eight years. I could be out by December 23, 2012. The day the world ends according to the Aztec calendar."

posted January 28, 2001 08:05 PM

Time Trust, this one's for you!

It was the end of an era, an age that had seen Batman transformed into everything from a negative man to a genie, battle extraterrestrial beings on a regular basis and develop an extended family including but not limited to Bat-Women, Bat-Mites, Bat-Hounds and Bat-Girls. As 1964 dawned, sales were, by all accounts, suffering on BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS and the decision was made to have an editorial swap. Jack Schiff was reassigned to the science fictional MYSTERY IN SPACE and STRANGE ADVENTURES while their editor, Julius Schwartz would take charge of BATMAN and DETECTIVE.

Schiff's final issue of DETECTIVE, issue # 326, offered a fairly routine lead story in which Batman and Robin were captured and placed in an alien zoo and a momentous back-up wherein the Martian Manhunter's alter ego John Jones "died,"setting the stage for a relaunch of his series in HOUSE OF MYSTERY. Schiff's final published issue, however, was BATMAN # 163, released on March 5, 1964. The cover spotlighted the Joker, always a crowd pleasure, but "The Joker Jury" was the second story in that issue. The lead was an alternate history piece, offering a small glimpse of a world where Schiff's Batman might have gone and a last hurrah for a character who'd be banished from the Schwartz titles.

The story of "the Second Batman and Robin Team" had actually begun in 1960's BATMAN # 131, where Alfred had tried his hand at fiction. He wrote of a future in which Bruce Wayne married Kathy Kane and had a child, Bruce, Jr. Ultimately, the adult Dick Grayson took the mantle of the Bat and Bruce, Jr. became the new Robin. Further installments appeared in # 135 (1960), 145 (1961) and 159 (1963).

For the final installment (pencilled by Sheldon Moldoff), the series turned its attention to a character who hadn't even existed when the first two episodes were published. Betty (Bat-Girl) Kane, the niece of Batwoman, had first appeared in 1961's BATMAN # 139 and returned in subsequent months for a series of episodes that played up her romantic interest in Robin and the Boy Wonder's own embarrassed attempts to avoid reciprocating those feelings.

As the story in BATMAN # 163 opened, Betty had returned to visit her Aunt Kathy at Wayne Manor, explaining that "when Dad's business firm sent him to Europe years ago, I went with him -- but now I'm back in America. After all this time, I'm finally with my favorite aunt again. Seeing you again brings back old memories ..." She wasn't alone in those feelings. Dick Grayson privately observed that "she was pretty when she was younger, but now she's gorgeous!"

Betty's presence even seemed to make Bruce restless and, with Dick and Bruce, Jr. out of town at a charity function, he decided to pull his Batman costume out of mothballs when the Bat-Signal flashed in the sky that evening. Downcast, Kathy told him that she understood but confided in Betty that she missed her activities as Batwoman and had never been able to bring herself to sell her old mansion and its underground base of operations. Unaware that her aunt had actually married Batman, Betty decided to borrow the Batwoman costume and motorcycle from the Kane mansion and revive her costumed career.

Elsewhere, Batman had met with an older, grayer Commissioner Gordon and set off in pursuit of criminal inventor Milo (no known relation to the Professor of earlier years), who was planning to sell a spectacular collection of crime machines at an underworld auction. Those items included a giant flying hand with jointed fingers and a seat for a driver. Unfortunately for Batman, they were ideal for grabbing costumed crimefighter.

By chance, the new blonde Batwoman arrived on the scene in time to toss flares at Milo, blinding him long enough to release the giant hand's controls and drop the Caped Crusader towards a barn roof. Batman slid to safety on the ground but the shingles tore away his cowl. Batwoman instantly recognized her Uncle Bruce and, by extension, realized that Dick had been Robin. "I've really been in love with Dick all these years and never knew it!"

In the Batcave, Kathy was pacing when Batman entered. Her worries returned when she realized that it was the returning Dick Grayson. With Robin, he took off for a meeting with Commissioner Gordon, who insisted that "I didn't think there'd be any danger. It should have been a routine job for Batman." A patrolman provided a crucial lead when he discovered a stolen car at the scene of Milo's attack on Batman and observed a piece of the Dark Knight's cape still hanging from the barn roof.

Even as police officers and the second- generation Dynamic Duo were converging on the area, Batman the elder and Batwoman the younger were waiting in the shadows as the underworld auction got underway. Milo had spotted the heroes, however, and, after rendering them unconscious, decided to use them to test the crime machines when they awoke. With his hands and feet bound, Batman was forced to evade the blows of a giant mallet that was attached to a car.

From the sidelines, the new Batman and Robin were faced with an agonizing dilemma. "There's quite a distance between us and Batman. ... Before we could even get to him, we'd be exposed to gangster guns." Batwoman had spotted the crimefighters in the shadows and, though her hands were bound like Batman's, she was far closer to the action. Throwing all her weight against a wheeled catapult, she slammed the device into a podium, provided sufficient seconds for Dick and B.J. to rescue the family patriarch and untie both him and Betty.

Though the odds had shifted back in the heroes' favor, Batwoman realized that the flying bullets were still a very real threat. Hopping into the driver's seat of the giant hand, she used its raised fingers as a combination shield and target for the gunmen's bullets.

In the Batcave, Batwoman put her arms around the new Batman's neck and pulled back his cowl. "Now that I know the truth, I can finally do this."

"Why bother," he grinned, "now that you know my secret identity ?"

As her lips locked with his, Betty explained, "Oh ... because now we can kiss without hiding behind masks. It's more fun this way."

We're told that the Grayson-Kane nuptials were the social event of the season.

Back in the real world, Dick rolled his eyes at the subject of his butler's latest short story. "I can just imagine what you've written, Alfred. But you never can tell -- maybe she'll be able to read it some day."

Below that final page, an advertisement offered a hint of the radical artistic changes to come even as it encouraged readers to "follow the adventures of Batman and Robin in these latest issues of DETECTIVE COMICS." On one side, Sheldon Moldoff's Bob Kane-style "Captives of the Alien Zoo" (# 326) was said to be "now on sale." On the other, the Carmine Infantino- pencilled "Mystery of the Menacing Mask" was showcased. On March 26, 1964, everything was going to change.

P.S. Despite what I reported earlier in this thread, Dick and Betty don't actually get married in the story.

posted January 30, 2001 05:19 AM

Great bit on the Calendar Man, Mikishawm.

I missed Dixon's latest incarnation of the villain. Has it been definitely decided that DARK VICTORY is not part of continuity or is that only your reflection (the "dream part", I mean)?

posted January 30, 2001 05:58 AM

Re: DARK VICTORY, et al. There's a lot of stuff in those specials and mini-series that's tough if not impossible to reconcile with the mainstream Bat-continuity but what clinched it for me was Chuck Dixon's comment that HE didn't regard them as canonical. They're great stories but, like BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES and company they're not tied into the "official" continuity.

posted February 03, 2001 08:31 PM

He was only going to be gone for a couple days. How could it have all gone so wrong ? Now Mike was sitting in a holding cell in Gotham City with a murder charge over his head. At least, thanks to his lack of a prior police record, the police hadn't managed to identify him. He didn't dare jeopardize that by calling Gina to tell her where he was.

Gina! What must she thinking ? Gina Corolla performed all sorts of functions at the Gotham Funfair but she had taken her greatest pleasure in the hypnosis/illusion act that she and her boyfriend Mike performed as the Mindbenders. Mike felt that his luck changed for the better on the day he found a unique round jewel. He began using the prism as a prop in the act and confided in Gina that "I don't know how, but it amplifies my thoughts -- makes the illusions I create seem so real, hardly ANYONE can resist them." Gina was certain that the Mindbenders would boost the Funfair's flagging ticket sales but Mike ominously suggested that "there's quicker ways to make a fortune, babe -- MUCH quicker ways" (1993's BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 15, by Alan Grant, Joe Staton and Steve Mitchell).

He resolved in that moment to become one of the costumed criminals that Gotham had become infamous for. Taking a short vacation from the Funfair, he took a crash course in the fine art of villainy at the Hollywood-based Academy of Crime (mentioned in 1982's DETECTIVE COMICS # 515) and returned to Gotham for a short but hopefully profitable career as the Mirage. Mike's costume was composed of light and dark orange pieces, including a full face mask and a hood. His all-important jewel was mounted in a bracelet on the underside of his right wrist.

He arrived at New Jersey's Raytona Raceway in November of 1981, intent on stealing the box office receipts. The drunks who mocked his costume suddenly found themselves stalked by a lion in the jungle. The guard who was carrying the money imagined he was plummeting from a cliff. And Gotham newspaper photographer Vicki Vale abruptly found herself in the arctic being faced down by a polar bear. She kept snapping pictures anyway. Those photographs proved crucial in verifying that what each of those people experienced had been an incredibly realistic illusion.

The crime spree escalated over the next twenty-four hours with an a.m. robbery at Gotham Federal Savings and an assault on the Boston Express in the evening. "The robberies are bad enough," Commissioner Gordon explained to The Batman, "but we've had reports of people passing out from terror ... one possible stroke ... and two potential cardiac arrests."

Mirage's next attack raised the stakes considerably. After shaking off the effects of an underwater illusion, Batman discovered that one of the other victims of the fantasy had suffered a fatal heart attack. Gotham's illusion master was now wanted for murder.

The Dynamic Duo had observed a ringing in their ears prior to their immersion in the hallucination and Batman was convinced that the effect was "created by a combination of optical and audial stimulation. High-frequency sonic waves reinforce the images projected visually --giving them a heightened 'reality.'" Using a special earplug, the Dark Knight successfully blunted the impact of the illusions when he faced Mirage again -- until a blow to the head smashed the circuitry.

Defiantly ignoring his senses, The Batman shook off the illusion and charged towards Mirage, knocking his two henchmen aside. Frozen in his tracks, the villain stammered, "They never covered this at the Academy! I don't know what to do!"

"Here's a clue, Mirage," Batman suggested, grabbing his wrist and crushing the prism. "GIVE UP!" (DETECTIVE # 511, by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte) He was sentenced to "ten to life" at Blackgate (SHADOW OF THE BAT # 15). At the Academy of Crime, Mirage became a living example of what can happen when you don't do your homework (# 515).

In 1986, Ra's al Ghul orchestrated a massive prison break of The Batman's greatest foes, providing each with replicas of their costumes and weapons. Mirage was reported to have been seen in their midst (BATMAN # 400, by Doug Moench and George Perez) but evidence now suggests that another inmate escaped in Mike's place and took advantage of the confusion to assume Mirage's identity for himself.

Kerry Astin, the new Mirage, was a blonde (contrasted with the brown-haired Mike) and relocated to Chicago, where he hoped to use the replica of the prism in combination with the lights and sounds of a disco to pull off a series of robberies at various society functions (mentioned in 1989's MANHUNTER # 13).

Mark Shaw, the bounty hunter known as Manhunter, eventually picked up the second Mirage's trail but hadn't expected the newcomer to be as skilled in the art of illusion as he was. While he struggled to shake off the hallucinations, Mirage shot him three times and dumped his body in an alley. Thanks to the efforts of police officer Sylvia Kandrey and Mark's brother James, the wounded Manhunter managed to fire his energy baton at Mirage, rendering him unconscious (MANHUNTER # 15, by Kim Yale & John Ostrander, grant Miehm and Pablo Marcos).

Meanwhile, Mike was using his prison time to beef up. "Physically, I'd been no match for Batman," he recalled. "So I worked out -- played sports -- joined the pen's self defense classes -- but even better," Mike recalled, "When Batman crushed the jewel, several fragments caught in my costume. I managed to remove them, and wangled a job in the optics workshop -- and the contact lenses I made from the shards were everything I hoped for!" In 1993, he escaped but left the guards with a long-term hypnotic suggestion that indicated he was still in the cell.

Mike had learned that the Gotham Funfair was on the verge of bankruptcy and sought out Gina, offering to commit a new series of robberies to bail out the theme park. Gina was deeply troubled over her one-time lover's solution but she reluctantly agreed.

Police reports cited "six robberies in ten days, all bars within a dozen blocks of each other. Average take of six thousand dollars per -- no violence used-- no witnesses able to say more than that they saw a nondescript white male who may or may not have been acting suspiciously. Like the invisible man walked in, emptied the safe, and walked right back out again!"

Spotting a lone man standing outside a bar in the area, Batman's suspicions were immediately aroused when the stranger began running -- and transformed his street clothes into a red and black costume. The chase eventually took the Dark Knight to the "Gotham Freaks" section of the Funfair, where he lost his subject and gained the enmity of Gina Corolla. Infuriated by Batman's interrogation of several of the so-called freaks, including a man with no limbs named Texas, Gina ordered the hero off the premises.

Troubled by Gina's extreme reaction, Batman resolved to keep the carnival under surveillance. His instincts paid off when he found the young woman in a private conference with the same stranger he'd chased earlier. Despite her misgivings about Mike's robberies, Gina refused to stand by and allow him to be captured. Lunging at Batman, she gave her lover time to escape, even nailing the Dark Knight's cape to the wall in a demonstration of her knife-throwing skills. With no solid evidence that Gina was harboring a fugitive, Batman was forced to leave empty-handed.

In her next encounter with Mike, Gina was emphatic that he stop the robberies even as he assured her that "one major job can net enough for us to retire on." She refused to listen. "NO! Don't you see --it's crime that's come between us. Two wrongs can NEVER add up to make things right. I've had enough, Mike. I just can't take any more!"

Elsewhere, Batman had been investigating Gina's past, discovering a photo of the Mindbenders and a very familiar prism in the process. A quick check of Mirage's cell confirmed that he had escaped. Returned to the Gotham Freaks exhibit, the Dark Knight acted on a hunch and attempted to take the armless and legless Texas into custody. The Funfair crew was horrified but his allegations were confirmed when Texas metamorphosized into Mike, then the red/black bandit and finally his old orange Mirage persona.

After demonstrating his newfound physical strength in a brief fight, Mirage cast one of his enhanced illusions, a fantasy that left Batman convinced he was being strangled. "I've had a long time to practice," he said as he ran away. "Even if you're wearing earplugs, like you did before -- it'll take more than willpower to break free from THAT!" Refusing to become an accessory to murder, Gina slapped the Dark Knight until he snapped out of the hypnotic state.

A final desperate chase amidst the carnival rides found Batman subjected to another illusion, this one suggesting that he'd been cast into Hell and come face to face with the Devil. The heat Batman felt was actually being generated by a floodlight and, when the hero realized it, he slammed it back into Mirage, knocking him out and ending the hallucination.

The night ended with Mirage taken into custody and Gina brought in for questioning. Given her role is saving Batman's life, Lieutenant Kitch speculated that "I don't think we'll be holding you." The rest of the Gotham Freaks expected nothing good from the incident, observing that the Funfair was still slated for foreclosure. Elsewhere, Bruce Wayne was making arrangements to buy the carnival. (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT # 14-15, by Grant, Staton and Mitchell).


When Alan Grant revived Mirage in 1993, it was pretty obvious that he was unfamiliar with John Ostrander's 1989 MANHUNTER story. In Ostrander's story, Mirage was a blonde named Kerry Astin with a still-functioning prism. In Grant's, he was a brunette named Mike whose real name had never been discovered and who had been in prison since his first appearance, making contact lenses from the fragments of his broken jewel. While writing this bio, I briefly attempted to treat the MANHUNTER and SHADOW characters as the same person but finally concluded that the whole flashback sequence from SHADOW # 15 made more sense if I just ignored the MANHUNTER story. Hence, the second Mirage. I hope it works for you.

posted February 04, 2001 02:02 PM

Even in 1939, two years after the fiery 1937 Hindenburg tragedy above Lakehurst, New Jersey, the dirigible still had the power to evoke wonder. On an early autumn night in Manhattan, a young boy excitedly drew his mother's attention to the airship above. The excitement of the crowds swiftly turned to terror as the rocket-like crimson dirigible suddenly unleashed a barrage of red beams. Within moments, whole buildings had been reduced to rubble and pedestrians found themselves crawling from the debris. The death toll was estimated in the thousands.

And from above, a voice boomed, "We come to rule the world. Do not resist us or the rays strike again. We, the 'Scarlet Horde' warn you ..."

Bruce Wayne, who'd witnessed the tragedy firsthand and helped with relief efforts, vowed to avenge the dead. Noting the red lights, he recalled an entry in his still-developing crime file that referred to Doctor Carl Kruger, a man who'd boasted of creating a death-ray. Kruger had a history of mental illness and was said to suffer from "a Napoleon complex." With no other leads, The Batman paid a visit to his estate.

There, the Dark Knight learned that Kruger was indeed the mastermind of the Scarlet Horde, an army of more than two-thousand men. He was allied with a trio of fellow scientists, all dressed in red militaristic uniforms, and proclaimed that their next strike would take place within two days. "During the panic, our men will loot the banks and we will have money to build more dirigibles. You, Travis, Bixley, Ryder, will be my lieutenants. And I, Carl Kruger, will be dictator of the world!"Obviously, Kruger's Napoleon complex was still in full force. He'd even fashioned his hair and clothing after the famous ruler.

The Dark Knight's first attempt at capturing Kruger met with failure when he was struck from behind and left for dead in the doctor's flaming mansion. The Batman does not die easily and escaped his bonds in time to interrogate Ryder. Terrified, Kruger's lieutenant fled directly to the Scarlet Horde's base, followed from a distance by the Batplane.

With the aircraft in a fixed flight pattern and concealed by a smoky black cloud, Batman raided the base, subdued a few soldiers (clad in white hoods and green uniforms) and attempted to destroy the crimson dirigible. Once again, Kruger intervened, shooting the intruder and returning moments later to disintegrate the hero with his death-ray. The Batman had escaped death once more, this time by subduing and trading places with the soldier who guarded him during Kruger's brief absence.

Aware of the impending return strike of the "Dirigible of of Doom," Batman knew that his next encounter with the Scarlet Horde could not end in failure. During the time he spent undercover in the Horde's base, the Dark Knight had developed enough familiarity with the death-ray's strengths and weaknesses to formulate a chemical solution that would counter its effects. He coated the Batplane with the deterrent and flew into battle.

The aerial duel above Manhattan came to an abrupt climax when Batman rammed his plane directly into the airship. Parachuting from the flaming debris, Batman noticed that ruger had escaped via a small catapult-plane. As the mad doctor flew in closer, Batman grabbed the wing of the plane and threw a gas capsule into the open cockpit. The unconscious Kruger smashed his plane into the ocean even as the Dark Knight jumped to safety.

A few hours later, a radio report offered an epilogue: "The body of Kruger was recovered from the water but that of The Batman has not yet been found. Latest dispatches report the capture of the entire Scarlet Army." (DETECTIVE COMICS # 33, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane)

"The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom" stands as one of the most significant episodes in Batman's entire history but not because of the primary story. Instead, it was the two page prologue -- "The Batman and How He Came To Be!!" -- that would ensure DETECTIVE COMICS # 33's place in history. The murder of the Waynes and Bruce's transformation into The Batman was later reprinted in BATMAN # 1 with a new splash panel and became one of the most famous sequences in comic book history.

The two-page sequence was reprinted as it originally appeared (with the "Dirigible of Doom" splash panel) only three times: 1973's SECRET ORIGINS # 1, 1999's BATMAN: THE COMPLETE HISTORY and 1990's BATMAN ARCHIVES # 1. The latter represented the only complete reprinting of "Dirigible of Doom."

During 1981 and 1982, Gerry Conway had been digging deep into Batman's history for villains. After delivering new incarnations of two of the earliest Bat-foes, Doctor Death (from 'TEC # 29-30) and the Monk ('TEC # 31-32), Conway set his sights on 'TEC # 33's Scarlet Horde. In this instance, however, he chose not to recycle the name, instead creating a surrogate for Carl Kruger. Dressed in a magenta military uniform and hat, the bearded Colonel Blimp commanded a small army of men in green flightsuits, each displaying a red blimp icon and a lightning bolt.

Blimp had the all-too-common motivation of vengeance, explaining to Batman that "my father was a Navy man -- he spent his whole career ... staked his reputation on the Navy's zeppelin project during the 1950s. But then those fools saw fit to cancel that program, cutting father off without a regard to what he'd devoted his life to -- a life he saw no reason to continue living after they'd destroyed his dream. He died a broken man, Batman -- and now someone must PAY for what was done to him!"

Using magnetic technology of unknown origin, Colonel Blimp used his orange zeppelin to pluck a fully-manned Navy submarine from the North Atlantic and, for an encore, drew a battleship from the Gotham harbor up to the belly of the airship. The second theft took place in full view of dozens of witnesses at a yacht party -- including a millionaire named Bruce Wayne. Within minutes, The Batman had secured a bat-line to the rising Naval vessel.

Moving on to the dirigible itself, the Dark Knight used a mini-laser to sabotage the craft's engine. As anticipated, he soon found himself attacked by several men securely fastened to the outside of the airship. With no safety line of his own, Batman hung on desperately as the men attempted to knock him to his death, finally attatching a tracking device before dropping to Earth -- or at least the stolen battleship below. Even by extending the ship's anchor to its limit, the Dark Knight still faced a steep drop to the ground. His costume shredded and his body battered, Batman staggered into the Batcave in search of Alfred's medical miracles (BATMAN # 352, by Conway & Paul Kupperberg, Don Newton and John Calnan).

The tracking device proved useless thanks to its early discovery by Blimp's men. Instead, Batman headed to Washington, D.C. in the hopes that the Department of the Navy could offer some insight. As it happened, the Dark Knight was still in the nation's capital when an ominous blimp appeared in the night sky. While the colonel was announcing via loudspeaker that he would release the ships and crew for a ten million dollar ransom, The Batman was slipping aboard the airship. He discovered that Blimp's voice was coming from a computer and, more significantly, that the airship was primed to explode at the end of the message.

Plunging into the waters of the Potomac, Batman looked up just in time to see a catastrophic fireball. The dirigible had been filled with hydrogen gas! "Zeppelins started using non-combustible helium after the Hindenburg disaster in the 1930s," Batman recalled, "but Col. Blimp intended these pyrotechnics to PROVE his point ... regardless of who might have been caught in the blast."

Discussing the case with Robin, the Dark Knight observed that "the only good thing about this is that there aren't many places you can hide a battleship OR a zeppelin." Through a combination of intuition and computer triangulation, Batman concluded that the Naval vessels were probably in a particular Arctic region and that Colonel Blimp's forces were based at an abandoned airship hangar in a wooded New Jersey area.

Dressed in a red thermal version of his costume (no bare legs here!), Robin took a Batplane to the Arctic and was greeted by the enthisiastic crewman of the captured vessels. Aware that Blimp's men would be returning shortly, the Teen Wonder drafted the men to lay a trap. Armed with guns, the crewmen were hidden under snow-covered tarps until their captors approached the site. The stunned kidnappers surrendered on the spot and no shots were fired.

Elsewhere, Batman's instincts were proving just as correct about Blimp's central location. Though he had only a skeleton crew on hand, the colonel still managed to pull a gun on the Dark Knight. As he rambled about his need for revenge, Batman noticed the cigarette in his enemy's hand -- and the hydrogen container near his own. Pressing the release, Batman watched as the cigarette ignited the gas. Punching Blimp, he added that he'd "create some fireworks of my own!" (DETECTIVE # 519, by Conway & Kupperberg, Newton and Calnan)

Next week -- I PROMISE! -- The Calculator. Still on the agenda are Firebug, Signalman, Maxie Zeus, Clayface, Harvey Bullock, Mortimer Gunt, Lucius Fox and probably some that I've forgotten. Stay tuned ...

posted February 05, 2001 05:42 AM

This is great.

Thank you for Mirage and Scarlet Horde, Miki. A always, I'm looking forward to the upcoming stuff.

Just a question, John - which is your favourite among the more or less forgotten Bat-villains and/or supporting characters?

Myself, I was always a sucker for the Gentleman Ghost and the Killer Moth (at the time when he was neither considered a pathetic failure nor had been transformed into that ridiculous Charaxes character).
And the Ten-Eyed Man, of course.

posted February 05, 2001 07:02 AM

Can I add one more request to the neverending list? How about Rokk and Sorban of the gambling planet Ventura?

posted February 06, 2001 07:40 AM

Oh, one more question: which villains did the Monarch of Menace assign in BATMAN #336 besides Spellbinder and the Bouncer?

posted February 10, 2001 12:40 PM

Cluemaster was the only other bad guy identified but there were more generic costumed villains in the crowd.

Which obscure Bat-Villains do I like the best ? Well, I LOVE Ruby Ryder -- the look and the whole arrogant attitude. And Cat-Man really clicks with me, too. He was a rich guy who turned to crime for kicks and the fact that he’s having fun has carried over into a good share of his recent appearances. Other favorites -- Mister Baffle, Hugo Strange, the Spook, the original Black Spider, M.A.Z.E., Blockbuster (both versions), Cluemaster, Tweedledum & Tweedledee.

As for supporting players, Daphne Pennyworth and Julie Madison are both favorites.

Among the big guns, I’d have to say that the Riddler, Harley Quinn and Ra’s al Ghul are my favorites these days. The appearances of Ra’s have been restricted enough to keep him from oversaturation (as in the case of, say, Vandal Savage). As for the Riddler, I just like the pure fun of the character and the mental exercises of his puzzles. Plus, I appreciate the fact that he’s NOT crazy (despite periodic stories --like JUSTICE LEAGUE OF ARKHAM -- that put him in the Asylum). Dumping most of the Bat-villains in Arkham has DEFINITELY been one of the missteps of the past fifteen years.

And Harley ? I had grave reservations about her entrance into the mainstream DCU and her acquisition of a title of her own (even one by greats like Kesel and the Dodsons). Turns out that HARLEY QUINN has become one of my favorite titles! It’s genuinely entertaining and manages to catch the spirit of the Animated Series.

In the 1970s, I loved Two-Face and Catwoman. When I began reading BATMAN in 1974, Harvey Dent had only been revived a few years earlier and, even without much familiarity with his history, I could sense a freshness in the character that has been pretty effectively stamped out in the past fifteen-plus years of oversaturation. The tragedy of Harvey Dent, the loss of his family and the simple device of a coin toss changing his entire outlook was fascinating to me. The origin story still has the power to enthrall me, whether its Bill Finger’s original, the Andy Helfer remake in BATMAN ANNUAL # 13, the William Messner-Loebs account in the BATMAN comic strip or the Animated Series’ two-parter.

As for Catwoman, I LOVED the purple and green costume that she resumed wearing in BATMAN # 266, her romantic attraction to Batman (and Bruce Wayne) and her whole internal conflict between good and evil. Heck, I even liked the sound of her real name, Selina Kyle ... prrrr ...

Somehow, though, the post-Crisis Catwoman has never held the same appeal. Superficially, I hate the fact that no one knows (or didn’t until recently) that she was Selina Kyle, that she was never arrested until the recent arc in her own book and that her romantic attraction to Batman has mostly been downplayed or ignored. What we’ve been left with on the whole (and there are exceptions, of course) is a Catwoman whose entire career in the modern DCU has been a decade-plus succession of episodic, insignificant burglaries and little else. I really appreciate stories like the relatively recent "I’ll Take Manhattan" that try to break out of the mold. Needless to say, I’m thrilled by the news that Ed Brubaker is revamping Selina -- and ecstatic that Darwyn Cooke (whose work on BATMAN: EGO was fabulous!) will be joining him.

Well, that was probably more than you were expecting.


The pocket calculator entered the mainstream in 1975. First available in the United States with a $300 to $400 price tag during 1971, the amazing devices had fallen below $20 by 1975 as competition flourished and technology improved. By 1976, the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) which projected numbers on a small screen had become dependable enough to make them a standard part of the unit. The controversy had shifted from the price to whether the now-accessible calculators should be permitted in classrooms, potentially inhibiting students from acquiring math skills. Teacher protests notwithstanding, the calculator was on its way to ubiquity.

Bob Rozakis, whose wife Laurie was a schoolteacher at the time, was well aware of the increasing impact of the pocket unit. What better way to connect with DC’s still relatively young audience than a villain called the Calculator ? The serial played out from June of 1976 through the end of December, creating a well-received new costumed crook and launching a bonafide artistic phenomenon in the process.

The Calculator wore a purple costume with white accessories, notably a keyboard strapped to his chest that was linked to the LCD visor on his forehead. By punching numbers on that keypad, the Calculator seemed capable of generating almost any energy construct from the LCD that he desired, from solid objects to beams of deadly force. At one point (ACTION COMICS # 522), he even travelled into a victim’s home via their computer! The technology was so far advanced by 1976 standards -- heck, by 2001 standards! -- that it almost seemed like magic. No details on the Calculator’s origin -- or even his real name -- have ever been divulged. There was, however, one secret that he was only too eager to reveal ... but that would have to wait.

For phase one, the Calculator took on the Atom while attempting to steal an earthquake-inhibiting device from Richard Bagley, a friend of Ray Palmer. With his fingers constantly tapping on his keypad, the computer crook generated everything from a ring of fire to an energy-hand to keep the Tiny Titan at bay. And ultimately, after the fissure from a quake had swallowed Rick Bagley whole, the villain cackled, "Just as I calculated -- an earthquake has been my accomplice ... and together we have stolen the life of a most important man." Seething over his friend’s murder, the Atom pummelled the Calculator into unconsciousness but failed to observe him pressing the asterisk at the bottom of his keypad as he collapsed.

Jailed in an Ivy Town holding cell, the red-headed killer chuckled that "Project-Atom is complete. Now for my next victim --The Black Canary!" (DETECTIVE COMICS # 463) He "boasted that when the judge pronounced sentence, the roof would cave in -- and it DID ... just as he calculated!"

He arrived in Star City just in time for its Tricentennial celebration and quickly crossed paths with Black Canary in the midst of a killer heat wave. With the temperature at an incredible 186 degrees, the bandit took credit for the furnace conditions, proclaiming, "I only steal things when they are most valuable -- and today, Founder’s Day ... is the most important day to the people of Star City." As the temperature continued to climb, the Calculator revealed that he was channeling the Canary’s sonic scream into his computer circuitry, using "its vibrations to set the air-molecules moving. Molecules in motion generate HEAT ... so you see, Canary, YOU are my unwitting accomplice in this crime. Taking a desperate gamble, the Canary turned loose an unrelenting shriek, momentarily sending the temperature to such a level that the Calculator’s keypad melted and turned off the heat. Before the keys disappeared, the villain managed to press the asterisk key (‘TEC # 464, co-written by Laurie Rozakis).

More Star City hijinks ensued a day later when the Calculator (free once more) bathed the visiting Elongated Man in a ray that caused everyone he met to develop uncontrollable elastic properties. After the E-Man inflicted his foe with "the elongated plague," the Calculator agreed to cancel the effect, pressing the asterisk button for good measure (‘TEC # 465).

Still in Star City, the computer bandit continued a series of "thefts" that seemed more likely to generate publicity than profit. His new target was the World Series at Star Stadium, where he vowed to steal every baseball thrown by the Star City Stars and the Gotham City Giants. Green Arrow, who’d been on hand to make the first pitch (a baseball arrow, natch), gave it his best shot but wound up having his bow destroyed by the Calculator’s energy-bats. Watching from the stadium, the Elongated Man found himself unable to intervene, shouting to GA that "it’s as if my feet were glued to the floor." Determined to salvage the game, the Emerald Archer tied the Stretchable Sleuth’s feet to the railing and turned him into a makeshift bow that fired Green Arrow directly into the path of the Calculator. His punch also managed to hit the all-important asterisk key, saving his opponent the trouble (‘TEC # 466).

Having exhausted the possibilities of Star City, the Calculator set his sights on Midway City. There, he attempted to skyjack Hawkman, doing his best to prevent the Winged Wonder from delivering a nuclear scientist to an overloading atomic facility in the city. Hawkman freed his wings from energy-cuffs only to be trapped in a Calculator-induced cyclone. Tapping into his innate aviation skills, the Winged Wonder stopped fighting the tornado and let its winds aim him directly into the bandit’s jaw. And, yes, the button was pushed.

The Thanagarian police detective suspected something sinister about the Calculator’s crime spree and decided that a visit to Gotham City was in order. After chatting with Batman about his latest case (in the issue’s clever lead story, which kept Hawman’s identity concealed until the end), the Winged Wonder related the circumstances of the Calculator’s latest capture -- and escape. "Call it intuition -- or calculation -- but I think his next target is ... The Batman!" (‘TEC # 467)

Hawkman’s deduction was evidently to have hinged on the order in which the Calculator had committed his robberies. Rozakis explained in DETECTIVE # 470’s letter column that "based on a map showing the locations of Ivy Town, Star City, Midway City and Gotham that I had seen, I decided it would be logical for the Calculator to start at Ivy (up in the Boston area) and work his way down the Atlantic Coast. That was until (editor) Julie (Schwartz) pointed out that the map was wrong and that Midway was located on Lake Michigan -- when it was too late to change the order." A few months later, Mark Gruenwald’s Justice League issue of AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS # 14 complicated things further by placing Star City in Massachusetts and moving Ivy Town to Connecticut.

Several readers were convinced that the villain was striking at his targets alphabetically -- a coincidence on Rozakis’ part -- but Batman’s inolvement nixed that theory. In the end, Hawkman must have based his conclusion on the fact that the Dark Knight was the only non-powered Justice Leaguer in the continental U.S. that the Calculator hadn’t faced.

In any event, The Batman did indeed battle the Calculator at the opening of DETECTIVE # 468. The Dark Knight prevented him from stealing a 17th Century time capsule by knocking the villain out with one his own solid computer-generated weapons. Within hours, the computer bandit was free "a water-main burst in police headquarters just as the Calculator was being booked") and making his presence known in Central City. With the Flash involved in a case in the far future, the sextet of heroes who’d fought the Calculator before decided to bring him to justice.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. Green Arrow’s shafts were deflected, Hawkman lost control of his flight and anyone who tried to touch the villain met an impenetrable barrier. Even the Atom’s attempt at attacking while in the guise of Ray Palmer met with the failure. That special button, the Calculator informed them, had given him permanent immunity to each hero. They could defeat him once and only once. Any further attempts would meet with failure.

While the Justice Leaguers licked their wounds, the Calculator continued his Central City spree, determined to confront the Flash. Instead, he was lured to the city’s S.T.A.R. Labs facility by a false story planted by Batman. The clash of electronic calculation and human brainpower climaxed when the computer crook tried to trap the Dark Knight in a computer-generated cage. In a heartbeat, the floor literally spun beneath him and the cell wound up around the bandit. Insisting that "I can’t trap MYSELF," the Calculator punched desperately at his keypad until his LCD read "Overload" and buttons and sparks began flying from his keypad.

Back at his penthouse, Batman explained to the Justice League that "I kept taunting him, anticipating HOW he’d try to stop me. The floor was rigged to spin 180 degrees and change our places when I triggered it with a switch in my utility belt. Repeating words like jail -- lock up -- behind bars -- 'inspired’ him into creating that cage -- which became his prison cell for life. The only way to defeat the Calculator was to turn one of his own weapons against him." The databank was closed.

Artwise, the Calculator series began in the hands of Mike Grell and Terry Austin but the press of Grell’s duties on the revived GREEN LANTERN forced him to bow out after # 463 and 464. Ernie Chan stepped in to pencil # 465 before the assignment was handed to a relative novice named Marshall Rogers for the duration. Hired by art director Vince Colletta in 1976, he’d been assigned to a few back-up strips and happened to be available when the Calculator/Green Arrow story came around.

Rozakis and Schwartz were sold on Rogers’ striking design sense, enhanced all the more by Austin’s pristine inking. They argued that, since he’d illustrated the previous two chapters, he should be permitted to draw ‘TEC # 468’s full-length conclusion with Batman. Incredibly, as Rogers recalled in a 1980 interview (THE COMICS JOURNAL # 54), "the reception around DC wasn’t good. As a matter of fact, there was a possibility that it might not have seen press. Fortunately, the deadline was so close, they didn’t have the time to get someone else to do it."

The writer and editor’s faith in Rogers and Austin’s moody, stylized Batman was rewarded once readers saw the story. "Battle of the Thinking Machines" created a sensation in fandom, exemplified by reader Rod McLaughlin’s comments in issue # 471’s letter column: "The Batman was as dark and mysterious as he should be, but he also managed to mesh perfectly into the super-scientific background of the Calculator." The penciller and inker were quickly reassembled on the title for a celebrated run with writer Steve Englehart (# 471-476) that was recently collected by DC in the STRANGE APPARITIONS trade paperback. The Calculator story that started it all, alas, has been out of print since 1976.

The Calculator seemed to have been a big hit with 1976 readers. He came in second in a "Super-Villains Popularity Poll"(conducted in 1977 and announced in 1978’s SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS # 14), losing out to The Joker. It seems likely that the Calculator would have eventually appeared in the Rozakis-scripted SSOSV but the mass cancellations of 1978 left few vehicles for a return engagement.

Instead, the Calculator sat in limbo until 1981, when Rozakis brought him back for another round with the Atom in ACTION COMICS # 522-524 (illustrated by Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta). Having finally calculated an escape from his own prison, the villain intended to steal another potentially life-saving device -- a so-called "hurricane harness" designed "to drain the fury from a hurricane ... and ...convert that power into electrical energy -- for use in homes and businesses." Its creator was one of Ray Palmer colleagues, Professor Alpheus V. Hyatt, and the Atom was determined to prevent another of his friends from being harmed.

As he’d boasted, the Calculator was as untouchable as ever and the Tiny Titan soon found himself on the defensive within a fiery cage that shrunk at the same rate that he did. Abruptly enlarging, the Atom caused his cell to grow enough to set off the sprinklers and douse the cage and his foe, gambling that his circuitry would be shorted out. No such luck. "I anticipate battling Aquaman someday," the rogue explained, "so I’m water-proofed." Before the Tiny Titan could get his momentum, the Calculator kicked him into Hyatt’s Time Pool.

Returning from a detour in 1938 and aware that he couldn’t personally defeat his opponent, the Atom discreetly perched himself next to Hyatt’s ear and commanded the Professor to "jump up and hit the Calculator’s chest-controls -- as many buttons as you can!" A dozen weapons fired simultaneously from his LCD and sparks flew from his keypad. Down but not out, the computer crook had already calculated an escape plan.

While the Atom had been incommunicado, the Calculator had made an unsuccessful probe of Hyatt’s mind but left a micro-speaker in his ear. With the Professor on the witness stand during his attacker’s trial, the Calculator whispered into a sending unit, "Where is the hurricane harness ? You’ve sworn to tell the truth."Without thinking, Hyatt answered and the villain, armed with the information he needed, escaped custody.

Seeking a hero whom the Calculator hadn’t fought, the Atom called in teen hero Air Wave. The microchip marauder dismissed him as a novice ("You didn’t even make it into my databank!") but the kid from Texas made good. Using his ability to transform himself into radio waves, Air Wave entered the LCD visor and left through the keypad, causing both to short-circuit in the process. An entry in 1985’s WHO’S WHO # 4 reported that "the Calculator is serving three consecutive life terms at a federal penitentiary."

Next on the Calculator’s hit parade was the Blue Beetle, whom he fought in a rare non-Rozakis outing (1986’s BLUE BEETLE # 8, by Len Wein, Paris Cullins and Dell Barras). Also unusual was the solo operator’s decision to use henchmen in his heist of cutting edge computer technology from a Chicago trade show. The crux of the story was, in fact, a henchman, a newly-paroled man named Ed Buckley who found himself drawn back into a life of crime against his better judgment. With the Beetle about to be impaled by one of the Calculator’s energy constructs, Buckley fired a gun at his boss and took a brutal energy blast as a result. The distraction had done its job, though, and Blue Beetle tore the keypad off the Calculator’s chest. The villain wound up with his arms held in a giant abacus, a facsimile of "one of mankind’s most ancient computers."

Rozakis returned to the Calculator on one final occasion as part of 1989’s HERO HOTLINE mini-series (illustrated by Stephen DeStefano and Kurt Schaffenberger). After making two unsucessfully attempts at killing the Hotline’s Coordinator (a.k.a. "Harry") via intermediaries (an Americommando robot in # 4 and the Firebug in # 5), the calculating man decided to do the job himself. Using several bald henchman (each with a number -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 -- tattooed on their forehead), he created traps for the company’s major operatives and strolled into the Hotline offices.

The unseen Coordinator admitted that he should have figured it out sooner but his foe countered that "I calculated that you wouldn’t . You know me, Harry -- leave as little to chance as possible."

"Which is why you managed to lure my crew away."

"Of course. And quite cleverly, I might add. Each with an assignment designed for their specific skills. And each lured into a trap designed specifically. ... Since we’re alone, suppose you come out and we settle our differences face-to-face ?"

"I’ll come out on one condition. You calculate the odds of your beating my entire team."

"You’re a riot, Harry. I did it long before I walked in the door. That’s why I lured them away in the first place."

As a giant elastic hand swooped down from above, the Hotline agent known as Stretch asked, "Want to calculate the odds that we’d all be freed from your traps ?"Using energy-chains to slam Stretch to the ground, he sneered, "Bad move, Thomas. I was prepared for you." Another voice advised that it was "time to recalculate ... Tom’s not alone!"

The Calculator fought back against the converging Hotline team with an LCD-generated barrage of sharpened disks. Believing he’d triumphed, the villain was unprepared for Stretch binding his arms and legs while Diamondette delivered a rock-hard punch that shattered his helmet display. The origin of the Calculator’s feud with the Coordinator and Stretch remained a mystery.

A year later, the Calculator had been reduced to hanging out in a super-villain bar called the Dark Side, trading stories with bad guys like Calendar Man who’d also seen better days (1990’s JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA # 43, by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis, Adam Hughes and Jose Marzan, Jr.). He hasn’t been seen since although one of his spare costumes recently surfaced in the possession of the Skeleton, a villain who takes the guise of Batman’s various foes (2000’s BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY SECRET FILES # 1, by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Mark Pennington).

Has the Calculator become an also-ran in the 21st Century, regarded as someone as unremarkable and disposable as the device that one can now buy for as little as $1.00 ? Odds are, the microchip marauder will return to calculate again.


Next up, I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of bad news. After agonizing about it for the past week, I’ve decided to take a leave of absence from the bios here and at the "Obscure DC Characters" thread for a few months. Basically, it’s just a matter of time. My pile of comics-related projects outside the Board (both for others and myself) has been snowballing and I finally had to admit that something had to give. Otherwise, I don’t expect my routine to change that much. I’ll still be checking in on the Boards and posting responses. I just wanted to break away from my self-imposed weekly deadlines for a little while.

In the meantime, thanks for the enthusiastic response you’ve given me here and on other threads. I couldn’t ask for a better audience!

posted February 10, 2001 02:28 PM

Thank you for all you've done here, Miki. This has been GREAT and your weekly events will be sorely missed. On the other hand, I really understand if you think this takes too much time in your life.

But I hope (and guess) that we'll still see some texts from you on an irregular basis now and then?

Good luck with all your other projects.

posted February 10, 2001 02:29 PM

By the way, how about making a petition for bringin back Ruby Ryder. I also love that gal.

posted February 10, 2001 07:00 PM

I'm all for that Ruby Ryder/Marcia (Queen Bee) Monrow prestige format miniseries.

Seriously, I do love these two evil ladies and would be interested to see them incorporated into the new continuity.