Posts tagged ‘Mad Hatter’

Detective 566 – Know Your Foes, and a mystery villain in Green Arrow

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Doug Moench and Gene Colan provide a review of Batman’s major villains in this story, a lead-in to the big Batman 400.  The bulk of it reads much like a Who’s Who, but that series, and its variants, were in the future, and there really had not been anything like this.  It was much more appreciated at the time than such an issue would be now.

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After receiving a mysterious letter saying “Know your foes,” Batman and Robin review them.  All the big names are covered: Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia.  Killer Moth makes the cut into the big names, as does Black Mask, the newest addition to the line-up.

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Curiously, this is the first time Poison Ivy makes it into a listing of Batman villains.  She’d been a foe of his since the 60s, but rarely in his own books.  Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Nocturna and the Night Slayer round out the ones who get full entries.

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There is a curious mix on the “B-list” page.  Cavalier and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are golden age holdovers, but Black Spider and Clayface III are supposedly dead.  Mr. Freeze, Cat-Man and Croc could easily have made the cut to major villains at this time.  And they included Crazy Quilt.  Really?

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Green Arrow and Black Canary’s series builds to its finale in this story by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome K Moore.

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Onyx is giving a long, roundabout explanation to her wanna-be boyfriend about why she has come back to Star City, but it gets interrupted by a bad guy smashing right through the wall.

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Who is the mystery attacker?  That gets saved for the finale.

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Detective 526 – Jason Todd dons the costume

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Celebrating Batman’s 500th appearance, Detective 526 (May 1983) is a forgotten, but worthy, anniversary issue.  Crisis on Infinite Earths would remove this story from continuity, and the origin of Jason Todd radically changed, but this work by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala stands on its own merit.

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The Joker calls together a mass assembly of Batman’s enemies.  Croc is out to kill Batman, but he’s a newbie, and not worthy of the honour, the Joker insists.  So he lays out a plan that will give them all chances of killing Batman that night.

The line-up includes the regulars: Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Scarecrow.  Cat-Man, Killer Moth, Mr. Freeze, the Mad Hatter, and Matt Hagen as Clayface had all appeared within the last few years.  The Cavalier had not been seen since an issue of Batman Family in the late 70s.  Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not been seen since the 1940s!  Technically, this is the first appearance of the Earth-1 versions of the characters, but with Crisis looming that scarcely matters.

Some of the newer villains are included as well: Black Spider, Captain Stingaree and the Spook.  Talia is there, without her father being involved in the story, which is rare.

The Gentleman Ghost is a Hawkman villain, but had fought Batman twice in his own book.  This is the only time he appears in a line-up of Batman villains.

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Catwoman watches, but takes no part in the meeting.  Talia also has no interest in killing Batman, but has to fight her way out.

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Both Catwoman and Talia head to the Batcave to warn Batman of the plans against him, but get involved in a cat fight of their own.

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Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well for Dick Grayson.  His great plan to use the Todds against Croc simply put them into his hands, and he has Jason driven to Wayne Manor to keep him safe.

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Barbara accompanies her father as Commissioner Gordon checks out the abandoned theatre where the villains met, and finds evidence pointing to a gathering of their enemies.

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Barbara goes to find Dick, and they suit up as Batgirl and Robin and head out to fight the villains, as Batman does the same, with Talia and Catwoman as back-up.  No one is at home, so Jason is left to explore Wayne Manor, and guess where he winds up?

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The Spook manages to get the drop on Talia, if only for a moment.  But with so many fighting against them, the two women and Batman get taken.

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Robin is the one to find the remains of the Todds, fed to his namesakes by Croc.

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Jason, unawares, has found an alternate Robin costume in the cave, and suited up.  He heads out to join the rest of the heroes.

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Batgirl and Robin fight well together. There is no hint of romance, as there had been in their Batman Family team-ups.  Robin is in a budding romance with Starfire in the pages of New Teen Titans, but their ease with each other reminds one of the bond between them, the best duo of Batman’s supporting cast.

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Jason happens upon  a group of the villains, which gives him the information he needs to find out where everyone else is.

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Finally the big climax, as the Joker gloats over his captured foes.

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Croc had been working behind the scenes with the Joker, using all the other villains to wear Batman down.  He makes his move, but Batman manages to duck at the right time, and Croc takes down the Joker.

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Jason Todd arrives just as Batman has beaten Croc into submission, and delivers the final blow.  Only afterwards does he discover his parents bodies.

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The epilogue sees Bruce sending Catwoman and Talia off together in a car.  Where is he sending them?  Why did he stick these two women in the same car together?  How far did they get before their fight forced the car off the road and into a ditch?

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The issue ends with Bruce and Jason Todd, who is looking relatively ok for a boy whose parents were horribly murdered the night before.  But he is to be the new Robin, and there is a sense of hope.

Which is all kind of weird now, because Jason Todd was given such a different origin, and made such a different character, in the post-Crisis reality.

But for a couple of years, this was the origin of Jason Todd, Robin.

Detective 510 – The Mad Hatter returns, and Batgirl shows brains beat brawn

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Gene Colan and Klaus Janson take over the art as Gerry Conway brings back the Mad Hatter in Detective 510 (Jan. 82)

This is the first major appearance of the Mad Hatter in years, reverting to his original appearance, like the Tenniel illustrations from Alice in Wonderland.

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The mayoral race between Hamilton Hill and Arthur Reeves is heating up.  Reeves tries to publicly embarrass Batman, but it backfires on him.

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Lucius Fox is kidnapped by the Mad Hatter, who plans on using his knowledge and position to raid Wall St.

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Of course, the Hatter’s plans include Batman, and he lets Bruce Wayne know that he has taken Fox.

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At the time I was not happy with Gene Colan taking over the art, I preferred Don Newton.  But I have come to appreciate how moody Colan made this series.

The Mad Hatter proves a fairly easy victory.  He’s rusty after all these years.

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As the story ends, the bigger threat by far is Arthur Reeves.

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Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella conclude their three-part team up of Batgirl and Supergirl in this issue.

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While Supergirl continues to battle the Anhilliator, Batgirl pays close attention to the effects that her various attacks are having.  Though the villain seems invulnerable, Batgirl has noticed some weakness.

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Batgirl gets Supergirl to freeze the villain once he has been weakened, which causes him to revert back to the scientist he once was.  Then they just don’t seem to care about him anymore.  They don’t take him to prison or anything, just go off their separate ways.

Supergirl and Batgirl’s next time together is int he pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a scene expanded on in a DC Comics Presents.

 

 

Detective 230 – the Mad Hatter debuts, Roy Raymond deals with a crackpot inventor, and a catalogue of Martian powers

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The Mad Hatter is introduced in a story by Bill Finger, with art by Sheldon Moldoff, in Detective 230 (April 1956).

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There had been an earlier Mad Hatter, who appeared in one issue of Batman in the late 40s, and resembled the Tenniel illustration of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.  This new version, Jervis Tetch, is an obsessive collector of hats.

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He decides he must have the Batman’s cowl, no matter what he has to do to get it.

This story was adapted for the second appearance of the Mad Hatter on the tv series, and some of the scenes that follow are very close.

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Tetch disguises himself as an artist, and tries to get the Batman’s cowl that way, and later sees that it gets irradiated, so Batman is forced to remove it.

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Defeated by Batman at the end, he vows revenge.  The Mad Hatter returns in a Batman issue in 1964, which was also adapted for the tv show, as the Hatter first appearance.

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A noted scientist keeps approaching Roy Raymond to be on his show in this Ruben Moreira story, but keeps bringing obviously fake inventions.

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Roy is mystified at why such a serious and noted inventor would be approaching him with such obvious fakes.

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In the end he realizes that the person visiting him was an imposter, attempting to discredit the professor before he approached Raymond with his real new invention.tec_230_jj

The Martian Manhunter has his abilities clearly catalogued in this story for the first time.  His shape-changing, telepathy, invisibility,intangibility, x-ray vision, super-hearing and strength are all listed and shown.  His weakness, fire, is not mentioned in this piece, but has been referred to in earlier tales.  I only just now realized that he does not seem to have the ability to fly at this point.

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After the catalogue of powers ends, John discovers he is powerless, the effect of a rare (never seen again) passing comet.

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So John proves his mettle by solving a case as a human, without any powers, though they return at story’s end anyway.

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