Deck Log Entry # 184 The Silver-Age Challenge---So, You Think You Know the Batman? Answers!

Three . . . two . . . one.

 

Step back.  Hands in the air.

 

Wow!  Lots of comments on this one.   I love that.  Philip Portelli had posted his answers so fast---I mean, he’s usually fast, but this time, it was almost like he had been looking over my shoulder and was just waiting for me to hit “publish”---that I was afraid the quiz would be over before anyone else even got a chance to see it.

 

That almost happened.  It would have, if Philip hadn’t missed on two of his answers.  Fortunately, these were the two questions that I thought would be the trickiest to get right.  Not that I wished Philip ill, but it afforded other folks a reason to bother to play.  Only two others---Fraser Sherman and Luke Blanchard---bothered to post a stab at it, and it worked out, because both of them got a claim on some of the remaining bragging rights.

 

As usual, one question was a real bear.  I thought I had you on it, since it relies on a detail that even the authors of various on-line compendia, such as the DC Comics Database and Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics, overlook.  It sure generated considerable discussion, and I have to say, it was fun to sit back and observe the keen thinking taking place.  You fellows are incredibly tough to fool. 

 

Because it is so detailed, I’ll hold that question for last.  In the meantime, here are the answers to the other seven:

 

 

 

1.  In 1964, the “New Look” Batman’s chest insignia was changed by enclosing the bat-emblem in a yellow ellipse.  In what story did the Caped Crusader wear the yellow-oval insignia for the first time?

 

When Superman-Batman fans opened up their copies of World’s Finest Comics #141 (May, 1964), they found some surprises.  Mort Weisinger was now in charge, and suddenly, the title looked very much like Superman and Action Comics.  The story, with the unwieldy title of “The Olsen-Robin Team Versus the Superman-Batman Team”, was the product of one of Mort’s favourite writers---Edmond Hamilton.  And the interior pages were filled with the beautifully pristine art of Curt Swan and George Klein.

 

But the biggest surprise of all had to be Swan and Klein’s depiction of the Batman.  Throughout the tale, except for two flashback panels, the bat-insignia on the Caped Crusader’s chest was enclosed in a yellow circle.

 

Of course, all of us here know about Batman’s “New Look”, conceived by editor Julius Schwartz after DC handed him the reins to the Bat-titles.  Much as he had with the Flash in ’56, Schwartz performed a major overhaul on the Masked Manhunter.  But unlike with the Flash, one thing the executives upstairs would not let Schwartz do was put their number-two cash-cow in a new costume.  The most he was permitted was to add a yellow ellipse around the plain black bat-emblem on the hero’s chest.  It would be the only consistent visual cue that Batman and Robin had entered a new era.

 

Schwartz introduced his “New Look” Batman in Detective Comics # 327 (May. 1964), which hit the stands on 26 March 1964.  The new bat-insignia came as a surprise to many readers, but not to those who had picked up World’s Finest Comics # 141 two weeks earlier, on 12 March.

 

How it happened that Weisinger “scooped” Schwartz on the Big Reveal, whether it was deliberate or a well-intentioned accident of publication, I’ve never heard explained from an authoritative source.  The only comment on it by Mort came in his answer to a reader’s question appearing two issues later, in the letter column:

 

WFC # 141’s jumping the gun in presenting the Batman’s new insignia is one of those rare “Believe It or Not” instances which has actually eclipsed the old conventional wisdom, as shown by the fact that Philip and Fraser and Luke all knew it right off.

 

 

3.  Who was given a Batgirl costume by the Dynamic Duo, and why?

 

It was, indeed, Supergirl.  A Batgirl costume was one of the gifts the Girl of Steel received from Batman and Robin for her “sweet sixteenth” birthday.  This was shown in “Supergirl’s Busiest Day”, from Action Comics # 270 (Nov., 1960), as both Philip and Luke knew, and Fraser remembered a bit too late.

 

 

4.  What foe did Batman and Robin help Superman defeat on the Dynamic Duo’s first visit to the bottled city of Kandor?

 

This is one I thought would have given you guys more pause, but not from any confusion over the Kandor-Krypton City thing---I figured all of you knew my style of questioning well enough that I wouldn’t quibble over something like that.  No, I expected one or more of you just plain didn’t know about it, or would overlook it, in favour of the more-well-known “The Feud Between Batman and Superman”, from World’s Finest Comics # 143 (Aug., 1964).

 

As it turned out, all of you did know about “The Dictator of Krypton City”, from World’s Finest Comics # 100 (Mar., 1959), and that the villain of the piece was Lex Luthor.

 

 

5.  Also in 1964, Bruce Wayne finally got tired of trudging up that long winding staircase from the Batcave to Wayne Manor and installed an elevator.  In order to keep Aunt Harriet and any guests in the mansion from discovering it, how was the elevator disguised?

 

It was Philip who provided the detailed response I had intended with the question.  In “The Cluemaster’s Topsy-Turvy Crimes”, from Detective Comics # 351 (May, 1966), Aunt Harriet accidentally discovers the secret elevator to the Batcave (installed two years earlier, in Batman # 164) and, sticking her nose where it has no right to belong, she rides it to its subterranean destination.  In order to protect their secret identities, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson pull a gaslight routine on their snooping aunt in residence.  They redress the elevator car as a closet and pull other tricks to make Harriet doubt her senses.

 

“Made the elevator look like a closet” was the answer I was going for.  I had a problem in wording the question, however.  If I wrote the question stating that the elevator was deliberately disguised to fool Aunt Harriet, that would have been a certain tip-off to Detective Comics # 351.  So I phrased it in a more general fashion.

 

After posting my quiz, though, I reëxamined the question and realised I had been a bit too vague.  It wouldn’t have been fair to reword the question after posting it, so I decided to award any poster who answered with some form of “sliding panel” half-credit, since the elevator was, indeed, concealed behind a sliding wall panel and wasn’t disguised as a closet until Harriet discovered it.  So both Fraser and Luke got half-credit for their answers.

 

 

6.  According to Alfred the butler’s fictional accounts of the Second Batman and Robin Team, what was the adult Dick Grayson’s occupation?

 

I thought this one would be mildly tough because it couldn’t be Googled, but all three players nailed it.   In the first of Alfred’s fictional accounts of the next-generation Dynamic Duo---“The Second Batman and Robin Team”, from Batman # 131 (Apr., 1960)---he depicts the adult Dick Grayson, when he’s not fighting crime as Batman II, as a roving newspaper reporter.

 

 

7.  What recurring character in the Batman mythos did not have a last name---until the Batman television show supplied one?  After that, it became the character’s surname in the comics, too.

 

As both Philip and Luke knew, it was Aunt Harriet who didn’t have a last name until the Batman television show provided it.  From the beginning, Hattie had gone without a full name, like many of the Gotham Gangbuster’s supporting players.  (Curiously, Mort Weisinger ensured that Superman’s civilian friends, Perry White and Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, had fully developed backgrounds, with families and personal interests and complete names. Meanwhile, the mufti-clad cast of the Batman mythos, Alfred and Commissioner Gordon and Aunt Harriet, were strictly functionary, with almost no fleshing-out, not even full names.)

 

Thus, it was left to the producers of the Batman TV programme to give her a complete identity as Mrs. Harriet Cooper, tossing in her status as a widow or divorcée for good measure.  It took the comics a little while to follow suit.  It wasn’t until “Mr. Freeze’s Chilling Deathtrap”, from Detective Comics # 373 (Mar., 1968), and not until the last panel, yet, that we learn the comic-book version is also Mrs. Cooper.

 

Interestingly enough, the comic-book Aunt Harriet received a last name well before the more familiar Alfred the butler did.  Alfred wasn’t bestowed with the surname “Pennyworth” until the story “Angel---or Devil?”, from Batman # 216 (Nov., 1969).

 

 

8.  We started with a famous first; let’s finish with a not-so-famous last:  what story marked the last Silver-Age appearance of Ace, the Bat-Hound?

 

I mentioned how Julius Schwartz gave the Batman mythos an extensive revamp in 1964.  One of those measures was to jettison all of the Bat-hangers-on that had attached to the star character like barnacles.  Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, Bat-Hound---all got the heave-ho.

 

But, apparently, Mort Weisinger never got that memo.   When Edmond Hamilton cranked out scripts for World’s Finest Comics, he drew elements from Batman’s old, pre-New Look history.  That led to Ace, the Bat-Hound getting a two-panel cameo in “The Feud Between Batman and Superman”, from World’s Finest Comics # 143.

 

Fraser Sherman nailed this one cold.

 

Interestingly, Mort also kept Batwoman and her civilian identity of Kathy Kane going until 1966, appearing in two stories about the sons of Superman and Batman, from WFC # 154 (Dec., 1965) and # 157 (May, 1966).  Frankly, that would have made for a much better question, except for the fact that those two tales were Imaginary Stories.

 

 

And that brings us to the question that inspired the most commentary:

 

2.  Who was the first villain in Batman’s rogues’ gallery to actually appear “on camera” in an issue of Justice League of America?

 

First, let’s get the correct response out of the way . . .  it’s the Penguin, from “Indestructible Creatures of Nightmare Island”, JLA # 40 (Nov., 1965).

 

I felt that this was the slyest question on the board.  Especially since all of the usual on-line resources have their information on this wrong.  There’s usually one poser in each of my quizzes that nobody gets right, and as I watched the comments post, I figured Question Number Two would be it, this time.

 

It turned interesting when Luke Blanchard provided the correct answer---and then got talked out of it!  Fortunately, Luke regrouped his thinking and persisted---and, what do you know, he was right all along. 

 

How is it that the Penguin was the correct Bat-villain, despite all the conventional “wisdom” insisting otherwise?  As Tony Dunst would say, let’s break it down.

 

The dispute centres on the story “The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny”, from JLA # 34 (Mar., 1965).  In this tale, long-time JLA foe and current penitentiary inmate Doctor Destiny has succeeded in building a working model of his materioptikon in his sub-conscious mind.  From his prison cell, Destiny seeks revenge against the Justice League.  His plot consists of the following steps:  with the materioptikon stored in his sub-conscious, he induces five Justice League members to have specific dreams---something we saw him do in his last attack on the JLA, in “The Super-Exiles of Earth”, from JLA # 19 (May, 1963).   In each of these generated dreams, a Justice League member faces a particular menace, but is handicapped by a specific talisman which impairs his super-powers. 

 

In their dreams, Superman squares off against a colossal statue of a Roman gladiator in Italy, Wonder Woman and the Atom confront a pair of giant conch shells rising out of the Atlantic Ocean, and Hawkman and the Batman battle a couple of their arch-foes, Chac and the Joker, in Central America.

 

Dr. Destiny “eavesdrops” on the Leaguers’ dreams, to observe how they defeat their dream foes, despite the obstacles.  Once Destiny has learnt that information, he pits the now-awake super-heroes against the same opponents, re-creating the circumstances here in the physical world.  Only Destiny has informed the menaces of the tactics that their respective Justice Leaguers will employ to beat them, enabling the villainous forces to anticipate and thwart those tactics.  Thus outwitted, the heroes will fall.

 

The part of this plot which the authors of the indices seem to miss is the execution (in both senses of the word) phase.  In order for his plan to work, Dr. Destiny has to generate the same circumstances in real life as the Justice Leaguers faced in their dreams.  He can’t just sit around and hope that there really are a living stone colossus and two sentient conchs that happen to be in the right locations, or that the real Chac and Joker will show up in Central America.  (Nor does the story establish that Destiny was in contact with either of those villains, something which the detail-oriented Gardner Fox would have indicated.)

 

To guarantee that the JLA members’ dreams are re-created exactly, Destiny uses his materioptikon to transform their dream-foes into physical reality.  We had already seen that the materioptikon could do this in “The Super-Exiles of Earth”, when Destiny materialised into the real world an evil version of the Justice League from the dreams he induced in the super-heroes.  Destiny’s thoughts on page 17, panel 2, reveal that is exactly what he did to create physical versions of the Joker and Chac and the other menaces, as well as the five talismans that handicapped the JLAers in their dreams.

 

Thus, the real-life Joker never appeared in JLA # 34, and, as Luke pointed out, the Killer Moth that appeared in issue # 35 was only a magical doppelgänger of the real item.  That brings us to JLA # 40, in which the Batman tangles with Captain Cold---and the Penguin.

 

You three guys all get a share of the glory.  Philip, for knocking out most of the correct answers about as fast as the Flash could do it.  Fraser, for nailing the tough question about the Bat-Hound.  But I have to admit, this time I was most impressed by Luke.  He answered the trickiest one on the board, and he did it by reïnvestigating all of the relevant data he could find.  And I got a chuckle out of the fact that one piece of that pertinent data was the review I did of “The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny” for the DC Archives Message Board Forum.  Several years ago, I was invited to contribute to that forum’s “Time Capsule” threads, which reëxamine the DC comics that came out in the given month fifty years ago.  For my part, I review each issue of Justice League of America on its golden-anniversary month.  And just this past January, JLA # 34 came due.

 

I’ve never mentioned my involvement there, so it didn’t occur to me that someone might use it as a resource.  When Luke found my write-up, I imagine that pretty much sealed the deal on his answer to Question Number Two.

 

 

 

So, well done to Philip and Fraser and Luke.  And my thanks to all of the other posters who contributed so much thoughtful  discussion to this quiz.  We’ll do it again next summer.

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I read "The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny!" in one of the Justice League tabloid-size issues when I was a kid and my eleven-year old mind interpreted it as a Dream-Joker first then the Real Joker later. Ah, well.

Next time you do a quiz, Commander, I shall abstain with no malice, hurt feelings or hubris. By coincidence, every time you've posted a quiz recently, I've been off from work or working late so I've had the time to doublecheck my initial answers while the rest of the guys are working or having a life!

While not done in a spirit of competiveness, I have this thing about solving puzzles or answering a challenging quiz. I focus all of my attention on figuring it out. If that has discouraged others from participating, I humbly apologize.


Philip Portelli said:

I read "The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny!" in one of the Justice League tabloid-size issues when I was a kid and my eleven-year old mind interpreted it as a Dream-Joker first then the Real Joker later. 

Well, don't kick your eleven-year-old self too hard.  Apparently, some grown-up minds made the same interpretation.  As I said, the authors of the entries for JLA # 34 in both Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics and the DC Comics Database list the later versions as the real Joker and Chac, despite all the evidence and logic indicating otherwise.

When to post my quizzes has always been problematic for me.  Not only to I have to consider the usual work hours for folks here in the States, we also that we have some foreign members, like Luke, living in Australia (lucky dog!), where the time-zones are different.  I realised that no matter when I posted a quiz, there would be some people at a disadvantage.

I try to counter-balance it by throwing in two or three extremely difficult or tricky questions that the quick-like-a-bunny types might miss in their haste.  That preserves some glory for the later players who might not have answered a lot of the questions first, but are the first to nail one of the hard posers.  So far, that's worked out pretty well.

And it almost always leads to some good discussion.  Case in point, the commentary on this quiz has given me an idea for my next Deck Log Entry.

I was going to argue (amicably) about your interpretation of "Deadly Dreams," but your post here proves your case completely. I've read it both when it came out and more recently but I still didn't pick that up (my more recent reading was probably biased by knowing DD used real villains on Operation: Jail the Justice League). As you say, a sly—but fully legitimate—question.

For anyone who hasn't read it, it's an ingenious story, with a good twist on kill-you-in-your-dreams villains.

Minor note, I did actually get the "roving reporter" question right.

Philip, I feel for you. Once I start something like this I can't let go until I'm satisfied I've answered everything or definitely can't answer one (or more).


Fraser Sherman said:

I was going to argue (amicably) about your interpretation of "Deadly Dreams," but your post here proves your case completely. I've read it both when it came out and more recently but I still didn't pick that up (my more recent reading was probably biased by knowing DD used real villains on Operation: Jail the Justice League). As you say, a sly—but fully legitimate—question.

Thanks. Before I added that one to my list of Bat-questions, I not only reviewed all of the previous issues of JLA---to make sure I didn't miss something---but I studied "The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny" closely.  This was to be sure that there wasn't something in the story that could legitimately point to the Joker and Chac as being the real deals.  There wasn't.  Moreover, "Operation:  Jail the Justice League", from JLA # 61, renders even further support, because in the latter story, Fox's script makes very clear that the super-villains who show up in the climax are the genuine articles and what Destiny had done with them over the course of the story.

If Fox had done that with "Operation: Jail the Justice League", he most certainly would have done it with "The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny", had the Joker and Chac been the actual villains.

I apologise for overlooking your credit for the roving-reporter question.  I've amended the text of this post to correct my error.  Thanks for letting me know.

Commander, as always I enjoy reading your lovingly crafted columns and only wish you could write them more frequently!

Two comments related to the answers to the Batman quiz. I was swamped when the quiz went up, and just couldn't devote the time I needed to do it. I saw a couple of the first responders' answers, too, as I read the comments, which also took away from the anticipation with which I greeted the quiz. Is threesome way that we could wait in posting the answers until an agreed-upon or send them in "sealed envelopes" so to speak as a way to keep the contest exciting for all? I confess I don't know enough about the cyber-stuff that this might entail, so if I'm pouring vinegar into the punch bowl, I apologize.

Now on to a specific question re the quiz. In digging up Ace's final appearance, I used the GCD and came up with the same issue of WF. My copy of same being unavailable, I could not check on information I saw on the GCD. Apparently Ace accomapnied the crew to Kandor, and in what would certainly be a typically Weisingerian touch, Bathound also assumed a second secret identity in Kandor as "Nighthound."

Could find nothing on this on- line, obviously.

Any thoughts from you or fellow aficionados of the Silver Age on any of this?

Best,

Ed O'Toole (Prince Hal)

Prince Hal,

Thank you for the fine words.  I take it very kindly.

As to the matter of Ace, the Bat-Hound and World's Finest Comics # 143, Ace's participation began and ended with the two panels I posted above.  Nighthound was a preëxisting character.  It had been established that native to Krypton was a breed of canine called the telepathic hound; the animal possessed a low-level telepathy that enabled it to track a sentient being by the "spoor" of his brain waves.  

In "The Dynamic Duo of Kandor", from Jimmy Olsen # 69 (Jun., 1963)---the second Nightwing-and-Flamebird adventure---while on a mission in Kandor, Superman becomes ill with scarlet-jungle fever and cannot particpate as Nightwing.  Instead, Jimmy, as Flamebird, makes use of the services of a telepathic hound he has befriended.  Disguising the pooch as "Nighthound", the Jimster and his canine pal go on to defeat the villain of the piece.  This was the Nighthound whom the Batman and Robin met on their visit to Kandor in WFC # 143.

I'm beginning to think that instituting some sort of "wait period" before answering might be the way to go with these quizzes.  I'll have to give it some thought, to see if it can be made workable, between now and next summer.

So kind of you to reply so quickly, Commander.

Thanks for the info re the Bathound/Nighthound story. I have to say that I was hoping that what I'd first read would prove correct, but the truth is quite Silver Age-y, too.

looking forward to your next entry,

Ed



Commander Benson said:

Prince Hal,

Thank you for the fine words.  I take it very kindly.

As to the matter of Ace, the Bat-Hound and World's Finest Comics # 143, Ace's participation began and ended with the two panels I posted above.  Nighthound was a preëxisting character.  It had been established that native to Krypton was a breed of canine called the telepathic hound; the animal possessed a low-level telepathy that enabled it to track a sentient being by the "spoor" of his brain waves.  

In "The Dynamic Duo of Kandor", from Jimmy Olsen # 69 (Jun., 1963)---the second Nightwing-and-Flamebird adventure---while on a mission in Kandor, Superman becomes ill with scarlet-jungle fever and cannot particpate as Nightwing.  Instead, Jimmy, as Flamebird, makes use of the services of a telepathic hound he has befriended.  Disguising the pooch as "Nighthound", the Jimster and his canine pal go on to defeat the villain of the piece.  This was the Nighthound whom the Batman and Robin met on their visit to Kandor in WFC # 143.

I'm beginning to think that instituting some sort of "wait period" before answering might be the way to go with these quizzes.  I'll have to give it some thought, to see if it can be made workable, between now and next summer.

No problem Commander. And yes, in hindsight JLA 61 does seem to settle things.

Commander Benson said:


Fraser Sherman said:

I was going to argue (amicably) about your interpretation of "Deadly Dreams," but your post here proves your case completely. I've read it both when it came out and more recently but I still didn't pick that up (my more recent reading was probably biased by knowing DD used real villains on Operation: Jail the Justice League). As you say, a sly—but fully legitimate—question.

Thanks. Before I added that one to my list of Bat-questions, I not only reviewed all of the previous issues of JLA---to make sure I didn't miss something---but I studied "The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny" closely.  This was to be sure that there wasn't something in the story that could legitimately point to the Joker and Chac as being the real deals.  There wasn't.  Moreover, "Operation:  Jail the Justice League", from JLA # 61, renders even further support, because in the latter story, Fox's script makes very clear that the super-villains who show up in the climax are the genuine articles and what Destiny had done with them over the course of the story.

If Fox had done that with "Operation: Jail the Justice League", he most certainly would have done it with "The Deadly Dreams of Doctor Destiny", had the Joker and Chac been the actual villains.

I apologise for overlooking your credit for the roving-reporter question.  I've amended the text of this post to correct my error.  Thanks for letting me know.

Thanks for the very kind words, Commander, You've given me too much credit, as I had no idea of the answers to 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 and stole them from Philip and Fraser.

I... missed... a Commander Adam quiz? I am filled with shame.

Commander, I had a ball reading this. As always, watching you plumb the depths of the DC universe for your questions is just splendid fun, and I knew quite a few of these questions. Sorry to have missed them.

I have a couple other questions that you might have tossed in (which I do not have immediate answers to... but I know you know them) that might have made you an even 10.

You noted where Batman's yellow oval first appeared. Where was the last book where it was finally added?

What other heroes and/or reappearing characters appeared as Batman? (I can think of four right off the top of my head...)

I have an appointment to check next summer for your quiz. Maybe one involving super hero team-ups as a theme...?

I'm sorry you missed it, my friend.  I always look forward to your knowledgable commentary.  As to your questions . . . 

You noted where Batman's yellow oval first appeared. Where was the last book where it was finally added?

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "the last book" in which it was added.  If you mean what comic was the last issue in which the original, ellipse-less bat-insignia appeared contemporaneously, that would be The Brave and the Bold # 54 (Jun., 1964)---which, hitting the stands on 30 April 1964, beat out Green Lantern # 29 (Jun., 1964) by three weeks.

What other heroes and/or reappearing characters appeared as Batman?

The four off the top of my head are:

Green Lantern, from "One Hour to Doomsday", JLA # 11 (May, 1962)

The Atom and the Elongated Man, from "Two Batmen Too Many", Batman # 177 (Dec., 1965)

Superman (dozens of times)

The problem with both of those questions, Fogey (and your first question actually occurred to me) is that they are too answerable by resorting to a search engine.  I don't restrict the use of search engines in my quizzes, because I know someone would go ahead and use one, anyway.  Consequently, I have to make my questions as Google-proof as possible.  While I can never do that 100%, the two questions above are 'way to solvable on line.

Hope you can make next year's quiz, buddy.  But you don't have to be a stranger until then.

ITEM: Yes, the first question was exactly as you interpreted it - the last comic in the Silver Age to not incorporate the yellow oval (I know that Batman #183 had none, but that was deliberate.)

ITEM: Of course you got the four I was thinking of. Probably very Google-able, but I thought it might have been a nice lob. I also seem to recall that Robin and Alfred both guised as the Caped Crusader as well.

ITEM: I don't have to be a stranger, and I like to check on your column here. Elsewhere... well, those circumstances are kinda queer and I'm still uncomfortable showing too much of my shadow. Thank you for your courtesy and hospitality!

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