Raise your hand if you believe that the character of Aunt Harriet was created by the producers of the Batman television series, which ran from 1966 to 1968.  The folks who frequent the Captain Comics site are, by and large, a comics-savvy bunch.  Yet, I’ll bet that a few hands went up.

 

That’s because everybody has seen the old television show, or remembers it.  It’s had a reasonably strong after-life in reruns, so it’s been hard to miss.  But only we old fossils remember Batman’s “New Look”, the major upgrade in the Caped Crusader’s image that took place in the spring of 1964.

 

And that’s when Aunt Harriet first appeared---almost two years before William Dozier signed off on the first Batman TV script.

 

One of the tasks before DC editor Julius Schwartz in 1964---after having the ailing Batman and Detective Comics dumped on him and being told by the suits upstairs to fix them---was to undo the damage done by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham back in the mid-1950’s.  In his book, Seduction of the Innocent (Rinehart & Company, 1954), Doctor Wertham targeted comic books as a major cause of juvenile delinquency.  He claimed hidden sexual themes ran rampant in comics, and as an example, insinuated that Batman and Robin, because they lived under one roof as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, maintained a homosexual relationship.  To any kids who read Batman comics, the idea was absurd (if it ever occurred to them, at all).  But to the ultra-moralistic social reformers looking for a quick and simple reason for the rise in high-school drop-outs and teen-age crime, it was proof enough for them.

 

Schwartz felt the allegation had to be dispelled.  As he stated in his autobiography, Man of Two Worlds (Harper Paperbacks, 2000), “I decided to bring a woman into the household---a spinster aunt of Dick ‘Robin’ Grayson, who could possibly be seen as a sort of chaperoning den mother.”  Schwartz opened the door by disposing of long-time supporting character Alfred the butler, whom the editor felt wasn’t needed; the new character would perform the same functions, with the added frisson of being unaware of Bruce and Dick’s masked identities.  (Schwartz would later acknowledge that he had miscalculated Alfred’s value to the Batman mythos.)

 

In “Gotham Gang Line-Up”, from Detective Comics # 328 (Jun., 1964), written by Bill Finger, Alfred is killed when crooks of the Tri-State Gang drop a huge boulder over the heads of Batman and Robin.  The faithful butler pushes the Dynamic Duo out of the path of the falling rock, at the price of being smooshed by it himself.  In the epilogue, after a few panels memorialising their fallen friend, Bruce and Dick are interrupted by a ring of the door bell.  It’s Dick’s heretofore-unmentioned Aunt Harriet, who barges in and declares her intention to take Alfred’s place.  She wastes no time making herself at home, as the master of the house looks on in dismay.

 

“Having Aunt Harriet around is going to cause some complications,” observes Dick.

 

 

 

That certainly seemed to be the idea.  Under the new paradigm, Aunt Harriet was poised to be as much a hindrance as Alfred had been an asset.  But, somehow, it didn’t work out that way.

 

After all that build-up, Aunt Harriet was absent from the next two issues of Detective Comics.   She wouldn’t show up again until “Museum of Mixed-Up Men”, from Detective Comics # 331 (Sep., 1964).  It was a three-panel walk-on in which she inadvertently answers the hot-line extension in the mansion.  A security device on the receiver prevented Harriet from hearing anything but a strange buzzing noise.  This would turn into an occasional running gag, but otherwise, it was hardly an auspicious showing.

 

It would be another six months before the readers saw Aunt Harriet return.  The writers of the Bat-titles seemed to have no use for her.  It simplified the plots for Bruce and Dick to operate at home as if Harriet didn't exist.  Apparently, Julius Schwartz had gotten over worrying about what Dr. Wertham’s camp followers might think.  Or maybe he thought it was enough just to have her show up every few issues or so.

 

Finally, Harriet resurfaced in Batman # 170 (Mar., 1965); it was her first appearance in that title---some nine months after her début.  In “The Puzzle of the Perilous Prizes”, she showed the first signs of being that “complication” that Our Heroes had fretted over.  Harriet’s friend, the elderly Mrs. Tompkins, has just received a slew of valuable prizes---a new car, a refrigerator, a stove, and a freezer---after being named the winner of a soap company’s jingle-writing contest.  The thing is---Mrs. Tompkins never entered the contest.  Aunt Harriet asks Bruce to investigate the matter. 

 

The request seems innocent enough. (And there aren’t any thought balloons indicating that she has any ulterior intentions.)  Still, it gives Bruce, ever the paranoid, the idea that Harriet suspects he and Dick are Batman and Robin.  He clings to that notion, even after the mystery is solved---by the Dynamic Duo, naturally.  Yet, nothing in the story suggested that Aunt Harriet had any idea.  She might have simply figured that a man of Bruce Wayne’s status would know the right people to contact.  But, at least, the Batman stories were starting to explore the problems that would result from having a resident of Wayne Manor not in the know.

 

Or were they?  The next thirteen months would see Aunt Harriet making only two appearances---one in Detective Comics # 340 (Jun., 1965) and the other in Batman # 175 (Nov., 1965)---and neither of them was significant; essentially cameos.  Once again, dear old Aunt Hattie was being kicked to the curb.

 

In fact, she was getting more exposure on television.  Batman had débuted on 12 January 1966, and there, Aunt Harriet, portrayed by Madge Blake, was a regular presence, appearing in nearly every episode.  Fans of the TV show probably wrote to DC, asking why they didn’t see Aunt Harriet in the Batman comics.  After all, it was real easy to miss the six or seven panels in which she had appeared over the past year.

It might explain why, in Detective Comics # 351 (May, 1966), Aunt Harriet finally got a plot centered on her.  Granted, it was the B plot.  The A plot of “The Cluemaster’s Topsy-Turvy Crimes” concerned Batman and Robin’s efforts to capture the eponymous villain of the piece.  But, frankly, the B plot was more entertaining.

 

Things kick off when Aunt Harriet, in a fit of spring cleaning, accidentally releases the secret panel concealing the elevator shaft leading down from Wayne Manor to you-know-where.  Since she’s a female in the Silver-Age DC universe, her curiosity tramples any propriety of being a guest in another man’s home; she summons the elevator car and rides it down.  Reaching bottom, the nosey old biddy emerges and discovers that she is in the Batcave.  She makes the logical inference:  Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are Batman and Robin!

 

Before her brain can fully digest that information, the roar of an automobile engine startles her.  Harriet dashes back to the elevator and takes it up to the mansion.  She has the presence of mind to send the car back to the cavern, where it was when she found it, before she breathes a sigh of relief.

 

But Batman and Robin aren’t the headliners of a comic with the word detective in the title for nothing.  They hear the elevator plunk into position and catch a whiff of a familiar perfume, and they know they’ve been busted. 

Or maybe not. 

 

“She’ll have to prove her suspicions first,” Batman points out, “and we’re going to make it tough on her by giving her plenty of room for doubt!”

 

They pull a gaslight routine on her.  Later, after dinner, when Aunt Harriet confronts Our Heroes with the secret elevator, she finds that it’s been converted to a storage closet.  Bruce and Dick insist that it’s always been a closet, hoping that she forgets the whole thing and goes back to baking cookies and dusting the bric-a-brac.

 

But Harriet is in Lois Lane mode now and she’s not giving up that easily.  She sets a series of snares, designed to provide her with proof that the boys are really Batman and Robin.  But the Masked Manhunter is an old pro at this game, after dealing with Vicki Vale all those years.  The Dynamic Duo dodges every trick Aunt Harriet lays down, which inadvertently thwarts the efforts of Gotham City’s newest costumed crook, the Cluemaster, to discover their true identities.

 

In foiling Harriet’s traps, the crime-fighters tumble to the Cluemaster’s scheme and set him and his gang up for capture.  Then, to put paid to Harriet’s suspicions, they take a hidden camera she planted in the “closet” and doctor the film to make Batman and Robin and Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson appear to be four separate people.  Afterward, the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder congratulate each other on how slick they were.

 

Now, over at Marvel, Stan Lee would have milked Harriet’s identity-snooping for a couple of dozen issues.  But that wasn’t Julius Schwartz’s style.  He had done the Harriet-gets-suspicious story and it was time to move on.  Aunt Harriet never again raised an eyebrow at the activities of her nephew and his guardian, no matter how peculiar.

 

 

 

On the Batman TV show, Alfred the butler had received a new lease on life, and the producers prodded Schwartz into resurrecting the comic-book version, as well.  Despite the fact that he had intended Alfred to be really most sincerely dead, and had killed him off in such a manner to ensure it, the beleaguered editor found a way to bring Batman’s butler back, in “Inside Story of the Outsider”, from Detective Comics # 356 (Oct., 1966).  The conclusion of the tale finds Alfred resuming his station at Wayne Manor.

 

Aunt Harriet offers to pack up and leave, but, instead of saying, “We’ll pay for the cab,” Bruce and Dick insist that she remain.  Even Alfred is gracious and doesn’t ask her for his old room back.  And no wonder.  As long as there was a Batman television show, the comic-book Aunt Harriet’s place was secure.

 

In fact, over the next year, she would appear in more stories than she had when Alfred was still listed among the dead.  But her fifth-wheel status was obvious.  There wasn’t anything for her to do that wasn’t better handled by another character.  She continued to complain about telephones buzzing and wall lamps blinking (the signal for an intruder in the Batcave), and that was about it.   Readers saw her in three or four panels, tops, per story.   Jeff, the assistant dispatcher, on Taxi got more face time.

 

On only one other occasion is Aunt Harriet integral to the plot.  In “Mr. Freeze’s Chilling Deathtrap”, from Detective Comics # 373 (Mar., 1968), she undergoes cryosurgery for an unspecified life-threatening ailment.  However, the freezing machine used to perform the operation malfunctions, leaving Harriet with mere hours to live.  Fortunately, one of the Dynamic Duo’s old foes, Mr. Zero---now using the sobriquet Mr. Freeze---is back in town.  And his cold gun can be used by the doctors to complete the surgery on Aunt Harriet.

 

Though her situation provides the motivation for the plot, Harriet herself is seen only in the last panel, following her successful operation, courtesy of the cold gun obtained by Batman and Robin.  Sneaking by most of the readers is the fact that DC conscripted the surname of the television Aunt Harriet for her comic-book counterpart, when Alfred addresses her as “Mrs. Cooper”.

 

So, after being introduced with a pretty dramatic build-up, the wake of Alfred’s death, why was Aunt Harriet abruptly---to borrow a phrase from the fellows over at TV Tropes---“demoted to extra”?

 

Her character could have gone in any of several directions.  She could have been pushy and headstrong, like the maid Hazel, from the sitcom of the same name, with Bruce Wayne standing in for the continually exasperated George Baxter.  In fact, based on the way she steamrolled her way into Wayne Manor, this seemed to be what Schwartz and his writers were going for.  But, instead, she was immediately cast into the background.

 

Or she could have been the series’ designated busybody.  The readers were teased with that in “The Puzzle of the Perilous Prizes”, then nothing, until a year later when Harriet was given the full Lois Lane treatment in “The Cluemaster’s Topsy-Turvy Crimes”.  However, that plotline was never revisited.  Been there; done that, I guess.

 

Or they might have gone the route of making her the ditzy, scatterbrained comedy relief.  But no way Schwartz was going to dust off an old Golden-Age meme like that.

 

Nor was she ever given any personal history.  We never got any hints as to where she came from or what her life had been before.  There was no mention of why she hadn’t stepped in after the deaths of Dick’s parents.  We didn’t even know her last name until DC swiped it from the TV show.  There was nothing to flesh her out as a character.

 

If you ask me, I don’t think Schwartz’s writers---primarily Gardner Fox and John Broome---felt the need to use her.  Superman had always relied heavily on his supporting cast of friends---Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and Perry White---and we knew a great deal about all of them.  But there were few “civilians” in the Batman mythos.  There was Commissioner Gordon, whose sole purpose was to act as the conduit between the Dynamic Duo and the next case they tackled; and Alfred, who rarely did more than serve as Our Heroes’ confidant.  And, to be honest, the readers had been told almost as little about their backgrounds as they were of Aunt Harriet’s.

 

Seeing Superman interact with his friends helped give the readers an idea of what kind of guy the Man of Steel was.  To get the same perspective about the Dynamic Duo, they only needed to see Batman and Robin interact with each other.  So there was no need to really develop the supporting Bat-characters.

 

Then, there was the fact that the only reason that the character of Aunt Harriet was there at all was to subvert Dr. Wertham’s charges of homosexuality.  That meant they didn’t actually have to do anything with her to achieve that goal.  It was enough just to have Hattie pop up in scenes taking place in the Wayne homestead to show that Bruce and Dick were being properly “chaperoned”.

 

 

 

Aunt Harriet might have survived her surgery, but she was about to lose her lifeline.  Two months after Detective Comics # 373 hit the stands, the Batman television show was cancelled.  And now that Julius Schwartz no longer had to accommodate the expectations of the show’s fans, there was no reason to keep Aunt Harriet around.  The writers didn’t even try. 

 

Her Silver-Age life had just three appearances left.   Oddly enough, the first two occurred in titles edited by Superman editor Mort Weisinger---Jimmy Olsen and World’s Finest Comics.  Hattie’s final bow came in “Marital-Bliss Miss”, from Detective Comics # 380 (Oct., 1968). In the three tales, she had one panel apiece. 

 

Clearly, nobody at DC cared what Dr. Wertham thought, anymore.  Harriet got a mention in Detective Comics # 383 (Jan., 1969), and then she just disappeared off the scope.  There was no explanation for her absence, and nobody even asked.  In Batman # 217 (Dec., 1969), the landmark Dick-Grayson-leaves-for-college issue, Alfred remarks to Bruce that Wayne Manor is now “just too big for the two of us.”

 

Bruce and his trusty retainer changed digs, to the penthouse atop the Wayne Foundation Building in downtown Gotham City, and the readers were left wondering if, maybe, Aunt Harriet had suffered an unfortunate “accident” after making a second unauthorised visit to the Batcave.  It would be almost a year later, in “The Man with Ten Eyes”, from Batman # 226 (Nov., 1970), that we learn that Harriet had made her departure sometime earlier and, when Bruce moved, she had sent him an Oriental gong as a housewarming present.

 

Just because it seemed the right thing to do for a Yuletide-themed tale, Bob Rozakis gave Aunt Harriet a one-panel walk-on at the end of “Robin’s White (Very) Christmas”, from Batman Family # 4 (Mar.-Apr., 1976).  It would be her final appearance before the Crisis on Infinite Earths shook everything up.  As far as I know, it still is, even now.

Maybe she’s busy cooking meals and answering buzzing telephones at Britt Reid’s townhouse.

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Batman and Robin are partly guys who get to live just as they want to. They don't have to worry about parents or school. School played a role in some solo Robin stories (Star Spangled Comics #103, #111), but I don't think I've seen it referred to in a Golden or Silver Age Batman one. (But I've not seen that much of the New Look era, and it's the kind of thing Schwartz might've taken account of.)

Aunt Harriet's position in Bruce's household is ambiguous. Was she there as a guest, or an employee? Her cooking and cleaning suggests an employee, but he called her "Aunt Harriet" like Dick. Taken as a relative she's like mom, around to spoil the fun.

I'd guess, though, that she rarely appeared simply because the series had never emphasised Batman's private life much, in contrast to Superman's or Green Lantern's features, which often built plots around the heroes' activities and relationships.

I think I was vaguely aware how little she showed up back in the day, but it never really sank in. Good history.

I remember the Cluemaster story fondly--his "Batman is invincible" theory was pretty sound, even though he'd later be treated as a complete doofus.

It does seem strange that after all the effort to put Harriet into the comics, no one really seemed to have any idea what to do with her.  Her "house mother" function never really came off, because, since she was unaware of what Bruce & Dick were really up to when they were off crime-fighting, she would have been equally unaware of them going all "wertham" on each other, if they were so inclined.  Still, not as bad as in the TV series, where she'd just sort of stand around perplexed as Bruce & Dick kept running off on a moment's notice on one of their "fishing trips", which may well have been the inspiration for the "fishing trips" in Brokeback Mountain, since neither pair ever came home with any fish...

Commander Benson said:

Wertham targeted comic books as a major cause of juvenile delinquency. He claimed hidden sexual themes ran rampant in comics, and as an example, insinuated that Batman and Robin, because they lived under one roof as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, maintained a homosexual relationship

Following our 1989 marriage, my wife and I attended the San Diego Con. Bob Kane was there and he was enthusiastically participating in the Bruce/Dick gay relationship jokes. Without even knowing all of his background my wife took an instant dislike to him.

Aunt Harriet offers to pack up and leave, but, instead of saying, “We’ll pay for the cab,” Bruce and Dick insist that she remain. Even Alfred is gracious and doesn’t ask her for his old room back. And no wonder. As long as there was a Batman television show, the comic-book Aunt Harriet’s place was secure.

Alfred’s statement that “I – need you most of all” makes me wonder if Julie was considering a romantic connection.

Nor was she ever given any personal history. We never got any hints as to where she came from or what her life had been before. There was no mention of why she hadn’t stepped in after the deaths of Dick’s parents. We didn’t even know her last name until DC swiped it from the TV show. There was nothing to flesh her out as a character.

If Julie really wanted her to fit in he would have crafted or helped to craft a background and more interesting stories for her. I think that, consciously or not, Schwartz, Fox and Broome felt she had been inflicted upon them by the TV show, as had the “holy” exclamation from Dick.

Boy, if Alfred's looking in the closet and seeing her gong was the only mention of her leaving, that goes to show how much they cared about the character.

Since the subject of Wertham came up, I'll mention that "The Ten Cent Plague" is an outstanding book on 1950s comics censorship (though I'm sure plenty of people on this board are familiar with it).

Notwithstanding that I didn't like the reason for Aunt Harriet (Two men living together demands a homosexual relationship? Did Wertham not have a brother, a father, a roommate in college? Okay, enough about that poor fellow), I was somewhat hoping that she might fill in the Alfred role, in a historical move for DC Comics - a female supporting character (please note that phrase very clearly) who was actually helpful, cooperative, and not a negative plot point. One might make the case that Iris West/Allen (I'm NOT hyphenating it!) and/or Mera were that character, but why did most every female have to be a meddlesome busybody? Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Vicki Vale, Carol Ferris - even the love interests weren't very lovable.

I think that in the Golden Age, a partneress-in-adventure was more extant, and that was a good thing. Joan Allen/Garrick, Shiera Saunders/Hall, Inza Nelson, Myra Mason, Etta Candy et. al. - all of these were truly supporting characters and not plot point stereotypes. I had hoped for the same from Aunt Harriet... but I guess that was too much to hope for.

I agree about the Bats/Robin relationship but I understand it had become something of a stand-up comic joke at the time (with "Bruce" as a reference for a gay guy) so I can see why they wanted to deal with it.

You can include Hawkgirl, Sue Dibney and Alanna as female supporting characters who weren't "meddlesome busybodies." And Jean Loring, who despite holding off on accepting Ray's proposal was always very affectionate (it annoys me no end that even in the 21st century, not saying yes immediately is sometimes held up as proof she was a horrible person and lousy girlfriend). Mera definitely: after they married, she was as much Aquaman's Robin as Aqualad was (probably partly because their power sets didn't overlap so she brought extra to the table). I'd agree about Iris though I know people who find her nagging of Barry pre-marriage to be insufferable.

The Superman family of books were definitely the worst in this regard. Gardner Fox probably wrote the best women who weren't headlining a series.

Eric L. Sofer said:

Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Vicki Vale, Carol Ferris - even the love interests weren't very lovable.

Even at the time it was hard for me to understand what the hero saw in these characters as love interests.

I had hoped for the same from Aunt Harriet... but I guess that was too much to hope for.

They might have done this if the character was their idea and not inflicted on them. The same creators did it with Iris.

Iris was a romantic figure. Writing what amounted to a Mom who plays a role in the story is a different kettle of fish. Wonder Woman had Hippolyta, that was about it (well, Aunt May over at Marvel)

Richard Willis said:

Eric L. Sofer said:

Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Vicki Vale, Carol Ferris - even the love interests weren't very lovable.

Even at the time it was hard for me to understand what the hero saw in these characters as love interests.

I had hoped for the same from Aunt Harriet... but I guess that was too much to hope for.

They might have done this if the character was their idea and not inflicted on them. The same creators did it with Iris.

Mr. Sherman,

See, I was careful in my phrasing to use "supporting character" and not "partner/sidekick." Hawkgirl and Alanna were not supporting characters; they were the partners in heroism (and a case could be made for Sue Dibney as well.) . I mean, technically their names were not the ones on the title feature... but neither was Robin's, and I think of him as more of a lead character than a supporting character. Of course, that is a very fine line, and sometimes the characters did cross it (e.g., Batman in the Robin stories in Star Spangled Comics.)

Jean Loring - sure. I didn't cover everybody, but you're absolutely right about her. Not a nag, and a helpful supporting character. I guess maybe there should be a category of "romantic character" for characters such as Jean, Iris, Steve Trevor, etc. Not main characters, but more than supporting characters, kind of. (But then we hit Lana and Vicki again - and for heaven's sake, Lois Lane had her own book!)

Iris' nagging - you've a point, but I like to interpret it as a bit of playful banter between fiancees - she knew that Barry was always late, and so it was kind of a snappy banter bit. But I can't argue that it didn't always look like that in the books...

And Gardner Fox wrote a lot of good stories and characters. I know that he and John Broome were busy, but I rather wish they might have had a run on Superman... but Mort Weisinger because Mort Weisinger.

Y'know Commander Adam, if you're taking requests... I'd love to see one of your columns focus on Weisinger and his influence on the comic business.

Fraser Sherman said:

You can include Hawkgirl, Sue Dibney and Alanna as female supporting characters who weren't "meddlesome busybodies." And Jean Loring, who despite holding off on accepting Ray's proposal was always very affectionate (it annoys me no end that even in the 21st century, not saying yes immediately is sometimes held up as proof she was a horrible person and lousy girlfriend). Mera definitely: after they married, she was as much Aquaman's Robin as Aqualad was (probably partly because their power sets didn't overlap so she brought extra to the table). I'd agree about Iris though I know people who find her nagging of Barry pre-marriage to be insufferable.


Eric L. Sofer said:

Notwithstanding that I didn't like the reason for Aunt Harriet . . .  I was somewhat hoping that she might fill in the Alfred role . . . .

I see where you're coming from, my friend, but my reaction to Aunt Harriet, when I got to the end of "Gotham Gang Line-Up", some fifty-one years ago, was different.  She struck me as the pushy, interfering stereotype that television and Hollywood reserve for mothers-in-law, interfering relatives, and housemaids---a standard-stock character which I've always hated.  Mainly because I never understood why the master of the house never laid down the law, or better yet, kicked the offender to the curb.  And if it doesn't make sense to me, I can't find it entertaining.

(In the same vein, it's why I was never intrigued in the slightest by those "wealthy family" prime-time soap operas, such as Dallas or Dynasty.  Sorry, but the only kinds of problems that characters that rich have are those they've created themselves, and I can't root for stupid people.)

And if one looks at Aunt Harriet's début, it appeared that they were going for the pushy interloper kind of character.  So I was predisposed not to like her.  I was glad when she was almost immediately pushed into the background.

The nicest thing I can say about the comic-book Aunt Harriet was that, at least, she wasn't as annoying as the television-show version.  (I hate clueless, dithering characters worse than meddling-interloper characters.)

You're right.  It's easy to name several Golden-Age-heroes' girls who were a help, or, at least, not a hinderence to their men.  I also agree with Mr. Sherwood that, during the Silver Age, Julius Schwartz and his stable of writers had a much better handle on writing females in a similar vein---competent, capable, and likeable.  Or, at least, not so unlikeable that the reader wondered why the hero didn't dump her like yesterday's garbage.  (Yes, Iris West, I'm looking at you.)  While Mort Weisinger and his crew never got it.

Iris' nagging - you've a point, but I like to interpret it as a bit of playful banter between fiancees - she knew that Barry was always late, and so it was kind of a snappy banter bit. But I can't argue that it didn't always look like that in the books . . . 

No, she was a shrew.  But, a realistic one, at least, as far as Silver-Age comics went.  Iris had some unpleasantness in her personality, but it wasn't her total picture.  She never actively tried to create trouble for her man's life, or trick, dupe, harangue, or coërce him into marriage.  Iris clearly loved Barry Allen and cared about his feelings for her.  She simply had that flaw of having an inconsiderate tongue.  

(This is in contradistinction to Lois Lane, who never stopped trying to ruin Superman's life by ferreting out his civilian identity or get him to the altar---and attempted to achieve both ends by hook or by crook.  Only on rare occasion was Lois shown to do anything truly selfless, and that was just to keep the readers from wondering why Superman ever stayed in the same room with her.)

It's plausible to me that an easy-going fellow like Barry Allen would tolerate a certain amount of shrewishness from Iris more readily than most men.

I have to say I never saw their exchanges as "playful banter".  For whatever reason, DC's Silver-Age writers were inadequate to the task of writing truly sharp, witty badinage.  And when they tried, it always fell flat.  That's why it always mystifies me why some readers compared Ralph and Sue Dibny to Nick and Nora Charles.  Did those people ever see a Thin Man film?  The interchanges given to the Dibnys were trite and overly cute, and didn't come any closer to the Charleses essayed by William Powell and Myrna Loy than Peter Lawford and Phyliis Kirk did.

Y'know, Commander Adam, if you're taking requests . . . .

I do, indeed, when I can.  And, in fact, I've already started on one of yours, to be aired next summer.

. . . I'd love to see one of your columns focus on Weisinger and his influence on the comic business. 

Unfortunately, there isn't enough time in life for that.  There are so many things that would need addressing.  He was the first DC editor to introduce letter columns to his titles, because he realised the PR value in such a thing.  He created and expanded a coherent Superman mythos, creating a history for his star and giving the characters and elements of his life continuity and context.  Speaking of continuity, he was the first DC editor to introduce the idea that extended continuity was a positive factor in a series.

Those things were just off the top of my head.  There are more, if I dig for them.  Putting them altogether in a cogent, neat little package, or series of packages, is probably beyond the capabilities of my lowly noggin.

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