Deck Log Entry # 183 The Silver-Age Challenge---So, You Think You Know the Batman?

The summer-quiz bug bit me again, gang, although I have to admit, the season almost got by me.  I got the idea for a couple of really good questions early in the year, but it took me several months to fill out my card.  By then, I had to finish my two-parter on Silver-Age mysteries.

 

But, hey, August---even the last week---counts as summer, right?

 

Last year, the subject of my quiz was the granddaddy of super-heroes, Superman.  So this year I thought it would be fitting to tackle DC’s second-biggest cash cow---the Masked Manhunter himself, the Batman.  Now, sure, all you veterans know the rules to how this goes.  But just to make it official---and for the benefit of new visitors . . . you know, folks who meant to click “Fluit Notes” and hit my link by mistake . . . who want to give it a try---here are the rules.

 

The big one is that only Silver-Age knowledge counts.  And you need to know that I define the Silver Age as beginning late in 1956 and ending in 1968.  That means my questions were sourced from DC comics published between the cover-dates of October, 1956 (Showcase # 4) and December, 1968.  Also eligible for plucking was any other literature published by DC---form letters, print ads, and so forth---during that period.  But you can breathe a little easier this time, because I got all my questions for this quiz from the comics alone.

 

Now here’s what trips up most of the quiz-takers:  post-Silver-Age information doesn’t count.  For example, if I ask, “How did Jonathan and Martha Kent die?”, the correct response is “From the Caribbean fever plague.”  Any revisions to the fates of the Kents that have come along since would not be correct as an answer.   I say this mostly as a friendly warning.  You see, I don’t prohibit anyone from researching my questions through a search engine---heck, I expect it---and that’s fine.  One of the characteristics I require for an acceptable quiz-question is that it be highly Google-resistant.

 

So, sure, run my posers through your favourite search engine.  But, beware!  The overwhelming majority of hits you’ll receive will reflect the modern information.  Time and time again, that has fouled up even the old pros.

 

Lastly, sure, I miss stuff, too.  If you submit an answer different from the one I had in mind and it accurately addresses the question and it comes from Silver-Age material, then I will gladly credit you with a correct response.  But you have to be able to cite your reference.  “But I always thought . . . .” answers won’t cut it.

 

Let’s see . . . I believe that covers it.  We’re ready to find out how much you guys know about the Silver-Age Batman.  By the way, I came up with only eight questions this time, but as always, I’ll start off with a lob . . . .

 

 

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?

 

2.  Who was the first villain in Batman’s rogues’ gallery to actually appear, “on camera” and not behind the scenes, in an issue of Justice League of America?

 

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

 

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

 

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?

 

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

 

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.

 

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?

 

 

You’ll have the usual three or four weeks to come up with your answers.  Your time starts . . .

 

Now!

 

Good luck!

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You racked up your usual impressive score, Philip.  You got six out of eight right.  Two, though, you missed completely; not even close.

Granted all that but if any of us found a secret elevator (or room) in the house we are living in, human nature and plain old curiosity will make us want to see where it leads.

And she wasn't trying to find out their secret identities, just where the elevator went.

Also, she could have been upset that they didn't tell her the truth in the first place. Remember she is Dick's aunt! She could have been as big as a help as Alfred was!

And why does she have to prove that Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin? She saw the Bat-Cave, their costumes and obviously they're hiding it. that should chinch it for her!

And didn't Alfred find out their secret in nearly the same way?
 
Commander Benson said:


Philip Portelli said:

She wasn't snooping when she found the elevator. 

Aunt Harriet wasn't snooping when she accidently discovered the elevator, yes.

But she sure as blazes was snooping when she got inside it and went down to see where it led.

This wasn't like opening a door to see to what room it connected.  An elevator in a house, even a mansion, is a item of special design, clearly not meant to be used casually.  And, especially, if Wayne or Dick had not told her about it.  

No, old Hattie was being nosey, prying into the private affairs of someone who trusted her.  It's no different than if, while she was dusting Bruce's bedroom, she accidently came across a book labelled "Diary" and decided to read it.


Philip Portelli said:

Granted all that but if any of us found a secret elevator (or room) in the house we are living in . . . .

You mean the house belonging to someone to whom she wasn't even related? The house into which she barged without a invitation?  Wayne Manor wasn't her home; it was a place where her presence was tolerated.  As an interloper, the mansion wasn't hers to have run of; there were boundaries which she had to respect---and she should have known that where the elevator went was one of them. 

"And she wasn't trying to find out their secret identities, just where the elevator went."  Of course she didn't know what she would find---that's why it's called snooping.  It didn't matter if the elevator went to Bruce's porn stash; Harriet had no right to pry.

And so what if she was upset at not being told the truth?  She wasn't entitled to know the truth.  Being Dick Grayson's aunt didn't afford her any special status.  Nor did it make her automatically trustworthy.  

Alfred's accidental discovery of the Batcave was ascribed as happening to the Earth-Two version.  On Earth-One, Alfred served as the Wayne butler for several months, until the circumstance of an injured Batman required Bruce and Dick to inform him of their dual identities---as described in "The Secret of Batman's Butler", from Batman # 110 (Sep., 1957).  This was corroborated as happening to the Earth-One Alfred in The Untold Legend of the Batman # 2 (Aug., 1980).

Why Bruce Wayne didn't show Aunt Harriet the door is as big a mystery as why George Baxter didn't fire Hazel.

So if Harriet was Dick's aunt (retcon-actively)did they ever try to explain why Dick didn't go to live with her instead of Bruce when his parents were killed?



Richard Willis said:

So if Harriet was Dick's aunt (retcon-actively)did they ever try to explain why Dick didn't go to live with her instead of Bruce when his parents were killed?

She'd only just gotten out of stir after twenty years, herself.  Old bootlegging charge you know.

Richard Willis said:

So if Harriet was Dick's aunt (retcon-actively)did they ever try to explain why Dick didn't go to live with her instead of Bruce when his parents were killed?

There was nothing retroactive about Harriet being Dick Grayson's aunt.  That was established in the first panel of her introduction in Detective Comics # 328 (Jun., 1964), as shown here:

As for why Dick, after he was orphaned, didn't go live with her, to my knowledge, it was never stated.  However, there are any number of plausible reasons why that didn't happen.  For example:

--- She might have been felt that Dick would be better off as the ward of a respected multi-millionaire, better taken care of and a brighter future.

--- She might have been travelling abroad and did not learn of the deaths of John and Mary Grayson until after Wayne had assumed guardianship of Dick; ties into the reason above.

--- She might not have been a blood relation to Dick, i.e., she was married to (and widowed by) Mary Grayson's brother.  Thus, she did not have the standing to assume custody of the boy.  At least, no more so than Bruce Wayne did.

--- Mr. Cooper might have been alive at the time of the Graysons' deaths and he refused to assume the burden of raising a boy.  (That's why if any of the Good Mrs. Benson's minor nieces or nephews are ever orphaned, they won't be coming to our house to live.)

It could be any or a combination of the above. 

Dick Grayson had a real uncle and possible aunt, at least in the Golden Age/Earth-Two/the Early Days, whichever you prefer.

In Batman #20 (Ja'43), Bruce and Dick get the shock of their lives when UNCLE GEORGE GRAYSON, the presumably older brother of John Grayson shows up at Wayne Manor with his wife AUNT CLARA. Stating that they'd been in Europe for the last few years or more since Dick has no memory of him, they will be happy to care for Dick now. Bruce refuses and they take him to court where his playboy image comes back to haunt him. The judge awards custody to Uncle George and Aunt Clara.

However it is all a scam to exhort one million dollars from Bruce to regain custody as George cares nothing for Dick and Clara is a much younger woman in disguise. Bruce was tempted just to give them the money but as Batman, he cannot make deals with these con artists. After some more dangerous criminals get involved, it's another death-trap/brawl to set things right, this time with Alfred's help!

Since the whole custody battle was a ruse, it's not 100% certain that Clara was really married to George and if she was really Dick's aunt. But they do confirm that George is in fact George Grayson, John's brother and Dick's real uncle.

He was never invited over for Thanksgiving dinner!

  1. World’s Finest 141
  2. The Joker in JLA 34
  3. You got me
  4. Luthor, when he became Dictator of Krypton City
  5. Wall panel (I'm guessing here)
  6. "Roving newspaper reporter" which sounds way cooler than my own newspaper career.
  7. Alfred, as I don't believe the Earth One version got a surname until '69.
  8. World’s finest 143

You got four correct out of eight, Mr. Sherman.  You batted .500.  That's an exceptional average for a baseball player, and respectably impressive for one of my quizzes.  In addition, of the two questions I felt were the most difficult, you nailed one of them.

It wasn't Harriet who was retconned as Dick's Aunt, since that was her original concept.  The retcon was that Dick had a living Aunt Harriet, when the implication had always been (with the exception of Uncle George) that Dick had no such relatives who could have taken him in, instead of the very wealthy total stranger who did so.  I did find it odd that Dick recognized Harriet, since he'd spent all his life, pre-Batman, with the Circus, and there was never any indication that either Harriet Cooper or George Grayson were ever part of the circus, so John & Mary probably spent little time with the non-circus branches of their families, and Dick was unlikely to have met any of them.

Commander Benson said:

Richard Willis said:

So if Harriet was Dick's aunt (retcon-actively)did they ever try to explain why Dick didn't go to live with her instead of Bruce when his parents were killed?

There was nothing retroactive about Harriet being Dick Grayson's aunt.  That was established in the first panel of her introduction in Detective Comics # 328 (Jun., 1964), as shown here:

As for why Dick, after he was orphaned, didn't go live with her, to my knowledge, it was never stated.  However, there are any number of plausible reasons why that didn't happen.  For example:

--- She might have been felt that Dick would be better off as the ward of a respected multi-millionaire, better taken care of and a brighter future.

--- She might have been travelling abroad and did not learn of the deaths of John and Mary Grayson until after Wayne had assumed guardianship of Dick; ties into the reason above.

--- She might not have been a blood relation to Dick, i.e., she was married to (and widowed by) Mary Grayson's brother.  Thus, she did not have the standing to assume custody of the boy.  At least, no more so than Bruce Wayne did.

--- Mr. Cooper might have been alive at the time of the Graysons' deaths and he refused to assume the burden of raising a boy.  (That's why if any of the Good Mrs. Benson's minor nieces or nephews are ever orphaned, they won't be coming to our house to live.)

It could be any or a combination of the above. 

Dave Elyea said:

It wasn't Harriet who was retconned as Dick's Aunt, since that was her original concept. The retcon was that Dick had a living Aunt Harriet, when the implication had always been (with the exception of Uncle George) that Dick had no such relatives who could have taken him in, instead of the very wealthy total stranger who did so. I did find it odd that Dick recognized Harriet, since he'd spent all his life, pre-Batman, with the Circus, and there was never any indication that either Harriet Cooper or George Grayson were ever part of the circus, so John & Mary probably spent little time with the non-circus branches of their families, and Dick was unlikely to have met any of them.

That was my intent when I said she was a ret-con. I didn't even know about Uncle George.

Richard Willis said:

Dave Elyea said:

It wasn't Harriet who was retconned as Dick's Aunt, since that was her original concept. The retcon was that Dick had a living Aunt Harriet, when the implication had always been (with the exception of Uncle George) that Dick had no such relatives who could have taken him in, instead of the very wealthy total stranger who did so. I did find it odd that Dick recognized Harriet, since he'd spent all his life, pre-Batman, with the Circus, and there was never any indication that either Harriet Cooper or George Grayson were ever part of the circus, so John & Mary probably spent little time with the non-circus branches of their families, and Dick was unlikely to have met any of them.

That was my intent when I said she was a ret-con. I didn't even know about Uncle George.

Fair enough, fellows. The thing is, I'm not sure the creation of Aunt Harriet falls under the definition of "retcon"---even under its proper meaning, the one that Roy Thomas meant by it before the term got distorted by fandom.

The appearance of Aunt Harriet didn't contradict anything previously established in Dick Grayson's history.  It was never specifically stated that he had no other relatives.  And it can't be assumed that he had no other relatives because none showed up to take custody of him after the deaths of his parents.  In my previous post, I enumerated several plausible reasons why Harriet, or any other Grayson relative, might not have stepped forward to take custody of him.

Nor does the appearance of Aunt Harriet explain any previously unexplained or unresolved aspects of the Batman mythos, with regard to Dick Grayson.  (Which was the original meaning of "retcon", i.e., retroactive continuity; not a change of continuity, but continuity inserted to explain previously unaddressed instances, such as why the Sandman switched from his business suit, gas mask, and opera cape get-up to the standard skin-tight super-hero duds.  A retcon did not alter any established facts; a revision did.)

If a late Silver-Age tale had introduced Ray (the Atom) Palmer's Uncle Osgood, it wouldn't have been considered a retcon or a revision simply because Ray had never mentioned him before.  It would simply be the introduction of a new character.  That's the way I view Aunt Harriet's arrival.

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