blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Detective Comics (1937) #476


I either made a crack about Steve Englehart writing the narration for Detective Comics for the “Batman: The TV Show” announcer, or I thought about making the crack. This issue Englehart’s back at it, ad nauseam. Then Chief O’Hara shows up doing banter, and maybe it’s supposed to be a grim and gritty remake of “Batman: The TV Show.” It’d still be bad, but at least it’d make some sense.

This issue finishes Englehart’s run on the book, getting some resolution for the Rupert Thorne and Hugo Strange business and Batman’s romance with Silver St. Cloud.

It’s not very good. I mean, there’s some great art. Most of the comic takes place in the rain, and artists Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin do some beautiful work. The story’s not very good. It’s not exactly badly plotted… well, wait. Silver does charter a plane from Akron to Gotham to go back for the finale. But the split is good; it’s between Batman’s failed attempts to thwart the Joker, Silver hitchhiking with Rupert Thorne, and then a little Joker spotlight.

The Joker stuff in this issue—writing-wise—is nothing compared to the last issue. It’s not bad; some of it’s good; it’s just not startling. It’s pretty good, at least until Batman shows up and pontificates.

The Batman and Joker stuff this issue also has an amusing subtext: Batman can’t figure out how to stop the Joker on his own, and only because of magic can he do it. It’s silly.

But they also have a rooftop chase scene on skyscrapers in the rain, and Rogers and Austin draw the hell out of it. Great colors from Glynis Oliver.

Some of the issue reads like The Dark Knight ‘Returns’, down to how the panels work. Then other times, it reminds of Todd McFarlane. Englehart, Rogers, and Austin undeniably influenced. But unless you’re doing a Batman history report or studying Rogers and Austin’s art, you can skip the arc. Or just read Laughing Fish. Then you miss the worse writing and terrible, shallow, weird characterizations from early in the arc.


Gorgeous art. The rest can go.

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