"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
A week has passed. After all the grousing and kibitzing over last Friday’s quiz, who dared to actually test the limits of their nerd-fu? And who, among those few brave souls, emerged victorious? Let’s find out!
There were definitely some surprises. People easily got answers I thought would be horribly difficult, and others were stumped by questions I’d considered practically gimmes. I fully expected more people to cheat, and was delighted and surprised by our entrants’ candor about this — “These are the ones I knew for sure, these others I had to look up on the net” — and the overall level of conscientiousness and ethics on display was really something to see. Hardly anyone resorted to net searches and when they did they fessed up. Batman and Robin would be proud of you all.
We had a total of six entrants. Not that many entries, but those folks who did enter have some serious nerd game. There were twenty questions listed, but some of those questions were in multiple parts and I awarded a point for each right answer…32 points in all. No one got all of them, but almost all of the entrants got over half of them. Take a bow, gentlemen: Louis Bright-Raven, Jim Morrow, Tyler Goble, Greg Geren, Samir Parekh, and our winner, Cass Sherman. Cass scored 27 out of 32 and I added a couple of extra points in places because he gave details I had not thought to put in, so he ended up with a high score of 29. (There are sections below where I simply pasted in the answer he sent me because it was better than the one I originally had.) Since he’s been doing annotations on Grant Morrison’s Batman run I suppose his win would be expected, but I admit to being pleased at stumping even him a couple of times. Check out his annotations page here.
Anyway, congratulations, Cass, your prize is on its way. Your geek-fu is mighty.
And now…. the ANSWERS!!
1. What were the first words Bruce Wayne ever uttered on the comics page…
…in his first appearance?
The first words Bruce Wayne speaks are “Well Commissioner, anything exciting happening these days?”
…in his first appearance as Batman?
As Batman, he opens with “This rat was behind the murders!” (Just before this page, below.)
…if you figure it chronologically, i.e., young Bruce?
In Detective #235, “The First Batman!” Thomas Wayne wears a bat suit to a masquerade.
A toddler Bruce Wayne comments “Gee Daddy, I wish I could wear a suit like that.” In Len Wein’s Untold Legend of the Batman #1, the same scene appears and it’s described as “several years” until Bruce’s parents are killed. This puts little Bruce at around four or five years old, making it a strong candidate for his chronologically first on-panel speech.
Anyway, it’s the one I’m going with, though Cass got extra points for suggesting possibles from “Hush” and “Gothic” as well, he was really covering all the bases. I also would have accepted the scene with Bruce falling down the well in The Dark Knight Returns or even the variation of it in Batman Begins. And I had to laugh at Greg Geren’s Hail-Mary throw from half-court — “I don’t know…..’Waaaaaah’?” On the theory that perhaps somewhere in the last seventy years there was indeed a flashback to baby Bruce, I went ahead and gave him the point.
But “The First Batman!” is the story I was thinking of when I wrote the question.
2. In her FIRST pre-Crisis appearance, the Huntress initially crossed paths with which members of the JSA?
Huntress first showed up in All-Star Comics #69, and met Wildcat and the Star-Spangled Kid. All I wanted were the names of the heroes, but most people that answered this gave the issue number, too.
3. In her POST-Crisis appearances, which other DC crimefighter did the Huntress meet first? (I mean in terms of her timeline, not the actual publication.)
Several people said it was the Blue Beetle, in Justice League America #26.
However, that is incorrect — that was the first published meeting of the Huntress with a fellow crimefighter and I specifically asked for the first one in her personal timeline. For that we have to go to a different source.
In Huntress: Cry for Blood, Batman crashes a dinner party full of gangsters, at which a sixteen-year-old Helena is present. If you want to split hairs and say that only the Huntress, and not Helena Bertinelli in her civilian identity, should be considered, it still comes up Batman.
…and later, the first crimefighter she met was instead retconned to be?
However, the Cry For Blood revisions of the Helena Bertinelli origin only lasted a few years.
In Huntress Year One, Helena encounters Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, on her first mission. That’s the retcon.
4. According to the most recent version of DC’s history, Batman met Superman in Man of Steel #3, in pursuit of a criminal named “Magpie.” But when did Robin (Dick Grayson) first meet Superman? And the Jason Todd Robin? And the Tim Drake Robin?
Dick Grayson met Superman in Legends of the DC Universe #6.
Superman met Jason Todd in Action Comics #594… just in passing in a walk-on cameo; this was a tough one to get. I had to look this up myself.
And Superman met Tim Drake in a two-parter –Man of Steel #14 and Superman #70. I’d have taken either as the answer– both were cover-dated August– but all the contestants to answer this gave both! Well done!
5. On the television show Birds of Prey, Dinah Lance was NOT the Black Canary. Who was?
The Black Canary’s name was changed to “Carolyn Lance” for the television show.
Several people got that right, and a couple mentioned that she was played by Lori Loughlin — but only Jim Morrow thought to mention that the Canary was young Dinah’s long-lost mother.
6. Who was Harvey Harris, and what Bat-character did he team up with? (Extra points if you can give me both the pre-and post-Crisis answers.)
Harvey Harris is a detective, introduced in Detective #226. He trains young Bruce Wayne in the art of sleuthing… and in order to protect his anonymity (!) Bruce wears a proto-Robin costume.
In The Untold Legend of the Batman #1, it’s mentioned again that young Bruce dresses up as a pre-Robin Robin and trains under Harris.
So that would be pre-Crisis.
For our POST-Crisis answer, we turn to Detective Comics Annual #2 (1989), Harvey Harris takes on young “Frank Dixon” (Bruce Wayne) as an apprentice and they team up to solve a murder mystery.
As it happens, this is one of the few Batman tales written by Mark Waid. It’s really good and is a nice little homage to the original while at the same time coming across as very tough and cool.
7. According to Denny O’Neil (circa Knightfall) the Batmobile began as a customized version of what kind of sports car?
I’m really surprised no one got this one. We had several guesses of Corvette, and one Lamborghini… but not one person guessed Maserati. And that’s the answer.
The clue is in the question.
In his novelization of Knightfall, O’Neil explicitly states “He got into a low, matte-black sports car Alfred had once dubbed ‘The Batmobile.’ It was basically a Maserati, much-modified, with a racing engine, one-way bulletproof glass, bulletproof tires, a security system that included a small thermite bomb which would melt the car to slag if anyone penetrated its other defenses, and a lot of electronics.” That was the Batmobile… according to Denny O’Neil, circa Knightfall.
The picture I originally ran with the question was a red herring — the Neal Adams design comes close, but his was based on a 1971 Corvette.
8. What kind of car did it begin as on the 1966 television show?
George Barris started with a Lincoln Futura.
He actually built several, and still tours with them.
9. What was the underlying structure for the car’s design in the 1989 movie?
What I was thinking of were all the interviews where Tim Burton and the designers said they were trying to basically build “a car wrapped around a jet engine” and I would have accepted that as an answer.
However, several of our contestants looked it up. Here’s Cass– “The production team spliced together two Impala chassis, and the car was powered by a Chevy V8. The body was a custom-built fabrication, and the whole thing rides on a set of Mickey Thompson racing tires on custom wheels.” I can only admire an answer that thorough, so I’m giving it to him. A couple of other folks also mentioned the spliced Impalas, etc. Apparently this is pretty widely-known, so I gave everyone the point that answered with that. Honestly, I feel a bit foolish for not realizing it would be the answer people gave. Apparently I’m the only one that remembers the ‘jet engine’ thing.
10. At one point Batman did actually marry Talia, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul. When was this and who performed the ceremony?
Many people suggested that this took place in the graphic novel Son of the Demon, by Mike Barr and Jerry Bingham. Not so!
“In the Tales of the Demon TPB, reprinting DC Special #15, ‘I Now Pronounce You BATMAN and Wife!’ Batman exposes himself unwittingly to a knockout gas hidden inside his punching bag. He awakes to Ra’s Al Ghul concluding a ceremony that binds him in matrimony to Talia Al Ghul (‘The consent of the female and her father is sufficient!’). Incidentally, the two remain married for years to come, still man and wife ten years later in the Son of the Demon OGN. You didn’t really think they’d let Batman knock a girl up out of wedlock, did you?”
11. Who was the villain of the case that resulted in Batman acquiring the Batcave’s giant penny? (It’s not Two-Face, not even post-Crisis.)
That was Joe Coyne, the “Penny Plunderer.”
12. How about the name of the villain of the case that provided the Batcave’s robot dinosaur?
That would be Steven Chase, in “Dinosaur Island.”
13. Most of you probably know that Oswald Cobblepot is the Penguin and Selina Kyle is the Catwoman. But, who, pray tell, are the villainous alter egos of these nasty folks?
Television actor Paul Sloane was the second Two-Face.
As presented in Batman #68.
Arnold Etchison was the gruesome villain Abbatoir. He USED to have a large family….
We met Abbatoir in Detective #625.
Phillip Reardon was the original Ten-Eyed-Man.
Batman first fought him in Batman #226.
Julian Day is the Calendar Man.
He first crossed swords with the Dark Knight in Detective #259.
Aaron Helzinger is better known to Bat-fans as Amygdala.
He debuted in Shadow of the Bat #3 by Grant and Breyfogle.
Preston Payne is Clayface III.
He first appeared in Detective #479.
14. As noted above, Ra’s al Ghul once forced Batman to marry his daughter Talia in order to provide him an heir. As it happens, there was a television precedent– another Bat-villain thought it would be a fine idea to force a marriage on Barbara Gordon. Who was this villain and what was his reasoning?
The Penguin! In the 1968 TV episode “Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin,” that waddling master of fowl play kidnapped Barbara and decided to stage a wedding, thinking that Commissioner Gordon would never dare to prosecute his own son-in-law.
However, Penguin was screwed two ways — not only was he not aware he’d have to deal with Batgirl, but the minister he snatched actually turned out to be Alfred the butler. (Alfred was having dinner with his pastor and persuaded Penguin’s finks that he was the minister they were looking for when they broke in.)
As matters turned out, by the end of the episode Alfred discovered that Barbara Gordon was actually Batgirl and thus became the one person on the 60’s TV show to know everyone’s true identity.
Alfred had a lot on the ball for an old guy.
15. Who attended the wedding of Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen?
This is from Denny O’Neil and Mike Netzer’s “Vows” that appeared in the second Legends of the Dark Knight Annual, in 1992. The one wedding guest was Flass, the corrupt cop that was James Gordon’s former partner. He wasn’t there exactly by choice — they were all moments from drowning.
Gordon and Sarah persuaded the corrupt Judge Liptic, also trapped with them, to marry them just moments before their doom, with Flass as a witness. Fortunately, they lived through it and were happily married… well, for a while, anyway, till Sarah’s untimely death.
16. What was Eivol Ekdal’s “greatest creation”? (It appeared both in the comics and on TV…)
From Detective #346, “Batman’s Inescapable Doom-Trap!”
Eivol Ekdal specializes in creating deathtrap illusions for magicians — and the Inescapable Doom-Trap is his masterpiece. A transparent box constructed of impenetrable jet-age plastics with an electrified vent that releases poison gas. A trap so perfect that even Ekdal himself can’t figure out a solution. No, it will take the world’s greatest escape artist — Batman!– to figure out how to beat it. Of course, then Batman would know the magician’s secret, so he’ll have to die…
This story was one of several adapted for the first season of the sixties TV show, with Ida Lupino as the magician Zelda and Jack Kruschen as Eivol Ekdal, the “mad Albanian.”
Watch part one of it here if you are of a mind to…
17. Alfred the butler has been linked romantically to several ladies over the course of his career. Two of them have had ongoing series of their own at DC. Can you name them?
During the Moench/Colan/Newton run on Batman and Detective in the 1980’s, it was revealed that young Alfred Pennyworth had a thing with Mlle. Marie when he served in the SAS during World War II. The “Battle Doll” had her own strip in Star Spangled War Stories for a while.
Alfred learned he’d had a daughter with Marie, and Julia Pennyworth was a presence in the Batbooks and even a brief love interest for Bruce Wayne in the early 80’s.
So Mlle. Marie was one. I was amazed that no one guessed her as one of them. I thought for sure somebody out there would at least remember Julia Pennyworth, which was why I decided to ask for two names — I thought just one would be too easy. Shows what I know. I guess those stories really have been wiped clear out of DC continuity.
The other was …Catwoman! In Batman #22, “The Duped Domestics!” Alfred is dating the maid of another millionaire, and much is made of Alfred finally falling in love.
Sadly, this maid turns out to be Catwoman in disguise who’s just scamming to get next to all the millionaires and loot their mansions by romancing lonely butlers.
18. When Dick Grayson was attending college at Hudson University, in his Robin identity he befriended the chief of campus security. What was that officer’s name?
If you’ve been diligent about reading your Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder, you’d know it was Chief Frank McDonald.
19. How did Anthony Lupus cure his headaches? Who helped him do it?
Dr. Milo cured Anthony Lupus’s headaches with a serum that had the unfortunate side effect of turning him into a werewolf at the full moon.
Ouch. Maybe Anthony should have tried an HMO. From Batman #255, “Moon of the Wolf!” by Len Wein and Neal Adams. This story was also adapted for Batman: The Animated Series.
Incidentally, Batman #255 also reprinted “The Duped Domestics!” and “The First Batman” referenced above, as well as an awesome solo Robin story featuring the Boy Wonder taking on Crazy-Quilt.
The following issue, #256, reprinted “The Penny Plunderers” and “Dinosaur Island.” I got roughly half this quiz out of those 100-page Super-Spectacular issues from the 70’s. Those were some fine damn hunks of comics goodness, back then.
20. Steve Ditko drew Batman once. Where did that story appear?
That was Man-Bat #1 from 1975.
Man-Bat’s first series ran a whopping two issues in all, and only the first one was drawn by Ditko.
He didn’t even ink his own stuff — that was done by Al Milgrom, who was perhaps not the best fit but he still did a serviceable job.
Even with a different inker, though, you can still see the Ditko weirdness.
Which is a great fit for Batman. Every so often I think about what we could have seen if Ditko had stayed on Man-Bat and the book had taken off. Then I sigh for what might have been.
And there you have it. Congratulations to all our players and, of course, our winner.
As for the rest of you out there just reading and kibitzing, I hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did — we’ll have to try it again sometime. I still have plenty of books to get rid of, after all, and this is more entertaining than eBay. Just remember, we’re playing hardball here, so bring your A-game!
See you next week.
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