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75 Greatest Friends and Foes of Batman: Allies #35-26

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30. Zatanna

The magical hero Zatanna (created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson) and Batman were teammates on the Justice League for many years. However, during his time on the Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini (who was a huge Zatanna fan) introduced her into the Batman universe by showing that she and Batman spent a lot of time together while he was traveling the world training to become Batman. They definitely had a sort of chemistry together. When Dini took over writing Detective Comics, he revealed that Bruce and Zatanna knew each other as children through their respective parents. This made it all the more troubling for Batman when Zatanna wiped his memory during the Identity Crisis crossover (the Justice League used Zatanna’s powers to mess with the minds of some bad guys and Batman walked in on them and the League felt that they had to wipe out Batman’s memory as he never would have let them do what they needed to do – boy, Identity Crisis…oh, Identity Crisis).

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Dini had her pop up from time to time in Detective Comics and she and Batman definitely still had some chemistry.

29. Huntress (Helena Wayne)

Created by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Bob Layton, Helena Wayne is from the alternate Earth known as Earth-2, where she was the daughter of that world’s Catwoman and Batman. When he mother is killed, Helena decides to become a hero herself to bring her mother’s murderer to justice. She had been trained by both of her parents, so she had a lot of skills and a little bit more of an edge than her straightlaced father. She became a member of the Justice Society of America. She had her own back-up series in Batman Family for a while (written and drawn by her original creative team) where we see her status quo on Earth 2, where she worked in a law firm with Dick Grayson but could not keep herself from her vigilante roots…

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She served as a hero for many years. She eventually died during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Recently, during the New 52 reboot, she was reintroduced by her original writer, Paul Levitz, as a new Earth 2 character, stranded on the main DC Earth with her best friend, Power Girl (this version of Huntress was originally known as Robin).

28. Vicki Vale

Vicki Vale was created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Lew Schwartz and Charles Paris in the late 1940s and served as a longstanding member of Batman’s supporting cast for the rest of the 1940s, all of the 1950s and the early part of the 1960s. She never really developed much further past being a Lois Lane knockoff, but you can’t deny the fact that she was one of the longest-tenured love interests Batman ever had.

Batman #73’s “Vicki Vale’s Secret” is a good example of how she was used in most of her stories. In the story, she tells Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson about some threats made against her. Since she is sure that Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin, she figures that when they go to her apartment she will record them and they’ll be bound to say something incriminating. It’s a really sleazy trick, especially when she legitimately IS in trouble. And, of course, her plan goes awry at the end…

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After being excised during the Silver Age revamp of the Bat-titles under Julie Schwartz’s editorship, it’s possible that Vicki Vale would have sort of faded into memory, but then she got a huge boost from being the love interest in the blockbuster 1989 Batman film, played by Kim Basinger.

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Still, while the comics did bring her back around that time (she had appeared in some 80s comics already), she never really regained a recurring role again.

27. Silver St. Cloud

Silver St. Cloud is sort of the anti-Vicki Vale, in the sense that her time as the love interest of Bruce Wayne was very brief, but it was SO significant that she is still well-regarded to this day. She was introduced by Steve Englehart, Walter Simonson and Al Milgrom, but gained her prominence during the Englehart, Rogers and Austin issues that were to follow. She even figured out that Batman was Bruce Wayne (but didn’t reveal that she knew to Batman), leading to some awesome sequences…

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Silver St. Cloud more or less became an Englehart-only character, as she would primarily be used only when Englehart came back to do Batman stories over the years.

At least that WAS the case until Kevin Smith decided to use her during his Batman mini-series The Widening Gyre. The less said about that series, the better.

26. Batwoman (Kathy Kane)

Introduced by Edmond Hamilton, Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye (although Bob Kane likely did play a role in her creation behind-the-scenes), Kathy Kane was a rich socialite that decided to become a vigilante…

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She appeared a number of times over the next decade or so and she was featured prominently in a couple of imaginary stories where she and Batman got married.

After she was retired during the Silver Age (another “victim” of Julie Schwartz’s revamp of the Bat-books) she eventually was killed off by Denny O’Neil in the pages of Detective Comics by the Bronze Tiger (during a period where he was a mind-controlled killer).

Grant Morrison recently revamped Kane’s origins and used her really well in Batman Incorporated…

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He also revealed that she faked her death.

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40 Comments

Superman McGee

April 23, 2014 at 5:39 am

Please tell me I’m not the only one that voted for Aunt Harriet.

No, definitely not the only one.

There were a lot of things wrong with Hush, but the complete misuse of Harold is probably at the top of the list.

Superman McGee

April 23, 2014 at 5:53 am

Cool.

And I’m shocked at how well known the characters at the bottom of the list are. It’ll be interesting to see if any obscure characters make the allies list at all.

Ah, Batwoman the First. I always liked the touch of seeing Batman as primarily an acrobat like herself.

Well, we know that there’s a fairly consistent group of Outsiders fans here!

I know Vicki Vale was a prominent player throughout a lot of Bat-history, but I’m hard pressed to find a single story I liked her in. I always found Batman had better foils in Femme Fatales like Talia and Catwoman then re-hashing Lois Lane stories.

surprised for thought at least black lighting would be higher or any of the outsiders would not appear to in the top twenty or ten even. and interesting to see the original batwoman make the list including how grant decided she was too good a character to waste. as for silver saint cloud the less said about what kevin did to her in his story the better since she is one of the few people who might be able to show batman he can have a life too.

It’s kind of depressing that with at least 3 of these characters, referencing their more recent appearances boils down to basically “Let’s not talk of that.”

I hadn’t heard about Harold prior to Hush and I was still pissed at what happened to him.

What, no Outsiders love for Looker?

I’m hoping my top choice, Black Canary, even makes the list at this point.

Remember my post in the entry for yesterday’s villains? Same here–guy on deviantart rebooted Amalgam comics, and some of the characters on this list were used:
-Metamorpho was mixed with Microbe of the New Warriors to make Micromorph, a member of Iron Bat’s Outer Warriors (the Outsiders/the New Warriors).
-Black Lightning was mixed with Thunderstrike to make Lightning Strike, leaderof the Outer Warriors.
-Katana was mixed with Psylocke to make Psytana (essentially a rebooted Kokoro from the old Amalgam series), another Outer Warriors member; before she wound up in the body of Kwannon Yamashiro, she was Mindrunner, a member of the X-Patrol (Doom Patrol/X-Men). Her brother is Captain Lionheart (Lionheart/Captain Britain), one of the founding members of Global Flight (Global Guardians/Alpha Flight).
-Deadman was mixed with Moon Knight to make Deadmoon, a member of Global Flight.
-Zatanna was mixed with the Scarlet Witch to make the Scarlet Magician, a member of the Justice Avengers (Justice League/Avengers). Her brother is fellow member Silverflash (Barry Allen/Quicksilver); her cousin is Brother Goth (Zachary Zatara/Sister Grimm) of Runaway Justice (Young Justice/The Runaways); her biological father is Magnetron (The Brain/Magneto), leader of the Brotherhood (…of Evil/…of Mutants); her adoptive parents are Dr. Zatara (John Zatara/Dr. Druid) and his wife Jillian (Sindella/Shadowoman); and her daughter (by way of forced conception by Mephistrigon (Trigon/Mephisto)) is Ravican (Raven/Wiccan) of the Teen Avengers (Teen Titans/Young Avengers).

I’m guessing Geo-Force isn’t going to make it. As the always-amusing Andrew Weiss has pointed out, he’s Nobody’s Favorite:

http://www.armagideon-time.com/?p=7791

Meanwhile, I hate to be that guy again, but this isn’t quite right:

“You know how canceled comic book series sometimes have their plots resolved in other titles? Well, Deadman debuted in Strange Adventures…When that story ended, the plot was resolved in Brave and the Bold, which Neal Adams became the artist for, so the Deadman story was also Neal Adams’ very first Batman comic.”

Adams’ first Batman comic was Deadman’s first B&B appearance (#79), which came in the middle of the Strange Adventures run, and then, when the Strange Adventures run was cancelled on a cliffhanger, they wrapped it up in Deadman’s second B&B appearance (#86) a few months afterwards.

Bill Williamson

April 23, 2014 at 8:38 am

The best Vicki Vale story was probably that one by Grant and Breyfogle where Batman debates telling her his secret identity. I believe it was a Wesker and Scarface three parter where Vicki Vale got caught in a crossfire, ended up in hospital and ultimately left Bruce Wayne for a black man.

A slight correction …

Your article gives the impression that Vicki Vale disappeared in the 1960s and was rarely seen again until she was used for the 1989 Batman movie.

But she was revived in the Batman titles during that era when the continuity went from Detective to Batman and back again on a regular basis. That would be 1981 or so to 1986. And she appeared a lot. I’m not sure if Doug Moench was the one who brought her back, but he sure used her all the time, in a lot of storylines. She was as much a supporting character as Gordon, Bullock or Alfred. She mentored Alfred’s daughter (Julia Remarque) when she was added to the cast. (I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she appeared more times in 1981 to 1987 than she did in the 1948 to 1963 era.)

Pretty strong Brave & The Bold vibe to this group. Metamorpho, Black Lightening and Katana are all Batman allies primarily through the Claremontian re-imaging of the team-up book that was BATO. Deadman and Zatanna are superheroes in their own right. Huntress is technically a second order derivative of Batman (via Batgirl), but Helena Wayne was a really strong character under the stewardship of Levitz, Stanton and Layton.

The presence of Vicki Vale, Silver St. Cloud and Kathy Kane are a reminder that Batman has terrible love interests. Like Catwoman and Talia al Ghul, Vicki Vale is more an antagonist than a romantic partner. The difference is that she is not a genuine threat. Silver St. Cloud is memorable, but she owes a lot of that Marshall Rogers. Poor Kathy Kane is a living symbol of the unloved Silver Age Batman.

I know that I read Hush, because I have a copy floating around. However, I utterly forgot the fate of Harold Allnut. That is not a great sign given what a nifty character that he is. Bruce Wayne really does need a tech guy and Harold fit the Gothic vibe better than most solutions to that problem.

It was Conway that brought Vicki Vale back, in a love triangle with Catwoman…

(…both of whom figured out Bruce’s secret identity on their own. One thing that I liked about Conway’s run is that he accepted that Bruce’s life was filled with smart people who would be able to figure that out.)

@Dean Hacker

Silver Age Batman is not unloved. We may be a small group, but there are a number of people who are very fond of Batwoman, Betty Kane Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, Catman, Clayface, Rainbow Batman and the various alien creatures lurking in the 1957 to 1963 era. (Not to mention J’onn J’onzz and Zook in Detective Comics.)

But, yeah, sales were terrible. I think, at one point, sales dipped below 200,000 per issue.

I voted for Harold, but I guess he’s been gone long enough as a regular cast member that not enough people still liked or remembered him. I’ll also confess that I tend not to think of Batman’s superhuman teammates in the Outsiders or JLA — excepting Superman — when thinking of his greatest allies. For one thing, I’ve never gotten the sense that he liked most of them; even the Outsiders were usually just a means to an end for him, to the point that he’s repeatedly split from the team when it wasn’t about his priorities.

As to Vicki Vale…well, she certainly did stick around a while, as Brian mentions. Almost forgotten now is her early 1980s return under Gerry Conway and Doug Moench, where she was used in weird pseudo-love triangles with Catwoman (who actually attacked Batman over it) and then with Alfred’s apparent daughter by WWII heroine Mademoiselle Marie, Julia Remarque/Pennyworth (who was mostly one-sided crushing on Bruce Wayne). That was really when Vicki first got to be written as something other than a Lois/Lana knockoff, and unsurprisingly, she pretty sensibly decided Bruce was a flake and dumped him back then, too. (I see Hoosier X has beaten me to some of this stuff.)

Vicki Vale had so little chemistry with Batman in the movie that it prompted jokes of closeted-gay Batman missing Robin.

@ Hoosier X:

I stand corrected.

In general, I am a pretty big Silver Age DC person. However, my first exposure to the comic book Batman was the neo-gothic stuff from the late Bronze Age. Couple that with my affection for the Burton Batman films and the Silver Age stuff seems like a small corner of the Bat-Verse.

@ renenarciso:

Movie Batman has rarely had much chemistry with his love interests. Catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS would be the major exception. Nor has Batman had much luck with love interests. Again, villain-as-sex-partners, like Catwoman and Talia al Ghul, are the major exceptions. However, I have never taken that as Batman necessarily being gay.

To me, Batman is at his best when he is an Apollonian force against a Dionysian world. He is trying to impose rules and order on a bunch of hedonists. That tension is why Batman ’66 worked and none of the other camp takes on superheroes ever have. Bruce Wayne is always resisting pleasure. His sexual orientation is beside the point, since he is avoiding it along with everything other than his life’s mission. That can be both tragic and comedic.

No kidding about the lack of luck and chemistry, Dean Hacker; I’m not even sure why they bothered casting Elle McPherson in that franchise-killing fourth installment.

Dean –

I wasn’t the one to make the jokes. A lot of people did, I suppose, because Burton’s Batman was the first major Batman with mass exposure after Adam West’s. So it prompted jokes in the line of “Batman is now sad and tormented because they got rid of the Boy Wonder and replaced him with Kim Basinger.”

There is what you said, and also the fact that, in lots of interpretations, Bruce Wayne is supposed to be a hollow mask for Batman, so any women he meets as Bruce will not really register as more than part of his disguise (ironically fuelling gay closet paralells). So the only women that can really touch him are those he meets as Batman: Catwoman and Talia.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman, however, HAD chemistry with his love interests. I suppose that is because he let us follow Bruce Wayne on his way to becoming Batman; making that Bruce Wayne “real” at some level.

Wow, actually got two on this list with Katana and Zatanna. Though I HAD forgotten about Harold, and his demise. I liked Harold. (And look how cool that Batmobile is on those pages!)

And any chemistry in Batman Returns is basically Michelle Pfeiffer. Who couldn’t have chemistry with her? (And didn’t she and Keaton date at one time…?)

Does anyone have chemistry with Katie Holmes….?

@renenarciso

I didn’t think that you were making the jokes yourself.

We disagree on the chemistry between Nolan’s Batman and his love interests. I like Katie Holmes as an actress and she can make an interesting romantic lead, but there was more a sibling relationship between Rachel Dawes and Bruce Wayne than anything. That is better than the absolute zero Nicole Kidman amazingly drew from Val Kilmer, but it isn’t much. When Rachel Dawes was re-cast, Maggie Gyllenhaal was not really working with Christian Bale all that much. Their lack of a connection was really the only major weakness in that film. Like Katie Holmes, Anne Hathaway is appealing and can go unexpected, interesting directions with romantic material. However, she was grossly miscast as Catwoman and I never bought her opposite Bale. Of the four actress that were paired with Nolan’s Batman, only Marion Cotillard really created any chemistry and she was the main villain of the piece.

@ M-Wolverine:

Apparently, you have forgotten the 90s.

From what I saw of Dawson’ Creek, Katie Holmes had good chemistry with both the male leads. She was great opposite Tobey Maguire in Ice Storm and Wonder Boys. She was very good in Go and bounced off the other characters well. She even managed to generate a little sizzle with Greg Kinnear in The Gift. That is a pretty good five year run.

Then …

Well, I thought Bale’s chemistry with his romantic interests was okay, in that standard action movie kind of way. I suppose I’m not demanding with that sort of thing, and you may well be right in your assessment about Katie Holmes. I only really notice it when the lack of chemistry is monumental, like in the Burton/Schumacher movies (excepting Pfeiffer).

Bill Williamson

April 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Also, saying that Paul Dini is a huge Zatanna fan is putting it lightly. The guy basically married a Zatanna surrogate.

I’ve read that Zatanna issue before, but never really realized how clever it was for a character whose powers derive from speech to be doing a silent trick — showing that her “magic” isn’t only in her superpowers. Nice!

Man, everybody that Bruce knew in those couple years before and after his parents’ deaths came back later in his life, huh? I bet everyone here runs into people they knew as 10 year olds all the time….

Hey…Batman doesn’t run into people he knew…they run into him.

I’m a little surprised by all the Outsiders love, because even though he put together the team I don’t see them as closer to Batman than JLA teammates like the Flash or Hawkman. Deadman almost made my list, because I’ve always loved his interactions with Batman and the fact that Bats thought nothing of leaving messages in the newspaper to attract a ghost’s attention when he needed a team-up.

I remember Harold from the Question series, but I had no idea he ever showed up in Batman comics.

What book are the Zatanna pages from?

They’re from a run on Detective that Paul Dini wrote, the issues that came after Infinite Crisis/One Year Later/Face the Face. Looks like 833.

Andy E. Nystrom

April 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Two of my votes made it here. I think the very daftness of a superhero wearing a purse won me over to Kathy. Plus there’s been a couple of touching scenes with her: when Batman thinks he’s immune to reality ghosts in Planet Krypton unless he sees Kathy, and that B&B issue where Batman meets the Earth-2 Batwoman, which was disturbing for both because each of their counterparts was dead.

Also glad that Helena Wayne was treated as distinct from Bertinelli since they may look almost identical but their personalities are very different. While both have their merits, I like Wayne’s down to Earth, level-headed nature more than the vengeance driven Bertinelli.

Oh yeah, one of this batch was actually on my list: Kathy Kane!

Anyone else immediately have “Shut the funk up” come into there head when Vicki Vale is mentioned.

Dini’s being involved with a real magician definitely shows in the way he writes Zee. For example, he comes across as knowing what’s involved in putting on a big magic stage show.
The cancellation took one of the last Big Two books I was reading (Vertigo aside).

@Dean. ……and we all know what “then” means…..

Still trying to wrap my head around the Dini wife thing, thinking that don’t all wives talk backwards….?

Katana is one of my picks (and those Davis panels are great) giving me more in the 75 allies and enemies than I did in the 100 greatest covers.

With Huntress the question is how big does a retcon have to be to redefine a character as a separate character?
Especially when other characters (such as Jason Todd) also had big changes.

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