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Meta-Messages: A Heartfelt Bat-Tribute to a Legendary Comic Book Editor

In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!

This time around, based on a suggestion from reader David B., we take a look at a heartfelt sendoff to one of Batman’s greatest writers and editors…

In 1993’s Batman Adventures #10, writer Kelley Puckett and artists Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett introduced three criminals who would soon team-up. Each of the criminals were based upon one of DC’s senior editors at the time.

First up was Mike Carlin, or “Mastermind”…

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Then Denny O’Neil, “The Perfesser”…

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and Archie Goodwin, “Mr. Nice”…

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Goodwin was, of course, very famous for just how swell a guy he was, on top of being a masterfully creative writer and editor.

They would show up again in The Batman Adventures #20…

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and The Batman Adventures #30…

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Sadly, in 1998, Archie Goodwin passed away.

In 1999, in the successor series to the Batman Adventures, Batman: Gotham Adventures, specifically issue #13, Puckett and Burchett came together again (along with Terry Beatty) to say farewell to Mr. Nice in an absolutely heartwarming and charming story.

The framing sequence is that Perfesser is reading a story of the last case of his Trio to his granddaughter.

He tells of a boy from a leper colony that shows up and requests Mr. Nice’s help. He agrees to go help them. Mastermind does not take it well…

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They undertake this one last plan, fighting against Batman and Nightwing and they ultimately end up with Mastermind holding all of Gotham City hostage with a deadly chemical in a vial. He has Mr. Nice read his demands…

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That is so heartwarming.

What a lovely send-off to a lovely man.

Thanks to David B. for the suggestion! If anyone else has a suggestion for a future installment, feel free to drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

15 Comments

That’s a perfect send-off. Thank you for sharing that – brought a little tear to my eye at the end.

what a lovely tribute to such a cool legend and guy like archie. the thing brought tears to my eyes.

These three were a delight to read in The Batman Adventures book. It’s a shame that they only had four appearances.

…That’s DUST in my eye! *Sniff* :'(

I love that story. It’s good to see spotlighted and introduced to a bunch of folks who may never have encountered it before.

Archie was a class act and a true master storyteller. Manhunter was a textbook for how to tell an epic story in just a few pages, with no wasted space and nothing missing. Batman Adventures was the best batman book of the era and one of the best of all time, which makes the tribute even more fitting, as Archie was one of the best Batman writers, ever, and certainly one of the top 2 editors.

I’m not crying; you’re crying!

I bought this off the rack when it was released, and it’s as moving now as it was then. I really miss the BTAS-style Batman comics. Best damn superhero comics around when they were going. At least they’re finally being reprinted! My old floppy issues have been read to death over the years.

During the 90’s the major publishers’ marketing strategy was to emphasize a grim n’ gritty atmosphere and overcomplicated extended storylines. The comics based on the animated Batman were a perfect antidote. They featured one off stories that emphasized plot and character over sensationalism. I don’t think any other comic series of the time could have done (or even would have been allowed to do) such a sentimental, sincere and soulful send-off to such a well loved comics creator and human being. A lovely tribute to the much missed Mr. Goodwin.

I think I’ll be taking out my Manhunter collection for another read tonight.

Mr. Goodwin, thank you.

There was also a tribute on Matt Wagner’s DOCTOR MID-NITE mini.

Not only did this article remind us of how much Archie Goodwin is missed, it brought back memories of Mike Parobeck, another amazing talent who left us way too soon.

Wow, I vaguely remember reading the first story with the three criminals and I had no idea they were based on DC editors.

Goodwin died when I was reading Starman, one of my favorite comic book series of all time, and a comic he edited. I’ve read Manhunter last year, and it was amazing. He was a very gifted dude that deserves more acclaim.

These stories only showcase the amazing and very underrated talent of Kelley Puckett. Shame he (she?) didn’t take off as I’ve never read anything bad from him (her?).

Classy.

“Best damn superhero comics around when they were going.”

This is the absolute truth.

Thanks for showcasing this tale. It was a fine tribute to Archie Goodwin. He and E. Nelson Bridwell are two comics creators whom I have heard described in only the most glowing of terms. As a writer, it has been said of Archie Goodwin that if he were allowed only one word a day, he would come up with the RIGHT word.

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