Top Ten Minor Batman Characters Who Need More Use

BatmanFamily01I told myself I’d had enough. I said ‘you’ve written enough freakin’ Batman articles already; lay off’.

That’s what I said. But goldurn it, these things just won’t let go of you until they’ve been worked from your system. I’ve already written about Batman himself (in a general sense), and plenty about his villains, and I just did one on Robin – so what else is there to talk about?

Well, lots, really. As I’ve mentioned before, the thing about a character like Batman is that he gathers other characters to him like sugar gathers ants. Now, many of these are villains, of course, but really, we’re talking about everybody – villains, cops, other heroes, prospective girlfriends, the works. So this top ten is going to be devoted to those people, in general. Ladies and gentlemen, Bats and Batesses, here’s my Top Ten Minor Batman Characters Who Need More Use. Enjoy.

Now, just to clarify, when I say ‘more use’, this is referring to the entire spectrum of Bat-stuff, comics, movies, TV, etc. Also, ‘minor’ is a relative term; some of these are incredibly obscure, while others are fairly recognizable, but have gotten little-to-no good use of late. And, as always, no particular order.

#10: The Sparrow

Yeah, yeah, I know; real funny. There's no good pictures of this character on the'Net, OK?

Yeah, yeah, I know; real funny. There’s no good pictures of this character on the ‘Net, OK?

Who she is: This lady’s brief reign of terror dates back to the late ‘40’s, in the then-popular Batman comic strip. While the Joker was going through one of his periodic bouts of incarceration, the Sparrow made quite a name for herself in Gotham crime circles, the press dubbing her the city’s “cleverest criminal”. This infuriated the Clown Prince of Crime, who broke out of the hoosegow in order to reestablish his own longstanding claim to the title. The two waged a brief but bitter war of one-upmanship with each other before Batman finally brought an end to the feud and put both villains back behind bars.

Why she’s cool: Here’s the deal – the Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis, right? These days, he’s one of the most dangerous men in the DC Universe, powered or not. Even back then, he was pretty darn hot stuff.

Well, check this out – that war mentioned above? The Joker was losing it. Sure, he did finally manage to turn the tables on the Sparrow, but before then she’d dealt him several severe humiliations, at least one of which resulted in him being made a public laughing stock. Also, the conflict was brought to a halt before a clear winner could be established, which means that the Sparrow could very well have won had she been allowed to continue unimpeded.

Now, there are plenty of female villains these days, but clever female villains, ones whose primary stock in trade is their brains? Very few. Even the ones that are quite brainy tend to be more women-of-action than plotters. And if they are plotters, they often wind up being homely or disfigured somehow, under the dated double standard of ‘beauty supersedes brains’. A beautiful female schemer is a rare thing indeed in comics, and while Batman actually does have one in the form of Talia al Ghul, she’s really only there because she’s been twisted into a dreadful parody of her former self who is essentially acting as understudy for her father Ra’s, who, let’s face it, she will always be defined by her relationship with.

The Sparrow is that rare creature, a brainy beauty who keeps one step ahead of the law through her sheer intelligence. Furthermore, her specific connection is to the Joker, not Batman, which could make for quite an interesting dynamic. Batman may be the Joker’s nemesis, but the Sparrow could be his main rival in the world of supervillainy, as clever and dangerous as he is.

Now these days, of course, you’d have to be pretty twisted to rival the Joker in any absolute sense, so I’m thinking of a similar but different sort of relationship. I picture the Sparrow as a mistress of organized crime who, as in the original story, starts to build up a reputation so fearsome that the Joker, conceited creature that he is, can’t stand it, and seeks to take her down to prove that he – he! – is the top dog in Gotham, always has been, always will be.

The trouble is, he can’t do it. No matter how many of her men he massacres, no matter how many of her schemes he wrecks, the Sparrow is always clever enough to avoid being put out of business, and always has a comeback planned that the Clown Prince hadn’t anticipated. Eventually, of course, he is captured and taken back to Arkham, and resumes his ongoing battle against the Batman, who is and always will be his main concern.

However, by this point he has aroused the Sparrow’s interest. She knew about him already, of course, but now she’s seen his work first-hand, and he intrigues her. She’s already a force to be reckoned with, but imagine what she could do if such fiendish lunacy was hers to control! In short – and also as in the comic strip – she wants the Joker to work for her, or at very least alongside her.

Needless to say, the Harlequin of Hate is most decidedly not interested, but she doesn’t give up easily, and thus is initiated a long-haul, largely one-sided campaign of rivalry between the two. In a certain sense, she is his opposite; whereas he is mad as a hatter, she is very, very sane – in fact, that is the main advantage she has over him. She is incredibly levelheaded, and sees right through his inevitable attempts to charm or manipulate her, which, naturally, infuriates him all the more. Sometimes she will help him, sometimes she will hinder him – she may even team up with the Batman once or twice if it’s to her advantage. Either way, her end goal is always the same: ‘come work for me, or this will go on ‘til you do. It’s your call’.

Now, admittedly this is an awful lot to extrapolate from a character whose first and only appearance came numerous decades ago. Still, she could be pretty darn cool. Giving the Joker a persistent rival who could truly give him a run for his money would go a long way towards roughening up the slippery slope towards boring invincibility he’s been sliding down since the mid-90’s. Furthermore, I just like the Sparrow. She’s nifty.

#9: Harold Allnut361031-55480-harold

Who he is: A mute hunchback of diminutive stature, Harold Allnut has an astounding knack for electronics that belies his appearance. Although initially duped into working for the Penguin, he was ultimately given a home in the Batcave. Loyal and devoted to his benefactors, he is a shy but constant presence, not always seen but always busy fixing and updating the technology and general contrivances that keep the lives of the Bat-Clan running smoothly.

Why he’s cool: Man, I miss Harold. He’s actually dead now, wiped out without fanfare during the Hush saga, but the continuity has subsequently been rebooted, so I see no reason why he shouldn’t be, too. If nothing else, he’d be a valuable inclusion for anyone wanting to create a new iteration of the Bat-universe.

Why? Simple – he answers one of the most basic of questions about Batman: “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Having a technological savant in the Batcave would answer that question nicely; he gets them from Harold, of course. A little messing around with the timeline and it even tells us where he got the Batmobile and Bat-Computer and such. Furthermore, it makes perfect sense for him to have someone else as part of his support structure – Alfred can’t do everything, after all, and having Harold be as devoted to the cave as Alfred is to the Manor adds a nice layer to the omnipresent duality of everything Bat-related.

Also, it speaks well to Batman’s character that Harold is even there in the first place. Sure, he’s useful, but before Bats came along, the poor guy had been a deformed outcast; by giving him a home and a shelter from oppression, he basically saved his life. When the Dark Knight is getting too dark, having a guy like Harold around is tangible proof that the Batman really is a pretty nice fella at heart.

#8: Patricia Powellbatmandynamicduoarchives22

Who she is: Patricia “Pat” Powell is one sharp cookie. A second-generation member of the GCPD, she trained for years to be the best cop possible, and graduated at the top of her class at the Academy. A crack markswoman, expert hand-to-hand combatant and possessed of a clever deductive mind, she is truly an ornament to the force.

There’s only one slight regret in Pat’s life – the lack of romance. You see, the one guy she’s kind of interested in is one who (through various contrived circumstances) she’s never met without her face somehow obscured. He’s way out of her league, anyway, a billionaire, in fact, by the name of Bruce Wayne. Doesn’t stop her telling all this to the Batman, though…

Why she’s cool: Pat Powell is, to my mind, one of the more interesting supporting characters to come out of the Silver Age. Her gimmick was that she kept almost meeting Bruce Wayne, while simultaneously running into Batman all the time in a professional capacity. Sadly, her story was never resolved for some reason; she literally went out on a cliffhanger after appearing in only a handful of comics – but during that handful, I thought she was pretty cool. She was unusually capable for a female character of the period, and while of course Batman wound up saving her butt more than once, she overall came across as a consummate professional who knew what she was doing and was, in her own way, equally as adept at fighting crime as he.

Now, never mind all the business with the masks and the ‘never getting to meet Bruce Wayne’ bit; that’s all pretty silly. Instead, let’s focus on the character’s actual potential.

It’s a common situation for Bruce to go through girlfriends like a house on fire; apart from it being part and parcel of his playboy persona, any ‘serious’ girlfriends he does pick up never seem to last long. This may be because they always wind up coming into conflict with his other persona – he will always be Batman, and Batman’s responsibilities will always wind up getting in the way of romance.

All well and good. But what if he found a woman who was interested in him both in and out of costume?

Here’s how it would work – Pat is a newbie on the force, and since this is Gotham City and she is a cop, she inevitably winds up encountering Batman more than once. Now, unlike some members of her profession, she’s fine with the Bat doing what he does, and tries to strike up a friendly working relationship with him. It ain’t easy, him being Mr. Dark-and-Brooding, but hey, she’s a vivacious blonde and he enjoys her company, so he loosens up around her a little bit; she does a few favors for him in a professional capacity – swinging by to pick up a captured crook, that sort of thing – and soon the two are positively palsy-walsy, or as palsy-walsy as a cop and the Dark Knight can get.

At some point, the two meet while Bruce is out of costume – maybe she’s undercover to catch a crook at a benefit gala of his or some such – and it turns out they get along pretty well. And now that he’s been able to relax around her, he realizes that, hey, he wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of this lady – and she might just feel the same way. Only thing is, she’s recently been realizing much the same thing about ol’ Mr. Batwings, and she doesn’t want to be untrue to him…

I realize that all this seems a bit reminiscent of Chase Meridian from Batman Forever, but the difference here is that A: she’s not an obsessive Bat-Stalker, and B: here, the dual relationship actually makes sense. I mean, of all the people Bats might have a chance of a long-term relationship with, a cop is one of the more logical choices. The whole ‘I can’t bear you putting your life in danger every night’ thing doesn’t hold much weight when it’s coming from someone who also puts her life in danger every night for much the same reasons. If anyone is likely to understand and sympathize with his crusade outside of a fellow superhero, it’s someone like her. Even if the relationship ultimately fizzled out, it would be interesting to see where it went, and what it ultimately developed into.

And honestly, what we have here is a strong female character with an intriguing hook who has never gotten her proper due. I’d say it’s time for her spot in the limelight.

#7: Orpheus640px-Orpheus_002

Who he is: Gavin King was a local Gotham boy who made it big. A talented singer and dancer, he achieved celebrity in his teenage years and began touring internationally. Over the course of his travels, he grew dismayed at the amount of poverty, misery, hunger and prejudice that he saw, far removed from his own swanky hotel rooms. He determined to use his money to campaign against this, and maybe do a little more for the world than simply being a song-and-dance man.

Unfortunately, there are many out there who profit from the suffering of others, and his attempts to shut down such operations nearly got him killed. However, he also caught the eye of a secret organization that shared his goals. They gave him training in the skills of crimefighting (he was already a skilled martial artist) and outfitted him with a high-tech costume that allowed him to blend into shadows. Deciding to start making a difference in his own hometown, he returned to Gotham and became the masked vigilante known as Orpheus!

Why he’s cool: All right, I will admit straight off that I’ve read very little of this character myself, but I like the idea of him. I’ve always thought Batman’s ‘stay out of my city’ attitude was ridiculous, and having some non-Bat affiliated heroes knocking around Gotham helps to keep things interesting.

Mind you, I’m not saying there are no problems with Orpheus. The whole ‘trained by a shadowy organization of mystery’ thing was never really fleshed out to any degree, and while I understand the notion of him essentially being a ‘black Batman’ in much the same way that Steel was the ‘black Superman’, from what I’ve heard, that wasn’t really handled with the subtlety it might have. (Anyway, just him being black was statement enough; with the departure of Cassandra Cain, the Gotham hero community is pretty much a lily-white enclave these days.) And, oh yeah, there’s the fact that, like Harold, he’s currently dead.

That being said, conceptually this guy is pretty cool. I like the notion of a superhero with a background in music and dance; the job is so theatrical anyway that it makes one wonder what someone trained in showbiz would do with it. I like that he does what he does out of genuine idealism and a desire to change the world rather than the generic ‘criminals wreck stuff; I’m gonna wreck them’ motivation. And on the superficial level, he has an interesting look.

Now, obviously Orpheus is never going to be a major Batman character no matter how you slice it; he really has very little actual connection with him. That’s fine; he can still be an interesting bit player who shows up every once in a while. In order to prevent him being killed off again, though (at least, anytime soon; DC is awfully kill-happy these days), you’ve got to sharpen up his edges a bit.

To start with, why is he called Orpheus? Because music is a big part of his civilian identity; OK, I get that, but he needs a bit more of a concrete in-costume connection with the name. Instead of the whole ‘fades into shadow’ thing (or instead of just that), how about some sort of sonic weapon or sound-based attack? The mythological Orpheus had such a beautiful singing voice that all who heard him were enthralled by it; maybe he could have some sort of vocal hypnotism technique, or the ability to evoke specific strong emotions by singing a certain high-frequency note that only he can hit. That’s the sort of thing that could be debilitating if you used it correctly; imagine if you were fighting a bunch of tough goons and all of a sudden they’re rolling on the ground with laughter or sobbing and bawling for their mommas.

As for the mysterious organization that trained him, how’s this for an idea – they could be the Amazons! Yes, those Amazons, as in Wonder Woman. True, they’re an all-female bunch, but there’s nothing saying that they can’t fraternize with men; if a man possesses sufficient devotion to the ideals they hold dear, I can’t see them having any particular problem with training him. He could be one of a number of different covert agents of theirs – Wondy is the public face of their nation’s mission to spread peace and love and such, of course, but these would be her secret helpers. They could be planted in cities across the globe to help spread the Amazonian ideals, teaching by example on a more street level than Diana’s spectacular save-the-world tactics, and all the while acting as intelligence-gatherers to help keep Hippolyta and her advisors informed about the outside world – yes! Yes! I like it! And of course Bats knows all about this, ‘cause he’s Batman, so in a real emergency he could call in Orpheus and say ‘look, I know you have some means of contacting Themyscira. Do it right now’. (Mind you, all this would have to wait until the Amazons have been revamped again – they’re kind of savages at the moment – but then that seems to happen every five minutes anyway, so it shouldn’t be a problem.)

See? Potential! It’s where you look for it, people.

#6: The Condiment Kingtumblr_m5fkj0VAao1r7qbbgo1_500

Who he is: The Condiment King is a crazy guy obsessed with condiments who uses them as weapons. That’s… pretty much it.

Why he’s cool: OK, this is a little bit of a cheat, because the CK does have a tendency to pop up every now and then when someone needs a really silly villain. There’s the issue, though – that’s all they’re doing with him. When you’ve got such a memorably preposterous character with a relatively broad recognition amongst the fanbase, why not do something with him instead of just keeping him as a one-note joke? Of course he’ll always be silly, but he doesn’t have to only be silly, if you see what I mean – he can be silly and interesting at the same time.

Here’s what I’d do with him. In my version of things, the King is not just a ketchup-and-mustard obsessed freak; in my version, he has a cooking show! He spends most of his airtime running around a kitchen set in a loud outfit, grabbing this or that ingredient, goofy sound effects going off, crazy props all over the place, yelling at the top of his lungs – very very high-energy. (His name could refer to his getting very enthusiastic about that aspect of things, screaming ‘DON’T FORGET THE MAYO!’ or some such.) The thing is, though, he’s actually a ganglord who sends instructions to his men in code via his on-air cookery. For instance, the details of his preparation of a potato salad might specify the address of a bank he wants his hoods to crack, and the time and methodology he wants them to use. He’s been doing this for years and nobody’s caught him, ‘cause who would suspect the crazy host of a ‘wacky’ cooking show of being Gotham’s fifth most successful gangster? Of course, he eventually crosses Batman’s radar and gets nabbed, but he’s still got some tangy aces up his sleeve…

Now, doesn’t that sound more interesting? I’d say it does. He’s still silly, he’s still weird, but he’s not just a joke; he has method behind his madness. Hail to the King!

#5: AzraelAzrael_Jean-Paul_Valley_0025

Who he is: Jean-Paul Valley is the latest in a long line of super-assassins stretching back centuries, the enforcers for the Order of Saint Dumas, a secret society dating back to the Crusades. He knew nothing of this until his father was killed while on a mission, at which point ‘The System’, a lifetime of unconscious psychological conditioning, was activated by a member of the Order, unleashing in him the instincts and training of a brutal warrior. Ultimately rejecting the society, he now walks his own path as Azrael!

Why he’s cool: OK, this is cheating a little in that up ‘til… hmm… well, not too long ago in the grand scheme of things, Azrael was actually a pretty well-known, if infrequent, supporting character in the Bat-verse – and, in fact, there is another guy bearing the title right this moment.

But y’know what? That guy sucks. He’s one more super-religious nutbar seeking ‘atonement’ or some such. He is generic as hell, and this is my article, and if I want to use it to rant ineffectually about why they should bring back the old Azrael, then I will, dammit.

Jean-Paul Valley was a cool character. He was the unwilling inheritor of a legacy he wasn’t interested in that wrecked his life and threatened his sanity. He spent the rest of his career fighting against it, and ultimately became a friend and ally to the very person whose own legacy he had betrayed and almost destroyed in a fit of madness. This guy was deep; he wasn’t just another ‘I do the work of the Lord’ character like we’ve seen a million times, and the fact that he has been replaced with one is just galling to me.

Not to worry, though, we’ve got spin-off media. The fact that nobody has adapted Knightfall into cartoon form yet when it was the (very loose) basis for Dark Knight Rises is somewhat surprising, to say the least. Next animated series that comes along – or, hell, next animated direct-to-DVD movie – someone give this guy a shot, OK? He deserves more and better stories, but if we can’t get those, at least retell the story for which he was created so more people know about him.

#4: The Phantasmthe-phantasm

Who he is: A tall, sinister figure garbed in grey and with a death’s head mask, the Phantasm has been going around Gotham bumping off mobsters. Who is this deadly character who seems to appear and disappear at will? Who? Who?

Why he’s cool: OK, I don’t normally do this, but – attention all readers! Heed my words! If you have not yet seen Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, SKIP THIS BIT! It involves whopping big spoilers for the climax of the movie, and as it is a damn good movie, I will not have that on my conscience if I can help it. All those who’ve already seen it can stick around; the rest – scram! Bug off! Shoo! I’ll see you further down the page, but for now, beat it! I’m serious! Your future enjoyment of a movie is at stake! You should have seen it by now, anyway! You can always come back afterwards! You’ll thank me later!

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I’M WARNING YOU!

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You still here? You sure? Last chance to back out. OK, fine.

You will note that I consciously flubbed the above to ‘who he is’ and ‘why he’s cool’, ‘cause I really do care about preserving the mystery. However, everyone who’s still here knows that it is really a ‘she’ – Andrea Beaumont.

So why, may I ask, have we not seen her again? OK, she did make a cameo appearance in a later cartoon, and in the spin-off comics, but why hasn’t she migrated to the regular continuity yet? She’s such a cool character! We’ve gotten Harley Quinn and modern-origin Mr. Freeze out of the DCAU, so where’s our Phantasm?

I suppose the obvious reason would be that her backstory is rather intrinsically tied to MotP, and the comics have gone in a rather different direction from that; it might be difficult to fit her into Batman’s life as we currently know it. However, there’s no reason that her origin has to be exactly the same; all that’s really necessary is that she was once romantically involved with Bruce Wayne and had her father killed by mobsters. All the rest kind of follows naturally from there, ya know?

There is so much potential in her – she’s a dark female version of Batman who took a different path and now finds herself stuck on it, no matter how much both she and Bruce might want her to turn back. Any writer worth their salt could put together some good stories from that, and I can practically guarantee you that the fan response would be enormous. She’d probably never work as a regular antagonist; she’s got too much baggage to work out with Bruce, but as an occasional visitor to Gotham? I’d want to read those stories.

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OK, SPOILERS OVER!

#3: Aunt HarrietAunt Harriet

Who she is: During a period in the Silver Age when Alfred was believed dead – long story – Dick Grayson’s maternal aunt, Harriet Cooper, moved into Wayne Manor to ‘take care of’ Bruce and Dick as their housekeeper. Only trouble is, she doesn’t know they’re Batman and Robin! Oh, how will they ever conceal it from her?

Why she’s cool: Let’s get one thing straight: I am not suggesting that history should repeat itself and have Aunt Harriet take Alfred’s place. Alfred is awesome and needs no replacing. What I do like is the idea of Dick Grayson – or whoever the current Robin in whatever sort of continuity we’re dealing with may be – having an aging female relative as an occasional part of his life. Dick (I’ll just assume for the moment that it’s him) is often just kind of subsumed into the Wayne family as Bruce’s ward and later adopted son; people tend to either forget he’s got a family of his own or just focus solely on his circus background. However, there were several good stories back in the day focusing on various relatives of his, and I see no reason to doubt that the same would work in a modern comic/cartoon/whatever.

Also, if you think of it, there are very few people in any of the Bat-Clan’s lives who are, well, normal. They’re either superheroes themselves, or so hip-deep in the world of it all (like Leslie Thompkins) that they are, to say the least, somewhat unusual. Aunt Harriet is just a nice little old lady – throwing her into the middle of the Clan’s bizarre lives and watching them scramble to keep up the façade could make for some amusing and interesting tales.

#2: King SnakeKing-Snake-A

Who he is: A former soldier in the British Royal Artillery, Sir Edmund Dorrance was blinded by gunfire and had to leave the military. Despite this handicap, he went on to become a formidable Hong Kong crime lord under the name of King Snake, and is considered one of the deadliest martial artists in the world. While he is only rarely in Gotham, his criminal profession, along with his having fathered the notorious Bane earlier in life, means that his path often crosses those of both Batman and Robin.

Why he’s cool: I like King Snake because he’s so… martial art-y. I mean, seriously, this guy could have stepped out of an old Bruce Lee film. Also, he’s just such a bastard – he’s an arrogant, jingoistic, cold-blooded cad of a fellow, which is a combination that always makes his inevitable beatdown far more satisfying. Furthermore, he’s a genuine threat; his combination of criminal acumen and physical prowess makes him formidable either behind the scenes or in battle, while his disability keeps him interesting.

And then, of course, there’s Bane. Bane always seems to show up in the Batman’s life sooner or later regardless of continuity, so why not feature a bit more of his own rather interesting backstory than just ‘he was born in prison and broke out to break the Bat’? After all, character development is always good. In this particular case, it also opens the way for all kinds of stories that would broaden a spin-off Bat-Universe – Hong Kong, Santa Prisca, all over the world, basically. King Snake is just as much of an international sort of character as, say, Ra’s al Ghul, but with less Bond Villain-y traits. While al Ghul by his very nature demands ‘big’ stories, King Snake is an excuse for smaller-scale, ‘grittier’ ones that are nonetheless big enough to draw our heroes away from their usual haunts. He’s a little too limited to ever become a major Bat-foe, but he’s the sort of character who tends to make things interesting when he shows up.

#1: Julie Madisontumblr_moocfaq6Yd1qkf9z1o1_500

Who she is: Dating way back to the beginning of the Dark Knight’s career, Julie Madison was Bruce Wayne’s very first love interest – in fact, they were engaged for a while. She eventually broke up with him due to their lives going in different directions, but the two maintained a friendly relationship, and she’s made a few appearances since then.

Why she’s cool: As mentioned earlier, ol’ Brucey has gone through girlfriends like tissues over the course of his career, but once they’re gone, they’re generally gone for good – either that, or they turn out to be bad guys or get taken out of the picture somehow. The one main exception to this that I know of is Julie Madison, who has the rarified status of not only being his very first girlfriend in comics, but also being his one ex-girlfriend who still has the in-continuity status of ex-girlfriend, instead of just vanishing into thin air and fanboys’ memories. (Well, there is Silver St. Cloud, but she may or may not be dead now; I don’t know. Anyway, she’s just prominent enough that I don’t think she qualifies for this list.)

What this status carries with it is the role of humanizing Bruce. It is easy to imagine, going by how he is sometimes written, that he sleeps all day, pounds bad guys all night, and makes an occasional token public appearance that essentially consists of him sticking a hand puppet of himself around a corner, going ‘Hey, folks, I’m Bruce Wayne! I’m a playboy! Play, play, play!’ then ducking back into the Batcave to brood.

Aside from this being ridiculous (and more than a little embroidered on my part), it is inaccurate. Bruce’s costumed identity may be the overriding factor in his life, but he still has a life, and with any life comes things like friends, family, acquaintances – and ex-girlfriends. Having such people in the picture helps keep him relatable, instead of merely a giant spooky cape with fists.

Furthermore, in Julie’s last significant appearance, set early in the Batman’s career (uh, slight spoilers here), Bruce revealed his secret identity to her. This plus the other events of the story (which I ain’t givin’ away) were too much for her to handle, so she split to Africa to start a new life. This makes her not only Bruce’s, but Batman’s canonical ex – she knows who he is; she’s fine with it, but not quite so fine with it that they can stay together.

This, I think, could make for some fascinating stories. Regardless of which continuity you’re talking about, one thing that is a constant with Julie Madison is that she always ends up going on to a rich, rewarding life outside of Bruce Wayne and Gotham – in Pre-Crisis comics, she first becomes a movie star then winds up as a princess by marriage a’la Grace Kelly. I mentioned Silver St. Cloud just now, and while I actually do like her quite a bit, I always got the impression in her later appearances that she used to have a rich, rewarding life pre-Bats; now she basically just spends it pining for her One True Love Who Can Never Be. Not so with Julie – in her, we have a strong woman who has moved on and can face Bruce Wayne on equal terms, but with that slight ‘what might have been’ factor to keep things interesting. One can imagine, for instance, Robin and company taking on the burden of keeping Gotham quiet for one night – just one – the night Julie’s back in town, so Bruce can have a quiet dinner with his ex, catch up on old times, and, for one evening, just be Bruce Wayne, and leave Batman on the sidelines for a change.

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6 Comments

  1. I definitely think Azrael should have made an appearance, honestly I thought it would have been a great explanation for Val Kilmer taking over from Michael Keaton as Batman in the ’90s.

    Another character that should have made the list though, Anarky… sometimes he’s a good guy, sometimes he’s a bad guy, and he is very underused in Gotham.

    • By which you mean – what? That there should have been an intermediate movie between Batman Returns and Batman Forever which adapted Knightfall and ended with Azrael still laying claim to the Mantle of the Bat – as well as, presumably, carrying on a Hush-like Bruce Wayne masquerade which Alfred is for some reason going along with? It would certainly have been INTERESTING, I’ll grant you that.
      Oh yeah, I’m a big fan of Anarky, but given that he has actually been getting a bit more use lately – including, apparently, one of the main villain spots in Beware the Batman – I figured he didn’t really qualify for this list. Whether or not he’s been being used WELL, of course, is a different story.

  2. I do have to admit, I haven’t been following the comics much lately (work, wife, kids, life, etc.) and hadn’t realized there had been a resurgence in Anarky stories recently.

    As far as Azrael, yes, seeing Knightfall made into a movie to pass the torch onto a different actor would have been amazing, instead we got Joel Schumaker’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin with Kilmer and Clooney and are forced to believe it’s the same guy as Burton gave us with Keaton.

    • Honestly, I didn’t have any particular problem with either Kilmer or Clooney – I’ve seen enough actors playing Batman anyway that I can suspend my disbelief when the face changes, and neither of them exactly disgraced themselves in the role. It was the direction they were given and the lines they had to say that were the problem.

      • Well, I’ve seem Batman and Robin exactly once, and that was enough, but Batman Forever still holds up fairly well. Really, I think they’re both a bit better in retrospect – modern Batman movies are so extremely dark and gritty that even the darkest moments of the original movies look light and frothy by comparison. It’s like eating some really bittersweet baking chocolate and then being handed a cupcake – damn, but that cupcake is gonna taste good.

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