Secret Origins #20: Batgirl and Dr. Mid-Nite

Ryan Daly and guest Stella Bowman review the origin of Batgirl from Secret Origins #20. Then, the Irredeemable Shag returns to help cover the origin of blind hero Doctor Mid-Nite.

Listen to Episode 20!

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Sample pages from Secret Origins #20, written Barbara Randall with art by Rick Leonardi and Dick Giordano (Batgirl), and Roy Thomas with art by Mike Clark and Jerry Acerno (Dr. Mid-Nite), and a cover by Kevin Maguire and Bob Wiacek.

#20cover #20page2 #20page5 #20page13 #20page14 #20page16 #20Bpage1 #20Bpage12 #20Bpage19

Plus, sample images from Dr. Mid-Nite’s first appearance in All-American Comics #25 by Charles Reizenstein and Stan Aschmeier; also Batgirl’s “million dollar debut” in Detective Comics #359 by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, and her battle with Cormorant in Batgirl Special by Barbara Randall and Barry Kitson.

#25page1 #25page4 #25page8 #359cover #359page9 Special

Check out Stella’s Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast as part of The Batman Universe: http://thebatmanuniverse.net/category/podcast/bto/

And follow Shag (at your own risk) at Firestorm Fan: http://firestormfan.com

and the Fire and Water Podcast: http://fireandwaterpodcast.blogspot.com

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) written and performed by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett; “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

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23 thoughts on “Secret Origins #20: Batgirl and Dr. Mid-Nite

  1. Still listening to the Batgirl portion, but if you want to take Ryan’s notion of a “sexually charged image” involving Killer Moth’s cocoon gun, go back to the original story. Batgirl is COVERED in the goo in that version.

    I’ve never been much of a fan of a Bruce/Babs relationship, but they were originally closer in age than her and Robin. The 60s TV series certainly had more flirtations between Batman and Batgirl than Batgirl and Robin. The animated series really de-aged Babs into a contemporary of Dick…but then they did that icky bit where Bruce and Babs had a relationship at some point after The New Batman Adventures, as revealed on Batman Beyond. Recent comic continuations of Batman Beyond told that Bruce actually got Babs pregnant, right before she restarted her relationship with Dick. But she was conveniently brutalized in an alleyway, and lost the baby. I’ve been disgusted by many modern comics, but that one took the cake.

    Chris

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    1. Ok I LOVE the animated version of Barbara and from what I’d seen it was only that weird bit of flirting between her and Batman in the Sub-Zero movie that felt weird and out of place. But now you’ve got to taint the whole darn thing by telling me how the comic book continuation of a great animated series makes things weird… and stupid… and sickening… To steal a line I first heard from Ryan, you totally harshed my mellow.

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      1. I’m sorry. I hate it too. I mean, I actually threw the TPB down…and it was one checked out from the library (where my wife works)! It’s bad fan-fic offcially sanctioned by DC. Considering other stuff they publish nowadays, I shouldn’t be surprised.

        I love animated Babs too…even though her flirting with Bruce on the phone in Mystery of the Batwoman was kind of squirm-inducing.

        Sorry I brought it up, but it’s another example of creators having some sick fascination with brutalizing the character.

        Chris

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      2. Wow did not know that happened (really behind on my Batman Beyond reading, got years of that stuff sitting here that I haven’t sat down and read yet). What series is that from? New 52 era? Who was the writer?

        And here I thought most of bad fan fic writing in the bat book titles were limited to Devin Grayson’s Nightwing run and Judd Winnick’s Catwoman run. Yikes, sad to hear that’s tainted the precious DCAU!!

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  2. As a Batgirl fan, and right there with Stella that Batgirl Year One is pretty much as good as it gets, this was a decent retelling. I had the same issue as the rest of you with even hinting at a crush between Babs and Bruce just irked me. Not for the ick factor that Chris’ earlier comment managed to illicit, but just because I don’t like that kind of thing being a motivator for her dawning the costume.

    I’m also going to agree with Shag (oh dear god, did I just say that?) on the issue of returning Barbara to the role of Batgirl. I feel like scrapping Oracle kind of undoes a great deal of development the character had in that time (plus removes a terrific disabled role model, of which there are precious few.) I’ve started to have a vomitous gut reaction to the “reinstating” of the “iconic” versions of these characters. Half the reason one version is “iconic” is because somebody at the editorial level (Geoff Johns at the moment) has declared it so and prioritizes one incarnation of a character over another. It’s fan favoritism infecting the editorial process. I’m come to the belief that if a character is retired and replaced then it really needs to stay that way unless the replacement was designed from the get go to be temporary (i.e. Azrael taking on the mantle of Batman.) I’m sorry, it’s not fair to fans of Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown to say “Nope sorry, not as good, doesn’t count” when fans of Barbara will always have her earlier adventures no matter what. Sure they didn’t literally erase stories with those versions of Batgirl from actual existence, but whenever the earlier “true” version of a character comes back it basically renders anybody who held the title in the interim as a pretender, a place holder until the “proper” version came back. And that’s poppycock. POPPYCOCK I SAY!

    Anyways. Dr. Mid-Nite. I’m glad somebody brought up the weird spelling (even though it was Shag, dammit.) He’s an interesting character, but yeah thanks to what characters I was aware of first I couldn’t NOT see him as a mashup of Batman and Daredevil. Not fare to him, but what can you do? The theory that the character was gay is an interesting one, and one that I’m annoyed was retroactively removed as a possibility. Heaven forbid there be some room for fans to speculate or have their own personal interpretation.

    Another great episode, it was clear that the three of you had a ton of fun recording this.

    -Nathaniel

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  3. I’ll third that recommendation for Batgirl: Year One. And Robin: Year One is equally excellent, so go get that trade! Chuck Dixon (and Scott Beatty) know their Bat-characters. We desperately need them back!

    When I first got this issue of Secret Origins, I was flummoxed by the “new” origin of Barbara, with her being Jim’s niece. Why not just say Babs was off at college during Batman: Year One? Why didn’t someone at DC request Miller drop a line like that in his story? It wouldn’t have hurt anything, and may have honestly made the Gordons already strained relationship even moreso, as a couple dealing with a late-in-life pregnancy after they already had a child grown and out of the house. Barbara Kesel does her best with it, but it was always one of the clunkier retcons that most fans just kind of put off in a corner to forget about. Speaking of forgetting about things…I have all of those Batgirl back-ups from Detective. That snake storyline was…WOW. It was right around the time Batman and Robin became vampires (in continuity people…not an Elseworlds!), so she was in good company. Barbara’s career path doesn’t really fit in with any kind of restructured DC timeline, so it’s odd that they chose to shoehorn it all in here. It was kind of like this and the Batgirl Special were putting her house in order before it was shut down permanently. Don’t forget, The Killing Joke was in the works for years before it was finally published.

    I haven’t read enough of the New 52 Batgirl to have an opinion one way or another, but if they weren’t going to reboot the DCU from the ground up completely, I agree Babs should have stayed as Oracle, for all the reasons Shagg mentioned. My only regret is that I am agreeing with him.

    I always liked Dr. Mid-Nite, and it was mostly based on that strong visual. Jerry Ordway had a way with his costume, and then there was that awesome Who’s Who page by Matt Wagner. Apparently folks in the DC offices thought of McNider as an Earth-Two Batman, as they used him as such on the cover of JLA #82, even though the Earth-Two Batman makes a rare appearance in that very issue! http://www.dcindexes.com/features/comic.php?comicid=17823

    And Ryan and Shagg will be happy to know that a Starman Chronicles episode of Super Mates will be coming early in November. So bite me.

    Great to hear Stella on the show, although I’m sorry Shagg Podcast-bombed her appearance. That’s Shagg’s new thing…showing up at people’s doors and demanding they podcast with him. Dude needs a hobby.

    Chris

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  4. Wow, that bit with Shag coming in…I haven’t heard acting that bad since…well, every episode of THE FIRE AND WATER PODCAST where he tries to pretend he likes me.

    While I do think the poses on the cover are a little wonky, overall I really like the mood and as I’ve said I’m a sucker for the ones where the characters are interacting.

    Leonardi’s art on the Batgirl segment is terrific, while art on Dr. Mid-Nite is merely serviceable. I’ve always loved the character, but I think his costume is such that, when drawn either badly or indifferently, can look really goofy. But when it’s done right (see Matt Wagner’s Who’s Who listing), then it’s gangbusters.

    BTW, re: the Uncle Sam cover–I meant Alex Ross would paint the “I Want You” part, while Rude–one of the few artists who can channel Kirby’s energy without just ripping him off–would handle The Guardian.

    Great show, as always!

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  5. That cover, I dig it! However I can’t help but think that a blind guy tight-rope walking on a high wire sounds like an act for America’s Got Talent.

    Great to hear Stella on the podcast! It seems really weird that DC would want to lose another female lead character post-Crisis, so I never got why they let Killing Joke become status quo and removed Batgirl. Obviously Ostrander did great things when he put her into the Oracle role, but that just seems like an odd business move. You already had Supergirl gone after Crisis, why lose Batgirl as well. It wasn’t like they were using the same reasoning for Batman’s supporting characters that they used for Superman, which was to limit the number of survivors from Krypton floating around in the post-Crisis DCU (bye-bye Supergirl, Pocket Universe Superboy & Phantom Zone criminals), since DC had no problem having 3 people take-up the Robin mantle. Odd business decision that seems like you’re missing out on a key demographic among potential readers.

    Shag’s theory on Dr. Mid-Nite’s Batmanesque origin seems plausible, Batman would have come from DC Proper/National (at this point Detective Comics and National Allied Periodicals were sister companies, both owned by Harry Donenfeld), while Dr. Mid-Nite came from the third publishing house that would eventually form DC, All-American Publications owned by Max Gaines. Gaines and Donenfeld together gave us the All-Star Comics co-publishing effort that featured characters from both of their publishing houses. That relationship would become somewhat strained at times. Early on they tried to keep a balance of 4 characters representing each publishing house, for example when Dr. Mid-Nite joined the cast of the JSA, he replaced Jay Garrick, as he had just received his own quarterly comic (All-Flash Quarterly). Garrick and the other characters from Flash Comics, Hawkman and Johnny Thunder, were characters from the All-American Publishing house, so it was a 1 for 1 switch within the publisher. Eventually the cast would get All-American Publishing heavy as Gaines took issue with some of the conditions and dealings with Donenfeld. Since Batman, Superman, and now Flash were all honorary members of the JSA that didn’t attend meetings too often, it made sense for there to be a psuedo-Batman on the team in Dr. Mid-Nite, so it wasn’t like he was doubling up on any other characters’ schtick on the JSA team. And apparently every single team needs a Batman-esque character, or at least that’s what current DC says. 😛

    Donenfeld bought Gaines out in 1946 I believe, at which point is really where the “modern day DC” comics took shape. Obviously they would continue to grow and purchase defunct publishers and characters as time continued, like Quality Comics in 1956.

    As far as the spelling of Dr. Mid-Nite’s name, I would suspect that is due to other comic book heroes already existing with the name of Midnight spelled properly. There was the Spirit copycat/analog/surrogate Midnight created by Lou Fine for Quality Comics, which debuted in Smash Comics #8 from late 1940. He beat the blind Doctor here to the printed page by about 3 months. It’s possible that Dr. Mid-Nite had already been conceived and green-lit for feature in All-American Comics when Quality’s version hit stands, so instead of scrapping the character, they just revised his spelling and perhaps felt they needed the hyphen to differentiate between the character Mister Midnite that popped up in the first few issues Silver Streak Comics that began in September 1939. This character had the same Nite spelling of Night, but without the hyphen. He wore a magician’s hate, domino mask, cape, and suspenders in a black, white, and red color deco.

    The traditional spelling used by Quality’s character apparently didn’t seem to bother Fawcett, as they introduced a character created by Jack Binder named Captain Midnight in August of 1942. This character have a fairly similar color scheme, sans cape, and was a pilot.This character was recently revived by Dark Horse Comics.

    Of these 4 characters featuring some spelling of Midnight in their name, only Charles McNider was blind, and only he had a hyphen in his name. I’m guessing he didn’t really care how the spelling looked.

    Great episode!!

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  6. Ha, hilarious that Shagg thinks Batgirl’s boobs are the focus of that cover shot! Can you imagine him doing a Rorschach test?

    ‘Vat do you see?

    ‘BOOBS!’

    A tiny thing, Stella said it was Barbara Kesel who wrote this Batgirl story, but she was still going by Randall Hee. Billing matters!

    I wasn’t sure, did you kinda sorta refer to The Knights Dependants Act when talking about Babs being a very young Congresswoman? Cos that was the after-the-fact explanation, weirdo DCU legislation.

    I wonder if Killer Maroni knew Boss Moroni of the Robin origin.

    You know when Shagg was telling us that he was reading from a certain chapter of the story? That was fascinating.

    I always assumed Mid-Nite was just an old colonial spelling, apparently not!

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    1. Not to be a know-it-all smarty-pants (which Cindy accuses me of daily), but Boss Maroni was the gangster responsible for giving us Two-Face. Boss Zucco was the one who set Robin’s origin in motion. But yeah, I thought the same thing!

      Chris

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  7. I actually first met Batgirl in the Filmation Batman/Superman Hour; so, to me, she sounds like voice actress Jane Webb. This is a serviceable origin; but, it wasn’t my Batgirl. I enjoyed the character in her stories in Detective Comics and Batman Family, particularly when she encountered Kathy Kane, Batwoman. They met up in Batman Family and, again, in Freedom Fighters. I would have liked to see more of that pairing; but, Kathy soon met her end at the hands of a brainwashed Bronze Tiger, in Detective Comics.

    I recall Barbara the congresswoman, and Babs, the sometimes girlfriend of detective Jason Bard, as well as potential romance for Dick Grayson. Some of that is here, but it’s buried in the mess created post-Year One. Like Stella, I don’t think every hero needs tragedy in their past to inspire them. Barbara was inspired by her father (as Jim Gordon will always be) and by Batman. She was driven to be the best. That’s all you need.

    Dr Mid-Nite is one I only met annually, in the JLA/JSA crossovers. It’s funny, when I see mention of Matt Wagner and the Who’s Who drawing. I met Wagner and John K Snyder III at a convention in 1991, where they talked about a Dr Mid-nite book they were working on. The series was published in 1999. Why it took 8 years, I have no idea. Of course, Wagner had art from Batman/Grendel, which looked like it would never happen, thanks to Comico’s bankruptcy; but, did come out a couple of years later. I really wish it had been Wagner here; but, this is okay. I can’t quite figure out if the artist is trying to ape the simplistic styles of the 40s or just draws that way naturally. Unlike a Mike Parobeck, it doesn’t quite come off, though it has moments. it serves the story well enough.

    Wow, I’m late to this episode.I guess it’s the malaise that comes over you, after you’ve been at the center of things. 8)

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  8. ps, I used to own Detective 71, which Stella mentions. The story is a hoot, even if it is rather sexist. The cover is pretty memorable.

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  9. pps How could you leave out Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light,” when discussing Charles McNider’s new night vision and light issues? It seems a natural. You youngsters and your hippety-hop music….

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  10. As a scholar of comics, one of my favourites Batgirl stories is the one where she gets naked to follow Catwoman into a private Gotham club: The Cat & the Bat from Batman Confidential.

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  11. Late to the comment section.

    I love Batgirl Year One. Just beautiful and sharp and intelligent. Found a trade in the bargain bins at a con and was thrilled. By floppies were getting dogeared.

    It is a bit chilling to read in the letter column about the ‘upcoming Moore/Bolland trade’ knowing how that ended.

    I believe that blond ‘imaginary friend’ of Babs is Supergirl, a small homage to a time gone by.

    I really like the idea of Dr. Mid-Nite. But it is hard to think of him running around with the Flash, Superman, and Dr. Fate. He needs to be a pulpy detective who has a little power set. He fits more in with the Shadow and Doc Savage than Wonder Woman. I wait for the eventual retro-book release. Hope Matthew Dow Smith is on art.

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  12. I own this issue as well, one of the handful I do own. I bought it at my LCS in 1988 when I was 12 or 13 years old (I don’t recall what time of year this issue came out). I believe I bought it for Batgirl – I loved most of the Batman family back then, plus I loved Rick Leonardi from his work on Cloak and Dagger and some issues of Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil, so I snapped this one up. I’d read a slew of the Batgirl backups in Detective (including the infamous one where she turns into a snake), plus other stories she’d appeared in, and I was a big fan of Yvonne Craig’s portrayal. I really loved Barbara Gordon back then, and I’ve been tempted to read more of the new Batgirl stories DC’s putting out now, but I suppose she’s not “my” Batgirl and I fear being unhappy with the new version of her. But I’ll still try to give it a shot sometime, when the price is right. Babs is a great character and deserves to have the spotlight more often.

    I really enjoyed this Batgirl Secret Origin story, even if I didn’t (and still don’t) care for all of the new grittier elements that were thrown in at the time, like the troubled family life, etc. Overall though I thought it was a good portrayal of Babs as a character – it showed her strong will and intelligence – and Leonardi’s art was brilliant as usual. That splash page is gorgeous! I would love to have seen Leonardi pencil a Bat book for a long run back then. I bet it would have been amazing. He seemed to do so few runs of any kind back then. It seemed like he just popped up as a fill-in penciller in a bunch of books over several years. Definitely an underrated talent from that era.

    Unfortunately I don’t have much to say about this particular Dr. Mid-Nite story. I found it serviceable, but forgettable. Same with the art. But I do have a soft spot for the character and, like Ryan, it’s mostly based on his costume and aesthetic. I think it’s a striking costume and he definitely falls under that category of characters I liked the first time I saw them just because they looked “cool.”

    As always, great episode, Ryan. You make it highly entertaining even for someone like me who doesn’t own many of these issues – granted, I’m a big DC fan and know that era especially well, but I’d worried that I might not enjoy the podcast as much if I didn’t have the issues to reference. Not at all! You and your guests delve into so many interesting topics and subtopics related to the characters you’re covering, that it’s always a wide ranging and enjoyable podcast.

    @Paul Hix – thanks for the heads up to Secret Origins issues on Comixology. It appears I own about half of what they have for sale, but I might want to download some of the others.

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  13. Most. Homoerotic. Episode. Ever. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Stella is, of course, the real star here.

    Oracle vs. Batgirl (what? no mention of the Birds of Prey TV show? that had a pretty great Babs!) I really wanted the best of both worlds here. Paul Hix mentions that naked Batgirl vs. Catwoman story (with Kevin Maguire art!) and I remember at the time that it would have been great to have a sort of flashback Batgirl series taking place in the past, without messing with Oracle and Stephanie Brown.

    Dr. Mid-Night: Another JSAer/All-Star. I met them all in the same places and loved them all. Don’t want to repeat myself.

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  14. I would have never guessed that I was looking at a Kevin Maguire cover. The design is okay, but it has no panache.

    I believe I was introduced to Batgirl through the TV show, as she seemed to be phasing out of the comics as I was coming in. While I pretty much liked Supergirl on sight, Batgirl rubbed me the wrong way. Batman and Robin are a closed circuit, a partnership of yin and yang. Bringing in Batgirl almost invariably took time away from Robin, but as a midpoint between those two extreme character types, she created a chemistry and plot imbalance. I felt that all she brought to the show was a motorcycle, and Robin eventually got his own motorcycle, so bye. In the few comics she turned up in, like Batman Family, it seemed clear she was extraneous and writers didn’t know what to do with her. As I got into comics history, I found that Batwoman and Bat-Girl and Aunt Harriet were just a bunch of beards to deflect Wertham’s peddling of homophobic insinuations to the Ladies Home Journal, and I resented these inorganic contrivances. However, at least Kathy Kane and Bette were their own unit– a crime fighting team replicating the Dynamic Duo without a y-chromosome who also served as quasi-girlfriends. Not the deepest of roles to play, but they made sense, where Barbara Gordon was just some chick in Batman’s costume offering token inclusion.

    I finally read The Killing Joke around 1991, something like a seventh printing, and I totally got the point. It was a Brian Bolland portfolio, right? That has to be why it’s so revered, because nobody cares about that tawdry sadomasochistic connective tissue or the lame origin for a great character who should never have his true origin revealed. Even Alan Moore himself said it wasn’t meant to be in continuity, and it seemed to me some sort of Bret Easton Ellis gross ’80s lark. Still, I could see where DC might feel part of the reason Superman and Batman had become harder sells was because of their appeal being diluted by seemingly unnecessary duplications of the basic characters with slight variations, such as boobs. That was clearly not the case with Supergirl, but other characters could have given that impression.

    I don’t think I was aware of Oracle until the mid-90s, when I got serious about following the DC Universe. I recall the name popping up here and there, confusing me, since I didn’t get that far into Suicide Squad. Barbara Gordon became an awesome utility player across many titles, and I picked up Birds of Prey in its early going as a series of one-shots and mini-series. Devin Grayson wrote several stories pairing Dick Grayson with Gordon, and I liked them very much, enough to ‘ship the two of them to this day. I also championed Devin writing Titans, which turned out to be a really bad idea, but I’m one of the few that liked her Nightwing run. I was much more keen on Birds of Prey under Gail Simone though, where Barbara continued to shine, but I was mostly there for The Huntress. Babs was my third favorite member, with Zinda a going concern for the three-spot. That’s basically where I left the character, since I dropped BoP shortly after Tony Bedard took over writing, and have limited my exposure to the New 52. I did follow the Cassandra Caine series toward the end of its run, and read the first issue of the Stephanie Brown series.

    “Flawed Gems” is probably the best Batgirl story I have ever read, and I only did so at the prompting of this podcast. Rick Leonardi is usually an artist I hate above all others, which caused me to skip that Devin Grayson Nightwing run until Phil Hester replaced him on art duties. Here though, perhaps due to the tempering presence of Dick Giordano on inks, I find Leonardi a pleasure to look at and a perfect match for the material. Barbara Gordon shows great intelligence and perseverance in the face of mounting adversity. I even enjoyed the rapid overview of her solo career on pages 15-16, which demonstrated an oddness and diversity of experience that set her apart from the Dynamic Duo. My only complaint is the lame bookend sequence, which amounts to nothing and would have been better spent on developing Cormorant ahead of the Batgirl Special (which I’ve never read.) I wish I’d have encountered this story and more like it sooner, so I wouldn’t be so dismissive of non-Oracle Babs.

    I understand the rational of DC wanting to stick with the most “iconic” versions of their intellectual properties, especially as they expand their presence and increase their value internationally across languages and cultures. They just don’t know how to do it correctly. For instance, ultimately, iconically, Robin is Dick Grayson, and Robin is Batman’s sole sidekick. If you’re going for iconic, all those other Robins have to go away and not appear in your animated movies and toy lines and comic books. Yet, those IP have their own value, so do you want to be iconic, or do you want to offer variety? Micky Mouse is iconic, which is why he’s Disney’s mascot, and why any real individuality and personal development was bled out of the character half a century ago. You may want to read about Duckberg thanks to Carl Barks, but Mickey is just an image and a set of ears. The stick figures on bathrooms are also iconic the world over, but all they represent is telling people which room their gender is supposed to drop their waste in. Nobody’s buying t-shirts or seeing movies with those icons. Further, Barry Allen was the iconic Flash from 1956-1986, and he embodied the values of middle class white American males from a generation now in or speeding toward nursing homes. If you’re trying to broaden your appeal in the 21st century, does hewing to Barry Allen after the Flash brand had thrived without him for a quarter century represent an iconic state, or a stagnant, even retrograde one? Barbara Gordon was the first Batgirl, until she became something much more than that, representing overcoming the challenges of disability and becoming far more essential to the heroic community in a new non-subordinate, non-derivative role. Cassandra Caine was the next Batgirl, with her own story and her own accomplishments. I find this evolution much more appealing than diminishing one character and erasing others to restore a status quo from before I was born that was considered so stale thirty years ago that radical, successful steps were taken to change it.

    As for Batman Beyond Decency, ever since the Walt Disney Memorial Orgy (or in comics, since the thought plagues of MooreMiller were released) there’s always some hack raring to get off to tarting up children’s entertainment with unplanned pregnancies and Falcon Punch abortions. Just on principle, let’s not have Batman knock up the daughter of his dear friend, peer, colleague and confidant Police Commissioner James Gordon. That said, going full nerd and looking to the canon, does anyone truly believe that Bruce Wayne would rely on the rhythm method and/or another human being’s word that they’re reliably taking a hormone pill as contraception? Or do you think Wayne Industries has subcontracted a Bat-condom made of impenetrable black vinyl with a little scalloped cape to cover his Bat-balls to protect against splashback, unwanted Damiens, or just Catwoman’s flea-bitten kitten? You would have me believe the Nocturnal Demigod of Control Freaks hasn’t had a vasectomy chased by an implant and doesn’t perform some Tibetan ritual he learned from the League of Sperm Assassins involving soaking in a tub at 140F for 17 minutes before engaging in 100% fruitless copulation? #NotMyDarkKnightDick

    Mental Image: Batman (still wearing his cowl while in bed) finishes passionate lovemaking with Talia in Son of the Demon. He discards his condom in the wastebasket, the bottom of which silently flips like the license plate on James Bond’s Aston Martin. A sophisticated series of pneumatic tubes delivers the condom to a secret lab where a team of Ra’s Al Ghul’s scientists work to keep the sample viable until his daughter can be artificially inseminated. That is exactly how Damian got born. Logic dictates that you cannot disprove this scenario.

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  15. If I recall correctly, Dr. Mid-Nite was in the one issue of Who’s Who I bought new, and I thought the costume as rendered by Matt Wagner was very cool. I think it was a bunch of years later before I read actual comic book stories featuring him (or maybe typical lame forgettable All-Star Squadron before then) but I recall being consistently disappointed with his showings until I lost all interest in the character. A guy with that name and look should not be fighting garden variety gangsters. If Dr. Mid-Nite were scarier or more badass, sure, but he comes across more as a pure hearted detective of the strange, so he needs to be a semi-classic hero against the supernatural, or at least grimmer-than-Batman threats like ritualistic serial killers. He’s a cool nerd on a good day, and he wears goggles, so he’s second on my list of characters after The Sandman I could cosplay as if I were ever so inclined.

    I sighed a bit when I looked at the splash page of the origin with those creator credits and realized, “more of this.” We’re twenty issues in, so I can’t expect much beyond journeyman imagery and the old timey copycat revue, can I? It was fine for what it was, but Dr. Mid-Nite’s origin was undercooked from the beginning. Charles McNider is a victim of crime who crusades against it as a way of channeling the trauma of being blinded, but I never get a sense of him missing a beat emotionally over his loss. Most comic book origins post-Stan Lee sound like republican presidential candidates after the CNBC debate, but this goes too far with the stiff upper lip under circumstances where I’d totally approve of obsessive behavior or a total meltdown. I’ve also got to say that whether she’s still on the payroll or not, Myra Mason is a saint who does not deserve to be strung along by Dr. McNider to serve only his most mechanical needs. So basically, I don’t particularly like or sympathize with McNider, and his origin reads like pieces of a bunch of other characters’ stories strung together without the necessary connective tissue.

    A nit-picky aside: When the lights go out at a hospital, the generators kick in. When that fails, you go to battery. In a world not far removed from gaslight and where surgeries get rescheduled all the time, I’m not buying a key element to this story. Plus. McNider happens to have the Mid-Nite costume laying around, and he goes into battle with an owl whose acquaintance he just met when a single caption could have allowed him to have trained it for years instead? Plus, Thomas sanitizes old school Golden Age justice again by Mike accidentally falling out a window? Plot, you ask too much of me.

    Dr. Mid-Nite has always set off my gaydar, and nothing here diverts from that bearing. Years ago, I had a proposal in mind for something like JSA Classified or a mini-series where the crumby obvious clone Pietr Cross would be investigating the murder of a gay activist and end up being seduced by his lover, (“solving the mystery of himself,” gag.) As Cross slowly came out, he’d face intolerance from (of all people in hindsight) Alan Scott and grudging acceptance from Wildcat. I had it all worked out in my mind and was proud of my willingness to “go there” with a barely code-approvable homoerotic thriller, and since it’s never going to happen, I keep it tucked in the back of my mind in case I ever get to apply it to some other Golden Age questioning cape.

    P.S. I’ve been saying “harshing me mellow” for ages. Ryan Daly is all hat, no cattle (TM 2015 Robert Jehoshaphat Kelly Esq.)

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