Batman: Gotham Adventures #13 Made Me Cry
KC was sorting through some boxes of comics and pulled out Batman: Gotham Adventures #13 (cover-dated June 1999) because it’s more than just a cartoon-look-inspired adventure. I’ll tell you why.
But first, since personalities will be so important to understanding what the story is really about, it’s written by Kelley Puckett and illustrated by Rick Burchett and Terry Beatty. It stars, as the villains, the trio of Mastermind, the Perfesser, and Mr. Nice, together known as the Threatening Three. That’s them, on the cover homaging the famous Mad #1, shown below.
This is their last appearance, for reasons explained in the story and forced by the outside world. They first appeared in 1993 in The Batman Adventures #10, drawn by the still-missed Mike Parobeck. They returned the next year in #20, and again the year after that, in #30.
Fans of a certain age will recognize the likenesses. The villains were modeled after Mike Carlin, Denny O’Neil, and Archie Goodwin. During the 90s, those three editors pretty much ran DC’s superheroes. Carlin was in charge of the Superman titles; O’Neil, Batman; and Goodwin — well, I’m not sure how it was summarized, but he also did some Batman titles (such as The Long Halloween) and worked with new projects (of which the best-remembered is probably Starman as written by James Robinson).
In addition to his editing, Goodwin was a writer and artist who worked for Marvel, Warren, and Epic. Widely known as the nicest man in comics, he passed away in 1998 after a decade-long battle with cancer.
This story combines two threads: Batman and Robin are attempting to save Gotham City from vials of plague toxin, while the Perfesser tells his granddaughter about how Mr. Nice was summoned away to help children in a leper colony. Mastermind doesn’t respond well to Mr. Nice’s pending departure.
Mastermind insists the trio pull one last job. He seizes the recovered plague vials and demands…
Mr. Nice leaves with the young boy messenger from the leper colony, and the Perfesser and Mastermind are taken into custody. Mastermind bemoans, “It can’t just… end,” and the Perfesser reminds him, “Everything ends… even stories.” The last thing in the story is a note that says “dedicated to Archie Goodwin.”
On the one hand, creating the Threatening Three strikes me as a way for artists to simultaneously flatter and tweak their bosses. I’m not normally a fan of such in-jokes, but their final story is a lovely goodbye to a beloved co-worker, one that can be stumbled across 15 years later to bring this reader fond memories.
If you want to read it for yourself, the issue costs a dollar at ComiXology.