Gotham City Mayors (Part 4)

With the backing of Bruce Wayne himself, Marion Grange (debuting in Detective Comics #686) defeated Armand Krol in the election to become the next mayor of Gotham City. A liberal and former district attorney (she appears in this capacity via flashback in Two-Face: Year One), Marion is notable for being the first female mayor of Gotham depicted in comics! She took office during the Contagion storyline. We learn that she had a nephew die of the Clench virus as well. In Road to No Man’s Land, when Marion was in Washington, D.C. trying to secure federal aid for Gotham after an earthquake, she was shot and killed by a sniper’s bullet intended for Bruce Wayne.

Marion Grange.

When Gotham was reopened in the wake of No Man’s Land, Daniel Danforth Dickerson III won the emergency elections to become the city’s mayor, debuting in Detective Comics #743. He’s as corrupt as any old-school Gotham politician. In Gotham Central #12, when Commissioner Akins met with Dickerson to prevent him from cutting police overtime, a sniper perched on a building across the street fired through the window and put a bullet through Dickerson’s head, killing him instantly. Astonishingly, Dickerson’s assassination is referenced in The New 52’s Teen Titans #15, making him (to my knowledge) the only pre-Flashpoint mayor besides Sebastian Hady to be transferred over to New 52 canon – although it presents a continuity error, as discussed in the Hady section below. And that issue curiously claims he was killed at Kennmann Commons, as opposed to City Hall in the original telling.

Daniel Danforth Dickerson III.

After Dickerson’s death, his deputy mayor David Hull was appointed acting mayor, debuting in Gotham Central #13. Making a few sporadic appearances in Gotham Central and the Batman titles surrounding the War Games storyline, his tenure is somewhat unremarkable and the details of his leaving office remain unrevealed.

David Hull.

The next mayor is a head-scratcher. In David Lapham’s City of Crime storyline from Detective Comics #800-808 and 811-814, the mayor is initially identified as Hull. However, for the rest of the story he is referred to as Mayor Seamus McGreevy. He is involved in a wild criminal conspiracy known as “The Body” which utilizes doppelgängers and mass paranoia-induced hallucinations to serve their ends. As such, some speculate that McGreevy was never actually Gotham’s mayor. However, the story itself does seem to present him as a real person and the true mayor of the city.

Seamus McGreevy.

Here’s what I think happened: Since City of Crime takes place shortly before War Games, though it was published after, DC wanted to maintain continuity between titles and had Lapham name his mayor Hull. However, it soon became clear this was impossible. Hull serves as mayor before and after War Games, has a different physical appearance to City of Crime’s mayor, and no other comics give any indication of his involvement with The Body. The end of City of Crime makes it clear that the story’s mayor is not going to win his re-election campaign. Thus, as scripts were coming in, DC had his name changed and made him a distinct character to avoid conflicts with Hull’s post-War Games mayoralty. We can assume that Seamus McGreevy does briefly serve as Gotham City’s mayor, using his influence and contacts within The Body to temporarily displace David Hull from office.

When Batman returned to Gotham City after a year-long sabbatical following the Infinite Crisis storyline, an unnamed woman was serving as mayor, as referenced in Detective Comics #817. We know nothing about her, but there is an obscure clue to her identity: in West End Games’ 2000 Daily Planet Guide to Gotham City, it’s noted that many of Gotham’s mayors (including Armand Krol and Marion Grange) come from the District Attorney’s office. Thus, it’s speculated that Karen Willis – the District Attorney at the time, in the aftermath of No Man’s Land – was potentially on track for the mayor’s office in future elections. It’s unclear if this was a seed planted by DC editorial that never bore fruit, but at any rate, the unnamed female mayor of the One Year Later era could possibly be Karen Willis.

Detective Comics #817.

In Grant Morrison’s Batman run, we start to hear of another male Gotham City mayor, and in the post-Battle for the Cowl “Batman Reborn” comics we finally meet him: Sebastian Hady, as corrupt as they come. His scummy deeds include working with Firefly, trying to frame Jim Gordon for murder, blackmailing his election opponent and cheating on his wife. He is the father of twin girls, one of whom briefly dated Bruce Wayne. In Zero Year, Batman Eternal, and James Tynion’s Detective Comics, Hady was retconned to have been the mayor of Gotham for almost the entirety of Batman’s career in New 52 continuity, despite an earlier reference to Mayor Dickerson. At one point in Batman Eternal, Hady’s first name was inexplicably given as William. In Detective Comics #951, Sebastian Hady is murdered by the League of Shadows.

An iconic Zero Year shot of a Hady campaign billboard.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, otherwise known as the Penguin, served as Gotham’s unofficial “mayor” during the villain takeover of the city in Forever Evil: Arkham War. In Catwoman: Election Night, he also runs for mayor against Constance Hill (they’re both forced out of the race and Hady remains mayor).

In Manslaughter (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #15-17), Gotham is afflicted by a virus that only affects men. So while the mayor is out of commission, Councilwoman Muir is appointed mayor. She is revealed as the ringleader of the Daughters of Gotham, the group behind the virus, and she is shot and killed by Amanda Waller’s lackeys. In Detective Comics #969, Michael Akins is introduced as Gotham’s mayor in the wake of Sebastian Hady’s death, with Hamilton Hill Jr. serving as deputy. Akins actually served as GCPD commisioner for years following the Officer Down event, up through War Games and Infinite Crisis.

Councilwoman Muir.

Birds of Prey #15-17 were published from October 11 to December 13, 2017. Michael Akins debuted as mayor in Detective Comics #969 (part one of Fall of the Batmen), released November 22, 2017. In that issue, Stephanie Brown (the Spoiler) rejoins the Gotham Knights team, whereas in Manslaughter, Batwoman is rather cold to her and mentions the trouble she’s caused the Knights lately. This suggests that Manslaughter possibly takes place before Fall of the Batmen, meaning the male mayor that Muir replaces could either be Hady or yet another interim mayor. Alternatively, Manslaughter could still be after Fall of the Batmen, where Batwoman isn’t exactly thrilled about Spoiler rejoining the team anyway.

Michael Akins.

(In the Cold Snap story from the latest volume of Batgirl, issues #19-20, a white man with black hair is repeatedly referred to as mayor. Although it’s not explicitly stated, context indicates this may simply be the “mayor” of the Burnside neighborhood, and not of Gotham City itself. It’s also worth noting that a number of comics over the years feature a rotating roster of “mayors” in Gotham’s Chinatown district.)

In Neal Adams’ ostensibly canon Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul, we meet yet another mayor, a man named Atkins. In this series, Damian Wayne and Tim Drake are both active as Robin, meaning it must take place at some point after Akins’ tenure as mayor. (And yes, the similarity of their names is bizarre.) Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul was advertised as tying in to DC’s linewide Year of the Villain event, and follows up on other ostensibly canon work of Adams, namely his Deadman series, which in turn follows Batman: Odyssey. So, Mayor Atkins’ name is added to our list.

The faces of Mayor Atkins.

And finally, the current mayor of Gotham City in DC Comics continuity is a man named Dunch. We meet him and his wife in Batman #86, the inaugural issue of James Tynion IV’s run on that title. Dunch presides over the post-City of Bane Gotham with no explanation as to what happened to Akins or Atkins.

Mayor Dunch, from Batman #86.

Phew!! There you have it. Every mayor of Gotham City who has ever appeared in the mainline, in-continuity comic books. To my knowledge, anyway. And what’s more, solicitations for October issues of Detective Comics tease that another mayoral election will play a part in Batman comics very soon! If any readers know of a mayor I missed, especially from obscure sources like newspaper strips, RPG sourcebooks, or novelizations, please drop a line in the comments and I would love to research it. There are also tons of mayors in alternate-universe comics and multimedia, but that’s a post for another day.

In future timelines peripheral to canon, Winston is mayor of pre-Crisis Earth-2’s Gotham when Bruce Wayne’s daughter Helena operates as Huntress, per Batman Family #20. In the world of Neo-Gotham from Batman Beyond, Clement is mayor (digital chapter #3) before being replaced by William Dusk (Batman Beyond 2.0 #1) until his death, after which Greg Hoffman takes office. And in Dan Jurgens’ canon Batman Beyond series, Gotham’s mayor is none other than Luke Fox, the former Batwing!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Gotham City’s mayors as much as I’ve enjoyed researching them. It might seem like an obscure and nerdy topic, but I think it’s cool, and makes Batman’s gritty hometown feel like that much more of a real place. The idea that all these people served as Gotham’s mayor in the true story of Batman, and that there’s such a rich history throughout eighty years of comic books, is just fascinating to me. I’m grateful to Collin of The Real Batman Chronology Project for hosting these articles and hopefully more people will get into this kind of stuff. This is PurpleGlovez, signing off. See you next time!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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Gotham City Mayors (Part 3)

In the early 1980s, writer Gerry Conway took over the Batman titles and began his infamous “Marvelized” Batman run. As opposed to the mostly done-in-one capers of the past, his run featured an ongoing soap opera-like narrative that put a spotlight on Bruce Wayne’s social life, the inner workings of organized crime, and the political turmoil of Gotham City. Hamilton Hill debuted in Detective Comics #503 and was sworn in as Gotham’s mayor after defeating city councilman Arthur Reeves in the election. Hill was secretly in league with crime boss Rupert Thorne, and one of his many nefarious dealings as mayor was to replace James Gordon with a more compliant police commissioner. In Batman #381, Hill’s corruption was exposed and he was forced out of office.

Hamilton Hill.

George P. Skowcroft debuted in Detective Comics #551 and was appointed acting mayor in the wake of Hill’s downfall. In Swamp Thing #53, he infamously attempted to criminalize Abby Arcane’s relationship with Swamp Thing as beastiality. The Batman titles at the time teased an election showdown between Skowcroft and Lucius Fox, but when Denny O’Neil took over as editor after Crisis on Infinite Earths, most of the plotlines being weaved by Conway and Doug Moench were unceremoniously dropped. Thus, we’re not really sure who won the formal election or what happened to Skowcroft.

George Skowcroft (and my favorite reaction image ever).

In Huntress: Year One, we meet an unnamed mayor of Gotham City. Not only does he force an arranged marriage between his daughter and mafia prince Tony Angelo, but he plans to manufacture a crisis where he would intentionally destory Gotham’s dam system, flood the city, and swoop in with aid to take control of the fiasco and ride the wave of adulation to the White House. Kind of a weird plan, but whatever. His schemes are discovered by the Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, who takes the information to Batman. After being exposed for such a thing, this mayor was surely ousted from office.

The mayor from Huntress: Year One.

The timeline of Huntress: Year One is up for debate. Helena’s debut as the Huntress takes place around the Catholic holiday of Carnival, marking the beginning of Lent – usually a February date. In original post-Crisis history, Huntress debuted after the death of Jason Todd. However, Huntress: Year One reveals that Huntress was active while Barbara Gordon was still Batgirl, before The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family. If we place Huntress’s debut as late as it can possibly go, in the February before the Joker’s crippling of Barbara Gordon, then it would take place after Skowcroft’s appointment as mayor. The only other timeline clue is Catwoman’s claim that she is 29 – but can we trust Selina Kyle to tell the truth about her age?

So, some people do place the debut of Huntress earlier, sometimes prior to the introduction of Jason Todd, with speculation that this mayor could be Skowcroft or Hamilton Hill himself. To be honest, I don’t think he is Hamilton Hill. Their appearances are different and their storylines are way too distinct. It could theoretically be Skowcroft – but once again, the appearances don’t exactly match. In my opinion, the mayor from Huntress: Year One is the unnamed man who defeats Skowcroft in the formal election.

The mayor from Batman: The Cult.

The next mayor of Gotham appears in Batman: The Cult. An older white-haired man with thick eyebrows and squinty eyes, he is assassinated by Deacon Blackfire’s followers along with the rest of the city council. At the end of The Cult, a slim gray-haired man named Donald Webster is appointed acting mayor of Gotham. The mayor in Batman: Run, Riddler, Run is similar enough in appearance to Webster that we can say it is probably the same person.

The mayor from Batman: Run, Riddler, Run.

The mayor from Detective Comics #626.

Our next mayor is a chubbier man with black hair and a mustache who appears in Detective Comics #626. He’s mad that Commissioner Gordon gave him a parking ticket. Next, Mayor Julius Lieberman appears in Batman vs. Predator, where he is viciously eviscerated by a Predator (comics!) Lieberman has white hair and a mustache, but is otherwise similar enough in build and appearance to the mayor from Detective #626 that they might be the same person… but, they might not be.

Julius Lieberman.

After Lieberman’s death, Mayor Goode debuts in the Robin II mini-series. If you look closely, you can see his name on a plaque on his desk in issue #3. Goode reappears in Robin Annual #1, with slightly fuller hair. But a week before that issue was published, Gotham’s mayor helped celebrate the return of the JSA in Justice Society of America #1. Although he doesn’t look exactly like Goode, he’s got the thinning hair and same general build, so we can probably assume it’s the same guy. And then, on the same day Justice Society of America #1 was published – a week before Robin Annual #1 Gotham’s outgoing mayor inexplicably appears as an African American man in Detective Comics #648.

The totally blinged-out Mayor Goode from Robin II.

Detective #648 was written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Tom Lyle, the same authors of Goode’s appearances in Robin. This mayor is drawn very similarly to Goode, with his hair style from the annual, but he is colored as a black man while Goode is clearly white. I’m guessing this may have been a coloring error or miscommunication, since Goode appeared a week later in the Robin annual… but at the end of the day, does the published page supersede behind-the-scenes info? Does Detective #648 establish another canonical mayor of Gotham distinct from Goode? For now, the jury is out.

Detective #648’s unnamed mayor.

Detective Comics #647-649 also introduces the man who will become the next mayor of Gotham, Armand Krol. He’s a hardline conservative with a major hate-boner for Batman and Jim Gordon. His first appearance as mayor is the Misfits storyline in Shadow of the Bat #7-9 (his last appearance as a candidate being Batman #489-490). When Batman saves Krol from the Joker during Knightfall, Krol softens up towards the Dark Knight but never loses his adversarial attitude towards Gordon. Krol runs for re-election but is ultimately defeated. During the lame duck period of his mayoralty, he installs a friend of his, Andrew Howe, as police commissioner. When Krol’s successor takes office in Contagion, Gordon is restored as commissioner and shortly afterwards, Armand Krol succumbs to the Clench virus and dies.

Armand Krol.

To find out why Krol’s successor represents a historical milestone on our list, stay tuned for the next post!

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Help Wanted! The Golden Age Salad Days

Calling all divers hands! I’ve been filling in gaps in my timelines. Notably, I just added a Salad Days section for the New 52 (which required me to do a full re-read of the entire New 52, which I don’t recommend doing unless you want your brain to melt and run out of your nose). The only other big gap in my timelines is the Salad Days section for the Golden Age. The amazing Anthony Fallone helped me construct a first draft, which is up on the site, but I’m convinced (he, not so much) that there must be more to add.

Thus, I’m reaching out to all my followers and asking if they could scour the Golden Age in search of any references or flashbacks that we might have missed that pertain to Bruce’s time prior to becoming the Bat—from his birth until his early 20s.

Really, I’m looking for the tough ones, the ones that are easy to miss at first glance. Like this…

“I saw him once when I was a boy!” See what I mean? When I first built my Golden Age timeline, I neglected to do a Salad Days section, so I had to go back and do it later, which is decidedly harder to pull off later as opposed to as you are reading through everything.

So, if I’ve missed anything, please let me know. Happy to have some hunters out there giving me an assist. Thanks in advance!

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Gotham City Mayors (Part 2)

Alright, so now that we’ve looked at Gotham City’s mayors during the early years of the post-Crisis Batman’s career, we’re gonna take a look at mayors who appeared in pre-Crisis comic books between 1942 and 1980. To be honest, I’m kind of dreading making this post because there were a lot of appearances of Gotham mayors during this time with absolutely no consistency. I won’t be posting pictures of all of them because this post would just be way too long. Anyway, here we go…

The first mayor of Gotham depicted in a comic appeared in two stories in 1942’s Batman #12, as well as a story in Detective Comics #68. (Don’t get used to that level of consistency.) He was a caricature of New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia. The next unnamed mayor was an overweight man who appears to be bald under his top hat, from Batman #29. Next, an unnamed mayor with brown hair, a mustache, and glasses appeared in Batman #30.

The first named mayor of Gotham appeared in Detective Comics #121. Well, he’s not technically named; his son, Chadwick Carfax, is. Thus, we know that this is Mayor Carfax, a white-haired mustachioed man with glasses.After that, a balding man with brown hair and a monocle over his left eye appears as mayor in the Riddler’s debut story in Detective Comics #140. In Star-Spangled Comics #94, a balding man with dark hair and a mustache is mayor. In Batman #54, the mayor has dark hair and no facial hair; his head is covered by a top hat.

In Detective Comics #166, an ex-convict named John Gillen is working as a circus performer called “The Man With a Million Faces”. He transforms into the visage of Gotham City’s mayor: an older slim man with white hair. In Star-Spangled Comics #113, yet another nondescript mayor (with dark hair and no facial hair) appears in a top hat. In Batman #66, the infamous story of the Joker’s “boner” crimes features an elderly mayor with balding white hair and glasses. In Detective Comics #179, we get our second named mayor: Bradley Stokes. He runs a program where Gotham citizens can be “mayor for a week” during his vacations; named participants include Thomas Mays and Bruce Wayne. I wonder if we can use this program as a handy explanation for some of the mayoral inconsistency in this era…?

In World’s Finest Comics #69, we meet Mayor Sheppard, who frantically calls Commissioner Gordon as a psycho named Tom Beckett bursts into his office and threatens to blow up City Hall. In Batman #85, we learn that a man named Alan Dent is running for mayor; we never actually see him and he is never mentioned again. But, it’s theoretically possible (though purely conjecture) that Alan could in fact be any of the unnamed mayors who appear around this time. Two issues later in Batman #87, a mayor appears, a balding cigarette-chomping man. The mayor in Batman #91 appears to be identical to him.

In World’s Finest Comics #76, the mayor appears alongside City Hall in trying to convince a science convention to meet in Gotham instead of Metropolis. He has gray hair and glasses. In Batman #102, the mayor appears with a full head of dark hair and a dapper mustache. The mayor in Detective Comics #245 is a jowled man free of facial hair; the top of his head is obscured by a hat, but he looks plausibly similar to the man in Batman #87 and 91. (At this point I should note that, to account for the mayor’s varying appearances, it’s possible some of these stories actually take place out of sequence from when they were published.)

In Batman #120, the mayor appears to have white hair and seems a little overweight. The mayor in Detective Comics #277 bears a remarkable resemblance to World’s Finest #69’s Mayor Sheppard. In Batman #149, the mayor is a slim man with white hair, depicted both with and without a mustache. In World’s Finest Comics #140, it’s hard to make out the mayor’s features but he is a slim man who may have dark hair and possibly a mustache. The mayor in Detective Comics #330 is an older gentleman with white hair, glasses and a mustache. In The Brave and the Bold #59, a slightly overweight, balding mayor appears; vaguely similar to the man from Batman #87, et al. In Batman #173, the mayor has white hair and a mustache, and quite the shiny bald head.

The mayor in Brave and the Bold #67 is a nondiscrepant man with brown hair. A mayor appears in Batman #186 but it is impossible to make out his features. In Detective Comics #375, Mayor Taylor is mentioned, but not shown; as such, he could be any of the unnamed mayors who appear around this time. In Brave and the Bold #78, the mayor is another generic man with a top hat, and in Batman #207, we meet Mayor Hayes, a balding man with dark hair. In Brave and the Bold #81, the mayor has a head of black hair with white temples. Brave and the Bold #89 features a mayor of indistinct appearance with his back to the reader. In Brave and the Bold #94, the mayor appears alongside city council as a younger man with brown hair. In Brave and the Bold #102, he’s a fatter balding man with a mustache. In issue #105, this mayor appears again.

The next mayor is a bit of a head-scratcher. In Batman #245, two political bosses, Bilker and Harvey, are running candidates for mayor in the election. Bruce Wayne previously supported Harvey’s candidate before switching sides to Bilker’s man, MacCutcheon, whose face we see on a billboard. However, Batman exposes a plot by Bilker to frame Harvey for murder, and supposedly cinches the election for Harvey’s candidate. A few months later in Detective Comics #433, we meet another mayor of Gotham City: a blonde man who looks extraordinarily similar to MacCutcheon! So what gives? It could just be a man with an uncanny resemblance… or, it’s possible Harvey’s candidate didn’t win after all, and MacCutcheon was ignorant of Bilker’s plot, exonerating himself with the help of Batman and Bruce Wayne. But this is purely conjecture on my part.

World’s Finest Comics #218 features an orange-haired mayor who is threatened with blackmail over a kickback scandal by a villain named Capricorn. However, Capricorn seemingly dies before he makes good on any of his blackmail threats… thus, it’s unknown if the public ever learns about this scandal. In Brave and the Bold #113, a new mayor is sworn in, a young man with blonde/dandelion hair who briefly retires Batman and replaces him with the Metal Men. This could plausibly be the same mayor from Detective #433 and World’s Finest #218, if we assume this issue took place before those stories. Alternatively, it could be a separate person.

In the David Reed-scripted Batman #270, 275, and 283, an older, white-haired mayor appears. In the Christmastime Brave and the Bold #148, the mayor has orange hair and a thick mustache, while issue #150 clearly features the same mayor from issues #102 and #105. In Super Friends #22, what appears to be the same mustachioed mayor from Brave and the Bold #148 appears. In World’s Finest Comics #260, the mayor is a clean-shaven man with gray hair, while in issue #262, the mayor has white temples and a mustache. In Detective Comics #490, the mayor has orange-brown hair and a thick mustache, similar to the man from B&B #148 and Super Friends.

Well, that’s all the mayors I’m covering in this post. As you can see, there was no consistency whatsoever for many decades in depicting Gotham’s mayoral office. In-universe explanations of weight loss, weight gain, shaving, hair dye, wigs, and toupes (as well as out-of-sequence issues) can all theoretically be used to condense these mayors into a smaller number of people and explain their differing appearances. But in reality, the fact is that DC just didn’t care to keep it straight. Interestingly, it’s clear that a few artists did draw the mayor with consistency between different comic book issues, but this was a rarity.

Miraculously, things did start to get consistent under Gerry Conway’s pen in the early 80s with a certain character named Hamilton Hill. We’ll talk about him and other mayors in the next post!

Part 1: 

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RIP Denny O’Neil

For my money, and many will agree, Denny O’Neil was the best Batman writer of all time. He was certainly one of my personal favorites. O’Neil, unlike so many of his peers (and unlike so many current writers), understood what it means to be a superhero. He knew that a superhero isn’t a cop, a bully, a strongman, or a rich man. O’Neil knew that a superhero is someone that fights for those who can’t fight for themselves, someone who can see systems of oppression linked to race and class, someone motivated by empathy, and someone that would walk a mile in another person’s shoes.

O’Neil changed the game. He gave us the Batman we know and love today, re-inventing the character in the 70s and forever stamping his mark on the mythos in a way that hadn’t really been done since the very beginning with Bob Kane and Bill Finger—and hasn’t been done since (except for maybe Frank Miller in the 80s). O’Neil never shied away from telling incredibly progressive stories about real people, and he did it, amazingly, for fifty years. Put simply, he was a great man, who told great stories.

I’ve always said, the industry could use more Denny O’Neils, so it’s an especially sad day for comics now that we don’t have any at all. You’ll be sorely missed, Mr. O’Neil. Rest in power.

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Gotham City Mayors (Part 1)

Hey everyone! I’m PurpleGlovez, longtime reader of the site. Many years ago, Collin posted a two-part blog detailing Gotham City’s mayors in the post-Crisis era (link: ). For some reason, I’ve always found the fictional politics of Gotham City interesting and the idea that it’s had so many mayors just gets the gears in my head turning. I’ve recently finished chronicling what I believe to be every appearance of a Gotham City mayor in a mainline comic book, and a few interesting facts came to light.

So in these series of posts, I’m going to go over them. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, we all know that DC continuity was “rebooted” and new stories in the early years of characters like Batman were revealed, starting with the famous Year One. For this first post, I’m going to start with these “retroactively-established” mayors, and then in the second post I’ll start with the actual first appearance of a mayor in a Batman comic (1942’s Batman #12.)

But first, a rundown of Gotham’s mayors before Batman. Theodore Cobblepot, great grandfather of the Penguin, was mayor in the late 19th century, according to the Gotham Underground series, as well as Gates of Gotham and The New 52 All-Star Western. In James Tynion IV’s Batman and Robin #23.2, an unnamed mayor runs afoul of the Court of Owls in 1914 and is presumably killed by them. Archibald Brewster served as a well-renowned mayor during the Great Depression (per West End Games’ fabulous Daily Planet Guide to Gotham City.) Thorndike was killed by the Made of Wood killer in 1948 when Alan Scott’s Green Lantern roamed Gotham, as revealed in Ed Brubaker’s Detective Comics #784-786. Aubrey James was an associate of Thomas Wayne who was stabbed to death, according to Legends of the Dark Knight #204-206. Lastly, Jessop was in office after the Wayne murders, per Morrison’s Return of Bruce Wayne #5.

Now, our possible first mayor of Gotham during Batman’s career is a very obscure tidbit I discovered. In Alan Brennert’s astonishing Black Canary story in Secret Origins #50, we see Ted Grant talking to a young Dinah Lance shortly after the Batman’s debut. He claims that the mayor is a man named Falcone, a stooge of the Roman’s! But wait… the Roman is Falcone, right?

Well, at the time, not necessarily. Throughout the entirety of Batman: Year One, the Roman is never explicitly identified by name. In the mayor’s mansion dinner scene, Commissioner Loeb tells someone named Falcone that District Attorney Dent is their problem. Jeph Loeb took this and made Carmine Falcone the Roman in The Long Halloween. However, it seems some people (including at DC in the late ’80s) thought it was strange for Loeb to be so flippant with the city’s ultimate crime lord, and that it didn’t make sense for Harvey Dent to be the Roman’s responsibility, and took the conversation as if Loeb was in fact talking to the mayor.

This is the assumption Alan Brennert makes in his story. Now, if we take this at face value, what does it mean? Could Carmine Falcone have in fact been operating as mayor with the public unaware of his life as the Roman? It seems unlikely. In truth, if someone named Falcone was mayor during the early days of Batman’s career, he was probably a well-connected relative of Carmine’s.

In the compendium of Absolute Batman: Year One, Frank Miller’s complete scripts for the series are included. According to them, the man on the left in this image is the mayor of Gotham, sitting next to his wife! Intriguingly, when Loeb is talking to “Falcone”, a bunch of text in the script is blacked out. Guess there’s something DC didn’t want us to know? At any rate, there’s the man who was mayor on May 19th of Year One!

The next classic “Year One”-era mayor is a man named Wilson Klass. He originally formed an anti-vigilante task force to take down Batman in Prey (Legends of the Dark Knight #11-15), but when Batman saved his daughter from Hugo Strange, he directed the GCPD to turn a blind eye to Batman’s activities. He is also the named mayor in the summertime Heat (LotDK #83-84) and Infected (LotDK #83-84), and appears to be the mayor in Duty (LotDK #105-106), supposedly a year and a half to two years into Batman’s career, as well as Idols (LotDK #80-82), purportedly set in June of Batman’s third year.

Confusingly, a number of different men are shown as mayor during Batman’s early years. As you’ll quickly realize, the level of consistency is not ideal when it comes to Gotham’s mayoral office. Due to the volatile nature of Gotham politics, we just have to assume that mayors are recalled, impeached, ousted by scandal, or killed on a near constant basis. We can also assume deputy or vice mayors serve as acting mayor while the true mayor is on leave or indisposed. For Klass, something like this must have happened, because he appears intermittently in office until at least the summer of Year Three.

A man named Hill with brown hair was serving as mayor in Batman Confidential #24 when the Joker was first apprehended and sentenced to Arkham. He ran his campaign on a platform of zero tolerance towards crime. We know next to nothing about him, except this is presumably not another Gotham mayor who serves later named Hamilton Hill. Do You Understand These Rights (Batman Confidential #22-25) ostensibly takes place shortly after Prey… maybe Klass took a vacation with his daughter?

Next, Mayor Gill appears in Irresistible (LotDK #169-171). He’s slightly fat and has thinning black hair. After Frank Sharp used his… powers of persuasion (long story) to convince the mayor to switch some city contracts, Gill was kidnapped and rescued by Batman. This story takes place ambiguously early in Batman’s career, but Arkham Asylum is open, Batman hasn’t started collecting trophies, and Penguin seemingly hasn’t started his supervillain career. The story notes that Gill was already mayor when Frank first approaches him during his campaign. Hill is stated to have campaigned as well. Both of these campaigns would’ve taken place around the same time… so the jury is out. Are Hill and Gill really the same person, despite their slightly different appearances? A man named Hillford Gill perhaps? We may never (definitely won’t ever) know.

The next mayor is an unnamed man with white hair and a boil who was in office during the Rudolph Klemper murders and Harvey Dent’s earliest days as Two-Face, as shown in Batman Annual #14. This was Two-Face’s original post-Crisis origin and served as the basis for The Long Halloween, which pulls several story beats and moments from this comic. However, TLH actually rearranges the dates and sequence of events, changes a bunch of stuff, and doesn’t actually reference the Klemper murders. Thus, some people expunge Annual #14 from canon altogether… but if we assume it is canon within the framework of The Long Halloween, then this man was mayor at some point prior to or during the story.

Then, a man named Grogan is mayor in Two-Face: Year One #2, set just prior to Dark Victory. Although it’s a continuity nightmare, DC did intend Two-Face: Year One to be canon, and it actually has links to tons of stories (few of which make sense.) This is presumably the same Grogan who was commissioner of police at the end of Year One. Notably, the mayor has brown hair and no facial hair at the beginning of the issue, yet is shown with grey hair and a mustache later on when he is referred to as Grogan. Can DC keep anything straight?

A slightly fat mayor with thinning black hair (he kinda looks like Gill?) argues with Mr. Freeze over the phone in Robin: Year One #3.

A fat, bald mayor is killed by Midnight in Batman: Gotham After Midnight #7. The chronology of these stories is up for debate. If Gotham After Midnight immediately follows Dark Victory, then the Midnight mayor (killed shortly after Halloween) probably precedes the Robin Year One mayor. However, if you place Gotham After Midnight sometime later (it’s been “months” since the Creeper’s debut, traditionally a post-Robin character; Green Arrow seemingly knows Batman’s identity; Jim Gordon is implied to be single) then his time in office would be afterwards.

I’ll close out this post with a mayor that Collin doesn’t consider canon, but what the hell. In Fat City (Gotham Knights #18) a construction worker drops his lamp in a bucket of grease. It shorts out and causes the grease to become a sentient blob that travels through the sewers and kills people by sucking out their body fat. Mayor Charles “Chubby” Chesterfield actually gets in shape and becomes “Slim” Chesterfield in order to protect himself, encouraging Gotham to do the same. However, the virus ends up killing him anyway, right after he steps out of the shower. Darn! This story takes place after Batman adopts his yellow oval costume, and likely before the mayoral lineage becomes semi-coherent with a man named Hamilton Hill. We’ll get to him later.

Phew. That was a lot, but we’re not done. Next, we’ll take a look at all the mayors in the original Batman comics from 1942 through the ’70s! See you soon!

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Lists: My Favorite Comics of 2019 & Books I Read That Were Not Comics in 2019

I’m ridiculously late because I originally wasn’t going to do a Best Of list this year… but who am I kidding. Here are ten comics I quite enjoyed in 2019 (in alphabetical order by title).

Geoff Johns & Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock
Liana Finck’s Excuse Me: Cartoons, Complaints, and Notes to Self
Tom Scioli’s Fantastic Four: Grand Design
Grant Morrison & Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern
Natalie Nourigat’s I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation
Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Darcy Van Poelgeest & Ian Bertram’s Little Bird
Chris Ware’s Rusty Brown
James Stokoe’s Sobek
Emily Carroll’s When I Arrived at the Castle

And because I really do feel that a look at the literature one consumes can provide a unique window into personality, here is a list of books (non-comics) I read in 2019 (in order of most liked to least liked).

overstory powers

The Overstory by Richard Powers
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Tropic of Chaos by Christian Parenti
The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things by Bruce Sterling
Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin
The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
The Three-Body Problem: Part One by Liu Cixin
Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism by Wolfgang Streeck
Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift
Senses of the Subject by Judith Butler
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Sartor Resartus by Thomas Carlyle
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

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A Tale of Two Reboots

The rumor mill (and all recent in-story signs and signifiers) hint at something odd happening with DC’s main line in the near future—specifically, the cancellation of a reboot so that another reboot can stand in its place. Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock, undeniably canon, was a reboot story. It ended the Rebirth Era by undoing the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent, restoring the primary version of the Justice Society of America to the Earth-0 timeline (with Wonder Woman at the helm), and restoring the full history of the Legion, including the team’s interactions with teenage Clark (Superboy). 

But after Doomsday Clock wrapped, a month passed without any other titles acknowledging any changes whatsoever. Nothing was acknowledged. Nothing reflected the supposed reboot. Rumors swirled (as they have for the past year plus) about an ongoing schism within the DC office between publisher Dan DiDio and top writer Geoff Johns, internal frustration over publication delays, and different opinions about the overall trajectory of the superhero line. Then there was a tiny speck of ostensible Doomsday Clock reboot recognition in the form of a Scott Snyder-penned Wonder Woman origin story in Wonder Woman #750, cementing her as the first ever public superhero back in the 1940s, complete with a wink and nod at the formation of the JSA to follow.

However, a week after that, Snyder struck again, turning everything on its head with Justice League #39—the “finale” of his years-long Justice League arc, specifically the last issue (of ten-issues) of his “Justice/Doom War.” In Justice League #39, our titular heroes, defeated by the goddess Perpetua, are given one final chance to right things, via the Quintessence’s magick reboot door. Ganthet of the Quintessence insinuates to our titular heroes that Doomsday Clock has already occurred, saying “events that unfolded outside your purview. Some disconnected from your reality altogether but still deeply felt and impactful.” We even see a panel from Doomsday Clock in Justice League #39, specifically an image of Johnny Thunderbolt crashing through Black Adam!

After Ganthet ends his monologue, the JL bolts through the reboot door, leading to… nothing. It’s a damn To be Continued! And we are told that things will be continued in Metal 2 aka Death Metal aka Encore aka Snyder’s exhausting never-ending opus. And rumor has it that Encore will be a reboot that ends the Rebirth Era by undoing the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent (maybe), restoring the primary version of the Justice Society of America to the Earth-0 timeline (with Wonder Woman at the helm), and restoring the full history of the Legion, including the team’s interactions with teenage Clark (Superboy).

But wait?! That is exactly what Doomsday Clock‘s reboot did, you say? How astute you are! This is absolutely true. And this implies that Snyder’s reboot is trumping Johns’ reboot (even though they are virtually the same)—which, in turn, implies that Wonder Woman #750 isn’t a preview of a post-Doomsday Clock (Johns-rebooted) multiverse, but actually is a preview of a post-Encore (Snyder-rebooted) multiverse instead. Narratively, we can only guess how this’ll play out. The “official” company fanwank could very well be that Doc Manhattan rewrote the DCU at the end of Doomsday Clock only for Perpetua to have pressed the pause button or rewind button, preventing Manhattan’s alteration from sticking. What followed was Sam Lane’s death, Alfred’s death, Justice/Doom War, magick Quintessence reboot door in Justice League #39, and then…

Justice League #40! Here’s even more confusion. See, JL #40 is just a fresh creative team (Robert Venditti and Doug Mahnke) starting a new story that has nothing to do with reboots or the follow-up from Snyder’s magick door. There is internaut speculation that the continued fanwank-athon might see the JL emerge for Encore via some time anomaly, which will then lead to the “official” Snyder reboot. JL #40 is a head-scratcher in and of itself. In JL #40, we see a scene that was clearly drawn with Alfred alive and well, but then cleverly changed by Venditti and Mahnke to fit post-Alfred’s death. Sodam Yat is featured in the story, as is the Hall of Justice. Likewise, Wonder Woman mentions her connection to the JL Dark. Yet, Flash has never heard of Eradicator and neither Batman nor Superman seem to be familiar with Madame Xanadu. I literally have no clue as to where JL #40 takes place—or even on which timeline, even with an editorial note that tells us outright that this issue is after Superman’s secret ID reveal in “The Truth.” (Technically, it should go some point after both JL #39 and “The Truth,” which is where I’ve placed it on my chronology.) Scott Snyder then put his foot in his mouth on Twitter, inexplicably saying that JL #40 takes place before “Justice/Doom War,” which makes zero sense no matter how you spin it. Thankfully, Twitter isn’t canon, but it does speak to the general confusion and messiness behind the scenes at DC HQ.

Why is this all so complicated? And why cancel a reboot for another reboot (especially when they are the same reboot)? This is inner company warfare affecting story. This isn’t a team sport. It’s a bunch of singular egos, led by one Dan DiDio, battling for supremacy of a continuity clusterfuck they believe can only be saved by meta-acknowledgment of its very clusterfuckery. I’m sure if it were totally up to the Powers That be, they probably would have thrown Doomsday Clock right in the bin, ignoring it outright in favor of the Encore reboot or whatever’s to come. However, Doomsday Clock was one of DC’s best-sellers (and, no matter your personal opinion of it, critical darlings) these past two years. As much as they’d like to, they can’t ignore it. The best they can do is spike it six feet into the earth, claiming it’s canon but was “erased.”

Maybe I’m blowing my top for no reason. Hell, maybe I’m misreading this entirely or buying into the bogus commentariat dirt-sheets. Maybe I’m dead wrong about how things will play out. After all, there were similar problems in the Modern Age—like when Death of the New Gods came out alongside Countdown and “Batman RIP”/Final Crisis. And don’t even get me started about the New 52’s “band-aid story” Convergence. Relegating Jack Kirby’s Bronze Age Super Powers arcs as non-canon comes to mind as well, but the Doomsday Clock/Encore mess seems more egregious than anything in prior publication eras. After all, Super Powers didn’t connect to the greater DCU the way Doomsday Clock did and still does. And the aforementioned Modern Age and New 52 stuff wasn’t make-or-break reboot material. This whole Doomsday Clock/Encore debacle seems to have resulted directly from DiDio, Snyder, Bendis, and company having made a big mistake (or series of mistakes). When you make a mistake, it’s best to own up to it. But in this case, it seems like DiDio, Snyder, Bendis, and company are instead choosing to fix their mistake by claiming it was all planned and that they meant to do it this way. But, again, maybe I’m wrong. Or maybe these guys really do have a clever and inventive way of straightening this out. Snyder said, in a recent interview, “The idea is that everything happened – and happened IN continuity – everything mattered, Doomsday Clock, Year of the Villain, stories old and new, there’s just a story reason why it doesn’t seem that way on the surface right now. Bottom line, we need to reward fans for their dedication and passion for all the characters, for all these great stories, and say – now let’s do a big, crazy story that shows the connections, some obvious, some secret, a story that celebrates and rocks the whole DCU and – above all – let’s have some fucking fun doing it.” Could they do something that salvages all of this and could they do it in an interesting and fun way? It’s possible. But, like the old adage goes: Fool me once, shame on you… These funnybooks have already fooled me consistently since the 1980s, so I won’t hold my breath in anticipation of a miracle.

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The Influence of Quantum Mechanics and Borges’ Metaphysics on Superhero Comics

Dr Manhattan Before Watchmen

The origins of the Silver Age of comics date back to the 1950s and early 1960s. Fans often misattribute an augmented narrative use of aliens, monsters, spaceships, computers, robots, and nuclear mutants with the start of the Silver Age. While these tropes surely existed in the early Silver Age, the late Golden Age was rife with this stuff too. The primary thing that more accurately defines the switch from DC’s Golden Age to its Silver Age was a momentous storytelling shift energized by the cutting-edge scientific theories of Bryce DeWitt and new hypotheses about universal wave-function and particle physics by Erwin Schrödinger. The Newtonian model was replaced with the quantum perspective, ushering in a worldview that no longer focused on the physical but instead upon a field of probabilities. In the 1950s and 1960s, this burgeoning “Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics” reflected the inchoate fictive concepts that legends like Robert Kanigher and Gardner Fox were putting to pen and paper. If a multiverse could be a possibility in the real world, then it certainly had merit within sci-fi superhero comics. Of course, long before Schrödinger’s cat and relative state formulation, the Stoics of the 3rd century BCE (inspired by Heraclitus and Socrates before them) fleshed-out conceptual theoretical physics akin to contemporary Multiverse Theory. As unheralded comics muse Jorge Luis Borges notes in The Theologians, the Stoics believed in an “infinite cycle of worlds, with infinite suns, moons, Apollos, Dianas, and Poseidons.” As creators deftly layered the Stoic “infinite cycle of worlds” (i.e. a multiverse proper) into their superhero narratives, the superhero comic book genre entered into new levels of heightened visionary literature. These early superhero multiverse narratives, especially ones featuring the dimension-hopping heroes of the DCU, would stimulate the emergence of the literary genre of New Wave science fiction, which was born in the mid 1960s and flourished in the 1970s. Interestingly, despite being directly influenced by comics, New Wave science fiction novels would garner critical praise that the comics themselves failed to achieve a decade earlier (and wouldn’t achieve for decades to come). Such is the unjust history of “serious literature” thumbing its nose at “funnybooks,” I suppose. Without the multiverse of the Silver Age of comics, maybe we wouldn’t have had Michael Moorcock’s multiverse, and without that, we surely would have been deprived of Alan Moore.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the aforementioned “unheralded” Borges has always garnered recognition from someone within the world of superhero comics: Grant Morrison. Morrison built a great deal of his comics writing foundation upon Borges’ notions—from his early days on Doom Patrol (1989-1990) all the way through Batman Incorporated (2010-2013). Morrison was also equally influenced by Italo Calvino and William Gibson, two authors also indebted to Borges. Without Borges and/or the quantum mechanical theories of the 1950s and 1960s, we probably wouldn’t have Morrison comics. Same goes for the comics oeuvre of Harlan Ellison and Neil Gaiman too.

doom patrol 22

While writers implemented metaphysics in terms of authorship and narrative throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, multiversial storytelling ultimately culminated with 1986’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s first ever reboot, which ushered in the Modern Age. With this reboot, writers were forced to grapple with something new, specifically the impact of these metaphysics upon the characters themselves i.e. postmodernism via metafiction. By 1986, comic book characters were quite experienced at navigating the multiverse, but now they would be forced to confront a reboot—or, at the very least, would either perceive it or not perceive it. Was Batman, for example, cognizant of the effects of the Crisis? As we know from reading our comics, Batman and friends (most of his friends anyway) did not retain knowledge of what had been in existence before the Crisis. So they did not grasp that there had been a world prior to their current (re)existence.

There is, of course, literary precedent in regard to the human perception of a reboot. Bertrand Russell, in his 1921 masterpiece The Analysis of Mind, sums it up perfectly by supposing that the planet might only have been created a few minutes ago, furnished with a humanity that “remembers” an illusory past. As per Borges in Tlön (1940), this ostensible negation of time demonstrates that “the present is indefinite, the future has no reality other than as present hope, that the past has no reality other than as a present memory.” Or, from another perspective, again from Borges, we could say that all time has already transpired and one’s life is “only the crepuscular and no doubt falsified and mutilated memory.” These Borgesian approaches, especially the latter, are really exactly how characters within the world of the superhero genre experience (or rather don’t experience) reboots. For Batman, when a reboot happens, all his memories become nothing but a “mutilated” historical record that reflects an “illusory past.” Of course, Batman wouldn’t have anyway of knowing. And, if he were to even catch a slight wind of this—as he sometimes actually does in the comics—it would be far to much for him to fully decode.

In Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (1972), literary theorist Gérard Genette coins the term “narratological metalepsis,” defined as “a paradoxical transgression of the boundaries between narrative levels or logically distinct worlds.”[1] In a nutshell, this is a more structural interpretation of “breaking the fourth wall,” which goes hand-in-hand with the meta-nature of how character’s interact with reboots. Following Genette’s further extrapolation of metalepsis in Métalepse: From Figure to Fiction (2004), scholar Douglas Estes, in The Temporal Mechanics of the Fourth Gospel (2008), adds to (or simplifies) Genette’s thesis by describing metalepsis as occurring when an omniscient narrator enters the world of the story that they are narrating. This happens time and time again in literature, maybe most notably (in terms of DC Comics), when Grant Morrison himself entered the pages of his own Animal Man run in 1990. Genette’s metalepsis and any kind of fourth wall-breaking are close cousins to the Borgesian intellection mentioned above.

If you are looking for a less academic but equally heady explanation of how fictional characters experience reboots, look no further than David Wong’s John Dies at the End (2001). Despite the novel’s steady stream of sophomoric comedy, it also captures these ideas very well. Scientists, philosophers, and writers have long tackled these metaphysics, not just in regard to the fictional element, but also as a way of trying to understand the cosmic nature of reality as well. As Borges reminds us in A New Refutation of Time, some Buddhist texts say that the world annihilates itself and reappears six thousand five hundred million times a day. Who knows, maybe we’ve been rebooted more often than we can count—and more often than Batman.

Every character lives in a universe in a multiverse in an omniverse. These things are all on a single shared timeline that spans from the beginning of creation to universal heat death. A character could exist on a Universe in any number of Multiverses in the Omniverse. But whether this character is on Earth-0, Earth-5003, or anything in between, this character shares a timeline with everyone else (generally speaking). There have been several timelines (as detailed by the Real Batman Chronology), but there’s only ever been one “Metaverse,” a recent Geoff Johns-coined term from Doomsday Clock (2019) that refers to the single line of fictional history that includes all prior reboots. We (the readers) have always been able to see the Metaverse. The characters, on the other hand, normally cannot. And, if they do, as stated above, it is difficult for them to fully decode. It’s very significant to be able to comprehend the Metaverse, even more-so to be able to travel through it. Traveling through the Metaverse isn’t time-traveling, in which one goes back and forth on a single timeline. Traveling through the Metaverse is literally traveling through another layer of fictional history, almost like looking at the Gods of the Gods. I’m not sure we have the language to properly speak about this, but looking back to Russell, Borges, and ancient Buddhist mysticism is a great place to start to learn.

doomsday clock 10 part 1doomsday clock 10 part 2

  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Narratological metalepsis is also known as (or can be broken down further into) “narrative metalepsis,” “rhetorical metalepsis,” “lectorial metalepsis,” “authorial metalepsis,” “narratorial metalepsis,” “ontological metalepsis,” “discourse metalespsis,” and probably more. For the purposes of this text, I’ll simply refer to the whole umbrella as “metalepsis.” For even more on metalepsis, see Marie-Laure Ryan’s “Metaleptic Machines” in Avatars of Story (2004), Monika Fludernik’s “Scene Shift, Metalepsis, and the Metaleptic Mode” in Style (2003), and John Pier’s “Metalepsis” in The Living Handbook of Narratology (2011).
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Judo Chop! Part Ten

Goodbye 70s, hello 80s! Goofy martial arts panels (and even goofier martial arts/bodybuilding ads) are still a thing in DC Comics, even in 1981.

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