Mad Hatter
Mad Hatter on the cover of Gotham Central #20 (August 2004-October 5, 2021)
Art by Michael Lark
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman #49 (October 1948)
Created byBill Finger (writer)
Lew Sayre Schwartz (artist)
Bob Kane (concept)
In-story information
Alter egoJervis Tetch
Team affiliationsSecret Six
Secret Society of Super Villains
Wonderland Gang
Suicide Squad
Notable aliasesFez
The Fedora Fanatic
Abilities

The Mad Hatter (Jervis Tetch) is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the superhero Batman. He is modeled after the Hatter from Lewis Carroll's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a character often called the "Mad Hatter" in adaptations of Carroll.[1] Mad Hatter is depicted as a scientist who invents and uses technological mind control devices to influence and manipulate the minds of his victims. He is one of Batman's most enduring enemies and belongs to the collective of adversaries that make up Batman's rogues gallery.[2]

The Mad Hatter has been substantially adapted from the comics into various forms of media, including feature films, television series, and video games. He has been voiced by Roddy McDowall in the DC animated universe, and Peter MacNicol in the Batman: Arkham video game series. He has also been portrayed in live-action by David Wayne in the 1960s Batman series, and Benedict Samuel in the Fox series Gotham. A variation of the character named Liam Crandle appeared in the third season premiere of the Arrowverse series Batwoman, portrayed by Amitai Marmorstein.

Publication history

Created by Bill Finger and Lew Sayre Schwartz, the Mad Hatter made his first appearance in Batman #49 (October 1948).[3] Jervis Tetch is fascinated with hats of all shapes and sizes, as well as the Lewis Carroll's children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, particularly favoring the chapter "A Mad Tea Party".[4] According to Dr. Blakloch of Arkham Asylum:

Jervis is obsessive-compulsive, and highly delusional. He's got an immature self-image, so he identifies more with children than adults. Oh and he's a genius, too. (BPD)[5]

Blakloch also notes that when agitated, Tetch begins rhyming as a defence mechanism.[6] Tetch often quotes and makes reference to Carroll's Wonderland novels, and sometimes even fails to discern between these stories and reality. In addition to his obsession with Lewis Carroll, Tetch has also shown an additional obsession for hats. In Secret Six, he will not eat a piece of food that does not have a hat on it, and states that he is not interested in the sight of his naked teammate Knockout because she is not wearing a hat.[7] In the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, it is strongly implied that he is a pedophile.[8] His storylines in Streets of Gotham #4 and Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Batman: Haunted Knight also imply an unhealthy fixation on children, such as when he kidnaps a young Barbara Gordon and forces her into a tea party dressed as Alice, as well as kidnapping other runaway children and dressing them up like characters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[9]

Fictional character biography

Backstory

Growing up, Tetch was a lonely, awkward child, shunned by other children and living in his own fantasy world.[10] As an adult, he becomes a neuroscientist, and at some point moves into a boarding house owned by Ella Littleton. There he befriends Ella's daughter, Connie, and her friends in her junior high school computer club, sometimes helping them with their projects. A few years later, when Connie is in high school, she gets pregnant. Fearing the reaction of her extremely strict mother, Connie lies to her and claims she had been raped by someone on her high school's baseball team, the Gotham Hawks. Ella, in turn, approaches Tetch for help and convinces him that the Gotham Hawks are "bad kids". Tetch agrees to use his mind control technology on a member of the team, making him use a pipe bomb to kill the other players. Although this is Tetch's first known criminal act, his involvement in the locker room bombing would not be discovered until years later.[11]

Criminal career

Golden Age

Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in his first appearance in Batman #49 (October 1948).
Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in his first appearance in Batman #49 (October 1948).

In his first appearance as the Mad Hatter, Tetch attempts to steal a trophy from the Gotham Yacht Club, and begins a crime spree that ends when he is foiled by Batman while he is trying to rob spectators from a high society horseshow.[3] Tetch is subsequently sent to Arkham Asylum (although his fate is not revealed until Detective Comics #510).[12] The Mad Hatter is not seen again in the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Silver Age

In the Silver Age of Comic Books, an impostor Mad Hatter appears and clashes with Batman many times. He is revealed as an impostor when the Mad Hatter finally reappears, claiming to have "disposed of the impostor" (although the impostor would return one last time in Detective Comics #573 in 1987). Accompanied by several henchmen and a pet chimpanzee (named "Carroll Lewis", although the Mad Hatter claims that the chimp refuses to tell him how it came to have that moniker), the Mad Hatter kidnaps Lucius Fox, the C.E.O. of Wayne Tech. Although he holds Lucius Fox for ransom, the Mad Hatter also unveils a device allowing him to copy the knowledge in Fox's brain, which he intends to use to make an additional fortune. However, Lucius Fox is rescued by Batman, who also captures the Mad Hatter and his henchmen.[13]

The Mad Hatter's next appearance marks the first time he is portrayed in comics with the mind-controlling devices for which he would eventually become best known. Allying himself with other villains in an attempt to kill Batman, Hatter uses a mind-controlling hat on Scarecrow, forcing the villain (who had been paralyzed with fear) to fight. When Batman overcomes his attackers, Tetch flees and appears to die on a bridge under the wheels of a train. In actuality he had escaped by jumping onto a truck that had been passing underneath the bridge.[14] Subsequent encounters with Batman resulted in Tetch being sent to Arkham.[15]

During another early encounter with Batman, the Mad Hatter escapes from Arkham in time for Halloween, and makes his home in an old mansion that had been abandoned after a gruesome murder years before. Retreating deeply into his delusions about Wonderland, Tetch offers sanctuary to runaway children, asking them in return to dress up as characters from Alice in Wonderland and attend his tea parties, where he serves them drugged tea to keep them sedated. Around this time, the teenage Barbara Gordon comes to Gotham, having been adopted by her uncle, Commissioner Jim Gordon, following the death of her parents. Barbara sneaks out against her uncle's orders, and goes to Gotham Park, where she soon finds herself being chased by a group of masked men with knives. The group surround her, and begin implying that they will molest or rape her, provoking her to scream for help. The Mad Hatter appears and scares the men away with his gun. Tetch takes her to his "Wonderland", where she is expected to play the role of Alice. When she refuses to drink tea and asks to leave, Tetch angrily smashes a teapot, scaring another of the runaways into sneaking away while Tetch's attention is on Barbara. The boy leads the police and Batman to Tetch's hideout, and Tetch is defeated by Batman while Commissioner Gordon rescues Barbara.[9]

When Black Orchid visits Arkham Asylum, attempting to find out more about her past from Poison Ivy, she is assisted by Tetch. After Ivy refuses to help Orchid, Tetch tries to cheer her up. He also reveals he has been helping other inmates at Arkham, such as bringing Ivy things to make her plant-animal hybrids with. "I believe in helping people," he explains. "We were all put here for a purpose, I say. But it's still nice to get a thank-you." Tetch is delighted to receive a small flower as thanks for his help.[16] Tetch is also aware of Animal Man's identity as Buddy Baker. He is seen laughing hysterically in Arkham with the final page of "The Return with the Man of the Animal Powers", the second Animal Man story, after which he is dragged back to his cell.[17]

In the Knightfall saga, the Mad Hatter is the first to strike, following the breakout from Arkham. He invites all criminals to a tea party to which Batman and Robin would come. One of the criminals was Film Freak, on whom Tetch uses a mind control device, sending him to find the person that broke them out of Arkham. Batman and Robin come and defeat the Mad Hatter as Film Freak is defeated by Bane. In Robin: Year One, millionaire third-world dictator Generalissimo Lee hires the Mad Hatter to kidnap a number of young girls using his mind control devices. The Mad Hatter does so by implanting the devices in Walkmen, which he gives out to girls at Dick Grayson's school. The young Robin manages to defeat the Mad Hatter, however.[18]

Another plan consisted of implanting his devices in "free coffee and donuts" tickets he handed out in front of the police stations in Gotham. That plan had him controlling most of the cops in the city, inciting them to steal for him, and ultimately to riot. He even had Gotham police detectives Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya break into a bank for him. Sasha Bordeaux helped Batman stop him this time around.[19] The Mad Hatter shows up in Gotham City after it is rocked by a devastating earthquake. He adds to his body count, callously murdering a policeman. His goal is to unearth a trove of valuables, which in the end turn out to be classic hats. Tetch's role in the deaths of the Gotham Hawks High School Baseball team is eventually discovered by detectives in the Gotham City Police Department. Tetch, imprisoned at Arkham at the time, is interviewed to try to find his motive. After sending the police away, telling them that the team had been "bad kids" and that they "deserved it", Tetch contacts Ella Littleton and warns her that the police might uncover her role in the bombing. Tetch had given her one of his mind-controlling hats years before, which she used to try to take control of a guard and try to help Tetch escape from Arkham. The Hatter is caught as he tries to escape, and the mind-controlled guard fires on police before dying in return fire. Tetch himself is shot multiple times and left in critical condition. Distraught at the news, Elle Littleton inadvertently tells her daughter Connie that Tetch had killed the team for her, to "avenge her honor". Connie informs the police of everything that had happened, and Ella Littleton is arrested.[11] While working with Black Mask, the Mad Hatter implants a mind control chip directly into Killer Croc's brain, which causes him to mutate again due to the virus he had been injected with by Hush and the Riddler. Killer Croc embarks on a quest to get payback on those responsible for his mutation, and starts with the Mad Hatter. Batman arrives in time to save him, but Killer Croc escapes. During Infinite Crisis, the Mad Hatter is first seen being roundly beaten by Argus, and then later fighting with the Secret Society of Super Villains during the Battle of Metropolis.

"One Year Later"/Secret Six

Tetch is revealed to have been involved in the plot by the Great White Shark to frame Harvey Dent for murdering various Gotham criminals in the Detective Comics storyline Face The Face. The capacity in which he is involved is left vague, however.[20] Tetch's base of operations in Gotham City is destroyed following a search for an atomic weapon, by the former Robin, Tim Drake, and the current Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer. A recording of Tetch appears on a monitor screen and tells them that the roof will be the final hat they will ever wear as it falls down on them. Robin and Boomerang narrowly escape the building. He is later approached by Cat-Man, and he joins the members of the Secret Six to oppose the Secret Society of Super Villains; they have recruited him in hopes of a defense against Doctor Psycho's mind control abilities. When Rag Doll attacks the Secret Six under Dr. Psycho's control, Tetch puts on what he calls his "thinking cap" and goes into a seizure. After the Six crash-land, they are attacked by the Doom Patrol, who come close to apprehending the Six until Mad Hatter steps in and uses his mind control abilities to subdue the Doom Patrol singlehandedly, going so far as to almost make Elasti-Girl eat Beast Boy before Scandal stops him.

In a later issue of Secret Six, Tetch reveals that he has designed a hat to make him happy beyond the measures of what illegal drugs can. He also states that he has planted miniature listening devices around the House of Secrets to keep tabs on his fellow members. After revealing the true motives of Scandal Savage to leave the team, the Secret Six go after her, finding themselves at Vandal Savage's temple in the mountains, where Doctor Psycho starts attacking the team. Tetch easily gets the upper hand on Doctor Psycho until Cheshire appears and stabs him in the back with a poisoned dagger. Scandal tends to Hatter's wound, and Catman administers an antidote to Tetch. While the Six face off against Cheshire and Vandal Savage, Hatter takes on Doctor Psycho one on one, and emerges victorious despite his injuries, gravely injuring Dr. Psycho with Cheshire's dagger. At the end of the miniseries, Hatter saves Scandal from falling to her death, and the Six befriend him. As Hatter stands atop Savage's destroyed base with Rag Doll, he promises to be a very good friend in return. Rag Doll then pushes Hatter off the roof, seemingly to his death, saying there was "only room for one dandy freak on the team". However, it is revealed on the final page that Tetch survived the fall. Heartbroken, he vows revenge on the rest of the Six. Prior to the events of Gotham Underground, Tetch falls victim to his own mind control devices at the hands of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The two force him to "lead" a gang of Wonderland-related criminals called the Wonderland Gang through various gimmicky heists before Batman deduces the Tweeds to be the true masterminds. Once the three are returned to Arkham, the Hatter quickly exacts revenge on the two, manipulating them into a bloody brawl with his mind control chips.[21]

Gotham Underground and Salvation Run

More recently, Mad Hatter appears in Gotham Underground #1 (August 2007), alongside Scarecrow, Hugo Strange, the Penguin, and Two-Face, who have gathered together to assist him in escaping Gotham in light of the disappearance of other villains due to the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller kidnapping and deporting villains offworld in Countdown to Final Crisis. During their meeting, however, the Suicide Squad break into the building and arrests them. He is later seen on the Hell World in Salvation Run #2 (January 2008), confirming that he has indeed been deported off-world. He appears briefly during the final issue as the Parademons attack, and escapes the Hell Planet alive thanks to Lex Luthor's device.

DC Infinite Halloween Special

In the first issue of DC Infinite Halloween Special, Hatter recounts a first-person perspective story of a small boy whose parents are murdered before his eyes by a blood-sucking humanoid bat. The story follows closely the actual origin story of Batman and is a close approximation of the Red Rain 'universe' (noted in the Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer series as Earth-43), wherein Batman is, in fact, a vampire.

"Final Crisis"

In the 2008 DC storyline "Final Crisis", Dan Turpin has been approached by the Question with regards to a recent string of child disappearances related to a mysterious group called The Dark Side Club. Turpin subsequently discovers that the club is led by Darkseid, who has taken on a human form after the events of Death of the New Gods. He is gathering a group of children together and infusing them with the Anti-Life Equation as part of his broader plan to enslave and devastate the human race. In Final Crisis #2 (2008), Turpin discovers that Tetch played an instrumental role in assisting Darkseid in gathering the children together through the use of his mind-control hats. Turpin, overcome with a violent rage that he himself does not understand, viciously beats Tetch. Upon threats of brain damage, Tetch confesses that the children have been taken to Blüdhaven. Confused and unsure of himself, Turpin then leaves and boards a bus to Blüdhaven. Final Crisis Secret Files and Origins #1 also reveals that Darkseid's Justifiers helmets are a combination of Apokoliptic technology and the Hatter's mind control circuitry.[volume & issue needed]

Secret Six redux

Secret Six #6 (February 2009) reveals that Mad Hatter has hired the Six to break Tarantula out of Alcatraz, to deliver her as well as a "Get Out of Hell Free" card created by Neron to Gotham City. Doing so has put the Six directly in the line of retribution from Junior, Ragdoll's psychotic sister. Junior believes that the Neron card is key to saving her soul from eternal damnation, and will stop at nothing to reclaim it from Tarantula and the Six. It seems that Junior's wrath is not the motivation behind Tetch's hiring the Six to perform this mission. He has made it clear his intention is to ensure the Six safely reach Gotham. The story is ongoing, and Tetch's full plan has yet to be revealed, although it is made clear in the same issue that Tetch intends to murder each member of the Six as part of his revenge. Tetch observes as the Six battle Junior and his goons on Gotham Bridge and when the battle ceases he confronts them, telling them how they betrayed him. Rag Doll throws Tetch's hat over the edge and Tetch jumps off after it.

"Batman: Life After Death"

Tetch next shows up, seemingly uninjured from his battle with the Secret Six, working with the Penguin, who is planning on killing the new Black Mask.[22] He assists the Penguin in attaching a mind control device to a gas mask, which is placed on Batman's head to turn him into a puppet to assassinate Black Mask. The plot fails, and Batman recovers before killing Black Mask.[23] Following this, Tetch is shown once again incarcerated in Arkham. He hires Deathstroke the Terminator and the Titans to free him, and escapes just prior to a massive prison riot.[24]

The New 52

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Jervis Tetch is portrayed as suffering from hypogonadism, which prevents him from physically maturing. He begins taking testosterone-enhancing drugs that permanently impair his mental stability. His parents commit him to Arkham Asylum after he has a drug-induced psychotic breakdown, during which he begins referring to himself as "the Mad Hatter". He is eventually freed by the White Rabbit.[25] He uses his mind control technology to make a passenger train full of people commit suicide, assisted by his henchmen, the Tweed Brothers.[26] He then uses his technology to drive several Gothamites insane. Batman eventually foils his plan and throws him through a glass rooftop.[27]

Mad Hatter and the Tweed Brothers next appear after Black Mask escapes Arkham Asylum. When Black Mask attempts to regain control over his False Face Society, he comes into conflict with the Mad Hatter, who sees Black Mask as a rival due to Black Mask's similar mind control abilities. Both the Mad Hatter and Black Mask engage in battle, only for Batman to intervene and subdue them both.[28]

The Mad Hatter resurfaces, selling his mind control hats all over Gotham and holding casting calls at his missile launch facility base, all to recreate a “perfect day” he had years before at a theme park with his childhood sweetheart, Alice. He creates a replica of the theme park in his base and takes control of all the people he sold the hats to all to become the pedestrians in the park. He goes to Alice's house, where he finds to his dismay that she has become an alcoholic and a drug addict. He bludgeons her to death to “put her out of her misery”. He attempts to cast a new Alice with “mind controlled girls”, but ultimately kills them for falling short of his ideal. In frustration, he makes his mind control subjects walk into the sewer and drown themselves.[citation needed]

The Mad Hatter becomes obsessed with Bruce Wayne's new girlfriend, Natalya Trusevich, and has the Tweed Brothers kidnap her. She spurns the Mad Hatter's advances, but he realizes she knows Batman's secret identity and torture her for the information. In the end, she refuses to give the information, and he throws her out of a helicopter to her death. An enraged Batman hunts him down and nearly drowns him, only to revive him at the last minute when his conscience gets the better of him.[29]

DC Rebirth

In the Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock, Mad Hatter is among the villains.[30]

Characterization

Skills and abilities

While the Mad Hatter has no inherent superpowers, he is a brilliant 'neurotechnician' with considerable knowledge on how to dominate and control the human mind, either through hypnosis or direct technological means. Usually, the Hatter places his mind control devices in the brims of hats, but has been known to utilize other devices as well.[18] More recently, he has been able to directly influence the minds of others at a distance without any apparent equipment. However, this is most likely not a newly emerging superhuman ability; more likely, his skill at miniaturizing and concealing technology, and advances upon his original technology, have probably allowed him to develop technology that permits him to use a device hidden upon his person (such as in his hat) to project mindcontrolling powers in the manner of a meta-human ability such as telepathic powers.

The Mad Hatter is not above using his own inventions on himself, such as creating a hat that can cause him both extreme bliss, as well as return him to lucidity when he deems it necessary. Despite his small stature, the Mad Hatter has been known to exhibit surprising strength and agility from time to time. In the graphic novel Madness, the Mad Hatter is shown as impressively holding his own in a fistfight with Batman atop a moving train.

Appearance

The Mad Hatter has gone through many changes in his physical appearance over the years, but the basic look remains the same. In his debut, he was a very short brown (or auburn) haired man. When he reappeared in the early 1980s, he was depicted as of average height, with blonde hair. In later years, he was short again but with white hair. Today, Tetch has red hair much like his impostor did, but his size and height still seem to vary. Constants throughout his depictions are a slightly overlarge head and (more recently) very large teeth. In Secret Six #6 (December 2006), Tetch claims to suffer from macrocephaly.[31]

Reception

The character of the Mad Hatter has been analyzed as a stereotypical depiction of a villainous European in fiction.[32]

Other characters named Mad Hatter

The impostor Mad Hatter
The impostor Mad Hatter

After the real Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter had been sent to Arkham Asylum following his debut, a very different Mad Hatter appeared, who claimed to be Jervis Tetch. This Mad Hatter first appeared in Detective Comics #230 (April 1956) by Bill Finger, and Sheldon Moldoff, and, unlike the original, was tall, red-headed, stocky and sported a gaudy mustache.[33] He was primarily a thief who was obsessed with completing his private collection of hats from all nations, cultures, and historical periods. He often constructed various weaponry concealed inside his hats like flame-throwers and buzzsaws.[33]

The headgear he wanted most was, of course, Batman's cowl. In numerous attempts, he tried to de-cowl Batman.[34][35] After many tries, he was successful by spraying the cowl with a radioactive substance. Batman then went to nuclear lab and as he was preparing to leave, he set off the radiation detectors. He then had to remove it and handed it to one of Mad Hatter's henchmen who was disguised as one of the lab workers. No sooner did the Mad Hatter put it in his collection than Batman and Robin arrived. They had traced the cowl with their "super sensitive Geiger counter" in the Batplane.

Later on, in Batman #297 (March 1978), the impostor Mad Hatter claimed to have gone straight, but that turned out to be a lie.[36] In 1981, it was revealed that he was in fact an impostor when the real Jervis Tetch returned. The real Hatter claimed to have killed his impostor, but the impostor Mad Hatter reappeared alive in 1987 in Detective Comics #573, where he ended up being beaten by Batman.[37] He was treated to a cameo appearance in Secret Origins (vol. 2) #44 (1989) where he is seen in his cell at Arkham making paper hats in the story "His Name is Clayface III". Upon seeing him, one Arkham guard tells another: "He could murder ya a thousand different ways if we let 'im have any real hat--! But that doesn't stop him from tryin'!"[38] The impostor Mad Hatter appeared in Batman #700 (2010) under the moniker the "Hatman", as well as in a flashback to his Mad Hatter days.[39]

Alternative versions

As one of Batman's most recognizable and popular opponents, the Mad Hatter appears in numerous comics that are not considered part of the regular DC continuity, including:

In other media

Television

Live-action

Mad Hatter, as portrayed by David Wayne in the live-action Batman series (left) and as portrayed by Benedict Samuel in Gotham (right).

Animation

Jervis Tetch/The Mad Hatter as depicted in Batman: The Animated Series, voiced by Roddy McDowall.
The Mad Hatter as he was later depicted in The New Batman Adventures, again voiced by McDowall.

Film

Video games

Lego Batman

Main article: Lego Batman

Batman: Arkham

Main article: Batman: Arkham

The Jervis Tetch incarnation of the Mad Hatter appears in the Batman: Arkham series, voiced by Peter MacNicol.[57]

Other games

Miscellaneous

The Jervis Tetch incarnation of the Mad Hatter appears in spin-off comics set in the DC Animated Universe:

See also

References

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  6. ^ Ed Brubaker (w), Michael Lark (p), Stefano Gaudiano (i). "Unresolved" Gotham Central 20 (August 2004), New York City: DC Comics
  7. ^ Brian K. Vaughan (w), Rich Burchett (p), John Lowe (i). "Mimsy Were the Borogroves" Detective Comics 787 (December 2003), DC Comics
  8. ^ Grant Morrison (w), Dave McKean (a). Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (1989), New York City: DC Comics
  9. ^ a b Jeph Loeb (w), Tim Sale (a). Batman: Haunted Knight (1995), New York City: DC Comics
  10. ^ Gail Simone (w), Brad Walker (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i). "Six Degrees of Devastation" Secret Six 6 (January 2007), New York City: DC Comics
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  12. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. pp. 241–242. ISBN 9780345501066.
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  14. ^ Gerry Conway (w). "All My Enemies Against Me" Detective Comics (January 1981), New York City: DC Comics
  15. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. p. 199. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.
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  24. ^ Eric Wallace (w), Fabrizio Fiorentino and Cliff Richards (p), Hi-Fi Design (col), Travis Lanham (let), Sean Ryan and Brian Cunningham (ed). "Family Reunions, Part One" Titans 28 (December 2010), New York City: DC Comics
  25. ^ Paul Jenkins and Joe Harris (w), David Finch (p), Richard Friend (i), Jeromy Cox (col), Sal Cipriano (let), Mike Marts and Rickey Purdin (ed). "Run Rabbit Run" Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (April 2012), New York City: DC Comics
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  33. ^ a b Detective Comics #230
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  41. ^ Batman Beyond #2
  42. ^ Justice League Beyond: "Flashdrive"
  43. ^ Injustice: Gods Among Us #15
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