We get to the first numbered issue of Knightfall this time.

Batman #492

Written by Doug Moech
Art by Norm Breyfogle
Letters by Richard Starkings
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Edited by Scott Peterson, Jordan B. Gorfinkel & Denny O’Neil.

We open with the Mad Hatter breaking a chimpanzee who knows him out of the Gotham Zoo.

In the Batcave, Batman & Robin are looking at display of all the inmates that have escaped from Gotham. Black Mask is on the list, so I’m assuming they’re including people who were already on the lam.

Back with Hatter – his chimp manages to catch one of Bird’s falcons & puts a radio tag on him. After that, Hatter breaks into a haberdasher.

At GCPD, Bullock & Montoya are bemoaning their own board of escaped inmates (which appears to be set up as a reference to Homicide: Life on the Street, whose first season was this year). The two suspect there is a plan at work, they just don’t know whose plan and why, and that worries them.

At the haberdasher, the Batmobile pulls up, and Batman & Robin quickly find an invite to a tea party from the Mad Hatter, and speed off so not to be late for a very important date.

During all of this, Bane is watching coverage of the breakout on the TV, with particular commentary by a Dr. Flanders, a pop psychologist, basically claiming the Arkham inmates are harmless and only Batman makes them dangerous.

“Bane! Drink your tea, it’s getting cold.” “Yes, Zombie.”

I will say that where there are some exceptions that we’ll see in this storyline, while some the inmates have neuroses, they are dangerous in addition to the neuroses – not in spite of or because of. There are exceptions (not to get ahead of ourselves – we have Firefly, Ventriloquist, and Two-Face), but well, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and The Joker, as I’ve said elsewhere, don’t fit into any real diagnoses – and that’s fine. In the case with Ivy, I believe at this point Neil Gaiman had established that she’d been experimented on by Jason Woodrue (The Floronic Man), which can be implied to have given her a connection to The Green.

Getting back to The Hatter, Batman and Robin are headed to his party, with Robin getting instructions to be on backup only.

At the party itself, the Hatter’s first group of guests arrive – a group of Arkham escapees. The Hatter forces them at gunpoint to put on their hats, and then activates the mind control. Hatter gives the radio tracker to Film Freak, and sends him after Bird – he knows that whoever Bird is working for is playing them, and he doesn’t like being played. Other than that, they just need to wait for their final guest – Batman.

Mad Hatter is an underrated member of Batman’s Rogues Gallery.

Batman and Robin move in and take on the Hatter and his… cards, while Film Freak finds Bane’s safe-house, causing Bane to go deal with him personally.

As Batman and Robin fight Hatter and his cards, Bane fight’s Film Freak. Both groups win their respective fights, with each side being able to hear the other through the radio link between the two. So, Bane hears Batman beat the Hatter – and Batman hears Bane kill Film Freak.

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