Do you know who the Mad Hatter truly is? Is he a Willy, a Donna, or a Whiz? Of course I'm just guessing. There no point in you stressing. Because you don't like emotion's that quiz. Or then again maybe you shouldn't give a toss. Just like the Writer: Gregg Hurwitz; Artist: Ethan Van Sciver; or Publisher: DC Comics, in March 2013.

Using GENERAL terms, answer the following 4 questions about this STORY entitled 'Sweet Obsession'.
  • WHAT'S THE MAIN THRUST OF THIS TALE: Batman has to figure out what the Mad Hatter is up to, before this pug-face little lunatic causes more mind-controlled havoc in Gotham City.  
  • ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES ACHIEVED: Yes: Batman does eventually catch-up up to Jarvis. Going so far that he even manages to trail his two henchmen, Dum and Dee, to his secret hideout. Next though -- Thunk! -- no cigar for good ol' Bats. 
  • ANYTHING ELSE HAPPEN: The Hatter recollects what a wonderful time he once had with a beautiful girl called Alice, when he was just a humble hat maker's son low of self esteem.
  • HOW DOES THIS STORY END: With a mad-man perverting a nursery rhyme.

Overall, what is the most memorable SENTENCE OR CONVERSATION spoken in this issue?
As much as I got a right kick out of Alfred's distaste for the word 'Bata-Mining', what I found to be the was most literary interesting aspect about this issue, was when the Mad Hatter's Dad told him...

'You know what they used for curing felt back in the day? Mercurous Nitrate. No one knew it then, but exposure to this vapor could poison a hatter. Those poor fellows got all kinds of ailments. Dementia. Trembling hands. Hallucinations. I bet you've heard of the phrase...'.

And then 'small Jarvis' utters the saying 'Mad as a Hatter' -- thus sealing his fate and the reason for this flashback all in one fail swoop. Marvelous. Just marvelous.

What are the BEST bits about this issue?
(+) Ethan Van Sciver's artwork is amazing in this story. Heck, he made Alice look so adorable, you could fall for her just as Jarvis has.
(+) I laughed my ass off in that opening scene where the Hatter got that brat to beat himself up. Also, I loved that segment where Batman didn't disappear on Gordon to such an extent, I didn't really want it to end.
(+) I did like the manner in which the Mad Hatter appears to be feeding off of his own back-story, as if his past emotions are making him into the savage yet controlled lunatic he currently is.
(+) It was very nice to hear Nataya's name acknowledged in this tale, and I'm sure that this is a sign that she'll be returning back to the fold one day soon.

What are the WORST bits about this issue?
(-) My only slight gripe with this adventure would be the overall pacing of it. One minute we're with Javis. The next minute we're with Bat's. Then: Flashback / Plot / Flashback / Plot / all in rather uneven doses, thus making the general through-line slightly lop-sided here and there.  

Pick TWO CHARACTERS out of this comic book, and compare them individually to a HONG KONG ACTION STAR.
SAMMO HUNG AS DUM OR DEE: Not only am I fairly confident that Sammo can play two roles at the same time. But I'm even more confident that he can do this without the use of trick-photography (just think about it). 

PING AO WEI AS THE MAD HATTER: Since seeing Pee playing the part of 'an interpreter' in numerous Bruce Lee movies, I've often thought to myself 'that this strange looking man must be as mad as a hatter'.

What WORD or PHRASE could you use to sum-up this story?
'"But I don't want to go among mad people" said Alice. "Oh, you can't help that" said the cat. "We're all mad here"' -- Lewis Carroll

What SONG, THEME-TUNE, or MELODY, would complement this tale, as well as add and extra dimension to it by default?
'HAUNTING' BY AVRIL LAVIGNE: What better song to compare this comic book to than the theme tune to Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' movie? Both of them are very haunting in retrospect, and can make you want to kill someone afterwards.

Now I've watched and read quite a few versions of the Mad Hatters origin in my time. One was in an episode of 'The Batman Animated Adventures'. Another was in an annual printed about ten years ago. And, by in large, what I've read is basically the same thing.

A poor little abused boy gets picked on at school, and he can only find a brief safe-haven in a girl he fancies called Alice. However, after she dies / pushes him away / goes off with another man, the poor little boy in question goes crackers, and yadda-yadda-yadda. Case closed.

Now every time I've read this story I've always enjoyed it. Also, I've liked the way that certain creators can find something new to 'expand upon' or 'riff off' of too. Gregg Hurwitz is just such a man. And so far he's 'riffing' with the best of them.

Good on you, pal. Keep on 'expanding'.

GIVE IT, IT'S DUES: If This Comic Book Was a Hat, It Would Be a Fedora. Classy, Vintage, and Only Looks Good on People Who Are Classy and Vintage.

THE DARK KNIGHT #17 THE DARK KNIGHT #17 Reviewed by David Andrews on March 19, 2013 Rating: 5
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