Batman 49 – Vicki Vale and the Mad Hatter debut, and the Arabian forerunner of the Joker

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Despite the proclamation on the cover of Batman 49 (Oct/Nov 49), the Joker does not actually appear in this issue.

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A new villain and a new romantic interest are introduced in the second story in the issue, by Finger, Schwartz and Paris.

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Vicki Vale is the red-headed photographer for Picture News. Aside from Catwoman, Batman had not had a romantic interest since Linda page had been dropped from the series a few years earlier.  The story also introduces the first version of the Mad Hatter, who looks like the Tenniel illustration from Alice in Wonderland, and themes his crimes on the book.

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Vicki is around taking pictures as Batman and the Mad Hatter face off against each other for the first time, and sees Batman get a cut on his chin.  Later, she gets introduced to Bruce Wayne, and notices a similar cut.

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So Vicki Vale winds up suspecting that Bruce Wayne is Batman.  Between this, and her job as a reporter, it’s pretty clear that Vicki Vale is cut from the same cloth as Lois Lane.  Though it’s hard to imagine Lois Lane lounging around in the nightgown that Vicki wears.

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This winds up playing out much like a Superman story, as Batman captures the Mad Hatter, but also has to trick Vicki and evade her trap to prove he is Bruce Wayne.

Vicki Vale is back in the next issue, and becomes a regular supporting character for the next decade.  But this version of the Mad Hatter does not appear again until the 80s, getting replaced by a different one, the Earth-1 version.

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The cover story really looks like it includes the Joker, and even Batman and Robin think that is the case in the Kane and Paris story.

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Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson buy an old Arabian carpet which appears to have a portrait of the Joker on it.  Wondering how this can possibly be, they have Carter Nichols send them to ancient Baghdad.

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There they discover the city under the torment of the Crier, the leader of a band of thieves who facially resembles the Joker, but cries instead of laughs.

Some very nice art on this tale, and nice that it doesn’t really feature the Joker.

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