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The Terrible Three's Trifecta Of Tales

by Bob von Nolastname

The Batman Adventures will forever be favorite comic book. There, I just had to get that out of the way. It may never come up to the standards of Dark Knight Returns, The Long Hallowe'en, The Killing Joke, etc. But to me the thirty-six issues, two annuals, and the sixty-five episodes of Batman: The Animated Series are the definitive Bat.

The comics managed to make Batman fun again while not losing the essential darkness of the character. It featured moving scenes like the Joker delivering a graphic beating to Commissioner Gordon with a Louisville Slugger without actually showing a hit and Batman keeping Two-Face's coin but giving him his gun back and saying "Do it if you can." The comics helped turn "lame" villains like Mr. Freeze and Professor Hugo Strange into truly tragic characters. But the humor never left the series with its tongue-in-check tributes to Scarface, The Three Stooges, etc. Two of the comic book's specials: Mad Love and the Holiday Special were adapted into episodes. The comics also introduced characters like the Penguin, Batgirl, the Demon, Superman, Lex Luther, and Anarky into the animated world. And it also created three great Batman villains: The Threatening Three.

Mastermind: A high school dork who was indoctrinated by the psychotic Youth Scouts of America to Protect Your Precious Bodily Fluids From the International Communist Conspiracy about the literal importance of "Be Prepared." Mastermind plans for every eventuality in his capers, even to the point of bringing his own handcuffs along. Favorite Quote "Do you hear me Gotham? Are you trembling? Apparently not."

Mr. Nice: The nicest guy you'll ever meet, the only problem is he's also destined to be a one-man army/super spy to make Captain America and the OMAC cringe. Mr. Nice avoided this fate, though, and had his own children's talk show... until terrorists attacked it. Now Mr. Nice is one of the most dangerous felons in the Gotham State Penn, until someone gets to his conscience. Favorite Quote: "Remember kids! Brush up and down so you reach the gums -- not side to side!"

The Perfesser: A pipe-smoking veteran of the old school who can take capture in stride and master an escape on a moment's notice. Favorite Quote: "Shut up, kid, I'm reminiscing...there's a lot a young punk like you could learn from that old Gotham mint..."

Together the triad had three appearances in Batman Adventures (issue #s 10, 20, and 30) and a subsequent one in Gotham Adventures #13, which I've yet to read. In #10, "The Last Riddler Story," the trio provides a distraction for Batman from the Riddler's ultimate riddle as the each try separately to steal some rare jewels bound for the Gotham mint. Their next appearance, "Smells Like Black Sunday," has Mastermind and the Perfesser leading Batman and the cops on the ultimate car chase that will somehow make the Mastermind a nuclear power. Finally "Natural Born Loser" is a Batman-less (he appears in the last panel) issue where the Threatening Three dupe Daily Tattler reporter Marty Bunko into taking them to a giant pearl.

These three satires of the supervillain may never make it into the mainstream comics or even the animated show since its cancellation, but they'll always hold a special place in my memories at least. And hey, if in current continuity Batman battled the Zebra Man, Planet Master, and Cluemaster in current continuity, why not Mastermind, Mr. Nice, and the Perfesser?

 
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