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Mad Hatter(pop culture)
The half-cocked haberdasher known as the Mad Hatter owes a tip of the hat for his notoriety to Batman's television appearances. In Batman #49 (1948) writer Bill Finger introduced Jervis Tetch—drawn by artists Bob Kane, Lew Schwartz, and Charles Paris to resemble the Mad Hatter as illustrated by Sir John Tenniel in author Lewis Carroll's children's classic Alice in Wonderland—as dwarfish thief who hides dangerous armaments like a gas-gun inside his towering top hat. The Mad Hatter proves little more than a headache for Batman and Robin, however, who quickly capture him. The Hatter was back, this time as a wild-eyed, wild-haired crackpot obsessed with collecting valuable headgear, in Detective Comics #230 (1956), where he nearly obtained Batman's cowl by spraying it with a radioactive chemical, forcing the hero to doff his mask. He returned in Batman #161 (1964), attacking the jurors who sent him to prison with an array of trick hats outfitted with weapons. This interpretation of the Mad Hatter and his comic-book appearances were adapted to live-action television as a pair of two-part episodes in ABC's Batman (1966–1968), with actor David Wayne in the role of Jervis Tetch. Wayne's Mad Hatter sported both an odd dialect and a top hat with a hinged lid that opened to reveal a hypnotic device. The second Mad Hatter was written off as an imposter once an updated version of the Aliceinspired villain reemerged in Detective #510 (1981). Throughout scarce 1980s sightings in Batman comics, the Mad Hatter employed mind-controlling devices, from chemicals to implanted microchips, for various crimes including extortion and kidnapping, and once nearly beheaded Batman with buzzsaw straw hats. Television offered the Hatter another shot at wider stardom in Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995). Tetch—voiced by Roddy McDowell and redesigned by artist Kevin Nowlan as a lanky figure with a gargoyle-grin—was an introverted, lovesick scientist who kidnapped his secretary Alice, mentally manipulating her into a perpetual tea party as his fantasy bride. After four additional episodes, the animated Mad Hatter was reconfigured as a shorter, more macabre character for two episodes of The Adventures of Batman & Robin (1997–1999) and an installment of the WB's Superman cartoon (1996–2000); action figures of both animated incarnations were produced in the 1990s (a comics-inspired Mad Hatter figure was manufactured for the collectors' market in the 2000s). These various interpretations of the Mad Hatter have blended into the peevishly irrational version populating contemporary DC Comics titles. An expert hypnotist, the Mad Hatter committed one of his most monstrous crimes early in his career. As shown in the miniseries Robin: Year One (2000–2001), which retroactively chronicled the history of Dick (the original Robin, later Nightwing) Grayson, Tetch used doctored Walkmans to entrance Grayson's teenage classmates into becoming “Alices,” hosting a disturbing tea party. Fortunately the Boy Wonder stopped the Hatter before he could complete phase two of his plan: selling the girls into slavery in Asia. While he remains committed to dastardly haberdashery, the Mad Hatter, thanks to Batman's intervention, always finds Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane the perfect place to hang his hat.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
crazy gentleman who co-hosts mad tea party. [Br. Lit.: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.