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Mad Hatter
Mad Hatter
Publication Information
First appearance Batman #49
Story: "The Scoop of the Century"
Created by Bob Kane
Bill Finger
Origin Gotham Central #19-#22
Biographical Information
True Identity Jervis Tetch
Hair Gray
Eyes Blue
Height 4'5"
Weight Unknown
Skin color Caucasian
Gender Male
Affiliations Secret Six
Partner(s) Scarecrow (occasional)
Known alias(es) None
Abilities Brilliant neurotechnician
Mind-controlling devices
Arch-nemesis Batman

The Mad Hatter is a fictional character, a supervillain in the Batman comics, published by DC Comics. Both the character's alias and his general appearance are modeled after The Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll's book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He made his first appearance in Batman #49 in October 1948.

Publication HistoryEdit

The Mad Hatter was introduced as a rather forgettable one-shot villain in his first appearance, foiled by Batman and sent to Arkham Asylum (as revealed in Batman #400).

After the real Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter had been sent to Arkham following his debut, a very different Mad Hatter appeared, who claimed to be Jervis Tetch. This Mad Hatter first appeared in Detective Comics #230 in April 1956, and, unlike the original, was sane and sported a gaudy mustache. He was primarily a thief, apparently obsessed with completing his private collection of hats from all nations, cultures, and historical periods. He often constructed various weaponry concealed inside his hats like flame-throwers and buzzsaws.

The headgear he wanted most was, of course, Batman's cowl. In numerous attempts, he tried to de-cowl Batman. After many tries, he was successful, after spraying the cowl with a radioactive substance causing Batman to remove it. No sooner did the Mad Hatter put it in his collection than Batman and Robin arrive. They had traced the cowl with their "super sensitive Geiger counter" in the Batplane. He is revealed as an impostor when the real Jervis Tetch finally reappears, claiming to have "disposed of the impostor" (although the impostor would return one last time in Detective Comics #573 in 1987). This "impostor" committed crimes based around the theft of hats and other headgear, with the ultimate goal of acquiring Batman's cowl.

Only in Detective Comics #510 did Hatter finally acquire the mind-control technology that he is so well-known for today. Ever since, mind control has been a key part of Hatter's arsenal.

Fictional Character BiographyEdit

OriginEdit

Tetch reveals that growing up, he never had any friends, due to his appearance. He becomes a scientist, and at some point moves into a boarding house owned by Ella Littleton. There he befriends Ella's daughter, Connie Littleton, and her friends in her junior high school computer club, sometimes helping them with their projects. A few years later, when Connie is in high school, she becomes pregnant. Fearing the reaction of her extremely strict and severely prudish and conservative mother, Connie lies to her and claims she had been raped by someone on her high school's baseball team, the Gotham Hawks. Ella Littleton, in turn, approaches Tetch for help and convinces him that the Gotham Hawks are "bad kids". Tetch agrees to use his mind control technology on a member of the team, making him use a pipe bomb to kill the team. Although this is Tetch's first known criminal act, his involvement in the locker room bombing would not be discovered until years later.

Criminal CareerEdit

Pre-CrisisEdit

In his first appearance as the Mad Hatter, Tetch attempts to steal a trophy from the Gotham Yacht Club, and begins a crime spree that ends when he is foiled by Batman while he trying to rob spectators from a high society horseshow. Tetch is subsequently sent to Arkham Asylum (although his fate is not revealed until Batman #400, 1986). The Mad Hatter is not seen again in the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Tetch reappeared several decades later, revealing his "replacement" as an impostor in the process. Accompanied by several henchmen and a pet monkey (named Carroll Lewis, although the Hatter claims the monkey refuses to tell him how it came to have the name), Tetch kidnaps Lucius Fox, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Although he holds Fox for ransom, the Hatter also unveils a device allowing him to copy the knowledge in Fox's brain, which he intends to use to make an additional fortune. Fox is rescued by the Batman, who captures the Hatter and his men.

Mad Hatter Tech

Hatter's first use of mind-control. Art by Don Newton.

The Mad Hatter's next appearance marks the first time he is portrayed in comics with the mind-controlling devices for which he would eventually become best known. Allying himself with other villains in an attempt to kill Batman, Hatter uses a mind controlling hat on Scarecrow, forcing the villain (who had been paralyzed with fear) to fight. When Batman overcomes his attackers, Tetch flees and appears to die on a bridge under the wheels of a train. In actuality he had escaped by jumping onto a truck that had been passing underneath the bridge. Subsequent encounters with Batman resulted in Tetch being sent to Arkham.

Post-CrisisEdit

Hatter's earliest Post-Crisis appearance depicted him escaping from Arkham in time for Halloween, and making his home in an old mansion that had been abandoned after a gruesome murder years before. Retreating deeply into his delusions about Wonderland, Tetch offers sanctuary to runaway children, asking them in return to dress up as characters from Alice in Wonderland and attend his tea parties, where he serves them drugged tea to keep them sedated. Around this time, Barbara "Babs" Gordon comes to Gotham, having been adopted by her uncle, Police Commissioner James Gordon, following the deaths of her parents. Homesick and angry, Barbara argues with her adopted father when he forbids her to go trick-or-treating, saying Gotham is too dangerous. Barbara sneaks out against his orders, and goes to Gotham Park, where she soon finds herself being chased by a group of masked men with knives. The group surround her, and begin implying that they will molest or rape her, making Babs scream for help. The Hatter appears and scares the men away with his gun. Tetch takes Babs to his "Wonderland", where she is expected to play the role of Alice. When Babs refuses to drink tea and asks to leave, Tetch angrily smashes a teapot, scaring another of the runaways into sneaking away while Tetch's attention is on Barbara. The boy leads the police and Batman to Tetch's hideout, and Tetch is defeated by Batman while Commissioner Gordon rescues Babs.

In the "Knightfall" saga of the 1990s, the Mad Hatter is the first to strike, following the breakout of Arkham. He invites all criminals to a tea party to which Batman and Robin would come. One of the criminals was Film Freak, on whom Tetch uses a mind control device, sending him to find the person that broke them out of Arkham. Batman and Robin come and defeat the Mad Hatter as Film Freak is killed by Bane.

In Robin: Year One, Tetch is hired by millionaire third-world dictator Generalissimo Lee to kidnap a number of young girls using his mind control devices. The Mad Hatter does so by implanting the devices in Walkmen, which he gives out to girls at Dick Grayson's school. The young Robin manages to defeat the Mad Hatter, however.

Tetch's role in the deaths of the Gotham Hawks High School Baseball team is eventually discovered by detectives in the Gotham City Police Department. Tetch, imprisoned at Arkham at the time, is interviewed to try and find his motive. After sending the police away, telling them that the team had been "bad kids" that "deserved it", Tetch contacts Ella Littleton and warns her that the police might uncover her role in the bombing. Tetch had given her one of his mind controlling hats years before, which she used to try to take control of a guard and try to help Tetch escape from Arkham. The Hatter is caught as he tries to escape, and the mind-controlled guard fires on police before dying in return fire. Tetch himself is shot multiple times and left in critical condition. Distraught at the news, Elle Littleton inadvertently tells her daughter Connie that Tetch had killed the team for her, to "avenge her honor." Connie informs the police of everything that had happened, and Ella Littleton is arrested.

Hatter was later approached by Catman, and he joined the members of the Secret Six to oppose the Secret Society of Super Villains; they have recruited him in hopes of a defense against Doctor Psycho's mind control abilities. When Ragdoll] attacked the Secret Six whilst under Dr. Psycho's control, Tetch put on what he called his "thinking cap" and went into a seizure. After the Six crash-landed, they were attacked by the Doom Patrol, who came close to apprehending the Six until Mad Hatter stepped in and used his mind control abilities to subdue the Doom Patrol singlehandedly, going so far as to almost make Elasti-Girl eat Beast Boy before Scandal stopped him. The Six commented to themselves afterwards that even they had no idea Jervis could do this.

In a later issue of Secret Six, Tetch revealed that he designed a hat to make him happy beyond the measures of what illegal drugs can. He also stated that he had planted miniature listening devices around the House of Secrets to keep tabs on his fellow members. After revealing the true motives of Scandal to leave the team, the Secret Six go after her, finding themselves at Vandal Savage's temple in the mountains, where Doctor Psycho starts attacking the team. Tetch is about to get the upper hand on Doctor Psycho when Chesire appears and stabs him in the back with a poisoned dagger.

Scandal tended to Hatter's wound, and Catman administered an antidote to Tetch. While the Six faced off against Cheshire and Vandal Savage, Hatter took on Doctor Psycho one on one, and emerged victorious despite his injuries, gravely injuring Dr. Psycho with Cheshire's dagger. At the end of the mini-series, Hatter saves Scandal from falling to her death, and the Six befriends him, which no one had ever done for him before. As Hatter stands atop Savage's destroyed base with Ragdoll, he promises to be a very good friend in return. Ragdoll then pushes Hatter off the roof, seemingly to his death, saying there was "only room for one dandy freak on the team." On the final page, it is reveals that Tetch survived the fall. Heartbroken, he vows revenge on the rest of the Six.

Prior to the events of Gotham Underground, Tetch falls victim to his own mind control devices at the hands of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The two force him to "lead" a gang of Wonderland-related criminals through various gimmicky heists before Batman deduces the Tweedles to be the true masterminds. Once the three are returned to Arkham, the Hatter quickly exacts revenge on the two, manipulating them into a bloody brawl with his mind control microchips.

In the 2008 DC miniseries Final Crisis, Dan Turpin has been approached by Question II (Renee Montonya) with regards to a recent string of child disappearances related to a mysterious group called The Dark Side Club. Turpin subsequently discovers that the club is led by Darkseid, who has taken on a human form after the events of Death of the New Gods. He is gathering a group of children together and infusing them with the Anti-Life Equation as part of his broader plan to enslave and devastate the human race. In Final Crisis #2, Turpin discovers that it was the Hatter who played an instrumental role in assisting Darkseid in gathering the children together through the use of his mind-control hats. Turpin, overcome with a violent rage that he himself does not understand, viciously beats the Hatter, causing much teeth and blood loss. Upon threats of brain damage, the Hatter confesses that the children have been taken to Blüdhaven. The Final Crisis Secret Files also reveals that Darkseid's Justifier helmets are a combination of Apokoliptic technology and the Hatter's mind control circuitry.

In the new ongoing Secret Six series, it has been revealed in issue #6 (February 2009) that Mad Hatter is the one who has hired the Six to break Tarantula out of Alcatraz, to deliver her as well as a "get out of Hell free" card created by Neron to Gotham City. Doing so has put the Six directly in the line of retribution from Junior, Ragdoll's psychotic sister, a sadistic sociopath who believes in God. Junior believes that the Neron Card is key to saving her soul from eternal damnation, and will stop at nothing to reclaim it from Tarantula and the Six.

It seems that Junior's wrath is not the motivation behind Tetch's hiring the Six to perform this mission. He has made it clear his intention is to ensure the Six safely reach Gotham. The story is ongoing, and the Hatter's full plan has yet to be revealed, although it is made clear in the same issue that Tetch intends to murder each member of the Six as part of his revenge. Tetch observes as the Six battle Junior and his goons on Gotham Bridge and when the battle ceases he confronts them, telling them how they betrayed him. Ragdoll throws Tetch's hat over the edge and Tetch jumps off after it. Tetch's ultimate fate following this is unknown.

Powers and abilitiesEdit

While the Mad Hatter has no inherent superpowers, he is a brilliant neurotechnician with considerable knowledge on how to dominate and control the human mind, either through hypnosis or direct technological means.

Tetch's height renders him physically unimpressive; when pressed into hand-to-hand combat with Batman, he is often taken out with a single punch.

The Mad Hatter is not above using his own inventions on himself, such as creating a hat that can cause him both extreme bliss, as well as return him to lucidity when he deems it necessary.

ParaphernaliaEdit

Usually, the Hatter places his mind control devices in the brims of hats, but has been known to utilize other devices as well. More recently, he has been able to directly influence the minds of others at a distance without any apparent equipment. However, this is most likely not a newly-emerging metahuman ability; more likely, his skill at miniaturizing and concealing technology, and advances upon his original technology, have probably allowed him to develop technology that permits him to use a device hidden upon his person (such as in his hat) to project mind-controlling powers in the manner of a meta-human ability such as telepathic powers.

Though such devices were chiefly used by the "other" Mad Hatter, Tetch is not unknown to carry around weaponized hats as well. During the "Knightfall" arc, for example, he used an exploding hat to free his pet chimpanzee.

When the situation calls for it, Tetch will occasionally carry around a firearm, such as the double-barreled shotgun that he nearly killed Batman with in the limited series The Long Halloween.

CharacterEdit

Tetch is fascinated with hats of all shapes and sizes, as well as the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, particularly favoring the chapter 'A Mad Tea Party'. According to Dr. Blakloch of Arkham Asylum:

"Jervis is a paranoid schizophrenic... And he's obsessive-compulsive, and highly delusional. He's got an immature self-image, so he identifies more with children than adults. Oh and he's a genius, too."

—from Gotham Central #20, by Ed Brubaker

Dr. Blakloch also notes that when agitated Jervis begins rhyming, as a defense mechanism. Another psychiatrist at Arkham, Dr. Jeffrey Yorkes, states that Tetch has moments of "impressive clarity", but suffers from (among other things) "psychotic manic-depression". Tetch often quotes and references Carroll's Wonderland novels, and sometimes even fails to discern between these stories and reality. In addition to his obsession with Lewis Carroll, Tetch has also shown an additional obsession for hats. In Secret Six, he won't eat a piece of food that doesn't have a hat on it, and states that he is not interested in the sight of his naked teammate Knockout because she is not wearing a hat. The graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth has a notable portrayal of Tetch with allusions to pedophilia. This is not mentioned in his psychological evaluation by Dr. Blakloch nor exhibited in subsequent stories, but it is likely a reference to accusations aimed at Lewis Carrol himself.

In Streets of Gotham #4, the pedophilia is once again alluded to.

Other IncarnationsEdit

Live-ActionEdit

1966 TV SeriesEdit

In the famous 1966 live-action Batman television series, Jervis Tetch/The Mad Hatter was played by actor David Wayne. He was based on the Mad Hatter from the comics at the time, who had not yet been revealed to be an impostor. He appeared in four episodes: "The Thirteenth Hat", "Batman Stands Pat", "The Contaminated Cowl", and "The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul". His main weapon was his trick top hat, in which was concealed a set of eyes that would pop up and shoot a hypnotic beam at his enemy. In "The Thirteenth Hat"/"Batman Stands Pat", Tetch kidnapped the jurors that had previously incarcerated him, along with their hats. He was also after Batman's cowl, his "thirteenth hat." He had a female accomplice named Lisa, who worked at a hat boutique. She helped Tetch kidnap her boss, who was one of the jurors who had helped put him away, and aided in the rest of his scheme to foil Batman and Robin. In the end though, he was defeated and sent back to prison.

In "The Contaminated Cowl"/"The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul," Tetch tried to get at Batman's cowl with the use of radiation. He sprayed the Dark Knight's cowl with radioactive material, assuming that he would take it off for fear of being contaminated. The radiation turned the cowl pink, but Batman (having previously taken an Anti-Radiation Bat-pill) did not remove it, and Tetch was again defeated. Jervis Tetch was one of the few main villains who was known by both his real name and his criminal name in the 1960s Batman series.

AnimationEdit

The Batman/Superman HourEdit

  • The Mad Hatter also made an appearance in a 1968 episode of The Batman/Superman Hour entitled "A Mad, Mad Tea Party". Though the series was inspired by the 1960s show, the Mad Hatter is indeed a very different character than the one David Wayne portrayed. The Mad Hatter no longer brands a mustache and is more Alice's Adventures in Wonderland-obsessed than hat-obsessed. In the episode, the Mad Hatter schemes to steal a priceless antique teapot from a museum so he can use it for his 'mad, mad tea party'. He also has trained white rabbits and henchmen dressed as various Wonderland characters, as well as a top-hat-shaped getaway car.

DC Animated UniverseEdit

Batman: The Animated SeriesEdit

In the widely-acclaimed 1990s television seriesBatman: The Animated Series the Mad Hatter was voiced by the late Roddy McDowall. He was re-imagined as a technical and electronic genius, who experimented with animals using mind controlling microchips stored within hats to stimulate brain waves. His love of Alice in Wonderland and an infatuation with his secretary, Alice Pleasance, together embitter and possesses him to the point of insanity. Donning the guise of The Mad Hatter, he attempts to win Alice's affection by taking her out on the town after her boyfriend dumps her. She misinterprets the gesture, however, as simply a way to cheer her up, and unwittingly spurns his affections. Driven over the edge, Tetch used his mind controlling microchips to turn Alice into his robot-like puppet as well as other people who filled in as Alice in Wonderland characters, including Alice's boyfriend as Billy the Lizard. After being captured, Tetch decides to pursue a life of crime while nursing a vendetta against Batman. Paul Dini, writer of this episode, once claimed that it was inspired by a true story involving a shy technical designer who had unrequited feelings for someone at work, so he shot his workplace up.

The storyline is continued off-screen in issue #17 of the tie-in comic book Batman and Robin Adventures entitled "But A Dream" (story also by Dini), wherein the Hatter tries to force Alice to marry him with a mind-control chip. Robin manages to force the Dream Inducer onto Tetch's head, which inadvertently causes a permanent mental break with reality. Tetch is returned to Arkham a vegetable, but happy, as in his mind he lives out the life he always wanted with Alice (presumably these events follow those features in the TV series).

During his second appearance, Tetch uses an electronic helmet (the "Dream Inducer") to trap Batman in a virtual reality realm which gave him his greatest desires: free from the burdens of being Batman and in a stable relationship with Selina Kyle, who is not Catwoman. Tetch described it as Batman's "own private Wonderland". When Batman finally frees himself from the equipment, he demands to know why Tetch had used the machine rather than simply kill him. Sobbing, Tetch replies, "You, of all people, have the gall to ask me that?!! You ruined my life! I was willing to give you any life you wanted, just to keep you out of mine!" [1]

Tetch later returned to sell "Worry Men", small figurines crafted by Native Americans that supposedly relieved their owners of stress, to rich men & women of Gotham through a brainwashed Veronica Vreeland. Unbeknown to the buyers, the dolls contained mind-control chips that would activate when they went to sleep, causing them to subconsciously withdraw money and leave them in places where Tetch's henchmen could easily grab them.

Hatter proved to be instrumental in the mock trial that the inmates of Arkham Asylum held for Batman later on, as it was he who had rendered the orderlies helpless with his mind-control cards. He also aided The Joker in the latter's campaign against three famous comedians who had wronged him years ago, though the Ace of Knaves double-crossed him, using one of Tetch's own microchips against him to render him comatose (probably so that he would not have to pay Hatter for his technology).

The New Batman AdventuresEdit

In The New Batman Adventures, the sequel series to Batman: The Animated Series, the Mad Hatter was once again voiced by Roddy McDowall. His only "solo crime" involved taking over the circus that Dick Grayson had once been a part of, and using the various animals and performers to further his research into mind control. Aside from this, his only other appearance was in a hallucination of Barbara Gordon's, brought on by Scarecrow's fear toxin.

OtherEdit

Tetch made a brief appearance in the Superman: The Animated Series episode Knight Time, where he is shown plotting with Bane and Riddler on how to take over Gotham's underworld in lieu of Batman's absence. Superman, disguised as Batman, is easily able to defeat the three. Tetch proves to be mildly useful to Superman and Robin, discerning that the nanobots Superman had found earlier in Bruce Wayne's office are not of Earthly origin. This is what causes Superman to realize that the alien computer Brainiac had been behind Bruce's disappearance.

Batman: The Brave and the BoldEdit

The "impostor" Mad Hatter is depicted several times on the 2008 TV series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, each of the appearances being cameos.

Video GamesEdit

The Mad Hatter was a boss in the 1990s video game The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis. He was the master of a virtual reality world filled with mechanical rabbits and psychedelic imagery. His appearance, while based on that of the character from Batman: The Animated Series, also bore elongated eyelashes on his left eye; a direct reference to Alex DeLarge from the film version of A Clockwork Orange.

Tetch appears in Lego Batman: The Video Game, as one of The Joker's four allies. In the game, Tetch is armed with a small handgun, and is able to Double Jump (thanks to a propeller built into his hat) and use mind control on certain targets.

FootnotesEdit

  1. Batman: The Animated Series #30 - "Perchance to Dream"

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