Shades of Silver: The Elimination of Detective Comics #471-#476
By Ray Tate
In Power Company, Kurt Busiek I mistakenly believed employed literally, an character from the bronze age named Silver St. Cloud. However, I was informed that this is untrue. This Silver is not the pre-Crisis Batman's Irene Adler. Still, there is a commonly held belief that the pre-Crisis did not really affect the big gun heroes, that somehow their history remains intact. Silver St. Cloud's relationship with Bruce Wayne does not exist in the post-Crisis universe. In fact, Ms. St. Cloud provides a ready example of how DC's "happy, sensible" universe can become completely unraveled with the slightest pull.
Silver St. Cloud has the right to be called THE woman in the pre-Crisis, but she may not have even met Bruce Wayne in the post-Crisis era. How can I suggest such blasphemy asks you? Simply by observation and deduction. Something Batman rarely does anymore.
Silver and Bruce meet at a party thrown by Rupert Thorne. Oldsters and fans of Batman: The Animated Series will recognize the name instantly, but to edify the younger comic book readers--those who have been cheated out of Dark Knight stories with depth and meaning--Rupert Thorne was Gotham City Council Chairman and as crooked as a lightning bolt. His goal was to declare Batman illegal, set a corrupt police force on him, uncover his identity and hopefully kill the Caped Crusader. The animosity between Batman and Rupert Thorne may have survived the Crisis, not so Hugo Strange.
Following a bout against Dr. Phosphorous, who also may or may not have survived, Batman once more crosses swords with Hugo Strange, master of the Monster Men, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger during Batman's neck-snapping days. In seeking treatment for the radiation burns caused by Dr. Phosphorous, which he may or may not have received, Batman is captured by a disguised Hugo Strange who learns that holiest of grails: Batman's secret identity.
Hugo Strange was much more sane back in the pre-Crisis. His motives for tormenting Batman were far more understandable. He takes the place of Bruce Wayne to siphon off his wealth. Again, the irony is that Bruce Wayne is far more valuable a commodity to Hugo than Batman. Indeed, when he attempts to ransom off Batman's secret to the competing Penguin, Joker and Rupert Thorne he's simply being too greedy. When compared to Bruce Wayne's wealth, Batman's identity will fetch a pittance.
The woman Hugo Strange cannot fool is Silver St. Cloud. She has at this point become closer to Batman far more than any other woman has. Unfortunately for the DCU, Hugo Strange captures Silver St. Cloud. Such an occurrence never could have happened because the Hugo Strange of the pre-Crisis is far different than the Legends of the Dark Knight Strange accepted by the post-Crisis. Indeed, this Hugo Strange is a psychiatrist who kidnaped the Mayor's daughter. This Hugo Strange recently was seen in Gotham Knights which poorly duplicated some of the plot themes of the pre-Crisis story. This Hugo Strange possesses no prior history with Batman other than his apocryphal appearance in Legends of the Dark Knight. Thus, falls two issues of Detective Comics in which Silver appears. Can we eliminate any others? Of course we can. DC makes it easy.
In the next issue, Rupert Thorne's men dump Hugo Strange's body into Gotham Bay. This never happened since there is no Hugo Strange who ransomed off Batman's identity in the post-Crisis universe. In this issue, Batman as Bruce Wayne visits Silver St. Cloud who was hospitalized due to being injected with Strange's Monster Serum. Again, no Strange. No, hospitalization. No, interaction with Bruce Wayne. No, Silver.
This issue must also be in doubt since it deals with the Penguin and features a teenaged Robin. Penguin as he was portrayed in the pre-Crisis never existed in the DCU. He's always been Oswald Cobblepot, a fence. Robin abandoned his identity for the Nightwing identity when he was a teen. Nightwing incidentally is based on the Kanadorian hero who once was Superman. No Kanador. No Van-Zee, Superman's Nightwing heir. No Superman as Nightwing. From whence did Nightwing then come? He just thought it was a dark, cool name?
So far, Silver has only just met Bruce at Rupert Thorne's party on a yacht, but surely the Deadshot story must count. Surely, the story that created the new and most recognizable costume for Deadshot must count. Afraid not. You see, Deadshot escapes by pilfering the Penguin's laser monocle and using it to cut a hole through the wall of Gotham Prison. If you wish, you may rename the prison Blackgate, but it still will not help. How though did the Penguin get there? Well, because he fouls up last issue. Last issue does not count. Even given a theoretical Penguin's post-Crisis existence, this story cannot count because Hugo Strange haunts Rupert Thorne. Since Hugo Strange as master of the Monster Men never existed in the post-Crisis universe, he cannot very well haunt Rupert Thorne.
Can we at least keep the date between Bruce and Silver? Afraid not. During the date, Bruce muses about Julie Madison who never existed. Silver in digging to discover Bruce's identity points out that "The papers even said you helped contact Batman sometimes." Bruce tries to cover with: "Well, yes--we met on a number of occasions! But Alfred knew him better--He was something of an amateur detective and helped Batman on a few cases!" Where do I begin? First, according to the DC universe, Batman isn't well known and certainly not mentioned in the papers. He's considered a ::::snicker:::: urban legend. This is of course, ridiculous, but they said it: not I. Alfred is not considered an amateur detective. Bruce Wayne and Batman are not in contact with each other, and Bruce Wayne never had an "interest in crime": Silver mentions this accurate pre-Crisis nugget earlier in the conversation. Later, Batman fights Deadshot in front of witnesses. Well, gosh. If there were witnesses, how can DC save that urban legend rep? Never happened. I'll give revisionists this much. Probably, Batman fought Deadshot at one time in his illustrious :::snicker::: ten year career.
We next arrive at the classic "Laughing Fish." This two-part story also does not exist. During the Deadshot battle in the pre-Crisis, Silver realizes instinctively that Batman is Bruce Wayne. She calls out to him, but Batman departs. In this issue, he pays a midnight visit to Silver to confront her and find out if she has indeed deciphered his secret identity. The post Crisis Batman is indeed psychotic, but Silver's not even a casual acquaintance. He has no reason to pay Silver a midnight visit. The only time Bruce Wayne and Silver met was at Rupert Thorne's party. Since she wasn't there at the fight between Deadshot and Batman, assuming it did take place, she did not call out to him, and he has no reason for being there except perhaps to see an attractive lady in a towel. Wait a minute, suddenly, that visit does make sense.
Later in the adventure Joker confronts Rupert Thorne about his participation in the Hugo Strange auction. This meeting reminds Thorne of Hugo Strange's haunting. He tries to clear his head by taking a long, leisurely drive. Guess who he meets on the road? Silver St. Cloud. Except he didn't. She has no reason for leaving Gotham because she never learned of Bruce Wayne's secret identity. She only met this guy, maybe, at Rupert's party. Rupert has no reason to drive to clear his head since the auction never took place.
Surely, though we can say the Joker fish bits did occur? Nope. You see Batman identifies the Joker with the help of Hugo Strange's ghost. This of course never occurred. Do you see what I'm getting at? When you remove one tiny element no matter how seemingly inconsequential from any pre-Crisis story, it ceases to exist. Yet again, DC comics by destroying their multiple worlds has left behind an empty shell of a character. Like Huntress, like Babs Gordon, like Power Girl, like so many others, Silver St. Cloud has no reason to exist because she has no history.
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