Mad Hatter (comics)

The Mad Hatter is a fictional character in the Batman comics, published by DC Comics. He is 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. Like other Batman villains, he has become a darker character in recent years.

Fictional character history

Mental Illness

Jervis 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. Blaylock 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. Blacklock 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 Carrol, 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 is notable in its portrayal of Tetch as a pedophile, a trait he does not exhibit in subsequent stories, and which is not mentioned in his psychological evaluation by Dr. Blackloch.

Criminal Career

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 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.

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.

In the Silver Age of Comic Books a different, mustached man calling himself the Mad Hatter appears, claiming to be Jervis Tetch, and clashes with Batman many times. 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). 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. 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 for. 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.

During another early encounter with Batman, the Mad Hatter escapes from Arkham in time for Halloween, and makes 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 was on Barbara. The boy leads the police and Batman to Tetch's hideout, and Tetch is defeated by Batman while Commissioner Gordon rescues Babs.

When Black Orchid visits Arkham Asylum, attempting to find more about her past from Poison Ivy, she is assisted by a sweet (although clearly insane) Tetch. After Ivy refuses to give Orchid much help, Tetch tries to cheer her up. He also reveals he has been helping other inmates at Arkham, such as bringing Ivy things to make her plant-animal hybrids with. "I believe in helping people," he explains, "we were all put here for a purpose, I say. But it's still nice to get a thank-you." Tetch is delighted to receive a small flower a thank you for his help.

In the Knightfall saga, 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 on, 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.

Another plan consisted of implanting his devices in "free coffee and donuts" tickets he handed out in front of the police stations in Gotham. That plan had him controlling most of the cops in the city, inciting them to steal for him, and ultimately to riot. He even had Gotham police detectives Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya break into a bank for him. Sasha Bordeaux helped Batman stop him this time around.

Tetch shows up in Gotham after it is rocked by a devastating earthquake. He adds to his body count, callously murdering a policeman. His goal is to unearth a trove of valuables, which in the end turn out to be classic hats.

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.

While working with Black Mask, Tetch implants a mind control chip directly into Killer Croc's brain, which causes him to mutate again due to the virus he had been injected with by Hush and the Riddler. Croc embarks on a quest to get revenge on those responsible for his mutation, and starts with Tetch. Batman arrives in time to save Tetch, but Croc escapes.

During Infinite Crisis, Tetch is first seen being roundly beaten by Argus, and then later fighting with the Secret Society of Super Villains during the Battle of Metropolis.

One Year Later

Tetch was revealed to have been involved in the plot by The Great White Shark to frame Harvey Dent for murdering various Gotham criminals in the Detective Comics storyline Face The Face. The capacity in which he was involved is left vague, however.

Tetch's base of operations in Gotham City was destroyed following a search for an atomic weapon, by the current Robin, Tim Drake, and the current Captain Boomerang, Owen Mercer. A recording of Tetch appeared on a monitor screen and told them that the roof would be the final hat they will ever wear as it fell down on them. Robin and Boomerang narrowly make it out of the building.

He 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 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 afterwords 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 Cheshire 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 saved Scandal from falling to her death, and the Six befriended him, which no one had ever done for him before. As Hatter stood atop Savage's destroyed base with Ragdoll, he promised to be a very good friend in return. Ragdoll then pushed 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 was revealed that Tetch survived the fall. Heartbroken, he vowed revenge on the rest of the Six.

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

Gotham Underground & Salvation Run

More recently, Mad Hatter showed up in Gotham Underground #1 (August 2007), alongside the Scarecrow, Hugo Strange, the Penguin, and Two-Face, who had gathered together to assist him in escaping Gotham in light of the disappearance of other villains due to the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller kidnapping and deporting villains offworld in Countdown to Final Crisis. During their meeting, however, the Suicide Squad breaks into the building and arrests them. He is later seen on the Hell World in Salvation Run #2 (January 2008), confirming that he has indeed been deported off-world. He cameoed during the final issue as the Parademons attacked and got off the Hell Planet alive thanks to Luthor's device.

DC Infinite Halloween Special

In the first issue of DC Infinite Halloween Special, Hatter recounts a first-person perspective story of a small boy whose parents are murdered before his eyes by a blood-sucking humanoid bat. The story follows closely the actual origin story of the Batman, and is a close approximation of the Red Rain 'universe' (noted in the Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer series as Earth-43), wherein Batman is in fact a vampire.

Final Crisis

In the 2008 DC event Final Crisis, Dan Turpin has been approached by the Question 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 (2008), 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, viciously beats the Hatter within an inch of his life, demanding to know where the children have been taken. Upon further threats of having irreparable brain damage inflicted on him by Turpin, the Hatter confesses that the children have been taken to Bludhaven. Turpin then leaves and boards a bus to Bludhaven, presumably leaving the Hatter broken and bleeding in his hideout. The story is ongoing, and the true extent of the Hatter's injuries is still unknown.

Changes in physical appearance

The Mad Hatter has gone through many changes in his physical appearance over the years, but the basic look remains the same. In his debut, he was a very short brown – or auburn – haired man. When he reappeared in the early 1980s, he was depicted as of average height, with blond hair. In later years, he was short again but with white hair. Today, Tetch has red hair much like his impostor did, but his size and height still seem to vary. Constants throughout his depictions are a slightly overlarge head and (more recently) very large teeth. In the recent Secret Six #6 (December, 2006), Tetch claims to suffer from macrocephaly.

Powers and abilities

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. 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 mindcontrolling powers in the manner of a meta-human ability such as telepathic powers.

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.

Impostor Mad Hatter

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. Later on, in Batman #297 (March 1978), "Tetch" claimed to have gone straight, but that turned out to be a lie. In 1981, it was revealed that he was in fact an impostor when the real Jervis Tetch returned. The real Hatter claimed to have killed his impostor, but the fake Mad Hatter appeared one last time in 1987 in Detective Comics #573, where he ended up being beaten by Batman and has never appeared since.

Other versions

Mad Hatter has appeared in the eighth issue of the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic book; in this, his last appearance in the DC Animated Universe, it was revealed that years of using his mind-controlling technology had rotted his mind and driven him mad.

Appearances in other media

Television appearances

Batman series of the 1960s

In this 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".

In "The Thirteenth Hat" and "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" and "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 only main villains who was known by his real name (as well as his criminal name) in the 1960s Batman series.

The Batman/Superman Hour

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 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.

Batman: The Animated Series

In Batman: The Animated Series the Mad Hatter was voiced by Roddy McDowall. He was animated as an average height/sized man with blonde hair. He appeared in the following episodes: "Mad as a Hatter", "Perchance to Dream", "The Trial", "The Worry Men", and (in a non-speaking cameo) "Make 'Em Laugh" and "Joker's Wild." A technical and electronic genius, Jervis Tetch 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 one of the card guards. 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 offscreen in comic #17 of the 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, described 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!"

His third major appearance had him tracking down a wealthy explorer in South America, using the local superstitions to create a series of "Worry Men" (miniature dolls presumably meant to take away the worries of a person during the night and ensure them a peaceful sleep) implanted with his mind-control chips, knowing that fellow Bruce Wayne socialite, Veronica Vreeland would hand them out as gifts to her friends as souvenirs from her trip to South America. Mad Hatter disguises himself as a local merchant. Through those chips, he then sends subliminal orders directing his "Worry Men's" owners into leaving out huge sums of money for his henchmen (brainwashed riffraff dressed as Aztec warriors). With this money, Tetch desires to buy a private island and retire, but Batman manages to stop him, and he is given his own, worry-Batman to keep him from future crimes.

Tetch uses his mind controlling chip to induce his victims into a trance, which either extracts information from their minds or makes them highly subjective to his bidding. This chip can also tap into an unused potential of the mind which can increase the subjects strength and stamina, turning them into the ultimate henchmen. He is a prominent member of the rogues gallery, who occasionally conspires with the others to destroy Batman and Robin.

The New Batman Adventures
In The New Batman Adventures, the Mad Hatter was once again voiced by Roddy McDowall. This time around, though, he was animated as a very short, thin, rodent-like man; the blond hair was changed to a more white/greyish color. He appeared in the episodes "Over the Edge" and "Animal Act". He also made an appearance in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Knight Time", where his expertise in nanotechnology allowed him to unwittingly save Batman from Brainiac.

Video game appearances

The Mad Hatter was a boss in the 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. The Mad Hatter is a playable character in Lego Batman: The Video Game.



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