When Patton Oswalt Pitched Batman Comics To DC

American comedian Patton Oswalt has posted a couple of his Batman pitches… that DC Comics cruelly rejected. What do you think?


The Joker once again breaks out of Arkham Asylum, and Batman – along with the Justice League – tears apart Gotham to find him.

And who feels the heat the worst when the League is cracking down hard? Gotham's criminals.

And because Batman works his way up from minor street thug, higher and higher on the chain, it's the "C" list criminals who suffer first.

Barely escaping a beatdown and capture, The Cluemaster (who I'm going to make a much younger, inexperienced criminal) gathers a literal "C"-list of other, frightened criminals – Crazyquilt, Crime Doctor, Calendar Man and Copperhead – to hunt the "J".

What follows is a desperate night search through Gotham's underworld, during which our protagonist – The Cluemaster – sees firsthand the effects of crime (Calendar Man's failed, broken life; The Crime Doctor's past victims and wasted potential; Crazyquilt's petty "goals" and Copperhead's pointless savagery). It all comes to a head when they confront The Joker – who personifies every awful quality of his teammates. He stops them from killing "J" – they each have their reasons for wanting The Joker dead – and then leaves the "team". The last page shows him leaving one last clue for The Batman – the location of the loot he stole earlier that night.


"Arkham's Arsenal"

The entire planet's fate hangs on the outcomes of massive and not-so-massive skirmishes. Guadacanal. Messina. Iwo Jima…

…and skirmishes left moldering in classified files, even today.

One such story is uncovered by an Army researcher, hunting the whereabouts of several MIA "dis-honorables", who seemingly fell off the face of the Earth in the mid-40's.

The 12 – known to Eyes Only researchers as "Arkham's Arsenal" – allegedly completed a joint US/British mission deep into Germany, where they killed a number of high-ranking officials at a top-secret meeting, prior to D-Day.

These 12 were:

"John Doe", a special forces operative gassed by the Germans with an experimental compound which killed his entire platoon. He managed to get a gas mask on, but ended up with bleached skin a permanent rictus. Since his unit was required to undergo missions without dog tags or service flashes, no one now knows his identity. It's said that "John Doe" took on the other 15 personalities of his dead platoon, all of them trained killers, all of them slightly psychotic.

Sgt. Dent, half of his face blown off by a grenade.

Pvt. Nigma, an encryption expert, caught selling codes to the Nazis

Cpl. "Killer" Crockowski

Cpl. Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton

Pvt. Jonathan Crane

Pvt. Maxie "Maggot" Zeus

Pvt. Victor Zsasz

Pvt. Aaron Helzinger (Amygdala)

Pvt. Joseph Rigger (Firebug)


Pvt. Dick Grayson

Act One

Col. Bruce Wayne breaks the 12, and turns them into a fighting force.

Act Two

The War Game, against Wayne's rival in the Allied alliance – Col. Henri Ducard. Arkham's Arsenal comes out on top, defeating Ducard's forces (which will contain some cool cameos of other DC heroes and villains)

Act Three

The Mission – killing the gathered VIPs at the Chateau al Ghul. Some of the visitors – all of them contributing to the Nazi death regime – will include Dr. Hugo Strange, Deacon Blackfire, Dr. Victor Fries, Professor Milo, etc.

In the end, only Col. Wayne and Pvt. Grayson survive.

Well…"Jon Doe" goes missing – but he'll turn up somewhere else. You'll see…


Goddamit, I really wish they'd let me do Arkham's Arsenal. Oh well. I was going to model Bruce Wayne after Lee Marvin, and Dick Grayson after a young Charles Bronson. And The Joker would've been Cassavettes (re-watch the movie, especially the scene where Donald Sutherland is impersonating a general – some of Cassavette's facial expressions are eerily Joker-like).

I would've done that 14-point "attack poem" that Lee Marvin does to map out the mission. Would've made the "war game" scene in Act II a battle royale between a lot of serious DV villains. And I would've stocked the chateau with lots of cameos by not only other DC character, but Vertigo characters as well.

And John Doe? He would've been on a private train car, commandeered from the Calais Coach, entertaining perverted Nazi high commanders as the war wound down, like a demented Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret. Or not. Now that I think of it, there's better ways to use him in a coda. That's the one thing that doesn't work about the original Dirty Dozen – that last scene in the hospital room. They deserved a coda. Something violent and ironic.

Oh well. Maybe DC will let me do The Justice Club, my take on Teen Titans as a John Hughes movie.

So who's going to start a protest march at San Diego Comic Con over this one? Anyway, here's a Batman comic he did get published with Bob Fingerman, in Bizarro World six years ago…

When Patton Oswalt Pitched Batman Comics To DCWhen Patton Oswalt Pitched Batman Comics To DC When Patton Oswalt Pitched Batman Comics To DC When Patton Oswalt Pitched Batman Comics To DC When Patton Oswalt Pitched Batman Comics To DC

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.