DCAU #68: The Worry Men

IN THIS ONE... The Mad Hatter colludes with a Mayan witch doctor to control Gotham's wealthiest 1% with worry dolls.

CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; directed by Frank Paur.

What IS this mess of a story? A surprising mish-mash of ideas, especially for something written by Paul Dini, in which trouble-magnet socialite Veronica Vreeland returns as part of a sort of explorers' club, which screams "Big White Hunter" though she was apparently just shopping in South/Central America. She brings back hundreds of worry dolls (essentially 5¢ trinkets) for all her rich friends, not realizing they were sold to her by the Mad Hatter who just slums it in Guatemalan villages or whatever. The dolls very clearly have a flip-top that exposes a circuit board, making of a ridiculous mystery, and why the Hatter needs a true-blue Mayan shaman to manufacture the dolls is equally suspect. Yes, the image of ancient Mayan warriors running around Gotham IS something out of pulp, but connecting all of that to Tetch doesn't really work. Surely, the Mayans could have been the main villains, and their magic behind the possessions?

Maybe then they'd have been allowed to shine in combat with the Batman. Now, to be fair, only the shaman is an actual shaman, and the Hatter's goons are merely dressed as such, and okay, a shaman isn't really expected to be a good warrior. Still, that first fight is so one-sided as to lack any tension. There's a flashback that shows you what we already know. The animation has trouble shading the Mad Hatter (not for the first time), his bright teeth and hair making him look like he's wearing black face...

Things get better in the third act, with the Hatter's costume warehouse lair a stand-out. He's got some cool animatronic members of Batman's rogues gallery (but a very strange thing for the Hatter to have), and Batman stopping a guillotine with his feet. And yet, Batman is partly saved by the henchmen revolting, and the "poetic justice" of the worry batman under the Hatter's pillow feels forced. (I want one, don't get me wrong, but its introduction is still awkward.)

SOUNDS LIKE: Hayden Sloan, one of the millionaires scammed, is played by LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek TNG). Dana Blessing, Bruce Wayne's Jamaican secretary (Bruce Wayne has a Jamaican secretary? Interesting) is voiced by Vernee Watson-Johnson, who played Will Smith's mom on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, among other things.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - It's like they had a quasi-mystical story to tell and shoehorned the Mad Hatter in there, NOT to the best effect.



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