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"The Clock King"

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Batman: The Animated Series episode
The Clock King-Title Card
"The Clock King"
Airdate: September 21, 1992
Production Number: 25
Airdate Order: 14
Animation Services by: Sunrise
Written by: David Wise
Directed by: Kevin Altieri
Episode images (6)

"The Clock King" is the twenty-fifth episode of Batman: The Animated Series and the first appearance of the Clock King in the DC Animated Universe.

Plot

On a Gotham City subway, attorney-at-law Hamilton Hill sits next to Temple Fugate, a businessman typing intently on a laptop computer. Hill notices how tense he is, and Fugate stiffly informs him that he is preparing to appear in court to appeal against a multimillion-dollar verdict against his company. Hill asks if Fugate at least takes a coffee break. When Fugate says that he does, at precisely 3:00, Hill suggests that he shake up his routine a bit and "take it at three-fifteen", the better to appear more relaxed in court.

Clock King Scream

Temple Fugate's mind snaps after being late.

After returning to his office, Fugate considers this advice, and, to the utter astonishment of his secretary, asks her to put his coffee in a thermos. Fugate takes his coffee to a park, but just when he begins to relax, disaster strikes: he is hit by a stray ball from some children, and his papers are scattered everywhere by the wind. In his scramble to pick them up again, a dog barks and startles him, making him fall into a fountain. He arrives late to the courthouse, and the judge rules that since Fugate failed to appear, the verdict will stand in default. When Fugate protests that his company will be ruined, the judge advises "then perhaps this will teach you to be on time for a change". As his lawyer shrugs apologetically and leaves, Fugate screams like a madman at the financial ruin of his career...

Seven years later, Hill is mayor of Gotham, running for re-election. On his way to a fundraiser, his limousine is stopped when traffic lights begin malfunctioning, creating several crashes and a major gridlock. As several motorists start blaming Hill, someone on a rooftop above releases a poster of Hill's campaign, graffitied to make him look like a devil, sending the populace into uncontrollable laughter.

Bruce Wayne, who happened to be driving ahead of Hill's limousine, makes a quick costume change and flies up to the roof of the building, where he sees Fugate, now styling himself "The Clock King". When Batman corners him, demanding answers, Fugate replies only that "the 9:15 is always six minutes early", and rolls off the building's edge, to land neatly on a passing commuter train.

Clock King Agenda

Temple Fugate's new agenda against Mayor Hill.

Batman investigates the control center for the city's traffic lights, and finds the remains of a time bomb there, including a highly expensive Metronex pocket watch that was used as the detonator. Batman runs the watch's serial number, and finds Fugate's name. Investigating his address, he finds the place empty except for a multitude of clocks. Examining Fugate's papers, he finds data on the city's power and water networks, but the most data is on the city's clock tower.

Listening to the police band, Alfred hears of a small blackout localized to a block where the Gotham Mutual bank's main branch is located. Suspecting Fugate, Batman goes to investigate, but it is a trap: as soon as he enters the vault, the door slams shut behind him, and a machine on the floor begins humming. A tape recorder on top of it plays a message from Fugate, explaining that the machine is a vacuum pump that is slowly removing all the oxygen from inside the vault. It will also detonate before Batman can burn the door open. Batman's gas masks are thus pointless, and the pump's box is rigged with a motion-sensitive bomb.

Elsewhere, Hill is dedicating Gotham's new subway station, home of the world's first fully-automated line. But the subway train he asked for has yet to arrived, embarrassing him in front of the laughing crowd. Then Fugate's voice interrupts over the sound system, taunting Hill. Then two subway trains start hurtling toward each other from opposite ends of the same track. People flee the station in panic, and the trains crash. In the ensuing chaos, Hill disappears.

Batman contrives an escape from the trap: breaking the cassette from the recorder in half, he pulls out the tape reels and uses the tape as a makeshift pulley system to gingerly swing the pump box toward the vault door, then hitting it with a batarang to detonate the bomb, blowing the door open. He sees the news bulletin reporting Hill's disappearance, but Batman remembers the data papers and realizes where Fugate has taken Hill.

Clock King Capture

Temple Fugate has Mayor Hill running out of time.

Indeed, Fugate has Hill tied to the end of the hour hand on the face of the city's clock tower. At 3:15 (the same time Hill suggested Fugate take his coffee break), the hands will pass each other, crushing Hill to death. Hill is mystified as to why Fugate is doing this, and Fugate reminds him of his court date and tells him that since Hill was an attorney with the law firm representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Fugate's company, Fugate now believes that the whole coffee break scenario was a ploy by Hill to beat Fugate's appeal. Hill tries to explain that it was never his intention, but Fugate refuses to listen.

Batman arrives, and Fugate engages him with his sword cane inside the gear system of the clock tower. Batman implores Fugate to stop his mad rampage, since Hill never meant him any harm, but Fugate angrily blurts out that his real reason for revenge is because Hill made him late for his appeal in the first place. The two foes seem evenly matched, as Fugate reveals that he has studied Batman as much as Hill, and even learned his every move from news footage. During the fight, Fugate's cane becomes lodged in one of the gears, halting the minute hand a second before it crushes Hill. However, under the strain the entire clock begins to break up, and Fugate falls down into the depths of the tower. Batman has to fly out the window in time to catch Hill as the clock hands fall off the face.

Although he is safe, Hill would not be doing election campaigns for some time. Fugate's body is nowhere to be found. Gordon presumes that Fugate perished in the wreck, but Batman warns that if Fugate really did learn all of his tricks and abilities, there is a strong possibility that he survived, and suspects that "it's only a matter of time" before he strikes again.

Continuity

  • Batman's premonition about Fugate resurfacing comes true in "Time Out of Joint", though his manner of escape is left unexplained.

Background information

Home video releases

Production inconsistencies

  • On Clock King's notes, "Subway Station" is spelled "Saby Station".
  • The face of the clock tower where Batman and Fugate fight has an extra "IX" instead of "XI" before the "XII".
  • After Fugate says, "En garde!", he tears through the emblem on Batman's costume with his cane. However, the tear disappears completely afterwards.

Trivia

  • The Clock King is an original villain from DC comics, though his character is much different from the animated version. Both characters are efficiency experts who make uncanny use of timing, but the original Clock King was named William Tockman, and his crimes were motivated by the need to provide for his sister when he (mistakenly) believed he was dying of illness. This Clock King first appeared as a rogue of Green Arrow, but is probably best known for his membership in the Suicide Squad, and thus as a rogue of Batman and sometimes the Justice League.
  • This Clock King's name, Temple Fugate, is a play on the Latin expression tempus fugit, meaning "time flies".
  • This episode breaks the status quo by having Batman making all his appearances by day.
  • The climactic battle in the clock tower is similar to the climax of the animated movie "Castle of Cagliostro", right down to someone (almost, in the case of this episode) getting crushed between the hands of the clock.
  • Fugate's strategy of studying Batman before engaging him directly would later be repeated by Bane in the eponymous episode.

Cast

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Truck Driver (uncredited)
Lloyd Bochner Mayor Hill
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Judge (uncredited)
Mari Devon Summer Gleeson
Miss Perkins (uncredited)
Jeff Bennett Office Boy
Cab Driver (uncredited)
Cop (uncredited)
Alan Rachins Clock King

Quotes

Batman: What kind of saboteur uses a $6,000 Metronex to trigger a time bomb?
Alfred: A saboteur with too much money?


Fugate: (taking files) I needed those five minutes ago.
Office Boy: I'm sorry, sir, but...
Fugate: Thirty-seven pages? That would take a copier exactly one minute and forty-nine seconds. One more delay like this and you're fired!


Fugate: (after judgment has been passed) No! You can't! I'll be ruined!
Judge: Then perhaps this will teach you to be on time for a change.


Batman: I want some answers, wise guy. Talk!
Fugate: A pity, I don't know what to tell you, Batman, except perhaps that the 9:15 is always six minutes early.
(He falls off the building and lands safely on the roof of an oncoming train as it speeds away)


Fugate: (To Hill) Not that it matters anymore. Now that you have an appointment to keep, at 3:15 precisely, with the Grim Reaper!


Batman: I'm here to clean your clock, Fugate.
Fugate: Don't count on it, Batman. When it comes to clocks, I am king. En garde!


Batman: Give it up, Fugate. Hill committed no crime against you.
Fugate: He did worse. He made me late!


Fugate: I could do this all day, Batman, but your time is up!


Fugate: I've studied news footage of you, and I know that it takes you exactly a twentieth of a second to throw a punch.
Batman: Very clever. But it only takes me a thirtieth of a second......to do this! (Throws a kick at Fugate)


Gordon: (Surveying the damaged clock tower) How could anyone survive a wreck like this?
Batman: If I could, he could.
Gordon: Then, you think we'll hear from him again?
Batman: I wouldn't be surprised, Commissioner. In fact, I'd say it's only a matter of time...



Previously produced episode:
"Fear of Victory"
Episodes of
Batman: The Animated Series
Next produced episode:
"Appointment in Crime Alley"
Previously aired episode:
"P.O.V."
Next aired episode:
"The Last Laugh"

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