MAY 1939 to APRIL 1940
–NOTE: The history of the Golden Age Batman (the Batman of Earth-Two) begins with a flashback from Secret Origins Vol. 2 #6. It’s been fifteen years since the tragic murders of his parents and now young 21-year-old millionaire Bruce Wayne graduates from college. He has spent the past several years training his mind and body with hopes of becoming a policeman in Gotham City and finding his parents’ killer. While sitting in his home, a bat flies in through the window, thus inspiring Bruce to become the Dark Knight of Gotham, the Bat-Man. (Yes, he is originally called “The Bat-Man,” but for brevity’s sake I will refer to him simply as “Batman”). The backstory regarding the death of the Waynes and the pivotal scene where the bat flies through the window are also shown through flashback in Detective Comics #33 (and re-printed many times including in Batman #1 and Batman #47). Donning a disguise, Bruce meets with tailors in a hotel and has them design the Bat-costume for him (sans gloves). Batman’s first night on patrol is shaky and full of near fatal mistakes, but the rookie vigilante manages to nab gangster Slugsy Kyle and leave him tied up for the police complete with a note.
–NOTE: Bruce, with plans on warring against crime firmly in mind, moves to a remote location just outside of Gotham (as seen via flashback in Detective Comics #205). This palatial mansion estate, which Bruce dubs “Wayne Manor” will be his primary residence for the rest of his life. Intending to use a barn on the edge of the property as his vigilante HQ, Bruce actually winds up falling through the earth, discovering a large cavern that runs beneath the entire property. Bruce immediately begins construction on an underground bunker HQ in this cavern. As we learn in Batman #64, the caves below Wayne Manor are linked via a maze of natural underground passageways to the historic Anderson Caves that run for miles underground. The Anderson Caves were last inhabited by runaway slaves and Confederate spies during the Civil War. The actual cavern under the Wayne property itself was used as a hideout for lawman Jeremy Coe in the 1650s (as we learn in Detective Comics #205). It is worth noting that while the flashback from ‘tec #205 refers to Batman’s underground HQ as the “Bat-Cave” right away, Batman won’t actually expand his bunker into the rest of the cave until Year Five. Thus, he doesn’t actually use the word “Bat-Cave” until that time.
–NOTE: Batman will begin recording all of his adventures in great detail in his “official casebook,” which will be kept in a secure location at the Wayne Estate (as referenced in Detective Comics #148).
–NOTE: Batman decides to start collecting keepsakes from his nightly patrols and turns a room in Wayne Manor into what will become his Hall of Trophies (as referenced in Batman #12). By the middle of Year Four, Batman will have at least 800 trophies, meaning he will collect multiple trophies every single time he goes out on patrol. The trophies will cover a wide range including pistols, bazookas, machine guns, knives, brass knuckles, poison bottles, large baubles, superhero memorabilia, and supervillain ephemera. If we assume Batman catalogs even old shell casings and bullets collected from crime scenes, it comes as no surprise that he will collect so much so fast. Batman will also consistently add newspaper clippings into various scrapbooks, framed wanted posters, various busts, and Batman, Robin, and Joker posters into the Hall of Trophies as well (as referenced in Batman #34, Part 4, Batman #48, and Batman #49). It should be noted that while specifically not trophies, Batman will also keep an elaborate wardrobe of dozens of different Bat Costumes on site (as shown in Detective Comics #165).
–Detective Comics #27
The day after apprehending Slugsy Kyle, Bruce meets with his good friend Gotham City Police Department Commissioner James Gordon. Bruce and Gordon both indulge in a shared favorite pastime of smoking tobacco and briefly discuss the mysterious Batman. Bruce then accompanies Gordon to a crime scene where industrial tycoon David Lambert has been murdered. Batman makes his second appearance at the home of Lambert’s business partner Steven Crane, but is unable to prevent his murder. However, Bruce does take out the killers and retrieves an important clue as to who hired them; a business contract. Lambert’s third business partner, Paul Rogers, hears of the murders and flees to Lambert’s fourth and final partner, Alfred Stryker. At Stryker’s home Batman shows up just in time to save Rogers’ life from the mastermind of the vile plot; Stryker, who falls to his death while struggling with the Caped Crusader. Batman had learned from the contract that Stryker stood to gain complete control of Apex Chemicals if his three other partners died. The aptly named “Case of the Chemical Syndicate” is also retold through flashback in Secret Origins Vol. 2 #6, which is notable for highlighting Batman’s sleek 1939 roadster–a precursor to the Batmobile–and introducing Bruce’s fiancee Julie Madison.
–NOTE: Bruce has already completed construction of a bunker beneath Wayne Manor, which contains a secret tunnel to an abandoned barn on the edge of the property. As Batman, from this point on, he will now leave and enter from this tunnel (as referenced in Batman #12, Part 2). Batman will also store multiple versions of the Batmobile, Robinmobile, and several versions of the Batplane in this underground garage.
–NOTE: Batman introduces himself to Commissioner Gordon (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #234 and World’s Finest Comics #65). Gordon, while remaining cordial and friendly, summarily dismisses Batman and implies that amateur vigilante methods are too dangerous and unnecessary for Gotham. Batman will soon be placed on the GCPD’s most wanted list.
–NOTE: Bruce (as both Bruce and Batman) joins Gotham City’s volunteer fire squad (as referenced in Batman #69, Part 2). The squad is led by Jim Garth and has over a dozen members, including actor Roger Lyons, millionaire Edgar Mead, reformed crook Albert Starr, zoo vet Wilber Frost, and lawyer Harry Dore. Obviously, the fire department has different more accepting views on Batman than the police department does. Batman and the squad will deal with a few fires over the course of the next few weeks.
–NOTE: June, 1939. Batman solves the “Venice Murder Case” and collects a gondola as a trophy (as referenced in Batman #48). Since I’m fairly certain the “Venice Murder Case” is not from an actual written story, I’m not sure who the villain was or if Batman actually traveled to Italy–it could have been Little Italy in Gotham.
–Detective Comics #28-29
Batman next shuts down a gang of jewel thieves led by the monocled Frenchy Blake. After being linked to the criminals by mistaken policemen, Batman defeats Blake’s whole gang and gets a signed confession out of him before dropping him off at police headquarters with another Bat-note attached to the villain. Detective Comics #28 is also notable because the Dark Knight debuts the use of a Bat-rope that he conceals within his utility belt.
After nabbing Frenchy Blake, Batman meets his first ever supervillain, Karl Hellfern, better known as Doctor Death! It’s a pretty sure bet that if you wear a monocle in 1939 you are evil. Doctor Death, a chemical mastermind, sends a message to Batman in the personal ads of the Daily Globe telling him to pick up a letter at a specific post office. I’m not sure how this works since anybody can read the newspaper and thus, anybody could show up to collect the message. But gaping plot hole aside, Bruce receives the letter, which brags about a murder that will be committed in a downtown penthouse. Batman suits up by wearing gloves and knee pads with suction cups. Using these cups to scale the tower Batman is attacked and takes a bullet courtesy of Doctor Death’s main henchman, the behemoth Indian bodyguard Jabah. After narrowly escaping the building, Bruce is patched up by the Wayne family doctor. (Bruce makes up a cockamamie story about accidentally shooting himself and the skeptical doc doesn’t buy it for a minute). The next day Bruce spots Jabah on an errand to execute someone on behalf of his master. Bruce saves the would-be victim and trails Jabah back to Doctor Death’s HQ. That night Batman infiltrates Doctor Death’s mansion and engages him in a battle that results in the torching of the entire building and the apparent death of the supervillain. Of course, unknown to Batman, Doctor Death survives. Detective Comics #28 is also notable because Batman debuts the use of “choking gas” smoke pellets.
–NOTE: After getting shot in ‘tec #28, Batman decides to wear a bulletproof vest from this point forward (as referenced in Detective Comics #33). Although, the Dark Knight will soon abandon the vest, finding it cumbersome.
–NOTE: Bruce visits his fiancee Julie in New York City (as mentioned in Secret Origins Vol. 2 #6). Julie is acting in a Broadway play. Bruce will travel to NYC to visit her on occasion.
–NOTE: Batman and the volunteer fire squad, ironically and tragically, are unable to put out a fire at the home of its leader Jim Garth (as referenced in Batman #69, Part 2). Garth is badly burned, but survives. However, his entire family is killed.
–NOTE: Bruce decides to visit Haly’s Circus (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #38 and Part 2 of Batman #32). At the show Bruce watches in horror as John Grayson and Mary Grayson, the trapeze artists known as the Flying Graysons, fall to their grisly deaths in an “accident” orchestrated by Boss Tony Zucco. Their 8-year-old daredevil son Dick Grayson is left orphaned. Feeling that Dick is a kindred spirit and wanting to help the boy avenge his parents’ deaths, Batman takes him under his wing and reveals his secret identity to him. Dick swears an oath to uphold the vigilante effort at all costs and begins an intensive training program that lasts “many months.” Dick’s training is intensive and includes both physical and mental education. Bruce also takes Dick to the public library as well (as referenced in Detective Comics #106). Bruce also legally adopts Dick as his ward. Bruce and Dick will live in both Wayne Manor, just outside Gotham, and in a downtown apartment. We won’t see Dick again until his training is complete, but we must assume that the training is intense and occurs whenever Bruce has time.
–Detective Comics #30
Less than a week after the supposed death of Doctor Death the badly burned and heavily bandaged supervillain returns! After reading of a mysterious chemical death that resembles Doctor Death’s MO in the paper, Bruce decides to investigate by visiting the bereaved wife of the victim. She tells Bruce that she and her husband were indeed threatened by Doctor Death, who was after their diamond collection. Bruce then suits up as Batman and waits by the diamond safe for Doctor Death to make a move. Doctor Death sends his new henchman, the Cossack brute Mikhail, to retrieve the loot. The Dark Knight trails Mikhail to a pawn shop where Mikail drops the diamonds. Batman then follows Mikhail to his apartment where they fight and the latter winds up with a broken neck! Batman then returns to the pawn shop only to discover that the pawn broker is actually a disfigured Doctor Death in disguise. The Caped Crusader easily defeats him and leaves him for the cops.
–NOTE: Commissioner Gordon brokers a truce between the GCPD and Batman–(up to this point the GCPD has been under strict orders to arrest the Dynamic Duo)–in order to bring the Dark Knight along on a robbery case at the Museum of Time. Gordon wants to observe the Dark Knight’s detective abilities in person (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #234). Batman catches the crook and finally earns the respect of Gordon. Bear in mind, even though there a few other cops present at the Museum of Time case, Gordon’s endorsement of the Dark Knight is a private one. Gordon won’t publicly endorse Batman for another two years. Thus, Batman (and later Robin) will still be considered illegal vigilantes and will continue to be hunted down by the cops.
–NOTE: Commissioner Gordon continues to analyze the crime-fighting methodology of Batman (as seen via flashback from World’s Finest Comics #65). Batman helps Gordon solve a tough murder case and convict a man named Smith. Again, don’t forget Gordon’s endorsement of the Dark Knight is private. Gordon won’t publicly endorse Batman for another two years. Thus, Batman (and later Robin) will still be considered illegal vigilantes and will continue to be hunted down by the cops.
–NOTE: Batman chases the gangster known as Bard into a circus (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #244). Australian boomerang expert Lee Collins, on tour with the circus, helps the Dark Knight capture Bard by deftly tossing his aboriginal weapon at the villain. Afterward, Collins trains Batman in the art of the boomerang and even constructs him a bat wing-shaped Batarang as a gift. Thus, the debut of the first ever Batarang!
–Detective Comics #31-32 (“BATMAN VS THE VAMPIRE”)
Bruce makes another visit to see Julie in New York, where she is still acting on a Broadway show. Julie, while under a hypnotic spell, tries to murder somebody! Bruce takes her to a quack therapist who recommends a relaxing trip to “the land of werewolves,” AKA Hungary. Bruce and Julie depart on a ship overseas. When Julie goes into another hypnotic trance Bruce discovers that the hooded supervillain known as The Monk is responsible. Bruce immediately dons his Batman costume and fights the Monk aboard the ship. Batman chases the Monk to his HQ in Paris where the former falls into a trap and fights a colossal gorilla. The Monk escapes again, this time to his castle in his native Hungary. With Julie safely in a hotel in Paris, Batman debuts the Batgyro and flies to Hungary to go after the Monk. After attacking one of the Monk’s stagecoaches Batman apprehends his servant Dala, who turns out to be a vampire! Batman drags Dala to the Monk’s castle only to learn that the Monk is also a vampire, who not only has the powers of hypnotism, but can turn into a werewolf as well. The Monk easily dispatches Batman into a pit full of werewolves, but the Dark Knight is able to escape. When the morning sun rises, the Caped Crusader finds the Monk and Dala sleeping in their coffins and kills them both with a gun loaded with silver bullets. “Batman vs The Vampire” is also notable because Batman uses the Batarang in action for the first time—although it’s misspelled “Baterang.” I should also mention that writer Gardner Fox reveals that Batman’s hometown is New York. Of course, this was later retconned to Gotham City.
–Detective Comics #34
This story takes place right after “Batman vs The Vampire” concludes, therefore ‘tec #34 is before ‘tec #33. Batman, who has just killed the Monk and Dala, returns to Julie at their Paris hotel. In Paris, Bruce runs into an old acquaintance, Charles Maire. However, Bruce is horrified when he sees that Maire is missing his face (a la Faceless Redrum or The Question). Maire explains that Duc D’Orterre, former leader of the Apache gang, had coveted his (Maire’s) wife. When she refused him, D’Orterre burned Maire’s face off with a sci-fi ray gun. Bruce dons the cape and cowl and goes after D’Orterre to obtain revenge on Maire’s behalf. At D’Orterre’s mansion Batman is captured and forced to undergo the pain of a giant spinning wheel torture device and a room full of bizarre anthropomorphic talking flowers. Yeah, not quite sure what to make of that one. After Batman escapes, he tracks down D’Orterre. The wily villain winds up dying in a car crash while struggling with the Dark Knight.
–Detective Comics #33
When the Dirigible of Doom floats high above Gotham and uses a death ray to destroy buildings, thousands perish. An angry Batman goes after the man responsible, the self-styled Napoleon, Dr. Carl Kruger. Batman tackles Kruger, his lieutenants, and his small army known as the Scarlet Horde head on and nearly gets killed in the process. Batman later tries to sabotage the dirigible and almost dies again, taking a bullet in the back and losing a lot of blood, but surviving thanks to a bulletproof vest. The Dark Knight then comes up with one final plan that involves reinforcing the Batgyro and a kamikaze run into the dirigible. The Caped Crusader parachutes to safety. Kruger is spared from the destruction of the dirigible only to fatally crash his escape plane into the river while trying to mow down Batman.
–NOTE: Batman used his personal handgun in Detective Comics #33 to blow up some ray machines, but prior to this had not actually shot anyone besides the vampires in Detective Comics #32. However, Detective Comics #35 shows a opening splash page with Batman holding his smoking handgun. Admittedly the opening splashes, like covers, are not always canon, but since a flashback in America vs. The Justice Society #1 shows Batman in 1940 swinging down upon two criminals with a gun in his hand, it is safe to assume that this flashback mirrors (and canonizes) the ‘tec #35 splash and occurs here and now.
–Detective Comics #35-37
Explorer Sheldon Lenox has stolen the ruby idol of Kila from an Indian cult. On the run from the Kila cultists in Gotham, Lenox sells the idol to a collector named Weldon. Weldon is murdered by the Kila cultists, but the idol goes missing again. Batman’s investigation into the case leads him to Chinatown. Batman’s good friend and informant Wong, the unofficial mayor of Chinatown, guides him to the new owner of the idol, Sin Fang. After defeating Fang’s Mongolian henchmen, Batman discovers that Fang is actually Lenox in disguise. Lenox has created a huge ruse in order to keep the idol and evade the Kila cultists. Lenox and Batman begin fighting and the latter falls out of a window to his grisly death.
Next, Batman gets blamed for the murder of an FBI Agent. After learning that master criminal Professor Hugo Strange–who is a notorious public supervillain, but has yet to cross paths with the Dark Knight–was behind the execution, Bruce ponders how to bring Strange to justice and clear Batman’s name. While Bruce smokes his pipe and ponders for literal days, Strange envelopes Gotham in a sea of fog using a giant fog machine. In the dense mist, Strange’s henchmen knock off a few banks. The Caped Crusader prevents the robbery of another bank, but gets caught by Strange’s thugs during a heist at a fur company. At Strange’s HQ a bound Batman takes a vicious whipping at the hands of the supervillain. Batman is able to break his bonds, use sleeping gas pellets from his belt to incapacitate Strange’s cronies, and then pound Strange into submission. Batman is cleared of all charges and the radio reports news of Batman as a savior for incarcerating the city’s “arch-villian.”
Following the encounter with Hugo Strange, Batman takes a ride in the Batmobile and gets lost on a country back road. Batman getting lost? Jesus. The Dark Knight then goes to ask for directions at a nearby house only to walk in on a gangland execution. With his final breath the dying gangster names “Turg” as the man who ordered his death. Batman finds a Turg Grocery Store in the phone book (!) and pays the grocer a visit. Batman fights some smugglers and learns that Turg is an alias of the monocle-wearing crimelord Count Grutt. Batman tracks down Grutt and fights him, the latter winding up dead via his own sword.
–NOTE: Batman battles and is defeated by The Red Hood (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #168).
–Detective Comics #38
Dick finally finishes his intense vigilante superhero training and its finally time to get revenge against Boss Zucco. World’s Finest Comics #65 contains a single-panel flashback that shows Dick suggest the name “Robin” to Batman right after finishing his training. Dick gets a job as a newsboy in order to get closer to Zucco. Meanwhile, Batman begins tearing apart Zucco’s casinos. After taunting Zucco by busting up his operations and then sending him a live bat, Zucco goes to confront Batman face to face at a highrise construction site. When Zucco arrives, Dick is suited up as Robin, the Boy Wonder, and is ready and waiting. Robin fights off Zucco’s henchmen and even deliberately kicks one off of a girder to his death. Batman then joins the fight–making this the official debut of the Dynamic Duo–and both he and Robin beat a signed confession out of Zucco.
–Batman #32, Part 2
This tale takes place right after the jailing of Tony Zucco. Bruce commends Robin on a job well done, but says he still needs more training in regard to detective work. After an intense study period, Robin dons his costume for a second time. Batman introduces Robin to Commissioner Gordon during a secret private meeting at GCPD HQ and learns about a recent bank robbery. (Batman is publicly considered an outlaw, thus Gordon must do things in secret). Later, in the underground bunker beneath Wayne Manor, our heroes figure out the bank was held by Stick-Up Sidney. Authors Bill Finger and Dick Sprang make the mistake of referring to the bunker as the Batcave and showing later versions of the Batmobile and Batplane inside of it. We must ignore these references and images. The Dynamic Duo crashes into Sidney’s hideout, but they are captured. Robin is tossed out of a moving vehicle and the injured boy is discovered by policemen, who are surprised to see a child wearing a superhero costume. Gordon–along with some loyal cops–nurses Robin’s wounds and goes out in search of Sidney and the Dark Knight. Robin tracks Batman to a rabbit farm twenty miles north of Gotham. After hitchhiking there, Robin is able to free Batman and help take down Sidney and his henchmen. Afterward, Bruce praises Dick’s performance as his sidekick.
–NOTE: Batman teaches the young Boy Wonder how to drive a car, pilot a plane, and several other important skills that a normal boy his age would never know how to do (as referenced in Batman #32, Part 2). Aside from a mention about not having had Bruce’s driving lessons yet in Part 2 of Batman #32, we know these important lessons occur now since we will see Robin driving and flying time-and-time-again quite soon.
–NOTE: Batman and Robin install a new crime lab into their underground bunker HQ (as seen via flashback in Detective Comics #205). They also finish modernizing the rest of the facility. The underground “Bat-Bunker” is now at one hundred percent capability.
–NOTE: Batman and Robin combat against the new threat of Skid Turkel (as seen via flashback in Batman #74, Part 1. Skid deviously evades capture. Batman erroneously refers to this flashback as having occurred in 1939, but his memory must be a bit off since his first encounter with Skid includes Robin and therefore must be in early 1940.
–NOTE: Batman learns lock-smithing skills from safe-cracker and magician Paul Bodin (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #132).
–NOTE: Batman goes after two bandits named Mike Nolan and Nick Rocco (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #65). Rocco betrays his partner and shoots him dead before escaping. Writer Joe Greene says that this flashback takes place “five years ago in 1937.” When Greene wrote this issue of ‘tec it was indeed 1942, but why he would draft a flashback to 1937, which is two years before Batman even debuted, is beyond me. Based upon Batman’s costume and the other things referenced in the flashback, I’d place the Nolan/Rocco encounter right here.
–NOTE: Batman sends criminal Slick Swade to prison (as referenced in World’s Finest Comics #12).
–NOTE: Bruce invests in a Hollywood film called Through the Ages (as referenced in Batman #20, Part 1). The producers build a giant set in the Midwest, but the picture bankrupts before shooting can even begin. Joker will later use this colossal set as part of one of his many elaborate criminal schemes.
–NOTE: Batman and Robin put high-powered crook Goldplate Gorney behind bars (as referenced in World’s Finest Comics #23).
–NOTE: Crooked promoter Ed Kollum is outed to the police by Bruce and sent to jail (as seen through flashback in Batman #57, Part 1). Kollum vows revenge on Bruce.
–NOTE: Batman rounds up a posse and chases after the Red Hood, who has successfully evaded capture for a month now (as seen through flashback in Detective Comics #168). At the Monarch Playing Card Company, Batman and company corner the Red Hood on a ledge above a giant vat of chemical waste. Rather than be caught, the Red Hood dives into the noxious liquid mixture and escapes into the river. His body is never found and Batman won’t learn for another ten years that he has just inadvertently spawned his deadliest enemy; The Red Hood is affected by the chemicals in ways no one could have imagined—his skin turns chalky white, his hair bright green. Yup, this is the secret origin of The Joker!
–Batman #1, Part 1
Enter the Joker! The Joker makes an announcement that Henry Claridge, owner of the famous Claridge diamond, will be dead at midnight. Sure enough, despite a massive police presence, Claridge keels over with a rictus grin spread across his face. Joker had administered his patented Joker Venom to Claridge the night prior. The following night Joker murders a bunch of cops and his target, Jay Wilde, by filling a room with a gas version of Joker Venom. By this point Joker has earned the wrath of both the police and a jealous gangster community. Gangster Brute Nelson publicly declares that he will kill the Joker, but Joker attacks Nelson first. Joker is able to off Nelson, and then gets in his first confrontation with Batman. Unbelievably, Joker defeats Batman in a fistfight! The next night Joker goes after Judge Drake. Robin is on hand at the Judge’s house, but is unable to prevent his murder and gets captured. Luckily Batman is not far behind and locates Robin and Joker using an infra-red flashlight to spot their footprints. The Dark Knight rushes in to save Robin and apprehend Joker, winning round two. At one point in their struggle Batman gets dosed with Joker Venom, but is able to fight off its effect thanks to his “amazing recuperative powers.” I’m not sure if Bill Finger means this literally or if Batman whipped up an antidote for the Joker Venom right after their first duel. I should also mention that unlike the Modern Age version of the Joker, the Earth-2 Joker was a career criminal long before becoming the Clown Prince of Crime. Part 1 of Batman #1 also features the debut of the short-lived GCPD Chief Chalmers.
–Batman #1, Part 2
Part 2 of Batman #1 is next and takes place over the course of the immediate next two days following Joker’s arrest. Hugo Strange escapes from prison, kidnaps a bunch of guys from the insane asylum, and injects his victims with Monster Serum. These hulking fifteen-foot tall behemoths cause terror across the city. Equipped with superhuman strength and bulletproof skin, the monster men go on a spree of death and destruction at the bidding of their master, Strange. Batman confronts Strange, but is subdued by the monster men. Strange injects Batman with Monster Serum, which will take effect in eighteen hours. After escaping from a holding cell in Strange’s HQ using explosive materials hidden in his boot, Batman uses his super-science knowledge to create a vaccine that prevents him from turning into a monster. The Caped Crusader then fights Strange and knocks him into the bay. The Dark Knight then addresses the situation of the monster men, stating grimly, “Much as I hate to take human life, I’m afraid this time it’s necessary!” Strange’s henchmen attempt to drive the monster men back into the city, but Batman machine guns them off the road from high above in the Batplane–yes, this is the debut of the Batplane, noticeably sleeker than the Batgyro. Batman then kills the first monster man by slipping a cable wire noose around his neck and hanging him from the Batplane. After machine gunning another enemy truck into submission Batman, still in the Batplane, follows the final monster man up Gotham’s equivalent of the Empire State Building and gasses the beast, causing it to fall to its King Kong-esque death. Up to this point, nearly every one-shot foe has perished while fighting the Dark Knight, but this is the first time that Batman has definitively decided to use lethal force.
–Batman #1, Part 4
The Joker only spends two days in jail before blowing his way out using explosive materials hidden in two false teeth. The very night of his escape Joker murders Chief Chalmers. After announcing via radio his next crime a night later, Joker successfully gets away with another murder and theft. The following night, Joker brags about his next target at the museum and attempts to rob Cleopatra’s necklace, but Batman is waiting for him. However, just like in their first fight, the Joker bests Batman and escapes. Days pass and by the time Joker commits yet another murder, public opinion of the GCPD has plummeted. A panicking Commissioner Gordon chats with Bruce and they decide to bait Joker with false news of a famous gem arriving in Gotham. Sure enough, Joker bites and winds up toe to toe with Robin, whom he easily evades. Joker then runs into Batman and is handling the Dark Knight pretty well yet again. The Dynamic Duo, however, is able to combine their efforts to fight off Joker. The Harlequin of Hate then brandishes a knife, but during his struggle with the Dark Knight, the former gets stabbed in the chest. Batman and Robin leave Joker for dead. However, EMTs are able to revive and stabilize Joker in an ambulance.
–Batman #1, Part 3
Part 3 of Batman #1 takes place the same day as the Joker stabbing from the previous story. Dick goes undercover working as a waiter aboard socialite Martha Travers’ yacht masquerade party in order to keep an eye on an expensive emerald necklace that is sure to be the target of thieves. But Dick fails in his task and the necklace is quickly stolen by the mysterious burglar known only as The Cat. The Cat’s real name isn’t mentioned in her debut story, but she is none other than the future Catwoman and Bruce’s future wife, Selina Kyle! Before Dick can begin an investigation into the stolen jewelry, a bunch of gangsters, also vying for the necklace, board the vessel. Dick fights them, but winds up taking a dive into the ocean. The gangsters, unable to locate the necklace, settle for stealing everything else. Before they can make a getaway the Dynamic Duo appears and takes them down. Batman then unties the captured gangsters and tells Robin to fight them just for kicks! After Robin knocks them silly, the Dark Knight breaks the fourth wall (!) with a message for the children explaining that guns are bad. (This is coming from a dude who just used a machine gun in the previous story). Back at the yacht masquerade, which has resumed, the Dynamic Duo finds the missing necklace and unmasks the enigmatic Cat, who was disguised as an old grey-haired woman. When the Cat struggles as Batman removes her wig and makeup, Batman holds her still and threatens, “Quiet or papa spank!” Amazing. The Cat’s accomplice, Martha Travers’ nephew, then attempts to steal the necklace back, but Batman knocks him out cold. The Dynamic Duo then escorts the Cat back to shore, but a smitten Batman allows her to escape! An annoyed Robin watches as a lovestruck Dark Knight muses, “Lovely girl!…What eyes!–Say…Mustn’t forget I’ve got a girl named Julie!” Great stuff. I should also mention that, like Hugo Strange, the Cat is a well-known and notorious Gotham super-villain that predates the debut of Batman.
-  Credit to SEAN LEVIN on placement. ↩
-  PAPA SPANK!: Batman’s hometown being New York is indeed later retconned to Gotham. However, ‘tec #31 still takes place in New York. Secret Origins Vol. 2 #6 establishes that Julie Madison was performing in New York and that Bruce made visits to her. I think we can safely assume that ‘tec #31 takes place during one of those visits. ↩