Year Fifteen

1953

 

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #193. With Joker behind bars, Batman and Robin clean out his no-longer-secret headquarters and remove a treasure trove of stolen loot.

–FLASHBACK: From World’s Finest Comics #65. Winter—due to the depiction of the leafless trees. Soupy Sellers is released from prison. Batman greets him at the prison gates and convinces Sellers to become his informant.

–Batman #74 Part 2
Batman and Robin sign on to act in the movie version of the saga of their twelve year war with Skid Turkel. Who’s playing Turkel? Alfred (!), who shaves his head for the role. After a couple of weeks of filming, Turkel breaks out of jail, ties up Alfred at Wayne Manor, and replaces him during the shoot. Turkel attempts to kill Batman and Robin, but of course, fails and winds up back on Death Row.

–Detective Comics #191
A new robed and hooded vigilante appears on the Gotham scene and begins wiping out wanted criminals left and right with lethal force. Of course, all of this is within the legal limits of the law since the criminals executed by the so-called Executioner are wanted “dead or alive” for big cash rewards. After meeting with the Executioner, Batman and Commissioner Gordon are not happy with his methods, but accept him as a lawful avenger. After a couple weeks of the Executioner striking down crook after crook, mostly recently escaped prison inmates, Batman and Gordon begin a simultaneous investigation into the mystery man. Eventually, they learn that the Executioner is arcade operator Willy Hooker, who has partnered with the incarcerated Cal Davis in an elaborate ruse. The plan is to help prisoners escape from jail (which Hooker has been successfully doing), then kill those prisoners as the Executioner by luring them into a trap, then eventually spring Davis, fake Davis’ death, and split all the reward money from the vigilante killings. Of course, Batman finds out, does some switcheroo trickery at the arcade (as Bruce) to fool Hooker and poses as Davis in prison to lure Hooker into captivity. On cue, the Executioner shows up, but decides to double-cross Davis (still secretly Batman in disguise), shooting him in the chest. Luckily, Batman wears a bulletproof vest and takes down the Executioner with ease.

–NOTE: References in Superman Family #201, Action Comics #484, and Superman Family #207. Early February 1953. Batman isn’t involved in this item, but it’s a huge one. First, a little back-story: Several months ago, the original Wizard (aka Frederick Garth aka William Zard), using dark magick, made Superman forget that he was Superman (as seen in Action Comics #484). Without memories or an identity, Superman immediately “went missing” (i.e. Clark stopped fighting crime. Without his superhero identity, Clark began dating Lois Lane. After a whirlwind romance, Clark proposed and he and Lois were married (sometime in January 1953)! Cut to now: At the end of their honeymoon, Lois discovers that her husband is actually Superman! Back in Metropolis, Lois also discovers that the Wizard is responsible for his memory loss. Lois confronts the Wizard and makes him return Clark’s memories of being the Man of Steel. Superman returns, takes down the Wizard, and then has a Kryptonian wedding ceremony, reaffirming his marriage to Lois. Shortly after the Kryptonian ceremony, Superman spills the beans on a lot of secrets, telling his new wife that Batman is none other than Bruce Wayne (as referenced in Superman Family #201). Note that a reference in Superman Family #207 tells us Lois and Clark are already married by Valentine’s Day 1953, hence the placement of this item here.

–World’s Finest Comics #62
After robbing some jewels, The Black Rogue (Felix Dunn) hits his head and believes himself to be the famous medieval Black Knight of lore. Both his henchmen and the law, fearing that if Dunn regains his sanity he will lose memory of where the jewels are hidden, decide to cater to his mad whims and play along. Dunn’s henchmen, led by Fenner, dress as medieval knights and do battle with Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon, and the entire GCPD, who all dress as characters from the Dark Ages. Wearing specially designed armor, Sir Batman and Sir Robin wage war against the Black Knight for days at a castle movie set. After a jousting tourney, Batman dresses as Merlin and uses some 20th century “magick” to trick the Black Knight into submitting and revealing the location of the jewels.

–Detective Comics #192
The Phantom Eye (Nails Riley) takes over television broadcasts and shows various crimes being committed as they happen. This blatant mockery of the law is simply one piece of a larger plot. Riley has already kidnapped wealthy socialite Byron King and his son Buddy King and holds them hostage in the basement of their palatial Gotham home. Posing as Byron, Riley dons a Batman costume and gets “accidentally” unmasked while being filmed for a Phantom Eye broadcast. With the world believing that Byron is Batman and with Riley playing the role of Batman, Riley retires and takes Byron’s vast fortune to a Caribbean island paradise (with the support and help of the GCPD). The real Batman and Robin eventually figure out that Riley is both the Phantom Eye and the fake Byron and bust him on the island.

–Batman #75 Part 1
Batman and Robin apprehend the fugitive Jenko Brothers in the most dangerous town in America: Silver Vein, California, a city legally controlled by gangsters and killers. After returning to Gotham with their prey, the National Guard cleans out Silver Vein.

–Batman #75 Part 2
Criminal Rigger Sims enacts the most convoluted plan to get away with the “perfect murder.” First, he poses as private eye Mel Hughes and invites Vicki Vale to do a story on a hooded madman called Mr. Roulette who plays with deathtraps all day long. Batman and Robin accompany Vicki to Roulette’s mansion and later surmise that Roulette is certifiably insane. When Roulette turns up dead and is unmasked as notorious gambler Charley Denver, everyone assumes that one of his deathtraps finally got the better of him, but Batman knows better. The Dark Knight chases down Hughes inside a giant pinball machine, outs him as Sims/the real Roulette, and ruins his perfect plan.

–Batman #75 Part 3
George “Boss” Dyke goes to the gas chamber and his remains are shipped to brilliant scientist/surgeon Doc Willard. Willard, under Dyke’s orders, is able to revive his brain and transplant it into the body of a forty-foot tall gorilla monster—which was apparently captured overseas somewhere. Dyke, in the body of the giant gorilla, terrorizes Gotham for a week and eventually captures an unconscious Batman. Willard is ordered to switch Batman’s brain with Dyke’s brain, but before he can perform the bizarre surgery, Batman awakes. Eventually, Dyke, still in the gorilla body, falls off of a skyscraper King Kong style to his death.

–Detective Comics #193
Joker breaks out of State Prison and starts up a self-published newspaper called Joker’s Journal, complete with anti-Batman editorials, anti-Batman funny pages, and personal ads for criminal action. Batman goes into an underworld bar in disguise as ace reporter Knuckles Groat. In order to obtain a meeting with editor Joker, Batman hires an actor to play Batman and run into the bar only to get humiliated and run off. Groat writes the copy and pitches it to one of Joker’s henchmen, who arrange a meeting with the boss. Joker hires “Groat” as an ad man that will act as liaison between wanted crooks and Joker’s Journal. Over the course of several days “Groat” meets with gangsters and then switches into Batman gear to bust them. Eventually, when Batman busts one too many gangsters that are on Groat’s client list, Joker figures Groat is actually his arch-nemesis. A captured Batman is forced into slave labor and to pose for the front page of Joker’s Journal wearing a dunce hat. After the edition is released, Robin leads the cops to bust Joker and save Batman. Batman had been able to send a secret message via the front page picture revealing his location. Furthermore, Batman is able to use Joker’s Journal to set up a thousand police stings, luring unknowing Gotham criminals to a fate behind bars.

–Detective Comics #197
Early Spring 1953. A new hooded super-villain known as The Wrecker appears on the Gotham scene, destroys a factory full of Batman related toys and ephemera, and declares war on Batman and anyone close to him. When the Forrow Brothers (Dwight and Doug), having just published a book entitled Batman’s 10 Greatest Cases, receive a death threat, Batman and Robin go into full protection mode. After a victory against the Dynamic Duo at a sculptor’s studio, the Wrecker attacks the Forrows and seemingly kills Dwight by throwing him off a cliff into a river. As the week crawls on, the Wrecker wrecks Batman-related things all over the city and defeats the Dynamic Duo yet again. Former Batman foe Skip Denton is fingered as the main suspect in the Wrecker case, but Batman breaks the case by noticing a suntan spot on the Wrecker’s hand. Batman reveals that Denton is being framed by the Forrows. The real Wrecker is Dwight, who faked his death as part of an elaborate insurance scam attempt. Batman had spotted the blemish on Dwight earlier. Afterward Batman and Robin place Dwight’s golf glove into the Hall of Trophies.

–World’s Finest Comics #63
An idiosyncratic man known only as Gelby goes on a nationwide crime-spree stealing items that are linked to famous mobsters, gangs, or crimes in an attempt to create a time capsule of the history of crime. After several failed attempts to stop Gelby, Batman goes undercover disguised as a seller and pawns-off the Clover Gang’s trick ledger to Gelby. Unknown to Gelby, the ledger has a homing beacon in it. Robin gets captured and thrown into the capsule, which is buried in a secret location, along with dozens of signed confessions from America’s top gangsters. Batman tracks the beacon, digs up the capsule, and saves Robin shortly before Gelby blows up the capsule (collecting a large sum of cash from each gangster as blackmailed payment for getting rid of their confessions instead of turning them over to the cops). Unluckily for all the hoods involved, Batman has also saved the confessions and everyone is guaranteed to do a lot of time.

–World’s Finest Comics #64 Part 1
In the sybaritic Troy Club, Inspector Judson Field makes a bet with ex-racketeer Boley Webb that he (Field) can turn any layman into an expert detective within a month’s time. When Bruce walks into the club they decide the languid playboy is just the man for the challenge. Later, Bruce reticently agrees to begin a month-long detective training course with Field. Batman also meets with Commissioner Gordon and learns that The Shark is back in action. Batman hasn’t met the Shark yet, only the GCPD has, but the Dark Knight goes on full alert. A few days later, Bruce does his best to bomb Field’s tests, but still can’t help but look like a super sleuth. This pattern will continue for the next three weeks and overlap with the next batch of stories and notes.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #194. The mayor awards Bruce Wayne the Key to the City of Gotham for all of his charity work.

–Detective Comics #194
Bruce writes a letter to Commissioner Gordon that reveals his secret ID as Batman. The letter, which is only to be opened in the event of his death, is placed in a safety deposit box at a brand new Gotham bank. Unknown to Bruce, the bank is secretly operated by former crook Martin Duff, who is being strong-armed by bank robber extraordinaire Sammy Sabre. After the bank gets robbed, Batman and Robin expose Sabre as the culprit, but are unable to apprehend him at a cowboy movie shoot heist. Sabre returns to “his” bank and cleans out the safety deposit boxes including the one containing Bruce’s letter. Batman and Robin arrest Sabre, who threatens to reveal the truth about Batman’s ID. However, Batman knows Sabre is lying because the latter dropped the envelope earlier, which contained the information regarding his ID written in invisible ink. Afterward, Batman and Gordon decide that it’s best not to have such important info written down anywhere, so they burn the envelope.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #238. Batman and Robin act in a Hollywood movie, specifically in a scene that takes place on an elaborate Egyptian set. While filming, Robot Master strikes the Dynamic Duo by attacking them with a giant mechanical robot bat. Detective Comics #238 refers to Robot Master as one of Batman’s “arch enemies,” which means, despite this being the only reference to Robot Master and despite the fact that we never even see him, Robot Master must appear sporadically throughout our timeline for the next three or four years. These appearances won’t be listed, but we must imagine them peppered throughout the coming years of the chronology.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #238. Gotham erects a World’s Fair-like Batman exhibit in an amphitheater on the outskirts of town, paying tribute to some of his greatest cases. Batman is present for the dedication ceremony and grand opening.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #76 Part 3. Batman busts Eddie Dale and puts him prison with a life sentence.

–Batman #76 Part 1
Add the Danger Club to the long list of dumb Gotham groups one can join. And we’ve seen this type of story before. Someone is trying to kill all the members of the Danger Club, a group that only admits daredevils. Batman joins the group in order to flush out the killer. Everyone suspects the red herring, but of course, he turns out to be exactly that. The real killer? Test pilot Milding, who had been embezzling the club’s funds to throw “gay parties.”

–Batman #76 Part 2 Conclusion
Penguin has been absent for six months. He finally returns to Gotham with a public announcement that he has captured the great birds of myth, including the thunderbird, roc, basilisk, griffin, phoenix, and a mystery creature. Soon after, Penguin claims that his old gang, against his wishes, has released the monsters upon Gotham. Sure enough the giant birds do appear and wreak havoc upon the city. The mystery creature appears as well and is none other than a bat creature known as Man-Bat! Batman and Robin defeat Man-Bat and discover that it is a robot. Penguin is exposed. All of the giant monsters are robots of his own creation and Penguin has been using them to mask his return to crime. Eventually, the giant monster bird robots are all brought down and Penguin goes back to jail.

–Batman #76 Part 3
Batman is made technical adviser on a new gangster movie. Meanwhile, famous movie-villain Ferris Hedrant gets fired from the movie company he is contracted to and snaps. Hedrant begins replicating his onscreen murders in real life, prompting Batman to go after him. Realizing that Hedrant is about to reenact a film in which he played twins, Batman disguises himself as Hedrant in order to try to get into the killer’s psyche. However, Hedrant gets the jump on the Dark Knight and knocks him out. After switching their outfits, Hedrant (now dressed as Batman) leads Batman (still disguised as Hedrant and now wearing Hedrant’s clothes) before a public gathering. Batman manages to escape Hedrant’s grasp and runs off, with Robin and the GCPD chasing after him in vain. Batman’s Hedrant disguise is adhered to his face so well, he is unable to remove it without his utility belt. Thus, a gun-toting Batman (actually Hedrant) goes hunting for Hedrant (actually Batman). Eventually, the real Batman tricks Hedrant with a little ventriloquism and takes him out.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #221. Batman and Robin chase after Death Valley Dan in Death Valley. DVD’s men shoot out the tires of the antique car that Batman is relegated to using during this case. Thinking he’s left Batman and Robin in the desert to rot, DVD is quite wrong. Batman fills the car’s tire tubes with radiator water to survive the long arid trek to safety.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #227. Batman and Robin protect the City Milk Fund by replacing their wax dummies with themselves.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #99 Part 3. Batman and Robin fight some crooks at an architecture firm, but the crooks get away when a dapper masked man in a top hat and tuxedo blows smoke at the Dynamic Duo from a box. Batman collects the box and puts it into the Hall of Trophies. The next day, our heroes are shocked to see that the box is gone and in its place sits a top hat! After tangoing with the top hat dude again, Batman collects a prop gun from him. Sure enough, the prop gun disappears from the trophy room only to be replaced by a top hat. Later that day, at a special magic show luncheon, the top hat man reveals himself as Pardu the Magician. Pardu demands $10,000 from Batman or he will reveal his secret ID to the world. Batman calls his bluff and sets up a police sting that puts Pardu in jail—the Caped Crusader detected correctly that the box and the gun were a new type of plastic that could change form.

–World’s Finest Comics #64 Part 2
Early May. Batman and Robin continue to fight the Shark’s henchmen as they tail the Shark himself. In-between bouts with the Shark’s men, Bruce continues to be tested by Inspector Field and continues to fail the tests on purpose. With only a week left before Field and Boley Webb settle their bet, Field spends the next six days working Bruce over hard. And each night, Bruce sneaks away, switches into his Batman gear, and returns to get Field out of a jam (all while continuing to bust the Shark’s men). Bruce and Field visit an old cave formerly used as a super-villain hideout (likely the one used by The Thinker four years ago) and the museum (where Field references a time Batman stopped a robbery in the Egyptian wing, which could be referencing several incidences). Bruce’s final challenge by Webb is to capture the Shark. Batman easily does so, but cannot claim victory for his alter-ego and for Field because Gordon wants the Shark released and tailed to nab some of his big-name criminal accomplices. When Bruce returns empty-handed, he declares that he can get Batman’s secret ID within the final three hours before the bet is settled. Alfred dresses up as Batman and delivers the news to Field and Webb that he has indeed been exposed by Wayne via fingerprinting, thus allowing Field to win the bet. Not only that, Batman exposes Webb as a criminal and sends him to jail. Across town, the GCPD brings the Shark back into custody.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #109 Part 3. Scientist Curt Mathis has been making phony diamonds from a secret location, prompting Batman to invent the Flying Eye, a floating, remote-controlled surveillance drone. Once they find Mathis, they bust him.

–Superman Family #201
Superman Family #201 tells us that this is the first meeting between Bruce and Clark since Superman #76. However, the reference to Superman #76 must be ignored because Superman #76 is non-canon. Because Superman Family #201 came out in 1980, it had not yet reflected the retcon from World’s Finest Comics #271, which came out a year later and made it so that Superman #76 was only canon on Earth-1. Okay, onto the synopsis: Bruce has yet to congratulate Clark and Lois following their marriage from several months ago since he’s been so busy fighting crime in Gotham. Finally, Bruce goes to Metropolis, but winds up getting kidnapped in Clark’s apartment by the returning Ultra-Humanite, who still resides in Dolores Winters’ body! (Dolores was previously alternately spelled “Delores.”) The last time we saw Ultra-Humanite was eleven years ago! Ultra-Humanite now plans to make Bruce’s body its new host in order to use the vast Wayne Industries money to rule the world. Superman appears to make a daring rescue, but the Man of Steel is blasted with a cold ray that plummets his body temp to near absolute zero. (Earth-2 Superman’s weaknesses are Kryptonite, magick, and extreme cold.) Luckily, Lois crashes the party and turns off the cold ray, allowing Superman to knock-out Ultra-Humanite. Bruce, Clark, and Lois then have a good ol’ hangout.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #234—and also referenced in Batman #100 Part 1. Batman and Robin defeat the Crime Robot, a towering silver robot with a cyclops eye and a wiry antenna above his head.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #244. Batman and Commissioner Gordon separately track down mobster Jay Garris. Garris is about to kill an unsuspecting Gordon, but Batman thinks fast and whittles a hole in a Batarang, this inventing the Whistle Batarang, which alerts Gordon, saving his life. Garris then winds up in jail. Batman places the Whistle Batarang onto a special board in the Hall of Trophies that will commemorate historic first uses of special Batarangs from now on (as referenced in Detective Comics #244). The Dark Knight moves the original Lee Collins Batarang and the first Rope Batarang onto the Batarang board as well.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #214. Bruce goes to inspect a fur factory that he owns, but crooks set the building ablaze. Bruce puts on his Batman togs and busts the crooks. However, some people panic when they realize that Bruce never left the building. Batman reenters the factory and then exits with a dummy dressed like Bruce. Little does Batman know, evil scholar Herbert Smirt, who has been secretly tracking Batman and Robin for months, snaps a picture of the Dark Knight. Smirt will continue collecting info on Batman from the shadows in an effort to make a “how to defeat Batman” book for criminals.[1]

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #85 Part 3. GCPD Officer Jerry Weiler dons the Batman costume and delivers a scheduled radio speech so that the real Batman can catch some crooks off guard.

–REFERENCE: In World’s Finest Comics #69. Batman battles an elderly crook named Beckett, who winds up getting accidentally killed. Beckett is the father of renowned explorer Tom Beckett, who we will meet next year.

–REFERENCE: In World’s Finest Comics #69. Batman goes on an unspecified case in the tropics and encounters a rare fatal disease that comes from a virus that causes those who contract it to act irrationally suicidal and homicidal. Batman discovers an equally rare native cure for the disease.

–Detective Comics #202
Spring 1953. Batman and Robin track some smugglers to an island resort called the Jolly Roger. In their civilian identities, Bruce and Dick take a vacation at the resort to investigate. After several near fatal encounters with a crook named Jolly Roger and his band of misfits that all dress in old-timey pirate outfits, Batman and Robin eventually bust the smugglers. Jolly Roger is outed as ex-con Thomas Wexley, manager of the hotel of the same name.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #79 Part 3. Batman and Robin fight notorious modern day pirate Lars Veking. Veking is defeated and believed dead. However, Veking actually retreats to an island hideaway in the Gulf of Mexico.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #77 Part 2. Batman and Robin are filmed in action for a newsreel. Batman takes a bullet in the shoulder and later nearly gets crushed by a statue. These near death experiences caught on film prompt Commissioner Gordon to begin planning the Secret Star, an elite training program that will prepare five substitute Batmen in case the real deal should ever die.

–Detective Comics #195-196
Former circus acrobat Hugo Marmon, dressed as Batman, is taken into custody under violation of Gotham’s Batman impersonation laws (which have existed for ten years now). However, Marmon reveals that he actually performed as Batman in the circus well before the Dark Knight appeared on the scene. After some deliberation, the real Batman and Commissioner Gordon give in and accept Marmon as the “original Batman.” Marmon, jealous of the Dynamic Duo, begins fighting crime even though he is ill-equipped to do so. After being manipulated by a gangster, Marmon blames Batman and Robin for his woes and bans them from the city, citing his own use of the Batman impersonation law. Batman plays Marmon’s game and joins the circus, causing Marmon to become jealous yet again and replace him in his old trade. This allows Batman to return to Gotham and clean up the gangsters’ operation. Soon after, Robin does some research and finds that Marmon’s circus never actually performed within the city limits of Gotham, so Bruce is still the real original Caped Crusader!

With Commissioner Gordon’s blessing, Bruce and Dick visit Scotland Yard in London to learn about the methods of top British crime-buster Inspector Deggers. While there, Batman and Robin help Deggers capture American fugitive ganglord Frank Lumardi. Batman and Robin are assisted by super-fan Chester Gleek, who has a makeshift Batcave and Batmobile that he lends to the Dynamic Duo. Writer Bill Finger, in this issue, makes it so that Sherlock Holmes was a real life non-fictional part of the history of Earth-2. (The stories of the Doyle-verse, including the complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, were also a real life part of the histories of the DCU Earths of the Silver and Modern Ages as well.)

–Batman #77 Part 1
Brilliant scientist Edward Arvin builds a giant super-computer that has the supposed ability to predict criminals’ next moves. Sure enough, Arvin’s “Predictor” helps Batman and Robin bring down two crooks in a row. But when the Predictor predicts that super-villain Mr. Blank will murder Batman, the Caped Crusader begs to differ. After getting captured by Mr. Blank, things look dire for the Dynamic Duo, but they turn the tables on the villain, defeat him, and unmask him as Dr. Arvin! The Predictor machine was a fake the whole time.

–Batman #77 Part 2
Commissioner Gordon and Batman initiate the Secret Star program, which will train five substitute Batmen to replace the real Batman should he ever die. Five candidates, including FBI agent Ted Blakely, All-American collegiate athlete Harry Vincent, Army Intelligence agent Lieutenant Philip Gray, police officer Dave Fells, and police officer Sam Olson, all begin an intense training program in the Batcave. Over a week into the training, Batman gets trapped in a coal mine, courtesy of mobster Matt “Sugar” Kroler. With Batman alive, but trapped for two days, he orders Blakely to substitute for him. As Blakely and Robin go after Kroler’s men, Blakely botches multiple attempts to apprehend them. Gordon has no choice but to reveal to the press that a substitute Batman is on the case. As the public and news media call for the return of the real Dark Knight, Gordon and Robin learn that Blakely secretly works for Kroler. Robin and the GCPD smash into Kroler’s lair only to find that Blakely has successfully completed a triple-cross and busted his former boss. Afterward, Blakely is commended as a hero, but still stands trial for his involvement with a criminal and is removed from the Secret Star program. Gordon tells Batman that the Secret Star will continue, but he hopes to never have to use it.

–Batman #77 Part 3
When Commissioner Gordon leaves town to attend a police convention, he leaves Captain Harby in charge. Harby hates Batman and Robin due to that fact that they have been stealing his glory for years. Harby specifically references two old cases involving a hot car mob and the murder of a millionaire (both shown via flashback). While I’m not sure which two cases these are, they likely are not original stories and are generic enough that they could actually be referencing several different ones. With this ax to grind Harby orders the Dynamic Duo to do menial cop tasks, like stopping apple thieves, rescuing kitties, and working traffic duty. Despite only being able to write parking tickets and go after jaywalkers, Batman and Robin still manage to bust Dancer Kern and his mob, earning the respect of Harby.

–FLASHBACK: From World’s Finest Comics #65. Batman and Robin chase after a crook who robbed explosive materials from a explosives company managed by a man named Banning. After consulting with informant Soupy Sellers, Batman and Robin peg The Blaster as their main suspect. Sure enough, the Blaster uses the explosives to try to rob an armored car. Batman and Robin (and Vicki Vale) bust the Blaster with ease. However, Batman chases one of Blaster’s henchmen, Spots Derrow, near the edge of a ravine. From a distance, Commissioner Gordon, Vicki, and Robin look on in terror as Batman is seemingly blown to smithereens.

–World’s Finest Comics #65
News of Batman’s death spreads like wildfire. Robin decides to write a tribute piece detailing the events of Batman’s final case. At one point in his write-up he mentions a time Batman saved him from getting run over by a truck, which we see in a single-panel flashback. This scene could be referencing dozens of similar occurrences, so I haven’t given it a note anywhere on our timeline. Robin decides to share authorship of the obit with the other witnesses who were linked to Batman’s final case, including Soupy Sellers, armored car driver Charlie Williams, Vicki Vale, and Commissioner Gordon. Later, Robin and the GCPD converge on the man who killed Batman, Spots Derrow. However, everyone is shocked and happy to discover that Derrow isn’t really Derrow! It’s Batman in disguise. They had switched clothes atop the cliff, so it was really Spots who was killed, not the Dark Knight. Batman also exposes Banning as the inside-man in the Blaster case.

–Detective Comics #198
The mystery of McLaughlie Castle in Scotland, better known as “Batmanor” due to the bat caves that surround it, has existed for over four hundred years. Supposedly, there is a large sum of gold hidden on the premises. When the elder McLaughlie grows fatally ill, he bequeaths the castle to Batman in hopes that he will solve the mystery. Soon after McLaughlie passes, Batman and Robin travel to their new Scottish castle. There, the Dynamic Duo fights a supposed ghost of an ancient knight and a Loch Ness-like sea creature! What’s going on? American crook Smoothy Mathers has set all of it up in an attempt to locate the gold and distract Batman. Batman busts Mathers and locates the gold. Robin brings some bagpipes back home.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #199. Batman and Robin send Big Jack Baker to jail.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #78 Part 1. A new super-powered super-villain known only as The Stranger robs an armored car and bests Batman and Robin.

–Batman #78 Part 1
Batman and Robin track the Stranger’s origins up north to the wilderness and locate a spaceship in the woods. Shortly thereafter, another spaceship arrives and a Marian named Roh Kar introduces himself to Batman and Robin! The Dynamic Duo is shocked to learn not only about the existence of life on Mars, but that the Stranger is Mars’ worst criminal Quork.  Batman and Robin also learn that Roh Kar is a top lawman on the Red Planet. Batman and Roh Kar team-up (with jetpacks!) to save Robin’s life and capture Quork, who is detained by Roh Kar and delivered back to Mars. Remember, Batman and Robin have actually traveled to Mars before, but their memories of the event have been previously erased.[2]

–Batman #78 Part 2
Batman and Robin get involved in the riveting world of stamp collecting. When someone begins targeting members of Gotham’s Stamp Club for death, Bruce joins the club to flush out the would-be killer. After a full week of attacks and rescues by Batman, Bruce enters into a car race and fakes his death. So whodunit? If you guessed the obvious red herrings to be the culprits, then you are an idiot. We’ve seen this story a thousand times before. It was Captain Barton, who faked a prior attack on himself.

–Batman #78 Part 3
Batman and Robin are invited to visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for Law Enforcement Week. For his cover, Bruce tells everyone in Gotham that he is spending a week with his Aunt in Virginia—(could this be the first ever reference to Aunt Agatha!?). In the Northern wilderness, the Dynamic Duo take on the vile Quebecer siblings known as the LeClerc Brothers. After donning their all-white outfits and braving harsh snowy mountain conditions for several days, Batman and Robin defeat the tricky Canadian criminals.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #103 Part 1. Late August. Batman is the guest of honor at Gotham’s annual “Batman Day” celebration.

–Batman and Robin “Arrow: The Family Comic Weekly” Strips 9/13/1953 to 9/14/1953[3]
Batman and Robin are summoned by Commissioner Gordon to a gold robbery in progress. At the scene of the crime, the Dynamic Duo winds up in a flooded vault with their oxygen running low. Luckily, they escape through a grate and chase down the crooks. However, the gold is long gone. Batman and Robin proceed to investigate the waterfront, and we can presume that they recover the gold.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #103 Part 2. Batman puts away a small-timer named Lucky Dennis.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #83 Part 1. Batman and Robin defeat a super-villain known as The Mad Clown at the circus. With Batman’s hands tied, he bites down onto a leather strap, hangs on with his teeth, and zips down a line to take out the villain. Afterward, Batman keeps the strap as a trophy and Robin makes a plaster cast of Batman’s teethmarks.

–Detective Comics #199
Attorney Verne Lever is secretly made the head of Big Jack Baker’s mob while Baker is serving time. Batman is covered in a radioactive liquid while chasing after the Lever/Baker gang in a chemical plant. Everything seems fine at first, but then Batman turns invisible! Invisible Batman and visible Robin conduct business as usual and bust some more mobsters. Frustrated, Lever uses his superior intellect to deduce that Batman must be one of five men, including Bruce Wayne. Lever attends the Celebrity Horse Gala to see who doesn’t show up (knowing that Batman is invisible). However, Bruce appears at the show bundled up from head to toe, claiming that he has the flu, dispelling anyone’s belief that he might be the Dark Knight. Later, Batman is called to testify in court against Baker. Invisible Batman does so, and also kicks Lever’s ass when the defense lawyer, sensing defeat, tries to kill Robin. Afterward, Batman bathes in orangeade and becomes visible again—the antidote was citric acid! Commissioner Gordon happily reports that the formula for invisibility has been permanently lost.

–World’s Finest Comics #66
Crime boss Brass Hadley is diagnosed with a rare heart condition by Dr. John V. Dillon. The condition requires the patient to behave in a very certain manner depending on the diagnosed person’s occupation. Hadley never gets the behavioral prescription because he doesn’t want to reveal that he is a crook. However, Hadley does obtain the names of four other men in Gotham who are similarly afflicted. Hadley then sets into motion a plan to kidnap these men and use them as guinea pigs during his daring heists. Hadley kidnaps four of Dillon’s patients, including Bruce! As luck (or unluck) would have it, the files have gotten mixed up at the office and Hadley mistakenly thinks Bruce (who he ambushes while having a cool September swim at the Beach Club) has a heart condition. For three nights in a row, Bruce secretly escapes from captivity, dons his fighting togs, sabotages Hadley’s attempts to use the others as guinea pigs, and then returns to captivity. Eventually, Batman and Robin rescue the three ill men and flush out Hadley, who decides to run. Recalling that Bruce had been swimming with no problem earlier, Hadley dives into Gotham Bay in an attempt to swim to his getaway submarine. Unfortunately for Hadley, he learns the fatal way that the doctor’s orders would have been “NO SWIMMING.”

–Detective Comics #200
Engineer Brand Kelden spies on GCPD HQ from a building across the street and reads lips using binoculars. Kelden then uses mobile transmitters to send cop information out to crooks via an underworld pirate radio broadcast called Station C-R-I-M-E. Batman, Robin, and Commissioner Gordon shut down Kelden’s operation.

–FLASHBACK: From Detective Comics #234. Batman and Robin chase down a wanted fugitive into Melden‘s Machine Shop. In order to save Batman and Robin and help them catch the bad guy, Melden destroys his own business. The next day, Batman returns and gives Melden $90,000 cash to cover his losses.

–Detective Comics #201 Part 1
Enter “The Human Target” Fred Venable, who disguises himself as his clients, men targeted for death, in order to flush out the would-be killers and stop them. Venable plays the role of a European prince while Batman and Robin prevent his public assassination in Gotham.  The trio stops the assassination of a famous art collector as well.  In the Silver Age and Modern age, Venable became the awesome Christopher Chase!

–REFERENCE: In Batman #82 Part 3. Batman runs across master criminal Dimples Drew.

–FLASHBACK: From Batman #87 Part 1. When an ill man aboard a ship at sea named Johnny Taylor requires an emergency blood transfusion, Batman and Robin are on the case. When Batman arrives at the ship, the plasma container is destroyed. Batman winds up giving his own blood to Taylor, saving his life and earning him the nickname Johnny “Batman” Taylor.

–Batman #79 Part 1
When the Shah of Nairomi visits Gotham, the powerful political leader meets with government officials, Batman, and Vicki Vale. The Shah is so taken by Vicki’s beauty he proposes marriage to her. The Shah is not someone you just turn down, so Vicki says she’s already engaged to Batman! Vicki explains everything to the Dark Knight, who agrees to participate with the ruse. A few nights later at a reception thrown for the new hottest couple in Gotham, Batman and Vicki really ham it up for the audience. Vicki eagerly smooches Batman. As the days pass, Batman begins to feel more and more uncomfortable with his arrangement with Vicki. In between fighting crime, Batman visits with Vicki, who turns into an overbearing partner that Batman never really wanted to be with in the first place. Later, Vicki’s rival Eloise Leach, suspecting that her engagement is a hoax, leaks a tip to the Gotham Gazette saying that the wedding is scheduled for two weeks. Everyone important in the world plans to attend, including President Eisenhower! Batman meets with Vicki and asks what they should do. Vicki, of course, is finally nearly getting to realize her greatest fantasy and replies that they will get married for real! But Batman has one final out; he sends word to Eloise Leach that Vicki must undergo facial alteration via plastic surgery so as not to become an obvious target for Batman’s rogues gallery. When the Shah hears of this, he demands the wedding be cancelled.

–Batman #79 Part 2
Batman and Robin examine the scene of a successful robbery of gold from a train. A week later, the Dynamic Duo visits top suspect Walter Fraley, who has a bunch of gold, but claims that he has discovered the long lost legendary treasure of Captain Lightfoot. Bruce and Dick then visit Professor Carter Nichols and go back in time to 1753 Gotham City. There, as Batman and Robin, they meet the domino masked Captain Lightfoot (Abel Adams) who has been fighting the vile Hugo Vorney, a merchant that has been ripping off Indians and inciting them to violence. Batman, Robin, and Captain Lightfoot expose Vorney and send him to jail. Batman and Robin then learn that Captain Lightfoot’s legendary treasure is an official document stating that Captain Lightfoot is a hero of the colonies, not gold. Back in 1953, Batman and Robin dig up the document and bust Fraley.

–Batman #79 Part 3
Batman and Robin are tasked with flying a prison transfer plane out of Mississippi.  During the flight, however, a storm forces them to emergency land onto a deserted island in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.  As luck (or bad luck) would have it, the island, which is filled with Aztec ruins, is home to Lars Veking.  Batman and Robin are forced to uncuff their prisoners and team-with them against Veking and his men, who are far viler.  Batman, Robin, and the prisoners defeat Veking, who winds up getting crushed to death by a falling Aztec statue.  The prisoners immediately turn on the Dynamic Duo, but naturally our heroes win the day.

–Detective Comics #201 Part 2
A few weeks after his debut, Fred Venable continues to play the role of The Human Target. Batman and Robin are on hand yet again for some action. A few days later, Batman and Robin attend the birthday party of Venable’s young daughter, Marianne Venable, only to discover that gangsters have kidnapped both Venables. After watching police surveillance film, Batman learns that Venable has been abducted by crook Blinky Groves and has been forced to play Groves since his former criminal syndicate wants him dead. Batman meets with Venable, takes over as “Groves” and locates Marianne. Robin saves Marianne. For a few days, Batman continues to scour the underworld disguised as Groves. Eventually, Batman, still dressed as Groves, nabs the real Groves with help from Venable, who dresses up as Batman. A week later, Batman and Robin see off the Venables as they travel to Switzerland.

–World’s Finest Comics #67
Batman and Robin have been chasing after the masked super-villain called The Zero for a week. Billionaire Archibald Vantyne helps Batman bust a jewel thief and decides he is going to start fighting crime full-time in his own way. Vantyne starts Vantyne Detective Agency, complete with a skyscraper HQ, team of forensic scientists and private eyes, and a fleet of yachts, speedboats, cars, planes, and helicopters. Vowing to catch the Zero by any means, Vantyne puts out a large cash reward for info. An ex-con named Gibling offers a hot tip which leads to the Zero, but the villain escapes. Later Bruce joins the Vantyne Detective Agency to gain access to Vantyne’s organization. Eventually, Batman and Robin expose Gibling as the Zero and Vantyne decides to shut down his company to leave crime-fighting to the professionals.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #242. Batman and Robin defeat safe-cracker Ned Dove and publicly collect a bust of the villain to put into the Hall of Trophies.

–REFERENCE: In Detective Comics #242. Batman and Robin put counterfeiter Brainy Walker behind bars and publicly collect a golden glove as a trophy. Unknown to the Dynamic Duo, Walker has put a thousand dollar bill inside the glove, which will factor into a later plan when he gets out of prison in three-and-a-half years.

–REFERENCE: In Batman #80 Part 1. Joker escapes from the pen again. Joker then goes head-to-head with Batman, but the Dynamic Duo makes a fool of the Clown Prince of Crime by spraying him with a fire hose and then dumping a giant ice cream cone on his head. Despite being humiliated and filmed by a news crew for the duration of the entire battle, Joker manages to evade capture.

–Batman #80 Part 1
Joker starts a new crime-spree motif where he films everything he does and edits the footage into feature length films at his secret film studio. Despite being foiled during a museum heist by the Dynamic Duo, Joker is in high spirits as his Hollywood post-production movie crew finishes his first picture. The movie, entitled The Return of Batman & Robin, premieres in Gotham with Joker tagged as the executive producer. At the sold out screening, Joker is shocked and dismayed to see footage of Batman and Robin kicking his ass and making a fool of him. He’s been betrayed by Hollywood! Joker decides it’s high time to write, direct, shoot, and edit his own movie called How to Handle Batman & Robin. Over the course of the following week, Batman and Robin allow themselves to be filmed in embarrassing situations to let Joker think he is winning so that they can close in on his hideout and find out who Joker’s criminal target audience is for the movie. Batman allows Joker to blow up the Batmobile, switch his utility belt with a fake, and plays along by stumbling over obvious tripwires, riding donkeys backwards, and kissing goats. Umm, maybe Batman is taking this playing along a bit too far, eh? In the end, Joker goes back to the clink. The Dynamic Duo keeps Joker’s camera as a trophy after the case wraps.

 

 

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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Updated Bruce Wayne Job Titles List: Head of Wayne Enterprises, majority stockholder in a clock company, majority stockholder in a shipping insurance company, author, producer, bank director, newspaper publisher, factory owner, stockholder in a book publishing company, automobile manufacturer, director of an international brokerage firm, Gotham Museum trustee/board member, chairman of a utilities company, board member of Gotham College, owner of Apex Corporation movie production company/studio, board member of two different chemical plants, and owner of a fur factory.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Batman and Robin have previously encountered green-skinned, tentacle-armed (possibly shapeshifting) Martians before, including the Martian Thun Dran and his people. I’m not sure if Roh Kar’s race is the same as Thun Dran’s, but we can assume that it probably is different. A wide variety of Martians that come in many different forms appear in other Golden Age DC books as well. Thus, it is safe to assume that there a vast amount of different species and races on Mars.
  3. [3]COLLIN COLSHER: The short-lived 1953 “Arrow” strips, which only ran for three months, are nearly impossible to find. This story, which begins with a Sunday strip, is untitled and only the first two parts of it were published in Batman: The Sunday Classics 1943-1946. The date is an estimated guess based upon the time-frame in which “Arrow” existed in 1953. If anyone has any of the 1953 Batman and Robin strips, I’d LOVE to see them!

8 Responses to Year Fifteen

  1. Jason Fetterley says:

    Re: Batman #78 Part 3: Harriet Cooper was not Bruce Wayne’s aunt. She was Dick Grayson’s aunt.

  2. BatfanReborn says:

    Hi Collin, I wonder if you have ever read this article:
    http://www.dcindexes.com/features/fanboy.php?site=dc&article=9
    Which states ‘Tec 203 (and beyond) is part of Earth1 Batman chronology because E2 Catwoman didn’t return to crime. Interesting stuff.

    • Hey Batfan! I love Mike Voiles’ site–it’s one of the best on the web. I hadn’t read this article though. This is a sticky wicket. Voiles says, “Superman Family #211 … revealed … subtle differences between Earth-2 and Earth-1. The first is that the Catwoman of Earth-2 never returned to crime after she reformed in Batman #62. All later criminal Catwoman stories must take place on Earth-1.”

      It’s hard to know, but I think there is a definite answer, but one that doesn’t jibe with Voiles’ idea. Superman Family #211 is narrated by Clark–does he know the details? Is he a reliable storyteller? The handful of issues where Catwoman returns to crime following Batman #62 do indeed happen on Earth-2. Clark simply fails to mention them, doesn’t know about them, or doesn’t want to upset Lois. We do know that Selina returns to crime because Brave and the Bold #197 and DC Super Stars #17 both tell us she does. Voiles fails to include these important issues in his research. Also, the statement “all later criminal Catwoman stories must take place on Earth-1” is dubious. Just because something is non-canon on Earth-2 doesn’t automatically make it canon on Earth-1. Things usually become mere reference material or become completely non-canon instead.

      Thanks for showing me this article, though. I will definitely use it as a primary source moving forward. But to reiterate, Detective #203, Batman #84, and Detective #211 (the Golden Age issues where Selina returns to crime) are canon for Earth-2 (despite the implication in Superman Family #211 is that these issues should be non-canon).

      • Hi again Batfan. Upon further review, Voiles is right. Catwoman never does return to crime after #62.

        • Waaaait just a second. (You can tell I’ve really been doing a ton of re-reading and research on this topic as of late). I’m switching back again! After even FURTHER REVIEW… I think Voiles is even more wrong than before. In fact, he’s totally wrong! Catwoman DOES return to crime. It’s all in the comics in plain English. But I sound snarky there. Again, never forget chronology building is in the eye of the beholder. Especially in this confusing transitional era, there are multiple timelines that all work despite being completely contradictory of one another.

          Anyway, the updates have been made. Hope they make sense!

          • BatfanReborn says:

            I’m glad it’s a topic to pique your interest!
            I haven’t read the SupFam #211 but have read most of the relevant Catwoman stories.
            I think Voile’s main problem is his desire to assign every story to either E1 or E2. It’s always been the case that many Earth 2 stories are also considered canon to Earth 1 (or identical anyway).
            Within your terminology, I found myself wondering about the line between ‘canonically referenced’ and actually ‘canon’ to Earth 1. As you did with the Modern Age, citing reprints suchas the Saga of Ras al Ghul as canon is a possibility- a huge number of stories were reprinted in the late 60s and early 70s- but it could equally be argued that they are just Golden Age E2 reprints. There were two exceptions that I have found (there may be more I haven’t) Batman #259 where each tale is introduced by E1 Batman as something that had happened to HIM, and Batman #208 where each story is introduced by E1 Mrs Chilton!
            #208 is particularly relevant to the Catwoman debate and, for me, definitively classifies her return to crime as canon to both Earths especially in conjunction with B&B 197.
            I haven’t read her first Silver Age appearance In Lois Lane #70 but, in Tec#369 (last page) and Batman#197, it’s clear she has a long history on E1 already.
            In my mind, the dividing line between E1 and E2 Catwoman takes place after The Jungle Cat Queen story where, after escaping, E2 Selina has a change of heart and turns herself in- (accomodating B&B197). E1 Catwoman, however, doesn’t turn herself in and comes back with a new look and more vicious than ever!
            Until then though, all stories are canon to both Earths. In terms of your Silver Age timeline, Batman #208 should canonize some Golden Age issues in the Silver Age without removing them from Earth 2 continuity.
            I certainly appreciate Voile’s desire to find a dividing line ( for me, it doesn’t make sense to think that DC are publishing stories about two different Batmen pre1964 but after the Justice League has started, although I can accept they are happening on both Earths) and just have to bow to the superior knowledge of continuity behemoths suchas yourelf and he!
            It’s also quite funny to think we may have 50 years to come of raging debates on which pre-Flashpoint stories should be canon in the New 52!

            • Batman #208 is a truly fascinating issue. Not only is it narrated by Joe Chill’s mom (!) but it also really clearly defines Batman’s history (and chronological order of that history) for the Silver Age. If Voiles were to follow his own formula without breaking his own rules, then he would have to take all those stories referenced/shown in Batman #208 and move them from E2 to E1 entirely. Obviously, those stories are canon on both Earths. How we reference that on a timeline is debatable—do we “canonically reference via flashback” or simply wholly include them as they are? I think, especially for the special cases like Batman #208 or Batman #259, if a character from E1 is narrating or directly referencing a Golden Age story, it definitely becomes a part of both E1 and E2’s histories. On the other hand, Golden Age reprints—of which there are many, many, many—must simply be regarded as reprints and nothing more, local only to E2 (unless already a part of both universes already, of course).

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