Year Fourteen

1952

 

–Detective Comics #180
Early January 1952. The underworld is shocked at the will-reading of the recently deceased mobster William Barlowe, who wills his entire fortune to his rival, the Joker! With millions of dollars in his pocket, Joker decides to go straight. When the IRS shows up to collect a $2 million inheritance tax, Joker says no problem, but when he goes to retrieve the sum, he realizes that he’s been duped. Barlowe has willed him fake money. Rather than admit to the public that he was so-easily deceived by a rival, Joker returns to crime, but in secret. Despite several unassuming crimes committed “normally” Joker is the prime suspect, eventually succumbing to a ruse by Batman at the zoo, after which Joker spills the beans on his clandestine activities and goes back to jail.

–Batman #68, Part 1
It’s 1952 and Cold War paranoia is running high. Fallout shelters are popping up all across the US, and many of them hold valuable treasures. Longhorn Bell assembles a team of underground mining/demolition specialists and begins tearing into the atomic-proof vaults, garnering the attention of the Dynamic Duo. Bell, after surveying the Wayne Estate, learns of a vast cavern beneath Wayne Manor and soon after learns that it is the fabled Batcave! While Batman and Robin investigate Bell’s last fallout shelter robbery attempt downtown, Bell prepares to blast and drill his way into the Batcave. Luckily, Batman is onto Bell. He, Robin, and Alfred pose as a movie crew. When Bell and company burst through the cave wall, Batman fools them into thinking that Bruce Wayne has simply rented out the cave beneath Wayne Manor to a film studio that has dressed it up to look like the Batcave for a movie shoot. Believe it or not, this actually fools Bell. What is even more unbelievable is that Batman and Robin (and the US Army) cook up a wild ruse—involving a fake atomic blast, dousing themselves with a phosphorescent liquid, and pretending that the Commies have struck—in order to lure the crooks out of hiding and into the waiting arms of the law.

–Batman #68, Part 2
Batman and Robin covertly observe as crook Slippery Willie Willis befriends an unsuspecting Alfred. Upon further surveillance of Willis, Batman learns that the crook has deduced their secret IDs and plans to force Alfred to take a lie detector test to prove it. What is the best solution to this problem? Probably use one of the thousand dumb ruses they’ve done in the past to fool Willis. But no. If Alfred is going to take a lie detector test, then by jove, he is going to pass it legitimately. The next day, Bruce fires a confused and stunned Alfred and kicks him off the property. A saddened Alfred soon meets up with Willis, who makes him take the test. Afterward, Batman and Robin bust Willis and re-hire Alfred.

–Detective Comics #183
Winter, 1952. Bruce goes undercover as “Earl Warwick” to join the Namesake Club, a group where each member has the last name of a famous person in history. His reason for joining? Two members have just been murdered. The top suspect is a man named Hood that was denied entry despite his claims that Hood was a surname for Robin Hood. However, in the end, Batman exposes the namesake of Captain Cook as the actual killer.[1]

–Detective Comics #179
Every year for one week, a prominent Gothamite gets chosen at random to act as temp “Mayor of Gotham” while the actual mayor goes on vacation. This ludicrous rite happens to get bestowed upon Bruce this year. Bruce learns of his selection, while Robin travels to an island in the Pacific to help the US Army with atomic testing for three weeks. Two weeks later, Bruce begins his job as mayor, working side-by-side with a political aide named Secretary Fielding. Throughout the week, Bruce is shocked as an impostor Batman turns up in his place—even boldly inviting Commissioner Gordon and Bruce for a ride in a crappy fake Batmobile to a ramshackle fake Batcave! The impostor, crook Deuce Chalmers, has discovered Batman’s secret ID. When six of the richest men in the US arrive to award a prize to Batman, the faker shows up and collects, and once again offers an open invite to the “Batcave” with hopes of robbing his guests. Mayor Wayne hypnotizes—yes you heard me right—hypnotizes Fielding into thinking he is Bruce and then makes him up to look like the part. Back in his combat outfit, Batman accompanies “Bruce” to the fake cave, dispels Chalmer’s belief that he is Bruce Wayne, and takes the villain out.

–World’s Finest Comics #56
Mob czar Dan Hooker organizes an elaborate competition to pick his new “All-Star Gang.” Over the course of nine days, chosen crooks will compete one-on-one, each night tasked with identical heists. Whoever gets busted goes to jail, while whoever succeeds earns a spot on the roster. For eight straight nights, Batman and Robin bust one criminal, but are painfully aware that each time, another one gets away scot-free across town. Batman goes in disguise as a gangster and interjects himself into the final “inning,” in which Hooker demands the capture and murder of Batman. Batman is eventually exposed, but manages, with Robin’s aid, to bring down an entire auditorium full of bad guys.

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin go on an unspecified case and earn a life-sized bust, with arms and hands, of a buck-toothed man wearing a beanie (as seen in Batman #69, Part 2). This statue goes into a case in the Hall of Trophies.

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin go on an unspecified case and earn what appears to be a large vehicle bumper or roadway speed bump (as seen in Batman #69, Part 2). This bizarre item goes into a case in the Hall of Trophies.

–Batman #69, Part 1 Conclusion
W. W. Hammond’s The Batman Story has been filming for over a month now. After another week of constant attacks by mobsters, the film finally wraps shooting. Batman and Robin soon learn that Hammond, with the aid of gang boss Spaghetti Thompson, has been sabotaging his own picture since there was a clause in the Apex contract that returned all rights back to Hammond should the movie take longer than a year to wrap. Batman and Robin bust Hammond and Thompson with ease.

–Batman #69, Part 2
Former leader of the old volunteer fire squad, Jim Garth, snaps. Despite the fact that his family died thirteen years ago in a tragic accidental fire, Garth comes to blame his old squad (including Batman) for their demise. Donning a fire-proof suit and flamethrower, Garth begins attacking his old firefighting teammates, quickly earning the nickname “The Blaze.” Eventually, Batman and Robin expose Garth as the Blaze and chase him into a construction blasting zone where the villain is blown to bits.

–Batman #69, Part 3
Enter a new super-villain called The King of Cats (aka Cat-King)! After a series of Catwoman-inspired crimes than run circles around Batman and Robin, the King of Cats demands that Selina Kyle—still fooling everyone into thinking she has reformed—join him by his side as the Queen of Cats. Selina refuses, but helps the King of Cats escape from Batman and Robin. Later, at the Gotham Zoo’s big cats section, the King of Cats has the upper hand against Batman, but Selina—back in her Catwoman costume—shows up and helps apprehend the super-villain. Why the mixed feelings towards the King of Cats? Because he is none other than her unbalanced brother Karl Kyle! Karl goes to jail but promises to live the rest of his life as an honest man.

–Detective Comics #183, Epilogue
Batman and Robin read about the capital punishment of Cook, the killer from the Namesake Club murders that occurred a few weeks ago.

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin go on a unspecified mission and obtain a giant star wall-decal as a trophy that they place into the Hall of Trophies (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #122).

–FLASHBACK: A criminal named Mr. Cipher begins an operation that surgically alters criminals faces so that they can begin new lives as brand new gangsters with no records (as seen via flashback in Batman #71, Part 3). We’ve seen this strategy used a few instances before, but not so efficiently and effectively. Upon discovering Cipher’s surgery ring, Batman conspires with Commissioner Gordon and creates a group of elite undercover officers that volunteer to join Cipher’s ranks and get surgically altered.

–Star Spangled Comics #121-122
Batman sends Robin to deliver some important paperwork to the authorities in the Batmobile. En route, Robin witnesses a couple of bizarre trailer accidents. Bruce departs on what is supposed to be a several weeklong trip (that turns out to be shortened to about one week), prompting Dick to purchase a trailer and begin a cross country trek with Alfred. Joining up with a caravan club, Dick soon realizes that the “mobile city” is being plagued by an insurance racket. Robin and Alfred inspire the caravaners to rise up and shut down the crooked operation. Back in Gotham, Bruce returns home and hears all about Dick and Alfred’s adventure.

Robin sees a little of his younger self in fifteen-year-old celebrity juvenile delinquent Floyd Wood and decides to take him under his wing. With Bruce’s pull, the courts remand temporary custody of Wood to Robin, who takes him on a weeklong camping trip in an attempt to connect with the boy. While Robin “reaches out” to Wood—wow that sounds awful no matter how you say it—Batman defends Gotham all on his lonesome.

–REFERENCE: Batman leaves town on unspecified business, leaving Robin to fight and defeat Crazy Quilt on his own (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #123). At one point during this episode, Robin’s costume gets bleached white by Crazy Quilt—Robin puts the all-white costume in the Hall of Trophies.

–REFERENCE: While Batman is out of town, Robin apprehends gangster Champ Trask (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #124). The entire event is filmed. Since Batman is out of town, we must assume that Alfred or another close ally of Robin did the cinematography. When Batman returns home, he and Robin edit the footage into an informative documentary movie designed to teach new GCPD police recruits.

–Star Spangled Comics #117, Introduction
Early spring, 1952—this tale goes here because it is the first time Dick could conceivably attend an institute of higher learning after high school, which he graduates (late) in May of 1951. Batman and Robin attend “Review Day” at Porter Military Academy, a prestigious school miles outside of Gotham. During the event one of the honor students gets injured and Batman learns about a string of mysterious injuries recently. Afterward, Batman and Robin witness another near fatality as one of the students gets hurt in a car accident. Two weeks later, with obvious monetary influence and some heavy pull, Dick enrolls in a Bachelor’s Degree program and begins the Spring semester with the intent of finding out who is responsible for the incidents. Dick will go secretly go back and forth between Porter Academy and Gotham City for the next four months or so. Thus, the main body of Star Spangled Comics #117, which doesn’t include Batman but shows Robin’s actions at Porter Academy, will overlap with many of our upcoming tales.

–Detective Comics #181
Batman and Robin chase crook David Wist into a nuclear testing facility where an explosion bestows him with electromagnetic powers! Becoming the new costumed Human Magnet—the first was an old foe of Robotman—Wist becomes Gotham’s top criminal for the next week, running circles around Batman and Robin. The Dynamic Duo eventually catches the Human Magnet by setting mosquitoes loose upon him. The Human Magnet claps his hands together, trying to fend off the mosquitoes, causing his opposite poles to shut down his power.

–Batman #70
An inventor named Mr. Weir constructs a remote-controlled Robot Cop to assist the GCPD, much to the surprise of Batman, Robin, and Commissioner Gordon.[2] The next day, Batman engages in a series of training exercises with Robot Cop and the latter proves himself worthy. At a special ceremony a few days later, Robot Cop becomes the newest GCPD patrolman. Later, when an army of gangsters blockades Gotham Central Bridge and hijacks a cruise ship, Robot Cop single-handedly dismantles the dozens of bad guys. The following day, Gordon appoints Robot Cop as an official partner to Batman and Robin. Throughout the following week Robot Cop aids the Dynamic Duo, and begins upstaging Batman at every turn, so much so that Gordon assigns the Dark Knight to a desk job! Later, Batman disobeys Gordon’s orders and goes after Barker Dawes, who has discovered that x-rays can be used to shut down Robot Cop. Batman, in disguise as Robot Cop, is able to take down Dawes’ gang, earn back the good graces of Gordon, and put the flawed Robot Cop in permanent storage.

Criminal genius Mr. Tolan sets up what is at least the fourth or fifth version of a “crime academy” that we’ve seen thus far. After facing off against one of Tolan’s elite soldiers, Batman disguises himself as a criminal and enrolls in the program. Bruce attends opening ceremonies and begins crime classes, each night sneaking out to do his nightly patrol. Soon, Bruce engages in a skills competition with the other students, and despite putting forth his best effort is beaten each time by a gangster named Wills, who Batman later discovers has been cheating to win. Batman then leaks word at the school that there is a traitor amongst the mix. Naturally, Tolan fingers Wills due to his inflated athletic prowess and mental abilities. That night, Batman, having collected all of the info he wanted from the academy, orders the GCPD to raid the institution.

For the second time in less than twelve months Penguin is given parole for good behavior, with the ultimatum that he must never be allowed to own pet birds again. Penguin agrees, but begins focusing on umbrellas, purchasing an umbrella factory and vowing to go straight. Besides tricking Batman into endorsing his factory, Penguin seems legit for a while. However, it isn’t long after that before Penguin tries to rob Gothamites with magnetized umbrellas. Fleeing to the Caribbean, Penguin attempts another big score with sandstorm-causing wind umbrellas before being caught by the Dynamic Duo and shipped back to prison in Gotham.

–REFERENCE: Batman goes on an unspecified solo mission in Chicago (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #125).

–Detective Comics #182
The criminal mastermind known only as The Maestro plans elaborate heists with the aid of a weird puppet theater that he performs for his henchmen before each operation. After getting the better of Batman and Robin three times in a row, the Maestro captures Batman and Robin and strings them up as his own personal human puppets for all of Gotham’s underworld to see in a large auditorium. Batman and Robin eventually break their tough strings and bust the Maestro.

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin go on an unspecified case (or cases) and obtain a red mini-submarine, a giant mushroom, a small red missile, a potted palm tree, airplane badges, a lantern, and some clay masks, all of which they place into the Hall of Trophies (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #126).

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin solve the “African Murder Case,” which nets them a large devil statue that goes into the Hall of Trophies (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #126).

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin travel to New Rochelle, NY and solve the “Leland Castle Case” at the historic Leland Castle (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #126). Batman is gifted a suit of armor after wrapping the case, which goes into the Hall of Trophies.

–REFERENCE: Batman leaves town on unspecified business (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #126).

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin send the Flint Brothers to Death Row (as referenced in Detective Comics #197).

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin are interviewed by famous author Dwight Forrow and his brother Doug Forrow (as referenced in Detective Comics #197). Dwight is in the process of writing a book about Batman’s “Ten Greatest Cases.”

–FLASHBACK: Batman and Robin fight saboteurs inside an airplane research station (as seen in Detective Comics #221). The Dynamic Duo barely escapes from a wind tunnel death trap, but does so, and apprehends the saboteurs.

–REFERENCE: Bruce befriends one of his colleagues at the Gotham Museum, Dr. Sayre (as referenced in Batman #93, Part 3). While not specifically shown on our timeline, Bruce will maintain a close relationship with Dr. Sayre for years to come.

–FLASHBACK: Officer John Harlan of the GCPD is set to retire, but gets injured in the line of duty, and lies weakened and unconscious in the hospital. For forty years Harlan has marched in the Annual Police Parade, but it looks like he will miss his final one. Thankfully, Batman disguises himself as Harlan and marches in the parade for him (as seen in Detective Comics #227). The next day, when Harlan wakes, Batman tells him that he (Harlan) marched in the ceremony but must have blacked out.

–REFERENCE: Early May. As referenced in Detective Comics #232, Batman busts criminal Bart Davis, who dresses up like Batman to fool folks into trusting him.

–REFERENCE: As referenced in Detective Comics #228, Batman puts the debuting Spade Stinson behind bars.

–REFERENCE: Batman busts the Clover Gang and keeps a trick bank ledger that releases poison gas when opened for the Hall of Trophies (as referenced in World’s Finest Comics #63).

–REFERENCE: Batman leaves Gotham to solve the “Benson Murder Case” (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #128).

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin bust George “Boss” Dyke and send him to Death Row (as referenced in Batman #75, Part 3).

–REFERENCE: Batman sends mob boss Cal Davis to the State Prison (as referenced in Detective Comics #191).

–REFERENCE: Batman duels with the returning Skid Turkel, who threatens to toss his girlfriend Mabel out of a window to distract the Dark Knight (as referenced in Batman #74, Part 2). Skid escapes when one of his henchmen knocks-out Batman.

–REFERENCE: Batman leaves town on unspecified business (as referenced in Star Spangled Comics #129).

–REFERENCE: Batman catches Diamond Lang red-handed in the act of grand larceny (as referenced in Detective Comics #186). Lang, however, goes free on bail, but DA Pierce schedules his trial for a later date.

–REFERENCE: Batman and Robin defeat The Bowler, a crook that traps them in a giant bowling alley lane and attempts to kill them by squashing them between a giant bowling ball and some giant pins (as referenced in Detective Comics #238). Batman puts the giant bowling ball and the giant bowling pins into the Hall of Trophies after the case wraps (as referenced in Batman #108, Part 2).

–World’s Finest Comics #58
Bruce becomes a trustee on the executive board of the International Chemical Company—he’s already a trustee on the board of the United Chemical Corporation—and has his first meeting. At the meeting, an incensed board member named Roger Keep suffers an accident while touring the plant and winds up paralyzed for life. Blaming his fellow board members, Keep hires men to histrionically and publicly kill off each of them. When they all are seemingly assassinated right under Batman’s nose, a disappointed Commissioner Gordon takes Batman off the case. However, Batman busts Keep and reveals that the other members’ deaths were all staged to fool Keep into a false sense of security.[3]

–Detective Comics #184
Bruce and Dick attend a musical that gets interrupted by the terrifying light show of electrical engineer and criminal mastermind Garfield Lynns. Batman and Robin chase off Lynns, who decides to up his game as Gotham’s newest costumed super-villain, Firefly! Using an array of blinding rainbow-colored light rays and trick lights that ostensibly remove colors from the visible spectrum, Firefly successfully defeats the Dynamic Duo a few nights in a row. Eventually, Batman gets the upper hand by turning Firefly’s own light rays against him. (In the Golden Age, Firefly is a one-shot villain.)

–Star Spangled Comics #117, Conclusion
Late May 1952—placed here in 1952 because this issue concludes Dick’s tenure at Porter Military Academy, which must occur definitively after his high school education has already ended. Robin outs the corrupt Professor Bibby as the culprit behind injuring and playing foul against Porter Academy’s top students. With Batman’s assistance, Robin busts Bibby. A few days later, the semester ends. While Dick only completed a single semester, he is awarded a Bachelor’s Degree. Thanks for buying me a diploma Daddy Warbucks Wayne! Robin puts his new diploma into the Batcave Hall of Trophies.

–REFERENCE: While Robin is away as a special guest at a youth convention, Batman fights the tyranny of The Masked Mystic (Gil Golan) (as referenced in Batman #71, Part 2).

–Batman #71, Part 1
Batman and Robin, along with a lot of other lawmen, are incarcerated in a prison constructed and manned by a gangster named Scar and his henchmen. After a few grueling days, Batman and his fellow “cons” are told they will be executed in a day’s time. Batman goads a cocky Scar into a fistfight and during the brouhaha, Batman is somehow able to drag his opponent into a darkened corner, knock him out, and switch outfits. Batman as “Scar” then fakes the gas chamber deaths of all the prison’s inmates, rallies the troops, and shuts down the false jail.

–Batman #71, Part 2
While Batman and Robin take on the Masked Mystic, Commissioner Gordon decides that he must finally know Batman’s true identity. Gordon, obsessed with finding out, puts Batman in precarious positions over and over again in an attempt to figure out who he is, including throwing a party with his wife Barbara in which Batman and Bruce are both invited. Eventually, Batman lets Gordon believe that he is socialite Hal Bartley. The Masked Mystic accosts Gordon in his home and forces him to reveal Batman’s ID, which obviously is the incorrect one. Batman, alongside Bartley, leaps from the shadows and busts the Masked Mystic. The Dark Knight’s secret ID is once again safe and an ashamed Gordon gives up wanting to know who he really is.

–Batman #71, Part 3
Mr. Cipher has been running rampant over Gotham for the past six weeks. Despite the use of Commissioner Gordon’s elite undercover squad, Batman is not only not getting any closer to catching the crook, he is getting grief from the news media. Eventually, Cipher makes his first (and last) mistake when he captures Batman. Finally within close proximity, Batman (with help from Robin and the police) takes on Cipher, who gets shot to death by the cops. After unmasking Cipher, everyone is shocked at his hideously deformed face due to way too many surgeries. The identity of Cipher is never known. Could he have been someone we’ve met before? We’ll never know—not with that unprepossessing misshapen mug.

[4]

–FLASHBACK: July 1952. Batman, after twelve years, finally apprehends Skid Turkel, thanks to a little help from his angry girlfriend Mabel (as seen through flashback in Batman #74, Part 2).

–NOTE: Joker escapes from jail (as referenced in World’s Finest Comics #59).

–World’s Finest Comics #59
Joker hires a brand new gang to commit specialized crimes, including sending a skinny man through a pipe to get inside a mansion, sneaking a man with glasses into a playing card factory to start an arson fire, using a sword-swallower to steal a sword, and utilizing a cross-dresser to gain entry into a clown-themed art gallery. The last scheme results in a pretty amazing “that’s not your girlfriend, it’s a man!” situation on the part of Batman. Finally, Joker learns that Bruce Wayne is a former college slingshot champion, so he abducts Bruce and flies with him down to Bermuda where they board a cruise ship that contains a cache of diamonds. Back in Gotham, Bruce is ordered to slingshot the diamonds out of a porthole into Joker’s boat. Of course, Bruce gets away and Batman and Robin put a stop to Joker’s machinations.

–Detective Comics #186
Diamond Lang kidnaps Robin and forces Batman to sign a highly dubious legally binding contract in exchange for the boy’s release. The contract states that “Batman cannot set foot in Gotham City for a week.” Rather than disobey this diktat, Batman chooses to honor it, but decides to test out some new Bat-vehicles in the process. Enter the giant “Flying Bat-Cave”, a mammoth helicopter with all the amenities of the Batcave underneath Wayne Manor. Night one, the Flying Batcave is used to put a chink in the armor of Big-Time Gateson’s crime operations. The next night, when Gateson goes into the sewers near Gotham Sound, Batman and Robin use the underwater Bat-osphere, a large bathysphere, to stop his hijinks. The next day, Lang is tried by DA Pierce before a Gotham jury and Batman gives his testimony via closed-circuit TV from within the Flying Batcave. Pierce’s men are able to block the signal, so Batman uses the giant Batcave penny to shield his transmission. Later, Gateson manages to heavily damage the Flying Batcave with an anti-aircraft artillery canon. Batman and Robin parachute down and bust Gateson, claiming that since he was on top of a post office, technically, it was not Gotham but the territory of the US government. Afterward, Batman and Robin put the Flying Batcave parachutes into the Hall of Trophies. Following this case, the Dynamic Duo will begin randomly towing the Bat-osphere, or simply Batosphere (without a hyphen), around behind the Batmobile in case they need to use it on short notice (as referenced in Detective Comics #189). Bear in mind they won’t tow it every time.

–Batman #72, Part 1
Batman and Robin apprehend the Sinister Eight, a super-villain group comprised of the eight top international criminals in the world that has recently broken out of Satan’s Island Prison with the help of the World-Wide Underworld! The Sinister Eight includes the colorful group of Frenchy Le Doix (from France), Singh Dan (India), Baron Hengler (East Germany), Ling Chee (China), Luigi Verona (Italy), Aldo Toledano (Spain), Liverpool Kid (England), and Sumatra Joe (Indonesia). I love these characters—so good. A few days later, the Sinister Eight are placed aboard a remote-controlled vessel headed back to Satan’s Island, guarded only by Batman and Robin. Of course, the inmates escape and wind up, along with a nearly naked Batman and Robin, on a deserted island filled with various dangers. The “Jungle Dynamic Duo” fights the Sinister Eight for over a week before finally besting them again. Back in Gotham, the Dynamic Duo receives a heroes’ welcome.

–Batman #72, Part 2
Batman attends the annual Maskers Club meet-up and brings Robin along with him. Afterward, a string of week-long daring thefts are committed by a mystery person that wears a different Maskers Club mask each night. Eventually, after the red herrings are ruled out, Batman exposes the Maskers Club doorman cum would-be counterfeiter Biff as the culprit. Afterward, Batman and Robin put replica masks into the Hall of Trophies, including a knight’s helmet, diving helmet, Chinese theater mask, Arctic military mask, welding mask, and fencing mask.

–Batman #72, Part 3
The bizarre clubs in Gotham keep on multiplying. The Death-Cheaters Club is comprised of people who have been pronounced dead only to be revived and brought back to life. When gangster Little Dougy is pronounced dead at the hospital after a gangland shooting only to be revived by doctors, he applies for membership but is denied due to his criminal record. In the following week, several members of the Death-Cheaters Club are murdered or attacked—the latter members protected by Batman. Eventually, Batman clears Dougy as a suspect and nabs the real murderer, the group’s embezzling treasurer Jeff Sievers. The final “can you guess whodunit?” page of this issue is oddly upside-down so that you have to literally turn the book upside-down to find out the big reveal. Hurm.

–Batman #74, Part 3
Late summer 1952—due to the depiction of the weather. A new water-themed costumed super-villain called Hydro appears on the Gotham scene. Batman and Robin fight him over the course of a week. Eventually, Hyrdo finds his way via an underground waterway to the outskirts of the Bat-Cave, where he detonates an explosion designed to flood the HQ of the Dynamic Duo. Batman prevents this from happening and sends Hydro to prison—while having discovered the Bat-Cave, Hydro is unsure of its location. After the case wraps, Batman and Robin decide to close off the underground river that flows into the Bat-Cave.

–REFERENCE: Late August. Batman is the guest of honor at Gotham’s annual “Batman Day” celebration (as referenced in Batman #103, Part 1).

–NOTE: Joker escapes from the pen (as referenced in Batman #73, Part 3 Intro).

Batman #73, Part 3 Intro
The Dynamic Duo, using their utility belt gas pellets, stops Joker from robbing the museum. Afterward, a frustrated but still at-large Joker makes his own utility belt with the hope of one-upping Batman. And for a couple of nights in a row, Joker’s belt allows him to score some serious victories against the law.[5]

–Detective Comics #187
Gotham’s Law & Order Committee holds a special exhibition that showcases several items from the Batcave’s Hall of Trophies, on loan from Batman. Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon, and Harvey Kent are all in attendance. Later, Kent is set to play Two-Face in a stage reenactment of his tragic story. However, unknown to the crowd, Kent is knocked-out and replaced by makeup artist/theater manager George Blake, who masquerades as a charlatan Two-Face and begins a series of double-themed crimes over the course of several days as part of a convoluted insurance fraud scam. After busting Blake, Batman and Robin hang out with Kent in the hospital.

–Star Spangled Comics #130
Robin’s rival Fixer Bannon has just gotten out of prison and learned the Boy Wonder’s secret ID. Bannon throws a grenade at Dick, which temporarily renders him deaf. Needing to confirm Robin’s ID, Bannon lures Robin to the Budd Museum. Despite being completely deaf, Robin tricks Bannon into thinking his hearing is fine by using a chrome flashlight as a mirror to spot him and by feeling the vibrations on a pane of glass when Bannon shoots his gun. After Bannon is sent to jail, Robin puts the chrome flashlight into the Hall of Trophies and tells Batman all about the adventure.

–World’s Finest Comics #60
Glenn Farr has made millions on the black market, but the exotic collectables he wants to buy are not for sale. Thus, Farr pours his money into the most expensive heists ever committed. First, he buys a circus and a fleet of cabs and uses both to cause a ruckus that stymies the Dynamic Duo while he robs a priceless vase. Then, he buys an entire town that is being sold by a mining company and replaces its government and police with his own hired goon squad. Despite being banned from the town, Batman and Robin bust through a cordon and rescue an illegally detained citizen. After that, Farr hires a man to find out Batman’s identity. While his investigator begins his job, Farr—with an armada of tanks and a freight helicopter—steals a collection of framed autographed celebrity photos, among which are the signed photos of Batman and Robin that have been added a mere days earlier. Batman and Robin bust Farr and his gang and then Batman is able to fool Farr’s investigator by showing that his signature is different than Bruce’s thanks to his patented left-handed John Hancock maneuver (a trick he picked up from Superman six years ago).

–FLASHBACK: The entirety of World’s Finest Comics #87 is a flashback narrated by Superman about a long lost tale, which occurs before his marriage to Lois next year. Superman confronts a masked and caped super-villain that has the exact powers that he has. During their confrontation, Superman collapses due to the presence of a batch of Kryptonite. The new villain, named Elton Craig, reveals that he got his temporary powers from super-power pills inside a Kryptonian box that had been embedded in a meteorite that landed on Earth. Craig shows Superman the box, which reveals that his father Jor-L, right before the destruction of Krypton, had assembled the power pills with the intention of sending them along with baby Kal-L. Now the drugs are finally on Earth, but in the wrong hands. Craig flies off to commit more mischief, leaving Superman behind. Weakened, Superman tries to revive himself by popping a power pill, but the pill has Kryptonite dust on it. Superman gets even weaker as a result! With nowhere left to turn, Superman phones Bruce for help. Batman and Robin arrive and pop the pills, gaining the super powers needed to fight Craig. In their first square-off, Craig bests the Dynamic Duo by tossing the helpless Superman away, forcing the super powered heroes to save him. While Batman and Robin do some super feats, Superman locates Craig’s hideout and confronts him. There, a cocky Craig shoots Superman in the chest not knowing that Superman’s costume is invulnerable. Just as Craig’s powers fade and before he can pop another pill, Superman’s powers come back, allowing him to bust the badguy. Afterward, Superman gives Batman the rest of the power pills to keep and safeguard. The Dark Knight locks them away in the Batcave.

–Detective Comics #188
Someone has been aiding the hook-handed prosthetic-armed leader of the Waterfront Robbery Mob, Hook Deering, but Batman can’t figure out who. During a meeting with the waterfront Importers Association’ Batman pleads for any leads that might help catch the crook. During the same meeting, the lights go out and chaos fills the room for a few minutes thanks to Deering. Back in the Bat-Cave, Batman’s cape and cowl burst into flames thanks to a chemical sprayed on them in the darkness. After another tangle with Deering, Batman spots that the tires have been switched on the Batmobile, replaced with new ones ready to burst and emit a deadly gas. The tires also contain a written threat that there is a bomb inside the Bat-Cave. As ludicrous as it may sound, Batman panics and begins a full sweep of the cave that turns up nothing. Batman eventually catches Deering and brings him to the Bat-Cave only to discover that the bomb is in his prosthetic arm! The Dark Knight deactivates the detonator and learns that Deering was merely the pawn of one of the leaders of the Importers’ Association.

–Batman #76, Part 2 Intro
Penguin is paroled yet again. Batman and Robin meet with Penguin outside of the State Prison and the bird-crazed super-villain vows to go straight.

–FLASHBACK: Batman and Robin solve “The Case of the Stolen Doll” (as seen in Batman #87, Part 1). Some crooks hide pearls that are worth half-a-million dollars inside a toy doll, which winds up in the hands of a young girl named Janie. Batman and Robin retrieve the doll, extract the pearls, and return the toy.

–Batman #73, Part 1
There’s a new underground firearms rental market designed specifically for crooks that has been started by crooked GCPD consultant Dr. Hagen, better known as The Renter. After busting a few baddies, Batman and Commissioner Gordon are unable to link the guns to any of them (and begin having trouble finding the guns as well). Batman goes in disguise as underworld gun expert “Slug Carson” and joins the ranks of the rental store, learning that crooks rent guns for steep prices so that they can later be disposed of permanently back at the store—although Hagen actually keeps the guns to later blackmail his buyers. Batman’s “Slug” disguise is eventually exposed, but he escapes from Hagen’s capture to bust him. Afterward, Batman and Robin place “The Renter’s Special,” a high powered rifle that had been priced at $10,000 and was specifically designed for the execution of Batman.

–Batman #73, Part 2
Bruce’s ex-girlfriend Vicki Vale is once again hell bent on proving that he is Batman. Vicki rushes over to Wayne Manor claiming that her life is in danger. While Alfred tends to her, Batman and Robin visit Vicki’s apartment. Upon arrival, Batman spots a hidden microphone planted by Vicki with the intention of recording Bruce and Dick exposing themselves as superheroes. Batman turns on a fan to block out any conversation and then rummages through Vicki’s apartment, finding a few snapshots of gangster Keys Bennett’s new hideout. Batman and Robin bust Bennett then realize that Vicki set them up at her apartment. Batman shoots back and records a false message as Bruce that makes it seem like he definitely isn’t Batman. Later, Vicki gloats, expecting to expose them once and for all. Of course, with the new dialogue, Bruce wins yet again and his secret is safe.

–Batman #73, Part 3 Conclusion
For three-and-a-half-weeks Joker has used his utility belt to terrorize Gotham and get away with crime after crime. After getting bested yet again, the Dynamic Duo retreats to come up with a better game plan. A few days later at the christening of one of Bruce’s new ocean liners (by ceremonial hosts Batman and Robin), the Joker strikes again and is able to capture the Dynamic Duo. At Joker’s lair, the Clown Prince of Crime puts Robin into a horrible conveyor belt/incinerator deathtrap. Batman, however, is able to snatch Joker’s belt and use its peurile contents to save Robin and defeat Joker and his henchmen.

–Detective Comics #189
When news of a mysterious new super-villain who takes wanted criminals to a deep sea underwater hideout reaches Batman, the Dynamic Duo goes on the hunt. Eventually, using the Batosphere, they sniff out Mr. Styx, who supposedly takes the crooks to his “aqua-lair” at the bottom of the Atlantic to protect them from police. However, Batman exposes Styx as a fraud who tricks his rubes, actually holding them in a shallow water submarine in Gotham Bay while he profits from charging huge fees. Batman traps the hiding villains like rats in a shallow cage and busts Styx as well.

–World’s Finest Comics #61
Joker must have the best lawyers on the planet, even better than Penguin’s, because he is paroled yet again! Batman puts a bug in the Jokermobile and listens in on Joker. The Dark Knight is unable to pin anything on the Clown Prince of Crime himself, but is able to bust some of Joker’s associates based upon what he hears. Infuriated at his invasion of privacy, Joker kidnaps Robin and blackmails Batman. Forced to do Joker’s bidding, Batman is ordered to publicly disgrace himself and “become a cheat” or Robin dies. Batman takes him literally and, using a remote-controlled Batplane and Batman dummy, “cheats” death with a public plane crash. An angered Joker then demands that Batman “steal,” to which Batman responds by busting up Joker and his gang at a sporting goods store, essentially “stealing the J-Man’s thunder.” Next up, Joker calls for Batman to become a “killer.” At the circus Batman runs circles around Joker and his gang, essentially “killing time” and “killing the audience” with his spectacular aerial marvels, etc…etc… Blechhh. And then Batman rescues Robin and sends Joker back behind bars.

–Detective Comics #190
When a night watchmen is attacked with a special amnesia gas created by Dr. Sampson, Batman is on the case and begins working out a formula to reverse the gas’ effects. He tracks down Sampson, but takes a dose of the gas causing him to forget his entire life! Robin takes the weary Dark Knight back home and tries to make him remember in vain. Robin then leads Batman into battle against Sampson, but the memory-less Batman is so ineffective that Commissioner Gordon takes him off the case. Back in the Bat-Cave, Batman peruses his notes pertaining to an antidote and cobbles up a serum based roughly on them. Back in action, Robin and Batman are losing the fight against Sampson yet again until the serum kicks in. It’s a success and Batman regains his memories, confidence, and crime-fighting ability just in time to bust Sampson.

–REFERENCE: Joker escapes from jail and evades recapture by police by using false detachable arms to get away (as referenced in Batman #74, Part 1). As also referenced in the same issue, Batman has a miniature diorama of Joker evading a cop using his fake arms specially made up for the Hall of Trophies. Weird. I know.

–Batman #74, Part 1
Joker, wanting to get sent into the Gotham Institute for the Insane to get information about a hidden cache of stolen money from a patient there, starts committing bizarre—even for him—crimes that lead to no lucrative end. Eventually, Joker gets sentenced to the Institute and Batman, playing the role of the deranged “Minos the Mind Reader,” goes under cover to keep tabs on him. After a few days, Joker learns that Minos is actually Batman, conks him in the head, ties him up, and sits him in a padded cell that slowly fills with water. In the process, Joker discovers that Batman is Bruce Wayne!. However, as luck would have it, one of the insane patients, believing himself to be the Dark Knight, swings in wearing a Batman costume, and helps a surprised Robin defeat Joker. After a few more days confined to the Institute for the Insane, Joker is transferred to the State Prison.

 

 

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  1. [1]COLLIN COLSHER: Robin mentions Bruce’s ancestor Mad Anthony Wayne, who was a famous Revolutionary War general, in this issue.
  2. [2]COLLIN COLSHER: Since Batman has seen numerous robots of all kind in the past, and especially since Harold Horace even built a Robot Robin before, the Dynamic Duo’s level of surprise at meeting the Robot Cop doesn’t make much sense here, but oh well.
  3. [3]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, and board member of two different chemical plants.
  4. [4]COLLIN COLSHER / AARON SEVERSON: This is an important note! Superman #76 originally took place here and now and featured the first ever published comic book where Batman and Superman learn each others’ secret identities. However, thanks to numerous retcons and the “grandfathering-in” of later stories, Batman and Superman definitely already know each others’ identities. In the narrative of Superman #76 Bruce Wayne shares a cabin with Clark Kent aboard the cruise ship Varania. During the voyage, the two men accidentally discover each others’ secret identities and join forces to capture a criminal. As established in World’s Finest Comics #271, published in 1981, the Adventures of Superman radio serial was part of Earth-Two continuity. In the radio series Batman and Superman first joined forces and learned each others’ true identities in March 1945. World’s Finest #271 established that those events were Batman and Superman’s first case together on Earth-Two, while the events of Superman #76 took place only on Earth-One. So, to reiterate: Superman #76 is non-canon on pre-original Crisis Earth-Two, but canon on pre-original Crisis Earth-One.
  5. [5]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 chief stockholder of Gotham Steamship Company.

3 Responses to Year Fourteen

  1. Mortimer Drake says:

    When whilst thou return to the Golden Age?

    • Ah, my old friend Cavalier. Well, to be honest I was getting a bit burned out by the Golden Age and needed a break. 50s Batman can be a bit tedious and narratively repetitive, hehe. I’ll probably start back up within the next couple weeks or so, though.

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