Baturdays: Detective Comics #48, “The Mystery of the Secret Cavern”

In All, Books and Comics by Kyu

Publication date: February 1941
Author: Bob Kane

Our story begins in Kentucky, when a man in a rowboat ends up finding his way into a cave… which leads to a massive limestone cavern. The man is in awe, consumed by wonder, marveling at the newly discovered natural beauty all around him. It warms the heart to see one so reverent and appreciative of–

Terribly excited, the man makes his way back to town, where he happens to blurt out the news of his discovery–but not its precise location–to two gentlemen who just happen to be hiding out from the police. Upon discussion, the gentlemen decide to go find the surveyor and ask him where this cave happened to be. They don’t ask very nicely:

“I wonder if he’d talk if we promised to give him a share of the haul?”
“What? You mean, violence isn’t the answer?”

“Naw, let’s just hit him some more.”

Hitting doesn’t work, bribery won’t work… But the recalcitrant Lewis has a daughter–Linda Lewis, a singer at Top Hat Club. The gentlemen go to Renaldo, the club owner, with a proposition…

It’s hard to tell if Wayne remembers that he has a fiancee or not. (Possibly this was written out of order with an upcoming story where–spoiler alert–[spoiler]Bruce and Julie break up.[/spoiler])

But their date may never happen. After her set, Linda enters her dressing room to change, and is surprised by a man, who creeps toward her, very rapist-ly.

“And you’ll be… in a worrrrld of pure imagin–” BLAM

Okay, so he doesn’t break out into song. But she does shoot him (his response, absurdly, is “I was only fooling!”) An instant later, Reynaldo and another man burst in. Turns out, Creepy McStalkerton really was only joking. Linda is terrified–she’s killed a man for no reason. Renaldo takes the gun and tells her, “Go home to your father in Kentucky for a while, we’ll take care of all of this.”

Ah, the oldest trick in the book: the Grifter’s Donkey Switcheroo, mixed with a Reverse Tea-Kettle. Not to be confused with the Lost Train Ticket to Swindle-Town, Grapefruit variant (for that you need a fourth man, a road map, and a baby carriage).

Bruce is upset upon hearing that Linda broke their date without even telling him.

“How can I find out? Maybe if I squint just hard enough–“

Meanwhile, Linda arrives at her father’s cabin–only to find Renaldo and the gentlemen already there (she went by train; they went by plane). They’ve told Mr. Lewis about the “murder” Linda committed, and when she confirms what happened, he agrees to show them the way to the cave in order to keep her out of jail.

Back in Gotham City, Bruce has moved from squinting to full-on investigating. After all, he’s rich, he’s handsome, he’s charming–there has to be a real reason as to why Linda stood him up, right? Right?

I feel like this is heading into “buddy tries to help buddy get laid” territory. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anyway, the boys head out to confront Renaldo….

First time it’s called the Batmobile! Is this a special car, or just a 1940s car? I don’t know anything about this subject.

But they don’t realize yet that Renaldo is in Kentucky. What we’re seeing here is actually a pretty nifty dual narrative structure, two intersecting plot-lines. Very classic. We know Batman is essentially an unstoppable force; the only question is whether his fists will make it to Kentucky in time. We have knowledge that our heroes don’t share, and every detour they take has us yelling at the page, “THEY’RE IN KENTUCKY! THEY’RE GONNA ROB THE RESERVE! GOD! MORONS!”

…or maybe that’s just me. I get a little too into this sometimes.

Anyway, Batman and Robin roar through the streets at top speed to Renaldo’s apartment. Because this is an emergency! She stood him up! Activate thrusters!

[theme music swells]

Luckily for Batman, a henchman in the apartment on the phone with Nick (aka the “dead” guy) reveals almost the entire plan, including the faked murder. Batman literally beats the rest out of him:

Ah, it warms the cockles of my heart when they beg like that.

Man, Batman is really on his game tonight. Breaking and entering, beating up henchmen–he’ll have this whole thing rolled up by dawn, I’m sure. Nothing can stop him now.


I forgive him, though, because it sets the stage for a nicely-done classic Batman fight. He makes a great entrance:

And a great pun:

And for the bad guy, a humiliating defeat:

“But I don’t wanna go to Kentucky!”
“Well, you should have thought of that before you became a criminal.”

The three journey by Batplane to Kentucky, where Nick guides them to Lewis’s cabin. Batman takes out the lone guard with a silent choke hold (ninja). Then he tells a joke!

Knock knock!

Who’s there?


Batman frees Mr. Lewis and his daughter, and shows them the tied-up Nick, clearly not dead. The truth revealed, they tell Batman about the cavern, and he rushes there to head off the thieves.

When they get there, there’s some nice atmosphere. The adventurers are hushed, in awe of the cavern, and the thieves work in absolute silence to get into the gold reserve. And then…

Some days the bat gets you, some days… the Batman gets you. It’s hard out there for a crook.

There is a brief and uninteresting fight, except for the part where a moron up in the gold vault fires a shot down at Batman, alerting the guards, who shoot them dead:

I can but point and laugh.

Batman and Robin take down the rest of the guys below in the cave, including Renaldo. Even Lewis gets in a few hits on the men who tortured him earlier. Happy endings all around! (Except for the dead guys.)

“That, and I get to sleep with Linda now, right?”

Tune in next week as Baturdays continues!