Baturdays: Detective Comics #50, “The Case of the Three Devils”

In All, Books and Comics by Kyu

Publication date: April 1941
Author: Bob “my name is on the front page, so nyah” Kane

Our story opens with a particularly dick move from our heroes:


Guys, look in a mirror. You are strangely dressed figures flying around the rooftops! It’s not a crime!

Actually, I don’t think B&R consider the figures (who are dressed in red and have little horns, but hey, so does Daredevil) to be criminals; they consider them competition. Gotham’s only big enough for one ridiculously costumed vigilante team, at least during the night shift. Plus, there’s merchandising rights to contend for. And really, aren’t fisticuffs better than lawsuits?

Alright, I’ve convinced myself. Let’s watch them run off the newbies:


Ouch. Well, that was quick, painful, and humiliating. Just like Portia Storme breaking up with Bruce. BAM!

I take back what I said earlier, though. A closer look indicates that the newcomers all sport pointy goatees, which, as we all know, means they have nefarious intentions. I apologize for not trusting your judgment, Batman.

While Batman and Robin recover from their respective blows to the head, the three devils flee, using the power of acrobatics:


They’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
Those daring red men on the flying trapeze.
They beat Batman up, ’cause they traveled in threes,
And their beards were the envy of all!

Over the next few days, the strange gang gains some measure of infamy, due to their ridiculously successful robberies of jewel stores and banks. It has the cops all in a tizzy, and the commish barking out recriminations and demanding his own badge and gun in his confusion.


Hah hah! The cops seem to be having a devil of a time catching these guys!



Dammit, Wayne!

Bruce has a plan; unlike the cops, he can sometimes act pro-actively, whereas they appear to only be able to handle reactive responses. Specifically, he knows that the three devils have to be fencing the jewels somewhere; and he knows there are only two fences in the city who handle gems of the size and quantity that have been stolen. Looks like it’s time to split up, gang… but not before they add a new, exceptionally silly piece of tech to their crime fighting arsenal:


I have no words.

Batman’s plan to watch the fences works, after a while, and he busts in on the devils trying to flog a few diamonds from the “Van Deeke’s safe,” bowling them over like ninepins. Between the devils, the fence, and the fence’s goons, a terrific fight breaks out against our heroes. They manage to hold their own, though, and there’s this bit of odd business:


Yes, it’s “Crime Does Not Pay,” the brilliant novel by [unintelligible], author of such classics as “Sex Has Consequences” and “Don’t Put That in Your Mouth, You Don’t Know Where It’s Been.”

Batman grazes his head on a table dodging a bullet, and for some reason this knocks him out. He would have done better to catch the bullet.

This leaves Robin alone to catch the devils, currently fleeing from the cops (that the noise of the shot will bring running). Robin… *sigh*… puts on his rocket roller-skates… and…

No, I can’t even. Let’s check back in on Batman, who comes to to find himself face to face with a cop:


“And it is with that great respect that I now shoot you in the chest.”

The cop (Riley) offers to let Batman knock him out and “escape” after the bad guys. Batman complies, probably with a lot of joy in his heart.

Meanwhile, Robin has followed the devils, I’m not going to talk about how, into a subway tunnel, presumably near their secret devil-y hideout, where they keep their goatee-trimming supplies. He is quickly bashed over the head with a gun, and the devils stand around debating what to do with him:


I haven’t mentioned it, because it’s impossible to tell these guys apart, but I think there’s one of them whose solution to every problem they’ve encountered so far is to “plug it”. I find this hilarious. He is the equivalent of Clamps, the robot mobster from Futurama. I guess when all you have is a… plug? …the universe looks like one giant… hole? Nevermind.

The devils do eenie-meanie-minie-moe, and eventually one of them is “it”, and that one decides to go with the accidental subway thing. Instead of the plugging.


Look out, Robin! It’s a ghost train! And it’s ghosting right at you!

Robin, naturally, wakes up in time and rolls right between the tracks, ducking under as the train passes harmlessly over him. This is disappointing; I was looking forward to seeing Batman ride in to the rescue, facing backwards on his horse.


“It will also be in keeping with their character when I punch them straight to Hell.”

By the way, I find it hilarious that, after that cop let Batman go, Batman didn’t, you know, seek out Robin, call him on the wireless, or go after the devils; he went home to smoke his pipe. Way to go, hero.

Anyway, B&R head back to the hideout, finding the devils gone, presumably pulling another job. Instead of going to find and stop that crime, they hang around, investimagating or some such.


Really? You just now figured that out. Didn’t you use to work for the circus, Robin?

Luckily, they discover another article, this one about a jewel collection housed on the top floor of the state Capitol building. Is that their next heist????????????

(The answer is yes.)


Third devil: “I’m booooored. When do we get to the plugging?”

No sooner have they started to lower themselves over the side than they are attacked by the Batman! and his sidekick too.


Batman: “The circus is a fine institution and there are many respectable people working there!”

Robin is accidentally knocked right off the roof; he is saved from certain death when his cape catches on the hour hand of a giant clock face on the side of a building. Batman leaps across to the belfry above the clock, with the devils following. Three of them stop to fight Batman, and then, in a fit of narrative inconsistency, one of them is at the exact same time down below, pointing a gun at Robin and presumably ready to “plug” the Boy Wonder.



I’ll say this for the kid, he can pun even in the darkest circumstances. Luckily for him, his shot rings true, and the devil topples down past the tower, having plugged his last… well, anyway.

Meanwhile, Batman cleverly defeats the other two devils with the power of kicking!


What, no sound effect?

They too fall to their deaths. And that would seem to be the end of things! But where would we be without Batman and Robin there to sum up the moral of a story that had none and needs no summation? Anarchy Towne, that’s where, a dark place where it’s every man for himself and the government has outlawed happiness.


Batman, that cannot possibly be the moral to every story.

Batman and Robin are laboring under some serious misapprehensions here, the most important of which being the idea that the circus pays more than a life of jewel thievery. Which doesn’t make sense because ROBIN COMES FROM THE GODDAMN CIRCUS ARRRGGG.

Anyway, at least the devils died. That’ll teach them to wear distinctive and coordinated outfits! Gotham is no place for fashionable criminals! (That’s why all the gangsters wear such bad suits.)

Tune in next time as Baturdays continues!