Publication date: August/September, 1941
Author: Bob Kane
(Note: as of this issue, Batman goes from being published quarterly to being published bi-monthly. I will generally go by the first of the two months in terms of order, unless there is a narrative conflict; hence, the December/January issue will happen in 1941.)
What a lovely, atmospheric title page. The odd perspective of objects; the moon, wreathed in clouds which blend with the smoke from the ship out in the water… And for once, the colorist has actually colored the sky sort-of night-ish. What’s best about it is that the narration box informs us that Batman and Robin are not springing into action; they’re just watching, coldly, as one set of criminals prepares to execute another.
It’s only after there’s been plenty of time for killing–the man with the gun, Shoulders, even says, “Here it comes!”–that Batman and Robin dive into the fray. Our heroes totally humiliate the criminals by beating the pants off them, a beating accompanied by taunts. My favorite being their opening: as they leap down onto the heads of two of the men, Batman shouts, “Greetings and salutations and such!” and Robin yells “Hello!” Politeness is a virtue, I suppose.
Most of the crooks manage to get away, spraying machine-gun rounds from the car as they do so. A cry of triumph; they’ve hit Miller, the man they were trying to kill. Miller topples off the pier, and Batman dives in after him to fish him out.
Batman kneels over the wounded man, who tells him he’s got a story that needs to come out. “After a little medical treatment,” says Batman. (“I’ve got Band-Aids in the car,” he adds. “No thanks,” says Miller. “They’ve got little baaaaats on them,” tempts the superhero.)
I’d like to point out that this man’s story goes on for two whole pages. Pass out, already!
Simplified, here is his story:
“So I was in prison, right? Goin’ crazy. I said I’d do anything to get out! Then my cell mate takes me up on it. Er… not in a gay way. He says he can arrange a parole hearing in my favor. Says he gets paid for it by the bosses on the outside. Anyway, the parole board gets me off–not in a gay way–and soon enough I’m breathing fresh air again! I swore I’d go straight, but no sooner have I begun amblin’ toward law-abidingness do two friends of the man who got me out of jail walk up and offer me a job. It’s a bank job, says the boss they take me to, who I recognize from the parole board. Apparently he’s gotten all his henchmen off. Not in a gay way, you understand. They all work off their debt by pulling jobs for him, see? Anyway, I tell him nothin’ doin’. I’m playing it straight, taking the narrow path, all that stuff, right? He hands me a metal case. I take it, look it over, give it back. He says his boys used that very item in the job they just pulled half an hour ago, and now it’s got my fingerprints all over it. The boss says one look at that and the police will have me back in jail so fast it’ll make my head swim. But I tell ‘im, go ahead! Send me back! I’ll tell them who you really are! And at that, the boss ordered his men to show me the waterfront…”
He held on for his entire story, and only falls unconscious when he’s about to reveal the identity of the bad guy? Ridiculous.
Our heroes drop Miller off at the hospital, but the next day realize that once the criminals know Miller’s alive, they’ll try and finish what they started. I’m sure that information won’t get out, though.
Oh, for heaven’s sake. One of these days Batman ought to take on the Fourth Estate.
Anyways, the criminals do, apparently, read the Gotham News, and so just one night after they tried to kill Miller, they sneak into his hospital room to give it another shot (so to speak). They’re in for a surprise, however.
There’s a brief, frenetic battle (which the narration calls, pleasingly, “an avalanche of fist”), which brings the cops running, and in turn sends both the criminals and the vigilantes packing.
Both sets of lawbreakers get away. But Batman declares it’s time to go on the offensive. To the end, he decides to break into prison. Although he calls it “going to town” for some strange reason.
The next night, the Batplane hovers over the prison as Batman lowers himself on a rope. He sleeping-gasses the guard and slips inside.
Batman breaks into Slink’s cell–Slink being the guy who got Miller out of jail in the first place–abducts his cellmate, and takes him back to his Batplane, stepping gently over softly snoring guards as he walks.
Disguised as Slink’s cellmate, Bruce expresses a desire to get out of jail. Slink obliges with another parole hearing.
It all goes according to plan, and “Marty” soon finds himself on the outside, and just as quickly, in a meeting with the boss.
That night, “Marty” is out on the heist, and Robin is outside Boss Arrumph’s office, to make sure he doesn’t try to escape. Meanwhile, the criminals at the heist are suddenly plunged into what must be one of those recurring criminal nightmares, like giving the bank teller your “give me all the money or I start shooting” note and then realizing you forgot your gun, and also your pants:
Also I would like to point out that Batman is apparently even more of a genius with makeup than we thought, considering he totally had his mask on under the make-up.
Yet another fight ensues (man, fights just tend to do that, don’t they? ensue. I don’t even know what that word means) and Batman is doing well for a while, swinging about from the ceiling, tossing silk onto the bad guys. But it turns out silk is softer than fists, and when more reinforcements come, Batman does the brave thing and dives out a window.
Meanwhile, Robin proves himself to be the worst lookout in the history of people who look out at stuff.
“Yeah! The boss is a huge fan of Robin’s!”
“He’ll probably want his autograph!”
“The boss is a little weird sometimes, don’t you think?”
The deliberations on the precise time and nature of Robin’s execution are delayed indefinitely by Slink, who walks in the door still dressed in convict stripes. Apparently, he finally got tired of helping his cell-mates get paroled, and so he broke out of prison. Bringing, of course, the entire GCPD down on their heads.
Meanwhile meanwhile, a plot-line resurfaces:
By the time he gets there, Batman is interrupting a tense hostage situation. The gangsters threaten to shoot Robin if any cops enter; the cops toss tear gas in, but are afraid to go inside. Since he has numerous skills, including the ability to climb the exteriors of buildings and a talent for going unnoticed, Batman naturally does the only thing he can: walk right in the front door, while loudly announcing his presence.
Batman climbs the stairs all the way to the top. Man, I’ll bet he wishes this place had an elevator. Then he gets to the top, and the boss opens the door, preparing to blow the Batman away (not in a gay way).
Batman and Boss Arrumph engage in a fist-fight that lasts approximately not as long as this sentence. Then the Boss charges at our hero–
The boss, however, overestimates, and ends up charging into the elevator shaft with Batman. Batman grabs a cable on the way down; the boss does not. He’s arrumphed his last arrumph. And I’m pretty sure the fall ruined the delicious criminal mastermind braaaaaaaains, too. So sad faces all around.
Once again, our story concludes with Bruce illogically summing things up:
You do remember that Miller got shot for trying to reform, right? Hello?
Tune in next week as Baturdays continues!