Hey everybody, glad you could join me once again in Ye Olde School Café! This week we’ll continue to explore the early days of the greatest detective on the planet, Batman, in Showcase Presents Batman vol. 1! Yes, Batman and his sidekick Robin are keeping the streets of Gotham City safe from thugs, murderers, thieves, and so on, and this book is a testament to the great days of Silver Age storytelling!
The next issue starts out with Dick playing a guitar and singing to himself, when Bruce walks into the room with a puzzled look on his face. He questions Dick about his crazy actions, and Dick tells him that a popular band is coming to Gotham, and he’s pumped. Bruce tells him to put the guitar away so he can talk about his latest secret trip. He takes Dick down to the Batcave to show him the new Batmobile. Dick asks if they can take it for a spin, and Bruce agrees that they should after they put on their costumes. As they prepare to cruise with their new ride, a plot with bad intentions is developing. A gangster is planning a heist downtown, but the arrival of this band could wreck everything, because the concert is going to be held right by the heist! The crook decides to re-route the bus to the middle of nowhere by changing a road sign. The Dynamic Duo notice a sign has been tampered with, though, and investigate. They run right into the bus and the gangster, and give chase. The gangster gets away by using some sort of wires that were painted to look like brush to entangle them, and he escapes.
Later, the gangster heads into the Gotham Museum to observe a golden pyramid. Suddenly, the pyramid takes off like an airplane and flies around the museum. While the guards are chasing it, the gangster snatches a pearl worth millions of dollars. The guards try to stop him, but his car is bullet proof. The Gotham P.D. lock down the city so no one gets out, then alert Batman that they’ve lost the thief down in the warehouse district. As Batman and Robin arrive, the police tell them that every door has been checked, and they are all locked. A fire escape ladder is too high for any man to reach, but Batman investigates anyway. He notices some chipped paint that tells him it has been used recently. After he uses his rope to pull the ladder down, he and Robin climb up. They follow tracks in the roof tar, and it leads to a rope on the other side. As they attempt to swing across it, the thief is watching and electrocutes Batman with a television antenna. Just as he is about to fall, he throws a Batarang at him, knocking him out, and then Robin swings down to give Batman a hand before he falls to the street below. The heroes then find a secret entrance to the hideout that the crook was using, and find two of his cohorts-in-crime there with the pearl. After quickly putting a beat down on them, they take the crooks to the police, and head to the concert!
Our next adventure begins with Batman talking to the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City. They are a group of people that are dedicated to solving bizarre mysteries. One aspiring member of the club tells the others that he’s solved the greatest mystery of all – Batman’s secret identity. As he unveils his wax dummy of “Batman” without his mask, the real Batman moves towards it and then lifts his mask off! It reveals that Rankin was right with his guess! An exact match, but the problem is, it’s not Bruce Wayne under the mask. Or is it? Later, Bruce tells Dick the story, and he wonders how Batman did it. Bruce tells him that he wanted to get all the facts before he told him about it. He recalls a night when the two were prowling the rooftops of Gotham, searching for the Trapeze Ten. One night, he and Robin found them, and when they were about to make their move, Batman was pushed out of the way of some gun fire by a private investigator named Hugh Rankin (even though Batman was going to dodge the bullets anyway).
After that, every time Batman got close to apprehending the Trapeze Ten, Rankin would mysteriously show up and “save” Batman from unforeseen danger. Batman then deduces that Rankin wanted to join the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City, and to prove his worth, he wanted to not only capture the Trapeze Ten, but also learn Batman’s identity. He kept grasping Batman’s face to learn his facial features, then helping lift Batman to a window to learn his weight, etc. Once Batman figured it out, though, he deliberately disguised himself to throw Rankin off. Then when it was time for Rankin’s big reveal, Batman let them believe he looked like an old bald guy, instead of the handsome businessman Bruce Wayne!
Well, that’s it for this week, but tune in for the conclusion to this great TPB (trade paperback) next week! We’ll take a look at more crime in Gotham City, but also Batman’s ultimate nemesis, the Joker!