Detective Comics Issue 333- “Hunters of the Elephants’ Graveyard!”
Published November 1964
Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Carmine Infantino
The story begins in media res as Batman and Robin rush through the Gotham City Zoo for a trio of gang members. Placing his ear to the ground, the caped crusader hears the footsteps of the criminals and determines the direction they are headed. In a few short moments they are found and with a one-two punch they are rounded up for the police.
While they leave the zoo for another case or a night’s rest, a strange thing happens inside of the Elephant Habitat. The sounds of elephants crying out is enough for the duo to go an investigate. An mist covers the house and a woman wearing a form-fitting fur costume appears to them, identifying herself as “Gorla, Goddess to All Elephants.” Yes, a blonde white woman is the guardian spirit to an animal found mainly in Africa and Asia. She tells them about a man they know named “Evan Bender,” an animal trainer and explorer who went to search for the Elephant’s Graveyard, where the pachyderm goes when they know it is time to die. She demands that Batman and Robin must stop Bender and rescue him, or else tribesmen will kill him for disturbing the dead. The mist disappears abruptly after her last sentence.
Batman is not very impressed with this show, as he recognizes the woman, Bender’s fiancee, Alice Foss. They run outside and catch up to her for an explanation on why she went through all this for a simple request. She tells time that her fiancee has been missing for three months, and wants them to find him. Now that the “Zoo Gang” has been rounded up, Batman agrees to take the case, now that they have some free time. They make preparations to go to East Africa, and Batman tells his partner that he really does have an interest in this case, especially since Interpol Reports show that a gang of rogue elephants have been terrorizing East African cities for quite some time. He spends the rest of the trip telling Robin factoids about elephants, including the fact that they are practically blind, are strong enough to lift a tree, and be delicate enough to tie a knot. Yada yadda.
The next day, after camping in the jungle, they find a pack of rampaging elephants. Because the two aren’t fast enough to outrun them, Batman and Robin have no choice but to charge straight at the beasts and climb onto their backs. But as Batman tries to pull Robin up, a sudden jolt forces him to fall off only to be caught in the trunk of an elephant. Robin manages to get on top, but his partner gets thrown into a hole.
To save Batman, Robin jumps off an elephant and devises a way to save his partner. He finds some berries to cover his scent, and slowly goes under the beast to evade detection. He crawls back to the hole and throws his rope down and pulls him up. Batman tells Robin something is definitely going on, as elephants don’t attack humans unless they were bothered. They climb up to find a cave, and inside is Evan Bender!
Batman recognizes Bender, and notices that he is wearing a strange necklace that is affected by sunlight. When they go down into the cave, Bender isn’t alone, where a posse of tribesmen await the crimefighting duo. They fight, and Batman manages to grab the necklace off of Bender. Bender recovers from a daze, and tells the tribesmen to cease fighting and go back to the village. He explains to Batman and Robin that for the past three months, he has been in the thrall of a big game hunter named “Red” Loftus. He and his men put the necklace on Bender forcing him to do their bidding. The necklace is made of a strange mineral that not only controls people but elephants as well. Using Bender, the big game hunter made him command the elephants to start ransacking and robbing places. Now that they got Foss’s fiancee back, all that’s left is to capture Loftus.
They go down to the village and find “Red” Loftus leading a charge of armed natives. Batman lassos him, and Bender grabs “Red’s” gun. Bender punches Loftus out, and everything is hunky dory now that a criminal has been captured. The three Americans go home, and Bender is reunited with his love. Back in the Batcave, Dick hangs up the necklace as a keepsake. Bruce regrets that even though they arrested Loftus, they never did find the Elephant Graveyard.