Detective Comics Issue 334- “The Man Who Stole from Batman!”
Published December 1964
Writer: Gardner Fox
Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff
Apparently the cover was more exciting than the splash page, which features a bug man carrying away Robin in a net. And this bug guy is apparently the one who stole from Batman. A shame that our conception of Catwoman doesn’t appear until the reboot of the DC Comics Universe.
Batman and Robin chase after a grasshopper man who has just robbed a bank. The Batmobile finds itself in a dead end and the duo have to chase after the perp on foot. I always thought it was weird that they end up doing most of the grunt work in these case, when normally a cop chasing after a high level suspect would always have backup. How lazy the police department is with their resources then. Anyway, Batman and Robin reach the end of the alley and find no trace of their prey. They look up to see the grasshopper man who apparently leaped 50 feet on to the roof without the aid of a rope. The duo have no choice but to climb up after him.
When they arrive, a note is attached to their ropes and it reads that their perp will steal the Batmobile. They run toward to the street, and find the Grasshopper man driving away with it rather easily. If only Batman invented the car alarm with anti-theft brakes or something. Anyway, they can’t do anything for now, especially since the Alfred Foundation Charity Auction is tomorrow night.
The next night, aboard the yacht Water Baby, the festivities begin. Robin can’t come to this gala because he’s on backup duty. 😦 Bruce plays host to the guest and tells everybody that Batman will be here in a few minutes. After that announcement, he goes and changes. He returns and begins the charity auction, selling off some of his knick-knacks. The first piece is one of his Batarangs, and when he places it on the podium, the Grasshopper Man emerges and takes it.
Batman, doing a heckuva job maintaining his composure, chases after the Grasshopper man through the yacht, cornering him into the only room in the cabin without an exit. He looks around, and it seems that he’s gotten away once again! Robin is right outside on the Batboat and sees their suspect on the deck. As he tries to go after him, the Grasshopper Man jumps out and knocks Robin off the boat. Batman sees it from inside the cabin and rushes outside to make sure he’s okay. If he bothered to look up, he would’ve notice the Grasshopper man sitting on top of the light fixture. So there’s two of them!
The caped crimefighter arrives outside to find his partner being whisked away in a net by the other Grasshopper man on the Batboat. The villain throws the Batarang, with the thought bubble revealing the handoff was made earlier, at Batman. He catches it and finds a note attached, the Grasshoppers brag about their latest achievement and wonder what will they steal next.
Batman heads back inside and finishes off the event as Bruce Wayne, bringing everybody to port. Bruce greets everybody goodbye as a show of magnanimity, but there is an ulterior motive to that. He’s heard the voice(s) of the Grasshopper Man, and figured out that they are two different people. After saying goodbye to each of the people on the boat, he can determine which one of them is the one who stole the car and the Batarang.
He follows one of the sailors to a dark house. Upon entering, he hears the recording of Robin’s telling him to come inside, and Batman already realizes that it’s all a ruse. Three people are waiting inside the room to shoot the cowled crusader and so he charges through the door, falling down and throwing it toward the gunmen. He beats up all three, including one of the Grasshopper men. However, the other Grasshopper is right behind him and Batman throws the tape player at him. All of the criminals are accounted, and now Batman can go search for his partner.
A quick search finds his partner, his car, and his boat. Batman tells Robin that he’ll have to come back for the Batboat tomorrow, even though the lad can drive it back separately. Suddenly, the phone rings and a mysterious person calling himself the Outsider reveals that tonight’s events were all part of his plan. They may have won for now, but next time, he’ll be even more dangerous, outside of putting a bomb in either vehicle. The duo drive home, vowing that they will be on guard for this new antagonist.