Detective Comics Issue 339 – “Batman’s Bewitched Nightmare!”
Published February 1965
Writer: Gardner Fox
Pencilist: Sheldon Moldoff
Isn’t this a story perfect for Halloween, despite it being sold in January? Despite Batman fighting a hag, there isn’t much pagan imagery.
The story begins with a rather cute scene of four white mice pulling a pumpkin coach in the middle of the street, sort of like in the Cinderella movie. A witch swoops down to the ground and casts a spell turning the rodent palanquin into a car and the mice? They’re gangsters! I sure as hell don’t know what came first, the thugs or the mice, much less why she even had such a carriage stroll down the streets of Gotham.
At a bank, the witch uses her powers to open the doors, allowing her minions to a chance to rob the place. Batman and Robin, after receiving a notice about a strange woman riding a broom in the sky, arrive on time to stop the criminals before they get away in their cars. While the two wallop the thugs, their opponents remark how fit and athletic our heroes are before they fall into a heap. In a matter of seconds, all four get up again grinning like fools. Batman tries to punch one of them, but his fist goes right through his hatted foe.
Flying above, the witch cackles at Batman’s failure to apprehend their suspects. She proclaims that she has stolen the first of their five senses, touch, due to their inability to punch her goons. Robin jumps on the getaway car, while his partner drives close behind him. Trying to car-surf isn’t a very good idea, as Robin falls off and hits a lamppole. As the Batmobile drives by, the lad quickly picks himself up and jumps into the car. Hardy kid isn’t he?
Heading into the outskirts of the city, the witch makes the car disappears and flies into the mysterious Cave of Winds. The duo get out their car, and follow her only to find that their sense of hearing has been taken away. Batman tackles Robin and together they plummet down a chasm hitting the water below. Robin looks up and realizes that his partner saved them both from the rocks the witch made fall. They emerge from the water, regaining their hearing.
Both decide to leave the cave, and Batman has to pull Robin away once again. Right after an explosion, the masked manhunter tells the boy wonder that their sense of smell has been disabled. The primroses outside may have something to do with this.
The duo head back to the Batmobile and find the a barn surrounded by scarecrows. They enter the farm, only to be attacked by the witch, who shoots her magic at Batman, turning him into a strawman. Robin figures out there’s only one way to defeat her, and he lassos the hag, forcing her to lose her flying broom. She falls to the ground and Robin easily seizes the broom.
Batman deals with the goons inside the farmhouse, who count their cash in a rather lackadaisical fashion rather than pay attention to the commotion outside. The beats up all four, and emerges to find Robin still fiddling with the broom. Batman takes a look and the machine turns on, and the voice that emerges from it is the Outsider. He reveals the entire story was just an exercise to waste the crime-fighting duo’s time. Next time, Batman and Robin won’t be so lucky, blah blah blah.
What seemed like a rather promising story does fall flat in the end, as it was just the Outsider’s doing. How did he make this witch and steal their senses? Who knows, maybe some fancy technological doodad as usual.