Batman Issue 170
Published March 1965
Cover by Carmine Infantino
“Genius of the Getaway Gimmicks!”
Writer: Gardner Fox
Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff
Three criminals (a very common trope, don’t they ever come in six packs?) are being pursued by our heroes after stealing the factory’s payroll. The thieves run atop roof tops, easily jumping small gaps and walking across conveniently located planks. Batman and Robin ready their ropes to swing across to the other side, attaching their loops to air vent pipes. When they do manage to reach the other building, the pipes suddenly bend, forcing the duo to go down to the streets. They go back up to the roof, and find that somebody has cut the pipes at such an angle that any excess force would cause them to topple over.
The master criminal Roy Reynolds celebrates his latest success with the two other thieves. He boasts that his cunning genius, which has allowed him to lay traps all around the city, will defeat the crimefighting duo. Each gimmick he makes is not concentrated toward actually getting rid of Batman, rather they are made to help Reynolds achieve a successful escape. As Reynolds continues his speech, he reminds his colleagues that they have gotten away three times due to his handiwork. “Whoever dooms Batman– dooms himself!,” he remarks.
A few nights later, Reynolds and his men have looted a department store. Batman and Robin chase them in the Batmobile, but as they reach the road to the quarry, their car spins out of control. It crashes into a nearby telephone pole, throwing the two out of the car. Reynolds rigged his car with an oil slick dispenser, ensuring their safe getaway.
The duo get on their feet and dust themselves off, figuring out exactly what is the deal with the Reynolds trio. Batman notices that every time they chase the gang, their ringleader never bothers to finish off them, focusing solely on the escape. On the way back home, they decide to make Reynolds come after them next time around.
A few days later, Reynolds is reading the paper, enjoying the recent exploits of the masked manhunter as he took down a villain called the Hexer. Whatever he did, it involved using the Bat-Signal in an “occult manner,” only to be foiled by the one in the sky. Reynolds puts down his newspaper, still laughing at the story of the Hexer and goes check on his recently stolen artifacts, a chess set studded in gold and jewels once owned by Napoleon and Bismarck. Tonight, he will stage another robbery and he will use this Hexer’s gimmick to ensure his success.
That night, as the Reynolds thugs are being chased, the master criminal activates the Bat-Signal. The light of the signal causes the emblems on Batman and Robin’s chest to expand into a taffy trap, leaving them unable to use their arms. The two thugs decide to use this opportunity to shoot the duo, but Batman and Robin use their legs at them, kicking and throwing the thieves. Reynolds sits in a getaway car, waiting for the two. Realizing that they didn’t follow that simple instruction, he decides to go back to the hideout.
The police arrive to arrest the thieves, giving kudos to Batman’s plan. It turns out there never was a Hexer, and the thing wrapping their arms were just inflatable straitjackets. The thugs were tricked into attacking the duo, and when they learn their folly they get angry at how their boss has abandoned them, never mind that they forgot their most important rule, RUN. Roy Reynolds is trying to getaway with his loot but Batman and Robin bust through the door, arresting him.
For an epilogue, Commissioner Gordon asks how did they get so close if the thugs were practically shooting at point blank? The straitjackets were bulletproof, Batman replies with a grin.
This could’ve been a pretty nice full story, but curse the format!
“The Puzzle of the Perilous Prizes”
Writer: Bill Finger
Pencils: Joe Giella
One morning, Aunt Harriet asks Bruce and her nephew Dick to investigate a rather strange matter involving a friend of hers. Mrs. Tompkins, a retired nurse, has won first prize in a jingle writing contest for a soap company, and she never entered, much less knew about it. Downstairs in the Batcave, as they prepare for the day, Batman wonders if Harriet knows their identities, especially since she requested them to look into this case.
At any rate, they go to the old lady’s home and find a large load of appliances outside. The duo’s next stop is the soap company, where they find the winning entry and its envelope. The envelope is postmarked not from Gotham City, but Hillvale, a town upstate. By the time they reach the town, it’s already afternoon. Batman and Robin head to the post office to get some information about the letter but all the clerk can tell them that it was deposited after hours.
A local thug notices the two and runs back to his boss, a tall and thin man named “Stilts.” The boss tells his men that in order to make sure their plan goes off without a hitch, they’ll have to get rid of the duo. Later, as the Batmobile heads back to Gotham, the thugs throw a grenade at the road, causing the car to crash, throwing the two out. Doesn’t the Batmobile have seatbelts?!
The goons continue their assault, driving a bulldozer at Robin. Knowing that they’ll be pushed off the side of the cliff if they don’t do anything quickly, Batman picks up his partner, ties an anchor around his legs. The weight of the anchor supposedly will make the two go faster, allowing them a chance to escape by hitting the waters below. Above, the thugs draw their guns and fire. The duo hide underwater, using some abandoned tire’s air to create the illusion that they drowned.
Later, the duo emerges from the water and check the bulldozer for any clues about their assailants. Conveniently, one of the perps left their watch in the seat, and Batman decides to analyze the dust inside it to find them. After a very quick CSI montage (sic), they determine that the dust comes from a showboat currently docked for a two week engagement.
The three men see the duo on the pier and begin firing at them. Batman and Robin find a rather convenient telephone cable drum and push it toward the thugs, smashing them with a great splat. While the duo are busy beating up two thugs via fisticuffs, one decides to go open a bear cage. The Godless Killing Machine is unleashed, with everybody running for cover! Batman punches the grizzly in the nose, snatches up a boat hook, uses vaulting pole, and double kicks the bear back into its cage. Meanwhile, Robin dispatches “Stiltz” by jumping onto his back. Luckily, no backs were broken.
After sending the perps to jail, Batman puts an end to the case by explaining their plan. The thieves used the showboat as a cover to loot each town they visited. No matter how hard the police departments in each city tried to indict them, they could never find the necessary evidence. The loot was hidden in the animal cages, where nobody would suspect.
The actual case involving Mrs. Tompkins? Batman finds a letter addressed to her, written in the same handwriting as the winning entry. The handwriting belongs a young man named James Statten who works at the town’s gas station. They bring him back to Gotham City where Mrs. Tompkins is very happy to see him. Mrs. Tompkins took care of Jimmy while he was in the hospital last year, and he vowed to repay her kindness anyway he could. He couldn’t afford to send her money, as it was all going to his college education, so he did the next best thing, enter the contest in her name.
Aunt Harriet tells Bruce and Dick the news about Mrs. Tompkins, but is surprised that Batman and Robin were on the case instead. Bruce worries that she may know their secret identities,… ooh foreshadowing.
This was a pretty interesting story, since the crooks were just a misdirect. Ha.