Detective Comics Issue 338- “Batman’s Super-Powered Punch!”
Published April 1965
Writer: Gardner Fox
Penciler: Sheldon Moldoff
The narrator, as a change of pace, makes the reader a character in the story, seeing everything through the eyes of a person yet to be introduced in the story. Meanwhile, we read about Batman’s latest case where the duo chase after a group of thieves on the run after stealing something unspecified. While the masked manhunter takes care of two of them, two more run to a fire hydrant with a hose attached and turn on the waterworks, hitting our hero with tremendous force. Robin catches up, but when the two go after the thugs, they get hit by the hose, which was till turned on.
The scene shifts to a lot where the thieves decide to put a wrecking ball to work. While the duo pound at their suspects, the ball swings down from a height, Batman punches it and barely gets a scratch. The two fall to the ground momentarily, allowing the thieves to get away for the time being. Robin asks how Batman did it, and it’s flashback time.
The previous day, Bruce went to the Alfred Foundation Laboratories to see the progress of the research and development being done. The reader is one of those scientists working there and has developed a “weather-proof” chemical that prevents wood from rotting away when in contact with salt water or even insects. His research is almost complete, but all he needs to do is find an “X-factor,” despite the fact he’s carrying a beaker of “X-23.” One of the visitors, Orval Manning, is rather clumsy and accidentally spills some of the solution on to Bruce’s hands. Nobody seems to be worried, especially since it didn’t burn off his manicures.
As the day goes on, more and more inventions are displayed, including a burglar device shaped like a radio called an “encephitector.” This particular machine detects the alpha waves of the human brain, activating if it senses criminal intent. If you watched last week’s Nova Science NOW, you’d know the brainwaves don’t really determine such behavior. Later in the Batcave, Batman has already obtained an ecephitector, amped up to 11 to increase its range. He puts in in the Batmobile’s dashboard for a trial run. This brings us to the present, after they chased that gang of thieves.
They continue driving about town after picking themselves up and dusting off their costumes. The encephitector (phew!) picks up a signal of a robbery in progress. This time it’s not the guys they’re looking for, and rather than going in through the doors, Batman decides to punch a hole in the wall. He tells Robin that the water was the X-factor the chemical needed, allowing him to punch through bricks effortlessly. Yup, you couldn’t even bother to put water in the X-23, scientist reader.
Batman smashes the wall in, surprising the criminals inside who were emptying cash boxes. Robin is told to go after the other thieves and call the police, while his partner attempts to round up the gang without wounding them. The powered manhunter leaps and somersaults around the shop as a display, and leaps down on his two perps, knocking them out.
Meanwhile, Robin finds the gang using the ecephitector, climbing up a building for a view. Inside, “Bull” Fleming can’t believe that his men got away and that Batman punched a wrecking ball. They leave their office, and Robin swings down on them, knocking one out, however, he has to contend with five other thugs. Batman strolls down the street to find the teenage thunderbolt strong-armed and rushes to his aid by smashing a flower-shop sign and throwing it at a thug. The entire gang is quickly taken care of, and the newspapers are all abuzz about Batman’s new-found super strength.
As an epilogue, while the reader walks home and smokes his pipe, he wonders if Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same person because of the X-23.