Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The Interplanetary Batman"

Issue: Batman #128

Cover Date: December 1959

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Sheldon Moldoff

Inker: Sheldon Moldoff

Cover Artist: Sheldon Moldoff

Synopsis: Batman and Robin are driving on a country road when they hear a cry for help coming from some bushes. Driving in their direction, Batman and Robin are surprised to discover that it was an alien calling for their assistance. A group of another species of alien attack the alien that had called out to the Dynamic Duo and Batman and Robin defend him. One of the aliens uses a space gun to paralyze Batman, Robin, and the alien they were protecting, and reveals that the alien is really Kraak, a notorious space pirate. Batman and Robin are taken along with Kraak to the aliens' prison planet, Ergon, and thrown in a cell. Robin tells the alien jailer that he and Batman are innocent, but his pleas fall on deaf ears.

Batman and Robin get into a scuffle with Kraak before they are taken away for questioning. Batman and Robin later return to the cell, crestfallen that their statements of innocence were not believed. Kraak tells them that the only way they could escape is through the Forest of Peril, which is so perilous that it is not guarded. After Batman reveals he has the means to escape, Kraak offers a share of his loot in exchange for an alliance and Batman and Robin agree. After escaping from their cell via acid from Batman's utility belt, the trio make their way through the Forest of Peril. They encounter the police's robot trackers and alien creatures including a swamp amoeba and a ram-beast, but survive to make it to a space cruiser. After landing on Kraak's asteroid hideout, Batman and Robin are ambushed by some of Kraak's men. In true villain fashion, Kraak never intended to help the Dynamic Duo. They hold Kraak and his men off until the Ergon police arrive, as Batman and Robin had earned their trust and been purposefully allowed them to escape so that they could lead the police to Kraak's hideout.

Thoughts: This is another one of those fifties tales that must've made a kid's imagination go wild. You've got Batman fighting crime in outer space...all sorts of crazy aliens and's purely a story that is meant to entertain. While it does take place on a far off world, we still see Batman using his intellect to solve problems he encounters. Kraak tells him of two space plants, melons filled with honey and pods filled with pepper. Batman uses this knowledge to his advantage, using the honey from the melons to attract bugs that stop the robot trackers and pocketing some pepper pods to fend off Kraak's henchmen later on. This is a nice touch that reminds the reader that while Batman may be out of his element, he's as resourceful as ever. While Batman uses his brains, he also uses his brawn, resulting in my favorite line from the issue: "You may be strong Kraak, but you don't know a thing about judo!". Another of my favorite aspects about the story is the cover; the expression on the alien's face cracks me up for some reason. "The Interplanetary Batman" is a quick read, but is also a lot of fun and represents what the fifties era Batman was all about.

This story has been reprinted in Eighty Page Giant #12 and the Batman in The Fifties TPB.

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