Monday, March 2, 2009

"Batwoman's Publicity Agent"

Issue: Batman #133

Cover Date: August 1960

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Sheldon Moldoff

Inker: Sheldon Moldoff

Cover Artist: Sheldon Moldoff

Synopsis: Batman and Robin arrive at the Gotham Railroad Terminal in time to see Batwoman pushed over a balcony by a group of crooks. The Dynamic Duo are too far away to break her fall in time and fear for the worst, when suddenly she stops in mid air. She bounces off an information booth into the crooks, a feat which is photographed by a reporter. After the crooks are taken away by the police, the reporter asks Batwoman how she managed it. Batwoman explains that she felt an invisible force guiding her, which a voice claims credit for. That voice of course belongs to Bat-Mite, who explains to the reporter where he comes from and how he sometimes appears to help the Batman family fight crime.

Bat-Mite goes on to tell the group that since Batman has Robin to assist him, Bat-Mite is going to become Batwoman's partner. The reporter finds this to be a big story, but Batwoman isn't so sure about the idea. She reminds Bat-Mite of all the times he had "fun" that only resulted in trouble for the Batman Family. Bat-Mite promises to behave himself, Batwoman relents, and Batman and Robin tell her in unison that she'll be sorry. The next night, while Batman and Robin capture a pair of crooks robbing a camera company, Batwoman pursues a pair of crooks of her own to a mountain pass. They seem to escape on a monorail, but then Bat-Mite removes the tires on Batwoman's Bat-Cycle and gives her the balance to the monorail cable to the crooks. Bat-Mite helps Batwoman again the following night, knocking out a group of criminals with a supersized fist. After these cases, Robin believes that they were wrong about Bat-Mite's intentions, but Batman isn't so sure.

Batman's intuition proves accurate, as a kiss on the cheek for keeping his promise from Batwoman sends Bat-Mite head over heels in love. In order to prove his love, he decides to help her become the greatest crime fighter of all time. Finding a shoe left behind by member of a bank robbing gang, he enlists Ace The Bat-Hound to follow the scent to the gang's hideout. Bat-Mite tips off Batwoman, but no sooner does she arrive than so do the Dynamic Duo following their own lead. With Batman and Robin there too, the gang will be caught in no time at all, so Bat-Mite decides to prolong the fight by shrinking everyone. The Batman Family and the gang fight among and using now gigantic tools, until Bat-Mite knocks down the Family after accidently jumping on a fireplace bellows. The bank robbers make a break for the door, but are stopped in their tracks by the normal sized Ace The Bat-Hound. After Batman ties up the crooks and he, Robin, and Batwoman are returned to their normal size, Bat-Mite suddenly remembers it was time he went home. With a pop he returns to his home dimension, leaving Batwoman to wonder when they'll see him again.

Thoughts: Bat-Mite Month has officially begun and we're kicking off with one of my favorite Bat-Mite stories. There are a lot of things to like about this story, starting with the cover, which promises that almost the entire Batman Family will make an appearance in one of the issue's stories. When Bat-Mite first appears, Batman has a flashback to their first meeting in Detective Comics #267. This creates a sense of continuity, which was not as a prevelant in the Silver Age as it is today. The presence of the reporter also makes Bat-Mite's existence public knowledge, when up until this story, Batman had been explaining away Bat-Mite's magical feats. That's a lot of continuity for a ten page DC Silver Age story. It's nice to see so many members of the Batman Family together for a story, although Batwoman is not shown in the best light (getting pushed over a balcony by common criminals). Unfortunately, this is just a product of the times. The oddest moment in the story is Batman's threat to spank Bat-Mite after he returns to normal size. I guess when you think about it, what else would you be able to do to an imp from another dimension?

Of course the star of the issue is Bat-Mite. Bat-Mite's efforts to genuinely help instead of having his usual "fun" was a nice change of pace. Out of all his magical powers in this issue, the supersized fist is my favorite. You can just imagine the crooks not expecting much from the imp when suddenly his fist grows and they find themselves down for the count. The panel with Bat-Mite skipping, hearts surrounding his head after Batwoman's kiss is priceless. Of course, Bat-Mite returns to his usual "fun" ways of helping Batman. In this case, he ends up undoing his own fun, as the Bat-Hound he rode in on stops the crooks from leaving. With continuity nods, Bat-Mite skipping, and an attempt by the imp to go straight, this Bat-Mite story has it all.

This story has been reprinted in Batman Annual #7.

No comments: