Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Batman Meets Fatman"

Issue: Batman #113

Cover Date: February 1958

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Sheldon Moldoff

Inker: Charles Paris

Synopsis: The story starts with Fatman, a circus clown who lampoons Batman, performing his act. It starts with Fatman falling down after swinging on a bat-line, throwing a huge batarang that comes back and hits him in the stomach, and pulling odds and ends out of an oversize utility belt. He ends his act by praising Batman for the great crime fighter that he is. Speaking of Batman, the Caped Crusader and Robin are busy fighting the Red Mask gang, who had just committed a bank robbery. Unfortunately, the gang escapes on a motor boat, leaving Batman and Robin to contact the harbor police and leave for the charity show at the circus. After the Dynamic Duo perform several athletic feats, they offer to give Fatman a ride in the Batmobile, during which they get a message from the police to go back to the wharf. Batman is able to deduce from a comment by one of the gang that they stashed their loot in a now missing boat.

After finding out the boat has been rented to publicize a movie, the Dynamic Duo set out with Fatman along for the case. While the clown stays in the car, Batman and Robin fight the Red Mask gang on the boat in the middle of a street. While they 're kept busy, the leader of the gang cuts a rope, sending a wrapped up sail crashing into the Dynamic Duo. Batman and Robin are then taken back to the gang's hideout, an abandoned stable, and locked in a horse stall. Fortunately, Fatman followed them in the Batmobile and sets out to rescue them. After falling over and tying himself up in his silken cord, Fatman appears to swing a hammer too heavy for him when he hurls it at the lock on Batman and Robin's stall. While the Dynamic Duo deals with the gang, Fatman has the privilege of stopping the boss with his stomach. After the criminals are taken to the police, Batman praises Fatman for outsmarting the gang using his comedy act. The story ends with Fatman being cheered at the circus once again.

Thoughts: I sought out this story solely for the curiosity factor of there being a character named Fatman in the Batman mythos, and that's all it is: a curiosity. The idea of a clown who has an act centered around Batman is an amusing one and it's tailor made for the big props that Bill Finger loved to write into his stories. Having Fatman use his act to get the drop on the criminals was a nice touch to bring things full circle, but I question Fatman being so put out about being kept out of the fight at the boat when he held Batman's work in such high regard. Of course, under Silver Age logic, hero worship serves as a valid explanation. While I enjoy the goofy and sometimes downright insane aspects of the Silver Age, Fatman saying "only a dummy would run into my tummy" is simply a groaner. Apart from Fatman, the story is a rather by the numbers fifties Batman story with the normal criminal gang. Worse yet, the gang, not one of the supervillains, gets the drop on the Dynamic Duo and locks them in a horse stable. I admit that Batman and Robin getting locked in a horse stable is rather funny, but still, the Dynamic Duo are a bit too easily taken down by regular criminals at times. The major art note of interest is the resemblance of Fatman's cowl to that of this blog's namesake, albeit with the other ear bent. Even more interesting to note is that Fatman debuted before Bat-Mite, as Detective Comics #267 has a cover date of May 1959. On the whole, this story is hardly essential reading and only worth checking out for the sheer novelty of Fatman.

This story has been reprinted in Batman Family #4.


malpractice said...

As a fellow hefty gentleman myself, i'd argue ""only a dummy would run into my tummy" is a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

Chris said...

I cannot disagree with that perspective.