The Strangest Tales from Batman's Case Files (Batman 218)

What I Remember:

This book is an oldie, published in 1970 and a reprint of even older stories as the cover shows. The compilation features five stories: “Batman and Robin’s Greatest Mystery,” “The Hand From Nowhere,” “The Man Who Couldn’t Be Tried Twice,” “The Body In The Bat-cave” & “The League Against Batman” and even a newspaper story. I enjoyed this book a lot as a kid because it was less serious Batman and the stories were easier to understand.

 

Vital Stats:

Batman #219* all creators taken from the DC wikia since creators were not credited

“Batman and Robin’s Greatest Mystery”

Writer: Edmond Hamilton

Penciller: Sheldon Moldoff

Inker: Stan Kaye

Editors: E. Nelson Birdwell & Jack Schiff


 

“The Hand From Nowhere”

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciler: Sheldon Moldoff

Inker: Charles Paris

Letterer: Stan Starkman

Editor: Jack Schiff

 

“The Man Who Couldn’t Be Tried Twice”

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciler: Bob Kane

Inker: Ray Burnley

Letterer: Ira Schnapp

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth

 

“The Body In The Batcave”

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciler: Sheldon Moldoff

Inker: Charles Paris

Letterer: Stan Starkman

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth

 

“The League Against Batman”

Writer: David Vern Reed

Penciler: Dick Sprang

Inker: Charles Paris

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth


 

Executive Editor: Carmine Infantino

Cover Artist: Gaspar Saldano

Publisher: DC Comics

Publication Date: Feb 1970

Cover Price: 25¢

Re-Collection Price: $5.00 with a detached cover at Royal Collectables

 

What Happens:

 

“Batman and Robin’s Greatest Mystery”

The Dynamic Duo are blasted by a ray that leaves them with amnesia and unable to remember their secret identities! No one can help them unravel the mystery! They are forced to review some old cases from the news in order to crack their toughest case!

 

“The Hand From Nowhere”

...It Came From Nowhere!

Two aliens riding a giant hand, rob the Gotham Zinc Works. Batman and Robin try to stop them but the aliens vanish in a cloud of smoke "returning to their dimension." They strike multiple times stealing zinc, copper and platinum. On their third heist, Batman suspects something is amiss and suspects that the aliens are actually human!

I love how Batman casually speaks Eskimo.

Batman follows a truck near the dock to a warehouse where he discovers not only are the aliens human but they’re working for Lex Luthor!

As Luthor attempts to escape he’s carried off to police headquarters by his own giant mechanical hand commandeered by Batman

 

“The Man Who Couldn’t be Tried Twice”

Batman is called as a witness in a murder trial of a circus performer. Batman testifies that the victim asked for protection because he was worried that he might be killed.

The judge is letting this court turn into a circus!

That night on the grounds, Batman testified that he and Robin tracked the defendant and watched him fire a rifle at a fair game and then lose him in the crowd until he’s picked up for murder. Batman’s crack detective skills get the man of but he confesses immediately after the verdict is read!

Batman becomes a laughing stock, no one trusts his detective skills and he’s so distraught over his failure he stops eating.

Just like that, Batman loses the public trust. 

The dynamic duo head back to the crime scene and discover a clown sneaking out of the murder scene with a painting that the victim painted on the night he died. Batman notices that the signature is -Q, Batman deduces that the Q, stands for David Dial, the owner of the circus because Q is the only letter not on a phone dial. He paid off the original defendant to take the fall knowing that Batman would get him off and they wouldn’t investigate further after the confession.

 

“The Body in the Bat-Cave”

Good thing he kept meticulous records

The body of Alec Wyre, electronics genius and criminal, is discovered in the Batcave. Batman and Robin begin investigating by going through his book of clients.

They question a gangster, Alec Purdy who claims to know Batman’s secret identity. Batman calls him on his bluff and he reveals that he doesn’t know his identity but that Wyre had a plan to figure it out.

They spotted a transmitter that 

That night, they return they pick up a high frequency transmitter coming from the cave. They discover that Wyre had placed a transmitter on a bat and followed it back to the batcave but his flashlight blew and he smashed his head, killing him. His identity is safe.

 

*Bonus Newspaper Strip Story*

This is a complete story from the old Batman syndicated newspaper strip laid out into an eight-page story.

An inmate on death row, scheduled to die that night, offers to give up the name of his accomplice but will only confess to Batman. Once Batman enters his cell, he claims he’s innocent and needs Batman’s help to prove it.

He claims he discovered the body after being run over by the real murderer of a rare book dealer. The convict claims that a man named Steele was an associate of the owner and had some stock losses and could have done it. Batman and Robin learn that Steele too was framed by a counterfeiter named Hawkins and Bower, the convict himself.

 

“The League Against Batman”

The Wrecker is vandalizing everything with the image of Batman and Robin throughout Gotham City! He goes on TV and says that Batman sent three of his brothers to the chair, and threatens anyone who glorifies Batman in any way.

Batman and Robin follow a lead to a local sculptor's studio which is under attack! Wrecker and his men lock them in his sculptor’s furnace.

The Wrecker's grand plan was to bake the Batman?

After Batman escapes, a local man, named Farrow, is kidnapped along with his associates after a round of golf. They are released but Farrow is supposedly killed in front of his brother. Batman discovers that Farrow had actually faked his death so that his brother could collect the insurance, when he discovers that the Wrecker is wearing a golfing glove under his suit.



 

Continued After Ad:

Pretty cool house ads! I wouldn't mind getting my hands on either issue.

 

Worth Re-Collecting?

You used to get a lot for a quarter, five comic stories and one strip! You just don’t get that kind of value like that anymore.

My favorite story was “The Hand From Nowhere.” It was 50s Batman at its most ridiculous and it’s typical pre-Crisis Luthor. He goes out of his way to come up with an overly elaborate scheme , involving fake aliens and a giant hand to steal something that could could have been stolen in a more traditional fashion and cost a lot less to implement the plan.

 Luthor commits two extra robberies just to throw off authorities.

Every story is a convoluted mystery where one party set up an overly elaborate plan, only to be undone by a minor detail. The worst was the -Q on the painting in “The Man Who Couldn’t Be Tried Twice.” Batman connects the -Q with Dial because there’s no Q on a phone?! I guess that’s why he’s the world’s greatest detective.

The owner also hatches a plan to frame an associate knowing that Batman would get him off, then have him confess. That’s an awful amount of planning for everything to work. Also, how can a man, Batman, whose identity is unknown testify in court. How is he a credible witness?

There’s also the problem of the body in the Bat-cave? Sure, he wasn’t murdered and Batman and Robin's identity is safe but how do you get the body out of the Bat-cave? Did Batman and Robin ever report the death? There’s a lot of unanswered questions.

It’s fun to take a glimpse in the older Batman stories because they’re so much different that the stories of the last 40 years. But it’s very obvious that these stories are made for kids and don’t hold up reading it as an adult.


 

Next Issue:

We take a look at my favorite Green Lantern Series of all time with Jon Stewart on the makeshift world Mosaic. It’s Green Lantern Mosaic #10 See you next week!

Back Cover: