Bat Signal

Issue 130 – “The Box”

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Oh man. What do we have here? A completely bonkers old Batman and Robin story about an evil box that’s killing people! I’ll be honest, I knew that this was going to be a fun one right off the bat, because just look at that cover. I mean, technically I guess I shouldn’t be writing about this issue, since the cover explicitly tells me not to tell people whats inside the Box, and that’s kind of my gameplan here. So, let’s figure out what’s inside that box that could be so earth-shattering to warrant such a goofy cover.

Things get crazy right away by opening with a splash page that has some dialogue apparently spoken by the mysterious box itself, telling us that it’s killed greedy men, and then narrating the rest of the story for us. And the tale begins with some weird dude who doesn’t appear to be wearing pants trying to steal the Box from a hotel room by way of tightrope. He sneaks in, grabs the Box, which he had been told about, and as soon as he opens it, he starts screaming about what’s inside. But as he starts panicking another thug breaks into the hotel room to steal the Box as well. But tight-rope guy is freaking out about the Box, so the second guy just pushes him out the window where he plummets to his death. But that was a bad call, because Batman and Robin happened to be swinging by, and they of course have something to say about the man who threw another man out a window. They start chasing the guy, and Batman instantly recognizes him as a criminal who works at some place called Club Saturn, so even though he gets away they know right where to go. So Batman and Robin race off to catch the guy heading to his club, and we’re treated to this wonderful scene completely out of context.

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I read this page a couple of times, trying to figure out if I missed something, but I really didn’t Batman and Robin say that they need to catch the guy, and they just find a guy with an idling helicopter, which is apparently owned by a guy who uses it to fly criminals around? And since his clientele is criminals, Batman has no problem just punching the guy and stealing his helicopter. I think the reason that there was a helicopter was because it turns out Club Saturn is a casino that’s built into a giant hot air balloon, so it’s a flying casino, because Gotham City is awesome. Unfortunatley, when the guy who has the Box makes it to Club Saturn, he opens it up and also freaks out. And once again, as soon as it’s open and he realizes what’s inside, another criminal breaks in and shoots him to steal the Box.

So the shooter runs off with the Box just as Batman and Robin find a place to park their helicopter, just in time to see the shooter jump off the casino. But it’s okay, because he actually had a parachute hidden under his giant coat, and he floats down to safety. Luckily the giant coat stays on the casino, and Batman realizes that it’s so huge it must have been sold at a big and tall store. So Batman and Robin head to what I guess is the only store for “fat men” in Gotham, and the clerk is easily able to identify it as belonging to a local mobster. Turns out the shooter was the butler for the fat mobster, and we see him have a heart attack as soon as he opens the Box. But once again Batman and Robin are just a little too late, and show up at the mansion right as the guy has died, and start to fight the butler. And while they’re throwing a bowl of fruit at the poor guy, another goddamn thug sneaks and and steals the stupid Box. And once again Batman immediately identifies the guy, and he and Robin jump on a stolen motorcycle and chase after the dude. But they get straight up hit with a car and knocked unconscious. This last thug then bring the unconscious dynamic duo to a warehouse where he’s planning on killing them with carbon monoxide poisoning, but luckily Batman is able to save the day by easily breaking the ropes around their wrists.  And as this is going on we finally get to see what’s in the stupid Box, and I’ll be honest, it’s a letdown.

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Yep. Poisoned needles. Kind of lame. But whatever, the guy pricked his finger, and starts panicking like everyone else, running out into the street right as Batman and Robin free themselves. But as they’re trying to catch the guy, he doesn’t pay attention and gets hit by a car, claiming yet another victim to this stupid Box. So Batman finally has the Box, and takes it to the “Army and Navy Post Office Inspectoscope” which is some sort of x-ray device that lets him see what’s inside. They read the letter, see the jewels that are in the box for no reason, and a small radio transmitter. And when they find the radio, it begins speaking to them, telling them that the person behind this whole Box fiasco is at a local hotel. So Batman and Robin head there, and meet with a guy who looks like Mr. Burns who planned the whole thing. Turns out he’s a diamond baron and all four of the idiots who got killed by the box were involved in an incident that killed his son. So he hatched this whole insane plot, called all four guys and told them that there’s a box full of diamonds floating around town, and they all started hunting it. So Batman threatens the old guy with jail for killing the four guys, but he doesn’t really care because he’s going to die in a month or two anyway. So… good work Batman, you didn’t really solve anything.

This is a really fun little story. It’s very stupid, and similar to that “Batman’s Super-Powered Enemy” story is just full of one-off characters that were essentially indistinguishable, except the guy who was wearing a turtle-neck and a speedo. None of them really did much of anything, except getting murdered by a Box, and it was pretty goofy seeing Batman and Robin just keep showing up like two minutes late to everything. Plus the whole poisoned box-lock was a little lame. But the real saving grace of this story was just how many silly scenes there were. Like Batman punching that dude and stealing his helicopter, the hot-air balloon casino, and Batman popping a tire with his teeth were all pretty fantastic, and made for a really silly, but ultimately forgettable story.

 

“The Box” was written by Bill Finger, and drawn by Bob Kane (but probably not really, that guy didn’t actually ever do anything.) 1947.

 

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