Bat Signal

Issue 362 – “The Night Batman Destroyed Gotham City”


Well we are on a hell of role with the crazy covers. I feel like comics today just aren’t being as creative with completely bonkers covers like they were back in the day. Look at that! It’s a giant Batman smashing Gotham city in fury. Although, what are the odds that he actually does this? Pretty low. Although you never know with Detective Comics, since I feel like Batman fighting pirates was way more likely than him traveling back to ancient Egypt, and look where that got us. So let’s take a dive in and see what made giant Batman and his weird lips so mad.

And right from the first page we get something I wasn’t anticipating, since it starts off with Batman and Robin, mid-story, fighting the Riddler, who happens to be attacking them with some sort of rocket shaped like the United States. But that was just a little tease, and we just right back to the beginning of the story, where Robin is hosting some sort of model-Batmobile race, where the winner gets a scholarship from the Wayne Foundation. Because that’s how scholarships should work. Unfortunately when Robin gives the winner his certificate they find that it’s been replaced by a riddle. They get “What has four legs, smokes a pipe – but cannot walk, see, or talk?” This obviously means a stove, so they head off to a place called Stove Insurance to catch Riddler. But they end up staying there all night, and no Riddler, finding out that the real heist was at a place called Grill Manufacturing, which sets up a theme of the Riddler’s riddles pointing to something obvious, and then actually being about a smaller version of it. Because the Riddler is a dick.

We even see Riddler explain this weird decision to his goons, who are hilariously wearing crossword puzzle outfits. But after he talks to his goons about the evil plot he’s concocting, we then cut away to a completely unrelated crime where some thugs are trying to rob the Gotham Museum of some model ships. But Batman and Robin happened to be there so the could donate a model of a Batship, and they’re able to beat the guys up. And once that little chore is over, they head to the Batmobile to leave, and Robin is surprised to find a tack waiting in his seat. And while Robin is in pain Batman has the genius idea that there must be a riddle hidden on the tack. Which there is! They use a super-powered microscope and end up finding a riddle that ends up solving as “stone.” But they go with the realization that the answers are actually smaller versions of the real answer, which gets them going to an amusement park called Pebble Beach Funhouse.


Apparently this amusement park is having a charity night where everything costs $100, giving the Riddler a pretty sweet payday. So they show up and catch up with the Riddler, who is stunned that they figured out his stupid “the real answer is the smaller version of the answer” thing. Batman and Robin then fight with the crossword guys while Riddler escapes to his “Riddlercycle” with the bag of money. Luckily for Batman though, it turns out no one was using real money inside the amusement park, so the Riddler just stole a bag of fake money. But he apparently is fine with that, and uses the fake money for his next riddle. He ends up mailing the bag of fake money to the GCPD, addressed to Robin. They open the bag and find that the Riddler has taped all the money together to spell out a riddle that ends up saying Gotham. They then try to figure out what a smaller version of Gotham is, and Robin remembers that there’s a model of Gotham called Little Gotham that people can visit, so that’s pretty obviously the answer.

But for reasons that I really didn’t follow, the Riddler was trying to scam them, and there’s actually a bomb in the Little Gotham place, ready to kill them, so they go to Gotham’s bank instead to find the Riddler and his guys robbing it. I don’t really know why the Riddler changed up his stupid scheme this last time, or why Batman knew that he would, but whatever, we’re now caught up with that opening scene as Batman and Robin fight Riddler and his USA shaped rocket. Riddler also ends up throwing weaponized versions of puzzles at them, which is a pretty cool idea that I don’t think I’ve seen used before. But it obviously doesn’t work, so Batman ends up beating Riddler up. And as they’re getting ready to take him away Riddler says that there’s a bomb inside Little Gotham, and that it’ll go off at 1 a.m. So Batman heads to Little Gotham, while taking a pill that lowers his body temperature because he assumes the bomb will go off when his body temperature is identified. So Batman starts smashing through the model, trying to find the hidden bomb, only to realize that when 1 o’clock comes around he’s accidentally destroyed the whole model, fulfilling Riddler’s stupid threat.


Well this was a weird issue. Technically this issue should be clicking a lot of my buttons. We have Batman and Robin solving a mystery, the Riddler is involved, and it actually technically had a scene that replicated the cover. Yeah, the cover was pretty damned misleading, but at least it had Batman smashing some buildings. I don’t know, the story just felt generally half-assed. The riddles were pretty good for Riddler riddles, but I really didn’t understand the point of having the answers not actually be the answers. That just seems like cheating Riddler. And then the last riddle not following that pattern just seems like a shitty move that didn’t really make sense. And then the rest of the issue was just an Enlongated Man story, the guy who is somehow more boring than Plastic Man.There were some funny scenes, and some great weird lines from both of them, but overall this was a pretty mediocre issue. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

“The Night Batman Destroyed Gotham City” was written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff, 1967.


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