Bat Signal

Issue 380 – “Marital-Bliss Miss!”

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I’ve talked about some weird stuff here on Bat Signal. I mean, last week featured an extended sequence involving Satan. But I think this is the firs time that I’ve had to go back and re-read passages multiple times to get my mind around just what the hell is going on in an issue. Because folks, we’ve got an odd one here. I mean, look at that cover. What could possibly be so baffling to Batman and Robin? But then there’s the title. Plus, we’ve got a story where it’s mostly Bruce Wayne running around solving a crime, barely as Batman. But that’s getting ahead of myself I suppose, so let’s move things back and try to tackle this weird-ass story from the beginning.

The issue starts off straight-up baffling, because we see Alfred and Dick just hanging around the house, talking about economics text-books, when the doorbell rings and they go check it out. And the person that’s rung the bell turns out to be a young woman named Ginny who seems to be awfully familiar with Bruce. And when Alfred presses her on her relationship with Bruce, she shockingly says that she’s his wife. This obviously seems like bullshit to Alfred and Dick, since they feel like they’d hear about Bruce getting wed. But just in case Alfred lets Ginny come to Bruce’s office, where she startles the hell out of renowned crimefighter Bruce Wayne.

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But shockingly, Bruce seems to be okay with Ginny’s presence, and even asks Alfred and Dick to leave the room while he talks to his new wife. He even tells them that he married her the other day, on a spur of the moment kind of thing. However the second the two are out of the room Bruce immediately turns on Ginny, telling her to explain just what the hell is going on. And thus begins Ginny’s insane explanations of just what the hell is happening. She says that she had to pretend to be married to Bruce, otherwise her brother would kill the both of them. This is an odd statement, and so she explains that her brother hates Bruce, and the only way to stop him from getting killed was to pretend that Ginny met Bruce ,and that they eloped. Plus, Ginny says she’s been in love with Bruce since high-school, following him like a celebrity.

So this is starting to sound like an insane stalker that probably should not be allowed in the mansion. But right as Bruce is starting to wonder if Ginny is just insane, he gets a call from Ginny’s brother Jim, who is instantly threatening and hangs up. What the hell? Bruce starts demanding Ginny explains what this whole game is about, but she pleads ignorance, and claims that if Bruce lets it out that the marriage isn’t real it’ll end with Jim killing both of them. So Bruce just gives up for now, and tells Ginny to stay in the mansion, pretending to be his wife, while he goes out to investigate what’s going on. And his first stop is the high school that Ginny went to to dig up info. And he awkwardly find out that she was voted “most likely to marry Batman.” That’s a weird coincidence.

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But Bruce does remember the name of her brother, Jim Jenkins, and seems to think that a visit to the bank will help. He heads to the bank to meet with the treasurer of the Wayne Foundation, Eugene, and ask him about Jim Jenkins. Turns out Jenkins runs some sort of “Institute of Geriatric Research” and has applied for grants from the foundation five times, getting rejected every time. Eugene says that the Institute is sketchy as hell, and Bruce decides that these rejections may have something to do with the death threats.

So he heads back to the mansion, makes up an excuse to Ginny about why he has to sneak out that night, gets in his Batman costume, and hits the town. Unfortunately right after Bruce leaves Ginny breaks into his office and finds that Bruce had been looking up the Institute’s address, and she realizes that he’s gone off to confront Jim. So Batman gets to the Institute’s office, right as a safe-cracker is busy breaking into Jim’s office. Batman busts into the room at the same time that Jim is coming in to take care of the thief, and the two end up grappling, making weird jokes about teeth. And as they’re grappling, there’s a gunshot, and Jim slumps to the floor. Oops, looks like Jim shot himself. Which isn’t going to go over well with Ginny, who has just walked into the room.

But as Ginny tires to shoot Batman, and he disarms her, he begins investigating the room. He sees the cracked safe, and realizes that there was someone else in the room, and after checking Jim’s gun he realizes that it didn’t fire the shot that killed Jim. It must have been the thief. And when Batman looks through the safe he finds some evidence that seems to point to the real killer. So he and Ginny get in the Batmobile and head out to a mansion outside the city. The mansion that Eugene from the bank lives it. Turns out when Eugene was a bank teller he foiled a robbery that he was actually in on. And the robber was Jim. The two planned on a robbery, but a cop got involved and they had to bail on the plan, and Jim has been blackmailing Eugene ever since. And the only way to get Jim off Eugene’s back was to kill Bruce Wayne so that Eugene would become executor the the Wayne Foundation, which they could then bleed dry. Jesus. That’s complicated as hell. But Batman beats him up, Ginny gets shot in the arm, she’s taken to the hospital, and Bruce just leaves her there I guess?

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Holy crap. I think I got all that straight. This issue was complex as hell. But I kind of dug it. It’s certainly strange, and I don’t think I’ve read an issue for this project that’s had so much Bruce Wayne, and so little Batman, but it kind of worked for me. And I think that’s mainly because this issue had some serious detection, which it turns out is shockingly rare for Detective Comics. Bruce does some legitimatize detective work in this issue, and it’s pretty great. And it was just a fun issue. The premise with the woman claiming to be Bruce Wayne’s quickie marriage is pretty great, and it just got crazier and crazier. Plus, despite being one of those issue with random villains that had no setup, we didn’t even have to take a weird trip to the vast woods outside Gotham City. But now I’m super curious if Ginny continued to be in issues for a while, or if Bruce just straight up left this wounded woman in the hospital and never talked to her again. That seems pretty cold Bruce.

“Marital-Bliss Miss!” was written by Frank Robbins and penciled by Bob Brown, 1968.

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