Bat Signal

Issue 179 – “Mayor Bruce Wayne”

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Hey everybody! It’s Batman Day! That’s right, we’ve given a day to one of our favorite superheroes, and it just so happens to be on the day that I normally talk about goofy as hell Batman stories. Lucky! So sit back and enjoy my little ode to the World’s Greatest Detective (my favorite nickname for him).

We’re living in a really frightening time when it comes to politics aren’t we? We have a racist cartoon troll running for President right now, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of hatred that’s going to come spilling out of politicians desperate to appeal to this monstrous voter-base that’s been revealed. Things are bleak. You know who we need? Mayor Bruce Wayne. That’s right. That’s a thing that has happened. We’ve also had a mayoral race where Batman straight up ran against the Penguin, but that’s from the Batman 66 series. This is possibly weirder. Because let me tell you, Bruce Wayne does not run to be mayor. And there’s a weird doppelganger thing going on. Real political drama going on here folks.

The issue starts off with two thugs finding Batman alone in an alley, doing mechanical work on the Batmobile. They sneak up on Batman, grab his arms, and do the one thing that most Batman villains never seem to think to do. They yank the mask off. And they (and we) are shocked to find that the man under the mask if some local criminal named Deuce Chalmers. Deuce explains that he has some plan cooking that involves pretending to be Batman, and creating a replica Batmobile. So he takes those thugs back to his hideout, and tells them that if they help him they can get in on his scheme to get $6 million by pretending to be Batman. And the best part? he’s figured something pretty insane out.

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That’s right. The illustrious list of criminals who have figured out Batman’s secrete identity now is as follows: the Riddler, Bane, Ra’s al Ghul, and Deuce Chalmers. Way to go Batman. And speaking of Batman, we cut over to the Batcave, where he isn’t aware yet that some loser has figured out his identity, because he’s too busy dealing with another crisis. Turns out Robin has been invited by the military to come guard some sort of nuclear test site in the South Pacific, and will have to be leaving soon. Sure, let’s go with that. And to make matters worse, apparently Gotham has some insane custom that every year the mayor goes on a week vacation, and some random citizen is made interim mayor. And this year it’s Bruce Wayne’s turn. But that’s still not everything, because on top of all of that we learn that some club of millionaires has recently named Batman the Man of the Year, and are coming to Gotham during Bruce’s mayoral stint to provide the Caped Crusader with an award. We’re looking at the Three’s Company level shenanigans here people.

So Bruce settles into his weird new position, meeting with his new secretary Fielding and heads to his first appointment, dedicating some new statue. And while he’s talking about the statue to the press, he notices the Bat Signal in the sky, and has to ignore it since he can’t just book it out of this dedication. But he’s shocked when later that night he sees a newspaper claiming that Batman stopped the crime that the Bat Signal was warning about. There’s a fake Batman running around! And it just keeps happening. Bruce is busy with mayoral duties, and crimes keep getting committed that get taken care of by Deuce and his fake Batman costume. And to make matter crazier, Deuce decides to double down on his hunch that Bruce is Batman, mainly because he correctly assumes that the real Batman would have shown up to those crimes, and decides to invite Bruce and Commissioner Gordon to dinner. And once dinner is over, he invites the two over to check out the Batcave.

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Yep, really calling Bruce’s bluff here. So obviously Commissioner Gordon and Bruce want to go to the Batcave, so “Batman” takes them out to the street where his knock-off Batmobile is waiting, blindfolds them, and takes them to his fake Batcave. And when they get there, they’re less than impressed, because Deuce has basically just set up a children’s chemistry set in some random cave and slapped some labels on stuff. Not really what Gordon was anticipating, but he buys it nonetheless. And Bruce is furious. Which isn’t helped when the next day roles around and that weird club of millionaires shows up to hang out with Batman. Especially when “Batman” shows up and offers to take the millionaires, sans bodyguards of course, to check out the Batcave. How could they refuse?

So “Batman” piles the stupid millionaires into the Batmobile and they head off to that random cave that he’s been hanging out in. And Bruce is pissed. Especially because he doesn’t really have a way to stop them without proving that Batman is Bruce Wayne. But he does come up with an idea when his mayoral secretary, Fielding comes in to check on Bruce, and it all comes together. Fielding looks pretty similar to Bruce, so Bruce obviously pulls out some sort of hypnotizing light, and puts Fielding into a hypnotic state where he convinces him that he’s Bruce Wayne, and that he needs to follow him. So Bruce puts on his Batman costume, and brings “Bruce” with him to the cave that he’s keeping the millionaires. And when the two burst in they find that Deuce has stuck all the millionaires in a giant cage, and is planning to ransom them for a million dollars each. But when the real Batman comes in, with “Bruce Wayne” no less, Deuce freaks out and gets into a fight with Batman. The real Batman is easily able to best Deuce, right as Fielding is about to come out of his hypnosis. But Batman just knocks him the hell out so he can’t spill the beans though and arrests Deuce and his gang. Oh, and just in case you were wondering how Bruce knew where this secret Batcave was, we get a weird explanation for that to close out the issue, complete with diagrams!

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I had fun with this issue. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but nor was it one of the weaker issues I’ve happened to pull for this series. I think the idea of a guy figuring out Batman’s identity would normally be handled with a lot more gravitas than it was here. Normally that would be a huge goddamn deal, where we have to deal with some horrible genius villain who is now going to take Bruce’s life apart, piece by piece. But instead we get this goofy-as-hell little story where some random thug figures out the greatest mystery of his time, and instead of enacting great revenge on Batman, or selling this information to the Joker or something, he just tries to make $6 million with a scam. I mean, maybe he was planing on doing more with this information after the initial scam, but it still seems super low-stakes considering what he’s learned. And when you take that silly concept, and stick it into the weird premise of Bruce Wayne having to be a pretend mayor for a week and being unable to prove that this rogue Batman running around isn’t him makes it that much crazier. It was a good time. And sometimes that’s all you need out of a Batman story. And as always, have a solemn and reflective Batman Day.

“Mayor Bruce Wayne” was written by David Vern Reed and penciled by Dick Sprang, 1952.

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