Bat Signal

Issue 289 – “The Bat-Mite Bandits”


Hi there folks and welcome back to Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read random issues of Detective Comics. And the random number generator gods have smiled on us today, because this week we get to talk about Bat-Mite. Now, we’ve tackled some really weird aspects of Batman before on this site, including aliens, time-travel, and Jason Todd. But we’ve yet to get to Bat-Mite. In case you’re not familiar with Bat-Mite, he’s fascinating. I double checked, and apparently he’s not actually from the same dimension as Mr. Mxyzptlk, the weird Superman villain who is an Imp with near omnipotent magical powers, but he might as well be. He’s from the Mite-Dimension, has almost omnipotent powers, and is absolutely obsessed with Batman. And not in a malicious way. He’s just a huge fan. So he uses his magical powers to enter our dimension and largely bother Batman, usually by showing up and using his powers to make Batman’s adventures even more ridiculous. And that’s exactly what we’re getting today. So buckle up and lets get into some Imp nonsense.

The issue starts off oddly enough with Bruce Wayne hanging out in some sort of rich people club, before excusing himself to go Batman. And when he leaves all the other rich people mock him, saying that he leads a boring life. Which leads directly to the ridiculous image of Batman and Robin getting all dressed up to go on their nightly patrol when Bat-Mite pops into existence in front of them. And Batman and Robin are instantly irritated. They tell Bat-Mite that they’re sick of his bullshit, and that while they appreciate that he’s a fan, he just makes their lives harder, and they’re really just prefer it if he didn’t bother them. So Bat-Mite leaves the Batcave, dejected, and the Dynamic Duo begin their patrol. And right away they find something to take care of, because they hear a burglar alarm from a local millionaire’s mansion. So they head to the mansion, and find that this millionaire has the insane hobby of collecting scale-models of famous statues, like the Statue of Liberty and the Sphinx. They also see a gang of criminals stealing a jewel-encrusted dagger from the millionaire’s collection, so they get to work beating them up. Which is when something unexpected happens.


Yep, the Sphinx just came to life and the criminals immediately decide that they should ride the Sphinx to freedom. Batman immediately realizes that Bat-Mite is behind the shenanigans, and yells at him to stop using his “weird powers” to help the villains. But Bat-Mite ignores that request, and instead brings a statue of Pegasus to life, letting the Dynamic Duo get on it and chase after the Sphinx. And when they catch up they lasso the criminals, hoping that they’ve fixed this insane problem. Until the Colossus of Rhodes shows up and cuts the lasso, letting the criminals go free again. Bat-Mite briefly tries to stop Batman and Robin again by sticking them in Lady Justice’s scales, but they quickly get out and beat up the criminals. At which point Bat-Mite is satisfied with the encounter, and makes that jewel-encrusted dagger grow and start flying, letting the criminals escape again. Which is really baffling Batman and Robin, who are more than a little horrified at the idea that Bat-Mite may be using his powers to help criminals.

But is that what he’s doing? No, not really. Because right now we get a brief flashback to the moment that Batman and Robin kicked Bat-Mite out of the Batcave, and we see what’s caused these hijinks. Because as Bat-Mite was wandering the streets, sad, he runs into a criminal named Willy Wile who quickly comes up with a scam. He tells Bat-Mite that he’s a big Batman fan too, and is filming a secret movie of Batman’s best exploits, and plans to give all of the profits to charity. He tells Bat-Mite that Batman can’t know about the movie, since it’s a surprise, and he asks Bat-Mite to help him make ridiculous crimes for him to film. He gives him some goons, and tells him that they’re just going to pretend to steal stuff for the movie. And Bat-Mite completely buys this explanation, and heads off with the goons to their next target, some sort of sports equipment warehouse. They break into the place and Bat-Mite uses his powers to make a fake radio broadcast to summon the Dynamic Duo just in time to start tussling and tossing out puns!


Batman and Robin begin battling the goons using all the gigantic sports equipment that Bat-Mite created, and things seem to be turning their way again. Which of course means that it’s time for Bat-Mite to turn a football into a blimp so he and his goons can escape and bring their loot back to Willy. And when they get there, Bat-Mite has some questions about the movie, and thinking quick Willy shows him footage of Batman riding the Pegasus, and seems to dissuade his concerns. At least enough for one more job, after which Willy and the goons will retire and flee the country. They just need one more big score, and they know just the place.

The Museum of Oriental Art! Yeah, we’re just going to have to roll with that. Anyway, Batman and Robin are driving by when a Bat Signal suddenly lights out of the Museum, drawing their attention. They head into the museum and see the goons robbing all sorts of random artifacts from the dozens of cultures in Asia. But right as the goons act like they’re going to run away they hit a snag when a statue of Shiva grabs all of them, and holds them captive. At this point Bat-Mite explains that he’s done committing crimes, brings a statue of a dragon to life, and tells Batman and Robin to follow him. So they all pile up onto the dragon and fly back to Willy’s base where Bat-Mite helps them catch the criminal. Turns out Bat-Mite overheard the goons talking about how they were actually criminals and were going to flee the country after the museum heist, and figured out that he was being played. So now he’s helped Batman and Robin and he decides to go back to his own dimension and stop bothering Batman and Robin for a while.


This issue is a whole lot of fun. So far I haven’t been a huge fan of the more sci-fi aspects of Batman, I just don’t think I’ll ever get used to Batman fighting aliens, but stuff like this is totally in my wheelhouse. Bat-Mite is just such an insane character, and I love him so much. Mr. Mxyzptlk is a super weird villain, and more of a bother than anything else to superman, and I love that they decided to basically give Batman the exact same character, but make him an obnoxious fanboy. Especially since Bat-Mite came about in the 1950s. I could totally buy a character showing up in modern day that represents the toxic side of fandom, but 1961? Bat-Mite is super ahead of his time. And he’s great in this issue. I love the idea of Bat-Mite getting tricked into being complicit in crimes because he thinks he’s doing Batman a favor. That’s just pretty perfect. Plus it leads to some absolutely insane gags like Batman and Robin riding a Pegasus and a bunch of goons being attacked by Shiva. There’s not a whole lot of detection going on in this issue, but it’s still a whole lot of fun and I dig the hell out of it.

“The Bat-Mite Bandits” was written by Bill Finger and penciled by Dick Sprang, 1961.


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