Bat Signal

Issue 267 – “Batman Meets Bat-Mite”

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing project to read random issues of Detective Comics with basically no context. And folks, look who we’re getting to talk about again today. That’s right, everybody’s favorite little imp from another dimension who isn’t Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite. Now, we’ve already discussed Bat-Mite here on the project already, but it just so happens that the issue that my random number generator spat out today is the first appearance of the little twerp. And guess what? They still barely explain who he is, what the extent of his powers are, and if he is in actuality related to Mr. Mxyzptlk at all. At least he’s better than Qwsp. But all that matters is that we have another issue where Batman and Robin are going to be driven to their wits end while dealing with a rambunctious little imp who is going to do everything he can to prank the Dynamic Duo. And you know I’m into that.

The issue starts off with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson rushing down to the Batcave to change into their costumes and begin their nightly patrol. However, when they get down into the cave they find that something is amiss. It’s clear that someone has messed with their equipment, both their criminology gadgets and their utility belts, which obviously is going to startle them. They begin wandering around the Batcave, trying to find if there’s an intruder. And when they finally do come across the person who has messed with their stuff, they’re certainly shocked. Because they run into Bat-Mite, a tiny little man with a giant head who is wearing an ill-fitting Batman costume. Batman and Robin don’t seem overly shocked about the appearance of this little person and are more irritated that he broke in. And things are made even more confusing when Bat-Mite explains that he’s a nigh omnipotent being from another dimension who has gotten obsessed with them to the point that he’s torn a hole in space and time to come to their reality so he can be their pal. And Batman is having none of it.

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Batman doesn’t really have a lot of candor, and basically just refuses Bat-Mite’s offer to help him out. He does give at least a bit of an explanation, saying that people would be confused about the appearance of a magical being. Bat-Mite sullenly agrees with this assessment, and promises not to bother them. Which obviously isn’t going to happen. Because as soon as Bat-Mite agrees to these terms he pretends to return to his reality, but actually just turns invisible and sits atop the Batmobile, ready to go help out on the night’s adventure. And he doesn’t have to wait for long, because as Batman and Robin begin their patrol they make their way to the waterfront and come across a gang getting ready to escape after a heist.

Batman and Robin race after the criminals, eventually crashing into their getaway car. Once that happens the criminals bail out and begin to run across a bridge, and because Batman and Robin have a sense of fair-play, they too hop out of the Batmobile and race after the criminals on foot. Which is when Bat-Mite decides to be a dick. He uses his magical powers to transform the steel of the bridge into rubber, causing the entire bridge to begin wiggling and wavering around, throwing everyone into disarray. Batman quickly realizes what’s going on though, and starts using the attributes of the bridge to bounce towards the criminals and catch them. The criminals are a little confused about what just happened, and Batman has to make up some stone-cold bullshit by saying that the nearby chemical factory made them all hallucinate. The criminals accept that, and after Batman and Robin bring them in to the police they have a talking to with Bat-Mite. They tell him that crime-fighting isn’t for fun, and tell him to leave them alone.

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So yeah, Batman and Robin are incredibly gullible. Because as soon as Bat-Mite “vanishes” he just shows up in the trophy room and awaits Batman and Robin’s next patrol the next day. And the next night the Dynamic Duo get word that a gang are robbing some sort of high-fi convention and race off to help. Bat-Mite accompanies them, and watches Batman and Robin fight a group of criminals who are hiding among giant record players. The criminals quickly give up though, and Bat-Mite grows bored. So he controls a massive album, causing it to scoop the criminals up and fly them away. Batman and Robin realize what’s going on again though, and thinking quick, launch Batman onto the record using a massive tape recorder. Batman stops the criminals, who are baffled about what they just saw. Batman makes up more bullshit and arrests the criminals. And, once again, Batman and Robin scold Bat-Mite, and he promises not to interfere.

Which mean he’s going to do it again. Because Bat-Mite spends the entire next day stealing props from a movie studio, just assuming they’ll come in handy. And they do! Because Bat-Mite overhears Batman and Robin plan a sting on some criminals where they’ll trap them in an empty warehouse. Bat-Mite knows that this sounds boring, so he goes and fills the warehouse with his props, like a Viking ship, a sphinx, and a giant Batman. So that night when the Dynamic Duo and the criminals show up everyone is shocked. The criminals are pretty confused about all of this, but seeing an opening they all pile into the Viking ship, since it’s on wheels, and use it to escape. Bat-Mite is worried that this won’t be good enough, and offers to let Batman and Robin ride the sphinx to victory. But this ends up not working, so Batman has to make an executive decision and starts yelling at Bat-Mite. He tells him that if he allows the criminals to escape he’ll be branded a terrible crime-fighter. So Bat-Mite agrees to help them, and obviously animates the giant Batman into becoming a goddamn kaiju. Batman and Robin hop into Giant Batman’s utility belt and watch as it chases after the criminals and captures them. And with that taken care of Batman and Robin say goodbye to Bat-Mite. For real this time. He agrees to be a better imp, and returns to his dimension. For now.

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Let me be real with you folks. I love me some Bat-Mite. He’s a delightfully insane character, even by Silver Age standards, and I’m always onboard to see him pop into an issue of Detective Comics. And today’s issue, his introduction to the DC Universe, really hammers in an interesting point. Batman is so goddamn lucky that Bat-Mite is a fan of his. I know that Mr. Mxyzptlk is often portrayed as something of a trickster, just bothering Superman, but he’s basically omnipotent, and could cause some serious issues for Superman. And Superman is essentially a god. Batman’s just a dude. If Bat-Mite was more malevolent he could utterly dominate Gotham City. But instead Bat-Mite is the universes biggest Batman fan, and instead focuses all of his power and attention on loving Batman, and trying to give him better adventures. Which is problematic in its own right, but at least somewhat less deadly for Batman. Bat-Mite is just the ultimate fan, basically pitching story ideas to Batman on Twitter. And Batman just has to grit his teeth and accept it, knowing that if he angers Bat-Mite, he could get turned into a duck or some nonsense. The issue itself is just kind of fine. It’s a tad repetitive, and just does the same gimmick three times. But the heart of the issue is Bat-Mite, and he’s in fine form here, showing that the character has potential for decades to come.

“Batman Meets Bat-Mite” was written by Bill Finger, penciled by Sheldon Moldoff, and inked by Charles Paris, 1959.

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Apparently Improv was not one of the skills Batman has mastered

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