Bat Signal

Issue 158 – “The 1,001 Trophies of Batman”


Hello everyone, and welcome back to Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read every issue of Detective Comics in a random order, with no context of what’s going on. And boy do I have a fun story to tell you about this week. I mean, just look at that cover. We’re being promised a crazy story set in the Batcave’s treasure room. And, not only that, it seems like we’re going to see Batman and Robin fighting Dr. Doom! Awesome! I love Dr. Doom! Oh, well, it’s not that Dr. Doom. In fact, he appears to just be another of those weird one and done villains who have no real back story and just serve to be nefarious villains with reputations that precede them, and who never show up again. Which I guess isn’t a shame, because if this dude had actually been a success we may have not gotten the Once and Future Dr. Doom that I love so much. But let’s not waste time talking about the Dr. Doom we won’t be seeing today, and get to the Dr. Doom that we shall be seeing.

The story starts off with Batman and Robin heading into their Treasure Room in the Batcave, ready to enshrine their latest souvenir. Because apparently Batman and Robin function like serial killers, and take a memento from every single one of their cases and then enshrine them in their weird little museum. So we see them bring their latest souvenir in, which is apparently a musical note that was used to trigger the death of a poor victim.  How they plan to enshrine a musical note is anyone’s guess, because they quickly gloss over that and instead we’re treated to Batman and Robin wandering down memory lane, looking at all of these artifacts from previous adventures. And I’m not quite sure if all of these are actually from previous issues or not, but they do mentions some of the more famous items from the Batcave, like the giant penny and the robotic dinosaur. So that’s neat.


However their delightful little day in their own personal museum is ruined when they hear an urgent radio alert from Commissioner Gordon. Looks like he’s cornered a famous smuggler named Dr. Doom who Batman and Robin have been trying to bust for quite some time. So Batman and Robin hop in the Batmobile and race off to the docks, ready to catch Doom. Although when they get there it looks like they may be out of luck, because Doom is just shipping some legitimate Egyptian artifacts. Well, until Batman notices that the bust of the sphinx that Doom brought isn’t an artifact, but a recent creation. So he breaks it open and finds that it’s full of jewels. Dr. Doom then realizes that the jig is up, and quickly jumps into the bay to avoid questioning. And, little did Batman and Robin know, but Doom had a cigarette holder on him, which he uses like a snorkel to stay alive. Batman and Robin decide that Doom must have drowned, and get ready to head back to the Batcave.

But as they’re gawking at the bay, looking for Doom, he slips up from the water and hides in a massive sarcophagus that he also brought with him. And once Batman and Robin call it a night they decide to take the sarcophagus back to the Batcave with them, to put into the Hall of Trophies. So Dr. Doom is getting a free trip to the Batcave, and as soon as Batman and Robin place the sarcophagus into the Trophy Room, he begins plotting. Once the Dynamic Duo leave the room he begins wandering around, planning how he’ll be able to defeat them. He finds that the door is locked, so he begins fiddling around with all of the trophies, setting them up to make a plethora of death-traps for Batman and Robin.


Once the death-traps are fully set up Dr. Doom finds a security system in the Batcave and triggers it, hoping to draw Batman and Robin to him. And it sure does work, because Batman and Robin certainly weren’t expecting for someone to be traipsing around in the Batcave. So they head on into the trophy room, and begin snooping around for the intruder. Which is when the death traps start springing into action. First a giant set of dice are launched at them, then Robin is almost crushed by the giant penny, which in turn sets off a cannon filled with harpoons at Batman. So that’s pretty suspicious. But none of these traps have managed to hurt them, so Dr. Doom remains hidden, waiting for the to slip up. Instead the Dynamic Duo decide to leave the Trophy Room, and check a different security system which takes a photo of everything enters the Batcave, hoping to find evidence of who they’re dealing with.

But when they check the film they find that the only photo is of the Batmobile. With that sarcophagus. Which gives them an idea. So they head back into the trophy room, and find the sarcophagus empty, but wet on the inside. They now have confirmation that it’s Dr. Doom they’re dealing with, and start looking for him again. Unfortunately Dr. Doom has gotten into the giant robotic dinosaur in the trophy room, and begins operating it to attack Batman and Robin. Robin is taken out of commission pretty early, leaving Batman to think on his feet. So he obviously runs and gets in a little helicopter, using the spinning blades to sever the electrical wires in the dinosaur’s neck. Obviously. And once that’s taken care of Dr. Doom leaves the dinosaur body and confronts Batman and Robin with another trophy, a grenade. He tosses it at the Dynamic Duo and then leaps into the sarcophagus to keep himself safe. The grenade explodes, but Batman and Robin are kept safe by using the “midget mansion the pee-wee people of Tiny Town” gave them as cover. And once they get their thoughts together they head to open the sarcophagus to capture Dr. Doom, and make a startling discovery. The blast has jammed the sarcophagus shut. They then begin to crack the sarcophagus open, but when they finally succeed they find that Dr. Doom has suffocated in the sarcophagus, and is dead. We then cut to some time ‘later’ and see that they’re proudly displaying the sarcophagus, presumably without Dr. Doom’s corpse inside.


This issue is a whole lot of fun. I’m not really a fan of these issues that have a random criminal with no motivation who is introduced and defeated in a single story, but at least this one didn’t have them running around the woods for half the story. No, instead we get to see more of the Batcave, which is something I always love. I adore all of the weird trophies that Batman and Robin keep from their adventures, and having a villain slip into the Batcave and try to turn all of their artifacts against them was actually a whole lot of fun, and a pretty great idea. Yeah, it maybe would have been even better if it was someone like the Joker or the Riddler who snuck into the Batcave, but if it had been someone we cared about they couldn’t have killed them off in the ridiculous manner that Dr. Doom died. I still kind of can’t believe that this issue dies with an old man asphyxiating in the Batcave, and that Batman and Robin then proudly display the thing that killed him. But I guess that’s just something you have to deal with when you’re the World’s Greatest Detective.

“The 1,001 Trophies of Batman” was written by Edmond Hamilton, penciled by “Bob Kane,” and inked by Charles Paris, 1950.



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