Bat Signal

Issue 460 – “Slow Down – And Die!”

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Ahoy everyone, and welcome back to another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read every issue of Detective Comics at random. And folks, the gods of probability have smiled upon me, and given me something incredibly unlikely. Just a few weeks ago I happened to pull a completely insane story about an insane pirate called Captain Stingaree who was obsessed with proving that Batman was actually a group of rich triplets. It was absolutely insane, and obviously the second part in a larger story, which made the issue a little delightfully insane. And what do we have today? The issue immediately preceding that one! It doesn’t seem likely, but the random number generator that I use has decided to let me try to piece together a bit more of this insane pirate mystery. And let me tell you, this issue barely makes this story more coherent. If anything, it makes it even more crazy! What a delight!

The issue begins with some footage of Batman beating up a whole bunch of thugs while we see narration from a person who turns out to be Captain Stingaree. He’s showing footage of Batman to a room full of thugs, seemingly to prepare them for an upcoming war against Batman. Well, until we realize that these aren’t goons, they’re all robots, and Stingaree is just talking to them for no reason. He tells them that Batman is actually a group of triplets, being bankrolled by Bruce Wayne. And, unfortunately, we don’t really have any idea of why he thinks this. Which is incredibly disappointing. But, I guess we can’t take the sanity of this man who dresses like a pirate and tells his plans to robots who he then destroys. He’s a model of mental health.

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We’re then introduced to Stingaree’s first master plan. Which is fantastic. Because it’s Speed. It’s the plot of the film Speed. Stingaree has apparently stuck a bomb inside the car of Commissioner Gordon which will explode if he goes below fifty miles per hour or undoes his seat-belt. Stingaree speaks to Gordon through the radio, and mocks Gordon, telling him that he’s going to die unless he calls Batman to save him. So Gordon does just that. Well, he doesn’t call him actually. He sends him a message to his pager. Which I find quite hilarious.

Unfortunately Bruce Wayne is busy that evening, taking some woman named Barbi to an exclusive new nightclub that’s located on a fake pirate ship in the Gotham Harbor. Yep, it’s called the Stingaree, and it’s ran by Captain Stingaree, the crazy guy who is masterminding this whole thing. He comes up to Bruce Wayne and begins taunting him about Bruce’s foundation, trying to get him to slip up and admit something about the Batman funding. But since this is insane, Bruce is just mostly confused. And as he’s struggling to figure out what this insane pirate is talking about he gets a page from Gordon. Bruce then quickly flees from the Stingaree, and finds the Batmobile waiting for him. Because Alfred drove it there to him.

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Bruce and Alfred then drive off to find Gordon, who is currently speeding around on the highway, trying to keep his speed up. Alfred ends up pulling right next to Gordon’s car, and Batman decides to leap out of the Batmobile and onto the hood of Gordon’s car. Alfred drives off with the Batmobile, making Gordon assume that it’s self-driving, while Batman gets working on the car. He pops the hood, since the bomb must be attached to the speedometer, and ends up disarming it while Gordon swerves around traffic. However, as he’s taking the bomb off an ambulance cuts in front of them, and Gordon has to turn hard. Batman ends up flying off the car, and gets knocked out on the ground.

Luckily the ambulance driver stops and drags Batman into the ambulance to take care of him. Unluckily the ambulance driver is actually Captain Stingaree, who is of course wearing his pirate costume under his paramedic costume. He ties Batman to the gurney and  begins working on the rest of his plan. But Batman ends up coming to, and quickly rips out of the confines on the gurney, and attacks Stingaree. The two spar in the confined space until Stingaree comes up with a master strategy. He opens up a tank full of ether and lets it fill the ambulance until they both faint. But he opened the door at the last second, hoping that his little bit of air will cause him to regain consciousness before Batman. Genius! Well, actually, it works, so I guess. Stingaree then drags Batman to a secret base, ties him up, and pulls of his mask to reveal a Courtney triplet. What?!

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Folks, this issue is baffling and delightful. When I read the next part of this story a few weeks ago I mentioned that I assumed the first part of the story would make things make sense. And that was not the case! Because that issue starts off with Bruce Wayne being kidnapped by Stingaree, after fleeing from Stingaree, so I have no idea what’s going on with these Courtney reveals. The next issue ends up Batman’s mask getting ripped off and being revealed to be a Courtney as well, which makes no sense! I still have no idea what Captain Stingaree’s thing is, why he’s obsessed with the Courtney triplets, and why Batman is putting on elaborate Courtney triplet masks to screw with him, when he seemingly had no idea what was going on. It’s baffling! But in the best way! Now I just need to pray that the random number gods smile upon me once more and give me the third part of this story, to understand what’s going on. Or I could just read it, like a normal person. But where’s the fun in that?

 

“Slow Down – And Die!” was written by Bob Rozakis and Michael Uslan, penciled by Ernie Chan, inked by Frank McLaughlin, and lettered by Ben Oda, 1976.

 

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