Bat Signal

Issue 215 – “The Batmen of All Nations”

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing project to read every issue of Detective Comics in random order and without any context. And we have a really fun issue to talk about today folks. Because we’re getting into the Club of Heroes today, folks! Now, in case you aren’t familiar with the Club of Heroes, they’re kind of amazing. I’ll get into it more in the actual plot description of the issue, but they’re a group of adventurers in other countries that have modeled themselves after Batman. Yeah, it’s the same premise as the Batman, Inc but done in the 50’s. The characters didn’t exactly lead to much, for several decades at least, but they’re a whole lot of fun.

The issue starts off by establishing all of the members of the Club of Heroes. First off we see the British hero Knight and his sidekick the Squire who drive around London on horse-shaped motorcycles and listening to the sounds of Big Ben to signal crimes to stop. Next up we see the Musketeer, the French vigilante who dresses exactly like you’d expect. Then there’s the Legionary, the Roman hero who dresses like a Roman centurion. Oddly there’s an incredibly vague “South American” hero called the Gaucho who uses bolas. And finally there’s an Australian hero called the Ranger, who basically just looks like a cowboy. They all adore Batman and see him as the ultimate role model. But they all figure that they could be better at their jobs, so they send a letter to Batman, hoping that he will teach them his secrets. And, shockingly, Batman agrees, and invites all of the vigilantes to Gotham City to essentially take a master’s course in crime fighting.

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However, as soon as the Club of Heroes show up in Gotham, disaster strikes. Because we see that a local criminal kingpin named Knots Cardine has a plan to take down the Club and make a lot of money doing it. They then wait and capture one of the heroes, but we don’t know which one. So we’ll just have to figure this out. But we’ll have ample time, because the heroes have arrived at Gotham City to a full on parade. They then get to meet their hero Batman, who begins teaching them all about his and Robin’s methods. They head up to the roof of the police station and show off the Bat Signal, and then demonstrate all of their utility belt gadgets, much to the amusement and interest of the Club.

The little class comes to an end though when the Bat Signal gets lit up, and the whole Club has to race down and cram into Commissioner Gordon’s office. Turns out that Knots Cardine has made a public announcement that he’s going to commit a bunch of crimes under the noses of the Club. Oh, and there’s been a call that a local bell factor is being robbed. Which is a tad suspicious. So the whole club heads out to the bell factory, only to find Cardine’s men waiting. They jump the heroes and throw a massive gong at them. Batman manages to save the day. But while he stops the gong the criminals manage to escape, and drive off into the night. The Club then splits up and race after the criminals, hoping to find them. However, despite checking every possible location, the criminals manage to evade them, almost as if they know where the heroes are. Hmm. So there’s no leads, well, until they meet at Gordon’s office again.

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Yep, it looks like the Legionary managed to catch sight of the getaway car, and has found a clue. Which surprises the other heroes, who figured that Batman would have been the one to do this. But whatever, they roll with it. The crew then split up again and begin hunting down their lead. Which is when they get a call telling them that a local circus is being robbed. Which seems more Joker territory, but whatever, they go check it out. But by the time they get to the circus the robbers are long gone. However, the proprieter did notice the scratches on the getaway car, confirming that this was Cardine’s men again. So they try hunting down the car, and as they’re driving around the surrounding area the Legionary notices a dirt road with bushes at the right height of the scratches. So Batman drives down the road and they end up finding a cabin.

Batman offers to go investigate the cabin, but as he approaches it he notices that there’s some suspicious sensors around the perimeter. Which is when the cabin explodes, seemingly killing Batman. What?! Yep, Batman just blew up, and everyone is really distraught. They all pile back in Gordon’s office and eulogize Batman while trying to console Robin. And, because he found so many clues they unanimously decide to let the Legionary run the investigation into Cardin. And it just so happens that a big money transfer is going on, which is perfect for Cardin to attack. So the team arrives to find the truck with the money, only to have the Legionary pull a gun on them. Yeah, Cardin is Legionary. He and his men hold the heroes up and get ready to rob the truck. Which is when Batman leaps from the truck and starts beating them all up. Yep, he figured the whole thing out, and has finally kicked the Legionary’s ass. No idea where the real Legionary went, but whatever. The Club of Heroes then head back to their homes, having learned a bit about vigilantism I suppose.

 

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This issue is a whole lot of fun. I really wish that the Club of Heroes had been a bigger thing, and not saved for when Grant Morrison decided to bring them back. They all have completely amazing designs, and it would have been great if they kept popping up in Detective Comics. Hell, it would have been a blast if Detective Comics just had random back up stories with these guys in them. That would have been a hoot. The idea that Batman is so popular and amazing that people all around the world wanted to copy him is fantastic. I much prefer this type of Batman, the one who is a local celebrity and who inspires the people rather than a brooding monster that most people aren’t even sure exists. True, the whole mystery of the issue is a tad obvious, since the Legionary was the only one actually doing stuff, but it was still a very enjoyable issue. I just wonder what happened to the real Legionary. Eh, whatever, he just becomes fat and drunk in the future.

 

“The Batmen of All Nations” was written by Edmond Hamilton, penciled by Sheldon Moldoff, and inked by Charles Paris, 1955.

 

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