Bat Signal

Issue 368 – “The 7 Wonder Crimes of Gotham City!”

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Hey there everyone, and welcome back to yet another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read every issue of Detective Comics, in random order, and with basically no context. And we have a very okay issue of comics to talk about this week, folks. The random number generator gods have decided to gift us with a story that doesn’t really have anything majorly wrong with it, but that just doesn’t make a huge impression. Which is a shame, because that cover certainly promises a lot. We’ve had a shocking amount of stories that seem to guarantee gigantic Batmen before, and they’ve almost always been fake-outs. Which leaves us one burning question. Just how will this story fake us out and disappoint the promise of a giant Batman? Let’s find out, shall we?

The story begins at Gotham Square Garden, where a championship hockey game is currently underway. However, as things are at their most intense the puck suddenly explodes, releasing a noxious cloud of chemicals that ends up knocking out every player and audience member in the stadium. And, once they’re all out, a group of criminals in gas masks come bounding in, robbing everyone in the place. Which turns out to be quite lucrative, because apparently in Gotham City people dress up in their finest clothes and bring all their jewelry to hockey games, instead of custom Gritty shirts. And, once the criminals are finished robbing everyone in sight and long gone, the Dynamic Duo arrive to figure out what in the world just happened. And, to add to the confusion of the heist, they find that the thieves set up a giant inflatable statue of Father Knickerbocker, with a 7 painted on his back, hanging from the rafters. Who is Father Knickerbocker? Who knows, but apparently he’s some sort of mascot for Gotham City.

 

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Apparently there we no further clues to gather though, because the story then jumps ahead to the next evening when Bruce and Dick are attending some sort of architectural demonstration. The idea is that it has replicas of various houses in Gotham City, representing the past, present and future. The two gawk at a replica of Wayne Manor, which seems weird, and then head to “the House of the Future,” built out a light-weight steel alloy that has recently been created. They look at all the fun amenities, like omni-present view screen constantly spitting out news, and walls that glow instead of having lights. Dick is very impressed by the weird wall-lights, until something seems to go wrong with them, and the lights go up to a blinding intensity. Bruce and Dick realize this can’t be a fluke, and slip into a closet to change into their costumes, also donning some powerful sunglasses in the process, so they can actually see what’s going on.

And, sure enough, they come across some thieves also wearing some sunglasses and stealing a bunch of expensive stuff that Bruce lent the show for their fake Wayne Manor. They’re able to make short work of the thieves, and destroy the power source to the glowing house, but the thieves refuse to give Batman or the police any information, meaning Batman and Robin are going to have to hunt down the rest of the gang. And, the next night, their job is pretty much done for them, because as they’re driving around in the Batmobile they come across a gigantic inflatable statue of Batman, straddling a harbor. They’re pretty shocked by the appearance of this statue, and as they’re gawking at it they see a massive blackout begin, plunging the area into darkness. This is obviously suspicious, and using the headlights of the Batmobile they’re able to find another group of thieves, taking advantage of the black-out, and moving around as if they could see perfectly. So, figuring some sort of shenanigans are afoot, Batman and Robin start using some different lenses in their masks, until they happen upon infra-red ones.

 

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Yeah, the giant Batman statue apparently emits infra-red rays, which the criminals are using to see and rob Gotham blind with. And, now that they’ve stumbled upon the secret, Batman and Robin are able to defeat the thieves, even though this primarily takes the form of them firing out grappling hooks and then tripping the criminals with jump ropes. But, whatever, still counts. Unfortunately, they still don’t get any information about this weird rash of thefts, so Batman and Robin decide to head back to the Batcave to compare their notes. And, what they figure out is pretty insane. Batman realizes that the giant Batman seemed pretty similar to the Colossus of Rhodes, straddling a harbor, and with that in mind they realize that all the other thefts were similar to the 7 wonders of the world, which could explain the 7 painted on Father Knickerbocker. Because he was hanging in the Garden, like the Hanging Garden. And the House of Tomorrow was a house full of lights, making it the Lighthouse of Pharos. And, as luck would have it, a gigantic diamond is being shown the next day at a jewelry store called the Jewelry Temple of Artemis. Which is a tad on the nose.

So, the next day Batman and Robin arrive at the Temple of Artemis, and begin watching the giant diamond on a closed-circuit television, waiting for anything fishy to happen. An, as you’d guess, it does. Because as the crowds arrive to look at the diamond it suddenly starts to speak, and blasts out some sort of “sonic beam” that paralyzes everyone. Batman and Robin then come bursting into the room, and notice a few of the people recoil at the sound, meaning they aren’t paralyzed. The Dynamic Duo attack those people, and sure enough, find that they’re the criminals. And, to make things ever better, one of the criminals is the mastermind behind the entire crime spree. And, while Batman may have defeated him this time, he promises that he’ll escape prison soon enough, and complete his Seven Wonder Crimes of the Modern World! Except, I looked it up, and this is the only time this character ever appeared… Whoops!

 

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Like I said at the top of this article, this issue just isn’t anything special. There’s nothing about it that really stands out as particularly bad, it’s just kind of dull. Honestly, the idea of a group of criminals trying to pull off heists that somehow correlate with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is kind of a great idea. But, it just doesn’t work well in this issue, full of too many weird stretches that we’re just supposed to go with. I’m not sure how else this scheme could have been done, but it just seemed a little lacking. And it doesn’t help that the very nature of the story meant that we didn’t even get a real villain. This Mastermind shows up on the very last page, already defeated, and swears vengeance that will never happen. These types of Detective Comics stories never really have memorable villains, but at least we see them for more than two panels. Maybe if he ever showed back up to finish his seven heists he could have been given some sort of depth, but as it stands it just ends up being an issue with some good ideas, none of which are really pulled off.

 

“The 7 Wonder Crimes of Gotham City!” was written by Gardner Fox, penciled by Sheldon Moldoff, inked by Joe Giella, and lettered by Gaspar Saladino, 1967.

 

 

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