Tuesday, July 04, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 185: Mr. Batman Goes to Washington

Panels from "Batman Goes to Washington" in Batman (1940 series) #28 (April-May 1945), script by Alvin Schwartz, pencils and inks by Jerry Robinson, letters by Ira Schnapp

No one would definitely call Batman a patriotic character (aside from that one time where he dressed up as Star-Spangled Batman), but during World War II it was pretty much required for you to not only be patriotic but to turn in your old comics for scrap paper to...uh...I dunno, build tanks out of. I'm sure Bruce Wayne converted many of his ball-point pen and rubber glove factories to making big-ass guns for the Allies, and he likely spear-headed several local Gotham City events and rallies to buy bonds, but Batman himself (and, oh yeah, Robin) certainly had adventures that inspired a proud tear as you salute the ol' red stripes and White Stripes and all 48 good old American contiguous states. No foolin' though, Batman would salute as soon as Alaska joined the Union. Hawaii, though, as far as Batman was concerned — heck with it.

This is a story of defiance, not against the government ( — goodness no, National woukldn't dare in the '40s), and not even against the Axis powers, tho' there were plenty of cover images devoted to that, most infamously and wrongly Action Comics #58. No, this is about not only fighting criminal organizations rampant during the war (through use of a government crime database) as well as giving reformed ex-cons a chance to work in the wartime society. It was definitely a simpler time — let's face it, Batman's pride in the government crime database doesn't fit with his modern "don't trust nobody" ethos. But it's done with such a light touch it's forgivable, and give yourself the suspension of disbelief in a comic book world where the government is trying to help us all and bad guys can reform. Remember: once upon a time Gotham City was bright and cheerful and sunny and while clowns and quizzers freely roamed the streets, they were carefree pranksters who would have fun on top of giant appliances and really no more harm to anyone than one of those rubber-masked monsters those meddling kids chased down.

Bruce Wayne ponders the plight of reformed ex-cons who have gone straight but can't get jobs. Hmmm, too bad there aren't any main industries in Gotham for them to apply to. Instead, put on the old cape 'n' cowl and start a social media movement. Social media, in this case, meant that Batman asked to interrupt The Jack Benny Program to lecture on the radio for thirty minutes about his new employment idea. Gotham City warmed to the idea, but Don Wilson was furious.

Ex-cons reduced to doing nothing but sitting around, playing cards, and on average wearing one-third of a green suit like the idea, and Batman reads his fan mail after Alfred has already opened up all the envelopes and removed the snapshots that weren't appropriate for Robin to see.

Batman gets a letter inviting him to speak in front of the Senate, and WHOO HOO ROAD TRIP! This issue marks the first appearance of the Batmobile's famous Bat-Trailer, and NO I AM NOT KIDDING ABOUT THAT

Unfortunately, some real and unrepentant criminals want to pressure the Senate from voting for Batman's Jobs for Ex-Cons Bill. Rich private organizations trying to pressure and influence the government through shady means? Man, I'll believe in Superman, but this is a little crazy. Meanwhile, Batman gives the ex-cons a patriotic tour of Washington, prompting them to stand up straight and be as rock-steady as the Giant Ape sitting in the Lincoln Memorial WAIT A MINUTE GIANT APE?!? YOU BLEW IT UP! DARN YOU ALL TO HECK!

Time to visit FBI Headquarters and see how their patented 3 by 5 card system helps stamp out racketeers and fifth-columnists across the country! Crime cards! Collect 'em all!

Then they see the almost photographically detailed Capitol Building — eriously, nice job, Jerry Robinson! I'm sure if Bob Kane had done the Capitol it would have been red. Meanwhile...suspenseful caption strikes!

Batman and Robin are coshed by the bad crooks and that robot from Planet Express and spirited away to a warehouse, which only goes to prove: Golden Age Batman and Robin must have had some serious head injuries. Also: hash is settled.

And the good ex-cons hunt for and release Batman! To be fair, it was six days later, and they'd put 3,300 miles on the Batmobile joyriding around the Capitol area, but in the end they did the right thing.

And now, in the spirit of Batman Returns and Batman Forever...Batman Filibusters! Happy Fourth of July, everyone!


Kevin Trudeau said...

Don Wilson says: L.S.B.F.T.W! Little Stuffed Bull For The Win!

Blam said...

How've I never heard the word "coshed" 'til now?