Spinner Rack: BATman the BATchelor, Part Two
Posted: 1/4/2011 by Joanna Sandsmark
Last month, we saw a Gotham crime boss named Strack hatch a plot to get Batman married off so his new wife would force him to stay home at night.
Quite a plan, huh? To make this a reality, he hires Cleo (a shapely femme fatale) to execute the plan. She spends a million dollars (in 1960s money, when the term "millionaire" really meant something) advertising that Batman is a wanted man. A million bucks' worth of wanted posters buried Gotham City, causing a female frenzy. When Batman and Robin come to Commisioner Gordon's aid, marriage-crazy women (including Batgirl!) surround the Batmobile.
Naturally, Batman speaks to the crowd, letting them know they've been manipulated and … nah, that would be too sane and mature an action. No, instead, Batman pulls a U-turn that looks like it narrowly misses dozens of women. He streaks away from them, with the women running after the car, only to run into another mob of desperate singles around the corner.
Suddenly, from an unseen alley, a car (driven by Cleo, who thinks, "Now Operation Bait moves in!") streaks between the Batmobile and the mob of women. The new car throws up a smoke screen that enables Batman to get away. When he thanks the female driver, she is unimpressed and roars off, leaving a surprised Batman and Robin behind. "Phase one – completed! Batman has just met the only single femme in Gotham who'll give him the brush-off! And if I know my men – in a short time he'll be chasing me!"
Looks like Cleo is as serious about matrimony as the other thousands of single women in Gotham. Is there no self-esteem to be had in that city? Is marriage the only prize? (And really – marriage to a man who dresses up like a bat and spends all night with a teenage boy? Aim higher, ladies. I hear Bruce Wayne is single…)
Although Batman and Robin are safe for the moment, Cleo is busy organizing the female throngs into "mobile strike groups," using a mini-police scanner to keep track of Batman's movements.
The Dynamic Duo gets sent to the wharf, where they find some fur thieves, only to be accosted yet again by a mob of marriage-hungry "femmes." And once again, Cleo jumps in, grabbing the women who mob the Batmobile and tossing them hither and yon. You'd think these women would figure out that the same woman who is organizing their Bat attacks is also the woman who attacks at will, once the caped crusaders are in the vicinity.
Bottom line, the fur thieves get away, Batman gets a rip in his leotard and Cleo calls him a "poor, helpless male." One would think it a humiliating outing for the caped crusader. But, no, he lets blondie insult him and winds up worrying Robin for the mooney look in his little white eye slits. Looks like Bats is falling for the one woman in town who doesn't care about him. Hmm … that sounds suspiciously like the exact plan Cleo laid out in her thought balloons a couple of pages ago (minus the part where Robin acts like women have cooties – Wertham would've had a field day with this one).
Strack is one happy dude. His plan is working out great. He doesn't even care if Cleo marries Bats or not. Cleo is still on the job, however, and marriage remains her goal. Meanwhile, Batman is busy fantasizing about Cleo, thinking, "Funny – can't seem to get that gal out of my mind! If I had to make a choice – if I had to …" What, Batman? You'd choose some woman you've seen twice, who was violent toward other women, verbally abused you, and then ran away? I'd been under the mistaken impression that you had some self-esteem. Boy, was I wrong! Apparently a woman just needs to call you a few names and you're ready to pop the question. Yowza!
Commissioner Gordon calls Bats and asks for his help tackling a ring of car thieves. We know that Cleo and Trigger (henchman to Strack) are behind it. Batman watches as a Rolls Royce is stolen and tracks it to a semi-truck full of stolen cars. Just then Cleo's car, being driven by a strange man, is headed for the semi. Batman cuts him off and is suddenly surrounded. It's a trap!
Batman and Robin fight, but they're outnumbered and pretty much unable to defend themselves (like the rest of this story. After all, marriage-hungry women have been consistently beating them, so professional thugs should fare pretty well. They do.) As Batman is about to be taken out, Cleo comes to the rescue once again. Trigger grabs her, wondering why she's fighting his men. She's upset because killing Batman wasn't part of the bargain. Trigger gets the upper hand and claims that they used Cleo to capture Batman. She was as much of a dupe as Bats.
Batman is appalled that Cleo is part of the plot. Oh, sob! Just as Trigger is about to shoot the Caped Crusader, in leaps Batgirl. She and Robin make short work of the thugs while Batman hugs Cleo. Apparently the gang that was overwhelming to Batman and Robin was child's play to Batgirl and Robin. Yeah, Bats is about as lame and ineffectual as it's possible to be in this story. On the bright side, it's looking like Cleo might just be a bad girl with a heart of gold! Woo hoo!
We find out that Batgirl had been trailing Cleo, which is why she was in the right place at the right time. Next we get to hear a sobbing Cleo explain her part in the plot and how gosh-darned sorry she is (and there it is: proof of her heart of gold. Hazzah!) And we get to watch as Batman holds her and talks about "if-onlys." ::choke:: It's all so touching. I sure was rooting for those two crazy kids to find love amongst the ruins, but alas, 'twas not to be.
And yet, Batman has an idea that might help make some amends. Strack watches as Cleo drives up with Batman's body in the back seat. As he and his henchman go out to see if Cleo has gone nuts, they're attacked by Batgirl, who was disguised as Cleo, and Batman, who was very much alive (of course). Bad guys in custody, and with Cleo promised clemency for her help at the end (she, um, loaned Batgirl her coat and hat and car. That's worth wiping out all sorts of criminal charges, right? After all, her heart is made of a precious metal!), Batman and Robin ride off into the sunset. The marriage signs once carried by the women of Gotham are now in the trash because they found out they were being used by the mob. Word got out fast, it appears. Batman ends the case with, "You can lead a BATchelor to the altar, but you can't make him say I do!" That's right, in the Silver Age, Batman liked to end a case with a pun. He gave that up when he went all dark and moody. Too bad. I rather like a kinder, gentler Batman, though the whimpy Batman of this story, well, maybe a little darkness wouldn't have hurt.
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