Batman #14 - Story 1

October 14, 1942

"The Case Batman Failed to Solve"

With a title like this first story, you have to wonder what case could Batman fail to solve. And then we see the story opens as he and a group of famous detectives from around the world are gathered to meet with the greatest detective of the time, Dana Drye, as he announces his retirement.

As I'm reading this, the art appears a little different than usual. In particular, Drye himself stands out as a closeup is done of his face. A quick looks shows that it wasn't Bob Kane with the pencils credit, but rather Jerry Robinson. I don't know why I never noticed the difference before as he's done pencils for previous Batman stories, but I think it may be because he mostly mimics Kane's style. Here though, he appears to branch out and put more of a distinctive mark on the art. I like it.

Suddenly, a shot rings out and Drye falls over dead. The detectives make a pledge to find the killer. Robin sees who he thinks is the killer running off, but the two are stopped from their pursuit by Dr. Tsu of Chinatown who feels the thug is not the killer, but knows who the killer is and plans to follow him.

Meanwhile, the others share their plans. The cowboy detective plans to just ponder on the problem, while the Scotland Yard detective is going to observe the autopsy. Meanwhile, the woman detective plans to learn about the new suit Drye was wearing.

Meanwhile, Batman and Robin go to Drye's house. The new suit had empty pockets which Batman finds odd. At the house, the two encounter three thugs ransacking the place. Robin wants to take them out, but Batman tells him to hold back. The thugs escape with Batman explaining that he wanted to know what they were looking for and they wouldn't simply talk, so he was looking for them to get away and perhaps come back when they thought the house was empty.

But in cleaning up the place, they discover that a weapon on a shield crest is missing. So the two head to police headquarters, but can find no help in determining what the weapon was. Meanwhile, the Scotland Yard detective shows the bullet that killed Drye - a ball from a musket.

And then the woman detective brings Batman and Robin to the Magician's Club where the proprietor tells how he made the suit for Drye - a magician's suit. They are met by a group of thugs who manage to capture them and bring the two to their boss - Red Rip, gangland monarch.

He tells Batman of how Drye had enough evidence on him to put him away for life. He was trying to find the evidence. He locks the two in a dark room, tied up, but Dr. Tsu rescues them. He recognizes the missing gun from the shield as a flintlock, which makes sense as a musket ball was the bullet that killed Drye.

They race to the River House where they find Rip's men and round them up. Batman's where the documents Rip wanted are. He and Robin dive into the river and find the box containing them and a diary.

Batman explains that Drye wasn't murdered, but committed suicide. He was dying of a malady and wanted to go out with a mystery. He used a flintlock as the weapon that killed him as it was the only one that could be triggered to fire with heat. And when Batman read the diary, he saw that Drye knew his secret identity, but never revealed it.

When the two meet with the other detectives, Batman tells them he too failed to find who killed Drye. He kept Drye's secret and desire for mystery as Drye kept Batman's identity a secret, thus, the mystery Batman failed to solve.

I really liked this one and would love to have seen if one of the detectives would come to the same conclusion about Batman at some point in the future, based on their continuing to investigate Drye's "murder".

And what will the next story be? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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