Batman #14 - Story 3

October 14, 1942

"Swastika Over the White House"

One thing I commented on in a past entry was how Batman differed from Superman in that he didn't appear to be directly involved in any WWII stories dealing with the Nazis, but then we are given this little gem. Imagine, Nazis in Gotham City with a network of people and hideouts that they work from.

Our story opens as Fred Hopper, a young camera operator tries to get a job with the newsreel company. The editor gives him an opportunity to prove himself by sending him to get film of Peerless, a millionaire who hates having his picture taken and an army of guards protecting him. It seems like an impossible errand and it is, according to two veterans Matt and Tom. They offer to help Fred get the film.

They disguise themselves as delivery people who bring Fred in a wrapped up package. Once opened, Fred starts taking his film of the angered Peerless. The three escape with the guards following. The editor of the newsreel company is forced to give Fred a job.

The Swastika is a nice decorative touch and lights up the room!

And then we see there is more to this story than an ambitious young camera operator. Fred is a Nazi operative and the plan is for him to have a small camera inside his big camera when he is shooting anything related to the war effort. The US government often censors material shot, but they won't get to see the other camera's film, which Fred will turn over to his superiors.

And here we get an interesting twist - the Nazis are aware of Batman. When Fred meets with his superior, he is warned that only one person stands in the way of the plan working perfectly - Batman. Fred studies films of the Dynamic Duo and he figures he can determine their identity by watching their movements, mannerisms, and voices. It's an interesting notion. I'm surprised no one ever thought of it. ;)

Fred gets his chance to set up the two when he and his co-workers get to film them for a piece on war bonds. As the two are showing off, a car passes by and opens fire. They take out the car and capture the assassins.

The three newsmen are then sent to shoot film of a ship yard. One of them takes Fred up to a swinging girder in order to get a better shot of the yard. Fred pushes him off, figuring the man will eventually be on to Fred and who he really is. Fortunately, Batman is there looking for saboteurs and catches him as he falls. Fred wonders if Batman may be on to him.

That night, Fred plays lookout as his men prepare to sabotage the gas tanks in the ship yard. Batman and Robin attempt to stop them, but the two are quickly captured. Considering the two have faced greater odds in other stories, their being captured is a little hard to believe. It's a case of the story needs it, so they allow this moment of weakness.

The two are placed in a car strapped with dynamite and soaked in oil. The car is sent flying towards the gas tanks. The two, tied up, can't stop the car, but Batman is able to remove the cigarette lighter and use the hot tip to burn Robin's bonds. They steal the car away and leap as it crashes into a pile of old tires.

The two follow Fred back to the hideout where they take on the entire gang and capture them. See what I mean about it suiting the needs to the story? I hate when we sacrifice the true qualities of a character because we want to set up a situation. Why couldn't they do something like perhaps have them winning and then Fred knocks them out with a gas gun or something?

The story ends with the newsreel of Batman and Robin stopping the Nazis from their attempt at sabotage and finding information on other nests throughout the country. This is a really great story and I'm hoping we'll see more before the war is over.

How do we wrap up this issue of Batman? Stay tuned.

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