Batman #16 - Story 2

February 10, 1943

"The Grade A Crimes"

I've said it before how I love that in reading these stories, I not only get a better idea of who Batman was, became and is, but that depending on the time period, we get a glimpse of life in the past.

This story opens with a horse drawn milk truck making deliveries in Gotham City in the early morning. It provides the cover for a rash of crimes set in the early morning with the milk truck always being in the area. The leader of the gang of criminals wears a mask and doesn't reveal who he is to them. In fact, he says people would be surprised to know who he is.

One last night/early morning Bruce and Dick are leaving a reception that went on too long. Pause - why is a 7-8 year old (who can drive cars and planes) out so late at night? I know, I know, as Jim Beard would say, there, lies madness. They hear the gunshot and sound a cry and it prompts them into action.

They jump in, trying to stop the theft, but one of the criminals gets the drop on Robin, allowing the gang to escape. Batman and Robin pursue and lose them. But they do see the milk truck and find no joy when asking the milkman. They head back to the scene of the crime where Batman finds a white button off a white shirt.

The next day, Bruce ruminates on the setup, the timing, and the white button. He makes the connection when Dick make a random comment on how good his milk is. The milkman being in the area during each crime - the button belongs to his uniform. The crooks hide out in the truck. He further notes how each crime takes place after a party. There's an inside man who gets the other in, allowing for a quick and easy theft.

That night, Batman and Robin observe another party, one attended by some of the big shots in the milk industry. Winthrop, host of the party, is one of them. They find the guards knocked out and Batman has Robin wait below with a special chemical he put together. He hides in wait in the room with the knocked out guards until a masked figure enters.

Batman mixes it up with him and another with Robin joining the fight. Batman holds back Robin when the two escape. Batman wants to follow them back to their hideout where everything they stole would be. They find then gang at a milk farm where the two are captured and tied to a pasteurizing machine.

Batman reveals how he knew it was Winthrop who was the masked head of the gang. He had attended all the parties that were robbed of jewels, allowing him to be the inside man, getting his gang in with ease. Batman gets the drop on Winthrop and they quickly round up the gang. Turns out Winthrop had gambled a large chunk of his company's funds and lost so he used the crime spree to make up the loss.

There's parts of this story that I could see as a Batman 66 episode. Perhaps something with the Joker or maybe even Shame? What's next? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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