Batman #16 - Story 3

February 10, 1943

"The Adventures of the Branded Tree"

Another sign of the times as the splash page features a small blurb for war bonds. This third story is already off to an interesting start though as it appears it is told through the personified eyes of a tree, now pressed into paper, the very paper the comic is printed on.

The story opens with two loggers cutting down trees when they find one with a strange cross cut into it. They chop it down, but are spotted by a group of hunters who are hunting out of season. The tree was an important marker for the hunters and they shoot and the two loggers in case the two are on to them.

The shots are heard nearby by Bruce and Dick who change to Batman and Robin. They fight the hunters until one of them gets the drop on the duo by sending several logs rolling on top of them. Shortly after, the two are at the aid station where the one survivor of the shooting, Scotty, cannot provide any clues as to why the hunters were looking for that tree. The tree itself had been send downriver to be processed, so finding it would prove difficult.

The Duo decide to track down the hunters. They spend the night in costume, which is interesting, but I guess it's because they are on the case. Meanwhile, the three hunters attack and injure three loggers in town. The next morning, they take the jobs of the loggers who are out of commission. They learn of the process of the logs being sent to the paper mill and turned into paper. It's an opportunity for them to find the tree with the cross on it.

Meanwhile, Batman learns of the accidents of the three from the local police. He and Robin head to the paper mill to investigate. They are spotted by one of the hunters who knocks them both out and places them on the conveyor belt toward the pulper. Meanwhile, they find the log with the cross on it and remove a metallic container.

Batman recovers first as Robin approaches the blades. They start fighting with the gang, but one of them throws a switch which releases sulphuric acid. Batman stops the flow, but the three get away. Batman notes though that they did not leave with the metallic cylinder they were holding. A search of the mill reveals nothing.

Back in Gotham City two days later, Bruce and Dick spot one of the mill's trucks bringing paper supplies to a printing plan. Inside, the gang is trying to get hold of the cylinder they hid in the rolls of paper. They find the container as Batman and Robin attack. They round up the gang and find industrial diamonds needed for the war effort inside the cylinder.

The story ends with a cute bit as Robin reads from the very issue of Batman we are reading from. The tree itself finishes its tale by pointing out how it will make more friends as it moves from reader to reader until the salvage man collects it for its next purpose. And what is next? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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