Batman #20 - Story 1

"The Centuries of Crime"

October 13, 1943

Got to start off by saying, I love the cover. I'm hoping that as the Batmobile is now starting to take more of a role in transporting our heroes rather than the Batplane, we'll see some tricked out gadgets being used as well. Sadly, I can't say I'm happy to see the Joker once again. The series has been doing a great job of introducing new characters as well as showing us the established ones we know, but they overuse the Joker in my opinion. And the opening text doesn't give me a lot to get excited about. It poses the question, what if the Joker committed his crimes in different time periods. Science fiction, perhaps? Let's read on...

Our story opens in a chowder house where many criminals are known to hang out. There, two con men, a scientist and a swami, are bemoaning their fate of not gaining any money of late. And then the Joker walks in and offers them the opportunity to make money as he has the means to travel into the future or past, or so he claims. He will offer such passage to anyone wanting to escape and the two know of such people who would be interested.

Both men, a man who safeguards his money a little too cautiously and a paranoid gangster who thinks the Batman is after him take up the offer. The gangster goes first and is knocked out as he enters the Joker's machine. When he comes to, he finds he is in the future, but there is something familiar about it. meanwhile, the many who is crazed for his money visits Bruce to tell him he will be away for a few days and wants Bruce to watch the bank's proceedings as he is the director of the bank anyway, which Bruce forgot. Must be nice.

Batman and Robin follow the banker, who revealed what his real plans were, to Joker's hideout where the machine is located. They surprise Joker, but he has a surprise for them as he drops a wooden plank on the two. When they come around, they find they are in a prison cell in the future.

They see the banker who finds the future is not so bright as there is no money and the gangster spots Batman and panics. They both head to Joker and demand to be taken back to 1943. Joker agrees if they pay a high price. Both agree, one saying he will write a check and the other offering the location of half a million.

But Joker sends the two back 1000 years more into the past and the city of Damascus. There, the two are deemed infidels and sentenced to death. Meanwhile, he bids goodbye to the Dynamic Duo as he says soon the city will be deserted.

The Joker arrives in time to save the two and they agree to pay him another half million in order to get back to the present. Batman and Robin escape their prison and Batman shows Robin how the whole future landscape is just paper mache as he plows through it and into the Damascus area.

It's just a matter of rounding up the crooks for the two and the banker and the gangster realize the error of their ways. In fact, the banker gives up half his fortune for the war effort. Big change there. And in the end, Alfred gets the last laugh as he makes a joke about past, present and future, much to Dick's admiration.

But did you enjoy the play, Mister Lincoln? I have to say, this little story wasn't bad because in the end, it wasn't a science fiction story, but just a con job by the Joker. Mind you, he continues his slide down being just a gimmicky villain and not the homicidal maniac we started with and will eventually get back to.

And what's next? Why, the second story of this anthology, or course. Stay tuned, Citizens!

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