Batman #20 - Story 3

"The Lawmen of the Sea!"

October 13, 1943

I forget exactly how long, but it's been some time since the idea of focusing stories on various law enforcement agencies was first introduced. They finally get back to it with a story about the harbor patrol. Could you imagine such a series today and could you imagine a focus on what some might consider a boring area of law enforcement?

Batman and Robin arrive at the police launch and are introduced to the captain, the pilot and a former football player turned policeman, Spinner Powell. Their first case, rescuing a girl who jumps off the bridge in what they claim is the third suicide attempt that week. Really? Batman saves her and then learns her husband died in the war. He convinces her to have his death mean something by becoming a WACC. I'm guessing suicide for this reason was a common thing during the war that it's addressed in a kids' comic book.

The rest of the day is a series of small rescues of boats off course and directing harbor traffic, but the evening proves eventful too. The captain speaks of harbor pirates and the Dynamic Duo get a chance to meet the worst of them, the Shark, as he and his men rob a pier. Shark and his men get away.

Even Robin looks embarrassed when Batman points out it's his bedtime, especially after he bashed in the heads of harbor pirates.

The night ends because as Batman points out, it's past Robin's bedtime. See, this is something I can't wrap my head around. How old is Robin? Is he eight? Thirteen? Fifteen? And you put his life at risk night after night fighting gangsters with guns and you're worried about his bedtime? It's jarring to say the least. But then I think about the Batman 66 series and there is a point in the show where Batman says rest is needed or else they are no good as effective crimefighters. Another example of how the TV show didn't stray or do anything that made the comics look bad; it was here all along.

The next night, the two arrive to the news that the pilot is missing. He went to follow on a hunch about where the Shark is hiding. They follow up on the lead, an old house boat that literally looks like a house on a floating raft, and find the pilot tied up inside.

The pilot overheard their plans to rob the bank truck that is riding the ferry to Gotham. They arrive in time to stop the robbery, but in the fight, Batman falls over and appears to be killed. Robin, in a fury, jumps on the Shark's boat and tries to take the gang on. He is captured though and brought back to their hideout, what is called a sea lock, a giant structure that rises from the water and then sinks below as soon as they enter.

And as for Batman, he was alive. He swam up behind the pirate boat and rode behind it by grabbing a tow rope. Once inside, he takes on the gang and with the help of Robin, manages to reveal the sea lock to the harbor patrol who come in and help clean up the operation.

It took awhile to get to one of these tales, but the story was worth it. It reads like an introduction to a new comic series, a pilot, as we are introduced to the members of the boat and each has particular skills that can help in enforcing the law on the water.

Oh the shark has such teeth, dear!

We'll wrap up this issue of Batman with the fourth and final story, so stay tuned, Citizens!

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