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Batman #24 - Story 1

June 9, 1944

"It Happened in Rome"

Oh dear, here we go again with a fantasy story as it appears Bruce is walking the streets of Ancient Rome. He is fully aware of his situation as he comments how even in the past, he can't get a break as he witnesses a gang of racketeers shaking down a Roman citizen for protection money. He changes to Batman and at first appears to be routing the men, but then more of them arrive and he is captured and taken to the dungeon of Malchio, the head of the gang.

We quickly learn that Bruce has only been projected to the past via a hypnotic state. In the present (oddly stated as being 1942), Bruce lies in his state, thanks to Professor Carter Nichols. Dick is concerned that Bruce is in trouble and asks the professor to send him back.

Huh? How does that work?

Well, it does and Dick finds himself on a street in the past. He is approached by guards who demand to know where he is from. Dick runs off and changes to his Robin costume without the mask. Draping his clock about him, he almost looks like a Roman noble as he contacts Batman, via radio, who is waiting in the dungeon with the court jester who oddly looks like the Joker.

Robin arrives to rescue the two and they in term help the Jester's friend who has refused to throw a chariot race for Malchio. They arrive at the stables where they find the chariot racer strapped to a makeshift chariot and being forced at whip to pull it. They are able to send the men running off and find Gito, the chariot racer, injured from his treatment.

Batman takes his place the next day in the race, by using his disguise kit from his utility belt to look like Gito. He is able to win the race, despite the further attempts by Malchio to stop him. In a last ditch effort, Malchio accuses Batman of attacking him.

The judge rules that Batman can be set free if he defeats the champion in the arena. Batman agrees provided Malchio is exiled should he win. The next day, the crowds are going wile with a crazed chant of encouragement they are taught by Robin. Batman manages to defeat the champion and then is set upon by a lion sent by Malchio. Robin sends the lion running off with a version of the Roman candle. Finally, Batman sends Malchio packing.

There is a feast and Batman reveals who he and Robin s to the Romans. Robin asks if it was wise, but Batman says history has no record of them being in the past and revealing themselves. (Uh, that's because this was not actual time travel, right?). The two wake up and the professor declares the experiment a failure as the two were mumbling about Batman and Robin in their sleep.

Eh, what a mess of a story, in my opinion. I don't like the fantastical stories when they do it to begin with and their explanation of how Bruce and Dick go into the past just doesn't work for me. This is a hard pass story.

And what's next? Stay tuned as we move on to story two of this anthology issue, Citizens!


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