Batman #8 - Story 2

October 10, 1941

"The Strange Case of Professor Radium"

OK, before we get into this story, I have to say, I love the title and I love the splash page for the opening even more. Batman, in the background, poised to attack while an armor clad being stands in the foreground. It's just a beautifully drawn piece and I want it on a t-shirt, a poster, and more.

Haven't done this yet, but I can't help it. This is beautiful!

The story begins with a Professor Ross collecting dogs that have just been euthanized by the city pound. He injects them with radium to test his theory that he can bring the dogs back to life. He waits for the results to show and is rewarded when he is awakened the next morning to find all the dogs alive. But the board of the hospital feels he is scamming them as they find no sign of radium in the dogs' systems and want his resignation.

Ross goes back and kills himself, leaving a note for a colleague to inject him with the radium mixture. It works and is comes back to life. At first, he has no signs of radium either, but then he quickly discovers that anything he touches dies. He then accidentally kills his colleague. He sets to work on an antidote, using an element called Volitell, but it only holds off his abilities by twenty-four hours. He needs more Volitell in order to continue his experiments. He fashions a suit so that he will not affect anyone with his radiation and begins stealing Volitell where he can.

This gets the attention of Batman and Robin who stake out Gotham Hospital as the next target. They interrupt Ross and he makes a run for it, climbing down a drainpipe outside. He causes the pipe to decay with the use of his hand, sending Robin flying. Ross gets away with the Volitell and works out a new antidote that seems to last longer. He goes to see his girlfriend Mary and the antidote fails as he accidentally kills her.

Meanwhile, Batman brings copies of the fingerprints he lifted inside the one glove Ross left behind to Gordon who is ability to identify Ross. Batman makes the connections with the deaths of the associate and Mary. Meanwhile, Ross tries to continue working on the cure, but the radium affects his brain and he goes mad. And yet, he still has the obsession of getting more Volitell. Batman sets a trap by having the police stop staking out Ross' home and having the newspapers declare this. It's interesting that the press dubs him "Professor Radium".

The two ambush Radium and are immune to his radiation thanks to a transparent coating that covers them. He escapes and leads them to a nearby docked ship. There, he tries to knock them over, but finds himself knocked into the water, disappearing. The last panel suggests we might see a return of Professor Radium, but I went and checked and don't see it happening.

It's a shame because he's an interesting character as Bruce noted the irony of a man trying to help humanity and then turning himself into a Frankenstein monster. It's a shame, but we move on to the next story. Stay tuned, Citizens!

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