Batman Newspaper Strip - Story 7
January 29 - April 28, 1945
(The Bliss House)
As this story opens, it appears to be another trope of early comics and radio and television, a family member returns home after being away for a time and finds that things have changed drastically and there's a criminal element about. I have to admit, I find these boring, but the big hulking guy, Pomade, that greets Martin Bliss upon his return interests me based on the way he is drawn. I'm hoping there might be a confrontation between him and Batman as it would be Blockbuster before Blockbuster.
Did anyone else reading this find it odd that Martin invited a single woman to stay at his home for the weekend? This is the 1940s after all, and Martin never checks with his mother to see if it's all right. But then again, he clearly hasn't been very communicative with her as everything on both ends seems to surprise them both.
It's also interesting to note that we don't see Bruce and Dick until the end of the first week of this new story and when we do, Bruce is telling Dick about finding fingerprints inside a gun. Have to wonder if this little tidbit will play a part in the story.
Not sure how bright this Pomade is as he makes a call to Gotham for the "Skipper" to deal with Corinne, the visiting woman's sister after Pomade has to grab her when she appeared to be snooping around the house. And what a coincidence that it was the same time Batman is searching for Skipper because he found his prints on the bullets of the gun he was inspecting.
I will say one thing I love about Golden Age Batman is his vulnerability. In many respects, today's Batman is as powerful as Superman. He has to be to play in their leagues. Here, we've seen him shot and poisoned and nearly killed. In this story, he's nearly stabbed with a dagger. One of things I think many people are drawn to when it comes to Batman is that we can be the character. We are as vulnerable as he is and it's something we can identify with.
And then there's the interesting wrinkle of Bruce Wayne allowing himself to be used as an embezzler in order to get into the prison cell of Spud Larkin, an associate of sailor. Bruce and Larkin escape and the two are called out on the radio. Why didn't he just use a disguise? Why so on the nose? Why risk his reputation? Add to it, he includes Dick as his accomplice who waits for the two with a boat. And the thing is, Pomade doesn't entirely believe it so he has Bruce checked out.
And as we come to the end of the story, we get a really interesting character development in Pomade as he gives Corinne a book of poetry. It touches something in her and she tries to connect, but he rebukes her as he feels he is destined for "perdition" and it seems his whole attitude is based on his looks as he kills Skipper for calling him ugly.
The story even ends tragically as Pomade dies when he refuses first aid from Batman. It's funny, I stated at the start I'm not a fan of these kinds of stories, but this story really wasn't about the Blisses, who we learn allowed Pomade to blackmail them. It was about Pomade. And despite the series of coincidences that hold the plot together, it works. So what's next, Citizens? We're on to Batman #28.