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Batman Sunday Newspaper Strip - Story 3

January 16 - February 13, 1944

(Jesse James)

The Sunday stories are proving to be an odd duck. On the one hand, the Sunday entry is a half page piece which means more story, but then the story only runs about four to six weeks so far. And when you consider that at least one panel has to be spent recapping what happened last week to bring new readers to speed, the story is rather short.

Batman and Robin are called in by Gordon to help in a recreation of a great train robbery on the centenary of the rail line. The owner wants to send another shipment of silver on the train and have actors portraying Jesse James and Billy the Kid try to steal it. The rub is that Batman and Robin will stop them this time. It sounds simple enough, but there is a former actor turned criminal who plans to play the role of Jesse James and get away with the robbery, even with Batman in his way. He is called Hamlet by his partner, Packy.

The day of the trip, the two take the place of the actors playing the outlaws and attack the train. It's Robin who realizes something is fishy when he catches that they are not using blanks in their guns. They quickly knock out Batman and Robin and escape in a car followed by some of the newsmen in pursuit.

But they have a means of escape as they round a bend and ditch their car for motorcycles which allow them to get away. The press has a field day with Batman's failure and Hamlet is encouraged by the success of the heist to plan another on a streamliner.

They quickly take over the train (like literally done, off page) and the dispatch gets a telegram warning him to keep authorities away from the train. Batman is called in and he and Robin use the old train from the first heist to get them to an intercept point on the tracks where they leap onto the streamliner.

Robin takes out Packy quickly while Batman has a final fight with Hamlet atop the train. But it's over and done with in only five Sundays!

I said it before, these Sunday strips have some nice art, but the stories are incredibly thin for whatever reason. Perhaps the writers felt that they couldn't sustain interest in a weekly strip over a long period of time even though they have three lines of panel per Sunday. But in the end, this is just a quick tale with no real skill or detective work on Batman's part. Hamlet was an interesting enough character and I assume we won't see him again, but then you never know when it comes to the strips.

What's next? We're back to Detective Comics, Citizens!

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