Detective Comics #75

March 19, 1943

"The Robber Baron"

I don't know why, but I seemed to think that the Robber Baron was one of those characters who would wind up as a recurring villain in the Rogue's Gallery. He certainly looks the part when you see him on the cover of this 75th issue of Detective Comics.

Something else I find interesting, considering the world we live in today, is the caution villains in these comics take when it comes to firing a gun. They try to do it when it cannot be heard and alert authorities. Many a time in these stories, someone chastises a careless gunshot that alerts the nearby police, causing the villain to make a run for it.

The story opens with what appears to be Batman riddled with bullets, but they we learn it is a practice dummy. The Robber Baron and his men then make their way to the next of a series of crimes that have the police baffled by making their way to the top floor apartment of their target via a rope system like Penguin in the 66 episode where he kidnaps the movie star.

We cut to the Wayne home (still not called Wayne Manor) where Alfred brings lunch to Batman and Robin in Batman's lab. Batman shares what he has discovered so far to his fellow sleuth. Batman found fillings from the Baron's shoes. He also discovered the rooftops having deep scrapings from the cable hooks the crooks used to reach the buildings they robbed. Batman is able to determine a general area where the Baron's hideout might be.

As Bruce and Dick, they canvas the area until they find a brass works factory with an interesting castle chimney on top. They return as Batman and Robin and enter through the roof where they find the hook launchers the crooks used to swing to the other nearby buildings.

Inside the building, they discover the riddled dummy. Batman uses it to surprise the crooks when he makes it seem as though it is talking to them. They then attack and the Baron and his men make their escape via one of the pulley cables.

Robin, impetuous youth that he is, grabs one of the pulleys and swings after them. They cut the wire when he is halfway across. He falls, twisting his body hoping to hit the water below with the right impact to save himself. Meanwhile, Batman attacks from the Batplane in anger, not knowing if Robin is alive.

In the course of fighting, the Baron shoots Batman, sending him hurtling into the water. The Baron lowers himself down to a waiting boat and he rounds up his men as well as a dazed Batman who survived the fall. He won't kill him yet though. He has a plan.

He takes Batman and a captured Alfred who came looking to help and strings them up with one of his pulley systems. He intends to send their bodies, hanging, to Commissioner Gordon's office. Oddly enough, he calls it an act of defiance, but he plans to cut the pulley cable at the last moment, so Gordon won't know who did it.

Meanwhile, what of Robin? He survived the fall and came to the surface finding everyone gone. Getting back on the Batplane, he finds the Baron's boat and the death trap set for Batman. Robin uses his radio which plays through Batman's belt, to make the crooks think the place is surrounded.

He then jumps in and takes on the gang while freeing Batman. And even though he is still trussed up, Alfred lends a hand by head-butting the crooks. It's a good fight and Batman winds up sending the crooks to Gordon in the manner the Baron planned to him - sans the hanging by the neck.

Now, when it comes to this story, I liked it because of Alfred, not so much the Robber Baron. I liked his name and his look, but we never get any real indication that he was a threat other than the story told us he was. Despite this, I wish they had brought him back, but apparently we never see him again. And what's next? It's the next issue of Batman, so stay tuned, Citizens!

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