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Detective Comics #84

December 24, 1943

"Artists in Villainy"

Merry Christmas! It's Christmas Eve and we have a new story. Interestingly enough, we're done with the holiday themed stories. Based on the title alone and the splash page the story has a art theme, but once again, we have a person who twigs on the idea of gathering the best of the best to help him in his crime spree leading to a confrontation with Batman and Robin. Let's see if I'm right.

The story opens with a shootout and car chase between the cops and a group of gangsters. Bruce and Dick lend a hand by having their car stop in the way of the escaping gangsters. They veer off and crash into a billboard, but all is not lost for them as a waiting helicopter (autogiro) takes them away. Apparently this thing is so slow, Bruce and Dick can get back home and grab the Batplane to pursue where they find the vehicle land outside a sporting club. Batman decides to follow up on this as Bruce and Dick.

And here is where I'm having a problem with this one. Bruce is more and more sticking his neck out as a civilian when it comes to investigating or even getting involved as he did with using his car to stop the gangsters. This goes against his being a carefree playboy. Is this his possible response to almost losing Dick a few months earlier, by showing he can be a responsible American and is not just a layabout?

I noticed that Batman does this a lot in these early issues - carry Robin as he swings on a lone rope. Here, it makes sense, but there are other times where it doesn't.

The two approach the club and are immediately shooed away by tough looking guys with guns. Dick hears machine gun fire from within. It's enough for the two to return that night as Batman and Robin and sneak inside. They quickly see that the club is a training ground for crooks who are then hired out by Ivan Krafft as experts for a hefty sum. This is a country-wide operation. And Krafft is preparing to send his men out with the autogiro.

The two are seen, thanks to Robin tripping. They hide in the trees as the entire club is out searching for them. Batman leaps down in a desperate measure to make them think he came alone. Batman makes it to the fence and leaps over it as one of the gang slams into it, electrocuting himself.

Batman heads back and gets the Batplane to stop the autogiro. He uses his landing gear to ram them and send the craft down. Meanwhile, Robin sees that with everyone out looking for him and Batman, a nearby office is empty. He sneaks inside to call for help and is caught by a guard. He does fine until more join in and capture him. When Batman returns, he is quickly caught with the threat of violence to Robin. Krafft wants Batman under his control and has a liquid that can do it.

Meanwhile, Robin, being held in the officer, hears the radio operator ask the operator to connect him with New Orleans. He uses the opportunity to attack the operator and call out for help and the police. He takes out the operator and then frees himself. When Batman sees that Robin is safe, he attacks Krafft and his men. The two escape and make their way to the top of a tower. Krafft orders the tower blown up with dynamite, but Batman stops that by hurling his own explosive at where the dynamite is stored. He then bluffs the gang into surrendering with another vial. The police arrive and round up the gang.

It's not a bad story, but the problem with the gangster stories is that you have these generic gang leaders who come up with a variation of a scheme to rob and then Batman stops them. The Rogue's Gallery of villains make for more interesting stories as you also have backstories with these characters. Perhaps if some of these gangsters would return, we might be more vested in these stories.

And what's next? We're back to the newspapers strips, Citizens!

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