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World's Finest Comics #18

April 27, 1945

"Specialists in Crime"

A group of students are given a tour of "Gotham City's Famed Radium Institute". Take that in. Sure, Batman 66 was what ruined Batman. It's not like we'd see anything like "Gotham City's Famed Radium Institute" on the TV show. Take it in. An institute dedicated to radium that is guarded by someone who reveals the secrets of the security of the place. If that isn't Batman 66, I don't know what is!

And then we learn that these are adults, short adults, to use a more modern term and they are seen by Dick Greyson running from "Gotham City's Famed Radium Institute". He changes to Robin and is knocked about by the robbers. They place the skates on the groggy Robin and send him flying down the street. He slows himself down and returns home.

Bruce determines that this was part of a series of crimes committed by specialists who use unique men, like the short people, to commit the crimes. He determines the next target will be a bank holding a shipment of gold for the war effort. That night, the two watch as a truck pulls up to the bank. They surprise the men and are then surprised as the street lights go out in a blackout.

This leads to a fight in the dark, with Batman and Robin losing ground as Batman realizes the robbers are blind. They have a better way of finding their way in the dark. The two are quickly knocked out, but Batman rolls away, out of their reach. They grab the gold and Robin and make their escape.

Batman follows them to a laundry place where Robin is able to join Batman in his fight with the men. The gang escapes and locks the two in a room filling with chlorine gas. Batman works out that if the room is flooded with water, the chlorine would be absorbed by the liquid. The two climb into a wooden box and ride it out of the room. Batman picks up a monocle, a clue that one of the men wasn't blind. He quickly determines it's not the Penguin (nice name drop) as he's in jail.

He works out a plan by having Dick infiltrate the group as a thug looking for work while he attends a viewing of a victory parade by millionaires. Note this is the first time Bruce Wayne is referred to as a millionaire in the comics. Maybe he'll move out of that suburban home and get to the manor.

And come on! You know you can easily hear William Dozier saying the words on this panel! It's so Batman 66, but yeah, the comics were fine and it was Batman 66 that made Batman "goofy".

Sorry, but as I go through these comics, you can see what it was that Dozier latched on to when he read those comics on his flight from California to New York back in 1965. All Batman 66 can be accused of doing is magnifying the absurdity of a man dressed as a bat fighting crime. And I say all this with love. I love Batman. I love Batman 66. But the comic can be ridiculous at times and for Batman fans to pin the absurdity entirely on the TV show is just not fair.

End of rant.

Back to the narrative.

Dick quickly gets himself in with Professor Brane, the leader of the gang when he passes himself off as the world's strongest small man. Unfortunately, he is found out when he gets sick while smoking a cigar in an effort to fit in.

He is tied up and hung over a wheat silo. Dick is able to swing away from his fate as the burning rope he hangs from snaps. Dick's radio is damaged in the fall and so he cannot warn Bruce that the millionaires will be robbed at the victory parade.

But Bruce figures it out when he sees Professor Brane with the monocle on his eye. He spots the professor giving hand signals to his men, all deaf, thus not affected by the din of the parade. He changes to Batman and with Robin joining him, they round up the gang.

Another great little yard, worthy of the title World's Finest. I'll even put it that this could be a Batman 66 episode as it has the beats from a fight in the early part of the story to a cliffhanger with Dick to a final fight that leads to the round up.

And what's next, Citizens? We're back to the funny pages of the newspapers.

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