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World's Finest Comics #9 - Batman

January 29, 1943

"Crime of the Month"

This is an interesting one, just based on the opening narrative at the start. According to that, the local gangs hold a contest against each other with a winner take all. It mentions the national sweepstakes craze as the inspiration. Now, the only such craze I can think of is the various quiz shows that started in radio around this time. Games such as Take it or Leave it and Uncle Jim's Question Bee were hugely popular across the country. One particular game, Pot of Gold, was so popular because it relied on people being home and waiting for the phone call for their chance to play that movie theaters offered a $1,000 prize to lure people in to see the pictures.

Noted crime author Bramwell invites some of the top gangsters in Gotham City to a tea. There, he throws down the challenge to them that he can commit a crime more daring and successful than any of them. They form a committee of four to judge and the winner would take the gains of any of the crimes.

And then the headlines are screaming of daring jobs that they proclaim the "Crime of the Month". Three in total get the public's attention which in turn gets Bruce Wayne's attention. It makes a comment that certain clues tell him this is a contest. What clues? And how does the press get wind of the crime of the month?

Whatever can be said, Bruce knows there is one more major gang that has to act in this contest so he and Dick prepare to meet them. They take the Batplane out to the gangster's known hideout. (Again with the Batplane? No Batmobile?). There, they see the gang heading toward a nearby road where they set up a detour sign. The detour takes an armored car to a bridge that they have rigged to explode.

The two drop down and stop the gang from wrecking the armored car, which is carrying newly minted money. Batman leaves Robin behind to round up the gang as one of them makes his escape in a car. He follows in the Batplane where the gangster tries to hide out in Bramwell's home. Batman radios Robin that he is going to investigate.

Bramwell prepares himself for Batman, knowing he has to stop him if the contest is to continue. He tricks Batman into a room which locks behind the Caped Crusader. The room immediately begins to heat to the point that the contents of Batman's utility belt fries and he has to toss it aside. He can't even contact Robin as his radio is shot.

Robin, having returned home, gets worried about Batman's delay in contacting him. He heads out to Bramwell's in the Batmobile. Yes, you read that right. HOW OLD IS THIS KID? Is he eight? Is he thirteen? Is he sixteen? He's driving a super-charged car. He has his own roadster and his own Batplane! I love Robin, but it drives me crazy when I see some people say with some certainty his age when there is nothing specific to pin a number on the kid!

Robin arrives at Bramwell's home and manages to trap himself in a chamber with a dynamo that once charged will release an artificial lightning bolt that will kill him. Batman meanwhile has deduced that a door without a handle (which would have melted by now under the heat) can't be locked, so he uses the suction disk in his utility belt to grasp the door and pull it open.

He frees Robin from his deathtrap and the two chase after Bramwell. Bramwell throws up a wall of fire to block their path. Batman uses his Batpoon (yeah, I had to read that several times to understand what it was) to create a means to swing through it.

The two pursue Bramwell in their two vehicles, but lose him. Batman deduces when Bramwell refers to his crime as the social event of the year, Bramwell will be trying something at a fund raising event for the allied war relief.

Sure enough, that evening, Bramwell attends the gala and premieres an amateur movie he has made - one that will put the audience to sleep and allow him to rob the proceeds. But the film is interrupted by scenes of Batman and Robin in action.

The duo then appear and capture Bramwell. Batman explains that Bramwell made the mistake of mentioning a tiresome movie when taunting the two at his home. Batman recalled the line from one of Bramwell's book which had a similar plot of a sleep inducing movie and the rest was easy.

A story that had a lot of potential but a little disjointed in the execution. What's next? We move on to the next issue of Batman. Stay tuned, Citizens!

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