A Visual Index to Early Batman Stories, Part 2

(Batman MicroHeroes)


Detective Comics 51
Detective Comics #51, May 1941, "The Case of the Mystery Carnival!"
On a whim, Bruce and Dick visit the Dawes Carnival. But his old friend, Col. John Dawes, fails to recognize him at first and scratches what is supposed to be a wooden leg.  Batman and Robin find the carnival has been taken over by Mindy, whose henchman is impersonating Dawes and who is now running a number of crooked games.

Mindy "Col. John Dawes" "Mouse" Docker
Detective Comics 52
Detective Comics #52, June 1941, "The Secret of the Jade Box!"
A mysterious jade box has been stolen, and Batman and Robin's investigation leads them to Chinatown, where the new unofficial mayor, Loo Chung -- replacing the late Wong -- shows he is behind the theft. The box contains the ring of Genghis Khan; whomever holds it owns the loyalty of every Chinese immigrant and native.  After beating Loo Chung, they find the ring was originally owned by Wong, who was too noble to have used the ring himself, so they return it to Wong's father.

Loo Chung Oriental gangster Wong's father
World's Finest 2
World's Finest Comics
#2, Summer 1941, "The Man Who Couldn't Remember!"

Note that "World's Fair Comics" led to "World's Best Comics", which became "World's Finest Comics" with this issue -- an object lesson in marketing on picking the proper superlative.

Ambrose Taylor Big Tim Bannon
Detective Comics 53
Detective Comics #53, July 1941, untitled
A human interest story.  These pop up from time to time in the Batman tales.  In this one, aspiring actress Viola Vane is ready to kill herself, because the city is much colder than she imagined from her home town and no one will help her find work.  Bruce stops her and convinces his society friends what a lark it would be to show their generous side and help Viola. They set her up in borrowed clothes and an apartment and treat her as if she were the toast of the town. Toothy Hare thinks those borrowed jewels would make him a sensation, as well, and plots to steal them.  Batman intervenes, and the spotlight shone on Viola is enough exposure for her to find acting work on her own merits.

Viola Vane Toothy Hare
Detective Comics 54
Detective Comics #54, August 1941, "Hook Morgan and His Harbor Pirates!"
Modern pirates -- not the cartoony swashbucklers of the earlier Blackbeard story but vicious criminals -- are wreaking havoc on the port of Gotham, and their ship always disappears somehow when pursued. Batman traces some exclusive silk, stolen by the pirates, to Conroy, the importer, and his partner, Hook Morgan. Morgan's launch disappears again, but Batman traces it to a false wall in a dockside warehouse and puts an end to the pirates.

Hook Morgan Mr. Conroy the importer
Batman 6
#6, August-September 1941, "Murder on Parole"

parole boss Slink Daniels Shoulders
Batman #6, August-September 1941, "The Clock Maker!" Old man Brock loves clocks and thinks he's Father Time. When stockholders in the Brock Clock Works are overheard talking about how they kill time, Brock decides time should kill them. He sends them clocks with various booby-traps. Batman learns that one of the stockholders has urged Brock into this, so that he can buy up the stock but blame the deaths on Brock's madness.

Another serial-killer-with-a-motif. What fun!
The Clock Maker

Clock Maker Atkins
Batman #6, August-September 1941, "The Secret of the Iron Jungle"

Linda Page Tom Page Graham Masters
Batman #6, August-September 1941, "Suicide Beat!"

Ptlmn. Jimmy Kelly Alderman Skigg Fancy Dan
Detective Comics 55
Detective Comics #55, September 1941, "The Brain Burglar!"
Prof. Henry has invented a "brain machine" which will force criminals to tell the police all they want to know. Dr. Deker, a spy, sees an opposite use for it, and uses it to force Henry to tell him about his other scientific discoveries. Deker then has some of his fifth columnists operated on, a sliver of metal inserted into their brains. Henry's theory is that, should that sliver be agitated by certain radio waves, it would cause a frenzy in the person's brain. The fifth columnists, then, would go wild and create more havoc than they could with cautious sabotage -- or that's the theory, anyway. Batman and Robin fight Deker and his spies, maddened saboteurs, and a dirigible full of more spies before it's over.

Dr. Deker
Prof. Jon Henry
dirigible captain
World's Finest 3
World's Finest Comics #3, Fall 1941, "The Scarecrow!"
Prof. Jonathan Crane, a gangly, ragged figure, is mocked by his fellow professors because he spends all his money on books. After demonstrating the power of fear in a psychology class, Crane realizes fear would be a useful tool in crime, and he could get money for more books that way. Since his colleagues call him a scarecrow, he'll become a scarecrow, and since he's an academic, his first job is as a consultant: he convinces a department store owner to hire him to scare people out of a rival's store. (This is long before the fear dust gimmick, which Hugo Strange used back in Detective #46 -- not that The Scarecrow ever claimed he used Strange's discovery.)

I think he is the first of the Bat-villains who takes his theme because of having been mocked with it in his past, but the idea is reused a lot in the late '40s onwards: The Gong, the Penny Plunderer, etc. It's almost a standard Bill Finger trope.

The Scarecrow has become one of Batman's iconic foes. Pretty good, considering he only appeared in two '40s stories before being revived in the 1960s TV-caused Bat-mania. (I always thought Vincent Price should have been cast as him, rather than as the created-for-TV villain Egghead.) He's one of my favorites, too.
The Scarecrow
Detective Comics 56
Detective Comics #56, October 1941, "The Stone Idol!"
Gulch City is now Ghost Gulch City, mostly abandoned once a silver mine nearby failed. Only those with nowhere else to go remained, like old Mack -- Mad Mack, they call him, because he goes on about how the ancient stone idol on the mountain will some day come to life and finish the city. Bruce and Dick, bound for a Western vacation spot, happen to arrive in town the night lightning strikes the mountain and causes the idol to slide down into the valley. And the idol does come to life, at least at times, threatening the citizens.  But when it's not moving, examination shows it's just a stone idol.

Turns out Mad Mack is in league with people from a crooked carnival, trying to scare people out of town because a new vein of silver was discovered in the mine. The idol was rigged to land on an hydraulic platform, so that it could be switched with a living impostor.

Interesting start, but it quickly stretches credulity.

The Stone Idol
Mad Mack

strong man servant fire eater servant midget servant
Batman 7
Batman #7, October-November 1941, untitled

Duke Micheal Joker
practical joker
Batman #7, October-November 1941, "The Trouble Trap!"

Granda the Mystic
Giant Hindu
Batman #7, October-November 1941, "The North Woods Mystery"

Woody Joe
Nora Powell
Jack Clayton
Batman #7, October-November 1941, "The People vs. the Batman!"

Freddy Hill
Weasel Venner
Detective Comics 57
Detective Comics #57, November 1941, "Twenty-Four Hours to Live!"
Miserly Jasper Sneed is told he's been poisoned and has 24 hours in which to make his peace with the world.  Instead, Sneed decides to use his money to kill those he's closest to. He buys a car for a relative but locks him in, cuts the brakes, and sends it into the harbor. He sends a statue to another, but it's really a hired killer. Batman and Robin learn of the plot and thwart the later attempts, confronting Sneed just as he's about to deal with the person who poisoned him, whom he was saving for last: his butler, Barkis.  But Sneed dies before he gets Barkis, and Barkis reveals himself to be Sneed's brother, who took a dose of the poison after giving it to Sneed and dies on the spot.

Kind of a nice twist on the " If I Had a Million" premise, where a millionaire gives his money to strangers, and we see how well or poorly they handle the gift.  Have to love those precisely timed poisons which have no effect until the trigger time. (Maybe it was a capsule which took that long to dissolve?)

Jasper Sneed Hogar the Statue Man Barkis
Detective Comics 58
Detective Comics #58, December 1941, untitled
A small, round, tuxedoed man steals a painting by rolling it up and hiding it in his hollow umbrella handle. He takes it to a crime boss as proof of his abilities and asks to join his gang. But who is this man? "Why not call me The Penguin? I have so many names, and it does fit. Hee hee!" (paraphrased). When the boss later decides The Penguin is getting too uppity, The Penguin shrugs, says "This was bound to happen sooner or later", and cold-bloodedly kills him with a gun hidden in the umbrella. Batman and Robin then get involved to end his crimes.

Here's a grotesque, comical figure who nonetheless kills someone early in the story. This Penguin is not the buffoon he was later portrayed as. (The same might be said for the Joker.) Right from the start, the umbrella gimmicks are used. Bird gimmicks, not so much. Oswald Cobblepot? Not until the newspaper strip.

Bat-trivia: Bob Kane said he based The Penguin on a cartoon penguin appearing in Kool cigarette ads. His first appearance certainly supports that claim. (My micro doesn't do it justice. I'll try again in the future.) Modern stories about the Penguin's creation tell a different story, but corporate DC wants to avoid stories involving possible trademark infringement.
The Penguin

The Penguin The Boss
World's Finest 4
World's Finest Comics #4, Winter 1941, "The Ghost Gang Goes West!"

The Ghost Gang
Batman 8
Batman #8, December 1941-January 1942, "Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make!"
Finally captured, crime czar Big Mike Russo gets an idea for his prison stay. With the help of his remaining gang members, he engineers replacing Warden Higgins with a double and the prison guards with his men. Within a week, he is secretly running the prison from his cell, sending selected convicts out on jobs then returning to the prison to hide out. When Batman sees a crook he's positive should still be in prison, he decides to investigate undercover, as Paul "Killer" Sikes. "Sikes" is chosen by Russo to go on a job, but his makeup slips and he's revealed as Batman and sent to the gas chamber. Robin replaces the cyanide gas capsules with a harmless substitute, and Batman "returns from the dead" to clean up the prison.

Big Mike Russo
Trigger Sherman
Paul "Killer" Sikes

Batman #8, December 1941-January 1942, "The Strange Case of Professor Radium!" Prof. Henry Ross is convinced his new radium-based serum is a medical miracle... so much so that he poisons himself and leaves instructions for his lab partner to administer the serum to his dead body. And Ross comes back to life. But it's odd how rapidly that flower he picked wilted. And that bird he fed from his hand which died afterward. But it's not until he accidentally kills his lab partner that he realizes the cause is his touch, his serum. He sees himself glowing in the dark. "The radium -- it's eating into my body -- into my brain -- I'm going mad ... The cursed radium!" A rubber suit allows him to move about without contaminating everything -- or melting it, as the strength of the radium grows within him. Thus outfitted, he steals the rare drug Volitell, which can reduce the radiation. But he must steal more of it to live outside of the suit, thus bringing him into contact with the Batman.

Professor Radium might have become a recurring villain -- the story leaves his fate a question -- but he never appeared after this. The story was retold in the Batman newspaper strip, with the added twist that Ross used his death touch for mercy killings. He definitely served as inspiration for Doctor Phosphorus in the 1980s, but Radium's own inspiration came from The Invisible Ray (1936), a Universal horror movie where Boris Karloff played a scientist given a death touch (and phosphorescence) by exposure to a new element.

Here are two versions, in the rubber suit and radioactive in street clothes.
Prof. Henry Ross Professor Radium
Prof. Henry Ross Professor Radium
Batman #8, December 1941-January 1942, "The Superstition Murders!" Playwright Johnny Glim's "The Superstition Murders" bodes to be a hit, so the cast holds a superstition-breaking party as a publicity stunt. Then the actors start dying according to the superstitions they broke: a ladder falls on one, a broken mirror cuts another. But the show must go on, and the publicity draws the public. When a black cat with poisoned claws cuts the woman who crossed its path, Batman and Robin are on the scene to catch the masked killer: Glim, who had sold his rights too cheaply and was trying to close the play so he could take up a movie offer for it.

Oboy!  Both a "Phantom of..." and a serial-killer-with-a-motif story. Supersitions are a popular motif for comics stories. It's surprising to me that Batman doesn't have a more prominent villain using them.

The Superstition Murderer

Batman #8, December 1941-January 1942, "The Cross Country Crimes!" After wounding FBI chief G. Henry Mover, The Joker is the object of a nationwide manhunt. He taunts Batman and Robin to chase him across the country: from New Jersey to Ohio to Kansas to... Elaware? Batman realizes The Joker is making a "JOKER" acrostic and lays a trap in Rhode Island.

No special Joker costumes in this story, so here he is attempted in the style of inker Jerry Robinson.

Robinson Joker
G. Henry Mover

Detective Comics 59
Detective Comics #59, January 1942, "The King of the Jungle!"
The jungle in this case is the "hobo jungle", woodlands often near railroad tracks and open water which served as temporary campgrounds for homeless men who stole rides on railroad freight cars. The hobo, while mistrusted by 1940s society, was also something of a romantic figure, a happy wanderer, living free of laws.

Naturally, criminals on the run would also be found here, and that's the premise of the story. The Penguin, himself a fugitive, finds himself in the company of a couple of criminal hoboes. Together they hatch a plot to turn each other in for the reward money, then help each other break jail afterwards.

The Penguin Lefty Larry Mike the Tramp
Detective Comics 60
Detective Comics #60, February 1942, "Case of the Costume-Clad Killers"

Batman 9
Batman #9, February-March 1942, "The Four Fates!"

John "Mousey" Meggs
Albert "Slick" Dandy

Pete "Nails" Logan Mortimer "Brains" Brinig
Batman #9, February-March 1942, "The White Whale!"

Capt. Burly
Batman #9, February-March 1942, "The Case of the Lucky Lawbreakers!"

Duck-Scuba Joker
Pitchman Joker
Batman #9, February-March 1942, "Christmas"

Timmy Cratchit
Hal Fink
"Santa Claus" Bob Cratchit
Detective Comics 61
Detective Comics #61, March 1942, "The Three Racketeers!"

"Crafty" Cal Clate tank robber Prof. Post
World's Finest 5
World's Finest Comics #5, Spring 1942, "Crime Takes a Holiday"

Brains Kelley
Big John Waller
Dude Davis

"Scar Ryan" "The Domino Mob" "The Hooded Bandits"
Detective Comics 62
Detective Comics #62, April 1942, "Laugh, Town, Laugh!"

Joker Happy Hanson

Freddie Banter Claude S. Tilley Buster Parks

Denny Jackson Ted Allenby
Batman 10
Batman #10, April-May 1942, "The Isle That Time Forgot!"

Guy "Big Guy" Markham "Prof. Moloff" Dan the actor

Batman #10, April-May 1942, "Report Card Blues!"

L. Milo Muggsy
Tommy Trent
Batman #10, April-May 1942, "The Princess of Plunder!"

Marguerite Tone
Cat-Woman Silky Davis
Batman #10, April-May 1942, "The Sheriff of Ghost Town!"

"Five Aces" Frogel Cactus Tom
Detective Comics 63
Detective Comics #63, May 1942, "A Gentleman in Gotham!"
Europe having to become too hot for him, jewel thief Michael Baffle flees to the States.  As society columnist Charles Courtly, he is invited to the best homes -- which he cases, so that he can later return and rob them. Circumstantial evidence leads Bruce's sometime girlfriend Linda Page to think Courtly is actually The Batman, until she notices his sandpapered fingertips and names him as the thief.  Baffle and Batman fight with swords, but when Batman slips, Baffle courteously pauses the fight. "Pshaw! Must give a fellow a sporting chance for his life, y'know! Your sword, and en garde!" When the swordfight turns into a fist-fight, and Baffle hears others coming, he leaps from a balcony. "We'll have to postpone this little skirmish, Batman..." "...we're on opposite sides, so the next time we meet, you've got a fight on your hands, Mr. Baffle!"

Inspired by the gentleman-thief Raffles (creation of E. W. Hornung, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law), Mr. Baffle was an interesting opponent for Batman, but he never did return.

Michael Baffle Egg-Head Fish-Eyes
Detective Comics 64
Detective Comics #64, June 1942, "The Joker Walks the Last Mile!"

World's Finest 6
World's Finest Comics #6, Summer 1942, "The Secret of Bruce Wayne!"
Reporter Scoop Scanlon is given the challenge of learning Batman's true
identity.  Using a series on Batman as a pretext, he accompanies Batman
and Robin on various missions, each time surreptitiously taking some sort
of measurement of Batman's physical appearance. Being a good reporter, he
comes up with the right answer: Batman is Bruce Wayne.  Being Batman,
Batman fakes him out by using a dying actor to impersonate Wayne so the
two can appear at the same time.  And there's a Nazi agent secretly
pushing Scanlon to continue, as well.

I had long thought this Scoop Scanlon was the same character who had
previously appeared in a series of his own over in Action Comics, but,
sadly, that turned out not to be the case.

Scoop Scanlon Mister X I
Batman 11
Batman #11, June-July 1942, untitled

Presto the Magician (Joker) Painter Joker
Batman #11, June-July 1942, "Payment in Full!"

Joe Dolan D.A. Lee Benson
Batman #11, June-July 1942, "Bandits in Toyland!"

Henry Burton "Muscles" Malone
Batman #11, June-July 1942, "Four Birds of a Feather!" This is something of a rewrite of "The Riddle of the Missing Card!" from Batman #5: The Penguin falls in with three similarly named crooks, the woman of which falls for The Batman and helps him escape a deathtrap.

The Penguin Canary Joe Crow Buzzard Benny
Detective Comics 65
Detective Comics #65, July 1942, "The Cop Who Hated the Batman!"

Tom Bolton Nick Rocco Soapy Joe
Detective Comics 66
Detective Comics #66, August 1940, "The Crimes of Two-Face!"
Handsome Harvey "Apollo" Kent, Gotham District Attorney, is in court, linking Boss Moroni to a murder scene, when Moroni throws acid in his face. When the bandages come off months later, Kent is so disturbed by the sight -- precisely the left half of his face is scarred -- that his mind snaps. "I'm not a man! I'm half a man ... beauty and beast... good and evil! I'm a living Jekyll and Hyde! ... I'm all alone now... shunned... like  acriminal! Wouldn't take much to make me one now... A trick of fate perhaps... A flip of a coin..." He scars one side of a lucky two-headed silver dollar of Moroni's and uses it to choose between good and evil. Calling himself Two-Face, whenever the scarred side of the coin comes up, he commits a crime, choosing a "double" theme as a calling card, and keeps the loot. If the good face shows, he double-crosses another criminal and gives the loot to charity. Batman and Robin strive to stop this mad rampage. Batman corners Two-Face in his hideout, which Two-Face has divided into an ugly half and a neat half. He convinces Two-Face to flip the coin and submit to plastic surgery if the good face comes up -- but the coin wedges in the crack between the two halves of the room!

And that's where the first Two-Face adventure ends, not to be continued until two issues later.  There'll be one more story after that, culminating in Two-Face's capture and restoration to normalcy.  But the living Jekyll and Hyde was too powerful a concept to remain unused.  A version of the Two-Face tale, using a mad actor, was retold in the Sunday Batman strip in 1946. In 1948, a butler tries to make Harvey Dent -- maybe the name was changed so as not to associate "Kent" (as in Clark Kent) with evil, or maybe it was just confusion with Clark Kent's name -- think his Two-Face side has resurfaced.  In 1951, an actor playing Two-Face is scarred and lives the role. In 1952, someone captures Dent and frames him for new Two-Face crimes. Finally, in 1954, an explosion undoes Dent's plastic surgery, and he becomes Two-Face again in earnest.  But then the character drops out of sight until revived in 1971 by Denny O'Neil's returning Batman to his noir Forties roots, after which he became a mainstay of the Batman Rogues' Gallery.

Two-Face "Boss" Moroni
Batman 12
Batman #12, August-September 1942, "Brothers in Crime!"

Peter Rafferty Steve Rafferty Mike Rafferty
Batman #12, August-September 1942, "The Wizard of Words!"

Joker Slapsy Mayor
Batman #12, August-September 1942, "They Thrill to Conquer!"

Joe Kirk Ben "Fearless" Ford
Batman #12, August-September 1942, "Around the Clock with the Batman!"

jewel thieves "Heist" Andrews
Detective Comics 67
Detective Comics #67, September 1942, "Crime's Early Bird!"

World's Finest 7
World's Finest Comics #7, Fall 1942, "The North Pole Crimes!"

The Snow Man Bandits "Angles" Bigbee
Detective Comics 68
Detective Comics #68, October 1942, "The Man Who Led a Double Life!"

Two-Face Gilda
Batman 13
Batman #13, October-November 1942, "The Batman Plays a Lone Hand!"


Batman #13, October-November 1942, "Comedy of Tears!"

Green-Hat Fat-Faced Joker
disguised Robin

Batman #13, October-November 1942, "The Story of the Seventeen Stones!"

Rocky Grimes
Lefty Slade
"Fin" Gonzy

Mason Brenner
Batman #13, October-November 1942, "Destination Unknown!"

John Keyes
Trigger Yurk
Biff Bolton
Ken Thorne

Det. Guffey
Miss Hibbs
Clyde Clayborn
Detective Comics 69
Detective Comics #69, November 1942, "The Harlequin's Hoax!"

Detective Comics 70
Detective Comics #70, December 1942, "The Man Who Could Read Minds!"
Stage mentalist Carlo undergoes brain surgery after an auto accident.  A
slip of the scalpel somehow really gives him the ability to read minds. He
initially holds Batman at bay by threatening to reveal his identity, but
Batman decides to risk it all and corners Carlo at sea.  After imprisoning
Robin in a diving bell without oxygen, Carlo attempts to escape but falls
into the sea.  Washed ashore, dying, he attempts to write Batman's
identity in the sand, but the waves erase it after he dies.

World's Finest 8
World's Finest Comics #8, Winter 1942, "Brothers in Law!"
Little Nap
Boyd, a.k.a. The Little Corporal, plays up his resemblance to Napoleon
Bonaparte by planning all his crimes with military precision.  When he
kills G-Man John O'Brien, the surviving O'Brien sons (one a detective, one
a state trooper) must overcome an old rivalry to bring him in.

This is one of those human interest stories in which Batman takes a back
seat to other characters.  It's notable in that it's the first use of a
Bat-villain with a military theme, something which will be revisited with
other characters over the coming years.

Little Nap Boyd
Batman 14
Batman #14, December 1942-January 1943, "The Case Batman Failed to Solve!"

Dana Drye Sir John Bart Sheriff Ezra Plunkett

Grace Seers Dr. Tsu Red Rip
Batman #14, December 1942-January 1943, "Prescription for Happiness!"

"Pills" Mattson "Doc" A. B. Chalmers
Batman #14, December 1942-January 1943, "Swastika over the White House!"

Count Felix Fred Hopper
Batman #14, December 1942-January 1943, "Bargains in Banditry!"

Penguin Hairless Harry Hix Torchy Blaize

Slippery Elmer Glitter Gleason
"Bad News" Brewster
Detective Comics 71
Detective Comics #71, January 1943, "A Crime a Day!"

Detective Comics 72
Detective Comics #72, February 1943, "License for Larceny!"

Larry the Judge
Batman 15
Batman #15, February-March 1943, "Your Face Is Your Fortune!"

The Catwoman
(green costume)
Elva Barr
Jim Jones
Batman #15, February-March 1943, "The Boy Who Wanted to Be Robin!"

"Knuckles" Conger
Bobby Deen
Batman #15, February-March 1943, "The Two Futures!"

The Nazis
Prof. Ranier

Prof. Proe
Prof. Conn
Batman #15, February-March 1943, "The Loneliest Men in the World!"

Dirk Dagner
Ben Botts
Link Chesney Tom Wick
Detective Comics 73
Detective Comics #73, March 1943, "The Scarecrow Returns!"

The Scarecrow
World's Finest 9
World's Finest Comics #9, Spring 1943, "Crime of the Month!"

Bramwell B. Bramwell
Chopper Gant Bright Guy Warner Slim Ryan Muscles Hardy
Detective Comics 74
Detective Comics #74, April 1943, "Tweedledum and Tweedledee!"
Batman and Robin find a fur warehouse being robbed by a gang led by a round man. The gang escapes, but when the two return to the Batmobile, they hear reports of a gem robbery led by a similar man which occurred at the same time. On a hunch, Bruce Wayne visits a fat man's clothier and asks about fat twins. He is told of the identical cousins, Deever and Dumfree Tweed. Batman and Robin set a trap at a society costume ball, where the Tweeds arrive dressed as Tweedledum and Tweedledee and are captured.

The Tweeds appeared twice more in the Forties, each time using the same two gimmicks: they appear to be one man in two places at once, and they have the loot brought to them to be stolen. Then nothing until the 1990s, when they turn up as henchmen to the Joker, are shown among Arkham Asylum inmates, and so on -- all minor roles.  (Len Wein reportedly wanted to bring them back during his run on Batman in the early '80s but he left the book before he could.)

Back to Part 1 -- Ahead to Part 3