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Batman #1 is the first issue of the Batman comic book series. The issue saw the publication of four stories, including "The Joker", "The Giants of Dr. Hugo Strange", "The Cat" and "The Joker Returns". The stories were presumably written by Bill Finger, and drawn by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson. The issue also saw the republication of "The Batman: Who He is, and How He Came to Be", previously published in Detective Comics #33 and created by Finger, Kane and Sheldon Moldoff.

"The Legend of the Batman - Who He is, and How he Came to Be"

Synopsis

Fifteen years ago, a young Bruce Wayne returns home with his parents after a night at the theatre. However, they are accosted by a mugger who demands they hand over his mother's necklace. When Thomas interferes, the mugger shoots both of Bruce's parents dead and flees the scene. Traumatized by the events, Bruce vows to avenge their deaths by dedicating his life to fighting crime.

For years, Bruce trains his body to physical peak and studies various fields, including martial arts and fields of sciences. In the present day, he decides to enact his crusade, though decides to don a disguise to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. At that moment, a bat flies through the window. Believing it to be an omen, Bruce decides to don the identity of "Batman", using his inherited wealth to fund his crusade.

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"The Joker"

Synopsis

On the radio one evening, a criminal calling himself the Joker hijacks the broadcast, threatening to kill Henry Claridge and steal his prized diamond at midnight. Terrified, Claridge contacts the police department for protection. Despite the precautions they set up, Claridge dies with a grotesque grin and the diamond is revealed to have been replaced with a replica. Meanwhile, the Joker mulls over his success, revealing he'd actually broken in the night before to steal the diamond and injected Claridge with a slow-acting version of his venom. With the crime becoming public, Robin wants to investigate, though Batman suggests they wait unil another time.

The following night, the Joker announces he will kill Jay Wilde and steal his prized ruby within the hour. Police again once again set up protection for the victim. However, at the allotted time, Wilde drops dead and the officers present are paralyzed by a mysterious gas. It is revealed that Joker hid in a suit of armor and shot Wild with a blowgun. After removing the metal armor, he steals the diamond and flees the scene.

Due to the Joker beating him to the robberies of the jewels, a mobster called Brute Nelson decides to lure him into a trap and sends word out to lure him into it. Deciding it to be the right time, Batman decides to intervene before either can kill each other. That night, the Joker breaks into Nelson's home to kill him, though the mobster has men waiting in the other rooms. Watching from the stairway, Batman is discovered by the mobsters and attacked, forcing him to fight them. Using the confusion as an opportunity to escape, Joker shoots Nelson and flees. After subduing the last of them, Batman pursues the Joker. With the confrontation taken to a nearby bridge, the Joker knocks Batman from the structure, almost resulting the vigilante's death.

The following night, the Joker threatens to kill Judge Drake. Disguising himself as the Police Chief, he slips into the house and injects his victim with his venom, also using the disguise to flee the scene unstopped. This time, Robin is monitoring the scene and traces him to his hideout, though the Joker manages to subdue him. Arriving shortly later, Batman traces his footsteps with an Infrared Light, bringing him to the lair just as Joker prepares to inject Robin with his venom. In the ensuing struggle, Joker's lab is set alight and he uses his paralyzing variant to subdue the Dark Knight, fleeing the scene in anticipation he and Robin will die. However, Batman quickly recovers and flees the scene.

In the aftermath, Robin reveals that the Joker intends to steal the Cleopatra Necklace, due to the criminal's goading before the attempted murder. Knowing the owner, Batman and Robin trace him to the penthouse and confront him. During the fight, Joker is knocked from the building but saved by Batman, who intends to have him arrested as an example to other like-minded fiends. As he is locked up at the State Prison, Joker vows to escape and have "the last laugh!"

Appearances

Individuals

Organizations

Locations

  • New York City (Original Intention) / Gotham City (Retconned Appearance)
    • Claridge Residence (Only appearance)
    • Wayne Manor (Unnamed)
    • Joker's House and Lab
    • Wilde Residence (Only appearance)
    • Unnamed Bar
    • Brute Nelson's Home (Only appearance)
    • Unnamed Bridge
    • Judge Drake's Home (Only appearance)
    • Drexel Penthouse (Only appearance)
    • Unnamed Construction Site
    • State Prison

Objects

  • Batman's Costume
  • Robin's Costume
  • Joker Venom (First Appearance)
  • Joker Cards (First Appearance)
  • Claridge Diamond
  • Ronkers Ruby
  • Daily Star
  • Cleopatra Necklace (Mentioned only)

"The Giants of Dr. Hugo Strange"

Synopsis

Some time after his first battle with Batman, Hugo Strange is able to arrange a prison riot, during which he and his henchmen escape. The following night, the group break into an insane asylum and release five patients. Batman learns of the attack and wonders whether he'll encounter Strange in the future, suspecting he plans for another terrible plan. A month later, a giant "Monster Man" attacks Lower Manhattan, terrorizing the streets and killing multiple people. Police are overwhelmed and are unable to harm the attacker, even with weapons. The Monster Man later flees within a van, destroying a police car that chases after him. After hearing of the attack, Batman deduces that Strange is responsible and decides to investigate.

The following day, the Monster Man attacks again and escapes in a similar fashion. However, Batman, piloting the Batgyro, locates and follows them from the sky. Following them to a house on the outskirts of the city, Batman investigates and is captured by Strange. Demanding his last rights, Batman learns that Strange has mutated the Asylum Patients using a newly developed mutagen to enhance their height, though the serum greatly reduces the victims' intelligence. Strange plans to use the Monster Men to distract the police whilst he and his gang rob from the city's banks. To prevent Batman from interfering, Strange injects him with the Monster Man serum and knocks him out, taking away his Utility Belt to prevent escape.

Recovering hours later in a cell, Batman sees Strange dispatch his men to release the Monster Men at two different locations. With hours left before he transforms, he uses chemicals hidden in his costume's boots to create an explosive and confronts Strange, who falls from the cliff. Batman is then met with three of the Monster Men, though he tricks them into fighting between themselves. As they maul each other to death, Batman uses Strange's lab to mix an antidote to the serum and is able to cure himself in time. With the Monster Men dead at each others' hands, Batman recovers his utility belt and goes to stop the others.

As he catches up to one of them, Batman, having decided that lethal force is necessary on this occasion, uses a machine gun to crash the vehicle. As the Monster Man exits, he uses a rope to hang him from the Batgyro, strangling him to death. Batman later catches up with the second one in the city, causing it to also crash. Drawing the Monster Man's attention, he draws the Monster to the top of a tower and uses a Gas Pellet to disable him. As the Monster Man falls to his death, Batman wonders whether Strange has survived and if they'll meet again in the future...

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"The Cat"

Synopsis

Hearing of a high profile ball being held on The Dolphin yacht, Bruce Wayne suspects the owner Martha Travers may be targeted for her priceless emerald necklace. Arranging for Dick to be stationed as a steward, he asks him to monitor the scene whilst he investigates another case. Among the guests are Travis' brother Roger, nephew Denny, personal doctor Wallace, and the injured Mrs. Peggs. From his observations, Dick learns that Denny has a somewhat sketchy reputation, Wallace has a gambling addiction, and Roger has lost their fortune in several failed investments. He also intercepts a message set to Denny by a high profile thief called "the Cat".

Shorty after obtaining the message, Dick learns that Travers' necklace has disappeared. Moments later, a gang of criminals board the yacht by pretending to the Coast Guard. Hoping to steal the necklace, they learn of its disappearance and, hoping to compensate, steal from the other patrons. Dick attempts to intervene, but is forced to jump overboard by gunfire. Using the opportunity to change into his costume, Dick boards the gang's boat as they flee the scene.

Having lost his trail on his case, Batman drives up to the criminals with a speedboat and confronts them. Robin also makes his presence known by subduing the others in a lasso. After disarming the criminals, Batman forces them to fight against Robin, hoping to show how "yellow" they are without guns. The Boy Wonder singlehandedly defeats them. The Dynamic Duo then leave the criminals to return to The Dolphin, bringing the stolen jewelry with them.

Arriving in the midst of a costume party, Batman, briefly confused as a guest, returns the stolen items. Meanwhile, Robin activates the ship's fire alarm, causing the apparently injured Peggs to flee. As the captain calls the false alarm, Batman and Robin intercept Peggs, revealing she is actually the Cat in disguise. The Cat had faked the injury and used the bandages to hide Travers' necklace. Batman subdues Denny as he attempts to steal the necklace and takes the Cat into custody, rejecting her offer to shift allegiance together. As they return to the mainland, the Cat jumps overboard and the enamored Batman stops Robin from interfering, allowing her to escape. As Robin realizes he allowed her to leave deliberately, Batman wonders whether he'll encounter the Cat again...

Appearances

Individuals

  • Batman/Bruce Wayne (Flashback and Main Story)
  • Robin/Dick Grayson (Flashback and Main Story)
  • The Cat (First Appearance)
  • "Boss" (Only appearance)
  • Denny Travers (Only appearance)
  • Martha Travers (Only appearance)
  • Roger Travers (Only appearance)
  • Doctor Wallace (Only appearance)
  • Unnamed Steward (Only appearance)
  • Julie Madison (Mentioned only)

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Objects

"The Joker Returns"

Synopsis

Two days after his captured, the Joker manages to escape prison by using explosive chemicals he had disguised as false teeth. Batman and Robin learn of it and decide to prepare for the future. Joker meanwhile flees to a lair hidden in an abandoned cemetery, using it to restart his operations quickly. He then once again begins a reign of terror, killing Police Chief Chalmers using a dart hidden on the phone, replaces a priceless painting with a Joker card, steals a rare gem and murders its owner.

When Joker once again threatens to steal the Cleopatra Necklace, Batman decides to intercede again. Whilst police guard it at the museum holding the necklace, Joker hides within an Egyptian sarcophagus and attacks officers guarding it with an airborne variant of his venom. Batman attempts to stop him, but the criminal knocks him unconscious and flees as reinforcements arrive. As the police prepare to unmask him, Batman regains consciousness and escapes.

When political reformer Edgar Martin publicly lashes out at him, the Joker decides to make him the next target and public threatens him. Despite police efforts, Joker manages to kill him by slipping in a set of poisoned cards. With police efforts further embarrassed, Bruce Wayne meets with Commissioner Gordon and convinces him to set a trap for the Joker. The police then use newspapers to advertise the Fire Ruby, gaining Joker's interest. As he breaks into the apartment, the police jump him, having stood guard from the start. However, the Joker gasses them with his venom and flees the scene.

Unknown to both Joker and the officers, Robin also watches the building and chases after the criminal as he flees. However, Joker knocks him off the building as the chase after discovering his presence, though Robin is able to catch a flagpole before he hits the ground. As Joker reaches the streets and prepares to gun the Boy Wonder down, Batman appears and the duo battle the criminal. Eventually, Joker draws a knife and tries to stab Batman, but accidently stabs himself in the struggle. Believing he has finally died, Batman and Robin flee the scene as the police arrive. However, as he is taken away in an ambulance, the medic discovers that the criminal has actually survived...

Appearances

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Notes

  • The issue sees Batman, Robin and Commissioner Gordon's first appearances outside of Detective Comics. It also sees the debut of the Joker and Catwoman, who would quickly become recurring enemies in Batman stories. Joker Venom and Hugo Strange's Monster Men also make their debuts during this issue.
  • In initial publication, the stories "The Joker" and "The Cat" were never titled. However, the titles have been given in subsequent publications.
  • Batman's murder of Strange's monster men proved controversial, resulting in editor Whitney Ellsworth asking Kane and Finger to tone down the violence in future stories. This eventually lead to editorial establishing "No Killing" rules for Batman and other DC superheroes.
  • The plot from "The Joker" was re-imagined in the 2005 graphic novel Batman: The Man Who Laughs, with the events also feeding into Batman: Year One.
  • The plots from "The Joker" and "The Joker Returns" are major influences on the 2008 feature film The Dark Knight. Among the similarities include the Joker publicly announcing his crimes before committing them, removing his make-up and disguising himself as a police officer to gain access to a person he threatened to kill, using a powerful bomb smuggled into jail to escape, killing to create chaos and disorder, and infringing on the city's old-fashioned mobsters.
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