Detective Comics #33 was published in November 1939. The issue saw the publication of "The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom", which pitted the Dark Knight against Carl Kruger and the Scarlet Horde. The story also saw the first recounting of Batman's origin, introducing his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, the reasons behind his war on crime and why he chose the identity. The story was written by Gardner Fox, and presumed to have been drawn by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff.
"Legend: The Batman and How He Came to Be"
Fifteen years ago, a young Bruce Wayne returns home with his parents after a night at the movies. However, the family are ambushed by a criminal who demands his mother's necklace. As Thomas Wayne attempts to protect them, the criminal guns him down and shoots Martha as she cries out for help. Helpless to stop and traumatized by the incident, Bruce vows avenge their deaths by defeating all criminals in his home city. After years of physical and mental training, Bruce decides to don a disguise to strike feat into the hears of the superstitious cowardly criminals. Noticing a bat flying into the room, he decides to take the identity of "Batman".
- Batman/Bruce Wayne (Flashback and Main Story)
- Thomas Wayne (First Appearance) (Flashback Only) (Dies in this issue)
- Martha Wayne (First appearance; Unnamed) (Flashback Only) (Dies in this issue)
- Unamed Mugger (First appearance; Unnamed) (Flashback Only)
- Window Bat (First Appearance)
- Gotham City (Retconned Appearance)
"The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom"
Whilst visiting Manhattan one night, Bruce Wayne sees a dirigible fly into the city and attack it with strange red rays. These damage the buildings can cause thousands of deaths. The occupants of the dirigible, calling themselves the "Scarlet Horde", threaten to attack again unless the city surrenders to them. After they leave, Bruce helps rescue civilians and decides to investigate the group further as Batman.
Recognizing the lights as "Death-Rays", Batman cross-references their creation with the scientist called Carl Kruger, who suffers from a Napoleon complex. Deciding to visit him, he locates his home and climbs in, discovering him in a meeting with his lieutenants. Together, the gang plan to attack in another two days, using the chaos to rob from many of the city's banks to fund their plans. After the group leave Kruger, Batman confronts the scientist, but discovers he is protected by a sheet of glass. One of the lieutenants returns and subdues Batman. After tying him up, the group plant an incendiary bomb and leave him to die, hoping to frame it as Kruger's death. However, Batman cuts his bonds with a hidden blade and escapes before the bomb detonates.
The following evening, Batman tracks one of Kruger's lieutenants, Ryker, and intimidates him. As the scared scientist flees to Kruger, Batman follows from his Batgyro. Using a smoke capsule, he disguises the craft as a cloud and infiltrate the Horde's lair. Locating the group's death-ray projectors, Batman destroys them and attempts to sabotage the dirigible. However, Kruger is waiting for him from a hidden room and shoots him as he attempts to damage the craft. Surviving due to his bullet-proof vest, Batman subdues a guard as Kruger leaves to collect a surviving death-ray projector, disguising switching costumes with his captor. When Kruger returns, he uses the death-ray to kill the guard and destroy the body, though Batman leaves unnoticed.
Through the night, Batman works in his laboratory to create a chemicals to protect the Batgyro and himself from the death-rays. He then sprays the concoction over the plane before he can confront the group. The following day, the Scarlet Horde launches their second attack on the city, though Batman attacks the group in his plane. As Kruger escapes in his own catapult-plane, Batman crashes the gyro into the dirigible to destroy it, escaping with a parachute.
Using his rope, he climbs onto the catapult and uses a gas pellet to subdue the would-be dictator. As Kruger loses consciousness and falls on the controls, causing the plane to crash into river. Batman manages to escape before it hits the water, the scientist dies. In the hours following, the remaining member of the horde are captured by the authorities, ending their reign of terror.
- Batman/Bruce Wayne
- Carl Kruger (Only appearance; dies)
- Bixley (Only appearance)
- Ryder (Only appearance)
- Travis (Only appearance)
- First Scarlet Horde Guard (Only appearance)
- Second Scarlet Horde Guard (Only appearance)
- Third Scarlet Horde Guard (Only appearance)
- Fourth Scarlet Horde Guard (Only appearance)
- Fifth Scarlet Horde Guard (Only appearance; dies)
- Scarlet Horde
- New York City
- Gotham City (Retconned Appearance)
- Wayne Manor
- Batman's Laboratory (First Appearance)
- Wayne Manor
- Kruger Home (Only appearance)
- Ryker's Home (Only appearance)
- Scarlet Army's Hidden Hanger (Only appearance)
- Batman's Costume
- Death-Ray Machine (Only appearance)
- Scarlet Horde Dirigible (Only appearance)
- Batman's Red Convert
- Carl Kruger's Catapult-Plane (Only appearance)
- This is the first issue to delve into Batman's origin and reveal the reasons behind his crusade. It is also the same story to give an explanation why Bruce Wayne chose a bat as his symbol.
- The story shows for the first time that the Batsuit is shown to be armored to protect Batman from gunfire. It also shows him hide equipment within the suit's boots and the first on-panel usage of a smoke capsule.
- Other stories in this issue include an untitled Spy story, "Mine of Mystery" (Buck Marshall, Range Detective), an untitled Larry Steele, Private Detective story, "The Northwoods Mystery" (Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator), an untitled Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise story, an untitled Bruce Nelson story, and an untitled Slam Bradley story.