Friday, June 5, 2009

Batman #214

Batman #214 (On Sale: June 5, 1969) has one of those covers where DC was trying so hard to be hip and failing so hugely that it made you want to cry. Well, in retrospect it does; I think I thought it was kind of hip when I was 12. Cover by Irv Novick.
The feature-length Batman story "Batman's Marriage Trap" is by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Joe Giella. The winner of the Queen of Gotham beauty contest wins a night on the town with Gotham's most "coveted male," Batman. A gang leader, Strack figures since the whole night will be televised, and they will know Batman's every move, this is the perfect night to go on a crime spree. It works just as Strack planned and the next morning finds Bruce and Dick lamenting that they can never get a night off and Strack working on a scheme to make this kind of night a regular occurrence.

The beautiful Cleo is brought in and shows up the next morning at a posh Madison Avenue ad agency with a million-dollar budget for promoting W.E.B., Women to the End of Bachelorhood, a group dedicated to removing Batman's bachelorhood, the "one barrier to happy marriage in Gotham, the symbol of all single male eligibles." The city is soon flooded with wave after wave of Batman, "Wanted for Marriage" signs, fliers, and posters. Barbara Gordon smells something fishy in this supposed "grass-roots" movement to snare Batman and goes to check out the local W.E.B. chapter. Women begin picketing City Hall and when Batman and Robin show up they find Batgirl among those picketing "Batman Unfair to Gotham Gals!"

Trying to get away from the mob Batman and Robin are thwarted by the mass of women until they are saved by Cleo, whose smoking car puts out a smoke screen, letting the dynamic duo escape. But Cleo is playing "hard to get" and pretends she is uninterested in Batman. Later Cloe passes out police-band radios to the women so they can track batman's every move and they show up when Batman and Robin intercept a gang of fur thieves. The only thing that saves them from the mob is Cleo, who once again brushes Batman off.

Back at Strack's hideout he informs Cleo that the plan to keep Batman distracted is working great and that the gang is making more money than ever. Meanwhile, Batman is finding it hard to get Cleo off his mind, but soon the duo finds themselves on the trail of a gang of luxury car thieves. When they see the gang trying to steal Cleo's sports car they intercept them only to find it is a trap. However, once again they are saved by Cleo who confesses that she has fallen for Batman, but the gang get the drop on her and are about to execute all of them when Batgirl shows up and the ass-kicking begins.

Batgirl relates how she joined W.E.B. to get to the bottom of the campaign and then started following Cleo. Cleo admits she was part of the gang and is tearfully put into handcuffs. Batman however, gives her a chance to make things right and using her information and her car Batman and a disguised Batgirl are able to capture Strack and end the gang's crime spree. Because of her help Cleo has been promised clemency and without the W.E.B. campaign stirring things up, Batman's life goes back to normal. Well, as normal a life as you can have when you dress up as a giant bat and fight crime. This story, guest-starring Batgirl has been reprinted in Showcase Presents: Batgirl Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

No comments: