Monday, November 30, 2009

Building a Better Criminal

One of the frequent plot themes in the Golden Age Batman was the concept of improving the common crook. There are at least a half-dozen stories that fit this pattern. Here's one from World's Finest #51.

Boston Burns is about to be released from prison for the second time. Deciding that perhaps he will be reformed by seeing the latest criminology methods, Batman takes Boston on a tour:

But, as we can see from the splash, he is inspired in the opposite direction:

But word gets out about the school, and Commissioner Gordon assigns Batman to the case. Wearing a disguise as a hoodlum, he gets accepted to the school. Unfortunately, an explosion caused by a careless instructor results in his disguise being revealed, and so a manhunt begins on the island where the crime school is located, with the crooks tracking the Caped Crusader. But he manages to keep on the run, tricking the criminals with various shenanigans:

Eventually he manages to signal a passing plane, and the Coast Guard arrives to mop up the villains. We get the inevitable gag ending:

Similar "Building a Better Criminal" stories include The Masterminds of Crime, from Batman #70, Crime School for Boys from Batman #3, and the Olympic Games of Crime from Batman #82.

Why did these stories largely disappear from Batman in the Silver Age? I suspect the obvious culprit: the Comics Code Authority. One of the requirements of the CCA was that crime never be portrayed as glamorous or deserving of emulation.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Pat and thanks for this great new blog.

    The Golden Age of Comic Books