Saturday, November 28, 2009

Detective #177

I mentioned in discussing the Robin story from Star Spangled #88 that there were other tales where Robin obsessed a little bit over Batman having sent an innocent man to the electric chair. Detective #177's The Robberies in the Batcave is another good example.

As Batman works to solve another case, he sends Robin to find the Batcave's centrifuge, but it's missing from its place. Robin remembers:

At first they assume that it's simply been misplaced, but then Robin notices that the electron microscope used in that same case is also missing. Later, they face some crooks who get away using Batman and Robin's Pontoon Boots which enable them to walk across water. Realizing that somebody has stolen items from the Batcave, they do an inventory of their equipment:

They decide to monitor the entrance to the Batcave. We get another one of those panels where Bruce and Dick are sharing a bedroom:

LOL! Yeah, I don't think they'll be sleeping right through that alarm! But the next day, they discover more missing items from the Batcave:

Batman tries shadowing Peel. But aside from visiting a cold storage facility, he does nothing suspicious and comes nowhere near the Batcave. Meanwhile Robin patrols the home front, until he gets tired and takes a nap. Sure enough, the thief chooses that moment to steal another item.

The next night, Bruce awakens to discover Dick missing. He goes down to the Batcave, where he discovers:

He realizes that Robin's sleep-walking and doing this under the control of his subconscious mind. The memory of Robin's fear that their detective work may have led to the execution of innocent men provides the reason. But then Batman notices something:

Batman confronts Peel, who confesses:

Wanting to break the news to Robin gently, Batman decides that they should review all their old death-penalty cases. Sure enough, after going carefully through them all, the Boy Wonder is convinced that each man was guilty of the crime for which he was executed. Only then does Batman let Robin know who was really behind the robberies in the Batcave.

Comments: I love psychological stories like this, and of course it also has the terrific Sprang/Paris combination on the art. GCD tentatively credits the script to Bill Finger. There were a lot of stories in the '40s and '50s where Batman expressed satisfaction at sending crooks to their ultimate execution.

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