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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – This Is Why You Need to Pin Your Cowl Down, Batman!

Every day this August I’ll be spotlighting strange but ultimately endearing comic stories, one a day (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of past installments of this feature.

Today we take a look at the time that Batman almost ruined his secret identity by not keeping his cowl on during a windy day. Yes, seriously.

It appeared in 1956’s Batman #101 in a story titled “The Great Bat-Cape Hunt!” It was written by Bill Finger and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris.

Out story begins when Batman telling Alfred to be careful with one trophy in the Bat-Cave, a cape someone sent him with a note saying that he knows Batman is Bruce Wayne (naturally, the fellow died soon afterwards, which is what happens when you learn Batman’s identity).

Despite specifically telling him to be careful with it, Alfred instead mixes it together with Batman’s regular capes and off Batman goes along with a note telling his identity.

Hey Batman, maybe you should pin your cowl down! That never occurred to you? In fact, if it is not pinned down, wouldn’t it spin around on his head constantly, blinding him?

So anyhow, the wind blows the costume around town.

First, it inspires a Frenchman to do a dangerous stunt…

He is stealing our jobs and he doesn’t speak English! Disgraceful!

Luckily, the Frenchman is as careless as Alfred, and the cape heads off to do another good deed…

Next, someone discovers it – but WHO?! Afterwards, this down-on-his-luck guy gets it. I love his inner monologue….

He ends up saving the little girl’s cat and finally Batman and Robin have the cape and cowl, but where is the note?

How randomly convenient! And yes, it is utterly bizarre for Robin to shout out his secret identity right there on the street after Superman was kind enough to help protect THEIR secret identities!

What a charming little story (if very silly) by Finger.

35 Comments

Billy Bissette

August 9, 2011 at 8:48 am

How randomly convenient for Batman perhaps, but what of poor Superman?

Robin loudly identifies Clark as Superman on an open street. And just in case no one would recognize Clark Kent on sight, Robin does this immediately after Batman calls him “Clark Kent!”

“This cape belongs to Bruce Wayne. If found, please return to Stately Wayne Manor, Gotham County, State Withheld.”

Just want to make sure I’ve got this straight: someone in an unrelated (possibly unpublished) story sent Batman a cape with the note inside. Alfred mixed them up, and Batman lost the cape and cowl, with hilarity ensuing.

So why did Bruce not notice the likely very itchy tag? And why is it Alfred still has a job?

“Clark Kent!”
“Superman”
Thanks Robin. Go through all that effort to keep people from learning Batman’s secret identity and yet you blurt out Superman’s secret identity in public!

I like how the artist makes an effort to draw Clark Kent with a Wayne Boringesque type face. (Unless I’m imaginining it) Nice touch to try to keep him consistent with the house style in his own line of books.

“I do not yet know how to read your English language…”

It’s not like it’s Cyrillic, Japanese kanji or hieroglyphics!
I don’t read French, but I can READ “Bruce Wayne est L’Homme de Bat” and figure it out from there!

Ridiculous on the level of the Bat Credit Card from Batman and Robin, though at least this is entertaining.

Everybody knows batman secret ID is the worst kept secret in DC universe.

I just realized, if you look at the example of Bruce Wayne appearing in a Superman book shown in the last scan in this recent post by Brian: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/07/30/drawing-crazy-patterns-who-are-you-really-superman/

…it seems the Superman artists did something similar as what happened here. Bruce Wayne is drawn in the Bob Kane (or more accurately the “ghosts” of Bob Kane) style.

So Batman’s cape can fight crime without him? Sign it up for Batman, Inc, Morrison.

knightoftomorrow

August 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

Why on earth would anyone ever live in Gotham City? Forget the never ending flood of supervillains, but the city is plagued by natural disasters ranging from earthquakes to hurricanes!

After all that work to hide the secret identity, the bit about Batman and Robin shouting out Superman’s secret i.d. is friggin’ hysterical. And look at the print – they’re actually shouting it out on a street!

It’s easy to laugh at this, but it’s not like it’s a thing of the past. Meltzer had the JLA calling each other Clark, Bruce, etc. in public all the time, even in combat with supervillains.

Buttler, I always thought that was weird – how casual heroes in the JLA had gotten about using their real names in public. But I still don’t think you’ll find any contemporary examples of bold-print, exclamation-point shouting of secret identities.

Hm, a link I made above didn’t work. Here it is again.

Interestingly enough, the story in this installment where Superman, drawn in his own “house style,” helps bail Batman out of a secret identity bind and the story I just linked to above where Batman, drawn in his own “house style,” helps Superman out of a secret identity bind, were both written by Bill Finger.

This is pretty sad, huh? This T. guy just having a conversation with himself like this.

Well done, Andrew. That’s funny.

Oops, that Anonymous was me.

Well, I always found how strange ti was that Jimmy Olsen was allowed to know that Batman was Bruce Wayne, and yet Superman wouldn’t tell him he was Clark Kent, in the Silver Age.

I loved that too, Aryaman, especially because the reasoning was that whenever people inevitably tortured, hypnotized and/or drugged Jimmy to find out who Superman really was, they’d never even consider asking him about Batman. It was like, ‘The kid’s going to get tortured–nothing we can do about that–but we can play a funny trick on the torturers by giving him some valuable information they won’t even ask about. Hahaha, the joke’s on you, torturers!”

Was the cape originally mailed to Bruce in a published story, or was it just some random nonsense made up to explain why Batman and Robin were looking for a cape with “Bruce Wayne is Batman” written in it? (‘Cause that seems like an awfully random thing to just drop into a story as unexplained background information, no?)

He hung out with Robin an awful lot, too, so you’d think criminals would look at him for his identity. Plus, SA Supes didn’t really need a secret identity. If you think about it, he’s protecting everyone, so who does he really need to protect to the point of no one knowing who he is? Does it really matter if a criminal kidnaps Lois or some random person of the street?

I love how the down on his luck guy just says ‘I can fly again!’ to Batman. Without knowing the story behind it wouldn’t Bats assume they guy is about to launch himself off the nearest building?

I hated the way Metzler had everyone in the JLA calling each other by their first names. It’s stupid from an in-story standpoint – both because ramdom people could hear them, and because I don’t know if all the Leaguers actually knew each others secret identities. And it’s stupid just from a writing standpoint. There were issues were Vixen or Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow or some other non-household name character were only referred to by their first names. If you weren’t familiar with all the characters, you might have no idea who they’re talking to or about. Granted, DC especially doesn’t seem to care about picking up new comic readers the last decade or so. It just seemed so stupid to me, though.

Didn’t DC pick up a lot of new readers with Identity Crisis regardless of whether or not Meltzer did that?

“It’d be like telling her there’s no Santa Claus!”

Um. Well played, DC, way to ruin the children of the ’50s.

I was talking about Meltzer on Justice League, not Identity Crisis. I would be surprised at the point Meltzer was writing JLA that any people were picking up comics for the first time because of him. But maybe I’m wrong.

I love that Batman and Robin are helping Alfred clean the Batcave at the beginning of the story. I always thought it was a lot of work for one man to maintain Wayne Manor and the Batcave. Too bad you never see Batman and Robin helping Alfred in modern stories.

This was funny, but I think Batman and Robin shouting out Clark Kent and Superman at the same time is for the new readers at the time so they would notice who Superman is, maybe it was late at night and Finger thought it would be funny and save time near the end, that’s all I’m thinking.
And here’s a suggestion: how many times has the phrae “Great Scott!!” been used in any average comic?
Just putting it out there.
One last thing I don’t think people would pay attention to a guy dressed in a cape and talking with a reporter, they would just stay in their homes and wait for it to be over; I mean they wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t act.
They’d just watch and forget all about it, don’t you get it Doctor?
They WATCHED.

Secret identity stuff in the Silver Age DC books is always weird. I was reading Showcase Presents Green Lantern vol. 3 lately and there was some strange stuff there. Like, apparently, Hal Jordan told Tom Kalmaku that Barry Allen is the Flash so he could write it in his casebook, but then blocked it out of his mind with his ring. This didn’t stop Paul Booker from sneaking into Tom’s house and reading it, thus prompting him to start a super-villian career as Major Disaster (that’s right, Major Disaster knew the identities of two major Justice Leaguers). Then, at the end of a later case, just to be a jerk, Hal uses his ring not to erase the identities from Booker’s mind but to make it so he couldn’t tell anyone if he tried.

So, apparently Hal Jordan goes around using his ring to create strange gaps in his best friend’s mind and menatlly taunting criminals by making them unable to speak at certain moments.

interesting that batman spent some of the adventure chasing a cape sent to him with his id revealed and those who got a hold of it never bothered to read the note. only to have superman save batman’s id. and robin winding up calling supes clark. a nice way to pay back supes for helping keep their i.ds robin blows supes.

The dumbest secret identity situation I ever read was a Superman story, where he gets stranded on a planet of giants, so he is in effect 6″ tall by comparison to the native, otherwise perfectly normal looking humanoids. He starts saving people & fighting crime as a 6″ Superman, but no one even suspects that his secret identity is the only other 6″ tall character on the planet!
I’d suggest that story should be in this list, except that I read it in a digest reprint well over 10 years ago & I have no clue where it first appeared. Any one else remember it?

Alright, so the acrobat can’t make out what the piece of paper says since he’s French and doesn’t know English, but….all the paper says is ”Bruce Wayne is Batman”. Really? ”Bruce Wayne-something-Batman.” Is the word ‘is’ that confusing?

On another note, there was another story such as this in which Batman lost his utility belt. Thinking he was about to be burned to a crisp in a death trap from which he didn’t expect to escape, Batman poured a chemical solvent on a chip concealed in his utility belt which would inform anyone who found his body who he was. He survived however, only to lose the belt that evening. He eventually tracked it down but only after it passed through several hands. Can’t recall the exact issue (I suspect it was between issue 220-230 of Detective Comics) and actually would’ve come out at around this time.

I guess X-Ray vision can destroy hand writing…

Chad, I was about to mention that story. And I do like the way they both link stories of random characters together, even given the flimsy rationale.
AdamYJ, for all the furor in Identity Crisis about OMG, Zatanna tampered with someone’s mind! super-heroes wiped people’s memories of their identity on a regular basis back in the Silver Age.

HaHaHa! This was very entertaining!

1.) Sewing paper on to cloth? It’s paper. That’s not the best material to be sewing. Chances are that note would have been torn and ripped apart after the French guy’s act. Who would even think to do that anyway? Was Batman’s secret stalker a fashion designer? hahaha

2.) Clark… it’s paper! We know you’re Superman and all, but come on. Are you really so powerful you just overlook the simple solutions now? Tear tear crumple crumple… Ta-Da!

3.) X-Ray vision!? Think you better check that cowl another time, buddy. Just because you can see through the writing, doesn’t mean it’s not still there. Maybe he meant “heat-vision”. hahaha.

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