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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – One of Batman’s Most Convoluted Plans to Protect His Secret ID Ever

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.

This week we look at one of Batman’s most convoluted plans to protect his secret identity ever. A hint – it involves a rainbow colored costume.

Edmond Hamilton wrote it, Sheldon Moldoff penciled it and Stan Kaye inked. It is the lead story in 1957’s Detective Comics #241 and it has an awesome front page….

Okay, so here is the set-up…

And then based on that, Batman begins wearing a different colored outfit each day while they check out the TV cameras to see if Robin recognizes the crooks…

On and on it goes, even including a target costume (which, of course, gets shot at by the crooks)…

Finally, the rainbow outfit!!

And why was Batman doing all of this?

All that just so that no one would POSSIBLY notice that Robin wasn’t moving his arm and then think that he must be Dick Grayson because Dick Grayson injured his arm. That’s a whoooooole lot of effort for something like that.

But, it DID give us Rainbow Batman, so it is all worth it in the end!


I like the bit where the crook is gloating that wherever Batman shows up in his newly colorful uniforms, he attracts every eye in the place. Like, normally, you see Batman, you don’t give him a second glance. But Batman in a candy apple red outfit, now that! That is something you want to take in.

See, this is why it was so much simpler when Batman’s strategy was, “So, you’ve found out my identity, eh? Whoops, look out, you just fell off a tall building! What a shame.”

“Was it red like an apple, or red like a radish?


That rainbow costume is FABULOUS! :)

So rainbow Batman worries them with his queer costumes. Holy innuendo Batman.

Yeah, I was going to say, “queer costumes”, the rainbow getup. There’s even a parade there. And Morrison is apparently getting flak for saying that the Batman has a gayness to it…

Man, I knew the reason for the costumes, but I don’t remember that I actually read this story before. I must have seen something about it.

@buttler: nice!

Yeah, that did have some themes in there, but I liked it.

Also, do you think the writer just wanted Batman to wear the colorful outfits so he would use that “Theres no pot of Gold at the end of this Rainbow?” I mean I was dumbstruck and no one could possible use that line in any moment in comics….

…..Grant Morrison could, though, yes he could.

If this had been published in any decade except the 50s (or maybe the 60s), Batman would’ve just left Robin at home to heal. Even if only Robin can identify the crooks, Batman has made-up technology that can let him see what’s going on from the comfort of an easy chair.

But it’s not like the arm was in a cast. Was Batman really worried that someone would notice Robin wasn’t doing much with his arm when all he’s doing is standing there anyway? That would take some insane powers of observation. Or why didn’t Batman consider, given his somewhat bizarre reasoning here, that perhaps someone would think, “Wow, check out Batman’s crazy costume! I wonder if Robin’s wearing something goofy, too. Wait, he looks normal. Hey, that kid’s not using his arm, and only one kid in Gotham has an injured arm!”

interesting that batman to protect his and robins i.d he would resort to costumes. when he surely knew people would be wondering if he had gone mad. all because robin injured his arm.

A truly great silly Batman story! This issue also boasts one of my favorite covers of all time.

I feel like this story could’ve gone badly. If everybody thinks Batman is going crazy, and then they notice that Robin’s arm is injured, they’re gonna think he did it.

"O" the Humanatee!

April 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Of all the colors in the rainbow, “target” is my favorite.

I was kind of hoping that this story would hinge on the fact that the new TV camera had different color sensitivities than the older ones, so that by wearing differently colored costumes, Batman could detect when the new camera was being used. That idea doesn’t really make sense with the plot for a number of reasons, but still….

All jokes aside, Sheldon Moldoff’s art is cool! I don’t see anyone draw like this anymore. Great stuff, corny as it is!

I am vengeance! I am the night! I, AM, FABULOUS!

You know when you consider how expensive superherorie is as a hobby, and how may local millionaires happen to live with young wards, you kind of have to consider that Bruce and Dick’s identities were always on the brink of being discovered. I mean, really, if there is a short list of who batman is, Bruce is definatly on it. so a little extra vigilence is needed.

You just KNOW Grant Morrison is figuring out a way to bring back that rainbow costume even as we speak.

I’d seen the cover but never knew THAT was the story behind it. Normally, I do find this kind of silliness fun but OMG, that’s probably the most inane excuse for Batman to choose to wear different outfits everyday. Still, thanks for sharing that story!

As silly as it (intentionally) was, the version of this story on Batman: The Brave and the Bold made more sense.

I seriously don’t mind rude comments, but creating multiple accounts to make rude comments? Nope.

I always wondered why they had the rainbow costume in the Batman: Brave & the Bold video game

A peculiar thing about this story is that the cover makes it seem as though Robin himself doesn’t know why Batman is wearing different outfits, while in the actual story, he’s in on the whole thing (makes sense, since he’s responsible for what Batman had to do).

Surprised he didn’t resort to wearing the kilt again.. Or if he really wanted attention, just borrow Batgirl or 50s Batwoman’s outfit from the Bat-Laundry bin!

“In an instant, Batman becomes a rainbow of dazzling action!”

I’m pretty sure they came up with the whole story just so they could write that sentence.

Oh, like there aren’t a LOT of crimes you could do with a portable TV camera. Batman just needs to use his imagination.


“Try and stop me, Bat-FOOLS!”

The white costume with the target on the chest is my favorite one–it’s like he’s tellinng the crooks to shoot him there! These suits remind me of the silly, multi-colored costumes that Batman has worn, and continues to wear, in his varigated toylines.

“See, this is why it was so much simpler when Batman’s strategy was, ‘So, you’ve found out my identity, eh ? Whoops, look out, you just fell off a tall building ! What a shame.’ ”

No, Buttler, In Batman # 48 ( August / September 1948 ), a criminal found his way into Wayne Manor, discovered the way down to the Batcave, and figured out who Batman and Robin really were . He met Batman and Robin, expkained that he knew their secret identities, and inhaled some poison gas . Batman was all ready to give him an antidote . Robin wanted to let him die ( “You’ll only be saving him for the electric chair ! He might as well die now and protect our secret identities !” ) .

Batman said something to the effect of “No ! We have to save his life, even if it means the end of Batman’s career !” . Batman gave this criminal the antidote, and he recovered and gloated about how he was going to expose Batman’s secret identity and end his career . He stumbled into an underground body of water and drownd before Batman or Robin could save him .

“inhaled some poison gas…stumbled into an underground body of water and drownd”. Worst. Criminal. Ever. Probably would have forgotten to breathe if the story had gone on much longer.

Right, it’s not Batman’s fault. Everyone just… happened to die when they found out who he was. And that’s not scary at all.

Based on Proud’s description, the poison gas was in Wayne Manor.

Which means Buttler was right all along.

Batman played good cop, Robin bad cop, while they both whistled innocently and tried to cover the “POISON GAS RELEASE” valve back up again.

I had to take out my copy of Batman # 203 ( July / August 1968 ) where this story is reprinted to get the details straight in my mind . The criminal in question was on the run from the law, took refuge in Wayne Manor, knocked Dick Grayson out cold, discovered the way down to the Batcave, and figured out who Batman and Robin really were . He offered to keep Batman’s identity a secret if he’d give him a Batman costume for a disguise .

He looked for a weapon in the Batcave and tripped one of the Joker’s weapons or “one of the Joker’s more deadly practical jokes”, and got a faceful of poison gas . Batman tried mighty hard to save his life, and he did give him an antidote . Batman finally had him cornered, but he bragged about how he was going to expose Batman’s secret identity and laughed out loud, disturbing the bats in the Batcave . These bats flew down, and made him lose his balance and fall into the “underground body of water” I mentioned earlier . Before Batman or Robin could rescue him, the current carried him away, and his dead body was found “in the East River downtown”, which was “miles away” from Wayne Manor .

Batman never said “You found out my secret identity, so you have to die !” and killed somebody or stood by and let somebody die . When somebody learned Batman’s secret identity, that person usually somehow died through no fault of Batman’s . Joe Chill in Batman # 47 ( June / July 1948 ) is another example .

An unusual example is Bruce Wayne’s great — uncle, Silas Wayne, from Batman # 120 ( December 1958 ) . Uncle Silas reprimanded Bruce Wayne for failing to live up to the example of their brave and adventurous ancestors . Bruce Wayne finally arranged to make it look like he risked his life to disguise himself as Batman in order to help him capture a gang of criminals . In addition, he revealed his secret identity to his uncle Silas on his deathbed, and convinced him that he kept Uncle Silas Wayne’s beloved family tradition all along . Silas Wayne died through no fault of Bruce Wayne’s .

I read about a Canadian hero named “the Penguin” . THIS Penguin wore a tuxedo and a penguin mask to fight evil . Part of his legend was the rule “No man may see the Penguin’s face and live !”, and, in fact, anybody who saw the Penguin’s face somehow died soon afterward .

At one point, I watched the 1966 Batman movie with a friend of mine . There was a scene where the Catwoman ( Lee Meriwether ) pretended to be a visitor from another country, and she asked Batman and Robin “Can we see the faces under your masks ?” . I said “No man may see the face of Batman and live !” .

I basically think the “No man may see the face of Batman and live !” trope is a good idea . You can believe it’s a major coincidence or “the workings of Fate”, but it adds a certain element to Batman’s mystique . It might not be too scary, but it’s cool . I know Batman killed a few people in the early 1940s, but that was soon “forgotten about” . I really think Batman SHOULD have a strict carved — in — stone of not killing when he’s fighting crime .

If Batman’s rule is “You found out my secret identity, so I have to kill you !”, why shouldn’t he say “You’ve committed all these crimes, so I have to kill you !” ? Why shouldn’t he say to the Joker “You’ve killed all these people, so I have to kill you !” ? If Batman kills every criminal who comes along, it’d cut down on the repeat offenders, but it’d mean he couldn’t have any regular enemies, and a hero’s regular enemies are part of the fun of comic books .

Wait, so a dude finds out that Bruce Wayne is Batman – BILLIONAIRE Bruce Wayne! – and his first idea is to blackmail BATMAN into giving him a disguise so he can further his career as a two-bit thief. He was too dumb to live anyway.

I am, however, now terrified of LOLing in a cave. Friggin’ bats!

Now we’re on the same page, Steve ! There’s another example of a villain who found out Batman’s secret identity . He was Floyd Ventris, also known as “Mirror — Man” because he used mirrors for weapons in crime . Mirror — Man was similiar to the Flash’s enemy, the Mirror Master . In Detective Comics # 213 ( November 1954 ), Mirror — Man used a “two way electronic mirror that X — rays anything covered by cloth” to find out Batman’s secret identity .

To protect his secret identity, Bruce Wayne put a story in the “Gotham Gazette” covering all the times when people have concluded that Bruce Wayne is Batman . When Mirror — Man tried to expose Batman’s secret identity,, his henchman show him the newspaper article and explain to him that he’s only repeating a mistake that has been made many times before . Batman and Robin soon captured Mirror — Man and returned him to prison .

In Batman # 157 ( August 1963 ), Mirror — Man escaped from prison and went right back to trying to expose Batman’s secret identity . Batman, Robin, and Alfred Pennyworth carried out an elaborate ruse to make it look like Bruce Wayne and Batman appeared in the same room, rendering Mirror — Man’s knowledge of Batman’s secret identity invalid .

It’s too bad there was never an issue of The Brave and the Bold where Batmna and the Flash teamed up to fight Mirror — Man and the Mirror Master .

[…] basieren auf Detective Comics #241 (Cover oben) und der Story The Rainbow Batman, hier komplett auf Comicbook Resources. Ich gehe mal davon aus, dass sie sich den richtig bunten Regenbogenbatman für später im Jahr […]

[…] The reasons for the constant wardrobe changes is kept a mystery throughout until Bruce tells Alfred his costumes were meant to deflect attention away from Robin’s injured arm so people wouldn’t figure out Dick and Robin were one in the same. Why Batman applies this strategy and not, say, any other thing is never revealed. You can read the story in its entirety here. […]

I like how Batman just goes climbing into peoples’ convertibles. “Don’t mind me, just checking your cameras!”

Doug Glassman

May 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm

New head-canon: Robin’s broken arm in this issue is why Batman eventually decided to extend the Bat-Family beyond just the Dynamic Duo. This was a lot of time and expense to go through when he could’ve just got Batgirl to swap in as his partner for a couple of weeks.

Mark J. Hayman

May 28, 2015 at 6:24 am

Poor Ace. To him it was all just shades of grey.

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