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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Batman’s Moron College Friends

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. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we look at a fun story by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris where we get to meet Batman’s moron college friends…

First off, right off the bat in this tale from Batman #96, we get the great yearbook page for Bruce Wayne…

Most likely to succeed as a detective? Priceless.

Bruce’s detective skills are not used particularly well in this story, though, as he shows up for the cruise with his friends while no one has figured out that the cruise was sponsored by Joe Danton, some jerk that they knew from college…

I just love that Batman figures that this will work. Batman will just show up and that will be that. “Oh, Batman’s here. That makes sense.”

Conveniently, of course, for the first time, like, ever, Batman’s gloves come loose…

I love how freaked out that dude is. Good job by Moldoff and Paris.

This is pretty badass. Batman swimming ahead of the ship and exploding the mines. But, of course, no Batman comic is any good if there is not an exploding shark in it…

And finally, to cap off how dumb his friends are…

“Bruce was gone and then Batman showed up out of nowhere. Now Bruce is back and Batman disappeared…WHILE WE ARE OUT ON THE OPEN SEAS!!!!” No wonder they thought so highly of Bruce’s detective skills, if you could figure out how to open a door, you would look like a genius to these guys.


Travis Pelkie

July 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

And THAT’S why Batman carries shark repellant!

The sad thing is that Bruce bought that yearbook page himself. Such a low self esteem he had.

Has that scar ever been seen since then?


July 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

I love that blurb on the first page. Nevermind Henri Ducard or Lady Shiva or any of that crap, he learned how to be Batman in college!

“Bruce was gone and then Batman showed up out of nowhere. Now Bruce is back and Batman disappeared…WHILE WE ARE OUT ON THE OPEN SEAS!!!!” No wonder they thought so highly of Bruce’s detective skills, if you could figure out how to open a door, you would look like a genius to these guys.

While this is indeed dumb, it’s such a convention/trope in superhero comics that you can do a segment on it over and over with almost any random comic story. I just read one where Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy and JJJ all went to the Savage Land, Peter disappears, Spider-Man appears, and no one still figures it out.

Can you do one of these with a more recent book. MY favorite one of these bits you ever did was Avengers Unplugged.

This installment also reminds me of a question I wanted to ask for a future installment of When We First Met. I’m reading old Batman comics and making my way to the Silver Age. I was wondering, when did Batman’s origin become international and exotic and filled with various mentors. At first his origin seemed like he did it all in Gotham and was largely an autodidact. We see him lifting weights alone, hitting punching bags, using test tubes.We find out he went to regular college. It seems the early consensus was that he always lived in Gotham and that his training was mostly self-taught and through college. When did the globetrotting and international array of mentors start?

How would Batman know Hodges is a skin diving fan?

Funny thing is, that may have been one situation where Bruce saving the day wouldn’t have stood out too much. He’s on a boat with people who know him as the star athlete, honor student, most likely to be a detective guy. They know him as a team player. He stood out enough that they gave him a full page of praise in the yearbook.

The other funny thing is, his reason for changing to Batman never really comes into play. He changes so that he can take charge of the panicking passengers, but catches Danton before even dealing with them. He does calm down a single panicking guy afterward, but if you’d just had Bruce Wayne save you from a gun-toting mad man, you’d probably listen to Bruce Wayne too.

interesting how the guys were so panicy that no one ever bothered to sink how did batman suddenly appear and bruce is gone plus start to think about how batman vanished off the yacht with out making some noise. plus love the shark showing up

I’m no certified Batman expert, but I think the globetrotting, exotic training began to take shape sometime during Dennis O’Neill’s run, possibly with some elements put in by the likes of Len Wein, Steve Englehart &, Marv Wolfman in the seventies. That’s the period when the modern Batman we know and love really began to take shape. There are hints of Batman’s previous activities in Frank Miller & David Mazuchelli’s ‘Year One’, but that’s all they are: hints.
Henri Ducard, though, interestingly enough was actually invented by the co-screenwriter of Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’, Sam Hamm for the ‘Blind Justice’ story that appeared in a three parter around the 600th issue of ‘Detective Comics’. Lady Shiva was created by Dennis O’Neill, along with other characters like I-Ching, who first appeared in his famously misjudged, Kung Fu inspired, take on ‘Wonder Woman’. To be fair, the run wasn’t as bad as some people make out, and even has a kind of wacky dated charm, like when you watch some cheesy 60’s spy movie where everyone talks funny and all the sets are in multi coloured studios with swirling psychedelic lighting.
Anyway, I now digress, so I guess that’s all I can tell you, T. ;oD

Frankly this ain’t all that strange.
It is by today’s lights, when Batman is all broody and bitter and if he had gone to college he’d have been voted “Guy most likely to become a hermit” and where of course he’s better at everything than the best of the best of the best so can’t possibly have training like anyone else. (and when he’d never ever be able to take a break from his duties) But back when he simply very very good at everything, and had a personality resembling a human being, having normal training and experiences wasn’t that implausible.
And as T points out, not putting the pieces together about secret identities hardly unusual in the DCU or MU.
That being said, it’s a fun story and I’m glad to read it.

Mentors … I know he had Harvey Harris, one of the country’s top detectives to teach him detective work back in a 1950s story. And one of the world’s top boomerang experts. Can’t think of any others.
The I Ching era ranged from reasonably entertaining to really mind-bendingly awful. Now that Bucky’s back, I think I Ching’s the only character who’s never been resurrected even once.

I Ching actually appeared well before Kung Fu hit the TV screen.
And was Shiva ever Batman’s mentor before the Knightfall aftermath? I don’t remember, but I wasn’t an enthusiastic fan during that period so I might have missed it easily enough.

T:”I just read one where Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy and JJJ all went to the Savage Land, Peter disappears, Spider-Man appears, and no one still figures it out.”

T, are you talking about AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 103-4? If so, that one was handled in a more believable manner. No one except Ka-Zar actually saw Spidey (Jameson caught a fleeting glimpse, but he wrote it off as his imagination getting the best of him),Heck, in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 96, Robbie seems to put two and two together regarding Peter Parker and Spider-Man both being in London at the same time.

I like to imagine this is how Goofus and Gallant ended up as well.

Travis Pelkie

July 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm

@Fraser, I Ching actually played a role in Morrison’s run, both in the Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul and in RIP. The implication certainly was that he had played a role in training Batman.

Thanks, Travis, I had no idea of that. The gates to the afterlife are truly wide open then.

Lady Shiva debuted in the awful Richard Dragon series, not Wonder Woman…

Sean asks – “Has that scar ever been seen since then?” I’m mildly surprised Morrison hasn’t shown the scar and revealed that Danton is the mastermind behind the latest crime spree/attempt on Batman’s life.

If I had a bunch of guys I wanted to kill trapped on a boat, and I had a high-powered rifle, and I had a commanding perch in the crow’s nest…uh, well let’s just say this story would have been shorter.

I really thought the climax would involve Danton’s habit of showboating and refusing to take orders from authority figures. As it stands, my just-shoot-them-all plan isn’t any less poetic than the published version.

It’s just a darn shame that ships don’t carry some sort of an anchoring mechanism that would prevent them from drifting along on the current into disaster. Like a…what’s the word I’m looking for?

Danton, the secret of Batman’s identity is not going to die with you, since there are other, still living people who knows it. Like Batman himself, for example.

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