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Batman 113
"The Menace of False-Face"


Story: Bill Finger(?) Art: Sheldon Moldoff

(Originally Reviewed On 11/14/01)

There is a common thread linking a millionaire -- an indian prince -- a pop singer -- all are but stolen identities adopted by that master of disguise, who commits crimes under the name of False-Face! Even The Dynamic Duo are at a loss, as False-Face stands atop a laurel-wreathed mask, and hurls his 1,001 masks at them! At a Gotham City Jewelry Shop, The Eccentric Uranium Millionaire known as P.S. Smithington has just purchased The Queen Anne Necklace, The Black Pearl of Cairo, and Diamond Platinum Watch, and a startled clerk watches as he leaves without paying for the baubles, which the store owner assures the young clerk that the millionaire always spends a fortune there, then pays at the end of the month! (Holy Selegue, Batman!)

Two hours pass, and the real P.S. Smithington arrives, and is aghast at hearing about how he had already been there, especially since he had just arrived after his car broke down on the highway! At Stately Wayne Manor, The Bat-Signal shines in the night sky, as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson make a quick change, and at Commissioner Gordon's office, they learn of the latest criminal impersonation by False-Face! The Caped Crusader knows all about the disguise expert, who had assumed the part of an indian prince the week before, and got away with the crown jewels! He's stolen a rare book on Aztec culture while disguised as a historian, as well as being a sculptor and an architect! (Holy Brady Bunch, Batman! Did this Robert Reed dial C for Crook?) It's up to them to unmask False-Face, while incoming news about Wally Weskit, the crooner, being trapped in a hotel elevator, a situation which Batman recognizes as their chance to catch False-Face!

Knowing that False-Face makes a habit of making sure his victims aren't around to spoil his robberies, The Batmobile is heading for The Hampton Club, where The Caped Crusader believes that the Wally Weskit there will be False-Face! Sure enough, The Dynamic Duo see "Weskit" strike a false note, and charge the stage, with False-Face ordering his men to roll out the enormous barrel filled with charity funds, coins thrown by the adoring crowd! Two thugs begin to roll the barrel, as False-Face leaps atop it, only to be punched by Batman!

Riding the barrel, The Caped Crusader sees the waiting truck with False-Face's men at the wheel, and Batman knocks the barrel into a fence, foiling the theft! False-Face runs outside, shedding his western guise, and when The Dynamic Duo run around the corner, they see a doorman with the exact same trousers which False-Face was wearing! As Batman tackles the doorman, Robin figures that False-Face must have been a quick-change artist, as well! Unfortunately, Batman sees that there's no make-up on the doorman's face, and his mustache is real!

The Caped Crusader apologizes for startling the doorman, who understands that Batman wouldn't attack someone without a good reason! (Holy Lawsuit, Batman!) The Batmobile heads for home, with Batman realizing that False-Face deliberately wore trousers similar to the doorman's, in order to have more time to escape! Outside of Gotham City, False-Face's gang wonder how they'll be able to continue their crimes with Batman on their trail, but the master of disguise is confident that after their next job, The Caped Crusader will be history! The following day at Commissioner Gordon's office, both he and The Dynamic Duo overhear a phonecall from Arthur Crandall, the famous explorer, who has been locked in his game room! (Holy Milton Bradley, Batman!) With his trophy room barred, Crandall is unable to get out, and he's due to accept The Golden Tiger at The Explorers' Club! Commissioner Gordon assures him that his men will soon have him free, while ten minutes pass, and at The Explorers' Building, Batman has recognized the pattern and figures that False-Face is behind this act! On the podium, The Golden Tiger is being presented to "Crandall", who sees Batman out of the corner of his eye and smiles...

The crowd is surprised to see "Crandall" turn and run from the stage, which is no surprise for The Caped Crusader, who gives chase, up to the top floors of the museum, where on the top landing, False-Face is reaching for a sword from a suit of armor, and as he charges the criminal, The Caped Crusader leaps, only to pass under the crook, who had installed a hidden spring within the suit of armor to support him when triggered by his weight! (Holy Jenny Craig, Batman!) Batman is falling down a depth specimen tank, which is about 60 feet, and his keen detective's instincts are analyzing his predicament even then...

False-Face descends the ladder to see what remains of Batman after the fatal plunge, and a short time later, his gang sees False-Face carrying the unconscious form of Batman, intending to unmask him at the hideout and keep him as a hostage! Past the sewer pipes go False-Face and his gang, with the master of disguise intent on not wasting time! Past the abandoned quarry, and inside the hideout, the gang members watch as their boss unmasks The Batman, who is revealed as none other than... False-Face!

No sooner do they begin to realize that this was a trick by Batman, that Robin breaks down the door, then both he and The False "False-Face" make short work of the gang! The Boy Wonder found his way having listened to the directions given by "False-Face" on his utility belt radio! At Commissioner Gordon's office, Batman explains that he survived the giant tank by using his quick reflexes and grabbing onto the protective plastic covering, which enabled him to brake his fall, then use the emergency ladder, and pretend to have fallen all the way when False-Face appeared! Rendering False-Face unconscious, he used his diguise kit to impersonate Crandall, whom False-Face was impersonating! The Real False-Face is unmasked as a nervous, frightened criminal! (Holy Gould, Batman! This crook's got the "Shakes")

Ah, the giant props, the 1,001 masks of False-Face, and Batman's mastery of disguise serve him well in this adventure.

Batman unmasked? Well... yes and no! I always loved it when The Caped Crusader would outwit those who would try such a thing.

Batman attacks the doorman, thinking it's False-Face, but then apologizes for it, and rather than seek a lawsuit, the doorman realizes that The Caped Crusader would not do such a deed without good reason in the cause of justice as a duly-deputized member of the law. How times have changed since then...

On the 1966 Batman TV show, False-Face was played by Malachai Throne, the boss of Alexander Munday on "It Takes A Thief", as well as Commodore Mendez in the two-part "Menagerie" episode of Star Trek. Mr. Throne has also voiced the part of The Judge, a costumed vigilante using the scales of justice as his calling card on Batman: The Animated Series.

I first came across mention of this fun character on The Batman TV show, as well as inside the pages of one of those Limited Collector's Edition Batman tabloid-size books back in the '70s. It was just a name in a puzzle, I think by Bob Rozakis, and featured such names as Atomic Man, Kite-Man, The Gong, and False-Face. Heck, even Batman's Rogues Gallery have intriguing characters, even if you just hear the name, then try to visualize such characters.

This Review Is Dedicated To Bob Rozakis Many Thanks For The Happy Reading And Happy Memories.. Especially Those Daily Planet Pages With "Ask The Answer Man"

Steve Chung
"The Review of False-Face"