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Batman 176
"Catwoman, Princess of Plunder!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #17) December, 1965

Story: Unknown Art: Unknown

After midnight in Gotham City, a gunman surrenders to The Dynamic Duo on the ledge of the town clock tower. Morning in Gotham, finds The Catwoman reading about The Caped Crusader's capture of the last of The Thorn Gang, and his vow to bring in The Feline Felon, as well. She has an idea, then sends out letters to members of the big rackets, who will certainly be interested in her plan. Two days pass, and in a field located on the outskirts of Gotham, the recipients of Catwoman's letters are gathered in one spot, just as an irate, elderly farmer emerges from behind a tree, and trains his shotgun on the trespassers. The "farmer" removes the mask, and The Catwoman greets her guests, and lets them in on the details of her scheme. She has decided to make Batman into a laughing stock so that the racketeers' men won't be afraid of him. To the racketeers, this is a feat beyond price, but they wonder... how will Catwoman manage to pull it off? She declares to the assembled crooks that her natural feline cunning is easily superior to Batman's cleverness, and since The Caped Crusader has vowed to catch her, she will match wits with him! At Stately Wayne Manor, Alfred brings the morning paper, and Mawster Bruce and Dick see that Catwoman is on the loose, and has issued a challenge to The Caped Crusader. Not one to back away from such things, Bruce accepts her challenge.

Bruce, Dick, and Alfred see in the newspaper how Catwoman has revealed the routes and times of her arrival and departure. Her first stop is Pittsburgh on the 7 a.m. train, and Dick wonders if this could be a trick, but Bruce knows that Catwoman is on the level, and that this is something that Batman can't afford to overlook! Dick points out that Catwoman will be in disguise and that it will be difficult to find her among the other passengers on the train, but Bruce remembers that the Pittsburgh train carries only two coaches. The following morning finds a crowd at the train station, each hoping to see Batman and The Catwoman boarding the train bound for Pittsburgh! (Holy Contino, Batman!) As the train pulls out, an elderly man is standing by the water-cooler, and eyes those who are getting a drink of water, then discards the paper cups. In the baggage room, Dick eyes the paper cups with a magnifying glass, as the disguised Batman eyes The Catwoman's thumbprint on the seventh cup, which belongs to an elderly lady in a green hat! (Holy Cat In The Hat, Batman!) In the rear coach car, an elderly gentleman meets up with an equally elderly and quite startled lady, who recognizes her nemesis, then runs away, with the disguised Caped Crusader warning her not to jump off the train at this speed!

Batman pulls the emergency brake, and tells Robin that Catwoman leaped from the train, and went over the bridge! What the two crime-fighters don't know is that The Feline Felon has her men set up a net for just such an emergency! Sometime later, The Dynamic Duo come across the net, and thirty minutes later, Batman and Robin are on the roof of a building in Pittsburgh, with The Boy Wonder pointing out that they can't possibly search all of Pittsburgh for The Catwoman, but The Caped Crusader has noticed the water route to Nashville, Tennessee, towards Ohio, and leading to the Cumberland River, where Nashville is located. (Holy River Runs Through It, Batman!) In Catwoman's letter, which was printed in the newspaper, she is to take the Southern Maid steamer, and both don new disguises for the trip. The Boy Wonder is now disguised as "Lulubelle" and Batman is "her" Papa, whose mischevious little girl can go around and uncover Catwoman's disguise! As the steamer makes its way through the muddy waters of the inland, "Lulubelle" has covered the boat three times, and has spotted a woman wearing a wig... However, this is an innocent wig-wearer, and not The Catwoman! When Lulubelle's "Papa" offers to apologize for his daughter's behavior, the startled matron slaps him across the face for his improper upbringing of the child. (Holy Child Labor Laws, Batman!)

"Lulubelle" smiles as "she" admits that the wrong wig was pulled, but "Papa" figures that perhaps The Catwoman didn't necessarily disguise herself as a woman. "Papa" tells "Lulubelle" to look up so that others will also look up to see what they're staring at, and "Lulubelle" wonders how this will enable them to find Catwoman? It isn't long before "Papa" Batman charges at a young man, who is curiously lacking an Adam's Apple, and is none other than The Catwoman! Thugs rush to aid Catwoman, with Robin shouting a warning, but Batman is struck a blow on the head, and the last thing he hears is Catwoman's appointment at The Greek's in Nashville. The disguised Caped Crusader is pitched onto the paddle wheel, but Robin, having shucked his disguise, manages to swing to his mentor's aid, only to have a hand reach out of a porthole, and cut their lifeline with a knife!

With the disguised Batman unconscious, and no time to swim around, Robin dives with the unconscious Crusader, then makes for shore, where Batman removes his disguise, then makes plans for Catwoman's next stop. When Robin tells him about overhearing The Feline Felon asking the crewmen to meet her at The Greek's for payment in helping her to escape, The Dynamic Duo have an hour in Nashville before she is to make her leave by plane. Using his binoculars, The Caped Crusader eyes the state house, and its Greek architecture, with The Boy Wonder figuring that Catwoman wouldn't dare meet the men there when she's wanted by the law, and Batman is reminded of Centennial Park, where there is a reproduction of The Parthenon! At Centennial Park, on the site of The 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, Batman disguises himself as one of the crewmen, while Robin intends on stalling the thugs if they arrive, and in the darkness, the disguised Crusader greets The Catwoman, who gives him the payoff... a gun pointed at him, for the men who aided her were not aware that she was The Feline Felon!

She points out that his latest disguise hasn't been of much help, but Batman is confident that the game isn't over yet! Catwoman warns him not to follow or she'll shoot, but he can't let her get away! Both are poised, while outside, The Boy Wonder is on the watch for Catwoman's hired hands, and the sound of a shot is heard, sending Robin racing for The Parthenon Building! Knowing that Batman doesn't carry gun, The Boy Wonder is expecting the worst, but he finds his partner a little worse for wear after using a Batarang to snatch the gun from Catwoman's grasp, but yanked too hard, and the gun struck him on the head, with enough time for her to escape! Catwoman is now on a plane for Miami, then Long Beach, California, and quick romps to Las Vegas, Nevada, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Chicago... and after a week... A hoods convention in Gotham, where the rackeeters and their men have been monitoring Catwoman's progress, but wonder if The Feline Felon has been sticking to her route. The leader smirks, and tells them what they'll see next should put an end to Batman's rep for good!!

Crime photographers have been following Catwoman's progress, and the slides they have taken should show the hoods of the crime czars that The Caped Crusader has been cowed! In Las Vegas, Nevada, Batman fails to stop Catwoman from making her getaway on a horse. In Miami, he also fails to stop her from getting away in a waiting speedboat. In New Orleans, The Catwoman and The Caped Crusader shake hands at what seems to be the end of the chase, but she grabs some overhead railing, then kicks Batman in the jaw to make her exit! The crime czar assures his men that when The Feline Felon arrives to give her report of how she outwitted The Masked Manhunter, they won't be a superstitious cowardly lot anymore! On the outskirts of Chicago, Catwoman is about to take off from a meadow, with Batman attempting to climb one of the plane's wings, but he fails... or has he? Robin wonders why The Caped Crusader had him hang back, for if he had been there, they would have caught her for sure! Batman smiles at The Boy Wonder, for they've succeeded, even with Catwoman's latest getaway... which is exactly what he wanted her to do!

He didn't mention how he could've have caught her a dozen times since their encounter in Florida, and he's deliberately allowed her to escape! Batman knew that being vain wasn't the reason for Catwoman wanting to ruin his reputation, and with the participation of others in her escapes, he also knew that things were worked out in advance. A large crime organization must be behind her, and The Caped Crusader wanted Catwoman to lead them to her employers! When Robin points out that they won't be able to catch up with her plane, Batman shows him that Alfred has arrived with The Bat-Plane, in answer to his mawster's call! In the air, Robin wonders how they'll be able to find Catwoman's plane in order to follow it, and as they spot it, Batman tells his old chum about the transmitter he planted on the side of her plane so that they can track her by radio beam! In an open field outside of Gotham, Catwoman lands her plane, to a villainess' welcome from the waiting crooks, but they are in for a surprise as The Bat-Plane swoops over them, and casts its dragnet to snare the thug and The Feline Felon, herself! At Stately Wayne Manor, Dick sees Bruce reading the newspaper, and notes that Batman's reputation is still of a grim nature, and even the millionaire playboy admits that it seems to be too grim, for every Gotham crook will think twice before trying anything for quite some time!

This adventure was part of a Complete Sunday Newspaper Syndicated Story from 1946.

With all the discussion on cats, I felt it was appropriate to run a review on The Catwoman, who leads Batman and Robin on a merry chase.

During their adventure, The Dynamic Duo find themselves in Pittsburgh, home of mild-mannered (who am I kidding?) Pulse writer Jen Contino.

The bit where the disguised duo look up and cause Catwoman to reveal the flaw in her disguise was also used by E. Nelson Bridwell in The Power Records Batman album, which also featured adventures with The Joker, The Scarecrow, and The Riddler. My mom got me the album back in 1977, and it was a delight to hear Batman and Robin match wits with their Rogues Gallery. It had a back and front cover art by Dick Giordano. On the front, Batman is looking at The Bat-Signal, and on the back, he is swinging, and is surrounded by four of his greatest foes.

My cousins had the Power Records Six Million Dollar Man album, but I kept listening to Batman's adventures, which even had my non-comics reading cousins tuning in, as well.

The use of information, such as The Parthenon in Nashville, makes me think that Bill Finger was the writer of this adventure.

I'm guessing that Jack Burnley was the artist on the story, but I could be wrong.

On Earth-2, The Caped Crusader would marry The Former Feline Felon, and writer Alan Brennart would use reprinted stories from another Batman 80 Page Giant, such as The Spinner's giant tops, and Catwoman's Cat-Plane to provide The Dark Knight Detective with an Interlude On Earth-2."

Steve Chung
"Catwoman, Princess of Review!"