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Batman 176
"The Fox, The Shark, And The Vulture"

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

Story: Bill Finger (?) Art: Sheldon Moldoff

(Originally Reviewed On 12/4/01)

The Dynamic Duo come up against The Underseas Eel -- The Burrow Machine -- The Pilot Fish, only a few of the incredible weapons used by The Terrible Trio of The Fox, The Shark, And The Vulture! Entering a bank vault on the splash page, Batman and Robin watch as The Terrible Trio break through the floor, aboard their burrow machine! (Holy Groundhog Day, Batman!)

Gotham City Airport, where a special plane has just taken off to begin a world tour, and aboard her, an unseen hand hurls gas pellets at the unsuspecting guards! The odorless gas fills the compartment, leaving the guards unconscious, and The Vulture to push the casement in front of the pilot's cabin, then get to work! The gold bust of Washington will be for the underground market, but The Vulture's thoughts are interrupted by the pilot tapping on the cabin door, while The Vulture places his loot in a bag, then parachutes out of the plane! (Holy Nevermore, Batman!)

Above Gotham City, The Bat-Signal shines in the night skies, and Bruce Wayne, with his youthful ward, Dick Grayson spring into action! The Dynamic Duo head for the Bat-Cave, listening to their shortwave radio, and hear about The Vulture, one of The Terrible Trio, who has struck again! Splitting their forces, Batman flies the Bat-Plane, while Robin drives The Batmobile! The Caped Crusader recalls what happened the last time they came across The Terrible Trio just three days ago, with The Gotham City Bank employees in a panic when the entire bank began to shake!

Not a natural phenonmenon, but a byproduct of The Terrible Trio's Burrow-Machine, which enables them to reach the underground vault, courtesy of The Fox's invention! The Fox's devices are for committing crimes on land, while The Shark's machines have mastered the sea, and The Vulture has conquered the air! When The Dynamic Duo arrive to check out the vault, they see the burrow machine returning below ground, with a rear porthole where The Terrible Trio see Batman and Robin in pursuit! Opening the porthole, The Fox hurls a bomb at them, which Robin knows will cause the tunnel to cave-in, but Batman grabs The Boy Wonder's arm...

BOOM! Hours pass, and Commissioner Gordon and his men finally reach them, thinking The Dynamic Duo dead, they are very much alive, having used the broken drain pipes to breathe after the cave-in! From the Bat-Plane, The Caped Crusader sees The Vulture and The Fox chasing after the parachuted loot, intending to load it in the burrow machine, and before he can land, they'll be gone, but the giant bottle display gives him an idea by frightening the criminals...

The Bat-plane soars round and round, its vibrations causing the giant bottle to shatter, a sound which The Fox mistakes for shellfire, and soon he and The Vulture race for The Burrow Machine, without the loot! Once Batman has landed, he and Robin see The Terrible Trio burrowing underground again, but The Boy Wonder uses The Batmobile's Sonic Range Finder, as planned! Using the device, they detect The Burrow Machine about 20 yards ahead and below them, as they head for the bay! The device stops recording their progress once they've reached the bay, and Batman has them break out the aqua-lung to pursue The Terrible Trio! Beneath the surface, and communicating with each other via radio, The Dynamic Duo see another fantastic machine, and swim toward it...

Batman intends to hitch a ride on the machine, while Robin sees The Burrow Machine being swallowed by The eel-like contraption. Inside the underwater device, The Fox sees Batman and Robin seeking to cling to the hull, but The Shark switches on The Eel Shocker! An electrical charge flows through the Eel Machine's hull, with Batman telling Robin to pull the lung inflation switch, due to the shock! Once the two crime-fighters have surfaced, Robin compliments Batman on knowing that they wouldn't have been able to move had they not used the safety lung, while The Caped Crusader knows that in their state of shock, they wouldn't have been able to regulate their aqua-lung breathing! At Police Headquarters, Commissioner Gordon tells them that the department has been stonewalled by the trio of criminal inventors, who uses their devices to commit crimes on land, sea, and air, and wonders how they can be stopped! Batman knows that The Terrible Trio must have a hideout, and that is the way to smash them, while Gordon considers it practically impossible...

The Commissioner regrets that they can't detect a pattern or lead, but The Caped Crusader has just gotten a thought, and recalls that The Shark was the first to strike, with a millionaire cruise ship carrying a fortune in treasures from all over the world, which was scuttled by a Giant Swordfish Machine, and divers stole the cargo underwater even before anyone was aware of the crime! The next crime occurred on land with The Fox, while The Vulture has committed theft in the air. Even so, Commissioner Gordon scratches his head, but Batman knows that the next crime which will be committed by The Terrible Trio will be at sea, since they are robbing in rotation!

At the city shipping office, The Commissioner wonders how The Dynamic Duo will be able to determine which ship will be robbed by The Terrible Trio, but Batman is confident that they will have the jump on the crooks! A pre-arranged plan of The Caped Crusader will be a big surprise for The Terrible Trio... if it works! Down the coast, The Terrible Trio read about a king's ransom in relics being shipped from a tomb in Egypt, and while they have the cargo plans, that doesn't mean they've completed the theft! The Vulture points out if the crime is committed at sea, the water will destroy the relics, but The Shark heads for his Shark Cave to work out the plans for this latest raid! The Terrible Trio, whose hide-out is a lighthouse, comes equipped with The Vulture's Sky Nest, The Fox's Den, and The Shark's Cave, with a subterranean cave for The Eel Machine!

The following day finds the S.S. Cairo making her way to the U.S., unaware that The Swordfish Machine is poised beneath the bow, and inside the craft, The Fox wonders how The Shark is going to steal the relics without scuttling the ship, but The Shark introduces his pilot fish, which like its namesake, clings onto the ship via suction cups, making for an airtight attachment! Passing through the airlock, and the hull, The Terrible Trio enter compartment #4, where The Fox sees the relics ripe for the picking, and each prepare to carry the load! Once done, The Swordfish Machine pulls free of the ship!

Aboard the S.S. Cairo, the crew discovers that the cargo has been plundered, but Commissioner Gordon is confident that The Dynamic Duo will succeed with their own plan! One hour later, The Terrible Trio bring their loot to The Shark Den, where The Shark calls for a celebration for their crime of crimes, while The Fox suggests that they tally up the relics. Opening the sarcophagus, The Fox advises caution to The Vulture, who notices that the mummy's wrappings are rather fresh, then a fist strikes him on the beak, while Batman and Robin shed their disguises, and confront the Trio! The Fox figures that they've been outfoxed by The Dynamic Duo, who have found their lair, but The Shark plans to use his flying sting ray to attack them! Using the control panel button, The Shark watches the giant sting ray head for Batman and Robin, with The Caped Crusader using his batarang to stop the flying device, while his fist sends The Shark to sleep, and the other two for the second round...

The chase continues upstairs into The Fox Den, where Batman sees the shadow of The Fox trophy head move, and advises to hit the floor, then hurl Bat-grenades! Bullets come from The Fox Trophy's eyes, but The Bat-Grenades make short work of it! At the top in The Vulture's Nest, Batman figures that The Vulture's devices are going to be used against them, and the criminal plans to unleash his vulture robots, but The Caped Crusader hurls a Bat-Dart at the lighthouse control board, which turns off the light, preventing The Vulture from launching his robot birds, but enabling Batman and Robin to tackle The Vulture and The Fox! When the police launch arrives, Commissioner Gordon tells them that the minature radio set signals were clear enough for them to follow, while The Dynamic Duo managed to topple The Terrible Trio!

The Terrible Trio, a name also used by Handsome Harry Phillips, Bull Brogin, and Yogi Dakir in Strange Tales #129, and like the other group, a combination of forces which encompasses land, sea, and air!

The use of business suits and animal masks makes for a simple but effective appearance for the villains, who make crime their business.

It doesn't matter that we don't know who they are, we know them by their namesakes.

Another group similar to The Terrible Trio are The Unholy Three, including The Ape-Man, The Cat-Man, and The Bird-Man, who were brought together by The Organizer, then by The Exterminator, whose T-Ray in Daredevil #42 would cause him to be trapped in another dimension, only able to manifest himself for three hours at a time, and stealing an experimental death's-grip device from A.I.M., the transformed Exterminator would become Death-Stalker, who would learn of Daredevil's true identity and attempt to kill The Man Without Fear!

The Original Unholy Three were killed in Iron Man #116, save for Croaker and Dragonfly, who were mutated by Count Nefaria and were used to fight The New X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #94 - 95.

The Terrible Trio appeared in one episode of Batman The Animated Series, with Bill Mumy as the voice of The Fox.

They had their own entry in Who's Who, with art by Dave Gibbons (I think), and appeared in one panel of Batman: Black And White, with art and story by Brian Bolland.

Steve Chung
The Fox, The Shark, The Vulture, and The Review"