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Batman 176
"Caveman At Large"

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

Story: Bill Finger (?) Art: Sheldon Moldoff

(Originally Reviewed On 04/05/02)

The Bat-Cave is the nerve center of The Dynamic Duo's war on crime, and so far, only The Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder have ever entered these caverns, which have been untouched since The Stone Age, but now, an intruder has found The Bat-Cave, a primitive savage being, clad in an animal skin, and now, Batman And Robin must meet "The Caveman At Large." Within The Bat-Cave, Batman and Robin are in the trophy room, where a new souvenir from a successful crime case is being examined. Robin is surprised that the criminal hollowed out the stone head in the club, and placed a powerful explosive inside it! The Caped Crusader tells how the crook gave it to the natural history museum, where the head of the anthropology department worked, the man he hated! The Boy Wonder asks if they should remove the explosive, but Batman tells him that its time for them to patrol Gotham City in the Batmobile.

A movie called "Stone Age Man" is being filmed, and the lead actor named Carlin is applying the makeup which will enable him to live the part. As the carmeras roll, Carlin begins his role of Goth, and charges the mechanical mastodon, when a chunk of tusk is broken and strikes him on the head. The studio doctor is called and tends to Carlin, who revives and believes himself to be Goth, who uses his great strength to escape his captors! Seizing a spear, he flees through the studio door, while the studio doctor tells the director that the blow to the head has Carlin convinced that he is a caveman! As The Batmobile patrols Gotham City, the news bulletin concerning the runaway thespian is heard on the radio, and The Dynamic Duo resolve to find Carlin and take him to a hospital for treatment.

No sooner are the words spoken that the hulking figure of a caveman is caught in the Batmobile's headlight beams, and Carlin/Goth believes it to be a huge beast which is attacking him! Carlin/Goth hurls the spear at the Batmobile, but Batman manages to steer the vehicle away from him, causing it to fall off the side of the hill, and Carlin/Goth referring to himself as the slayer of beasts. Carlin/Goth sees more headlights approaching, and decides to escape the arriving beast pack. The Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder are alive since the Batmobile was designed to take crashes, and now they begin to seek Carlin's trail. The search yields nothing, and The Dynamic Duo drive back to The Bat-Cave, where Batman tells Robin to go into the house and listen to the police alarms for news of Carlin's capture. Carlin/Goth, the modern caveman has found a new cave and prepares to explore his new home.

In Stately Wayne Manor, the warning bell of The Bat-Cave is heard, and youthful ward, Dick Grayson knows that it's the electric-eye alarm, and millionaire Bruce Wayne knows that means there's an intruder in the Bat-Cave! Changing into their fighting garb, Batman and Robin descend the stairs leading to the Bat-Cave, only to be caught in snares, and are soon hanging upside down, while Carlin/Goth gloats about outwitting his captives, and prepares to examine his new home. Carlin/Goth begins to smash the lab equipment, while Batman prepares a distraction by swinging like a pendulum, reaching the trophy room door, which is flung open... revealing a purple dinosaur robot! (Holy Barney, Batman!) While Carlin/Goth charges the robot Tyrannosaurus, The Dynamic Duo free themselves from the snare.

Carlin/Goth throws his spear into the dinosaur robot, then seeing Batman and Robin charging him, resolves on getting a new weapon... the stone age club with the explosive center! If Carlin/Goth strikes anything with the club, there will be an explosion. Seeing that the dinosaur and the "bird-men" are ganging up on him, Carlin/Goth seizes his club and seeks escape, with The Dynamic Duo in pursuit! The chase through the limestone caverns ends when Batman and Robin spot Carlin/Goth, and The Caped Crusader tells The Boy Wonder to use his bat-flashlight, which Batman hopes Carlin will think is a prehistoric pterodactyl, and distract him long enough for him to reach the caveman! Carlin/Goth is taken aback by the bat-image cast on the stone wall, and Batman leaps upwards towards the ledge!

Batman exerts his strength by gripping Carlin/Goth's arms, which the savage actor is determined to free at any cost! During the scuffle, Carlin slips and bangs his head against a stalagmite, but the club is falling over the ledge! Batman races to the ledge and misses it, but Robin manages to catch the club before it can strike the ground! Both turn and see Carlin begin to revive, his memory returned, and they carry him swiftly upstairs before he realizes he's in the Bat-Cave and deduces their true identities. Bruce and Dick greet the startled actor, who is told that he was found wandering on the road with a nasty crack on the head, but he's all right now. Carlin turns and sees the grandfather clock striking twelve, then realizes he's been wandering around all night, but he can't remember what he's done or where he's been! Bruce winks at Dick, and both are relieved that the Bat-Cave is still their secret.

In World's Finest, Batman, Robin, and Superman would be turned into cavemen. In Superman, The Man of Steel would find himself on a planet with a red sun, surrounded by cavemen. Anthro would make appearances in Showcase, then have his own title by Howie Post.

An actor named Paul Sloane would impersonate Two-Face. Basil Karlo was the original Clayface in the Golden Age. Lyla Lerrol was an actress from Krypton.

A blow on the head would make a man named Carlin believe he was a caveman. Perhaps this would explain a certain miniseries featuring Doc Magnus and The Metal Men trading places, with one becoming a robot and the others turning out to have been human, and not the responsometered robots we had known and loved.

Goth is also the name of a Titans villain during Devin Grayson's run on the title.

A purple dinosaur would be seen on a cover of a 1969 cover of Adventure Comics, with The Legion searching for Superboy, whose costume is being chewed on, and this particular dino would have teeth made of Green Kryptonite.

Stalagmites and stalactites played a role in the origin of The Atom in Showcase #34 (September/October, 1961)

In a 1970's Justice League 100 Page Spectacular, a villain named Anakronos would claim to have teamed with The Lord of Time and have used his time-spanning powers to turn The JLA into cavemen, then into protoplasm!

When this review first ran, it had Bob Buethe ROTFLMAO and Chris Juricich began a interesting debate about favorite and least favorite retcons, with Mike Carlin's Metal Men miniseries being the "winner."

This Review Is Dedicated To Bob Buethe, Chris Juricich, and Greg Schienke

Steve Chung
"Reviewer At Large!"