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Batman 182
"The Experiment of Professor Zero"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #24) July - August, 1966

Story: Unknown Art: Dick Sprang

The caped crusader is typing a plea for help! The message is being typed by Batman, as he jumps on the keys! The dynamic duo have been shrunk in size by Professor Zero, whose plans will menace everyone! The caped crusader and the boy wonder need aid swiftly in order to defeat... "The Experiment of Professor Zero" On the splash page, Robin warns Batman that the professor has come back... armed with a butterfly net!

In the Bat-Cave, two large bell jars are kept in the trophy room, as momentos of a classic crime case! (Holy Sylvia Plath, Batman!) For the dynamic duo, the bell jars are a reminder of a most unique experience... Robin wonders what would happen if they told the world about "The Pygmy Plot," but Batman knows that the world may not be ready for it, and he has already written it down in his case book! Case #1042 began when the caped crusader and the boy wonder spotted the bat-signal in the night's sky. Commissioner Gordon was waiting behind the bat-signal searchlight when they arrived... He tells them that Carlyle the banker has just called, and has a special case for them! However, Carlyle never showed up... with the commissioner at a loss to explain his absence, Batman and Robin head for his office! The banker is not to be found, but the dynamic duo have found something most unusual! Tiny footprints... as if someone had walked through the spilled ink from the desk well!

The boy wonder thinks it may be from a mechanical walking doll... or a baby! The caped crusader decided that they should head back to headquarters and inform Commissioner Gordon about Caryle's disappearance! By the time they reached police headquarters, the dynamic duo begin to black out... When they revive, Batman and Robin see that they are standing on a table... in a cabin where everything is giant-sized! The chairs are twenty feet high, and when the boy wonder sees that they are being held prisoner behind bars, the caped crusader notices the swinging bar... the feed box! They are in a gigantic parrot cage! The door opens, and in walks a giant, who seems to be about 30 feet tall, and his voice sounded like thunder! (Holy Bradbury, Batman!) Looking down at the captive duo, the giant considers them fools not to have figured out that everything in the room is normal-sized! It is they who have been shrunken down to pygmies... such as Carlyle, who is caught in one of the giant's hands!

Carlyle is placed in the parrot cage with the dynamic duo, while the giant walked away. The banker tells them that the madman is Professor Zero! He has found a way to shrink men down to pygmy size, and is using this discovery for extortion! The banker had recieved a letter from Zero, which demanded $100,000 or else he'd be reduced to the size of a nine-inch pygmy! (Holy Mego, Batman!) After calling Commissioner Gordon, Carlyle headed for police headquarters... when he began to black out! When the banker regained his senses, he found himself to be pygmy-sized! In his office, Carlyle found Zero and a henchman waiting for him! After demanding the $100,000 to restore him to normal, the professor hears that Carlyle has notified the caped crusader about his bizarre scheme! Zero attempted to knock Carlyle off the desk, which explains the spilled ink! Before Carlyle can continue, Zero's hand enters the cage, and seizes Batman and Robin!

On the deck, Professor Zero orders his henchman to stuff the dynamic duo into a sack and throw them overboard, but Beefy relents... since they are so small... and he hasn't got the heart! The professor does the job himself! As the water begins to fill up the sinking burlap sack, Robin suggests that they use the explosive from the utility belt to escape. Batman knows that the explosive has also been reduced in size, and wouldn't have any more power than a pistol cap! However, the caped crusader has something hidden... Batman hacks a hole in the burlap with the sharp object found in the parrot cage! The bird had had a pedicure, and the boy wonder is impressed by the parrot claw being used as a knife! An old paint brush serves as the dynamic duo's raft, with Batman spreading his cape to serve as a sail! Robin suggests that they alert the authorities when they arrive on shore, but the caped crusader knows that they don't dare show themselves! If the underworld knew they were helpless, they would begin a reign of terror, and Professor Zero mustn't learn that they're still alive! Climbing onto the pier, Robin hopes that they find Professor Zero's laboratory for the cure, and Batman recalls that the packing crates on deck were marked with clover... meal worms! They are zoo-plate specials -- animal food!

The caped crusader knows that hippos eat clover... lizards eat worms! Professor Zero must be experimenting on animals, too! Batman recalls a private zoo at 45 Turnpike Road! Robin knows that it'll take days for them to walk there at their size! As they begin to cross the street, the boy wonder is almost flattened by a speeding car's tire, the vehicle is as a dinosaur to the shrunken duo! Peering from a hydrant, the dynamic duo soon spot street peddlers, who are selling Batman and Robin mechanical dolls! Since business is slim on this particular street, the peddlers decides to move uptown to thirty-fourth street! As the peddlers pick up their merchandise, Batman and Robin impersonate their mechanical doubles, and are taken along for the ride! Inside the worn valise, air allows the caped crusader and the boy wonder to breathe, with Robin wondering when they'll wake up from this bad dream, and Batman assuring him that it's the real thing! (Holy Coca Cola, Batman! Robin finds it hard to swallow!) The street peddlers set up shop on the new street, and before the dynamic duo can escape... they are bought by a mother for her little boy!

Stuffed in the shopping bag, Batman and Robin are carried along with other purchases, as the mother went on a shopping trip at a department store! A coffee can is breaking the boy wonder's back, while the caped crusader has seen the woman's name and address in her purse! Batman promises to refund the mother's money for the "dolls" later! The two leap from the shopping bag and into the coat pocket on a rack being pushed by a floor clerk! Once the coats have been delivered to the shipping room, and while the clerks were out to lunch, the boy wonder operates the space bar, while the caped crusader leaped from key to key - of a typewriter! Luck is with them, for a shipping label had been left on the roller for them to address! Batman pastes on the label, while Robin makes some air holes for the empty container with a swiss knife! (Holy UPS, Batman!) The package containing the dynamic duo went along with the rest of the shipment - and were delivered to Professor Zero's home! Beefy receives the package, thinking that it must contain more equipment, and places it in the store-room! Shortly, the caped crusader and the boy wonder sneak out of the store-room... and have found Professor Zero's laboratory! Robin spots Carlyle... and other prisoners! Batman sees Gresham, the financier... and Parnell, the auto-magnate! They've become pygmies, too!

Both men refused to pay Zero, and were told by the scientist that they would remain small for three days after paying him - in case of a double-cross! The professor has taunted them with knowledge of the antidote, just as Zero returns! As the dynamic duo seek to run from the two giants, Zero orders Beefy to club them with a chair, but the henchman is unable to cope with the sight of their small size! Sickened by the henchman's sentimentality, and seeing himself as a practical man, Professor Zero guns down Beefy! (Holy He's dead, Jim, Batman!) As the henchman's body hits the floor, Batman and Robin are caught by Professor Zero, then placed in two bell jars! The pump will draw the air from the bell jars... leaving the caped crusader and the boy wonder in a vacuum! Batman's bell jar has the professor's watch, so that he can see his life tick away! (Holy Timex, Batman! The caped crusader is taking a licking!)

The professor has left the room, with the dynamic duo each attempting to tip over their bell jars, but the outside air pressure keeps them sealed! Batman reaches for the watch, and opening the back! The caped crusader sees that the old fashioned watch has jewel movements... and jewels can cut glass! He'll have himself and Robin free in minutes! After freeing the boy wonder, the dynamic duo climb down the table, and hear from Beefy that the reducing ray is on the roof! Now Batman knows that Professor Zero used a shrink ray, but the henchman has died before he could tell them more! Zero must have heard them freeing the others, because they heard the thunderous footsteps fast approaching! The next sound of thunder comes from Professor Zero's gun... BLAM! Robin is knocked unconscious by a piece of floor, then the scientist's heel descends towards them!

The caped crusader slams into the boy wonder, a split-second before Zero's shoe can connect! The professor reaches for his shot-gun, with Batman retreating , and the gun barrels trained on him like twin cannons! Yanking the fan switch and flipping pepper from an open shaker before the whirling blades, the caped crusader blinds Professor Zero! The scientist stumbles into a wall - and then the shot-gun makes a sound... of thunder! Baman sees that the buckshot has gone into the professor's body! (Holy Buck Stops Here, Batman!) The professor is dead, and the only one who knew how to prepare the antidote has doomed his victims to remain pygmies forever!

The shrunken victims peer up at the bottle of antidote on the table, and know they still have a chance! Batman and Robin climb up, while the others wait below... It will require the strength of all of them to lower the bottle with the pencil sharpener and thread! The boy wonder is unable to budge the cork! Removing the hood from the pencil sharpener, the caped crusader has converted it into a winch! (Holy MacGyver, Batman!) Even so, it's hard work lowering the heavy bottle! Far too heavy for the thread, the bottle falls under its own weight... and crashes to the floor! Seeing the antidote dashed before him, Carlyle seeks to drink from the piece of glass with liquid in it! Gleefully, he tells the others that he won't remain a pygmy as the others will! Believing that he could make more antidote, Batman analyzes the remaining drop under a microscope, and sees that it's... nothing but colored water! Without an antidote, they would seem to be doomed!

The professor would have restored them to their normal size in three days, but now there would seem to be no hope! The caped crusader knows better, since there wasn't an antidote, Professor Zero was going to pretend to give them an "antidote!" Even without the scientist, they'd have returned to their normal size! Batman knows that the reducing ray must have been flawed - the effects lasting only three days, and then wearing off! This is why Zero demaned payment within three days! The caped crusader's theory proves to be correct! After three days have passed, all were restored to normal, and the dynamic duo went in search of Professor Zero's shrinking machine! They hope to find it before someone else discovers it and uses it for evil purposes! Batman recalls the events common to all the victims, then shows them an enlarged picture of the area of police headquarters! At this spot, all were shrunk by Professor Zero! His suspicions confirmed, the caped crusader finds the machine, concealed within the one place where no one would think of looking for it... in the Bat-Signal Searchlight atop police headquarters! Batman explains that Beefy would sneak to the roof and aim the searchlight from there, and Robin knows since the ray was invisible black light, they've never see where it came from... a very clever plan! In the caped crusader's casebook, he notes that no matter how clever a criminal may be, he'll alway end up losing -- either his freedom... or his life! That evening, the dynamic duo smashed the machine and ended for all time, the case of "The Experiment of Professor Zero!"

A giant typewriter figures in the story and for Batman, it's more than a mere prop, it's a means of communication!

Twin bell jars are among the momentos stored in the trophy room of the Bat-Cave.

A gigantic parrot cage would prove to be a temporary prison for the dynamic duo, and with no newspaper to line the cage! (Holy Marville, Batman!)

Professor Zero reminds me of Albert Dekker's role in the movie, "Dr. Cyclops."

A Mr. Zero would later tangle with Batman and Robin, before changing his nom du crime to "Mr. Freeze!"

The caped crusader and the boy wonder prove that they can indeed fight their way out of a paper bag... or a burlap sack, as the case may be.

In the '70s, Mego came out with 8-inch action figures of the various heroes and villains from D.C. and Marvel. As a child, Batman and Robin were among my favorites.

The Golden Age Batman is quite an honest crimefighter, promising himself to refund the mother's purchase of the "dolls" she got for her son.

An automobile magnate was also a victim of crime in "Batman, Junior and Robin, Senior" in this very 80 Page Giant.

With the clock ticking, the caped crusader manages to come up with a way to escape this most unusual death-trap.

Professor Zero is quite a heel, even as to attemp to stomp on Robin to prove it!

Batman finds his biggest fan and uses some pepper to blind the giant scientist.

The Bat-signal was used as a weapon against the dynamic duo, and in Detective Comics #466, The Signal Man uses it as a death-trap on the darknight detective, himself!

This Review is dedicated to Bat-Fans: Bob Hughes, Ken Rothstein, Corrina Lavitt, and Rich Goldberg.

Steve Chung
"The Review of Professor Zero"