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Batman 195
"The Spark-Spangled See-Through Man!"

Gardner Fox (Script), Sheldon Moldoff (Pencils), Joe Giella (Inks)

The cover of this issue asks, "Can you imagine a villain so EVIL... so MENACING... that even BATMAN shrinks from him...!"

Well, yes I can. But this guy sure wasn't him.

The story begins as burglar Ned Creegan breaks into the suburban laboratory belonging to one "old man Logan," an eccentric scientist. Creegan learned from "Billy Blabbermouth" that Logan has been buying up expensive jewels, and Creegan means to get his hands on them. He finds Logan in his lab, staring through a glass panel into a room filled with an eerie purple glow. Creegan knocks Logan out, and looks into the other room to see... a dog, a goat, and a chicken, all bathed in purple light from a gem-encrusted lighting panel on the ceiling. Creegan helps himself to the ice, and heads for a pawn shop owned by underworld fence Charley Rivets.

Unknown to them both, Charley's shop has been under surveillance by the Dynamic Duo. A brief but pun-filled brawl follows, which is interrupted when Batman and Robin are stunned by the sight of Creegan's clothing and flesh becoming transparent, leaving him with the appearance of a purple skeleton. He lashes out at the heroes, to discover that he now has an electrical touch that shocks them into submission. Robin tags the new villain with the truly terrifying name, "Bag O' Bones," before slipping into unconsciousness.

Realizing that whatever happened to him must have something to do with the gems, Creegan returns to the lab where Logan is just coming to. Logan explains that he's been working on a drug to prevent radiation poisoning in the event of a nuclear attack, which he then plans to sell to the highest bidding nation. The gems were treated to give off a radiation simulating nuclear fallout, and the animals were his test subjects. He gives Creegan a pill that temporarily neutralizes the skeleton effect, and just in time... because every second that Creegan spends in skeleton form shortens his life by one day. Creegan spent about 20 minutes as Bag O' Bones, meaning that he's just lost four years of his life.

Logan agrees to provide Creegan with a supply of pills, if Creegan will agree to become Logan's test subject. Creegan goes along with this, on the condition that Logan also create a batch of pills that allow him to become Bag O' Bones at will. He decides it's worth the danger if he can have the power to stun Batman and Robin with a touch.

Back in the Batcave, the Dynamic Duo examines one of the jewels that Creegan dropped in the scuffle. They discover it's coated with a radiation similar to that given off by a nuclear bomb. Not only that, but the jewel also carries a powerful charge of static electricity, which Batman demonstrates with ping pong balls attached to strings, which are repelled when they're lowered near the stone. Determining that Bag O' Bones' powers are based on static electricity, Batman plans his defense.

Robin recalls from his physics class that a glass rod rubbed with silk picks up a positive electrical charge, and a hard rubber rod rubbed with fur becomes negatively charged. And "like charges attract -- opposite charges repel!" (Obviously, Dick didn't ace that physics exam, and Bruce is too polite to correct him, but don't worry... they get it right later.) Batman makes himself a pair of gloves from fibreglass and silk, and Robin from rubber and fur. That way, when they next encounter Bag O' Bones, one of them will be ready with a fist that will be attracted right to him.

Two nights later, Creegan is robbing the Gotham Mercantile Bank, and becomes Bag O' Bones for half a minute to stun the guard on duty. The Caped Crusaders get the call from the Commissioner, but are on the other side of town and unable to get there in time. But three nights after that, the Batmobile's radar scope, tuned to the frequency of the gem's radiation, detects their foe in the Nature Museum. They charge in, and Creegan swallows a purple pill... no, not Nexium, but the formula that turns him into Bag O' Bones. Robin rubs fur against rubber and charges at the villain, but is flung backwards, proving that BOB is negatively charged like his glove. But that means that Batman can move in to attack. His fibreglass-encased hand grabs the skeletal figure... but his plan has worked too well, and his hand is stuck. He manages to slide it off, hurling BOB to the floor in the process. The fight continues until Batman, using a stone statue as an insulator, knocks BOB off balance and lands a deciding blow. The duo is about to bore holes into a mummy case to carry their prisoner to police headquarters, when Creegan tells them not to bother... just help him find the white pills he dropped during the fight, and he'll go peaceably.

A search of the room fails to turn up any pills, and a panicky Creegan begs for help. After bringing Creegan to police HQ, the heroes pay a visit to Nevil Logan's lab. Logan, deciding that Creegan snitched on him, sics his trained lab animals on Batman and Robin. The experimental animals have the same skeletal appearance and electrical powers as BOB, so Batman finds himself fighting a positive dog and negative gorilla, and Robin faces a negative eagle and positive wildcat. (I have no idea what happened to the goat or the chicken, but I'd pay to see that fight.) A bit of judo results in the wildcat and gorilla getting stuck together and likewise the eagle and the dog. Batman forces Logan to prepare a new batch of white pills, and takes the scientist into custody.

Some months later, Ned Creegan is found guilty in court and sentenced to twenty years... which he realizes he'll probably never survive, since he spent so much time in skeletal form. But he doesn't blame Batman for his circumstances. He holds a grudge agains Logan, who wasted time fighting Batman instead of listening to him. Of course, Logan points out that it was Creegan's own fault for stealing his jewels in the first place. And Batman notes that Logan will be allowed to continue his experiments in the prison lab, though any discoveries he makes will belong to the United States.

One of the letters in this issue's lettercolumn should interest two of our members. A fellow named Tony from Cleveland had nothing but praise for Batman #191, "The Day Batman Sold Out," and its great villain, Ira Radon. (I never read that story myself. Anyone want to do a review...?)

This Tony fellow must have been just as impressed with the villain of this issue. A decade later, Ned Creegan returned to battle Black Lightning, in the guise of the Cyclotronic Man.

-- Bob