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Batman 250
"The Batman Nobody Knows!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND July, 1973

Story By: Frank Robbins Art By: Dick Giordano Edited By: Julius Schwartz

Outside of Gotham, three kids from the ghetto are deep in the woods -- the guests of millionaire and philanthropist Bruce Wayne. They have their first taste of smog-free air and first look at nature... and their first lesson into the unknown. Around the campfire, one asks what's the sound they're hearing, and the other tells him that it's just an owl! The third boy figures that Ronnie had a lucky guess because the only birds he's ever seen were jail-birds and snow-birds! Ronnie tells Ziggy that there's lots of things that he doesn't know about, but Ziggy knows it's just a bat they see flying past the moonlight. Mickey isn't impressed with his fellow campers, and tells them that was the Batman, himself... in person! Bruce asks if Mickey is sure about it -- since they're in the woods, and far from Gotham. The boy tells the millionaire that the Batman is everywhere -- and nowhere! (Holy Savoir-Faire, Batman!) He also says that Batman isn't even human!

In proving his claim, Mickey tells them that if you've ever seen the Batman, you'd discover that he's so big -- that he'd blanket all of Gotham City! (Holy Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Batman!) The boy continues that the Batman has x-ray eyes, can see through walls, and nothing can escape him! Batman can walk through walls -- as if they didn't exist! The others wonder how someone as big as a city could shrink down in size to enter a building... and Mickey smiles, for its just like he said... Batman ain't human! Bullets would pass through him like they were nothing, but when the Batman uses his fists on the bad guys, they'd go flying through the walls head-first!

Ziggy is sure that what Mickey doesn't know about Batman could fill up an entire book! When Mickey asks what they dig about it -- that he doesn't? Ronnie is sure that Batman is a real cool dude and that there's nothing mysterious about him... except in his approach towards crime! This Batman comes equipped with fancy gadgets, flies on shiny, plastic wings which run on motors -- jet-propelled by minature rockets! He finds out about crimes being committed by using an electronic tracking device. Bruce asks if Ronnie sees Batman as a super-modern crime-fighter, and the boy insists that he's not a Superman, but one down-to-earth hip-dude! This crime-fighter is a mix of the fighting skills of Muhammed Ali -- the toughness of Jim Brown -- the street-wise determination of Shaft-- and Super-Fly in one!

Ziggy thinks that Ronnie makes Batman sound like a "Brother," and for Ronnie, what else would a cool dude like him possibly be? Now it's Ziggy's turn to tell them what he has heard from the Horse's mouth... Willie The Horse, as a matter of fact! Mickey has heard of the convict who was caught by Batman, and he hangs out on Ziggy's block, telling the kids the inside scoop -- to keep them out of trouble, he says! Bruce smiles and figures that perhaps the boys will receive a clear picture about what he's really like. As Willie told it... he was jumping around the rooftops, and looking for an easy-entry... when all of a sudden -- from nowhere -- comes a giant shadow in his path! It was ten feet tall! With long bat's-ears -- which would be able to hear a crime for miles! This is how he must have spotted Willie -- even though the con was wearing sneakers!

"The Horse" wasn't going to go down easy -- not without fighting! He rushes the figure and uses a shoulder-block to knock him off the roof! This doesn't deter the Batman, though, because he bounces from a clothesline below... Bruce winces and knows that Willie embellished his story in order to make himself look good! Him "ten feet" tall with "bat's-ears"... and now his batrope becoming a convenient clothesline! While the millionaire philanthropist suffers in silence, the other boys ask Ziggy what happened next! The Batman comes up like a bat out of hell, landing an uppercut on Willie -- in mid-air! The con doesn't know what hit him -- until he wakes up in front of the Judge! As the con tells them -- never mess with The Batman!

Ziggy finishes his story and is convinced that's what the real "Batman" is like! Ronnie figures that a con-man like Willie "The Horse" isn't someone you'd take a straight story from... Mickey is skeptical, then suggests they ask Mr. Wayne what he thinks, since he's kind of a grown-up... The boys wonder where he's gone to, and from beyond the campfire... from the darkness, his voice tells them that he thinks... The real "Batman" looks like THIS! They watch as he leaps into their view, and are... unimpressed! Ziggy tells him that he's too big for that kind of kid stuff! Ronnie tells him that it can't be, and that every guy who puts on a costume thinks he can be the real "Black Batman!" Finally, Mickey tells him that if he wants to play, he'll be on his own, because he'll be turning in... As the boys slumber peacefully in their sleeping bags, he watches over them, and knows that the Batman's fierce image may terrify the superstitious, cowardly lot of Gotham... but not the innocent!

The bat flying by the moon makes for a cool version of the Bat-insignia. This effect is seen in the first Burton movie with the Bat-Plane soaring upwards towards the moon.

"Legends of The Dark Knight" was an episode of the animated series where three kids speculate on what the Batman is really like. We're treated to tributes and homages to the '50s version of The Batman, Robin, and The Joker, as well as Frank Miller's Dark Knight, and finally the current version, which melds the wry wit and gadgetry of the '50s version with the fierce intensity of the Dark Knight.

Mickey's version of Batman resembles Man-Bat in appearance, more bat than man. A sight which would no doubt render criminals with fear!

Ronnie's version of Batman is a hi-tech hip '70s Afro-Avenger, armed with the latest gadgetry, and not shy about using his fists to take down the crooks in a street brawl.

Ziggy's version of Batman comes from a second-hand source, a small-time hood who wants to make himself look good, and although this version is closer to the real one, it is as if there is no man in the costume, just an annoyance to shove off a roof-top.

When Bruce decides to show them what the real "Batman" looks like, all the jaded kids can see is a grown-up who has long since seen his last Halloween.

Whenever I visualize the character in my mind, the Dick Sprang version is there, as is that of Sheldon Moldoff, and Neal Adams, too, but my childhood favorite, the one I saw first would have to be the Irv Novick/Dick Giordano one.

The three kids are right in some ways, Batman can be scary to the criminals who don't expect to get caught in Gotham City, he does use hi-tech gadgets and is well-trained in the fighting arts.

The costume doesn't make the man...Bruce Wayne does.

From comics, to radio, to television, to the movies, Batman has been all things to all people, and the sight of him, as well as his rogues gallery should be proof that everyone knows The Batman.

Indeed, when I was a kid in the '70s, it was fun going trick or treating as the Caped Crusader, as well as watching him on TV, whether it was the live-action series or animated Filmation cartoon, as well as his appearance with Robin on Super Friends, he's one of my childhood favorites.

Steve Chung
"The Batman Nobody Reviews!"