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Batman 77
"The Crime Predictor!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND June-July, 1953

Script: Edmond Hamilton
Batman and Robin figures: Bob Kane
Pencils: Lew Sayre Schwartz
Inks: Charles Paris

In the age of the machine, there are electronic calculating machines that can predict tides, weather, and elections with ease. But could such a device predict a crime? Could it gather data and foresee criminal activity? Here is the tale of the bizarre rivalry, the duel of detecting between a mechanical brain and the Caped Crusader in the case of..."The Crime Predictor"

On the outskirts of Gotham City, Dr. Edward Arvin is preparing to reveal his invention to a gathering of law enforcement officials. They have been gathered here because the machine must be kept secret, and if the underworld should learn of his crime predictor, they'll stop at nothing to find it. Commissioner Gordon is grateful to have another weapon against crime. Arvin's predictor works electronically. When criminal statistics are fed into the machine via tape, it mathematically predicts the future behavior of any known criminal. Since Gordon would like to get his hands on "Mugs" Wilden, he asks what the criminal will be doing next. The power is turned on and the electronic brain answers. From an evaluation of Wilden's method of operation, and reviewing data on banks, payrolls, and possible loot, the following prediction is made. "Mugs Wilden will rob Gotham Ball bearing payroll tomorrow at nine A.M.!" His own identity must be protected and the machine may expose it. Batman would like to see in private, if it can identify him. Not having thought of it, Dr. Arvin shows the Caped Crusader how to feed the questions into the machine on paper tape, and only he will know the answer. When the others have left the building, the answer to "who is Batman?" "Insufficient data... but facts indicate Batman is a rich man, with no job or business to hamper his crime fighting career!" The Boy Wonder sees just how close the predictor came to the answer, but the Caped Crusader regards it as a logical guess. The next question is, "Who is Mr. Blank, the secret boss of Gotham City?" "Insufficient...data... but Mr. Blank's knowledge of criminals implies a long criminal record!" Robin sees that this is another logical answer, but Batman knows that this is not helpful. The Boy Wonder goes outside to get Dr. Arvin and Commissioner Gordon back inside. The Caped Crusader asks the crime predictor what Mr. Blank's next crime will be.

"Mr. Blank will next murder Batman!" The Boy Wonder sees the answer and doesn't like it one bit. Dr. Arvin assures the Dynamic Duo that the predictor is always accurate, and advises caution. In the Batmobile, Robin can't see how a calculating machine could predict crime, and neither can the Caped Crusader. Dr. Arvin has nothing to gain by trying to commit fraud, and especially since he offered his invention to the authorities. The Dynamic Duo will be at the ball bearing company tomorrow morning. The following day finds Batman and Robin arriving at the ball bearing company. The Boy Wonder figures that it's foolish for them to be there, but the Caped Crusader hears something inside. An employee informs them that a robber is in the payroll office. At exactly nine A.M., the machine's prediction has come true. Within the factory, "Mugs" Wilden is waiting for them, and hurls a box of ball-bearings at the two heroes.

Batman is able to dodge the ball-bearings, but Wilden turns on the assembly-line belt of ball-bearings in reverse, and the monstrous bearings are heading for him. The Caped Crusader manages to deflect the giant-sized ball-bearings back at Wilden. "Mugs" is asked if Mr. Blank is his boss. He's not, but "Mugs" Wilden wishes that he had thrown in with him when he had a chance. Back at Commissioner Gordon's office, the Commissioner is ready to pay another visit to Arvin and his machine. Despite being more interested in Mr. Blank, the Dynamic Duo agree to head to the laboratory with him. Outside, Gordon asks Batman if he's not jealous of the predictor for predicting a crime. The Caped Crusader assures his friend that he never lets his feelings interfere with his work. If the crime predictor can help prevent crime, then he's willing to be in second place to it. At the laboratory, Dr. Arvin hopes that the Wilden crime has convinced them that the prediction of Mr. Blank murdering Batman is real. The Commissioner asks the machine to predict the next crime to occur in Gotham City.

"Boyar Mob will take jewel shipment from sealed car today three P.M.!" The Caped Crusader figures that they should be ready for this particular crime. At the very time foretold by the machine, a daylight robbery is underway. As they wait for Boyar, the Boy Wonder hopes that the Mr. Blank prediction doesn't come true. Batman spots the criminal heading for a sealed express car. Before he and his gang can reach it, the Dynamic Duo along with half the police department make their presence known. Boyar enters a locomotive cab and makes for a roundhouse. With Robin helping the police in rounding up the gang, the Caped Crusader leaps for the cab after Boyar. Batman is blinded by the steam, but the Boy Wonder hurls his rope over a beam. The next seconds find Robin saving his mentor in time. The Caped Crusader blames himself for not noticing that the locomotive had steam, and was raring to go. They must catch Boyar before he leaves the yard.

The second time's the charm, with Boyar running out of steam, and Batman stopping the locomotive. When the rest of his gang are gathered up, one of them says to his boss that they should have joined in with Mr. Blank like Robey had. The Caped Crusader knows about Rog Robey. In the crime laboratory located in the Bat-Cave, Batman search for the file on Robey, and knows that he has been lying low since he was paroled. The Boy Wonder knows that if his mentor gets mixed up with Mr. Blank, he may die. The Dynamic Duo look over Robey's record card, picture, fingerprints, bertillon measurements, and other information. His main hobby is bowling, and may also serve as a lead to his whereabouts. Robey's personal effects were sold to pay the fine when he was jailed. Now that he's a free man, as a bowler, he'd want a new bowling ball. The ball would have to be made to fit the bowler's hand. The bertillon file contains Robey's hand measurements and will also aid in locating their man. After visiting some bowling supply stores in Gotham City, they learn that a new bowling ball with the selfsame measurements was made for a Mr. Jon Martin at 44 Pine Street. The Dynamic Duo decide to pay a call on "Jon Martin." In the cottage at 44 Pine Street, Robey protests his innocence, but the parolee is found with a gun in his possession, and this would be enough for any court. While the Caped Crusader holds him, the Boy Wonder binds him. Robey doesn't know who Mr. Blank is, but he's a big figure in crime now that both Wilden and Boyar are in prison. With Mr. Blank as his boss, he's not afraid of Batman. Leaving the parolee in the other room, Batman and Robin enter the next room.

The Boy Wonder realizes that Robey won't talk any more about Mr. Blank, but the Caped Crusader has got a plan to make Mr. Blank talk. Using his makeup skill, Batman disguises himself as Rog Robey. Such a thing could be dangerous if Mr. Blank should see through his disguise. While the Caped Crusader checks out Robey's belongings, the Boy Wonder will take the real Robey to police headquarters. Robin reminds his mentor that the predictor hasn't made a mistake yet. When the Boy Wonder has left with Robey, Batman sees that the parolee didn't leave anything written down, and finds a strange smear on his topcoat. The dark oil is used to keep sea divers' suits supple, and a salvage company would make good cover for a criminal selling stolen goods. The Caped Crusader phones salvage companies, identifying himself as Rog Robey. On the third try, Robey's name gets the response that Batman has been waiting for, and he heads for the salvage company where Mr. Blank is undoubtedly the boss.

While driving Robey in the Batmobile, Robin suddenly has second thoughts, and decides to check out the predictor. Parking the Batmobile with Robey in the passenger seat, the Boy Wonder enters through the back way, and plans to ask the electronic brain how Mr. Blank plans to kill Batman. In the laboratory of Dr. Arvin, Robin sees that the inventor is gone, and the predictor has been wrecked. The underworld must have learned of the predictor and the machine will answer no more questions. Neither will the Boy Wonder, who is struck from behind by the mysterious Mr. Blank. At the Acme Salvage Company, Batman disguised as Robey awaits the arrival of Mr. Blank. Many important members of the underworld are present at the meeting, and the Caped Crusader must be careful if they should learn that he's not Rog Robey... The masked master criminal enters, informing those present how it was Dr. Arvin's crime predictor that placed Wilden and Boyar in prison. Since he's taken Arvin prisoner, Mr. Blank demands that they accept him as their boss. If not, he'll release the inventor, who will no doubt build another crime predictor machine to catch them all. That's well and fine for them, but what about the predictor machine that was already built?

While wrecking the machine, Mr. Blank picked up a surprise guest, and asks Robey to bring him out. Seeing two Robeys present, Mr. Blank informs them that the real one was found bound in the Batmobile, and the other one is the Caped Crusader in disguise. If he wants Robin in one piece, he better not try anything. The various members of the underworld are torn over how to dispose of the Dynamic Duo, but Mr. Blank decides that a compression-chamber will do the job, just as well. The chamber is used to keep deep-sea divers under high compressed air pressure when they come up, and that way they don't get the "bends". The two will be placed inside and the pumps turned on. When the pressure is suddenly opened up and dropped, the sudden drop will take care of them for good. Unseen by the others, Batman's hand moves behind his back, and opens the valves on the acetylene tanks behind him. Since some of the hoods are smoking cigarettes, this will be their only chance. With the two crime-fighters locked inside the chamber, the Caped Crusader removes his disguise, and the Boy Wonder regrets checking out the predictor. When the pumps begin to throb, air is forced into the tank, and Robin realizes that he may have been the one to cause the dread prediction to come true. It is then that Batman informs his partner about the valves on the acetylene tanks which were standing behind them.

As the thugs gather around the chamber in anticipation of what's about to happen, they notice the smell of acetylene in the air, and start to put out their cigarettes. BOOM The gas ignites, with the chamber's door torn open, and the Dynamic Duo protected by the steel chamber from the shock of the explosion. While the Boy Wonder hurls a diving suit at one of the hoods, the Caped Crusader grapples with Mr. Blank. When the authorities arrive, summoned by the explosion, they see that Mr. Blank has been caught. Commissioner Gordon asks about the whereabouts of Dr. Arvin, then watches as Batman unmasked the master criminal as Dr. Arvin. The predictor was a phony, used to frighten the underworld into accepting him as their undisputed boss. The Caped Crusader realized this when he heard Mr. Blank blackmailing the others by threatening to "free" Arvin if they didn't follow his orders. The Boy Wonder points out that the predictions did come true. Batman explains that the predictions were tip-offs of crimes which had been planned, and learned of from underworld gossip. It was a cunning plan to make himself the underworld boss by getting rid of the competition. Using the predictor, Arvin could get rid of any crooks who crossed him, and avoid suspicion due to his occupation as a scientist. Batman makes a prediction... he predicts that Arvin will be going to jail for a long, long time.

This story was reprinted in Batman: From the Thirties to The Seventies.

The Crime Predictor is a big piece of machinery with the obligatory number of dials, lights, levers, and switches.

One would need a laboratory the size of the Hollywood Bowl to accommodate such a monstrosity.

Dr. Arvin is an older man with white hair, wears dark glasses, and smokes a pipe.

At the factory, Wilden tries to keep things rolling, and the Caped Crusader keeps his bearings.

Boyar has got a locomotive, but the Dynamic Duo never run out of steam.

Thanks to the bertillon measurements, Batman is able to put the finger on Rog Robey.

While searching through Robey's wardrobe, the Caped Crusader uncovers a smear campaign, and strikes oil.

Only Mr. Blank could have predicted the outcome when the Boy Wonder came back to check out the electronic brain.

While in the chamber, the Dynamic Duo failed to bend under pressure.

Bad guys of the underworld smoke cigarettes in the presence of escaping acetylene.

Unlike the acetylene, the hoods fail to escape the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder.

Steve Chung
"The Review Predictor"