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Detective Comics 338
"Batman's Power-Packed Punch!"


Story: Unknown Art: Sheldon Moldoff

On the Sheldon Moldoff-drawn cover, the caped crusader uses his super-powered punch to shatter a stone wall, where one crook is stealing money from a safe, while the other uses his gun to shield himself from the flying debris!

As the reader of the story, you are involved in it! For you are responsible for the actions which give Batman super-powered fists instead of normal crime-fighting hands! Now, the caped crusader has more resources to draw upon and what might have been detrimental to his peers is now an added plus when the masked manhunter uses "Batman's Power-Packed Punch!" On the splash page, Batman knows that his super-fists are lethal weapons -- he can't use them directly on criminals! Robin sees that the crooks will be lamenting cement when the bits of sidewalk which the power-punch has unearthed lands on them! (Holy Concrete Jungle, Batman!)

Night in Gotham City finds the caped crusader in pursuit of two fleeing crooks who are confident that the hero can't reach them, but Batman leaps onto a mailbox... his legs use it as a launching pad... and hurls himself at the criminals! He crashes into them, then a left hook finds its target... As the masked manhunter grabs onto the second crook... two other members of the gang turn on a fire hydrant and aim a hose at the battling Batman!

SWOOSH The water strikes the caped crusader, who is off-balance for a moment, but Batman charges through the deluge, while Robin rushes towards the scene... and the two crooks see that the masked manhunter had his own lookout, too! The hose is dropped and begins to twist in the air... and the watery blast knocks down the boy wonder, who stumbles right into the path of the caped crusader!

The dynamic duo recover -- and continue the chase.... which ends at a construction site, where both heroes use their fists to wade into the crooks... As they turn to face the others... Robin warns Batman that something is swinging at them from above --! Reacting instinctively, Batman swings a right at the one-ton wrecking ball coming at him! The headache ball sends the two heroes backwards, and the criminals are confident that the one-ton solid iron ball have finished them off!

Minutes pass... Then both Batman and Robin revive, bruised but alive! Robin sees a crater which shows where the caped crusader used his fist to hit the wrecking ball -- slowed it down enough so that they could survive the impact. The masked manhunter is in no mood for jokes and is eager to track down the crooks! The boy wonder insists that he saw Batman's fist sink into the metal when he hit it -- but passed it off as imagination! But now -- the caped crusader sees the indentation, but doubts that his fist could have done it... Robin tells him to hit the wrecking ball once more, and Batman agrees reluctantly! He gets ready for an aching fist, but it is the solid-iron headache ball which is damaged, instead! When the boy wonder asks how this can be possible, the masked manhunter suddenly realizes how his fists have become super-powered! The previous day found Bruce Wayne visiting the Alfred Foundation Laboratories where scientists were at work on research to help mankind... The millionaire playboy shows the contributors of the foundation how their money is being spent!

At the lab counter, you have some of your recent experiments placed in glass beakers... Bruce Wayne refers to you as one of their most promising scientists, and Manning, who is a dealer in lumber is introduced to you... You show him your chemical which will "weather-proof" wood against the harsh elements. One particular element is missing from it, and an x-factor... but in his excitement, Orval Manning swings an arm, which tips the beaker containing the X-23 solution, but Bruce Wayne has it, and some of the solution has spilled onto his hands... You assure him that it's harmless... then return with a lab towel so that the millionaire philanthropist can dry his hands... Manning apologizes for his carelessness, and Bruce tells the vice-president of the Gotham City Bank an encephitector -- a burglar alarm system that alerts when a crime is about to be committed!

The encephitector can pick out and filter alpha waves which a human brain gives out! It is designed to react whenever a person is thinking about committing a crime! (Holy E-Bay, Batman!) With one of these placed in the doorway of the bank, a guard or teller would know whenever a crook intended to rob it, and he could be arrested the moment he attempted the crime! In the Bat-Cave, Robin sees Batman holding an improved version of the encephitector -- with more power to increase its range! He's placed it in the Batmobile for an evening test-run! If the device can detect would-be crooks -- it should be able to find any criminal who has robbery on his mind! The boy wonder marvels at this new "crook-catcher!" He knows that on their patrol, they miss some crimes which take place, and the device will help them to be more effective! The Batmobile is soon patrolling the Gotham City streets... when the device begins to beep...

This is how the dynamic duo came across the crooks they were chasing at the beginning of this story... In the present, Batman and Robin continue the pursuit with the encephitector... The boy wonder knows that by the sounds of the beep, it's not the crooks who got away. Knowing that some crooks are committing a crime behind a stone wall, Robin begins to look for a door -- but the caped crusader tells him that there's no need to waste time for a search! He intends to blast an entrance in that stone wall -- with a power-packed punch! Apparently, the water from the hose was the catalyst necessary for the X-23 to work!

The masked manhunter's right arm flails against the stone and mortar... The crooks are surprised to see Batman coming through stone walls to get at them! The caped crusader leaps through the opening... while Robin goes after the others, and Batman tells him that he'll catch up after he's mopped things up! The boy wonder calls the police on the Hot-Line to tell them where to pick up the prisoners! Charging at the mobsters, Batman realizes that his fists have become lethal weapons, and he can't hit anyone with them! (Holy Donner, Batman!) His knuckles send a power-punch which sends the safe at the crooks... and he is pleased by his indirect use of them.

The caped crusader somersaults over the safe... then uses his knees to bring down his prey! Robin drives the Batmobile through the streets, with the encephitector, while the right rear tire has an special invisible solution which will enable Batman to pick up the trail. He informs Commissioner Gordon about the crook's location, then locates the thieves he's looking for, as the radar points towards a house on the corner.

Using his bat-rope, the boy wonder begins to climb up the side of the wall, while inside, Gang Boss "Bull" Fleming doubts his men's tale about the dynamic duo being killed by the wrecking ball. One of the gang used to be a crane operator, and he assures Fleming that not even Batman and Robin could withstand it! He wagers his share of the loot that they'll never hear from them again! Boss "Bull" Fleming tells the gang to get the loot over to Freddy The Fence and turn it into cash! (Holy Loot Into Cash, Batman!) As the two hoods leave the building, Robin swings from the bat-rope, wishing that his partner had joined him...

The boy wonder drops in on the crooks from above, and Boss Fleming thinks that Robin's the healthiest looking ghost he's ever seen! Both hoods are sent sprawling -- with Chuck being told that his share of the loot is gone! He does earn a punch on the jaw from Robin, though! From the doorway, three more members of the "Bull" Fleming Gang emerge... The odds are now five to one -- against Robin!

Down the street, the caped crusader has been following the trail by using contact lenses... As the gang sees his approach, Batman sends a power-packed punch into a shop sign... He sends the "Tony's Flower Shoppe" sign flying through the air, and into their midst! A punch to the sidewalk sends a "divot" towards the hapless hood! As he nears the end of the case, Batman vows to make compensation for the damage he's caused!

The flower pot debris drives the two mobsters into the path of Robin's flashing fists... The Fleming Gang are taken to police headquarters and the stolen loot is returned... The caped crusader wonder if his fists will remain super-powered or fade away, and the boy wonder suggests that Bruce Wayne set up a meeting for him and the scientist at the Alfred Foundation! The following day, you buy a newspaper and read about Batman's Super-Powered Fists... and how the masked manhunter states that their power is slowly fading...

You wonder if the X-23 solution might have had anything to do with Batman's powerful fists, and wonder how he could have come into contact with it... You know that some of it spilled on Bruce Wayne's hands on the previous day... you wonder if Bruce Wayne is Batman and are intrigued by the thought! As you reach for the doorknob to the lab, you know that even if you were clever enough to unmask Batman's secret identity -- you know that the caped crusader is even more clever! You light up your pipe before getting ready for work... An investigation would prove your theory, but Batman would find a way to prove it 100% wrong. If the caped crime-fighter is determined to keep his identity a secret, you'll abide by his decision!

Interesting that Batman is unfazed by what damage would be done to the crooks when the sidewalk debris strikes them.

Others who have super-powered fists include: Iron Fist, The Mighty Annihilator from Action Comics #355, and the Human Bomb from the Freedom Fighters.

In this story, the reader is hinted as being a pipe-smoking male scientist.

The encephitector is similar to Cerebro, which detects mutants.

A device which reacts to alpha waves from the human brain, and detects when a person is thinking about committing a crime. I wonder if use of such a device would be considered constitutional? (Holy Ingersoll, Batman!)

Hopefully, the owner of Tony's Flower Shoppe, as well as Gotham City got compensation from Batman for the stone wall, the store sign, the flower pot, the sidewalk, etc...

Batman's Hot Line has a letter from Mike Friedrich of Castro Valley, CA.

Dear Editor:

In the December Detective, a new outlook on Batman was introduced. From now on the Masked Manhunter will be hounded by the Outsider. (Is it possible that he is the American Hydra-Head, as per Batman number 167, out for revenge...?) While this theme has been used before in books and to a lesser degree in TV, it is rare in comic books. I can't say I heartily approve, but the idea has possibilities and I'm confident you will develop it. Even without The Outsider, "The Man Who Stole From Batman" was very good. The Grasshopper(s) is due for a reappearance. I hope. Even if I guessed that there were two of them, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story. Bob Kane's artwork was excellent, as always.

The Elongated Man wasn't very good this time. I didn't care for the story and the art was off. I can't explain the latter exactly, but the inking seemed bad. It doesn't look like Sid Greene's work and yet it doesn't seem like Carmine Infantino is back inking his own stuff again. Whodunit? - Mike Friedrich 17474 Ehle St., Castro Valley, 94546

(The Elongated Man was "dun" by Infantino-Greene, the very same pencil-ink team that you so highly lauded for the previous issue's EM! How do you account for your switcheroo, when the two correspondents ahead of you found it so praiseworthy? - Editor)

Steve Chung
"Batman Power-Packed Review!"