Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Curious Case of the Cross-Dressing Caped Crusader

It seems that, in the 70s, Batman got a lot more pleasure out of fighting crime than he has in recent years. Take, for example, the time he disguised himself as an old, rich Southern widow in order to catch a jewel thief:

Batman is so eager to take on this case, that he finishes Gordon's request before the commissioner can get it all out. And it's clear that Batman has this disguise all ready to go, just waiting for an excuse to use it.

Now, there are a lot of different ways Batman could have gone about this. He could have had Batgirl go undercover, for example. Or he could have had Alfred show off the jewels in public. But, clearly, Batman wanted to get some enjoyment out of this caper, so he went with Bertha Carrington-Bridgewater.

Also, there is no such town as Sprung Axle, Texas. I checked.

He even stays in character when he's out of the public view and alone in the suite with Alfred:

Batman always commits to a role.

This is yet another perfect Batman story from the mid-1970s: "The Curious Case of the Catwoman's Coincidences," written, of course, by Denny O'Neil and drawn by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, from Batman 266.

This story opens with Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon playing backgammon on a train, when they are suddently accosted by a gypsy woman who warns Bruce Wayne that he will soon be plagued by coincidences. One thing that's not a coincidence: Bruce Wayne is on this train because it's carrying a carload of prisoners headed to the state pen, including Catwoman. Soon, the coincidences begin, as the train is derailed by a runaway tractor manufactured by the "Caterpillar" company:

Get it?

Interestingly, Catwoman was not planning on escaping--she wanted to serve out her time and eventually go straight. This may be the beginning of a status quo change for the character, who would eventually become an ally of Batman in the next few years.

Nonetheless, she slips back into her old habits and costume, and then she proceeds to initiate a string of jewelry heists, which inspires Batman's cross-dressing ploy.

And also, because it's a Denny O'Neil Batman story from the 70s, Batman has to abuse some animals--this time, Catwoman's ocelots:

I just want to point out that Batman fucks up a thug with a sack of ocelots. Then he finishes things off with a face-kick. I can't think of anything better than this page.


MOCK! said...

Good lord, but the cross dressing Batman looked enough like Bea Arthur that I assumed that it was a tribute to her....

Dean said...

If Batman is coming at you with a sack of ocelots, it's a sign that you've made some very poor life decisions.

Unknown said...

Amen, Dean. Amen.