Batman #147 “Batman Becomes Bat-Baby” (part 2 of 2)
That night, Bat-Baby and Robin go on patrol, and come upon three bandits. Actually, some woman is just standing on the street, pointing at three guys running away, and calling them “bandits”. This is all the provocation Bat-Baby and Robin need to chase after them, pursuing the guys up a fire escape. But then again, they’re wearing fedoras and tweed suits. So they’ve got to be criminals.
Bat-Baby soon realizes his legs are too short to keep up. He spots a nearby tire-shaped helium balloon for the “ACME Tire Co.”, so he leaps over to it. It’s got a convenient rope tied to the bottom, and Bat-Baby hangs on as it lifts him up.
Now, what the heck was a helium advertising balloon doing floating so low to the ground? I’m beginning to think these versions of Batman and Robin have no actual skills. They just rely on incredible luck and circumstance to fight crime. In the other two stories in this issue, Batman managed to get out of situations because there just happened to be a shawl, or a ledge, or something else nearby right when he needed it most. So, I guess despite having enough of a disturbing imagination to come up with the Bat-Baby concept in the first place, the writers weren’t particularly talented at coming up with logical plot points.
The ACME balloon rises, carrying Bat-Baby up, and he notes that this is only possible because he currently doesn’t weigh that much. Wait a second—he has the strength of an adult, but not the weight of an adult? Arrggggh! This comic makes physics cry!
Bat-Baby leaps off the balloon onto the roof, landing on a random “taut wire”, as the narration calls it. Bat-Baby’s thought balloon notes another lucky consequence of his new condition, which is that the wire can actually support his babyfied weight.
With a “TWA-ANG”, Bat-Baby launches himself off the wire at the three criminals, and knocks them over. Robin the Slow Wonder finally arrives, and congratulates Bat-Baby on a job well done. And then in the next panel, we learn that news of Bat-Baby knocking the wind out of three guys in fedoras has made front page headlines in less than an hour.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce-Baby, Alfred, and Dick are hanging out. Alfred looks out the window and sees Kathy Kane coming up the path. Kathy Kane was one of Bruce’s love interests at the time, as well as the erstwhile Batwoman from this era of the comics. Later on, it came to light that the character was created purely to dispel rumors about Batman and Robin being a gay couple. Though, in an issue where Robin is actually carrying Batman around in his arms, I’m not sure if her presence helps that much.
It looks like Bruce knew she would show up, because he’s already got a plan in mind for handling the situation. Alfred invites Kathy in and directs her towards the library… where Bruce and Dick beat her to death. Well, of course they don’t, but that really would have saved this comic, I think.
Instead, Kathy sees a shadow on the wall, and it’s the silhouette of Bruce and another woman kissing. And instead of doing something sensible, like walking in and confronting the man she loves, she just angrily storms out.
Cut to the library, where we learn it’s actually just a cardboard cut-out [!] of Bruce kissing a woman. That was his big plan to get rid of his girlfriend? By making her think he’s cheating on her? I’m starting to understand why Bruce Wayne’s been a bachelor for 70 years.
Ah, but he’s not as shortsighted as you might think. “When I’m adult size again,” Bruce says, “I’ll explain that the ‘girl’ she saw was a cousin!” Wow, Bat-Baby thinks of everything! Because it’s perfectly acceptable to kiss your cousin full on the lips while locked in a tight embrace.
But seriously, what woman with half a brain cell is going to buy the “Oh, that girl you saw me making out with? Just my cousin” excuse? Sure, she’s your cousin. Just like Amara and Michelle in Sailor Moon are cousins. You little freak.
Having successfully dodged a sexual encounter with an actual female, Bruce and Dick get to work on finding the crooks who are working with Garth. Bruce says the jewel thieves won’t leave town until they’ve sold the stolen gems, which is why the police are “keeping tabs on every fence in town.” Whoa, whoa, slow down with the lingo there, junior.
Bruce quickly tracks down one particular “fence” who owns a pawn shop. Coincidentally enough, there’s a playground right across from the guy’s pawn shop. This allows Batman to keep a low profile by playing on a swing set. And there’s a sentence I never saw myself typing.
By the way, can you legally have a pawn shop across the street from a playground? No wonder Gotham City is a cesspool.
The “fence” comes out of his shop, and Bruce worries about keeping up with him and his “long legs”. Luckily, he “cached a pair of skates in the park, for just such an emergency!” Was this before or after he became a toddler? We can only wonder.
Bruce follows along on skates, and eventually comes upon the evil Garth’s hideout. Well, at least I assume he does, because the next page abruptly starts with Bat-Baby and Robin crashing through a skylight into the hideout.
So, as if this whole exercise wasn’t goofy enough, things take another turn for the silly. It seems Garth’s hideout is a “storage warehouse”, and for reasons left unexplained, there’s a rocking horse here. Bat-Baby subsequently rides the rocking horse down a ramp to knock down several villains. Words fail me, people.
Robin also throws a giant harp—a giant harp?—at a few more goons. Meanwhile, Bat-Baby takes advantage of the distraction and heads for the Youthenizer.
Robin knocks over a bookcase onto a few more goons, and then finds out Batman has successfully returned to normal size. And it happens just like that: adult Batman is suddenly just standing there. One gets the feeling that the artist realized at the last minute he was running short on space, because there are literally two panels between Bat-Baby riding the rocking horse and adult Batman reappearing.
This means that, thankfully, we’re spared the sight of a full-sized Bruce Wayne in the tiny shorts. Batman explains that he “slipped on a plastic costume I had folded up in a pants pocket!” I’m pretty sure plastic isn’t designed to fold that well, or at all really, but frankly my mind has already been shattered by this story, so I don’t feel like dwelling.
Restored to full size, Batman makes short work of all remaining criminals. The final panel shows Batman and Robin back in the Batcave. The Bat-Baby uniform has been placed in a trophy case, which is really, really creepy, considering all the other costumes that get put in trophy cases later on are from dead Robins.
Batman’s final line of the story: “Just a reminder — of a brief childhood.” And we all know how Bruce Wayne just loves to be reminded of his childhood, don’t we?
It’s times like these that make me actually appreciate the Comics Code. Because if this story had been done in modern times, I’m sure there’d be at least one diaper joke. And I really do not want to contemplate Batman, at any age, wearing a Bat-diaper. And you just know it would have been called a Bat-diaper, complete with a bat-logo poop-stain.
Gah, that was horrible. If anyone needs me, I’ll be reading Booster Gold.
For more awful comics, check out Lewis Lovhaug’s blog, Atop the Fourth Wall!