Click here for Chapter 1.
The news that “men’s tears” is the newly discovered solvent that will melt pro-choice sentiment in this country certainly prompted a slew of fascinating, moving, and insightful comments. Also a few which suggest that Billy Goats are now free to cross bridges at will, since the fearsome, folkloric creatures who traditionally guard the spans are clearly web surfing on company time. And while we’re always happy to facilitate the national dialogue here at Wo’C, we’re concerned that an emphasis on womens issues is making the site way too girly, and we’re in danger of losing half our readership unless we provide a bit more of the two-fisted, masculine prose for which we’re famous. So, in the spirit of such rugged Internet he-men and Hemingway manqués as Dr. Professor Mike Adams and Doug Giles, enjoy the latest episode in our ongoing story about a confirmed bachelor, his frequently pantsless boy companion, and their fey manservant. I’m sure it’ll provide just the refreshing change of pace we’ve all been craving:
The Batman (1943). Episode 2: THE BAT’S CAVE…OF THE BATMAN!
Well, if you thought last week’s episode was action-packed (and if you did, I’d really like to know why. No. Really. Explain yourself.), then prepare to court cardiac infarction with this installment!
To begin with, big doings this week for our supervillain, Dr. Daka. Despite failing to recruit Linda’s Uncle Martin for his “Legion of Dishonored Men” (one of the earliest boy bands), failing to steal the radium from the Gotham City Foundation (a 501c non-profit which apparently runs some sort of Home for Wayward Isotopes), and finally, allowing The Batman to steal his atomic-powered Kenner Give-A-Show Projector, the good doctor has somehow snagged a promotion, and is now “Prince Daka.” I’m guessing he knows somebody in the home office.
Still, at least Daka’s army of zombified Mr. Mooneys managed to push Batman off the roof. Or did they? When the climax of last week’s episode is reprised at the beginning of Part 2, it becomes apparent that Batman took a dive. Watch carefully during the fight, and you’ll see the Caped Crusader helpfully scoot his butt back onto the parapet and spread his legs, as though a zombie gynecologist had just asked him to “hop up and get into the stirrups.” Then he and the middle-aged zombie resume their furious tussling; nobody gets hurt, but by the end of it, Batman’s cowl is askew and his seams are crooked.
Anyway, when last seen, Batman was plunging to his death while waiting for the results of his Pap smear to come back. But his trip is miraculously interrupted by a window washer, who saves the Dark Knight’s life, and then goes on to succeed in business without really trying. When Batman crawls back onto the roof (which now sports hooks and ropes for the previously invisible window-washing rig below), he sees that Robin has captured the Radium Gun and one of Daka’s thugs, thus establishing their Esther Blodgett/Norman Maine relationship right up front.
They take the traitorous henchman to “the Bat’s Cave,” and make him sit in the guest chair across from The Batman’s desk, while the Caped Crusader asks him a lot of those uncomfortable interview questions like, “What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?” “What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?” and “Why were you stealing radioactive material from the United Way?”
The mook is terrified by the crepe paper bat that’s gotten tangled in the ceiling fan, and squeals that his confederates are gathering at The House of the Open Door, an establishment very similar to The House of the Rising Sun, except instead of offering tantalizing Creole courtesans, it contains hoboes.
The Dynamic Duo go upstairs and enter Wayne Manor by crawling out of a grandfather clock. Alfred is reading a scary detective story aloud, driving himself into a chirping tizzy, and breaking all previous land-twee records. Bruce attempts to calm his fey factotum’s nerves by using the Radium Gun to shatter a vase inches from Alfred’s head, showering the elderly butler with porcelain shrapnel. (This is actually the fifth Alfred he’s had, having disposed of his previous domestics via a succession of heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms.)
Cut to Daka’s hideout, where the Prince is in the midst of taking a hit off his giant Buddha bong. After grabbing a handful of Pringles and some Screaming Yellow Zonkers, he resumes his meeting with the Legion of Dishonored Men and Sunriser Rotary Club. So far they’re up to items 5 and 6 on the Agenda: using the Radium Gun to destroy a troop train on Saturday, and on Sunday hosting a car wash and barbecue to sponsor new uniforms for the high school marching band.
Meanwhile, we learn that Daka and his chief thug, Foster, have made very little headway against The Batman because they’re both devoting most of their time to competing in the World’s Skinniest Mustache Pageant (but on the bright side, Foster did receive high marks from the judges in the Philtrum-Exposing event). Flush with victory, the thug calls Linda Page and pretends to be her Uncle Martin. Linda immediately believes that this total stranger is a close relation because he put his handkerchief over the receiver, suggesting that the reason her hair is higher than that guy’s from House Party isn’t because she’s got a huge brain under there.
Anyway, Linda agrees to meet the faux Uncle Martin at a nightclub. She reveals her plans to Bruce, but won’t allow him to accompany her, since Uncle Martin insisted that she confide in no one, and to come alone, which makes sense, since those are the conditions my relatives always impose when they invite me to Thanksgiving dinner.
But Bruce is stalking Linda, and he drags his boytoy to the nightclub, where they get a table in back and sulk behind their menus. Linda is called to the phone, and Dick tails her to the lobby, where she enters a roomy, brightly-lit phone booth with a large glass door. He heads back to the table, and instantly the booth fills with gas and Linda passes out. The back wall open and two thugs emerge, grab Linda, and vanish. This seems like a pretty daring crime to pull off in plain sight, but apparently it takes more than a gassing and an abduction to impress the hat-check girl in this joint.
When Bruce sees Dick, he snaps, “Why did you leave her? I didn’t want you to lose sight of her for a second!” Dick returns to the lobby, spies the empty phone booth, and scuttles back to the table, his cringing expression seeming to say, “Oh I am so FIRED over this…!”
Meanwhile, at The House of the Open Door (try the lingonberry pancakes!), Daka’s staff are questioning Linda. Suddenly, Batman and Robin burst into the room and start throwing punches, and Batman instantly gets tangled up in his cape again. I mean mummy-tangled. Strait-jacketed. Swaddled like a Russian infant. Fortunately, one of the thugs tears the cape clean off, revealing that with just the cowl on, Batman bears a startling resemblance to Marmaduke. Frantically, Batman grabs the loose cape and tries to fling it away, but only succeeds in tossing it over his own face. Seriously. I’m guessing that by 1943 all the good stuntmen were in the Service, so the producers were reduced to stuffing some poor schlub with a nervous disorder into the costume, and trying to pass off an attack of St. Vitus Dance as an action sequence.
While roughhousing, Batman knocks some “acid bottles” off a shelf, and the room fills up with smoke. The thugs flee into the hallway, while the Dynamic Duo retreats to the ledge. Batman throws the unconscious Linda over his shoulder and starts tightrope-walking along a cable. Up on the roof, Foster yanks down a live wire and — without benefit of rubber gloves, mind you – twirls it around like Will Roger’s lasso until he manages to touch the cable, which instantly starts to burn like a fuse. Why? Well, back in the Forties, before superconductors, electricity traveled a lot slower. Often you had to tip your radio on its side and hold the power cord over your head like an I.V. bag just to get enough electricity to drip down into the Philco so you could listen to The Great Gildersleeve or It’s a Crime, Mr. Collins!
We now leave you with the goofiest cliffhanger in serial history: Just as the hot end of the fuse is about to reach our hero’s Bat Achilles Tendon, he glances down and we see his P.O.V. of Robin, who’s 40 feet below, making the “Jump! I’ll catch you!” gesture. Fade to black. No preview of next week’s episode, which I, for one, find encouraging.
So what have we gleaned from this week’s thrilling episode? Well, we’ve learned that Dr. Daka is a vainglorious, peevish incompetent who prefers the company of yes-men, war criminals, and zombies, and who manages to extravagantly fail at every single thing he attempts. Yet, strangely, he is never held to account, and his blunders are actually rewarded with a promotion to the ruling class. Hmmm. Nope, don’t see anything here that’s really germane to the present, so let’s move on.
I guess the lesson is: if you’re going to pick a fight with every guy you see sporting a pencil mustache, don’t wear a cape. And be sure to engage the services of a willowy, bare-legged boy with Kramer hair to capture the thugs and retrieve the atomic death rays while you’re busy spilling acid and falling off buildings. In fact, if President Bush had followed Batman’s example and selected a slim-hipped, downy-cheeked youth for his running mate (a Dick Grayson, as it were, instead of a Dick Cheney) we’d be spending fewer tax dollars on pacemaker batteries at Bethesda, and we could have skipped that whole invasion of Iraq and just confiscated Saddam’s fissile materials from the receptionist at Goodwill Industries.