Author: Bob Kane
We open with a dastardly, daring, very cartoonish heist, as modern gangster harbor pirates steal a pile of cargo by literally sawing a hole in the dock around it from underneath.
Having successfully stolen the cargo, the gangsters (Mobsterius Gothamicus) will now return to their nest, constructed with a special mixture of mud, saliva, and chewed cellulose.
The pirates speed off in their boat, crowing over their victory, but are soon spotted by the police. A pitched gun battle on the high seas! But the pirates manage to shatter the police searchlight, and while the cops are replacing the bulb, the bad guys run for it. The police give chase, but...
"A giant--Bill, are you back on the sauce again?"
"That's not what your wife said last night! Hah!"
"I thought we agreed you had a problem."
Mysterious, vanishing, wood-eating pirates? This looks like a job for Batman! Surely Bruce Wayne and his ward can put their heads together and--
"Look, harbor pirates sound cool and all, but a guy's gotta have priorities."
Bruce's attempt to have a normal life is swiftly foiled, however. Linda takes him to pick up some "rare and expensive cloth from that foreign country," cloth imported by the proprietor, a Mr. Sale, into an establishment that is almost certainly named "Store." Turns out the bale of cloth was stolen last night by, you guessed it, harbor pirates! Linda is more than a little miffed: "If I were a man I'd do something about those pirates!" (Keep in mind this comic was written a long time ago. Feminism has long since broken the glass ceiling in the pirate-hunting industry.)
Before Bruce can do more than mumble a few words of encouragement about the efforts of the police, he is startled to see that very same exclusive cloth in another store window!
Apparently the cloth is expensive because it's woven out of the wailing faces of damned souls. It's probably French, too.
Bruce runs off, with a scolding from Linda, who assumes he is off to kill time at a night club. In fact, he's off to go punch pirates, which I think we can all agree is an invaluable service to society.
But first, he has to find the pirates. And that means being a detective. And that means lots and lots of ominous looming.
First he looms over the proprietor of the store where the cloth ended up:
"Now gimme some answers or I'll get even angrier! What's the price of that doggie in the window--the one with the waggly tail?!"
Batman heads out for Conroy's warehouse, and befitting the man's greater economic stature, his looming is significantly friendlier:
"Seriously, I can't hear you. Come closer. This office used to be a football field."
Little does Batman know that while he was in transit (rooftop traffic's a bitch at rush hour), the first merchant phoned Conroy and let him know that "a masked man" in a "queer costume" was coming. Here we see the essential problem with Batman's dual personae; his girlfriend thinks him too boring to fight crime, and his enemies think him too gay to have a girlfriend. So tragic.
See that guy in the back? The one with the hook? They call him Hook. It is delightful.
Batman puts up a valiant fight, his fists "strik[ing] with the fury of twin thunderbolts!" before being defeated by his secret weakness: somebody sneaking up behind him and hitting him over the head. (It's like his Kryptonite!)
Like a dog chasing cars, the criminals don't actually know what to do with him once they've got him, so after a lot of brainstorming and giggling they simply tie him up and leave him in a walk-in refrigerator to die. It's not as crazy as it sounds--putting a cube of Batman in your drink keeps it cool for hours! Kids Try It At Home!
Batman has three crucial skills: punching, acquiring young wards no questions asked, and getting out of bizarre death traps. (This is why Christopher Nolan's next Batman film will also be "Saw VIII.") Sometimes the solution is as simple as "Robin, pick up the damn phone." Sometimes it is, well, this:
Batman thinks that's what you call snowmen. This is because when he was growing up, Alfred always made them for him, while he sat inside, sipping hot chocolate and yelling instructions over the intercom.
Who will win in this daring contest between The Batman and The Light Bulb? Tune in next week on oh no wait the bulb broke. Never mind. That wasn't even a bit suspenseful.
Anyway, he uses the glass to cut his ropes, and then the acid(!) on the utility belt(!) that the moronic pirates never took from him(!)! Although to be fair, it's probably hard to unbuckle a utility belt when one of your hands is a hook. You never think about what pirates must have had to go through, what with the state of prosthetics being a choice between wood and a cruel, razor-sharp implement. The next time you see a pirate you should tell him he's doing a good job. A real good job. Maybe buy him some ice cream.
"Who the hell do I know who blocks light and also looks kind of like a bat? ...is that you, Phil?"
Also note that, bizarrely, Batman calls "Hook," "Old Hook-Arm." What? He has an arm, Batman.
Anyway, after he's choked the location of the next pirate attack out of Conroy, Batman gets the wireless transmitter out of his boot and summons some help.
Poor Robin. He's just been sitting around in his costume, waiting for the foot-phone to ring.
He doesn't need Robin's help, you understand. He just needs somebody to bring the boat around. Maybe a valet.
"Quick, Carl! Go get my sequined life vest! We'll show these boys a time like they've never had!" "Aye aye, Captain!"
But just a few awkward minutes into the Captain's misguided attempt at ocean seduction, the "castaways" pull out guns and reveal themselves to be pirates. Hook even hooks somebody in the face!
"My face! My beautiful face!"
"Get that man's face, too!"
Did... did Robin forget what a boat is?
I do really like the way the propeller is colored there--the gleaming blades reflecting a sliver of yellow moonlight suggest motion in a very strong, elegant fashion. You can almost hear the drone. Also lovely is this composition, in which Batman demonstrates the proper way to exit a low-flying plane: fist first.
Batman casually ripped off the man's face and held it, dripping, in one hand. After that nobody felt much like fighting.
After a brief, predictable scrap full of the requisite nautical puns and sporting metaphors, Batman and Robin literally scrub the deck with these pirates.
Even modern pirates are filthy and unwashed. It's a job requirement.
However, there's one pirate missing from the soggy, concussed pile: Hook! He's already in the original launch, roaring away. Batman and Robin quickly follow in the Batplane, which, as a heavy fog rolls in, becomes a speedboat! (Now available wherever children's toys are sold.) After a high-speed chase through the foggy waters, however, they find that the boat has vanished!
Maybe his boat turned into a plane and flew away, Batman. Did you ever think of THAT?
Okay, so the brick is actually the activation button for the doorway to the pirates' secret hide-out. Time for the exciting action conclusion to our story!
For some moments in life, there are no words.
Robin takes out the side henchmen, while Batman trades retarded repartee with Hook:
Hook: "I'm going to tear your head off, Batman!"
Then they fight, in a surprisingly difficult and brutal bout. Hook makes full use of his artificial appendage, slashing Batman across the chest, digging it into his shoulder and dragging him in for a punch, and so on. Maybe this is actually the heartwarming story of a man learning to use his disability to his advantage.
"NOT VERY MUCH BATMAN"
Oh, right, I forgot. This is the heartwarming story of another man punching the disabled man in the face until he learns to be law-abiding.
Interestingly, this is a rare case of a Batman story so thin that it doesn't even require an exposition panel to close things up. No mysteries to be unraveled, no dramatic irony to be laid on thick. We didn't even learn anything! Except maybe "don't be a pirate." Which, I mean, what else are you going to do? If life gives you a hook, make lemonade one-handed, I guess.