But, you know, it'll have Batman in it for sure, so, uh, silver lining?
The opening crawl informs me that he's not stealing brains, he's stealing secrets, which I admit makes more grammatical sense. But he's doing so because he's, "worst of all menaces--worst of all criminals... the Fifth Columnist!" But how do you steal secrets? With evil Nazi technology? Of course not! This is the 1940s, when "total war" called for America's mad scientists to step up their game and really make some crazy shit:
"The police didn't want to admit how much they valued it, but then I put them in the machine, and..."
The "truth machine" is to be demonstrated to the public tomorrow afternoon. "I think I told you enough--the rest is a secret", says Professor Henry, which brings us to wonder why he invited a reporter into his lab in the first place. If he had just kept his mouth shut, he wouldn't be in this position later that evening:
"And hurry up! In an hour I have to go drop off my jacket so it can fight the Green Lantern."
Deker is the latest in a long line of evil sciency types to threaten Gotham City, a lineage that goes all the way back to Dr. Death, Batman's first recurring villain. My guess is, Gotham just has a shortage of SWFs seeking BGSs (Bald Goateed Scientists), and so they turn to a life of crime. Girls, see what you do! By choosing the jocks over the nerds, you endanger us all! No, I'm not bitter. What was I talking about?
Oh, yeah. So Deker's goons beat the truth-or-dare machine instructions out of Henry, and then they put the professor in the machine for further interrogation, presumably because Deker's thugs get paid by the beating. He should really just put them on salary, get some free overtime out of them.
Anyway Henry spills enough beans to fuel a Third Reich blitzkrieg--the secret principles behind his "atom destroyer" (what?), and... something. This mystery invention, which the comic so badly wishes to keep secret from us, is apparently able to "control an entire army" (newsflash: Napoleon already discovered that, it's called "medals"). I don't know how you could control an entire army with whatever it is (which I will call, oh, I don't know, the MacGuffin, oh look what a random word I just selected out of thin air for no reason at all, how strange), seeing as how they test the MacGuffin by performing a "mysterious operation" on their fellow enemy agents.
Pictured here: Heinrich, of Asskiss, Germany.
Seriously though, are you going to strap the entire Allied military forces down on the table? Where will you find enough doctors? They don't seem too worried.
Over the next few indeterminate time periods, numerous scientists, inventors and such go missing, just like Professor Henry. What man could possibly stop this anti-American menace? Bruce Wayne? Hell no, that guy's got a date.
"Sorry--" is what it sounds like when you rethink saying "Sorry bitch" halfway through.
Linda Page's uncle's bomber factory isn't the most romantic of places to take your distressingly lazy boyfriend, but total war requires sacrifices of all Americans. ...not sure how this helps the war effort, but at least it puts Bruce on hand for when one of the workers goes insane:
"HEAD... HURTS... RONALD REAGAN SMASH!"
Not to worry, though! The crates are fine. And Bruce takes this opportunity to change costumes, from dickish loaf to bat-shaped crime-fighter. (Hopefully nobody will question a discarded $4,000 suit in a plane factory.)
"That's for Reaganomics, you son of a bitch!"
More workers begin going crazy, some of them attacking Batman, some trying to damage the experimental bomber. In response, Batman totally murders them, via giant wheel:
Guess now they're all... TIREd out! Also, uh, dead.
To be fair, Batman respects the seriousness of his actions by not making any plane-related puns. Batman seems like such a respectable killer that Linda even yells at a pretending-to-have-been-unconscious-the-whole-time Bruce for not being more like him. Irony! It's like a giant tiiiiire on your wedding day!
1. How was that a success?
2. If there's a "viciousness" level, why is it not always at the maximum? This is mad science, not Spinal Tap.
Later, Bruce discusses his experience with Dick (no, not like that):
Been huffing the Bat-glue lately, Robin?
(By the way, I do like how Bruce and Dick dress in their respective costumes' colors. As a fashion statement it says "secret identity? what secret identity?")
Bruce is "positive" that the sabotage is related to the missing scientists, because, well, he's read the script. And the paper helpfully has an article about inventor Mason, who might be the next target. Batman acts decisively to save a man's life!
"I suppose I could have just explained the situation with you and let you in on my plan, but this is much more fun."
Later, men with guns come and take Mason to a "private hospital" on the edge of town--where all the missing inventors are currently chained to the wall. Deker questions Mason in the brain machine about the new type of gunpowder he's invented, but before he gets too far, Robin bursts into the room, fist-first. The stunning turn of events here isn't that "Mason" was actually Batman, but that Batman apparently beat the brain machine.
Also, where did he get a Mason mask on such short notice? And how did it fit over his cowl?
B&R knock out the thugs and strap Deker into the brain machine for a quick interrogation. I think he would have talked anyway, he responds to a yes or no question with a long, gloating monologue about how they induced madness (putting a sliver of metal at the base of the brain and then beaming in "jangled radio waves"), their plan for sabotage (get the agents jobs at factories and such, then induce madness), and the next phase of the plan:
"Can one of you guys invent something that'll make this guy stop talking?"
Also there's a giant dirigible from "the Fatherland" bringing more agents into Gotham tonight. Deker goes on for about eight pages, talking about his philosophy of life, his favorite color, and a really tasty-sounding recipe for bratwurst, but I'm gonna do you guys a favor and skip to the bit with the punching.
Something tells me these secret agents would be less easy to spot if they weren't all wearing identical Little German Boy brand overalls.
Unfortunately for our heroes, these men are so crazy they can't feel punches. Oh no!
"Got to... STEEL myself... Wait! No time for puns!"
Spoiler alert: he solves this problem with punching. No, the madman doesn't feel the punch. But he does fall into the cauldron of boiling steel. Batman apparently designates all unpunchables "Terminators" and disposes of them accordingly. Good to know.
Robin, meanwhile, has picked up one too many radio waves to the skull:
I've read erotic fan-fiction that starts exactly like this.
A bit more fighting, and the factory is once again secure for truth, for justice! and so janitorial can get in here to clean up all the bodies.
I don't think Linda would like you as much if she knew what you called her behind her back.
There's some kind of analysis to be done here on comparing the two uses of the word "date", and how the comic sets up a dichotomy between boring, judgmental femininity and exciting masculine adventure, and perhaps even how this mirrors the contemporary American disagreement over whether to join WWII or remain safely isolationist... but I'm more interested in laughing at this:
Gassing Nazis? Now that's irony.
Leaving the Bat-Plane double-parked, our heroes leap into the cabin and start kicking ass.
Disappointed that this fellow's monocle doesn't pop off in shock at seeing Batman and Robin drop in unexpectedly? Don't be.
Yes, that's right. Batman did this just for you, reader.
Batman chases two goons up onto the surface of the dirigible, eventually knocking them off; Robin, meanwhile, stays inside, where the zeppelin commander accidentally fires his gun. Our heroes leap off just in time to fly away from the resulting gigantic explosion in bad-ass slow motion. (Michael Bay, eat your heart out.)
Now that the action is over, however, I want to know what the moral of the story was! Let's ask the denouement panel, which, like someone subjected to the brain machine, always tells the truth:
That's it? Really? Not even a "crime doesn't pay"? How will our nation's children learn how to live right? I guess I'll have to step in. Kids? Don't be Nazis. You will get punched, gassed, melted, exploded, and then eventually mocked by a blogger.