Batman 71 – Batman in prison, and Commissioner Gordon can’t stop talking about it

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The cover story in Batman 71 (June/July 1952) pulls out all the stops for a prison drama, by Reed, Schwartz and Kaye.

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There is some really nice art on this story, although much more serious than usual.  The prison is filled with police officers and citizens who helped the law, while criminals are in charge.

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The inmates are put to work making license plates, but a gimmicked kind, sold to other hoods.  All the standard tropes of prison films are here, but turned on their heads.  Batman and Robin are both being held, but work on a prison break, and take advantage of a riot.

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The resolution has a lot to do with switching identities, and is the only really weak part of an otherwise stand out tale.

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Commissioner Gordon gets the focus in this Reed, Sprang and Paris story, which gives some rare background to his life.

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Gordon remembers highpoints from his career in the days before Batman showed up.  He decides to prove to himself that he is still a top detective, setting out to find Batman’s true identity.

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He catches Batman’s reflection in a mirror as he removes his mask.  But then Gordon starts stressing out over the possibility to accidentally revealing the secret.  He sends his wife, who is rarely ever seen in these days, away, as well as his son, who does not appear in the story.  But all he can do is mutter about knowing Batman’s secret, and scribble it on a notepad and such.

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Gordon gets into a car accident, and then wanders around muttering about how he knows Batman’s secret.  There must never have been any secrets in this man’s life before, it’s clearly taking over his brain.  Anyway, hoods hear him saying this, and grab him to find out what Gordon knows.

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But it turns out that Gordon doesn’t actually know who Batman is.  Batman was disguised as one of Jim Gordon’s friends at the time he removed the mask.  So Gordon has sent the bad guys after an innocent man.

Hard to believe how wildly incompetent Gordon has become since Batman went into action, but that seems to be the entire point of this story.  Batman catches the bad guys, and Commissioner Gordon is just relieved that he doesn’t know who Batman is.

 

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