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Batman 4
Batman #4
Publication Information
Published Winter 1940
Executive Editor Whitney Ellsworth
Cover Artist(s) Bob Kane
Writer(s) Bill Finger
Inker(s) George Russos
Jerry Robinson
Letterer(s) Unknown
Editor(s) Whitney Ellsworth
Alternate Covers


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Batman #4 is an American comic book published by DC comics, released in Winter of 1940.

"The Case of The Joker's Crime Circus!"Edit

Continuing from "The Case of The Laughing Death" [1], a few hours after Batman's punch has knocked Joker over the railing of the ship, the Ace of Knaves is plucked out of the sea by a passing yacht. The yacht's attendants, oblivious to who he is, bring him back to land, inadvertently saving the life of a murderer. Once brought ashore, Joker wastes no time in returning to his headquarters - an abandoned mansion on the edge of Gotham City that most of Gotham's inhabitants have dubbed haunted. It is only now that Joker begins to laugh at the fact that he is still alive, and promises himself that he will come to blows with Batman again.

The story then cuts forward two months later, depicting Batman and Robin on their nightly patrol. The Dynamic Duo spot a trio of masked burglars leaping over a wall, rolling over as soon as they hit the ground in order to absorb the shock, much like acrobats would do. The Caped Crusaders burst into action, but are caught off guard by a fourth masked burglar - an enormous man who easily knocks Robin aside with a single slap and proceeds to throw Batman into a wall. The huge man, speaking only in broken sentences, voices his intention to kill the Dark Knight, but is held back by his partners in crime, who insist that they get away from the scene as soon as possible. The Dynamic Duo recover, musing about just how strong the fourth burglar was.

A week later, the Gotham City Gazette reports yet another robbery on a rich household - the fifth one in the recent string of burglaries. Bruce, reading the paper, ponders the crime, but a diversion soon arrives in the form of a letter from fellow millionaire C.R. Darcey, who invites him to a ball at his mansion on Saturday night. On Saturday night, Bruce indeed arrives, though he finds the ball to be a bore - until Darcey unveils a surprise - a private circus that he had hired for the night. The circus, consisting of a trio of acrobats, a strongman, and a clown, proves to be entertaining, but Bruce gets a feeling that the clown seems familiar.

Bruce's suspicions are soon proved true, when, after the performance is over, the circus troupe heads to the haunted house where The Joker was seen staying in. As the clown removes his makeup, he reveals himself to be The Joker - laughing over his latest victory. Three days later, a robbery is reported at the Darcey household, and Bruce, suspicious, does a bit of investigation. As it turns out, all six of the wealthy households robbed in the last month had had private performances from the circus, and Bruce reminds Dick that the thieves that they had come to blows with so long ago had acted the parts of acrobats and strongmen. From this, Bruce deduces that the circus is a ploy for the performers to learn the layout of the houses, so they can come back later to rob it.

Dick informs Bruce that the circus is to perform at the Morganbilts' that very night, and the two waste no time in changing into their guises as Batman and Robin. Over at Joker's haunted house, meanwhile, the Caliph of Clowns is, as expected, instructing his men (including a newcomer named Tino, whom he promises will be the "surprise guest") to find where the Morganbilts' safe is during the performance. As night falls, the circus puts on its performance at the Morganbilt household, effortlessly captivating the audience. Just as Joker (disguised as the clown) steps forward to present the "surprise guest", Batman and Robin suddenly burst through a window, and do battle with Joker's crime circus.

While Robin takes care of the acrobats, Batman defeats the strongman, and the entire time, the audience believes it to be part of the performance. As the finish, however, the clown begins to retreat, and it is only now that the Dynamic Duo realize that he is The Joker. After informing the audience to the truth of the circus, Batman and Robin follow Joker's getaway car in the Batmobile, all the way to the haunted house that he is using as a hideout. As the two run toward the house's front door, The Joker, looking through a window, grimly chuckles, confident that he will be able to scare them away.

As soon as the Dynamic Duo enter the haunted house, the door slams shut behind them and locks itself. The two ascend the staircase, but are confronted with a "ghost" clad in blood-red robes at the top, bellowing at them to leave. Batman fearlessly tackles the "ghost", and reveals it to be no more than a man in a costume, but while he is doing so, The Joker emerges from a secret compartment in the wall and snatches Robin. Batman realizes this too late, and, while he is distracted by the sudden disappearance of his sidekick, the "ghost" flees into a room at the top of the stairs, slamming the door shut.

Batman tackles the door, but is unable to budge it, as it is solid steel, merely painted to look like wood. As he struggles with the door, every light in the mansion suddenly goes out, and an enormous apparition of The Joker's disembodied head suddenly appears, laughing loudly. The apparition's mad laughter is deafening, but Batman is able to expose the ruse, revealing the apparition as nothing more than a movie projector and several hidden microphones. The real Joker commends Batman on figuring out all of the haunted house's tricks, before sending a stream of poison gas into the room from a nozzle on the wall.

The Caped Crusader mixes two chemical capsules from his utility belt, creating an explosion to blow apart a nearby wall. By doing so, he not only escapes the deadly gas, but also discovers The Joker inside an adjacent room, about to escape through a trapdoor in the floor. The two archenemies engage in battle, and eventually, Batman is able to fling the Harlequin of Hate down the open trapdoor, into the sewage waters that run beneath the mansion. Robin questions if The Joker is really dead this time, to which Batman responds doubtfully - The Joker, after all, has always had a knack for cheating death.

FootnotesEdit

  1. Detective Comics #45

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