|Gallery of Images · Main Discussion|
Batman #44 is an American comic book, published by DC comics in December of 1946.
"Gamble with Doom!"Edit
The Joker visits an (illegal) casino, winning big on everything from the roulette wheel to dice to poker. Later on, at his hideout, The Joker expresses his new-found interest in gambling, and decides to play a "game" with Batman where real lives are at stake. The story then cuts to Wayne Manor, where Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson see the Bat-Signal cutting through the night sky. The two don their costumes as Batman and Robin, and arrive at Commissioner Gordon's office.
There, they are met by a man named Lewis (who, unbeknown to any of them, works for The Joker), who promises to lead the Dynamic Duo to a pair of thieves that had stolen radium from the hospital a few nights ago. Batman agrees to let Lewis have the reward, and the three are soon at a house on a small island in the middle of the ocean. There, Batman realizes too little too late that it is a trap set by The Joker, and both he and Robin are soon rendered helpless before the Joker thanks to an enormous slot machine dropping many giant coins onto them.
The Joker holds the two at gunpoint, and tells them that the two radium thieves, Drew and Lane, are his captives as well. He offers to gamble with Batman for the two men and the radium, but the Dark Knight refuses, expressing his disdain for gambling. Joker continues, telling Batman that if he wins all three games, the two men and Robin will keep their lives, and he will receive the radium; if he loses, they will die. Batman once again refuses, to which The Joker responds by threatening to kill them immediately. Reluctantly, he accepts, unwilling to throw away three lives or the radium, which the hospital desperately needs.
The first game is a super-sized version of pinball, with the two radium thieves and Robin, stuffed into plastic spheres, as the balls. The various pins on the board are all electrically charged, and if the balls hit them, the prisoners inside will be lethally electrocuted. Batman starts up the plunger, and the ball with Drew inside shoots out onto the board, missing all of the pins and rolling into the "SAFE" zone. On the second launch, however, Lane is about to roll into a pin, when Robin convinces Batman to launch him as well. Using his acrobatic skills, the Boy Wonder is able to steer Lane's ball off course with his own. The two balls then roll into the "SAFE" zone as well.
Batman has won the first round, but The Joker reminds him that there are two more to go. Subsequently, the five of them arrive on an enormous dice board. The Joker tells Batman to pick three numbers - Robin, Lane, and Drew will then be chained to the squares where those numbers are on the board. Subsequently, two enormous dice will be ejected onto the board, and if Batman wagered wrong, any one of them could be crushed by the dice. Batman sees Lewis smearing mud onto the dice, and calculates that it will make the dice swerve to the left. He picks the numbers 4, 6, and 11, numbers on the right side of the board.
The Dark Knight's calculations prove to be correct, and at the last second, the enormous dice swerve away from where the three are chained. The Joker leads Batman to the last game - a room in his gambling-themed mansion where enormous playing cards line the two walls. One of these cards - the Ace of Clubs - is actually a door that leads to a chamber that Robin and the two thieves are herded into. Subsequently, Lewis begins to pump toxic nerve gas into the room. The Joker then shows Batman a table upon which there are dozens of playing cards, and tells him that touching one card in particular will cause a secret door inside the chamber to open.
Taking an incredibly risky chance, Batman chooses the Joker card, reasoning that it would fit with The Joker's twisted sense of humor. He guesses right, and a door indeed appears inside the chamber for the three to escape through. A sore loser, The Joker demands that Batman make one last gamble with him - this time, with their own lives on the line. Lewis, meanwhile, attempts to herd Robin and the two thieves back into the chamber, but the Boy Wonder slams the door in his face and subsequently overpowers him.
In the meantime, Joker and Batman have arrived at the site of their final gamble - a giant roulette wheel. The Joker picks zero, the house number, while Batman picks slot number eleven. The Joker then starts the motor, causing an enormous metal ball to bounce around the wheel. If it lands on either of their spots, it will kill them. Batman, however, figures out that Joker had rigged the game - a wire around the wheel prevents the ball from landing in his slot. The Dark Knight tears out the wire, making the wheel fair again, and the ball nearly crushes the Joker a moment afterward.
Panicked, The Joker flees with Batman hot on his heels. Robin and the two thieves, meanwhile, have escaped the mansion and meet up with the Dark Knight, the two thieves telling Batman that they are ready to surrender themselves and return the radium. The Dynamic Duo then continue pursuing The Joker, narrowly dodging two huge dice that his dice machine shoots out. Still not ready to give himself up, The Ace of Knaves take one last gamble, diving off of a cliff overlooking the sea. Robin sees no sign of him, and reasons that he had drowned, but Batman responds that Joker's death is one thing he would never gamble on.