Batman #273 (1976)

Batman #273 (March, 1976)
“The Bank-Shot that Baffled Batman”
Writer – David V. Reed
Penciller – Ernie Chua
Inker – Frank McLaughlin
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.25

It’s the Underworld Olympics ’76!  That’s gotta be fun, right?

The American Bicentennial is approaching, and as such the Gotham Colonial Minutemen Corps is preparing to play out a reenactment of the Revolutionary War.  During this rehearsal in particular, it would appear that some of the “Red Coats” swapped out their prop Howitzer Cannon with the real-deal.  Oh!  They’re using real bullets too, so there’s that.  The scene ends with the Union Jack being planted in the “war zone”… something Batman sees via the Justice League Satellite.

The next night, Batman and Commissioner Gordon scan the scene for clues… but come up empty.  Elsewhere, points are being tabulated for… the Underground Olympics ’76… the, what now?  Anyhoo, the Revolutionary War reenactment scheme scored the European Team a cool 20 points.  In an adjoining room, the Europeans meet up with the Liaison Man (there’s a sweet name!) to discuss their next caper.  A couple of dudes named Paolo and Boris take point.

The next day Bruce Wayne is toiling away in his office… signing some stuff.  By the way he’s talking about it, you’d figure he was digging ditches up there.  On the ground level is a bank, where Boris and Paolo are dropping off some things for their safe-deposit box.  At that very moment, a robbery takes place!

Upon hearing a bit of machine gun fire, Batman suits up and swoops in.  He’s able to wrangle all the baddies but one… but, that’s okay… Batman thinks he recognizes the one that got away with the loot.  Back at the European Team Headquarters, the Olympians are quite annoyed that one of their boxes was swiped… turns out, they need them all for the coming caper.

Across town, Batman is doing a bit of reconnaissance on slippery bad guy, Speed Durkin who is meeting with his regular fence, Simon Hakes… with a bunch of random safety deposit boxes!  He swoops in to shut down the exchange… but gets nailed from behind with an iron bar.  Before he can get his wits about him, the attacker leaps out the window.

We return to the European Team Headquarters where they are celebrating the return of the missing safety deposit box… thanks to Boris Chomsky!  Now they have everything they need to proceed with their Olympic plan.

Back at First Gotham Bank, Batman and Gordon are meeting with manager Mr. Haines.  He’s making the apology call tour… and is informing a particular client that his safety deposit box was stolen.  Batman listens in on the extension, and they’re both a bit puzzled to find that the owner of the box (Paolo, in this case) doesn’t seem too terribly bothered by the loss.

The next day, Bruce Wayne watches while Boris and Paolo drop some more boxes off at safety deposit… and so, that night… as Batman, he starts searching the vault.  He finds bits of machinery stowed in each one, that when put together forms the stolen Colonial Cannon… and an artillery shell.

A few hours pass, and the European Team returns to the vault.  Batman is still lingering, and uses his Bat-stethoscope to listen in.  He makes a call to Alfred to watch for any ballistics emanating from the bank.  Moments later, the Europeans fire a shot into the sky.

Batman beats up the baddies before Alfred guides him to the approximate landing site of the artillery shell.  He arrives at Standish Hill just as Boris and Paolo are digging it up.  He beats them up as well.

We wrap up with the Underworld Olympics Council deducting points for the sloppy European caper… and Batman getting a new addition to his trophy room… eh???

Welp… didn’t much care for this.

It feels like something went over my head here.  I really didn’t understand the point here.  The European Team switches out a cannon… hides the old cannon in pieces at the bank vault… then sets to fire an artillery shell from the bank vault to the hill they swiped the cannon from?  Wha–?  What was the point of all that?

Yesterday we read and discussed a Superman comic from around this vintage and I was pleased at how “low-stakes” the entire deal was… but this, while relatively low-stakes (minus all the murdered Revolutionary soldiers) was just kinda boring, and confusing… I really didn’t dig it.

Not a whole lot more to say, unfortunately.  I was hoping a story featuring the “Underworld Olympics” would have been a bit sillier… perhaps a bit more engaging.  What I got instead felt a lot like filler.  Probably not worth tracking down, though your Bat-mileage may vary.

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