Over the past couple of years I’ve been slowly acquiring cards from the 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” set. At first it was just replacing lost cards from my childhood, then it was picking up a few others I found appealing. At some point I saw that I had a fair number of cards from the 11-card “Batman vs. The Joker” subset, so I decided to work towards completing that subset.
I recently picked up the last two cards I needed to finish off the storyline, and to commemorate that minor achievement I decided to share the entire 11-card subset along with the text from the back. Instead of making you read off of an image like this:
I’ve taken the time to type out the text of the back of each card. See how well I treat you guys?
One thing I’d never noticed until I typed these out is that many cards have an italicized phrase that corresponds to the image on the front. I’ve replicated those italics here.
One more thing I’ll point out before we get into this… This concept has faded over the years, but “Batman” is not his name, it’s his title. Much as you would say “I’m going to see the doctor” and “Doctor, please look at this X-ray”, you would say “This is a job for the Batman!” and “Batman, come quickly!” I just wanted to point that out because the card backs throw in “the Batman” every so often.
Oh, and one last thing (I feel like Stephen Colbert)… Cards #1 and #2 are devoted to Batman and Robin and are not part of this subset; that’s why I’m starting with #3 (not to mention that I still don’t have those two cards, which carry a significant premium).
Now that we have all of that out of the way, here is the full “Batman vs. The Joker” story arc:
#3 THE BAT SIGNAL
A new adventure for Batman and Robin was about to begin. The huge symbol of a bat cast its shadow upon the clouds of the night sky. A large searchlight upon the roof of police headquarters was summoning the aid of the mysterious duo who were so efficient in solving so many of the most baffling mysteries. It was not long before the super-sleek Batmobile appeared before headquarters.
#4 MIDNIGHT CONFERENCE
Commissioner Gordon ushered Batman and Robin into his private office. There he presented them with the facts of the latest crime to which there seemed to be no clue. A valuable formula had been stolen. Also, many of the biggest racketeers of the country had recently assembled in the city. Could there be some connection? If so, how could they get proof? This was The Batman’s task.
#5 ROOF TOP VIGIL
For several nights, the shadowy form of The Batman kept watch over the building where the racketeers frequently gathered upon the top floor. Through the skylight he was able to see them, and hear parts of their conversation. No clue, however, was revealed as to their reason for being in the city, nor of any connection with the stolen formula case he had hoped to solve.
#6 CHLOROFORM VICTIM
While The Batman kept vigil upon the roof, Robin stayed below, close to the Batmobile. Suddenly a hand reached out of the darkness, clasping a chloroform-soaked cloth to his face. In a moment, he sank to the ground unconscious. When Batman returned, Robin was just beginning to revive. “This doesn’t make sense,” exclaimed Batman. “Why should someone knock you out and then just leave?”
#7 GRIM REALIZATION
“Perhaps while I was unconscious,” suggested Robin, “someone planted a bomb in the Batmobile, hoping to get both of us that way!” The eyes of Batman narrowed as he realized the possibility of Robin’s theory. Had he started the Batmobile, they might have both been blown up. In fact it seemed the only reasonable explanation for the unexplained attack upon Robin.
#8 INTO THE BATMOBILE
Batman and Robin made a thorough search of the Batmobile, but found no indication that it might have been wired as a trap. They also tested the fuel tank, to make certain that no liquid explosive had been added. “Perhaps the plan was simply to delay us,” said Robin. The two vaulted over the sides of the Batmobile and into their seats. “Let’s check the police reports!” exclaimed the Batman.
#9 FACE OF THE JOKER
As the crime bosses gathered for another meeting, the lights suddenly went out, and the room was filled with chilling laughter. Then a large face was projected upon the wall, announcing the arrival of The Joker. “Sorry to have kept you waiting for so many days,” came a voice from the darkness, “I have had men keeping watch, hoping to discover the traitor among you before now.”
#10 CRIME CZAR
The Joker continues speaking to the crooks. . . “A portion of the secret formula I arranged for you to steal is missing. One of you is a traitor against my plans to become crime czar of the nation. My spies have told me that none of you have as yet tried to slip the missing formula to my major rival, so I must now resort to giving you all a lie detector test. Into the next room, all of you!”
#11 POISON PELLET
“So!” exclaims the Joker, pointing a finger at one of the men, “The lie detector shows that you are the traitor. But you no longer have a copy of the formula on you. What did you do with it?”
Before the Joker can stop him, the crook swallows a pellet of poison. “You’ll never torture me!” he gasps, as he falls to the floor. “Only the Cat Woman knows where to find the formula now!”
#12 BATMAN STRIKES!
Suddenly, the Batman crashes through the skylight, knocking two of the thugs to the floor. The Joker attempts to escape, but is trapped as police swarm through the door. “You have no evidence against us,” screams the Joker. “The man on the floor killed himself, with poison!”
“We have evidence of other crimes,” says Batman. “Someone sent the commissioner a large package of proof!”
#13 THE JOKER IN JAIL
“But why would the Cat Woman send the police evidence against the Joker and all of his accomplices?” asks Robin.
“Probably to remove competition,” explains Batman. “And now that she has the Joker’s gang out of the way, she’ll probably start planning something really big!”
A loud laugh rings out from the nearby cell. “Crime marches on, while the Joker gets a rest!” mocks the crime clown.
The 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” series was the first of several series issued to capitalize on the popularity of the campy TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Within the 55-card Black Bat series were 4 subsets, each detailing a story of Batman vs. The Joker, The Penguin, Cat Woman and The Riddler.
Now that I’ve completed the “Joker” subset, I’m temporarily putting my search for Batman cards on the back-burner… towards the end of the search, it was becoming more of a task than a joy, so I feel the need to step away for a little while. I’m only sharing this with you to let you know that this may be the last Batman post for a while. (Cue the disappointed groans, mixed with the sounds of people shuffling for the exits).