Welcome to the latest instalment of Mister Cinecal Reviews Batman 1943, my unwieldy-titled series which looks back at the very first Batman film and asks the important questions, like ‘How is Linda Page even still alive? ’ and ‘Do you even know what a swami is Batman 1943?’ Today is Chapter 4 in the 15 part serial: Slaves of the Rising Sun!
So last time the evil Doctor (Formerly Known as Prince) Daka sent his hirelings to blow up a train and Batman tried to stop them but a train was barrelling down towards him. Everybody, Batman gets destroyed by this train. Parts flying everywhere, very violent for 1943, I wouldn’t think such a horrific end for the hero would be allowed by the Hays Code. And that twist ending where Daka helps Japan disintegrate the United States? Very surprising. By which I mean, Batman just moves out of the way. He and Robin fall into the water below and the onlooking gangsters are like ‘Well, they’ve drowned, obviously’. They couldn’t stick around a little to make sure, no? The gangsters are worried about Daka because for 3 chapters in a row they’ve completely failed him, but their leader Forster tells them not to worry about it because he’s going to take care of Daka. With your track record lads I’d be a little worried. They leave, juuuust in time for Batman and Robin to emerge and swim easily to safety.
Daka meanwhile, is throwing meat into a pit where he keeps his pet alligators, Nojo Nojo and Sako Sako. They didn’t even try with these names did they? He is pretty adorable with his pets though, even when he’s contemplating sending his brainwashed zombie Uncle Martin down for them to eat. I swear they were definitely calling this guy Uncle Warren in the first two chapters, now he’s ‘Martin Warren’. Did they just change their minds? Is niece Linda Page just not on very good terms with him? He was in prison after all. Daka meets his cabal of treacherous Americans and they begin knocking back saki to prematurely celebrate the success in blowing up the train. Forster arrives to their secret hideout at the racist fairground ride. Now, there’s always a guy standing outside this thing, trying to entice punters. I assume he must know about the hideout, so I have to wonder what he would do if anyone actually took him up on his offer. “Step right up folks! Look at the scary Asians!” “Yeah okay, looks like fun!” “…um. It’s…out of order. Go away. And just as a sidebar, there are definitely no saboteurs in here.”
Forster tells Daka that they didn’t blow up the train or get the radium gun back, but he’s decided to quit anyway. He must have read what I said about the gangsters last week. He tells Daka that he’s had it with these Axis boys and he doesn’t go in for that “applesauce”. 40s slang is pretty fun when it isn’t dehumanising Asians. Daka sends his zombies after him and it seems like Forster has the upper hand when he shoots one of them and threatens at Daka. Specifically, he threatens to send him “back to his ancestors” and when Daka tell him he can go, he says “that’s the kind of answer that fits the colour of your skin!” Well that’s the kind of racism that fits being eaten by alligators, as Daka pushes a button and Forster falls through a trap door to his death.
|Forster is sent Down Under and tastes disgusting. Probably.|
Daka has heard that the Gotham City Foundation is expecting another shipment of radium that day (didn’t they just get some yesterday? How much radium does one city need?), walking concussion Linda Page has the order form for it, reliable worker that she is. So they’re going to get the order form from her and intercept the precious radium. Daka seems to come up with a new sinister plot every 45 minutes. That’s probably why none of them work out, you’ve got to think these things through. Well, they also don’t work because he keeps sending the same 4 ineffectual goons, but one of them has been eaten now so perhaps Daka’s fortunes are about to change! Maybe he prayed to his ‘ancestors’!!
Linda calls up Bruce, telling him that she received an anonymous tip that if she goes to a fortune tellers, she’ll receive some word about where her uncle is. Understandably, she’s scared and confused, so she asks Bruce is he and Dick will accompany her. With his classic patronising patron laugh, Bruce tells her that he and Dick already have plans for a game of polo she’ll have to go it alone. Yes, secretly he’s Batman and he’s going to check this place out before she even gets there but there really is no need to put her through the ringer like this other than 40s Bruce Wayne is an insensitive old dick who’d probably rather actually be playing polo than helping people. He scares his butler, patronises his sweetheart, endangers both, gets into awkward fights, eagerly wields a ray gun, all with a smile on his face. Serial Batman is a Serial Sociopath.
So Bruce and Dick show up at the home of the ‘Swami’. What was the fascination entertainment in the 30s and 40s had with Swamis? Did all the writers go on holiday to India at the same time and all get hoodwinked by the same tourist trap? Anyway, when the Swami won’t give them any information Bruce punches him out and dons his costume so he can talk to Linda. When she comes in, Swami Bruce clouds himself in darkness and warns her that people are after her and she needs to get out of there. And then.
As she’s leaving, while she’s still in the same goddamn room, one of Daka’s goons emerges from darkness, puts his hand over Linda’s mouth and drags her off and Bruce. Does. Not. Notice. I know it is dark but fuck me, she was two feet away from him! They were in the same room! All that money and he can’t get an eye test, no? They were in the same room! Fucking switch on Batman! It’s only when he heads out and has a meeting with the brain trust of Robin and Alfred does he suspect there’s some problem and they rush back into the fortune teller’s, finding Linda unconscious in the back room, her order form for the radium gone. Nice job hero. How many more spells of unconsciousness must this woman endure while Batman ineffectually saves America from the threat of the Axis powers? Justice League be keeping this gobshite on hold. This clown isn’t the World’s Greatest Detective, he’s Inspector Gadget. Robin is Penny. There is no Brain.
|You didn't have to be able to see the future to see that one coming, you clod.|
Whatever. There’s a car chase. Robin drives. I’m certain this Batman can’t drive. Fuck this Batman. He hops onto the bad guys car, he blows a hole in it with his radium gun (BATMAN AND HIS TRUSTY GUN) it falls off a cliff. Excellent. I know he’s going to be okay but I can still hope he breaks a couple of bones on the way. Great Caeser’s ghost, this guy. Take it away Racist Narrator: “Daka is communicating with a Jap submarine! What devilry does he plan? Who do Daka and his hirelings have in the coffin? (There’s a coffin) And must Robin carry on the struggle alone? Don’t fail to see ‘The Living Corpse, Chapter 5 of Batman at this theatre, next week!”
Check out previous chapters!
…they were in the same room!