Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Friday, 15 August 2014

Mister Cinecal Reviews Batman 1943, Chapter 11: A Nipponese Trap!

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 ‘Wasn't this feature supposed to be every Friday?’ and 'Who even is Batman again? I've forgotten it's been such a long time.' Today is Chapter 11 in the 15 part serial: A Nipponese Trap! On a number of levels, I'm so sorry.


As we head into the final stretch of the Batman serial (there's about four chapters left), here's a recap of the brief recap of the events so far. Batman and Robin have a vaguely defined job for the government and a nice desk in their basement. Alfred is treated as a senile joke/gangster bait by his slavemasters. A Japanese Doctor (and sometimes Prince), Daka, is hiding out in America, carrying out acts of sabotage and trying to get his hands on some radium. He can turn people into zombie slaves, including Uncle Warren, the Uncle Warren of Bruce Wayne's lady-friend (ish?) Linda Page. No one is quite as worried as they should be that Warren is missing. Batman repeatedly tries to get to the bottom of Daka's plot, but usually fails and doesn't even really know Daka exists. Daka repeatedly tries to get radium and fails. Japanese people are not treated especially warmly. As the last chapter ended, Batman was racing off to get some radium before Daka's gangster henchmen, but they shot his car off the road. As is typical for this serial, the thing Batman was in exploded.

Of course, he managed to get out just in the nick of time, as he explains to Robin and Alfred as they show up. I have to believe that in the last chapter Batman is just going to collapse like a sand castle that's been kicked in, and this whole thing has been death by a thousand cuts. Despite his invulnerability, the gangsters have managed to get the radium, and head off to Daka's secret base in the racist fairground ride. I have so many questions about racist fairground ride, a haunted house on rails type deal about the terrible Japanese that's egregious enough that it almost makes me forget that the Japanese actually did commit horrific crimes during WW2. Does Daka hide their because nobody would ever suspect it or because he has a deeply hidden self-hatred? Were propaganda fairground rides a real thing? Anyway, Daka meets his gangsters who tell him that they were betrayed by Chuck White (Batman's undercover criminal get-up) but they got the radium and "This time we finished (Batman) for sure". They do not say "Huh, I just got the weirdest case of deja vu, like I've said those exact words before", but they should. Daka tells them that they need to find and eliminate Chuck White. He's really pleased to have gotten his hands on that radium at last, convinced his ray gun is going to let him help Japan take the USA down/ Oh poor Daka, if only you knew what the Americans are cooking up for your people as you speak. You need to think bigger than a ray gun darling.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce is trying to decide his next course of action. For no actual reason I can fathom, Dick is eating on a banana while they ruminate. Having turned in a gangster hostage to the police a chapter or two back, Bruce decides to don his Chuck White disguise again, pretend to get arrested and see if he can get some info out of Marshall the prisoner. As he begins to apply make-up, he tells banana munching Dick to go to bed. Once again, the Seduction of the Innocent guy takes copious notes.

'Chuck White' is arrested for prowling and manages the good fortune of being put in a cell next to Marshall, as opposed to absolutely any other cell. Chuck lights a cigarette and lends Marshall one too. It seems odd to allow them cigarettes in a jail cell, but considering the time period they probably thought the medical benefits of cigarette smoke could cure criminals of the desire to commit crimes. Chuck tells Marshall that during one of his prowls, he prowled his way into a big house nearby. Inside, he found a weird cave, with bats everywhere and a big desk right in the middle of it. I love that he bring up the desk, sure they didn't have the means or the budget for typical Batcave fare like the giant penny or the T-Rex statue, but at least they included a nice, sturdy desk. Marshall tells him of his fellow gangsters hideout (Batman is really not doing a great job in this Gotham, these goons have like 50 hideouts), saying that they would dearly love to know the whereabouts of the Batcave. Dick and Alfred pay for bail, but it's going to take a while, so they go home. When he does get released, something ridiculous happens.

The gangsters sent to kill Chuck White wait for him outside the police station. They've been tasked with Plan 5 by Daka, which probably didn't need a number since it's just 'run him over'. That, presumably, is the 'Nipponese Trap', and what a meticulous and cunning plan 'just run him the fuck over already' is. However, they decide to take things up a notch. They wait for him to get into a taxi, which they then ram in the massive truck that they are driving. It's about the size of that truck the Joker had in The Dark Knight. Honestly, this shocked me. They plough that car right off the road into a street lamp WITH A TRUCK, knocking it onto it's side. "This time we finished him for sure"...and the deja vu kicks in again...

Cut to Bruce Wayne standing up in the hospital fresh as a daisy, being told that he's totally fine by a doctor and calling Alfred to come pick him up. What. Does Batman just have Wolverine's healing factor? Can anything put a scratch on him? If the government has this guy on their payroll, they are wasting him in Gotham. Pack him off to the frontlines, he'll have the war ended by Saturday afternoon, it'll be like Dr Manhattan in Vietnam.
NOT A BIG DEAL APPARENTLY

At the hideout, safe in the knowledge that Batman and Chuck White are 100% absolutely definitely dead, the bad guys are playing gin. One of them decides to go for a walk until his luck improves. He opens the door and Batman is just on the other side, who decks him. I wonder how long he was standing there waiting. I wonder if Batman ever spends so long lurking in the shadows, waiting for crime, and nobody ever comes, and he just feels like a dick in his bat-themed pyjamas, and he just goes home. Anyway, he and Robin burst in and fight the goons. Which they manage to keep up for about, oh, 28 seconds, before they're both whacked over the head and knocked out. Better not do that to Batman lads, apparently he just absorbs the pain and becomes stronger or something. Robin recovers long enough to get to the bad guy's radio equipment and call for help. The gangsters, after removing Batman's mask and discovering the shocking secret that he is...Chuck White, take down Robin, rig the place to blow and hightail it out of there. Batman recovers long enough to wrestle with headgoon, but alas, the place blows up. Because if there's one thing that kills Batman for sure, it's explosions.

And so Racist Narrator sets up next week, without the usual offensive terminology, but with the usual threats against Linda Page's life and pretense that Batman isn't going to be in the next episode of the thing called BATMAN: "That's a poisoned cigarette Captain Arnold is about to smoke! And Daka's men use Zombie Warren to lure his niece Linda into the spy's clutches. Who put that cigarette onto those oily rags! Can Linda escape from the burning building? Don't fail to see 'Embers of Evil, chapter 12 of Batman, at this theatre next week!"
The look of shock on his face syncs perfectly with Narrator saying that his cigarette is poisoned. "Poisoned!? Oh fuck!"

Things's are really heating up eh? Eh? Hahahahahasigh.

Check out previous chapters!


  • Chapter 1: The Electrical Brain!
  • Chapter 2: The Bat's Cave!
  • Chapter 3: Mark of the Zombies
  • Chapter 4: Slaves of the Rising Sun!
  • Chapter 5: The Living Corpse!
  • Chapter 6: Poison Peril! 
  • Chapter 7: The Phoney Doctor!
  • Chapter 8: Lured by Radium!
  • Chapter 9: The Sign of the Sphinx!
  • Chapter 10: Flying Spies!
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