Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mister Cinecal Reviews Batman 1943, Chapter 13: Eight Steps Down!

Welcome to the latest installment of Mister Cinecal reviews Batman 1943, my unwieldly-titled series which looks back at the very first Batman movie and asks the important questions, like 'Why is Batman so passive aggressive towards the police?" Today is Chapter 13 in the 15 part serial: Eight Steps Down!

Now as of last week, after many chapters where Batman and his enemies were just spinning their wheels, things finally started happening. Batman began closing in on actually encountering the Japanese spy Daka, who so far he has never seen or even (as far as I can remember) even heard being mentioned. Daka on the other hand, has finally begun working on another radium gun with which to sabotage America on behalf of the Axis powers. He's even managed to kidnap Linda Page, who is apparently Bruce Wayne's fiancee? Again, my memory is not great, it's possible that that was mentioned in a previous chapter, but Linda, you poor thing, don't get married to that goon. Batman attempted to rescue her from a burning building, but she had already been escorted out by one of the gangsters holding her prisoner. Why not marry him instead Linda? He's already shown himself to be more reliable.

Having realised that Linda is not in the building, Batman escapes just before it collapses. He meets back up with Alfred and Robin who were waiting in the car. "You look frightfully fatigued" says Alfred, making me hope that this Alfred acts as Batman's personal physician like he does in other continuities. Batman stumbling over to him, riddled with bullets. "Oh my sir! You are looking a little poorly, aren't you?" Batman makes his way to a pay phone to contact Police Chief Arnold. He asks if the police have nabbed the one of the head gangsers, Bernie, yet. He doesn't take it well when Arnold tells him that they went to the gangster's Sphinx Club and were told by the people there that they'd never heard of any Bernie. "Well it wasn't smart to take their word over mine." says Batman, hanging up. As passive aggressive as this is, Bats has a point. The only thing the police are ever shown doing in this serial is answering the phone to receive tips from Batman or answering the door to receive criminals delivered by Batman, they should really trust him and not fall for gangsters asking them "What's a Bernie?" Batman takes matters into his own hands and within about 5 minutes has captured Bernie and taken him back to his lair. Bernie gives up the location of another one of their hideouts (every building in Gotham appears to be one of their hideouts), the one in which Daka secretly observed "Chuck White" a few weeks ago. As always, interrogation scenes in the Batcave look liable to break out into 40s S&M at any moment.
Dom Batman caresses the face of his Sub, Richard Nixon

Just as every episode of Friends featured white people sitting around at a coffee shop chatting shite, every chapter of the Batman serial features Daka sitting around in his lair, hearing a buzzer at his door, checking a machine that shows an X-Ray identifying one of his men, him letting them in, and them telling him they killed Batman. "Another Batman killed eh?" Daka asks, having really become attached to this multiple Batman theory. You can see why he would will himself into believing that, rather than resigning himself to the fact that his henchmen are useless and couldn't kill Batman even if he came to them having ingested deadly poison, and they tied him to an anchor with a rope made out of razor blades and threw him into the ocean. And the ocean was on fire. From another entrance to his lair somewhere around the basement, another gangster brings in Linda.

Now in the search for a character in this film that I can actually get behind, I've been sticking up for Linda Page a bit recently. I appreciated her taking some initiative in finding her kidnapped uncle. I'm encouraging her anger at Bruce, he may think he's putting up a front of being unhelpful for secret identity purposes but is actually just really unhelpful. Then Linda gets face to face with Daka for the first time. "Ah! A Jap!" Oh Linda. All that goodwill gone to waste. At least I still have abused elderly employee Alfred to sympathise with. Daka tells her he wants her to send a message to Bruce to get him to come for her, because Daka thinks Bruce is a Batman. Now hang on a minute. Daka thinks that Bruce is Batman because he's Linda's fiancee and every time she's in danger Batman shows up to save her, but he ALSO thinks there must be more than one Batman because every week they "kill" one but they keep showing up. The two theories don't match up Daka. The Batmen you think you keep killing are all trying to save Linda all the time, so either none of them are Bruce and it's a coincidence they're looking out for Linda or there isn't more than one. Choose a theory and stick to it Daka! She refuses to do as Daka says, so he shows Linda her brainwashed uncle and sends her off to the brainwashing machine for the same fate. Seems a bit of a waste of electricity to be honest, surely if they're patient Batman will come for her whether she sends a message or not? Unless....perhaps wasting electricity is all part of Daka's sinister plan to sabotage America? That's inefficient, you scoundrel!

Batman and Robin have made their way to the hideout Bernie told them about. They go deeper and deeper down into it (well okay, they go eight steps down) before arriving at a dead end. Batman sends Robin back to the car to fetch a crowbar, and the plan seems to be to bash around the walls a bit to see f one of them falls down. That's the kind of intelligent finesse you would expect from the world's greatest detective. While Robin is gone, Batman finds a secret button that switches the lights on. Well, I say 'finds', he literally walks backwards onto it. And Batman has never been more surprised by anything than by their being a working lightbulb in the basement of this lair, he spends the next 5 minutes looking around in confusion, like he's never seen a lightbulb before, or like he briefly thought he was actually a bat and assumed he was disorientated by the light.

Daka takes a moment to pause from brainwashing Linda to observe Batman on one of his monitors, looking around like a gobshite. "They can see you!" she shouts at Batman on the screen, because it is the 1940s and televisions are a kind of new thing and Linda doesn't know how the magic box works. Daka pulls a switch and Batman falls into a pit with spiked walls pushing in on him, like Batman failed to push a button in time playing Dragon's Lair. He is on a similar wavelength intellectually to Dirk the Daring. Why isn't this chapter named after the spikey pit? There's a spiked pit trap, that seems a reasonable basis for naming a chapter of this serial, more so than the presence of eight steps anyway. Anyway, Linda is getting turned into a mindless zombie, and while that would make her a more suitable partner for Bruce Wayne, he is getting impaled in a video game quick time event. Robin has once again wandered out of harm's way, as he does every week. Perhaps the big finale will reveal that he's been on the Japanese side all along. Until that reveal, Racist Narrator sets up next week: "Daka's hirelings have someone in that box, who is it? And Daka's alligators are ravenously hungry! Don't fail to see 'The Executioner Strikes', Chapter 14 of Batman, at this theatre next week!"

I'm nearly certain that they used Daka's men carting a box with somebody inside to tease next week at least one before and I'm confused about the narrator pronouncing 'raven' in ravenously like the bird, but I am a little excited to see next week. Will that positive feeling last? To find out, tune in next week, same Hack Time, same Hack Channel!

  • 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!
  • Chapter 11: A Nipponese Trap!
  • Chapter 12: Embers of Evil!
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