Batman #176: "Catwoman, Princess of Plunder!"

Batman #176 (80 Page Giant #17)
"Catwoman, Princess of Plunder!"
December, 1965

Story: Unknown
Art: Unknown

     After midnight in Gotham City, a gunman surrenders to The Dynamic
Duo on the ledge of the town clock tower.  Morning in Gotham, finds The
Catwoman reading about The Caped Crusader's capture of the last of The
Thorn Gang, and his vow to bring in The Feline Felon, as well.  She has
an idea, then sends out letters to members of the big rackets, who will
certainly be interested in her plan.  Two days pass, and in a field
located on the outskirts of Gotham, the recipients of Catwoman's letters
are gathered in one spot, just as an irate, elderly farmer emerges from
behind a tree, and trains his shotgun on the trespassers.  The "farmer"
removes the mask, and The Catwoman greets her guests, and lets them in on
the details of her scheme.  She has decided to make Batman into a
laughing stock so that the racketeers' men won't be afraid of him.  To
the racketeers, this is a feat beyond price, but they wonder... how will
Catwoman manage to pull it off?  She declares to the assembled crooks
that her natural feline cunning is easily superior to Batman's
cleverness, and since The Caped Crusader has vowed to catch her, she will
match wits with him!  At Stately Wayne Manor, Alfred brings the morning
paper, and Mawster Bruce and Dick see that Catwoman is on the loose, and
has issued a challenge to The Caped Crusader.  Not one to back away from
such things, Bruce accepts her challenge.

     Bruce, Dick, and Alfred see in the newspaper how Catwoman has
revealed the routes and times of her arrival and departure.  Her first
stop is Pittsburgh on the 7 a.m. train, and Dick wonders if this could be
a trick, but Bruce knows that Catwoman is on the level, and that this is
something that Batman can't afford to overlook!  Dick points out that
Catwoman will be in disguise and that it will be difficult to find her
among the other passengers on the train, but Bruce remembers that the
Pittsburgh train carries only two coaches.  The following morning finds a
crowd at the train station, each hoping to see Batman and The Catwoman
boarding the train bound for Pittsburgh!  (Holy Contino, Batman!)  As the
train pulls out, an elderly man is standing by the water-cooler, and eyes
those who are getting a drink of water, then discards the paper cups.  In
the baggage room, Dick eyes the paper cups with a magnifying glass, as
the disguised Batman eyes The Catwoman's thumbprint on the seventh cup,
which belongs to an elderly lady in a green hat!  (Holy Cat In The Hat,
Batman!)  In the rear coach car, an elderly gentleman meets up with an
equally elderly and quite startled lady, who recognizes her nemesis, then
runs away, with the disguised Caped Crusader warning her not to jump off
the train at this speed!

     Batman pulls the emergency brake, and tells Robin that Catwoman
leaped from the train, and went over the bridge!  What the two
crime-fighters don't know is that The Feline Felon has her men set up a
net for just such an emergency!  Sometime later, The Dynamic Duo come
across the net, and thirty minutes later, Batman and Robin are on the
roof of a building in Pittsburgh, with The Boy Wonder pointing out that
they can't possibly search all of Pittsburgh for The Catwoman, but The
Caped Crusader has noticed the water route to Nashville, Tennessee,
towards Ohio, and leading to the Cumberland River, where Nashville is
located.  (Holy River Runs Through It, Batman!)  In Catwoman's letter,
which was printed in the newspaper, she is to take the Southern Maid
steamer, and both don new disguises for the trip.  The Boy Wonder is now
disguised as "Lulubelle" and Batman is "her" Papa, whose mischevious
little girl can go around and uncover Catwoman's disguise!  As the
steamer makes its way through the muddy waters of the inland, "Lulubelle"
has covered the boat three times, and has spotted a woman wearing a
wig...  However, this is an innocent wig-wearer, and not The Catwoman!
When Lulubelle's "Papa" offers to apologize for his daughter's behavior,
the startled matron slaps him across the face for his improper upbringing
of the child.  (Holy Child Labor Laws, Batman!)

     "Lulubelle" smiles as "she" admits that the wrong wig was pulled,
but "Papa" figures that perhaps The Catwoman didn't necessarily disguise
herself as a woman.  "Papa" tells "Lulubelle" to look up so that others
will also look up to see what they're staring at, and "Lulubelle" wonders
how this will enable them to find Catwoman?  It isn't long before "Papa"
Batman charges at a young man, who is curiously lacking an Adam's Apple,
and is none other than The Catwoman!  Thugs rush to aid Catwoman, with
Robin shouting a warning, but Batman is struck a blow on the head, and
the last thing he hears is Catwoman's appointment at The Greek's in
Nashville.  The disguised Caped Crusader is pitched onto the paddle
wheel, but Robin, having shucked his disguise, manages to swing to his
mentor's aid, only to have a hand reach out of a porthole, and cut their
lifeline with a knife!

     With the disguised Batman unconscious, and no time to swim around,
Robin dives with the unconscious Crusader, then makes for shore, where
Batman removes his disguise, then makes plans for Catwoman's next stop.
When Robin tells him about overhearing The Feline Felon asking the
crewmen to meet her at The Greek's for payment in helping her to escape,
The Dynamic Duo have an hour in Nashville before she is to make her leave
by plane.  Using his binoculars, The Caped Crusader eyes the state house,
and its Greek architecture, with The Boy Wonder figuring that Catwoman
wouldn't dare meet the men there when she's wanted by the law, and Batman
is reminded of Centennial Park, where there is a reproduction of The
Parthenon!  At Centennial Park, on the site of The 1897 Tennessee
Centennial Exposition, Batman disguises himself as one of the crewmen,
while Robin intends on stalling the thugs if they arrive, and in the
darkness, the disguised Crusader greets The Catwoman, who gives him the
payoff... a gun pointed at him, for the men who aided her were not aware
that she was The Feline Felon!

     She points out that his latest disguise hasn't been of much help,
but Batman is confident that the game isn't over yet!  Catwoman warns him
not to follow or she'll shoot, but he can't let her get away!  Both are
poised, while outside, The Boy Wonder is on the watch for Catwoman's
hired hands, and the sound of a shot is heard, sending Robin racing for
The Parthenon Building!  Knowing that Batman doesn't carry gun, The Boy
Wonder is expecting the worst, but he finds his partner a little worse
for wear after using a Batarang to snatch the gun from Catwoman's grasp,
but yanked too hard, and the gun struck him on the head, with enough time
for her to escape!  Catwoman is now on a plane for Miami, then Long
Beach, California, and quick romps to Las Vegas, Nevada, New Orleans,
Minneapolis, Chicago... and after a week...  A hoods convention in
Gotham, where the rackeeters and their men have been monitoring
Catwoman's progress, but wonder if The Feline Felon has been sticking to
her route.  The leader smirks, and tells them what they'll see next
should put an end to Batman's rep for good!!

     Crime photographers have been following Catwoman's progress, and the
slides they have taken should show the hoods of the crime czars that The
Caped Crusader has been cowed!  In Las Vegas, Nevada, Batman fails to
stop Catwoman from making her getaway on a horse.  In Miami, he also
fails to stop her from getting away in a waiting speedboat.  In New
Orleans, The Catwoman and The Caped Crusader shake hands at what seems to
be the end of the chase, but she grabs some overhead railing, then kicks
Batman in the jaw to make her exit!  The crime czar assures his men that
when The Feline Felon arrives to give her report of how she outwitted The
Masked Manhunter, they won't be a superstitious cowardly lot anymore!  On
the outskirts of Chicago, Catwoman is about to take off from a meadow,
with Batman attempting to climb one of the plane's wings, but he fails...
or has he?  Robin wonders why The Caped Crusader had him hang back, for
if he had been there, they would have caught her for sure!  Batman smiles
at The Boy Wonder, for they've succeeded, even with Catwoman's latest
getaway... which is exactly what he wanted her to do!

     He didn't mention how he could've have caught her a dozen times
since their encounter in Florida, and he's deliberately allowed her to
escape!  Batman knew that being vain wasn't the reason for Catwoman
wanting to ruin his reputation, and with the participation of others in
her escapes, he also knew that things were worked out in advance.  A
large crime organization must be behind her, and The Caped Crusader
wanted Catwoman to lead them to her employers!  When Robin points out
that they won't be able to catch up with her plane, Batman shows him that
Alfred has arrived with The Bat-Plane, in answer to his mawster's call!
In the air, Robin wonders how they'll be able to find Catwoman's plane in
order to follow it, and as they spot it, Batman tells his old chum about
the transmitter he planted on the side of her plane so that they can
track her by radio beam!  In an open field outside of Gotham, Catwoman
lands her plane, to a villainess' welcome from the waiting crooks, but
they are in for a surprise as The Bat-Plane swoops over them, and casts
its dragnet to snare the thug and The Feline Felon, herself!  At Stately
Wayne Manor, Dick sees Bruce reading the newspaper, and notes that
Batman's reputation is still of a grim nature, and even the millionaire
playboy admits that it seems to be too grim, for every Gotham crook will
think twice before trying anything for quite some time!

     This adventure was part of a Complete Sunday Newspaper Syndicated
Story from 1946.

     With all the discussion on cats, I felt it was appropriate to run a
review on The Catwoman, who leads Batman and Robin on a merry chase.

      During their adventure, The Dynamic Duo find themselves in
Pittsburgh, home of mild-mannered (who am I kidding?) Pulse writer Jen

      The bit where the disguised duo look up and cause Catwoman to
reveal the flaw in her disguise was also used by E. Nelson Bridwell in
The Power Records Batman album, which also featured adventures with The
Joker, The Scarecrow, and The Riddler.  My mom got me the album back in
1977, and it was a delight to hear Batman and Robin match wits with their
Rogues Gallery.  It had a back and front cover art by Dick Giordano.  On
the front, Batman is looking at The Bat-Signal, and on the back, he is
swinging, and is surrounded by four of his greatest foes. 

     My cousins had the Power Records Six Million Dollar Man album, but I
kept listening to Batman's adventures, which even had my non-comics
reading cousins tuning in, as well.

     The use of information, such as The Parthenon in Nashville, makes me
think that Bill Finger was the writer of this adventure.

     I'm guessing that Jack Burnley was the artist on the story, but I
could be wrong.

     On Earth-2, The Caped Crusader would marry The Former Feline Felon,
and writer Alan Brennart would use reprinted stories from another Batman
80 Page Giant, such as The Spinner's giant tops, and Catwoman's Cat-Plane
to provide The Dark Knight Detective with an Interlude On Earth-2."

     Steve Chung
     "Catwoman, Princess of Review!"