Batman #77: "The Crime Predictor"

Batman #77
"The Crime Predictor"
June-July, 1953

Script: Edmond Hamilton
Batman and Robin figures: Bob Kane
Pencils: Lew Sayre Schwartz
Inks: Charles Paris

In the age of the machine, there are electronic calculating machines that
can predict tides, weather, and elections with ease. But could such a
device predict a crime? Could it gather data and foresee criminal
activity? Here is the tale of the bizarre rivalry, the duel of detecting
between a mechanical brain and the Caped Crusader in the case of..."The
Crime Predictor"

On the outskirts of Gotham City, Dr. Edward Arvin is preparing to reveal
his invention to a gathering of law enforcement officials. They have
been gathered here because the machine must be kept secret, and if the
underworld should learn of his crime predictor, they'll stop at nothing
to find it. Commissioner Gordon is grateful to have another weapon
against crime. Arvin's predictor works electronically. When criminal
statistics are fed into the machine via tape, it mathematically predicts
the future behavior of any known criminal. Since Gordon would like to
get his hands on "Mugs" Wilden, he asks what the criminal will be doing
next. The power is turned on and the electronic brain answers. From an
evaluation of Wilden's method of operation, and reviewing data on banks,
payrolls, and possible loot, the following prediction is made. "Mugs
Wilden will rob Gotham Ball bearing payroll tomorrow at nine A.M.!" His
own identity must be protected and the machine may expose it. Batman
would like to see in private, if it can identify him. Not having thought
of it, Dr. Arvin shows the Caped Crusader how to feed the questions into
the machine on paper tape, and only he will know the answer. When the
others have left the building, the answer to "who is Batman?"
"Insufficient data... but facts indicate Batman is a rich man, with no
job or business to hamper his crime fighting career!" The Boy Wonder
sees just how close the predictor came to the answer, but the Caped
Crusader regards it as a logical guess. The next question is, "Who is
Mr. Blank, the secret boss of Gotham City?" " but
Mr. Blank's knowledge of criminals implies a long criminal record!"
Robin sees that this is another logical answer, but Batman knows that
this is not helpful. The Boy Wonder goes outside to get Dr. Arvin and
Commissioner Gordon back inside. The Caped Crusader asks the crime
predictor what Mr. Blank's next crime will be.

"Mr. Blank will next murder Batman!" The Boy Wonder sees the answer and
doesn't like it one bit. Dr. Arvin assures the Dynamic Duo that the
predictor is always accurate, and advises caution. In the Batmobile,
Robin can't see how a calculating machine could predict crime, and
neither can the Caped Crusader. Dr. Arvin has nothing to gain by trying
to commit fraud, and especially since he offered his invention to the
authorities. The Dynamic Duo will be at the ball bearing company
tomorrow morning. The following day finds Batman and Robin arriving at
the ball bearing company. The Boy Wonder figures that it's foolish for
them to be there, but the Caped Crusader hears something inside. An
employee informs them that a robber is in the payroll office. At exactly
nine A.M., the machine's prediction has come true. Within the factory,
"Mugs" Wilden is waiting for them, and hurls a box of ball-bearings at
the two heroes.

Batman is able to dodge the ball-bearings, but Wilden turns on the
assembly-line belt of ball-bearings in reverse, and the monstrous
bearings are heading for him. The Caped Crusader manages to deflect the
giant-sized ball-bearings back at Wilden. "Mugs" is asked if Mr. Blank
is his boss. He's not, but "Mugs" Wilden wishes that he had thrown in
with him when he had a chance. Back at Commissioner Gordon's office, the
Commissioner is ready to pay another visit to Arvin and his machine.
Despite being more interested in Mr. Blank, the Dynamic Duo agree to head
to the laboratory with him. Outside, Gordon asks Batman if he's not
jealous of the predictor for predicting a crime. The Caped Crusader
assures his friend that he never lets his feelings interfere with his
work. If the crime predictor can help prevent crime, then he's willing
to be in second place to it. At the laboratory, Dr. Arvin hopes that the
Wilden crime has convinced them that the prediction of Mr. Blank
murdering Batman is real. The Commissioner asks the machine to predict
the next crime to occur in Gotham City.

"Boyar Mob will take jewel shipment from sealed car today three P.M.!"
The Caped Crusader figures that they should be ready for this particular
crime. At the very time foretold by the machine, a daylight robbery is
underway. As they wait for Boyar, the Boy Wonder hopes that the Mr.
Blank prediction doesn't come true. Batman spots the criminal heading
for a sealed express car. Before he and his gang can reach it, the
Dynamic Duo along with half the police department make their presence
known. Boyar enters a locomotive cab and makes for a roundhouse. With
Robin helping the police in rounding up the gang, the Caped Crusader
leaps for the cab after Boyar. Batman is blinded by the steam, but the
Boy Wonder hurls his rope over a beam. The next seconds find Robin
saving his mentor in time. The Caped Crusader blames himself for not
noticing that the locomotive had steam, and was raring to go. They must
catch Boyar before he leaves the yard.

The second time's the charm, with Boyar running out of steam, and Batman
stopping the locomotive. When the rest of his gang are gathered up, one
of them says to his boss that they should have joined in with Mr. Blank
like Robey had. The Caped Crusader knows about Rog Robey. In the crime
laboratory located in the Bat-Cave, Batman search for the file on Robey,
and knows that he has been lying low since he was paroled. The Boy
Wonder knows that if his mentor gets mixed up with Mr. Blank, he may die.
The Dynamic Duo look over Robey's record card, picture, fingerprints,
bertillon measurements, and other information. His main hobby is
bowling, and may also serve as a lead to his whereabouts. Robey's
personal effects were sold to pay the fine when he was jailed. Now that
he's a free man, as a bowler, he'd want a new bowling ball. The ball
would have to be made to fit the bowler's hand. The bertillon file
contains Robey's hand measurements and will also aid in locating their
man. After visiting some bowling supply stores in Gotham City, they
learn that a new bowling ball with the selfsame measurements was made for
a Mr. Jon Martin at 44 Pine Street. The Dynamic Duo decide to pay a call
on "Jon Martin." In the cottage at 44 Pine Street, Robey protests his
innocence, but the parolee is found with a gun in his possession, and
this would be enough for any court. While the Caped Crusader holds him,
the Boy Wonder binds him. Robey doesn't know who Mr. Blank is, but he's
a big figure in crime now that both Wilden and Boyar are in prison. With
Mr. Blank as his boss, he's not afraid of Batman. Leaving the parolee
in the other room, Batman and Robin enter the next room.

The Boy Wonder realizes that Robey won't talk any more about Mr. Blank,
but the Caped Crusader has got a plan to make Mr. Blank talk. Using his
makeup skill, Batman disguises himself as Rog Robey. Such a thing could
be dangerous if Mr. Blank should see through his disguise. While the
Caped Crusader checks out Robey's belongings, the Boy Wonder will take
the real Robey to police headquarters. Robin reminds his mentor that the
predictor hasn't made a mistake yet. When the Boy Wonder has left with
Robey, Batman sees that the parolee didn't leave anything written down,
and finds a strange smear on his topcoat. The dark oil is used to keep
sea divers' suits supple, and a salvage company would make good cover for
a criminal selling stolen goods. The Caped Crusader phones salvage
companies, identifying himself as Rog Robey. On the third try, Robey's
name gets the response that Batman has been waiting for, and he heads for
the salvage company where Mr. Blank is undoubtedly the boss.

While driving Robey in the Batmobile, Robin suddenly has second thoughts,
and decides to check out the predictor. Parking the Batmobile with Robey
in the passenger seat, the Boy Wonder enters through the back way, and
plans to ask the electronic brain how Mr. Blank plans to kill Batman. In
the laboratory of Dr. Arvin, Robin sees that the inventor is gone, and
the predictor has been wrecked. The underworld must have learned of the
predictor and the machine will answer no more questions. Neither will
the Boy Wonder, who is struck from behind by the mysterious Mr. Blank.
At the Acme Salvage Company, Batman disguised as Robey awaits the arrival
of Mr. Blank. Many important members of the underworld are present at
the meeting, and the Caped Crusader must be careful if they should learn
that he's not Rog Robey... The masked master criminal enters, informing
those present how it was Dr. Arvin's crime predictor that placed Wilden
and Boyar in prison. Since he's taken Arvin prisoner, Mr. Blank demands
that they accept him as their boss. If not, he'll release the inventor,
who will no doubt build another crime predictor machine to catch them
all. That's well and fine for them, but what about the predictor machine
that was already built?

While wrecking the machine, Mr. Blank picked up a surprise guest, and
asks Robey to bring him out. Seeing two Robeys present, Mr. Blank
informs them that the real one was found bound in the Batmobile, and the
other one is the Caped Crusader in disguise. If he wants Robin in one
piece, he better not try anything. The various members of the underworld
are torn over how to dispose of the Dynamic Duo, but Mr. Blank decides
that a compression-chamber will do the job, just as well. The chamber is
used to keep deep-sea divers under high compressed air pressure when they
come up, and that way they don't get the "bends". The two will be placed
inside and the pumps turned on. When the pressure is suddenly opened up
and dropped, the sudden drop will take care of them for good. Unseen by
the others, Batman's hand moves behind his back, and opens the valves on
the acetylene tanks behind him. Since some of the hoods are smoking
cigarettes, this will be their only chance. With the two crime-fighters
locked inside the chamber, the Caped Crusader removes his disguise, and
the Boy Wonder regrets checking out the predictor. When the pumps begin
to throb, air is forced into the tank, and Robin realizes that he may
have been the one to cause the dread prediction to come true. It is then
that Batman informs his partner about the valves on the acetylene tanks
which were standing behind them.

As the thugs gather around the chamber in anticipation of what's about to
happen, they notice the smell of acetylene in the air, and start to put
out their cigarettes. BOOM The gas ignites, with the chamber's door
torn open, and the Dynamic Duo protected by the steel chamber from the
shock of the explosion. While the Boy Wonder hurls a diving suit at one
of the hoods, the Caped Crusader grapples with Mr. Blank. When the
authorities arrive, summoned by the explosion, they see that Mr. Blank
has been caught. Commissioner Gordon asks about the whereabouts of Dr.
Arvin, then watches as Batman unmasked the master criminal as Dr. Arvin.
The predictor was a phony, used to frighten the underworld into accepting
him as their undisputed boss. The Caped Crusader realized this when he
heard Mr. Blank blackmailing the others by threatening to "free" Arvin if
they didn't follow his orders. The Boy Wonder points out that the
predictions did come true. Batman explains that the predictions were
tip-offs of crimes which had been planned, and learned of from underworld
gossip. It was a cunning plan to make himself the underworld boss by
getting rid of the competition. Using the predictor, Arvin could get rid
of any crooks who crossed him, and avoid suspicion due to his occupation
as a scientist. Batman makes a prediction... he predicts that Arvin will
be going to jail for a long, long time.

This story was reprinted in Batman: From the Thirties to The Seventies.

The Crime Predictor is a big piece of machinery with the obligatory
number of dials, lights, levers, and switches.

One would need a laboratory the size of the Hollywood Bowl to accommodate
such a monstrosity.

Dr. Arvin is an older man with white hair, wears dark glasses, and smokes
a pipe.

At the factory, Wilden tries to keep things rolling, and the Caped
Crusader keeps his bearings.

Boyar has got a locomotive, but the Dynamic Duo never run out of steam.

Thanks to the bertillon measurements, Batman is able to put the finger on
Rog Robey.

While searching through Robey's wardrobe, the Caped Crusader uncovers a
smear campaign, and strikes oil.

Only Mr. Blank could have predicted the outcome when the Boy Wonder came
back to check out the electronic brain.

While in the chamber, the Dynamic Duo failed to bend under pressure.

Bad guys of the underworld smoke cigarettes in the presence of escaping

Unlike the acetylene, the hoods fail to escape the Caped Crusader and the
Boy Wonder.

Steve Chung
"The Review Predictor"