Detective Comics #466 - Signalman Steals the Spotlight

Detective Comics #466 - Signalman Steals the Spotlight - Len Wein - Ernie Chua/Vince Colletta,
Edited by Julie Schwartz

The cover proclaims "Back again after 15 years and 15 times as deadly"
The splash page invites the reader to "Join the dread Batman in mortal conflict with one of his deadliest

Signalman?  Deadly?  Oh, well, it was 1976.

The story begins with a train wreck, caused by Signalman and his tampering with the signal-switches along
the train's route.  This allows him to make up with his prize, the Heart of Allah.

Bruce Wayne is kicking back, ready to enjoy an exhibition game, when Alfred delivers the sad news.
The Bat-Signal is shining, time for the Batman to go to work.

Batman arrives at the Bat-Signal, complaining to Gordon that he had been taken away from something important.
Gordon confesses that he's been watching the game too.  (Uh, guys, it's an exhibition game.  It doesn't count.
It doesn't matter.)  Gordon reports that witnesses identified Phil Cobb, the Signalman as the culprit.

Gordon is interupted by an officer reporting a silent alarm going off at Gotham Stadium.  Time for a patented
Batman vanishing act.

At the baseball stadium, we find (as Batman soon will) Signalman making off with the games receipts.
When Batman shows, S-man pushes a button on his belt, causing the computer scoreboard to flash
the word "Fire" and panicking the crowd.  Luckily, all it takes is the appearance of the Batman, shouting
at the crowd, to calm everyone down.  But Signalman has successfully lost himself in the crowd.

Next day, at the Gotham City Police's Boys' Club, a trophy presentation is about to be made, when
Signalman swings in, and grabs the trophy.  Out of nowhere, a Batarang appears to cut S-Man's cable,
with Batman ready to accept his surrender.

Well, after 2/3 of a page of a fight sequence using gym equipment, S-Man decides to fall back on one of
those handy contingency plans, this time setting off incendiary flares over the crowd of policemen and young

Apparently Batman's ability to calm crowds only works with huge stadiums, not with smaller venues, but
he is able to prevent a young boy from being severely burned.  S-Man picks this moment to validate his
super-villainy, by clubbing Bats from behind, and hauling him off, threatening to fire his gun into the crowd
if anyone follows him.

Turns out that Signalman has some cajones, because the Boys' Club is located at Gotham Police
HQ.  And to escape, he carries Batman to the elevator, and heads for the roof.  The police don't realize this,
because he changed the elevator signals so that they would show the elevator going down.

Up on the roof, S-Man somehow manages to stuff and tie Batman into the Bat-Signal and close the lens so that
he cannot be heard.  I don't think we can think about that for too long and still appreciate this story.  I guess we
just assume that every spotlight made has alway had a lot of interior "dead" space, fit for imprisoning a full
grown human being.

The plan now, since "Signalman has stolen the spotlight", is to await Gordon's arrival and his anticipated flip
of the switch that will electrocute the Batman.  And Gordon won't be able to hear Batman's cries for help, because of the extra thick glass that covers the spotlight.  Signalman will have destroyed Batman with his Bat-Signal.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I hear, "Tomorrow - Same Bat-Time - Same Bat-Channel"

S-Man slams the glass shut, bemoans that he'll miss the crowning achievement of his career, because he'll
be collecting a sizeable fortune, "in spades".

Inside the signal, Batman works on freeing himself, because he had the presence of mind to clench his fists
while he was being tied down, expanding his wrists, and giving himself some play in his bonds.

(You'd think that the only way S-Man could tie Batman up would be if he were unconscious, because if he were
conscious, you'd think he'd be too much for the Signalman to deal with.  So he must have been unconscious.
But he must have been conscious, if he could clench his fists........  Nope, can't think about this too long.)

Gordon arrives, throws the switch, and watches the signal fizzle out, as Batman manages to short it out in the
nick of time.

We switch scenes to Gotham Cemetary, where S-Man has just retrieved the fortune of one Desmond Drake,
who thought that he could take it with him, and converted his wealth to jewels to be buried with him.
As he begins his getaway, Batman drops out of the trees to stop him.

You see, Batman had deduced that S-Man's "in spades" comment (that was made when he was shut inside
of the Bat-Signal, enclosed by glass so thick that no-one could hear his cries for help) completed the theme
for this series of crimes: Heart of Allah, baseball Diamond, Boys' Club, and now In Spades.  And where else,
but a cemetary could spades lead to wealth.

(Although, I'm not aware of any compulsions that Signalman would have to commit a card-based serial-type
crime....  Nope, can't think about this stuff too much.)

What follows is a long drive down a short road, as Signalman spends too much time trying to get Batman out
of the car, and out of his hair, and not enough paying attention to the fact that he's about to drive off a cliff.

Batman determines that nothing human could have lived through the crash and burn of Signalman's vehicle,
and he reflects on the irony that a career based on signs and symbols has come to an end because he
ignored the most important sign of all: "Dead End".

Hate to say it, but the back-up is probably more interesting on a number of levels.  Green Arrow, fighting the
Calculator, in what I believe is the second part of this back-up saga.  Art by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin,
before they became "THE" Batman art team (although I'll concede to any who want to stick Adams/Giordano (or
any other capable inker) with that award.)  Calculator of course was brought back to infamy by Identity Crisis
this past year.