Batman #112: "The Signalman Of Crime!"

Batman #112
"The Signalman Of Crime"
December, 1957

Script: Bill Finger
Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff
Inks: Charles Paris

The Dynamic Duo have faced many bizarre foes -- such as the Joker and the Penguin, but now they are challenged by a new criminal who uses signs for crime! See how Batman and Robin fared in their encounter with this new criminal... "The Signalman Of Crime!" Outside of Gotham City, a small-time crook named Phil Cobb approaches a sign that points the way, and will also influence his budding criminal career... He has big plans to become a big shot, but when Cobb makes an effort to form a gang... the various members of the underworld tell him to establish a reputation first -- then they'll talk business!

It is an embittered who stalks the Gotham City streets until he looks up, and sees another signal -- the Bat-Signal -- that inspires him to become a criminal with a unique theme! Two nights later, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson view the Bat-Signal at Wayne Manor, and change to their crime-fighting costumes! In Commissioner Gordon's office, the Caped Crusader is handed a note that is addressed to him... "Batman - I'm challenging you to a battle of wits! See if you can follow the signs to my robbery tonight -- and stop me -- if you can! The Signalman" Seeing this Signalman as another cheap hoodlum who thinks he can make a reputation by outsmarting the law, the Commissioner urges the Dynamic Duo to stop him fast! Batman and Robin try to make sense of the two clues sent by the Signalman... a broom wtih the sign of the atom! Later, a shadowy figure watches from the balcony of the hobby show... He is confident the Dynamic Duo will not be able to decipher the clues he sent them!

A sign -- in this case, a fire alarm, marks the beginning of the Signalman's career... As the crowd starts to panic, the bizarre figure swngs down from the balcony... but as he reaches for the prize exhibit -- a jade model of the atomic submarine, the Nautilus --- the Boy Wonder asks if he can read the sign which says, "Do Not Touch!" The Caped Crusader knew that a broom is hoisted on a new submarine after a successful first run -- a signal of a "clean sweep"! Batman is smart, but the Signalman insists he is smarter! As the Signalman reaches the other balcony, the Caped Crusader makes a daring leap...

Bouncing off a large bongo drum to rebound to the other balcony! Seeing the exit next to the broom closet, Batman opens the door, and discovers the Signalman had already switched the signs in order to gain enough time to make his escape! That very evening, the Signalman gloats over the headlines, and knows that once his reputation is big enough, every criminal in Gotham City will begging to join his gang! The following day finds the Dynamic Duo studying another set of clues that point to the Signalman's next crime... a fir tree -- and two astronomical signs! The Caped Crusader knows that it is customary for builders to hoist a fir tree atop a newly constructed skyscraper -- as a sign that the building has "grown"! The Boy Wonder knows the astronomical signs represent Earth and Mars! The Signalman must intend on committing a crime at a newly built observatory! Batman notices that the planets are close together! Earth and Mars were closest last year -- so it couldn't happen now! There is one place where that particular sky spectacle can be reproduced!

The Batmobile heads for the new science building -- with a planetarium on top! That is where Signalman will strike next! Inside the planetarium, the wealthy guests who contributed to the purchase of the planetarium's projector are present for the dedication... An uninvited guest is more interested in stars than planets -- the star sapphire necklace! As the Caped Crusader tackles the Signalman, their impact jars the control board, and the projector goes wild... As the projector slams into Batman, the Signalman seizes the chance to get away!

Dashing into the exhibit hall, the Signalman climbs a zodiac sign that represents Libra, the balance, and tips the scales in his favor! The Dynamic Duo appear -- a sign of trouble, unless... he can distract them with another sign -- Sagittarius the Archer! The Boy Wonder dodges the arrow-shaped sign, then joins the Caped Crusader in a chase that takes them to the planetarium's great dome... The Signalman does not give up and using a waiting parachute to make his getaway! That evening, although he did not get the necklace, the Signalman made the headlines! One more crime, and he will be able to recruit the biggest gang that Gotham City has ever seen! The following morning finds the Dynamic Duo examing a third set of clues from the Signalman... a black flag -- the sign of pirates and a Bat-Signal! The Signalman must be intending to use Batman to commit an act of piracy!

The Dynamic Duo are touring Gotham Bay in the Bat-Launch, when they spot the Signalman climbing aboard an anchored cabin cruiser! The Caped Crusader cuts the motor so they can drift up to the cruiser and surprise him! Once aboard, Batman and Robin search the cabins, when... they are locked in! The Signalman was hiding behind the door and informs them how he planted a bomb in the engine room that will explode in exactly ten minutes! He will be using their Bat-Launch to rob the people on the Van Dorf yacht, and does not anticipate any resistance when they fail to suspect the approaching vehicle until it's too late! The cabin door will not budge and the Boy Wonder wishes they could signal for help! Spotting two pennants, the Caped Crusader uses one of them to signal a passing motor launch... The two men aboard accept the invitation to come aboard and share a lonely skipper's hospitality! Once aboard, they find and free the Dynamic Duo! The Signalman is piloting the Bat-Launch when he hears the explosion that seems to signal the end of Batman and Robin... He has just accomplished what no other member of the underworld ever could!

The Dynamic Duo are alive and in pursuit of their stolen Bat-Launch! The Signalman is confident he can outrace them, and turns his head to start laughing at them, when -- SCRAPE The Bat-Launch has scraped against something and stops dead in the water! As the Signalman tries to free the trapped Bat-Launch, he is unaware of the caped swimmer heading towards him... He was so busy laughing, that he failed to notice the signpost of the sea -- a bell buoy -- which warns of a shoal! Snapping on the Bat-Cuffs signals the end of the Signalman's criminal career! Indeed, Phil Cobb's dream as the Signalman comes true, and he does get a gang -- in prison!

This story was reprinted in Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #1 (July - August, 1972).

Phil Cobb later adopted the identity of the Blue Bowman before Len Wein and Ernie Chan returned him as the Signalman in an issue of Detective Comics.

Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) solved the Zodiac crimes of the Joker (Cesar Romero) on the 1966 TV series.

Earth's Mightiest Heroes took on all twelve members of the Zodiac.

Artist Sheldon Moldoff drew the adventures of Jon Valor, the Black Pirate.

The Signalman got into a scrape with the Bat-Launch and was a bad buoy who got his gang in prison.

Steve Chung
"The Signalman Of Review!"