Batman #56: "Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride!"

Batman #56
"Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride!"
December, 1949 - January, 1950

Story: David Vern Reed
Pencils: Dick Sprang
Inks: Charles Paris
Letters: Joe Letterese (?)

Hola, amigos! Who is the Bat-Hombre, whose courage and daring is matched only by the Caped Crusader's? And what are the Dynamic Duo doing in the land of the Gaucho and the deadliest bandits in the world? To learn more, follow us, amigos, to South America where the natives yell... "Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride!"

As the citizens of Gotham City welcome the visiting president of Mantegua, the elderly Jose Camaran acknowledges the warm crowd... and viewing the procession are the Dynamic Duo! The Caped Crusader spots someone up to no good! As the gunman draws his weapon, Batman and Robin dive onto the would-be assassin! Later in the hotel suite of President Camaran, the visiting president comments on the Dynamic Duo's bravery and his own undying gratitude...

Before asking a favor, Camaran tells them about the beautiful, tiny, and mountainou country he rules. Although his citizens lack for nothing, the country could use some law and order to foil the criminal band who have terrorizing them for years. The leader of this ruthless band of outlaws is El Papagayo ("The Parrot") because of his parrot mascot... El Papagayo is a deadly bandit, who can be friendly one moment, and gun one of his own men the very next moment! It is important to rid the country of the bandit who follows the decisions made by his parrot regarding the fate of his prisoners.

Seeing the Caped Crusader in person, Camaran had hoped that Batman would come down to his country, and train one of his citizens to emulate him - a Bat-Hombre, who would rid the country of El Papagayo for all time! That is the favor he would ask the great Caped Crusader. Camaran has little time left and in his remaining days, he would like to see El Papagayo brought to justice, and an end to his reign of terror. After briefly conferring with Commissioner Gordon, and satisfied that all is quiet in Gotham, the Batplane is soon winging its way over the Carribean! Since Camaran decided it would be very difficult to find a boy like Robin, they will concentrate on Bat-Hombre! The best in the country will be tested for the job!

A crowd is waiting for them at the airport in Casanegro, the capitol city of Mantegua. At the executive mansion, they meet with Camaran, and get to work on finding a base of operations where Bat-Hombre will operate... A grotto beneath an abandoned farmhouse will make a perfect Batcave! The terrain is too rough for a Batmobile, but an Argentine thorough-bred racer will be faster than any other horse around. When President Camaran displays his collection of weapons, the Caped Crusader points out that Bat-Hombre must never fire a gun or use a knife! Camaran wonders how Bat-Hombre will fight such ruthless bandits without such weapons?

The Dynamic Duo have managed with their own weapons. Instead of a bat-rope, Bat-Hombre will use a whip to speed through the rough terrain by swinging through the treetops! Once the necessary equipment has been collected, the interview applicants are screened and weeded out... Each applicant must complete the mandatory fifty chin-ups, as well as knocking the gun from a dummy's hand with the whip!

Bat-Hombre must be an athlete and a detective, but unfortunately, none of the applicants qualify as being both. One of the remaining applicants passes with flying colors, and Luis Peralda is shown to the grotto which will serve as his future Batcave! As pledging himself to secrecy, Luis calls Pedro to tell El Papagayo that he has fooled the Batman! The following day finds the traitor beginning his training as Bat-Hombre, and the Dynamic Duo are unaware that he will be using their secrets against them, for criminal purposes!

As the Caped Crusader shows Luis the belt radio, he intents to use it to communicate with El Papagayo! That evening, Batman meets with President Camaran, who was worried that none of his citizens would meet the Caped Crusader's qualifications. Now he can rest in peace, knowing that his beloved country now has a chance. In a few days, Bat-Hombre will be on the trail of El Papagayo! At that very moment, Bat-Hombre is celebrating his deception with El Papagayo himself! During the celebration, the bird's claws have torn Bat-Hombre's uniform!

El Papagayo tells Bat-Hombre to let the Dynamic Duo know it was a night hawk who attacked him! The following day, as Bat-Hombre tells his story, the Caped Crusader pulls Robin aside, and tells the Boy Wonder that the claw marks have the reversed fourth digit of a parrot's foot! Bat-Hombre knows that if the Dynamic Duo were to expose him, it would kill President Camaran!

Knowing they must keep Luis on ice, the Caped Crusader knows he must take over as Bat-Hombre! Robin finds a map of El Papagayo's camp in Luis' pocket! After taking Luis to Colonel Morenos for solitary confinement, the Boy Wonder gives him a copy of the map, and the Caped Crusader pays the president a visit as Bat-Hombre! Back at the prison, Luis still possesses his utility belt, and the means to make good his escape!

After creating the necessary explosion, Luis is on his way to warn El Papagayo, and the Dynamic Duo are riding the Bat-Horse through the pampas! Now on the mountaintop over looking El Papagayo's camp, Robin heads down to look for a trail, and Luis has caught up with the Batman! A fierce battle erupts near the edge of the cliff... and a single figure falls... AAHHHHEEEEEE...

The Boy Wonder watches as a lone figure approaches! It's Batman and the Bat-Horse, who are then surrounded by a swarm of bandits, and taken to a tent! Inside the tent, the Caped Crusader finds some berries and a curare bark! When they are brought before El Papagayo, Batman feeds some berries to the parrot! When El Papagayo asks his mascot what they should do to the Dynamic Duo, Toto replies that they should beat themselves to death with whips! Finding this idea to be "terrifico," the bandit leader commands one of his men to bring whips!

Moments later, Batman and Robin are facing each other with whips drawn! The Boy Wonder follows the Caped Crusader's lead by using the whips to scale a nearby tree, then to disarm their captors! After coiling their whips around the tree branches, the Dynamic Duo slam into El Papagayo and his men! Colonel Morenos and his men arrive to mop up! Batman and Robin learn from Morenos that President Camaran had passed away before they left Casanegro - but there was a smile on his face, thanks to the Dynamic Duo! The following day as the Batplane heads for Gotham, Robin comments on Batman's neat trick of feeding the parrot some curare-dosed berries and then imitating its voice to obtain the whips! The Caped Crusader comments that curare in small does has a paralyzing effect, and in this particular instance, Toto's vocal chords were paralyzed!

This story was reprinted in Batman #193 (80 Page Giant #37.)

in addition to wearing the Bat-costume, Bat-Hombre sports a mustache, a serape in place of the traditional cape, and rides a masked Bat-Horse.

Jonah Hex frequently ran into the outlaw known as El Papagayo.

The Gaucho is native to South America, including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Southeastern Bolivia, Southern Brazil, and Southern Chile.

Felipe the would-be assassin believes in introducing himself first, then shooting his victims second.

While Two-Face flips his lucky silver dollar to make his decisions, El Papagayo relies on Toto the parrot to do his critical thinking for him.

One hopes that the Bat-Horse can see from beneath that Bat-Mask he's wearing.

Unlike Bat-Hombre, real-life gauchos used a facon or large knife.

DC Comics counts among its heroes, the Gaucho and the Whip.

Luis thought Batman for a pigeon with his story about the night hawk, but the Caped Crusader had already read up about the parrot's reversed digits.

Night Hawk was a Western DC Comics character.

El Papagayo intended to bury the Dynamic Duo, but Batman's curare bark, and his berries were worse than his biting whip!

Steve Chung
"Review, Bat-Hombre, Review!"