What's Batman's Equipment?

What's This? Batman's gear and vehicles are all included, but we're mostly going to focus on the utility belt.
The facts: Batman uses a lot of gadgets and vehicles, and not all of them made it into Who's Who. The Bat-Copter is at least pictured in the Bat-Cave entry, but a fan favorite like the Whirly-Bat is not, nor is the Bat-Cycle The Bat-Signal might also have featured had space been unlimited. Some basic facts about the selected equipment - The utility belt has always been part of the costume (though it was sometimes colored blue during Batman's first year of publication), considering the first use of the batarang dates back to the Bat's fifth appearance in Detective Comics #31 (Sept 1939), and the Bat-Rope was part of his arsenal even before that, from 'Tec #28. After driving a number of red sedans and blue roadsters through 1940, a bat-like hood ornament finally appearing on one of these in 1941. But we can't really talk about a proper Batmobile until Batman #5 (Spring 1941). The Bat-Plane (which at times looked like a big vampire bat, I loved that) started life as a Bat-Gyro (with helicopter blades in addition to wings) and became a real plane in Batman #1 (Spring 1940), so it predates the Batmobile. I would have guessed the opposite. We have to wait a lot longer for the Bat-Boat, unless you count the fact the Bat-Plane TURNS INTO a boat in Batman #4. A true Bat-Boat finally shows up in Detective #110 (April 1946), but the sytlized craft we recognize as the Bat-Boat first appears in December 1964's Detective #334.
How you could have heard of it: Belt, car, plane, boat, it doesn't matter. You've heard of Batman and you know he has all these.
Example story: Star-Spangled Comics #89 (February 1949) "The Batman's Utility Belt!" by Jim Mooney and Win Mortimer, writer unknown but possibly Bill Finger
So I've chosen to look at a story about the utility belt, specifically the one in which underworld types steal it off Batman and use it against him. Oh no! They can out-detect Batman now! Or something. But do they really need the help? Batman in this gets rather easily chumped without any cool equipment. Freak accident, my ass.
They grab their trophy, but Robin shows up to save his mentor, though he can't prevent the crooks from getting away. Batman has some spares, so no big deal. What he doesn't know is that the trophy hunter, a guys called Sleepy, has brought the belt to "the Professor" for some reverse-engineering. What I'm most astonished by is the size of the flashlight and microscope.
Are they even USABLE?! The Professor agrees to make one of these for each member of Sleepy's gang, with modifications for crime-COMMITTING instead of crime-fighting. Big mystery though. The belt contains a plain glass marble, and the Prof doesn't know what to make of it. Caption says "It has a function! Can you guess?" Well, I have ideas, but we'll see what the Unknown Writer had in mind.

One week later, the criminal gang strikes, using their fancy new belts to rob a silverworks. Batman and Robin respond, but are in for a surprise.
But Batman knows what goes into making a utility belt, so it's really a matter of checking who bought the exact chemicals to make those knockout capsules, for example. Except Sleepy went back for more chemicals, so he knows to warn the Professor of Batman's approach. Batman is once again knocked out and for the second time in a row, and they really want to off him, but the Professor reminds them that it won't take care of Robin (I guess the forgot to bump off the Dynamic Duo at the robbery the night before). His plan: To put a tiny bomb in Batman's old utility belt (switching it for the new one) and release him into the wild. I don't know if he knows Robin goes to school, but he sets the timer for 4 PM when he imagines the two will be reunited. Then they scrub the place before Batman comes to. But...
Infra-red light to the rescue! He calls Robin, they will meet at the robbery location at 10 to 4 (appropriately, the panels are all going to be time stamped after this as the time bomb counts down). The crooks are probably wearing Bat-nose filters, so no use gassing them. I guess it's time to deploy... THE GLASS MARBLE!
DON'T ask yourself if a marble coming down the stairs sounds like foot steps. DON'T. Let's just accept that the simplest plans are often the best, and that criminals are a STUPID and cowardly lot. But 4 minutes to detonation! Batman crowds Sleepy, close-talking him into a frenzy. It's about to kill him too! But then 4 PM passes, and Batman reveals he examined the belt and found the bomb, dumbasses. See, the new belt was more snug than the old one, so when they switched belts (and WHY did they do that anyway?!), well he noticed. Robin, will you do us the service of making Batman laugh?
That's why he keeps the kid around. It can't all be about equipment.

Who's Next?
Gotham's most mischievous imp.


Allen W. Wright said...

I like that the Mego Batman trusted his Robin with a fully-equipped belt of his own, and not just a buckle with two capsules on the side.

Allen W. Wright said...

Or at least the 12-inch Magnetic Robin came with one in the Canadian packaging. (I think my 8-inch did too, but most pictures have the sparse kind belt he had in the comics, even if it was yellow with a square buckle.)

Anonymous said...

In another story, Batman explained a second function of the marble: if they're ever playing dead, they can shove the marble against their inner arm, where the artery is, so as to reduce the strength of their pulse at their wrist to the point where it can't be detected.


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