Sunday, May 18, 2008

BATMAN (1943)- Chapter 4

Chapter 4 is entitled ‘Slaves of the Rising Sun’ and begins with Batman slugged on the train trestle and left to be crushed under the wheels of the advancing locomotive. As the bad guys dive for cover Robin rushes back onto the bridge, grabs Bats and shoves his unconscious form into the river below just as the engine barrels past. Even though the dynamic duo kept the dynamite from going off the evil henchmen think sinister Japanese boss saboteur Daka will be happy that Batman & Robin appear to have perished in their escape. But only one of them has the backbone to report their failure. This brave soul goes to Daka’s hidden lair, tells him the train wasn’t destroyed and then informs the deadly mastermind he’s quitting. Indeed he gets a little mouthy with his resignation and pulls a gun to effect an exit. But Daka is a one wily villain and drops the impudent former employee into a convenient alligator pit.

Chuckling over his brilliance but peeved the radium gun has still not been retrieved Daka wastes no time setting his next dastardly plan into action. Linda’s office is expecting to take delivery of a shipment of radium. In order to intercept it the gang once again calls her and tells her to go to a certain address to obtain some information from a fortune teller about her missing Uncle Martin. Linda calls Bruce in hopes of him accompanying her to the shady rendezvous. But knowing this must be another trap he begs off with a lame excuse. He’s beginning to look like a real wuss to his supposed girlfriend.

Rushing to the address ahead of his lady love he and Dick subdue the phony swami/evil henchman. Bruce takes his place and is able to fool Linda as to his identity and sends her back home. But before she can exit the dark building two hidden henchmen grab her, knock her out and steal the papers needed to accept the radium shipment. Spotting an armored truck speeding away Dick and Bruce realize something isn’t right, search the building and find the unconscious Linda. Awakened she reveals that the delivery order papers are missing. Calming her down, they send her home with Alfred as a guard while they change into costume and head off after the truck.

Now we come to one of the most exciting and fun action scenes in the serial so far. Giving chase in the non-descript Batmobile Bats & Robin are seen by the bag guys and a rolling gun battle ensues. Firing steadily at the masked men as they speed along a cliff side road the henchmen are desperate to get them. But Batman pulls out the captured radium gun and in a fantastic stunt leaps onto the top of the speeding truck. Blowing open the back of the vehicle he incapacitates the men there and then shoves his way into the cab to grapple with the driver. As the two men struggle the truck lurches to the left and plummets off the cliff face and down the mountainside! This is a great sequence and bodes well for the series’ future action scenes.

Has Batman been killed? Will Linda stop falling for stupid phone calls about her missing Uncle? Will Robin save Batman again? Or will he realize he’s the brains of the operation and deal with these Japanese nasties on his own? Come back next time as we learn the answers to these and possibly hundreds of other questions in Chapter 5.

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