Batman’s Underworld Olympics ’76: Part III

20 Aug

Batman_274First the South Americans had a go at the Underworld Olympics and Batman shut them down. Next came the Europeans. Now, in Batman 274, it is the turn of the Afro-Asian bloc. Yeah, that’s the term used in 1976 to group African and Asian criminals in the “Gotham City Treasure Hunt.”

Now, that title pretty much tells  you all you need to know about this issue. The unnamed leader allows Amba Kadiri—the villain on the cover—to select the challenge. This time, we’re in Da Vinci Code territory. They get a clue in the form of a coded poem which references “the vault of ancient learning.” That leads the A-A team to the Gotham library. There, they burn the wax seal which reveals the next hidden clue. (Let’s not ask how the bad guys knew this. Actually, let’s not ask any questions, shall we, and just enjoy the tale.)

On patrol, Batman hears the police band report and races to the library. He takes out the two A-A members quickly. One of the guys tries to torch Batman but the Dark Knight Detective quickly takes off his cape and smothers that guy. I’ve always loved when Bats does that. He takes the damaged book, the torch, and the chain back to the Batcave for some tests and ruminations.

Here, we get one of my favorite things: Bruce Wayne, in the batsuit, but with the cowl down. Not sure why I like this so much, but always have. Probably something along the lines of the “man” part of Batman. Batman #274 - Page 12

The prisoners are transferred on live TV (!) and they give hand signals to the remaining members of the team. They see the signs and decode them. Batman sees the signs and doesn’t know what to make of them, but his deductions takes him to the Gotham Aquarium where he meets Amba Kadiri. She’s got razors for fingernails. The pair fight and she slices off part of Batman’s cape. Her costume is actually pretty good. It’s less a costume than a body glove. Very efficient. But Batman gets the drops on her and she surrenders…much too easily. Batman has been decoyed. You see, the rest of A-A team are at this very moment secreting some additional pieces of the treasure hunt.

The theft shows up in the morning papers and Bruce is none too happy about being fooled. He actually snaps at Alfred before walking the streets, oblivious to everything, lost in thought. Finally, that night, Batman arrives at the Cinema Palace and the film festivals because “the more bananas it [his deduction] sounds, the more I believe it.” Yeah, Batman said “bananas.” Well, he takes out the rest of the A-A gang, including this line “Uncle Batman wants you.” Whew!

Batman #274 - Page 31
In the closing panels, Batman and Gordon are discussing the events. Batman actually namedrops “underworld Olympics” which made me roll my eyes. He correctly identifies the remaining group: the North Americans. But that’s in the next issue.

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