"The Robber Baron!"
Writer: Don Cameron
Pencils: Bob Kane
Inks: George Roussos
Synopsis: The Robber Baron is the leader of a group of thieves dressed like a nineteenth century aristocrat (top hat, monocle, white tie tuxedo and cape). His gang is based in an abadoned factory that is also a tall skyscraper and sports a medieval style tower on top with a cannon that launches a grappling hook! Then they travel by zipline to the building they shot the hook at! And somehow the cannon is powerful enough, the hook strong enough and the line long enough that it can stretch across several city blocks to it's target (somehow not hitting other buildings along the way, implying this abandoned factory is very tall).
So they do the zipline, rob places, zip back and somehow the GCPD is completely "baffled" and can't discover how these guys are getting in and out despite the fact that a huge skyscraper topped with a stone tower shooting grappling lines across city blocks that dudes are zipping around on is totally something you'd think someone would notice!
Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, new butler Alfred is bringing lunch to Batman and Robin as they work out the problem of the Robber Baron in their criminology lab. Batman has figured out that they're using grappling hooks from marks left on the edge of the rooftops of the buildings robbed, and then drawn straight lines from the sites of the robberies and found the intersecting point - an abandoned brass factory by the waterfront (and the crooks' footprints had brass filings in them at the crime scenes!) Detective work, folks! See, was that so hard, Gotham Police?
The Batplane brings our heroes to the factory, where they surprise the Robber Baron and his men. Using the grappling hook they zip over to a nearby suspension bridge. Robin recklessly zips over, despite Batman's warning, and the crooks cut the line! The Boy Wonder falls into the Gotham River, and presumably drowns. So, now Batman's pissed.
So he flies over the to bridge with the Batplane and just starts decking dudes off the bridge into the river, presumably intending to kill them. But the Robber Baron proves his intelligence by just shooting Batman, who then also falls into the river.
The Robber Baron then climbs down to a speedboat he had waiting there just in case this happened, which he uses to pick up his men who are all not dead, as well as the Batman who is also not dead. The Baron plans to kill Batman in a more dramatic fashion.
Meanwhile, Alfred's been reading his "How to Be a Detective" book and decides to seek out suspicious persons down at the riverfront. He happens upon the Robber Baron's boat just as it comes ashore, of course, and notices they have the Batman prisoner, so the crooks take him prisoner too.
Back at their tower hideout, the Baron's plan is to fire the grappling hook at police headquarters, then hang the Batman from the line and zip his corpse right to the Commissioner! Gruesome!
However, Robin didn't die when he fell into the river (gee, really?) and when he came out of the drink he found the abandoned Batplane and flies it over to the Tower. He freaks the crooks into thinking that the police have surrounded them by speaking over the two-way radio link to Batman and with them distracted he pounces on them.
Freeing Batman and Alfred, the three of them beat up the crooks, and then send them tied up to Gordon over the zip-line!
My Thoughts: The second story to feature Alfred, it's clear that it's going to take a bit of work to get his inclusion to feel natural, although for now it's just fun to have a new regular character around -- even if his "written" British accent is a little overbearing to read. "Pardon me, Mawster Bruce, but it is pawst your luncheon" and so on.
The Art: Not Jack Burnley's best, perhaps because Roussos is inking instead of his brother? It's still very good, but Roussos keeps it looking more like Kane Studio standard than the high quality Burnley can reach when let loose.
The Story: It's all right. The Robber Baron is basically a generic gangster type in fancy clothes, but seeing Batman do some detective work is great, and even if the "death of Robin" moment is an obvious cheat it's still cool to see the Dark Knight go to town on the crooks in his rage. Alfred gets to have some part in the story, even if he gets involved entirely through contrived coincedence. Honestly my biggest problem is the whole "grappling hook launched across city blocks" thing. I mean, it's sorta awesome on one hand, but I really have a hard time believing that none of the GCPD detectives figured that shit out or noticed it. It kinda strains credulity.