Detective Comics #317

Detective Comics #317, July 1963

“The Secrets of the Flying Bat-Cave”

Batman and Robin are invited to be guests of honour at the Center City police convention. They want to show off their amazing crime-fighting equipment to the cops, but Robin is saddened because they can’t allow anyone to visit the Bat-Cave. Batman has the answer: “Since we can’t take the convention to the Bat-Cave — we’ll take the Bat-Cave to the convention!” They’ll attend the convention in the Flying Bat-Cave!

The Flying Bat-Cave

“We’ve only used it once before!” says Batman, piloting the huge helicopter, “Maybe now we’ll be using it more often!”

As they fly, Robin watches the city below on the “Observa-Scope”. He witnesses the Condor Gang, who cover their heads with bird masks, robbing a bank. Batman and Robin spring into action. A giant magnet is swung from beneath the Flying Bat-Cave that attracts the bandits’ guns. Then the Dynamic Duo swoop down on top of their prey.

Having got that out of the way, the pair fly on to the police convention, receiving a hearty welcome as they arrive.

The Flying Bat-Cave arrives

After giving a stirring speech about crime prevention, Batman shows several senior police officers around the Flying Bat-Cave. It has everything the busy darknight detective could need: a miniature trophy room (complete with the giant penny!), a galley, sleeping quarters, crime lab and garage. It even has its own minature Batmobile, called the Bat Racer.

At the same time, elsewhere in the city, a careless gang accidentally bump a fire hydrant with their car. A passerby picks up a piece of jewellery that flew out of the car, and decides to follow. He catches up with them and confronts them with a gun: it transpires he’s a rookie cop. Batman and Robin arrive in the Bat Racer, and the gang flees.

The Dynamic Duo give chase — but are stopped when they narrowly avoid being squashed by a giant chicken…

A Giant Chicken

The rookie cop, Joe Arno, realises that the jewellery was part of a haul stolen by the Condor Gang. Batman uses the Flying Bat-Cave equipment to confirm this. The Condor Gang realise Batman is onto them, and they demand that he, and the police convention, get out of town — or else!!

Joe Arno goes missing, and Batman deduces he’s been kidnapped. Investigating, he and Robin find a couple of “hobo signs” scratched on the wall of an abandoned building, along with evidence of a struggle. Batman remembers that Arno had been a hobo before making good and becoming a cop (they don’t just throw these stories together, you know). Back in the Flying Bat-Cave, Batman matches the signs against his hobo sign database, and surmises that Arno is being held at a nearby turpentine camp.

At the camp, the guards see a large cloud overhead. Suddenly, it’s raining lawmen! Batman, Robin and a host of cops parachute out of the Flying Bat-Cave, which had been disguised as the cloud! If there was a film of this “Ride of the Valkyries” would be playing on the soundtrack.


Arno is quickly freed, but the Condor Gang get away. They have a backup plan that involves destroying Batman once and for all.

The Condor gang

They know that Arno is due to be honoured the next day at the police convention and will be flown there in the Flying Bat-Cave. Unknown to the cop, the Condor Gang have booby-trapped his handcuffs: when the time is right, they’ll explode!

The next day, the Flying Bat-Cave appears above the convention. Suddenly it explodes. Batman and Robin are dead! The Condor Gang swoop in to steal the police convention fund, but are startled when “a stentorian voice speaks from the sky!” The Flying Bat-Cave hoves into view, with Batman at the controls.

The Flying Bat-Cave with hand

A giant metal hand comes out of the helicopter and grabs the gang. One manages to break free and runs for the exit. Arno leaps into action atop a whirlybat, and apprehends the crook.

The leader of the Condor Gang is led away. Batman explains that he was onto their scheme from the beginning: the weight of Arno’s handcuffs was all wrong. To bring the gang out into the open, he faked the destruction of the Flying Bat-Cave. What exploded was, in fact, merely a Flying Bat-Cave-shaped balloon, which the dynamic duo “keep for emergencies”.

As a reward for his help, rookie cop Arno is instantaneously promoted to detective.

Arno is a hero!


In case you missed it, the Flying Bat-Cave had appeared once before, in Detective #186 way back in 1952. The giant helicopter is pretty silly, and even more ludicrous is its inclusion of a miniature trophy room! Just how insecure is Batman anyway that he has to take all that stuff with him to remind him how successful he’s been??!

The first I ever heard mention of the Flying Bat-Cave was in, I believe, the Untold Legends of the Batman mini-series in 1981, and I had no idea what it could be. A few months later I happened across a copy of Mike Fleischer’s Batman encyclopedia and so found out all about it. It wasn’t until years later that I finally got a copy of the original comic, and I wasn’t disappointed. This early-60s Batman is my favourite of all the eras. They packed a lot in back then: this story is all of 12 pages long!

During the course of this tale Batman comments that he and Robin might use the craft more often from now on. Sadly, it never appeared again.

The writer of this story is a mystery, but the giant chicken might point towards Bill Finger. The art is by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, ghosting for Bob Kane.

Images ©2011 DC Comics