Since his inception in 1939, Bruce Wayne, better known as the mysterious vigilante Batman, has waged a war on crime. After the death of his parents at a young age at the hands of a mugger, Wayne vowed to protect those around him from the hand that fate had dealt him. Within that first year, he stopped such madmen as Professor Hugo Strange and the vampire, werewolf hybrid creature known as the Monk. The following year would bring more challenges to the Dark Knight.
The first issue of Batman hit the shelves in Spring of 1940 and introduced the world to the Cat, who would later become known as Catwoman. She was a jewel thief that set up a plot to steal some jewels from a yacht. Unfortunately for her, Batman had sent his trusty partner, the Boy Wonder, Robin to investigate. Together they foiled the Cat’s plans, but as they were taking her back to shore, she jumped overboard and a smitten Batman refrained Robin from giving chase, saying that they would meet again.
In that same issue of Batman, Bruce Wayne met his nemesis in the form of an evil clown. A criminal that has stood the test of time, not unlike Batman himself. The Joker. An evil madman who announced to the city over the radio who he would kill and what he would steal from them. Fearful of the Joker’s threats, the police force gathered around the doomed men, but still were not able to save them. The Joker’s words had come true. Batman and Robin figure out his next move, but the Joker sends Batman over a bridge nearly ending his lifelong war on crime.
After Robin is taken prisoner by the Crown Prince of Crime, Batman tracks the Joker and manages to capture him and rescue Robin. Joker is locked away in the state penitentiary, but he doesn’t stay there very long. In a second Joker story later on in the same issue, Joker escapes from the prison by mixing chemicals together that he pulled from some false teeth causing an explosion.
The Joker resumes his evil plan of announcing who would be his next victim over the radio. Batman and Robin manage to track him down and Robin is nearly killed when he is knocked off a roof. Batman and Joker fight and the clown ends up stabbing himself in the chest with a knife. Batman and Robin leave him there for the police who find out that he is still alive.
A villain that didn’t become a household name like the Joker and Catwoman was also created in 1940. The Strange Case of the Diabolical Puppet Master by Bob Kane and Bill Finger came out in September in the third issue of Batman. The Puppet Master was a man that would send out his goons to prick his victims with a needle. He would then be able to control them like a puppet. The Puppet Master would then have his new puppets steal for him.
After stumbling onto the case, Batman is scratched by one of the men and is forced to steal jewels. A surprised Robin stops Batman only to be hit in the face by him. Shocked Robin socks him back, knocking the spell out of the Caped Crusader. Thinking that Batman is still under his spell, the Puppet Master is knocked out by the crime fighter and arrested.
From supernatural evildoers to puppet masters, Batman and Robin have stopped them all. But this was only the beginning for the Dynamic Duo. Their greatest threats are still ahead of them.