Among his greatest, most dastardly opponents, the Dark Knight has faced:
– that harlequin of hate, the Joker.
– Ra’s al Ghul, the head of the League of Assassins.
– Bane, the breaker of bones.
– and, of course, Mr. Polka-Dot.
Uh. Wait. What now who now when now?
Hop in the Wayback Machine with me for a tale most nutty. In “The Bizarre Polka-Dot Man,” “Detective Comics” No. 300, cover date February 1962, the Caped Crusader faces perhaps his least intimidating foe ever. (Sorry, Kite Man.)
Interrupting a robbery of a carpet cleaning company (no, seriously), Batman and Robin encounter Mr. Polka-Dot and learn his nefarious gimmick. Whenever Mr. Polka-Dot rips a circle off of his garish costume and hurls it, it transforms into something else – like a buzz-saw or a flying pad he can use to escape.
He taunts the Dynamic Duo: “Indeed, I challenge you to stop me as I dot Gotham City with my on-the-spot crimes!”
What’s that, you say? It makes no sense, you say? Hey, if you were a reader in 1962, you paid a dime for this story and you were darn well going to get every penny of crazy.
Batman next faces Mr. Polka-Dot as he tries to rob a visiting foreign dignitary with a pet leopard (you know, an animal with spots), and he tosses a disc that transforms into a mighty blinding orb. Another turns into a swift escape bubble.
Later, Robin catches Mr. Polka-Dot and his gang robbing a skating rink. (What’s so bad about banks? It’s where they keep all the money.) Mr. Polka-Dot rips a dot off his uniform and tosses it at the Boy Wonder for the visual gag of 1962:
Robin is pummeled by a series of disembodied fists.
Hey, haven’t we all had days like that?
Eh, probably not.
After Robin is captured, Mr. Polka-Dot plans to trick Batman into a death-trap with a note handwritten from his partner. For a guy obsessed with dots, he fails to notice that Robin uses dots – holes punched into the paper, a warning in Braille – to warn his mentor.
And as for that infamous “dot crime spree,” Batman figured that out too – by literally connecting the dots on a map of all the places Mr. Polka-Dot had robbed to come up with his final location.
The dots form a stick figure man.
It’s almost like everyone came into work at DC one morning and just gave up.
There’s no greater booster of this madcap era of the late ’50s and early ’60s than me, and even I have to admit: Oh, this story is hilariously bad. (But, hey, don’t take my word for it: You can get it on the DC Comics app.)
Mr. Polka-Dot vanished for decades, and good riddance you might say, but he never gave up on his dream of establishing himself as a lord of the criminal underworld
In “Final Crisis Aftermath: Run” No. 4 (October, 2009), Mr. Polka-Dot was killed by a manhole cover.
Live by the dot, die by the dot.