I featured one of my favourite DC writers in an earlier post (Cary Bates) and this time I’m going to look at a story by another one – Bob Haney.
Haney is said to have been unpopular with continuity-obsessed readers because he often ignored continuity. That, presumably, is precisely part of the appeal for Haney-fans like myself. Used as a striking stone for sparks of inspiration, ‘continuity’ can be a good thing. But used to nail down corners of a fantasy world, it can defeat its own object.
Anyways, in this story, ‘The Night Batman Sold His Soul’, the Batman becomes trapped in a well and is on the verge of drowning while trying to persuade a kidnapper that the boy he has kidnapped needs urgent medical treatment. In his desperation, the Batman offers his soul to the devil if he can only escape from the well. The Devil appears after the boy has been saved and reminds the Batman of the terms of his offer. From now on, the Batman’s actions will serve the cause of evil. Thus, when the Batman sees a former thief on the street and calls out to him, the ex-thief panics and runs and is killed by a lorry. The reformed man’s wife brands the Batman a murderer.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Rock – now a white-haired World War 2 veteran – is convinced that the old man whom the Batman was pulled from the well by was Adolf Hitler himself, who had escaped from the bunker in which it was commonly supposed he had perished through use of a body double.