One and Done Bat Villains - The Brand

01
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One and Done Bat Villains - The Brand

DC Comics

 Many of Batman's villains end up as regular members of his Rogues Gallery, like the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman. Other villains show up here and then. Some show up extremely infrequently. And some special villains face off against Batman just once. In this series, we'll spotlight notable one and done Batman villains. The latest villain is the Brand!

02
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The Brand Makes His Mark!

DC Comics

 Debuting in 1960's Batman #137 by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, the Brand was a classic Bill Finger-style villain. Finger, you see, was well known for his collection of "gimmicks." That is to say that he would always have a notebook with him where he would write down ideas that could be used in stories. Later, when he was writing a story, he would consult the books for ideas. He would also clip newspaper articles on interesting topics for the same basic concept. This "book of gimmicks" approach even eventually led to his co-worker at DC Comics, John Broome, inventing a Green Lantern villain based on Finger's use of gimmicks. It is no surprise, then, to learn that Bill Finger was the creator of the Riddler. However, the Brand stands out because Finger is using the basic tropes surrounding characters like the Riddler only he subverts them a bit in the story. Everything begins when Batman and Robin are accosted by a new villain calling himself The Brand, who challenges Batman and Robin to guess the answers to his cattle brand-themed clues. 

03
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The Brand's first brand!

DC Comics

The Brand quickly challenges Batman with a billboard with a lazy S and O cattle brand on it. Can you figure out what that means? I certainly couldn't. Luckily, Batman figures out that the brand looks sort of like an eye, so this makes him think of a Chinese boat, as they would draw eyes on them for superstition, and there is an authentic Chinese junk in Gotham with a jade statue on it. Batman's right, but they're too late to stop the Brand from escaping with the jade statue.  

04
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The Brand's second brand!

DC Comics

 The next brand is a double box. Robin cleverly suggests a boxing match, as there are two box-ers and there is a box office there. Batman, though, has another idea. Any ideas? I have none. Luckily, Batman somehow connects the boxes to the squares on a chessboard, and remembered that there was a special chess tournament on television that night where the players would move giant robot pieces. There's a gold championship cup for the winner and sure enough, The Brand is there to steal it. 

05
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Giant Chess Pieces, Because Why Not?

DC Comics

Remember what I said about how Bill Finger was filled with gimmicks? This is a great example of that. Here is a story about a cowboy-themed villain who leaves clues through brands, but in the midst of this story, Finger manages to come up with a completely unrelated side gimmick that becomes the biggest action sequence in the comic. In fact, the opening page splash is specifically about Batman fighting the giant robot chess pieces, sent after him by the Brand. That's just how Finger would work - one wild idea after another! Anyhow, Batman manages to survive the attack of the robot chess pieces, but once again, the Brand escapes from Batman. Robin, for one, is kind of confused why the Brand is doing these big elaborate clues just to steal low level goods like a jade statue and a championship cup. Batman, though, is more interested in the mud the Brand left behind from his boots when he escaped. There is indication that it comes from train tracks. What could this mean? 

06
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The Brand's final brand

DC Comics

The Brand leaves one final brand clue. What could it mean? Any ideas? Go to the next slide to find out what it all means...

07
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Too Much of Nothing

DC Comics

 If you guessed "nothing," you'd be correct! You see, the Brand's gimmick is a riff on the typical Batman villain who would give clues. The Brand's intent was only to distract Batman with clues while he dug his way into a bank vault to steal $100,000, money Batman was scheduled to deliver for the bank but hadn't gotten around to because he was too distracted by the Brand's clues! Batman, though, realized that the mud from the Brand's boots came from a subway tunnel near the bank and Batman put it all together and ended up giving the Brand a new brand - a prisoner identification number! What a clever little story by the great Bill Finger.