Detective 46 – Hugo Strange’s Fear Gas, Spy fights Goldfish-Man, and Cliff Crosby gets an occupation
Detective 46 (Dec. 40) closes out the year, and despite having another appearance by Hugo Strange, the cover remains a generic Batman and Robin image.
Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson bring back Hugo Strange, last seen in Batman 1. This is the first story with Hugo Strange that includes Robin. In it, Strange develops a fear gas, which causes paralyzing terror in those who inhale it.
It’s a bit odd to see this gas being invented by someone other than the Scarecrow. This story predates the first appearance of that villain by a year, and the gas would not become a part of his arsenal until the 1960s. The story culminates in a battle on a cliff between Batman and Strange, somewhat reminiscent of the fight between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in “The Final Problem, ” although in this story it is only the villain who falls to their death. Hugo Strange’s death takes a very long time to be reversed. His character does not appear again until the late 70s.
Spy was still being scripted by Jerry Siegel, but the stories in it were all fairly prosaic at this point. Bart does get one interesting villain. He wears a mask but claims he was born deformed, with a goldfish-coloured head.
The story gets followed up in issue 48 (more illegal immigrant smuggling), but Goldfish Man does not return.
With this issue, Cliff Crosby’s profession gets clearly stated, and stabilized. He is the owner and publisher of the New York Record, and his ace reporter is Kay Nevers. We can assume that exploring is just a hobby for him, and that publishing a newspaper is exactly the kind of experience that overseeing airplane construction requires.
For a newspaper publisher, his work days remain pretty dramatic. A shipwrecked man turns out to be a killer in hiding, and Cliff nearly dies a couple of times trying to sort out the story.