On occasion, I will be nominating characters for the Mensa Hall of Shame. These are villains, heroes or humans who do something so idiotic, they simply must be enshrined as examples of how not to be, think or act.
Our first candidate is a Batman villain named Gunshy Barton, appearing in "The Case of the Abbreviated Batman" in Detective Comics #360. Gunshy's nickname alone lets us know a little something about his brainpower. He is smart enough to be afraid of guns, and yet idiotic enough to telegraph that fact through his very name. It seems to me all one would have to do to defeat him is pull out a gun and wave it in a scary manner. "Ooooh, what's this? A gun! Ooh, scary!" Just a thought.
That said, we all know that Batman doesn't use guns. Perhaps that's why Gunshy chose to live in Metropolis. Oh, but Mr. Barton had come up against Batman before and learned a valuable lesson. The last time he fought the Dark Knight, Gunshy shouted instructions to his gang, like "Split up — make him come at you one by one." This allowed Bats to be prepared for the old split-up-and-make-him-come-at-you-one-by-one trick. And when Gunshy switched to gangster talk, hoping that would throw him off, Bats understood the instructions perfectly because apparently, Batman speaks gangster.
While in prison, Gunshy decides to come up with a way to communicate to his boys that Batman won't understand. When Barton is released from prison, he spends quite some time teaching his new abbreviated code. It's basically just text messaging or net speak — using only the first letters of words, like SGTW (sleep gas the watchman) or NTAC (net the armored car) or HDTISAS (hot dang Tommy is such a stud). Okay, not that last one. I got texted while I was writing this.
With that sophisticated system in place, Gunshy feels he is unstoppable!
I want to take a moment here to digest this cunning new crime device. Gunshy had to come up with a secret code because none of his henchmen can make a single move without him telling them what to do. So he spends all this time teaching them a new code. Shouldn't he have simply taught them how to think for themselves and make good crime decisions? Instead of shouting SGTW, why not tell them in advance, "If you see a watchman, knock him out with sleep gas." Why on earth can't these men make a single move without shouted instructions? The whole gang belongs in the Mensa Hall of Shame.
BTTS (back to the story) …
The crime wave is far too much for the police to handle because they are befuddled by the new code. Thank goodness Batman and Robin appear up to the challenge. They move in and are met with code shouting and sneakiness. UTE! UTE! Batman thinks, "A Ute is an Indian but I have RESERVATIONS about that meaning!" Oh good, Bats, stand there making up tasteless puns when everyone knows UTE stands for "use the extinguisher."
Both Batman and Robin are soon knocked out cold, rolled in carpet covers and left to suffocate and die. A truck drops them off at the police station amidst much LOLing from the crew. (No, they didn't use that abbreviation, but it would've made this a standout classic instead of a weird "no one's ever heard of it" issue. Well, maybe you've heard of it, but I hadn't.)
To no one's surprise but the crooks, Batman and Robin aren't dead and weren't dropped off in front of the police station. They leap out of the truck and begin to fight. When Gunshy tries to signal his men, the Caped Crusaders activate their utility belts, which emit deafening noises. The gang can't hear their boss and are suddenly helpless. (Again — instead of teaching them about TCBY or TGIF or whatever, why not teach them, "If Batman and Robin start hitting you, hit them back"?)
Oh, but Gunshy is prepared for this! He starts hopping around the floor, lighting up letters on the wall. This works for a panel or two, but then Batman figures out how to turn off the floor-to-wall communication.
Then, in a total shocker, Gunshy Barton pulls … a gun! But wait, what's this? It's a (I kid you not. This alone will show you why he is such a strong candidate for the Mensa Hall of Shame.) cream-puff gun. It shoots the creamy filling usually injected into cream puffs. Hold me, Batman; I'm frightened.
And now for one of the wildest coinky dinks ever: Batman came prepared for a cream-puff gun. Gunshy shoots at the ceiling, trying to spell out some code and Batman uses a laser gun to melt the cream and make it drip on everyone.
A moment of silence for the death of whatever loco plant the author was smoking when he wrote this story.
It ends with Robin telling Commisioner Gordon, "BATMAN." (Barton's Abbreviated-Talk Mobsters Are Nabbed). All I can say is, "ROBIN" (wRiter Of Batman Is Nuts).
Inducted: Gunshy Barton, his gang and the cream-puff gun.
Joanna Sandsmark — A former writer for DC Comics and TV's Weird Science, Joanna Sandsmark is also the author of The Wisdom of Yo Meow Ma, A Girl's Best Friend, 10 Spiritual Lessons You Can Learn from Your Cat, 10 Spiritual Lessons You Can Learn from Your Dog, and Explore Your Destiny with Runes. If you'd like to learn more, including a detailed bio and more information about Joanna's books, please visit her Web site or visit her blog.
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