Batman #226 (1970)

Today after taking my teenager daughter Robin in for a hircut (she cut off five inches of hair. Wow.), we stopped by Half-Price Books to buy her some more books by Ray Bradbury. Robin’s in a Bradbury phase after reading and loving both Farenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles so we bought Dandelion Wine and The Illustrated Man. While there, of course, I had to check out the comics, and found this book. "The Man with Ten Eyes" is the story title, and caused a lot of fun banter between us. "Shouldn’t he have twelve eyes, if he has one on each finger also?" "Doesn’t he get dizzy all the time with how much his hands move around?" "What about when he reaches into his pocket, does he worry about eye injuries then?" Stuff like that.
I didn’t expect the comic to actually be about a guy who could see with his fingertips, but I forgot somehow that 35 years ago, comics were made for kids. See, there’s this Vietnam vet, nicknamed Three-Eyes, who was working as a security guard at a warehouse. A group of criminals attack the warehouse, setting some nitro to blow the door off of the vault. Batman swoops in as the nitro is lit. At the same time, Three-Eyes wanders into the same room, dazed since he was hit in the head with a brick. When the nitro goes off, both Three-Eyes and the Batman are blinded, Three-Eyes permanently and Bats temporarily. Batman stumbles away as the criminals grab Three-Eyes.
After the accident, Batman calls Alfred, who takes him to an eye doctor. Amazingly, the pair wander in with Batman in full costume. He doesn’t change to Bruce Wayne or seek out a private doctor either, just some doctor with very long hours who happens to be open. In the coincidence to end all coincidences, the bad guys go to the exact same doctor at the exact same time. And the doctor has this experimental procedure that grafts optic nerves to fingertips and… oh god, is this stupid enough yet? Dear god, let me stop already.
It’s a shame the story gets so stupid, because it starts out nicely. I love the Vietnam vet in a 1970 comic starting out as good guy, and Batman’s attitude of helping the guy is so different from the way he’s portrayed these days. Also, the Irv Novick/Dick Giordano art is professional as can be: slick, clear, with a traditional but not dull presentation for the reader.
But Frank Robbins’s script is dumb, dumb, dumb.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, for those who care, there’s a Neal Adams cover on this one. It’s decent, but it doesn’t really fit the story on the inside of the comic.

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