It was 1977, Batman 291. And it was the cover. No, it wasn’t the “You could be in the Superman Movie” blurb that ran atop comics to promote the upcoming Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. No, it was Riddler. Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Luther, and Joker gather around Batman’s grave, saying together: “And To Think I Killed Him!” Kicking off a classic Batman arc” “Where Were You the Night Batman Was Killed?” –which ran From Batman 291 to 294.

Rumors were that Batman was dead, and everyone wanted to take credit for it. And this was the first large-scale gathering of his villains since 1968 in Batman 201. Seemingly, everyone wants to take the credit, so the villains gather and hold a trial to find out who killed Batman. Judge Raja Ghoul, with the prosecutor as Two-Face, and a jury composed of Mad Hatter, Spook, Poison, Ivy, Scarecrow, Signal Man, and Mr. Freeze begin the trial.

The trial starts with Two-Fave addressing the members of the jury. “We’re here to seek the answer to a transcendent question. “Who killed the Batman? And to bestow full honors and recognition for that glorious achievement.”

As Two-Face calls his first witness, in strolls the Catwoman acting like a widow wearing a veil over her head– very over the top and also very funny. Two-Face is in full Harvey Dent mode throughout the trial. It almost feels like a bad episode of Perry Mason.

After giving her testimony, Two-Face presents evidence that she couldn’t have possibly killed Batman. In the next issue, the Riddler is called to stand, and again, Two-Face presents evidence of how Riddler couldn’t possibly be the one to have killed Batman.

The next witness is an odd choice: Lex Luthor. He’s not a regular of Batman villains, but after he gives his testimony—a surprise witness comes to discredit the testimony—Superman. Two-Face shouts to the jury and the other villains gathered to watch the trial as Superman crashes into the room—apparently, he couldn’t find the door — “He’s here as a witness! There’s amnesty for everyone!”

With the previous three witnesses “exonerated” in killing Batman, the final issue opens with the Joker’s testimony, but I can’t say much more without ruining anything. How it wraps is done cleverly and nicely ties into everything, and it still feels timeless. The story remains a classic worth seeking out and is fantastic fun.

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