Batman – Zelda the Great / A Death Worse Than Fate

by Alan Rapp on July 26, 2014

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Batman – Zelda the Great / A Death Worse Than Fate
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Batman - Zelda the Great

In honor of Batman‘s 75th Anniversary we continue to look back at the more memorable moments of the Dark Knight Detective on the big and small screen. It’s interesting to note that Catwoman wasn’t the first female villain to battle the Dynamic Duo on the 1966 Batman TV-series starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. The return of the April Fool’s Day brings the return of an unknown thief who robs Gotham City’s banks of exactly $100,000 for the third year in a row. With no leads other than the robber’s bullet proof vest and odd fibers left at the scene, Batman decides to plant a fake story in the newspaper that the stolen money was counterfeit in hopes of drawing out the culprit to make another robbery attempt.

Sadly Batman’s trap of fake emeralds doesn’t nab the crook as it backfires and puts Harriet Cooper (Madge Blake) in jeopardy as the bank robber decides ransoming the aunt of Bruce Wayne’s ward is a far less risky proposition than walking into Batman’s trap. What is revealed over the first-half of the two-part episode is the yearly $100,000 robberies are the cost of illusionist and part-time crook Zelda the Great (Anne Baxter) being able to afford the latest illusions created by Eivol Ekdol (Jack Kruschen) who now also wants Zelda’s help in getting Batman to test out his new Inescapable Doom-Trap.

Although Zelda doesn’t appear in the original story, the basics of the plot involving a thieving magician and an inescapable doom-trap come from Detective Comics #346. It’s also worth noting that the cliffhanger death trap sequence of “Zelda the Great” is unique as it doesn’t feature either Batman or Robin in any sort of jeopardy. Instead we glimpse Harriet Cooper in a straitjacket over a boiling tub of oil as Zelda awaits her ransom. Despite her better judgement, in the second episode Zelda lures the Dynamic Duo into the doom trap but makes up for her error in judgement by choosing to warn them of trouble at the last second which earns her some leniency once the affair is done as Bruce Wayne uses his influence to get Zelda a job working as the resident magician of children’s hospital rather than serving her full sentence in prison.

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