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Remember When: Batman and Robin Went Back in Time to Stop Joker in Bagdad?

Traveling back a thousand years wasn't a problem for the Dynamic Duo and neither was inventing the flying carpet.

There are two things that Batman and Robin love: defeating bad guys and solving mysteries. What happens when a harmless mystery dating back a thousand years turns up? Most heroes wouldn't give it a second thought. But when that thousand year old mystery involves the Joker, you know Batman and Robin won't be able to resist getting to the bottom of things.

In a story in 1948s BATMAN #49, Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson were at an oriental rug auction. Bruce was a little dismayed that there wasn't anything he wanted to buy. Right before leaving, they made a remarkable discovery. An antique Arabian rug from "ancient Bagdad" was up for auction. The thousand year old rug contained the Joker's face, except the lower half was badly worn.

Bruce placed the winning bid and the Dynamic Duo made the decision to solve this fascinating mystery.

How could clues be gathered for a rug that was made a thousand years ago? The solution was simple. The two heroes would just travel back in time courtesy of their friend, Professor Nichols, who used his hypnotic powers of his time-science to not only send them back in time, but also in space. Batman and Robin were in "the Bagdad of the Arabian nights."

Their luck was holding out as no one questioned the modern clothing of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Language also wasn't a problem as everyone seemed to speak Engilsh. Perhaps this was a side effect of the hypnotic powers of Professor Nichols' time-science.

Bruce and Dick's attention were drawn to a nearby commotion. They were witness to a local thief called the Crier. He was a robber who always weeps as he steals and he looked exactly like the Joker (minus the grin).

You would think the mystery of the rug was pretty much solved as they now knew it was an image of the Crier and not the Joker. Because the Crier was a thief, the Dynamic Duo had no choice but continue to meddle in time.

Rather than let events play out as they originally did, they made it their mission to put a stop to the Crier's scheme. The Crier wanted to scare the city of Bagdad into a "weeping panic" in order to loot the city during the turmoil. Pouring oil into the river and setting it on fire led the populace to believe it was the end of the world.

Batman and Robin decided they needed to swoop down from the mountainside hidden base of the Crier in order to stop him. This meant making a glider out of the materials they had on hand. Because the silk they were going to use was too thin to hold their weight, they grabbed a rug from Crier's base. This gave the appearance of...a flying carpet.

That means that Batman and Robin apparently started the flying carpet legend. But at least they managed to convince the Crier to calm the city folk by...tickling him. They also discovered that the carpet they used was actually the worn rug with the Crier's image on it. Now they were certain that the ancient rug actually had the Crier's weeping face and not Joker's maniacal grin.

The rug was then added to the hall of trophies in the Batcave but it seems this was the only time it was seen.

What we can learn from all of this is a thousand years ago there was a thief that looked exactly like the Joker, Batman and Robin have no problem meddling in time and they also invented the flying carpet.

Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter @GManFromHeck. He thinks flying carpets would be a lot safer with seat belts.

44 Comments Refresh
Posted by Miss_Garrick

My brain... stopped working...hurts...dur dur.

Posted by nrgb2814

Wow... If by some miracle Christopher Nolan returns to Batman movies, he needs to do this story. (Sarcasm)

Posted by Meteorite

Haha, that was great? Could you please do one on one of the early Iron Man stories next week? Now those were wacky!

Posted by JediWaffles

If only comics nowadays had plots as brilliant as this one.

Posted by aceofspudz

For some reason I'm reminded of Kris Straub's "Time Friends".

Posted by feargalr

@Miss_Garrick said:

My brain... stopped working...hurts...dur dur.


Posted by Eyz

How to forget such a thing!?!

Posted by NightFang

@feargalr said:

@Miss_Garrick said:

My brain... stopped working...hurts...dur dur.


Posted by Eidderf

So was the cover lying when it said the joker is featured in it (I'm guessing no giant genie version of him either but I'll let that one slide)

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Great. Amazing.

Posted by Novemberx2

hard to believe some people actually want comic books to go back to these kinds of stories

Posted by darkrider

i love the old stories i wish i was born in the 50s

Posted by InnerVenom123

@Novemberx2 said:

hard to believe some people actually want comic books to go back to these kinds of stories

Posted by GR2Blackout

The Dark (Arabian) Knight

Posted by Crash_Recovery

Wow, I just love this.

I really owe it to myself to go back and check out some of the earlier Batman comics.

I remember going through a "dark and gritty" phase, where I only took the edgier interpretations of characters to be valid. Now I'm not quite so grumpy and stuff like this can be really fun. One day, people are going to look at the stories we think are so great now (Court of Owls, Blackest Night, etc) and chuckle.

Posted by Herx

man, stories where our hereos go back in time, alter history and DONT change the entire continuity of their universe :P lol.

Man you've just got to love the charm of this story, and hell at least it has more imagination in it than supergirl dating her horse, a merman and a green boy from the future all at the same time :P and hell they even drew upon literature. I want this issue now. :)

Posted by jinxuandi

Gotta love the Golden Age. I love that Batman apparently learned 9th century Arabic just so he could go back and investigate this mystery. That's what I call thorough.

Edited by kingdomenic

I think the sub title should read:

Traveling back a thousand years waSn't a problem . . .

Posted by zombietag
Edited by JonesDeini

@InnerVenom123: I find that Golden/Silver Age stories quite fun and well...less pretentious than their modern counterparts. Writers just went for it and embraced the unique storytelling possibilities presented by the medium. Now I'm all for the more mature content/depth/"realism" (I mean we're still dealing with inherently silly, childish characters/concepts here) in cape comics, hell, it makes up about 95% of the superhero comics I purchase. However I can't help but miss the interesting (or insane if you will) stories from the era. I certainly don't want all stories to go back to the Silver Age, but it's fun to see elements of it pop up. A lot of comic readers have this neurotic shame of these stories ever have existing and that's the type of juvenile attitude that leads to things like Dr. Light sodomizing Sue Dibney on the JLA satellite...

@Crash_Recovery: Bingo, folk. As I matured as a reader I discovered the ability to find the good in every era of the medium. Nowadays "grim & gritty" and "adult" makes me roll my eyes because the majority post Watchmen/DKR writers took that to mean "Throw some rape and decapitation in there!!! Yeah! This isn't your daddy's Batman!!!". The current Megaman comic (a superhero comic at it's core) is an all ages book that has more legit weight and gravitas than the majority of it's peers, yet is bright colorful, fun and never forgets that at it's core it's about robots fighting each other.

Posted by landau_corinthian

Is Prof. Nichols still dead in the New 52? Because if he's not, I think Scott Snyder should use the "Hypnotic powers of time-science" to do something really trippy.

Posted by Inverno

@nrgb2814 said:

Wow... If by some miracle Christopher Nolan returns to Batman movies, he needs to do this story. (Sarcasm)


Posted by Suprman

Say what you will about the silver age, but I like some of the stories and this is one of them. I like that the writers used their imaginations to create stories even if they are silly.

Posted by ManaCrevice

Really enjoying this feature Tony, hoping to see it become a regular thing. I'm also amused by how straight you play it. Most articles on old wacky comics just make fun of them the whole time, you let the comic insanity stand on its own.

Posted by sweatboy

........................just wow. Just how stupid have old comics been?

Posted by Jotham

I'm surprised Grant Morrison didn't put that rug in the background of one of his issues.

Posted by jinxuandi

@JonesDeini: This is almost exactly how I feel about Golden Age stories. I wish more people would lighten up and just enjoy them for what they are, fun, silly and off-the-wall stories, rather than trashing them for not being a vehicle for social commentary or 'dark' enough, which they were never intended to be when they were written.

Posted by Xtremesteve

Soo... am I the only one that noticed that the comic has Baghdad misspelled?

Posted by Jotham

@Xtremesteve said:

Soo... am I the only one that noticed that the comic has Baghdad misspelled?

I'm pretty sure G-Man noticed, considering he put "ancient Bagdad" in sarcastic quotes.

Posted by herrweis

I'm surprised that no one mentioned that this issue is the 1st appearance of Vicki Vale.

Posted by 244

@sweatboy said:

........................just wow. Just how stupid have old comics been?

At least it beats the whole 'dark-and-gritty' fad. It was good at first, but it's begining to lose it's appeal.

Posted by danzi97

Oh, what did I just read? I think some older comics are better than the current ones, but these kinds of stories suck... It's just too old and silly lol

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Gotta love the era of campiness, lol

Posted by sweatboy

@244 said:

@sweatboy said:

........................just wow. Just how stupid have old comics been?

At least it beats the whole 'dark-and-gritty' fad. It was good at first, but it's begining to lose it's appeal.

hahaha! finally someone else who doesn't like Batman. I was talking about the whole "dark" thing myself, when people were talking about the Arrow and how it's gonna be "Darker" than Smallville. Arrow looks good, i like Ollie, and the coolest thing is he's a little more underground than Batman who's like DC's poster boy now. I also talked about my opinion on how Batman should be (weaker than he's supposed to be) and the other person just seemed to leave the conversation

Posted by BatClaw89

Hate. hate. hate. hate. hate. hate.  HATERS

Posted by sweatboy

@BatClaw89: lol,.... sorry man, different people like different things. The amount of Batfans are ridiculous, and some of them are just "who's your favourite superhero? Batman, cos he's got no powers" and that's it lol. Cos pop culture demands your allegiance to Batman in order to be cool. But Batman's got a lot going for him

Posted by HarlequinKiss

It's ridiculous but this sounds like it could easily be one of my favorite Batman comics xD

Posted by galactusx

no I do not remember this

Posted by batfan1939

I love this series! Keep up the good work! It's nice to see these old comics, and your commentary is hilarious on multiple levels! Just wanted to express my thanks!

Posted by sweatboy

@BatClaw89: lol nooo, i didn't say YOU were part of it. i'm saying SOME PEOPLE do that

Posted by mickoreo_LZ

Some of you guys make some really good points on the fun and adventure that can be found in Golden and Silver age comics. I think modern comics' dark, gritty tones are just a reflection of the times, just as a story like this was a reflection of its time. Post WWII was a time when everyone was beaming with optimism. Now we're all cynical and love stories that are cynical too. But these old stories are just fun aren't they? When comics were about the absurd adventures of over the top characters and villains. Now it's all about realism. Both have merit it suppose

Posted by cfischer67

In the future, we will all have flying cars...that also travel through time.

Posted by Darkus_99

I wish i was in thoses times. The comics were REALLY cool!

Posted by varun2000

Its OLD but GOLD