Often, Batman is described as having one superpower: the fact that he is super rich. Those riches come into play when you look at how he is able to keep up with the rest of his Justice League teammates, through a series of elaborate gadgets, weapons and vehicles. The most famous tool in his arsenal is his utility belt, which is filled with useful tools and weapons to fight crime.
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The interesting thing about the belt, though, is that despite many diagrams of it over the years, Batman still seems to be able to pull out things that we’ve never seen before and use them in battle. Here, then, we will take a look at the strangest things that Batman has kept in his utility belt. We’re only counting in-continuity comic book stories here, with an emphasis on unintentionally funny.
In “World’s Finest Comics” #5 (by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos), Batman and Robin are shocked to discover that the gangs of Gotham City have taken a holiday from committing crimes! As it turned out, though, what they were actually doing was disguising themselves as notable criminals in other cities and then committing crimes in those cities, putting the blame on other crooks and then allowing themselves to return to Gotham City and hide out with their ill-gotten gains.
After Batman disguised himself as one of the crooks, he and Robin tried to foil one of their plots in Philadelphia, but ended up trapped in a sinking van. Luckily, Batman had a collapsible saw in his utility belt and they were able to cut their way out before the van filled with water. Besides the comedic effect of Batman whipping out a regular-sized straw from his belt, the use of an actual saw quickly became almost quaint once Batman started using lasers to cut everything.
In “The Phantom Batman” from “Batman” #110 (by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris), Batman was caught in an explosion in an experimental electronics factory and the result was that Batman’s atoms were altered to the point where he became a phantom. He could pass through walls and no one could actually make physical contact with him. While he was working on a cure for the affliction, he still tried to fight crime. When he saw a toddler get loose from his parents and run on to the train tracks, Batman had to quickly come up with a plan to stop him that didn’t involve physically grabbing the kid.
So Batman used the mirror that he carried in his utility belt to reflect sun light at the kid’s face and get him to walk away from the train tracks. Mirrors are obviously useful enough tools, in general, but when you’re talking about making space in a utility belt for important items, it seems unlikely that a mirror would be high on the list of things you would need. Batman presumably would have a number of other devices that could work as signaling devices.
13. INSTANT FREEZE CHEMICALS
In “Batman: Clown of Crime!” (by David Vern, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris) from “Batman” #85, Batman and Robin track the Joker down to the laboratory of the noted scientist, Dr. Tom Rayburn. During their struggle, Batman and the Joker accidentally found themselves stuck in front of a machine Rayburn was working on that harnessed “epsilon rays.” When bathed in the rays, Batman and Joker switched minds, so Batman was now a menace to society and Joker was teaming up with Robin to stop Batman (who was also planning on revealing his identity for a million dollars).
One of the Joker’s crimes while in Batman’s body involved using some of the chemicals that he found in the ulitty belt (you have to give the Joker some credit for figuring out how they worked). Some of Batman’s chemicals allowed him to instantly freeze an entire swimming pool of water by simply tossing them into the pool. That’s a bizarrely powerful tool that Batman has not used since.
“Planetary” was a series by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday about a group of inter-dimensional archaeologists who investigated the “secret history” of the universe. Mostly it involved looking into unique phenomena that would typically be connected to a character that was a stand-in for an actual famous pop culture figure. The group included three characters with superpowers, with the super strong Jakita Wagner being the enforcer of the group. If something went wrong, she would be there to fight it.
In the special one-shot “Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth,” Planetary was drawn to a spot in Gotham City in pursuit of a mysterious man named John Black. Black caused temporary rifts in the multiverse, one of which brought Batman into Planetary’s universe. He began to fight Jakita over Black (as Batman wanted to take him into custody). As they fought, though, Black kept causing “dimension quakes,” which would change Batman into a different version of Batman. Cleverly, each one was a classical version of Batman. There was the original 1939 version, the “Dark Knight Returns” version and, of course, the campy 1960s “Batman” TV series version. It was that version who sprayed Jakita in the face with “Bat-Female-Villain-Repellent,” a play on the famous “Bat-Shark-Repellent” from the 1966 “Batman” movie. This is relatively low on the list because it was intended as a joke.
11. MINI GEIGER COUNTER
In “Batman” #117’s “Manhunt in Outer Space” (by Arnold Drake, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris), Batman and Robin are chasing down a thief named Eddie Marrow (they got to use their newly-invented rocket jet skates to catch up to him) when Marrow accidentally bumped into the hideout of Garr, an alien criminal who was on the run from the universal police corps and was hiding on Earth. Garr takes Marrow on as a partner and they head off into outer space. A universal police corps inspector then teams up with Batman and Robin to track the crooks down.
Luckily, despite the advanced nature of the universal police corps inspector’s personal weaponry, he didn’t think to have a pocket Geiger counter like Batman had in his utility belt. Marrow conveniently just robbed some radioactive material back on Earth, so they were able to track him pretty easily.
10. BAT-FREEZE PILL
“Detective Comics” #362 came out in late 1966, near the pinnacle of “Bat-Mania” from the “Batman” TV series. The issue (by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella) pitted Batman against one of his rogues, who had become much more prominent due to his appearances on the “Batman” TV series: the Riddler. Incidentally, Frank Gorshin had already been nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of the Riddler.
In this story, the Riddler was doing his typical scheme of sending riddles to Batman and Robin while he robs banks. The most unique part of this particular caper is that at one point he attacked Batman and Robin with flying maps of the United States that shot out knockout gas (hopefully putting Batman and Robin into a… state… of shock!). In the end, after they defeated him, Riddler still had a plan involving a bomb that would be triggered by Batman and Robin’s body heat. Luckily, Batman carried with him a “bat-freeze pill” that would lower his body temperature. He’s Batman; dude thinks of everything!
9. LAUGHING GAS
In “Batman” #115’s “Batman in the Bottle” (by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris), Batman and Robin were reading the news when they learned that archaeologists were discovering some very strange findings in a dig of an ancient village. Luckily, by this point in their history, Batman and Robin were close friends with Dr. Charles Nichols, who happened to have a time machine that Batman and Robin could use whenever they wanted to investigate things.
As it turned out, the strange findings in the dig were due to the villagers having to deal with being constantly tormented by local giants. Batman decided to make it so that the giants no longer bothered the villagers. Part of his plan involved dousing the giants with laughing gas that Batman happened to keep in his utility belt. Why Batman would think he would ever need specifically laughing gas is beyond our understanding.
8. MAKE-UP KIT
“Touchdown for Justice” from “Batman” #4 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos) was a historic story because it was the first time somebody believed that Bruce Wayne was actually Batman, and thus the first time that Batman had to come up with an elaborate plan that involved tricking people into thinking Bruce Wayne and Batman were two different people. HINT: it involved Batman having an exact replica of Bruce Wayne handy as a stand-in. Because of course it did.
The story also followed a plot that many comics of the era would use. The star player for a football team was kidnapped so that his team would lose (as the gangsters all bet heavily on his team losing), so Batman had to take over as that player and win the game to save the day. Naturally, Batman carried around enough make-up in his utility belt to make himself look exactly like this football player (at least Batman had a real make-up kit! Superman got through on some grease paint when he did the same plot in an early issue of “Superman”).
7. MINI BATMAN COSTUME
“The Jail for Heroes!” in “Batman” #71 (by David Vern, Lew Schwartz and Stan Kaye, plus Bob Kane was still doing the Batman and Robin figures for the stories at this time), a villainous gangster by the name of Scar came up with a twisted plan. He put together a prison in the middle of nowhere and slowly but surely captured some of the most notable crimefighters in the country and threw them into a prison for heroes, forcing them to produce license plates for a scheme where he would sell license plate-switchers to criminals (so they could swap their license plate for another one at the flip of a button).
Scar did not unmask Batman, as that was his threat to keep others from escaping. If they escaped, he would reveal Batman’s identity. That worked somehow. Batman organized an escape, but one of the prisoners blew it by escaping early. Scar decided to just kill everyone in a gas chamber. Luckily, Batman had knocked out Scar earlier and dressed him in a spare Batman costume that Batman kept in his utility belt. Batman, dressed as Scar, was then able to cancel the delivery of the gas, so when the crooks opened up the chamber to dispose of the bodies, the good guys took them all out.
In “The Invaders from the Past” from “Batman” #149 (by Jerry Coleman, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris), Batman and Robin run afoul of villains from the distant past who have shown up in the present to rob banks. Despite time travel being an active part of Batman and Robin’s life by this point, this particular piece of time travel turned out to be a hoax by two criminals, who thought it was smart to pretend to be from the past to throw people off their scent. After all, no one would ever expect them of committing the crimes if people were dwelling on the whole “time travel” theory (they even used authentic ancient weapons).
As one point, the fake time travelers uncouple a train car to distract Batman and Robin. The Dynamic Duo hop on to the car and see that the car is about to run right into traffic. They had to come up with a way to get the cars to stop. Luckily, they carried crayons on them at all times, so they super quickly drew up a stop sign on a poster that was on the train and threw it down to alter the cars.
5. AQUATIC SOUND RECORDER
As noted before, in “Batman” #117’s “Manhunt in Outer Space” (by Arnold Drake, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris), Batman and Robin teamed up with an alien named Tutian to hunt down two criminals: an alien named Garr and an Earthman named Eddie Marrow. They tracked them to an alien world and initially were able to track them via a Geiger counter (since Marrow had stolen radioactive material).
But then the villains seem to lose our heroes by hiding out underwater, in a sea on the alien world (since all aliens seem to have breathing discs that allow them to breathe underwater). Luckily, Batman had one of the most oddly-specific devices in his utility belt. It was an aquatic sound recorder that can allow him to track their footsteps under the sea (they still had to worry about sea monsters, but otherwise, it worked out well). We guess we shouldn’t make fun of Batman for the idea; after all, it did work!
4. BATMAN BALLOON
As noted earlier, in “Batman” #115’s “Batman in the Bottle” (by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris), Batman and Robin traveled to the past and discovered an ancient village that was being tormented by giants. Batman’s plan for dealing with the giants was to pretend to be a powerful genie (as you do). As shown earlier, what finally cinched the deal in convincing the giants that he was an actual genie was to use laughing gas.
However, to even get to the point where the giants believed that Batman could possibly be a genie, Batman had to use a bunch of other tricks in his utility belt, including at one point covering himself with smoke pellets and then inflating a giant Batman balloon that he kept in his utility belt. Yes, Batman carried a parade float Batman balloon in his utility belt for… reasons? Maybe he was just pissed off that Batman has somehow never appeared as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
3. A MARBLE
The Killer Moth debuted in the early 1950s as a villain who modeled himself after Batman in many ways (he even adopted the identity of a millionaire philanthropist). After Batman ruined that identity for him, the Killer Moth decided to get plastic surgery in “Detective Comics” #173 to look like Bruce Wayne. That also led him to learning Batman’s secret identity. His plan was to become re-established as a top criminal by defeating “Batman.” His plan was to switch places with the real Batman at the last minute, so that he would actually be defeating the real deal.
Moth also planned to take out Robin at the same time, so he knocked the Boy Wonder out and basically made him doubt whether Batman was actually Batman. To convince him he was the real deal, Batman told him something that only he would know — that they kept marbles in their belts because they could help feign death by placing them under their arms. Yes, only Batman would lie that brazenly to a child! Oh, and don’t worry about Killer Moth knowing Batman’s identity. He got shot in the head later in the story and had amnesia.
2. SECRET IDENTITY DISC
Batman has had some bad ideas in his time (like that whole “build a satellite to monitor everyone and then be shocked when it’s used for evil” plan from “The OMAC Project”), but one of his worst was the idea of having a special disc in his utility belt that revealed his secret identity. It was also made out of asbestos. Unsurprisingly, in “Detective Comics” #185 (by David Vern Reed, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris), Batman loses his utility belt after he had activated the chemical revealing his secret identity; he figured he was about to die earlier in the issue.
Once the belt is lost, though, the story is very charming, as it keeps ending up in the lives of various strangers (including a kid, a hobo and a subway worker) who keep using the items in it to save lives. In the end, Batman gets it back. What’s interesting, though, is that Batman specifically tells the kid that he has to take his marbles back, as Batman needs those pockets for more important things. Just a year earlier he was telling Robin about how great it was to have marbles in the belt! Pick one, Batman! Jeez!
1. BAT SHARK REPELLENT
We kept the items on this list limited to things that Batman used in “in-continuity” comic book stories because it was so easy for outside stories to go overboard with items and weapons, just for comedic effect. One of the most famous examples of this was in the 1966 “Batman” movie where Batman used Bat-Shark Repellent to stop a shark…
However, as revealed in “Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent and Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia,” that was actually something that Batman had used in the past! In the aforementioned “Batman” #117’s “Manhunt in Outer Space” (by Arnold Drake, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris), when Batman, Robin and their alien crimefighting friend are attacked by a sea monster while in the alien sea, Batman pulls out shark repellent from his utility belt to stave off one of the monsters. The writers of the “Batman” movie unlikely knew that shark repellent was something Batman actually used, but it surprisingly was!
What do you think is the coolest item in Batman’s utility belt? Let us know in the comments section!