Times Past, 1949
Death on Ice
Investigating a murder at an ice skating competition, Batman and Robin find themselves on thin ice when a new villainess attacks! Can the Dynamic Duo discover the Golden Glider’s identity before she claims her next victim?
At stately Wayne Manor, Alfred Beagle cleared the dinner plates even as he continued to scan the Gotham City sky as he frequently did in the evenings. He wasn’t checking on the weather this night in 1949; rather, he was looking for the Bat-Signal that would put an end to the rare night off that his friends and employers, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, were hoping to enjoy. It always came, but perhaps, just this evening, they would finally get a break from saving lives and fighting crime as Batman and Robin.
At the dinner table, Bruce Wayne noticed Dick Grayson frowning. “Why so glum, chum?” asked Bruce.
“It’s just that the signal didn’t shine tonight,” replied Dick, who at the age of twenty-one still had a baby-face. “We actually finished a meal, and Alfred’s pie, too, without that signal! I can’t believe it.”
“I’ve got a treat for you, Dick,” Bruce said after a moment. “That skater you have a crush on, Anna Karvakova, is in tonight’s skating competition at the Gotham Ice Rink. My lady friend Vicki Vale is one of the celebrity judges, and she sent us tickets, and backstage passes, too. I didn’t mention them earlier, but since it looks like we won’t be needed tonight, why don’t we go?”
“Gosh, Bruce,” said Dick, blushing as he thought about the young ice skater. “That would be great!”
The two men enjoyed a spectacular show, watching as Gotham City’s own Rose Winters performed first, getting top scores from Vicki Vale and the other judge, Lee Wilks.
Then the tall, beautiful Soviet blonde Anna Karvakova took the ice in a revealing feathered costume as she dazzled the crowd with her performance of a number from Swan Lake.
“She’s great, isn’t she, Bruce?” said Dick with admiration.
“Very lovely and very graceful, but will she beat Rose’s hometown advantage?” asked Bruce. “Vicki says Lee is very pro-Rose Winters.”
Sure enough, Bruce was accurate. The judges ended up presenting Anna with one-tenth a point less than her American rival. Finishing third was a pretty redhead from Keystone City named Lisa Snart. When the final scores were announced, Anna jumped up and stormed out of the box where skaters typically kissed and cried, depending on their results.
Bruce and Dick met up with Vicki and thanked her for a nice evening. But before she could take them back to the private area, a scream rang out.
Making their excuses — in this case to get a few posters, or so they told Vicki — the two slipped away. They returned moments later as Batman and Robin and raced to the dressing room, where a crying Rose Winters was bending over the bloody form of skating judge Lee Wilks.
“It was Anna!” sobbed Rose hysterically. “I saw her race off. She cut Lee’s throat! She knew he would favor me in the next championship in Metropolis! Help him!”
No words passed between the former Boy Wonder and his mentor; they worked with an easy perfection by this time, their teamwork accomplished by trained instinct honed by years of practice.
Robin dropped to her side and tried to stop the bleeding, then sent the nervous Rose out to call for medical help. The cut had been made with a sharp blade, and the young detective noted that the laceration was very much like something that could have come from a thick ice-skating blade.
Meanwhile, Batman had raced out of the back area, only to see nothing. The assailant had escaped. Still, he had spotted something. A black-beaded feather like the ones on Anna Karvakova’s swan costume was left behind, apparently by the killer. Dick would not be pleased.
Later, after medical authorities arrived and carried the now-stable Lee Wilks to the hospital, the Dynamic Duo stopped to question Vicki Vale.
“The skating world is full of gossip and jealousy,” explained Vicki. “Anna Karvakova is a real diva. She berates her poor husband endlessly. His name is Sergei Karvakova, the Soviet scientist who defected a year or two ago. She always gets jealous if the poor guy even glances at another woman. Considering her temper, how she stormed off early, and her rivalry with Rose, I would not put anything past the ice princess.”
Batman and Robin thanked her, then set out for Anna’s hotel room. They arrived, only to find it empty as they had expected.
Back at the Batcave, Batman offered a concerned Dick Grayson some hope. The feather had not dropped by accident.
“See how the top ends so smooth and evenly?” said Batman. “Robin, someone deliberately cut this feather off and left it there to incriminate Anna Karvakova. Her leaving early and her tantrums just helped make her look worse.”
“But, Bruce, do you think Rose lied about seeing Anna?”
“That remains to be seen, old chum,” said Batman thoughtfully. “Let’s just keep an eye on Miss Winters for the next few days.”
Batman and Robin watched both the Karvakova suite and Rose Winters’ movements, but fruitlessly at first. When Anna’s husband Sergei finally returned to the suite, questioning him revealed little. He had no idea where his flighty wife was, and he was very worried about her. Then their luck drastically changed.
Rose Winters visited Lee Wilks in the hospital, then went to her usual skating rink to train. Afterward, she found herself confronted in the rink’s empty parking lot, her path blocked by a tall blonde wearing a very short gold skating dress and a mask.
“The Golden Glider ends your travesty of a career now!” the masked woman said with a thick Eastern European accent. Producing a bladed device, the villainess whirled it through the air at the trembling Rose.
But before it could reach the young American skater, a bat-shaped boomerang deflected its deadly flight. “Batman and Robin!” breathed the villainess.
“We’re here to put you on ice!” punned the grown-up Boy Wonder as he swung down toward the Golden Glider.
The villainess spun on one heel, and then a razor-sharp blade suddenly shot itself from her boot, missing Robin’s head by inches. Batman took that opportunity to dive down upon the woman from behind. They tumbled to the ground, and within moments he quickly roped her with his batline.
“Not so easy, Batman!” she snarled, and her costume’s sleeves suddenly sprouted blades, which made ribbons out of the ropes and almost sliced Batman’s hands as well. She hurled another blade-shaped projectile, which gleamed in the night as it sliced through the air.
“Down, Robin!” yelled Batman as he shoved Rose Winters to safety. This blade exploded in a sheet of flames that lit the area. While the Caped Crusader helped Rose up, the Golden Glider took that moment to slip away. “Are you OK?” the concerned Batman asked his younger partner.
“I’m fine,” said Robin, “but I’ll never look at a triple axel the same way again.”
Batman and Robin raced through the Gotham City night in their highly stylized Batmobile. “Good news for your crush, Dick. Our Golden Glider is not Anna Karvakova. She desperately wanted us to believe she was Anna, though, and I have no doubt she was wearing Anna’s very same swan outfit back when she attacked Lee Wilks. In the darkened arena, she was able to fool Rose into thinking she was Anna, but the feather was deliberately cut off and planted there, and the accent was a good but faulty impression. Most obvious of all, however, her deadly skates have been modified with a platform to make her appear to be as tall as our lovely Soviet skater. Oh, and the blonde hair is a wig; I ran a test on a strand of it earlier.”
“Great, Batman!” said Robin. “But I assumed those high-tech gadgets of the Glider’s must have come from our friendly Soviet weapons-maker, Sergei Karvakova.”
“Good thinking, Robin!” Batman replied with a smile. “Right inventor, but you got the user wrong. I suspect he is the inventor of those gimmicked skates, and the third place skater Lisa Snart is the Golden Glider. The lifts, the wig, and everything else were all part of their scheme to implicate poor Anna. I assume, for once, Vicki’s gossip about a jealous Anna’s fearing Sergei was having an affair was all too correct, and Miss Snart from Keystone City is his mistress.”
They arrived at the seedy rooms that Sergei Karvakova had been traced to earlier that night by the trusty Alfred, then swung up to the upper windows and effortlessly slipped inside. Within they spotted Anna Karvakova, bound and gagged in her underwear. Her telltale swan costume had been tossed on the bed nearby.
While Robin silently freed her and reassured her that she would be safe now, Batman made his way downstairs. Pausing for just a moment, the Batman then crashed into a room where a guilty Sergei was embracing an unmasked and dewigged Lisa Snart. Sergei jumped up, only to receive a right cross that sent the Soviet arms maker to the floor.
“You’ve ruined everything!” cried Lisa. “This was my chance to win all over both Rose and Anna!” She reached desperately for her Golden Glider outfit, but she was too slow. Batman had already snatched it out of her reach. Without the deadly blades in the suit, Lisa Snart was no match for Batman.
As the Dynamic Duo led her out to the car and onward to her future imprisonment, Batman showed Robin a note that the couple had forced Anna to write, confessing to the Golden Glider’s crimes and ending with a suicide threat. “No doubt they hoped to frame and kill Anna after killing Rose,” said Batman. “That would free Lisa to win, most likely, at the next big event.”
Robin smiled. “I’m glad of two things. We saved Anna — I even got a kiss from her — and…”
“And what–?” asked Batman, prepared with a smile for an expected pun or joke.
“And,” said Robin, already grinning, “that Lisa didn’t decide to call herself Zamboni Lady!”