Hey, kids, want to read about an ugly part of Batman’s history? No, I don’t mean the movie Batman & Robin; I’m referring to a story from the Golden Age. Last night I was talking with Jay and I thought of this Batman issue in which Batman and Robin battled a gang known as The Ugly Horde (I’m sure many of us will agree that that’s not the first time a conversation with Jay turned ugly and it won’t be the last, but I digress). The issue was Batman volume one issue 3, which is from 1940. I read a reprint of it in a trade paperback and laughed more than once. Here are a couple websites talking about it-  .
The story has Gotham City being terrorized by the ugly horde, which goes around destroying beautiful art (presumably meaning the work of Francis Bacon was spared). Then people mysteriously begin turning ugly (I literally had to pause after typing that sentence because my body started shaking from a chuckling fit). We go to a meeting of the Ugly Horde to discover their leader is The Ugliest Man in the World (I’m sure most of us thought of a wisecrack to go along with that sentence). He was once an ordinary man, so what happened? He got involved in politics. Actually, it was a college prank. Yep. Someone mixed up a bunch of chemicals in a hypodermic needle with the intention of pranking this guy into thinking he was going to be injected with a bunch of mixed-up chemicals with a hypodermic needle. However, he accidentally injected him for real (I think he tripped or something). Well, here’s a thought- use water and food coloring for the prank! That college probably started a rule after that saying only water and food coloring could be used in injection-related pranks and most of the current students don’t know why that is. Anyway, The Ugliest Man in World (who doesn’t always drink beer, but prefers to drink bathtub swill when he does) was behind the rash of people being injected into turning ugly. I don’t remember if he came up with his own ugly juice or if he somehow recreated the mixture that transformed him into the somewhat unpleasant to look at man you see before you. If it were the latter, then how about, I don’t know, trying to make an antidote!? Eventually Batman and Robin saved the day, and either an ugly antidote was made or the effects wore off with time. So if you were ugly because if an injection of the ugly juice, good news! If you were ugly beforehand (or became ugly from using street drugs), well, that’s unfortunate.
That issue had some ugliness, sure enough. I don't mean the Ugly Horde; I mean the protective masks worn by the robbers in the previous story (the one about the Puppet Master). My gosh. It looked like they were wearing multi-colored ski masks with sock-covered soup cans sewn on the front. If memory serves me right they drew perfectly realistic-looking masks in a Joker story in the previous issue, so what the blazes happened? Oh, and there's one of the first appearances by Cat-Woman in this issue. Man, I love the Golden Age! These reprints are treasures, lemme tell you! I agree with Jay’s comment that we should petition for Batman to fight the Ugly Horde in a movie. Shoot, if the movie that came out earlier this year had been Batman vs. The Ugly Horde, I would have gone to see it. The hard part will be casting the film without hurting anyone’s feelings. So, what are your thoughts? Let’s not make this ugly, okay?