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The Minstrel

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The Minstrel
Minstrel 3
General Information
Real name: Unidentified
Aliases: The Musical Master of Crime
Portrayed by: Van Johnson
Appearances: Batman (1960s series)


"Listen to me Batman, we go to Plan High C."
―The Minstrel[src]


The Minstrel was a villain and enemy of Batman in the Batman 1960s TV Series. He was portrayed by Van Johnson.

Minstrel was an electronic genius which was in fact a logical pursuit for someone who was also highly talented in music since both music and electronic energy are transmitted in waves. What made him so dangerous was he possessed a "level of electronic sophistication far beyond anyone else in the world" at that time. The Minstrel used his musical talents to deliver his demands and taunts to Gotham's citizens, police force and protectors over the air waves. With rhyming lyrics he would communicate his villainous intents accompanied by soft strumming on a lute. In addition, he has the peculiar habit of rolling his 'r's. Not only was he an evil mastermind, but also a strikingly handsome man who possessed a winning charm. Many of Gotham City's women were swooned by his personality and warm, attractive singing voice. Harriet Cooper, Aunt to Bruce Wayne's youthful ward Dick Grayson, was one such woman. When his female partner in crime, Octavia, remarked Batman too had a warm, attractive voice, Minstel was incredulous. He could not understand how Octavia could be fooled by what he called Batman's "phony mystique". Later on, he called Batman and Robin "inefficient".

Though he appeared to be in great physical shape, he abhored violence, refusing to indulge in fisticuffs or brawling. When the Melodic Fiend was finally captured by Batman and Robin, his men defeated, he went peacefully into police custody. He did, however, promise a jailbreak and revenge in a song composed for a television interview.

HistoryEdit

The Melodic Master of Crime began his criminal schemes by changing the computerized stock quotations at the Gotham City Stock exchange, throwing its members into a panic. He then began holding many of Gotham City's wealthy ransom with threats to sink the Gotham Stock Exchange if he wasn't given $1,000 per week from each of its members.

The Minstrel reports these facts to the public on televisions all over the city with a message specifically for the members of the exchange, threatening to continue to interfere with quotations that will eventually make the market crash. After seeing the message, Mr. Brook Courtland, the president of the Gotham Stock Exchange, phones Police Commissioner Gordon, who has already seen the Minstrel's demands and been alerted to the threat. Stumped as to what they should do, the Gotham City Police Department calls in Batman and Robin to investigate.

When the Caped Crusaders arrive at Police Headquarters, they meet Mr. Courtland, who relays to them all that has happened. Batman then vows to find out more about this new criminal and deduce exactly what his next move is. He asks to be shown the transmission in the exchange building, and Mr. Courtland agrees.

Minstrel 2

The Minstrel broadcasting

The Dynamic Duo, along with Commissioner Gordon and Mr Courtland, soon arrive at the building and examine the transmitter. When nothing seems out of place, Batman asks to check the coding circuits. While he and Robin are examining them, the Minstrel eavesdrops on their conversation via a hidden microphone from his hideout. The Caped Crusaders, however, find that the circuits had been tampered with and see the microphone, but remain silent, so the Minstrel is fooled into thinking that they don't suspect anything.

While talking to the Commissioner Gordon and Mr. Courtland, the heroes plan to set a trap for the villain.

They return to the Batcave to construct a bug similar to the Minstrel's microphone as part of their plan. Batman then phones the Commissioner and asks him to ask Mr Courtland to allow him and Robin to return to the corner outside the transition room tonight and find them an isolated office where they can lie in wait.

Back at the exchange the Caped Crusaders hear someone whistling the same tune that the Minstrel sang when he was on television. Suspecting it to be a signal of his arrival, they investigate only to find that it was an only a nearby custodian who happened to be whistling the tune.

The Minstrel suddenly appears and uses one of his electronic gadgets which blinds the heroes for him to make his escape.

Later Batman finds out that the criminal was planning to remove another of the heterodyning counter oscillator that resembled each circuit which in turn caused the transmiter to go wrong.

At his hideout the barbaric bard suspects that Batman may of discovered his work on the transmiter and arranges a trap for them by appearing on television again using their signal for them to track him.

Back in the Batcave, Batman designs a Batdrone plane to home onto the Minstrel's signal. It works and they track him down to a TV studio at the Willow Street warehouse.

The Minstel sees them on camera and arranges to put his plan into action. The Duo arrive in the building already suspecting it to be a trap and Minstrel's henchmen appear and fight them. Two of them called Treble and Bass escape and they follow them.

Suspecting another trap Batman places two bombs on the wall of the narrow corridor before entering the door.

They are caught by the Minstrel and tied to a musical electronic radar grill that will roast them to cinders.

The Melodic fiend had not wanted to destroy Batman for he admired his genius but was furious when the Caped Crusader tried to reform him and tells his henchmen to switch it on before playing a taunting song.

While the heroes are still revolving on the grill, the bombs that Batman place outside earlier go off distracting the Minstrel and his men long enough for the Dynamic Duo to loosen the pole that is rotating them and free themselves from their restraints.

After finding out that they have been tricked, the Minstrel and the others return and the Caped Crusaders attack his henchmen.

The Minstrel escapes and appears on television again singing that he isn't finished with his schemes yet.

While they are distracted his henchmen escape leaving the Minstrel's assistant Octavia behind. She willingly gives up but Batman lets her go after secretly installing a tracking device in her handbag.

They later call Commissioner Gordon vowing that they won't rest until the barbaric bard is behind bars.

At the Minstel's hideout Octavia arrives and the Dynamic Duo listen in from the Batcave. Octavia describes how kind Batman was to her which completely infuriates him, he then finds the secret tracking device and tells Batman that he will putting his next scheme that he calls "High C" into action.

He wants Batman to gather the exchange members as well as Commissioner Gordon, Chief O'Hara and Mr Courtland to meet in the stock exchange where he will demonstrate his plan in thirty minutes.

The Dynamic Duo arrive at the exchange and wait patiently for the Minstrel. Suddenly the whole building begins to shake with a signal which causes subsonic vibrations by the sneaky singer who once again issues his earlier demands on television again this time with Commissioner Gordon collecting the money, delivering it to his henchmen and issue their agreement by six o'clock or else he will again use his signal to destroy the building in one hour.

Batman plans to switch off the power that is being used by the Minstrel to broadcast his deadly signal by shutting off all the power in the building.

The Minstrel enters the exchange in disguise and broadcasts a pre recording using his own power, Batman finds out and exposes him.

The villain calls on his henchmen to fight and after a fierce battle, they are defeated and the Minstrel tries to use his blinding device to escape but the Dynamic Duo tell him that their Particle Acceleration Units make it useless against them.

After his arrest, the Minstrel sang this memorable final song on television for Batman vowing that he would return:

"Wait till the Jailbreak Batman, you've not seen the last of me.
I'll clobber you and Robin. Wait and see.
You'll vibrate both together, I'll shake off your heads.
Oh just you wait till the Jailbreak Batman, you'll be dead."

Bruce Wayne was watching this on his own television at home and after a suggestion from Aunt Harriet, plans to have Commissioner Gordon help reform him.

Weapons and EquipmentEdit

Because the Minstrel hated physical violence he used an array of gadgets to help in his schemes and destroy the Dynamic Duo:

  • Counter Oscilators - These fascinating little devices were placed in the transmission circuits of the Gotham Stock Exchange, confusing the circuits so no stock market prices came out right. By doing so, Minstrel had full control over Gotham's stock market.
  • Static Bolt Device - discharged from a small hand-held device, these bolts were used to temporarily blind and distract many people within a room.
  • Sonic Beam - With this device, Minstrel could transmit the sympathetic vibration of any structure in Gotham City. By creating this resonance, Minstrel could literally shake Gotham City to dust.
  • Minstrel Microphone - A bug like device that was used to eavesdrop on the Dynamic Duo.
  • Electrical Radar Grill - A seemingly ordinary electric grill that has a spit that rotates slowly over the heat, roasting its victims alive.

Known AssociatesEdit

  • Octavia (portrayed by Leslie Perkins) - The Minstrel's female assistant, who constantly infuriated him by saying how moral and kind Batman was. Even though she was enchanted by Batman's warm attractive voice, she remained true to Minstrel right to the very end. As a result, she was sent to prison with the rest of his criminal ilk.
  • Treble (portrayed by Remo Pisani) - Simple Henchman.
  • Bass (portrayed by Norman Gabrowski) - Simple Henchman.

AppearancesEdit

TriviaEdit

  • Due to lack of audience response to the character, the Minstrel made no more appearances on the Batman Television Series.
  • Minstrel's henchwoman Octavia was listed as "Amanda" in the closing credits of both episodes.

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