DC Database

"The Devil's Workshop": Gotham City experiences a harsh winter in 1907. The dangerous poverty-stricken neighborhood known as "Devil's Workshop" is hit particularly hard. There is a series of child kidnappings perpetrated by a strange laughing man. [[Harry Houdini (Devil's Workshop)|Harry Hou

Quote1 Ten years ago, in Cuba, I waded through a killing field of slaughtered bodies -- innocent old men, women, children -- I decided there and then that I had a mission -- I would be a guardian, a protector -- holding fast against the darkness. Quote2
Bruce Wayne

Batman/Houdini: Devil's Workshop is a one-shot with a cover date of November, 1993.

Synopsis for "The Devil's Workshop"

Gotham City experiences a harsh winter in 1907. The dangerous poverty-stricken neighborhood known as "Devil's Workshop" is hit particularly hard. There is a series of child kidnappings perpetrated by a strange laughing man. Harry Houdini has recently arrived in Gotham on tour. Victoria Vale takes photos of him performing stunts for the press, but he is unhappy with his pageantry. Houdini is aware of the kidnappings, and wishes he could use his abilities to help innocents.

Bruce Wayne arrives in Gotham with his butler Alfred by train, having returned from a trip to the south. Alfred expresses concern that Bruce's vigilantism has gone from eccentric to unhealthy. Their train is interrupted by the laughing man, whose cart crashes on the tracks ahead of them. He escapes with one of the children, and bystanders rescue the others before his cart is destroyed by the train. Bruce Wayne leaps off the train to pursue the laughing man as Batman. Police officers assume Batman is the kidnapper, and begin shooting at him. The laughing man hits Batman with a hammer, and runs into the unfinished subway with his stolen child. Following close behind, Batman discovers an underground room littered with children's corpses. The laughing man claims to have eaten many of them, and he escapes when police dogs attack Batman. Batman narrowly avoids arrest, and the officers remark that "Gordon's not gonna like this."

Bruce is shocked to learn that a reporter V. Vale is publicly blaming Batman in the Gotham Globe. When Tom Mix introduces them at a party, he is further surprised to learn that Vale is a woman and asks her on a date. Houdini attends the same party and gets into an argument with "Beef Baron" Elijah Montenegro. Houdini also deduces that Bruce Wayne is feigning uselessness based on observing his body language. Later that night, Montenegro commands the laughing man Jack Schadenfreude to burn down his pmeat packing plant. Batman learns the laughing man's identity by interrogating lowlifes in a saloon.

Wayne and Vale attend the opera together to see Leonora Reinhardt as Medea, where they encounter Montenegro again. They are all invited to a seance held by Reinhardt, including Houdini who will attempt to debunk her.

Harry Houdini begins stalking the Batman at night around the meat packing plant, believing him responsible for the kidnappings. They fight, and Houdini decides that Batman is not a killer when Batman saves him from falling off a roof. When Jack lights the building on fire with women and children trapped inside, they team up to rescue the innocents. Houdini immediately identifies Batman as Bruce Wayne by his voice. The next day when they all attend the seance, Houdini defends Batman to Vale. It is also attended by a Miss Clark, Mr. Queen, and Mr. Constantine. Bruce and Harry both experience visions of their mothers, saying things only their mothers could know. In the aftermath the two men discuss their origins. Harry reveals that he knows Bruce's secret identity. Bruce explains that he rode with Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War, where he nearly died, and adopted the bat totem of the voodoo priest who saved his life. They agree to work together in stopping Jack Schadenfreude.

Vale is abducted by Montenegro. Batman and Houdini track Jack down to a shuttered carpentry shop. They fight, and Batman kicks Jack down an empty shaft to his apparent death. They are able to rescue several living children, but find more bodies hanging from the ceiling drained of blood. Houdini becomes convinced there is more happening here, and this is the work of "Night People" a legend from the old country.

Batman and Houdini decide to challenge Montenegro at his estate, and they take an experimental early airplane to get there quickly. They are unable to land it and forced to jump off in mid-flight. Inside, Montenegro attempts to seduce Vale and talks about sharing eternal life with her. Batman and Houdini scale the walls, entering through a window to confront Montenegro and Reinhardt just as they are descending on Vale. Houdini explains that he knows what the two monsters really are. Using their supernatural strength, the vampires easily overpower the two vigilantes. They chain Batman and Houdini together next to a bundle of dynamite and crush the lock, then escape on their train with Vale. Houdini is able to wriggle out of the chains without picking the lock, freeing them both. Batman chases the train while Houdini wrestles Reinhardt. Montenegro strikes Batman, knocking his mask off and revealing his identity to Vale. Vale takes advantage of this distraction to plunge a sharp wooden plank through Montenegro's back. Montenegro dies, and Batman escapes the train carrying Vale right before it crashes. They meet Houdini, who reveals that he melted Reinhardt using his Star of David necklace. The three survivors crawl out of a manhole into the light of day, realizing that nobody will ever believe their incredible story.

Later in 1925, Houdini reflects on this adventure in his memoirs and writes that Senator Wayne was "a comrade whose legend equals my own."

Appearing in "The Devil's Workshop"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Alfred
  • Vicki Vale


Other Characters:

  • Ace (Mentioned only)
  • Cecilia Steiner (In a vision)
  • Gotham City Police Department
    • Gordon (Mentioned only)
  • Martha Wayne (In a vision)
  • Miss Clark (Single appearance)
  • Mr. Constantine (Single appearance)
  • Mr. Queen (Single appearance)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (Flashback only)
  • Tom Mix (Single appearance)





  • The subtitle to this story is "A Scientific Romance of Harry Houdini, the Ectoplasmic Man and that Shadowy Avenger, the Bat Man."
  • This issue is reprinted in Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 1.


  • Montenegro calls Houdini the "clown prince of the lower classes" which is a reference to the Joker.

See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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