Batman (1940) #289 – July 1977 Issue – DC Comics
Price $25 – Order Here
Batman in book-length story, “Sign of the Skull!” Script by David R. Reed, pencils by
Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta. Grell cover.
Cosmo “Skull” Dugger suffers from anhedonia, a psychologial condition that robs him
of the ability to experience joy. He builds an electronic device that allows him to steal
the joy–and life–of a person he points it at during their moment of greatest pleasure.
The process leaves a skull imprinted on the forehead of the victim. After three victims
are killed, Dr. Faye Sommers calls in Batman to examine the last one, and he winds
up battling some of Dugger’s thugs at the hospital, who are trying to steal the victim’s
body. Batman picks out “Skull” Dugger’s face on videotapes of the events where each
of the victims (a baseball player, an actor, and a lottery winner) were killed.
After discovering Dugger’s name and residence, he drops in while Dugger is out and
learns–quite painfully–Dugger’s recent history from a mental recording device
attached to a joy-making device. He then tries and fails to stop Dugger from
committing a murder. Dugger returns to his lab, notices the recorder and joy-maker,
and realizes that since Batman has used it in playback, all his instinctive responses to
joy have become responses to pain, and vice versa. Soon, Batman appears at police
headquarters, babbles incoherently, and then sits immobile in a chair, fearful to speak,
act, or move at all.