DC Animated Universe

"The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy" is the thirty-first episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It first aired on October 14, 1992.


McWhirter is caught in Josiah Wormwood's death trap

Mr. McWhirter is caught in Wormwood's death trap.

A lone man, McWhirter, walks into a miniature golf course at night following instructions printed in cut and pasted letters. He hears a voice that instructs him to follow it. McWhirter demands to know what's going on, but the voice tells him to follow some lights into a sand pit. He does so and discovers that it's quicksand. He is said can either give up a collection of bearer bonds he's supposed to transport and be rescued or he can keep the information to himself and die. McWhirter gives in.

Later, Commissioner Gordon talks to Batman about the loss of the bearer bonds and what happened to McWhirter. Batman quickly deduces who's behind it: Josiah Wormwood, the interrogator. However, Batman doesn't yet know if Wormwood is even in town so he decides to pay Baron Wacklaw Josek, an associate of Wormwood's, a visit.

The Baron is attending a dinner as a guest speaker for the Gotham Foreign Aid Society. However, his speech is cut short when Batman grabs him. Batman demands information and carries the Baron to the roof. Dangling him from a billboard, Batman drags all the information on Wormwood the Baron has to offer and tells him to leave. The Baron is angered to the extreme.

Later, the Baron calls Wormwood in and hires him to get Batman's cape and cowl. Wormwood is intrigued by the proposition but also curious as to why his new employer wants them. The Baron proposes a trade: he'll tell Wormwood what he wants to know if Wormwood will tell him about the bearer bonds. Wormwood plays dumb, but the Baron assures him that he'll be handsomely rewarded for this task. Although skeptical, Wormwood agrees.

The Bat-signal lights the skies above Gotham, and Batman arrives to meet Gordon. Gordon gives Batman a letter telling him to go to "where iron horses go to rot and children toot their horns a lot."

Batman goes to a park known as Traintown and enters a train with smoke coming from its stack. However, he discovers that it's a trap. The exits are sealed and Batman discovers a young woman tied to a railroad track with the train rapidly bearing down on her. Wormwood promises to remove her from harm's way if Batman will give up his cape and cowl. However, Batman manages to prevent a window from being completely closed and squeezes through the opening. He dives for the woman only to find that she was a mere hologram. Wormwood manages to escape and decides that he'll have to put Batman himself in jeopardy.

Batman caught in Josiah Wormwood's death trap

Batman caught in Wormwood's death trap.

Following another message, Batman goes to DeLarue's Wax Museum and finds himself in another trap. Searching the museum, he enters a room filled with unfinished wax figures. Wormwood opens a panel in the roof revealing a 20,000-watt light that rapidly heats up the room. Batman tries to escape through a skylight but it's sealed off and he falls to the floor. He lands in a puddle of molten wax, rendering his weapons useless. He tries to hurl his belt at the light but it doesn't work. Fortunately, one of the wax figures has a metal frame and with it and Batman manages to shatter the light. However, it releases toxic gas into the room. Wormwood tells him that he'll shut off the gas only if Batman gives him his cape and cowl. Seeing no way out, Batman surrenders the desired prize to Wormwood. Fortunately, his identity is still secret as Batman is wearing a bandanna underneath the cowl. Wormwood makes a surprising remark that he must really need to conceal his identity, but is unconcerned as his mission was to steal the cape and cowl, not expose Batman's true identity. Not ready to fully give up, Batman breaks the glass leading into Wormwood's control room, only to find him already gone.

Later, as arranged, Wormwood meets the Baron in his penthouse and demands to know why he wants Batman's cape and cowl. The Baron refuses to tell unless Wormwood reveals the location of the bearer bonds. Giving in, Wormwood tells him and demands his information. The Baron laughs and answers, "I am going...to wear them." Turning around, the "criminal" is revealed to be none other than Batman, who was impersonating Josek the entire time. Wormwood tries to escape with a locker key, which is required to retrieve the bonds, but Batman gives chase. Wormwood attacks Batman and after a short fight he slips out the window and is nearly killed but Batman saves him.

Wormwood gets what he wanted

In a twist, Wormwood ends up with Batman's cape and cowl after all.

Wormwood is taken into custody, as the room he fought Batman in had been bugged for incriminating evidence. In prison, Woormwood is given a package with a note explaining as: "Confinement will speed your reform, but long, cold nights will be the norm, so here's a thing to keep you warm." He opens it only to discover it's Batman's cape and cowl. In a rage, he throws it aside along with a note, which reveals the Bat-Symbol, meaning that Batman is the one who sent a package to him.


  • This episode contains the first use of the Bat-signal in the DC Animated Universe.
  • Batman's tactic of disguising himself to trap his enemies and get information from them is later used in "Almost Got 'Im", in which he impersonates Killer Croc and orchestrates a sting operation.

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • Director Frank Paur tried to stop this episode from happening, "but they didn't let me. We had a lot of storyboard artists who wanted to rebel on this one. The best metaphor is kicking a dead horse. It arrived dead and no matter how hard you kick it, it ain't going to give you a ride."[1]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • When Batman says to Wormwood, "You win", his mouth doesn't match the line.
  • When Wormwood asks, "Now, what will you do with the cape and cowl?" before Batman reveals himself, the cape and cowl disappear from Josek's desk.


  • Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski originally didn't want the Bat-signal in the show, but Alan Burnett kept insisting. According to Timm, they "compromised on it."[2]
  • The episode is based on the comics story "The Cape and Cowl Death Trap!" (Detective Comics #450, August 1975), also by Elliot S. Maggin.
  • In pre-production, the original script was to have someone steal the cape and cowl and impersonate Batman while on a crime rampage. This would have been based on an episode of the old George Reeves series The Adventures of Superman.
  • Bruce Timm mentioned in an interview that he was originally going to have Batman show his face to Wormwood as he gives him the cape and cowl, but he changed his mind, as he does not like seeing Bruce without his mask on. Strangely enough, Bruce pulls off his mask in the next episode. Another episode where Batman fights unmasked was Day of the Samurai, where he removes his mask at the behest of Kyodai Ken to fight like a man.
  • First appearance of Bud Cort in the DCAU. He would go on to voice the Superman villain Toyman.


Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Bud Cort Wormwood
John Rhys-Davies Josek
Gaille Heidemann Matron
Mark Taylor McWhirter

Uncredited appearances[]


McWhirter: (Reading Instructions) "Where tracks and golf balls roll and wind, round colored banners of all kind, here, new instructions you will find."

Gordon: Look up "slippery" in the dictionary and you get Josiah Wormwood.

Wormwood: Alright. I'll get you the Batman's cape and cowl. That won't be difficult. He is only human, after all.

Batman: I want information from you. By the way, I hope you're not afraid of heights.

Batman: (Reading Instructions) "Where iron horses go to rot, and children toot their horns a lot. A damsel's pleas will come to naught."
Gordon: Do you know what it means?
Batman: Don't you?

Batman: (about the Bat-signal) Got a new toy, I see.

Batman: (Reading Instructions) "Where George Washington and young Babe Ruth, stand side by side with John Wilkes Booth, Batman will find…a plan most uncouth!".
Gordon: Well? What do you think this one means?
Batman: Those famous figures standing around together? DeLarue's Wax Museum, what else?
Gordon: Oh…of course.

Batman: All right. All right! Turn off the gas. You win.

Wormwood: You were playing...playing me for a fool!
Batman: From the day you first walked in here.

Wormwood: If you really want to know, an agent of the Kirian Emirates will get the bonds from a locker at Pan Europa Airways tomorrow...when I meet him there to give him this key. Now, what will you do with the cape and cowl?

"Baron": Heh heh heh heh...I am going...

Batman: to wear them!


  1. "Episode Guide" - Cinefantastique Vol. 24 #6/Vol. 25 #1 (February 1994)
  2. "Cartoon Noir" by Bob Miller - Comics Scene Magazine #32 (April 1993)