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The Minstrel’s Shakedown

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The Minstrel's Shakedown - the villainous Van Johnson with his gang versus Batman and Robin
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The Minstrel’s Shakedown / Barbecued Batman? Batman season 2

Van Johnson appears in “The Minstrel’s Shakedown“. He’s both musician and electronic genius. He plans on blackmailing the Gotham City Stack exchange for $250,000 — weekly!

The Minstrel, a villain with both musical talent and electronic ingenuity, is wrecking havoc with the Gotham City Exchange in an attempt to blackmail the exchange members.

Despite there being a large number of music-based villains in DC comics, the Minstrel appears to be an original creation for the series.

[singing to the tune of “Rock-a-bye Baby”]

The Minstrel: Batman and Robin rotate and revolve / As the heat grows, your bodies dissolve / When it’s still hotter, then you will melt / Nothing left but your utility belt. 


  • The Minstrel’s musical theme is the melody from “A-Wandering Minstrel, I,” a song from the Gilbert & Sullivan light opera “The Mikado.” In addition, Minstrel’s hideout, the Willow Street Warehouse, is a reference to “Willow, Tit-Willow”, another song from the same opera.
  • When The Minstrel gives the account number for his protection, it is #007 in the Broccoli Bank, both references to James Bond.
  • The Minstrel’s Hench folks all have musical names: Treble, Bass and Octavia (for octave).
  • Comedienne Phyllis Diller has a very funny cameo as the cleaning lady …. Who thinks that Batman and Robin are her replacements!
  • Van Johnson’s Minstrel was inspired by his star-studded television special on NBC on November 26, 1957, later released as a theatrical film, the musical and free verse, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin“. He played the evil Piper who seeks his revenge against the town of Hamelin. 
  • The Minstrel has a large Griffin on the front of his tunic. The magical beast is a combination of eagle and lion. It’s fitting in that the Minstrel is a combination of electronic genius and musician.
  • The two fields aren’t actually that far apart. In the early days of computers, IBM actually recruited musical students to become computer programmers.

Barbecued Batman?

Failing to destroy Batman and Robin, the Minstrel enacts “Plan High C.” He plans to use sound vibrations to destroy the entire building of the Gotham City Stock Exchange! See that chandelier jiggling?

Robin: You’re letting her go? Well, I admit she’s gorgeous, Batman, but what does she have that all the other gorgeous creatures didn’t? 
Batman: Well, Robin, for one thing, she has a tracking device which I just placed in her handbag. 

Cast of characters

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