There are two things that Batman and Robin love: defeating bad guys and solving mysteries. What happens when a harmless mystery dating back a thousand years turns up? Most heroes wouldn't give it a second thought. But when that thousand year old mystery involves the Joker, you know Batman and Robin won't be able to resist getting to the bottom of things.
In a story in 1948s BATMAN #49, Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson were at an oriental rug auction. Bruce was a little dismayed that there wasn't anything he wanted to buy. Right before leaving, they made a remarkable discovery. An antique Arabian rug from "ancient Bagdad" was up for auction. The thousand year old rug contained the Joker's face, except the lower half was badly worn.
Bruce placed the winning bid and the Dynamic Duo made the decision to solve this fascinating mystery.
How could clues be gathered for a rug that was made a thousand years ago? The solution was simple. The two heroes would just travel back in time courtesy of their friend, Professor Nichols, who used his hypnotic powers of his time-science to not only send them back in time, but also in space. Batman and Robin were in "the Bagdad of the Arabian nights."
Their luck was holding out as no one questioned the modern clothing of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Language also wasn't a problem as everyone seemed to speak Engilsh. Perhaps this was a side effect of the hypnotic powers of Professor Nichols' time-science.
Bruce and Dick's attention were drawn to a nearby commotion. They were witness to a local thief called the Crier. He was a robber who always weeps as he steals and he looked exactly like the Joker (minus the grin).
You would think the mystery of the rug was pretty much solved as they now knew it was an image of the Crier and not the Joker. Because the Crier was a thief, the Dynamic Duo had no choice but continue to meddle in time.
Rather than let events play out as they originally did, they made it their mission to put a stop to the Crier's scheme. The Crier wanted to scare the city of Bagdad into a "weeping panic" in order to loot the city during the turmoil. Pouring oil into the river and setting it on fire led the populace to believe it was the end of the world.
Batman and Robin decided they needed to swoop down from the mountainside hidden base of the Crier in order to stop him. This meant making a glider out of the materials they had on hand. Because the silk they were going to use was too thin to hold their weight, they grabbed a rug from Crier's base. This gave the appearance of...a flying carpet.
That means that Batman and Robin apparently started the flying carpet legend. But at least they managed to convince the Crier to calm the city folk by...tickling him. They also discovered that the carpet they used was actually the worn rug with the Crier's image on it. Now they were certain that the ancient rug actually had the Crier's weeping face and not Joker's maniacal grin.
The rug was then added to the hall of trophies in the Batcave but it seems this was the only time it was seen.
What we can learn from all of this is a thousand years ago there was a thief that looked exactly like the Joker, Batman and Robin have no problem meddling in time and they also invented the flying carpet.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter@GManFromHeck. He thinks flying carpets would be a lot safer with seat belts.