The Brave & The Bold Index Part 19

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 19
Fun facts: Part 2

Tale of the Tape
            DC was “required by law” to publish financial statements in their May/June/July issues, usually cutting into precious letter column space.  These statements include total average issues printed each issue, total issues actually purchased, total subscriptions, and issues closest to the publishing date (October).  Here I have used the average per issue for that year. Did Marvel, Harvey & Archie had to publish these too? Regardless, if the publishing statements can be believed (they were attested to, but then so were financial statements by Enron and Worldcom …), the following is a list of the annual sales of Brave & Bold and comparables:
Issues Sold
Compared to
Issues Sold
#74 sold for 398,000
Justice League of America (“JLA”)
Strange Adventures
Deadman debut
Haney-Adams issues
The Flash
World’s Finest
World’s Finest
Phantom Stranger
The Flash
World’s Finest
The Spectre (Aparo art)
Phantom Stranger
Wonder Woman
Superman Family
Aquaman (Aparo art)
Swamp Thing
World’s Finest
Superman Family
World’s Finest
Dollar Comic begins
Superman Family
Dollar Comic begins
World’s Finest
#155 sold over 200,000 issues
World’s Finest
DC Comics Presents
Wonder Woman
World’s Finest
(B&B was cancelled before the sales were published)
World’s Finest
World’s Finest



The Brave & The Bold Index Part 18

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 18
Fun facts: Part 1

Errata, Additional and Supplemental
            The Golden Gladiator appeared in an issue of Swamp Thing in its controversial time-travel story arc: controversial in that the story in which Swampy met with Jesus of Nazareth was not allowed to be published.
            Cave Carsondoes not appear in Showcase #100. Although it does not claim to include every character appearing in the magazine, a one-panel appearance (as was done with such obscure characters as Jason, Firehair and Manhunter 2070) could have been done. Cave has appeared in cameos in issues of Wonder Woman and JSA.
            The Golden Gladiator, Silent Knight and the Viking Prince appeared in All Star Squadron #54 as part of the line-wide cross-over mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths.
            Cave Carsonappears in Crisis on Infinite Earths #11.  Rick Flagg and the Suicide Squad do not!  It’s the only group or character from B&B that is not involved in the mini-series.
            It has been established that the Silent Knight is one of the many reincarnations of Carter Hall in the fourth Hawkmanseries.  The “ghost” of the Silent Knight appeared in the comic to battle his former B&B co-star. One presumes Shiera Hall is therefore the fair Lady Celia!
Final Tally
            Batman starred in Brave & Bold in 134 issues, appeared in two cameos (in the first two Teen Titans stories – including their first team-up without the TT logo), and appeared in three issues with the Justice League of America, for a total of 139 issues.
            Other characters have appeared several times – adding JLA appearances definitely helped.  Flash appeared in 13 issues; Hawkman appeared in 11 issues, six of which were his solo stories; Green Arrow and Wonder Woman each appeared in 10 issues; and Metal Men, Aquaman and Green Lantern appeared in 9 issues.
            The following DC characters appeared in B&B and did not team-up with Batman:  Martian Manhunter (although he appeared with Batman in the JLA stories), Doom Patrol, Johnny Cloud and the Haunted Tank.
The tally for Batman team-ups is as follows:
Total team-ups with Batman —
9:         Green Arrow
7:         Metal Men
6:         Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman
5:         Black Canary, Sgt. Rock, Wildcat
4:         Hawkman, Aquaman, Atom, Teen Titans, Metamorpho, Spectre, Plastic Man, Deadman, Joker (counting his “also starring” and “4 Famous…” spots)
3:         Creeper, Phantom Stranger, Adam Strange, Mr. Miracle
2:         Supergirl, Robin, Demon, Man-Bat, Kamandi, Swamp Thing, Nemesis, Rose & Thorn (in a two-parter)
1.         Eclipso, Bat Squad, The House of Mystery, Kung Fu Fighter, Unknown Soldier, Superman, Red Tornado, Dr. Fate, Ra’s Al Ghul, Black Lightning, Zatanna, Scalphunter, Firestorm, Guardians of the Universe, Lois Lane, Elongated Man, Legion of Superheroes, Hawk & Dove, Riddler, Huntress, Superboy,
             I … Vampire, Ragman, Catwoman, Karate Kid.
A tally of writers and artists are below (no, the numbers do not add up to 200.  More than one artist did appear in multi-story issues).


Bob Haney:                  122 issues
Robert Kanigher:          39 issues
Garner Fox:                  16 issues
Mike W. Barr:              9 issues
Cary Burkett:                5 issues
Gerry Conway: 5 issues
Alan Bennet:                 3 issues
Marty Pasko:                3 issues
Denny O’Neil:              2 issues
Paul Kupperberg:         2 issues
Dan Miskin/Gary Kohn:
                                    2 issues
Mike Fleisher               2 issues
Don Krarr                    2 issues
John Broome:               2 issues
One issue each:
            Charlie Boatner
            Marv Wolfman
            Bill Kelly
            J.M. DeMetteis
            Alan Brennert
Jim Aparo:                   82 issues
Joe Kubert:                  26 issues
Irv Novick:                   22 issues
Ross Andru:                 10 issues
Carmine Infantino:        10 issues
Neal Adams:                 9 issues
Dick Giordano:             6 issues
Nick Cardy:                 6 issues
Mike Sekowsky:          6 issues
Ramona Fradon:           4 issues
Bruno Penanini:             3 issues
Don Newton:                2 issues
Joe Staton:                   2 issues
Bob Brown:                  2 issues
John Calnan:                 2 issues
Murphy Anderson:        2 issues
One issue each:
            Romeo Tanghal, Sal Trapani
            Alex Roth, Bernard Bailey
            George Roussos
            John Rosenberg
            Win Mortimer
            Johnny Craig
            George Repp
            Dave Cockrum
            Dave Gibbons
            Rick Estrada
            Chuck Patton.
The Batman Family
            Batman’s cast of supporting characters appeared frequently in Brave & Bold.  In some issues, Commissioner Gordon appeared in more panels than the supposed guest!
The issue list is as follows:
Batgirl: #78 (despite many promises to the contrary, she only appeared once)
Batwoman: #182, 197
Robin (as Batman’s sidekick, not as a member of the Teen Titans or a named guest): #s 86, 89*, 164*, 167*, 185 (a robotic Robin), 197, 200          *as Dick Grayson only
The Mayor of Gotham City: #s 59, 67, 89, 94, 102, 105 (kudos to Aparo for drawing the same mayor in 102 and 105 – he must have won re-election!), 113, 148, 150
Alfred: #s 79, 82, 90, 96, 100, 101, 105, 141, 142, 147, 150, 153, 155, 157, 165, 167, 168, 169, 173, 176, 177, 184, 187, 190, 193 (Nemesis in disguise), 194, 200 and DC Special Series #8: Brave & Bold Special
Commissioner Gordon: (although it would be easier to list the issues in which he didn’t appear…) #s 59, 64, 67, 68, 69, 70, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 86, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 98, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 120, 122, 123, 124, 125, 132, 133, 135, 136, 137, 139, 140 (a wax figurine), 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 155, 156, 157, 161, 163, 165, 166, 167, 168, 170, 173, 177, 183, 184, 186, 197, 198, 200 and DC Special Series #8: Brave & Bold Special.

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 17

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 17
Team-ups: The Long Goodbye Part 3
June 1979 – July 1983

#185:   … & Green Arrow, “The Falcon’s Lair”, W: Don Kraar, A: Adrian Gonzales.
            The Penguin sets a trap disguised as a Gotham socialite’s birthday party filled with mechanical knights, killer falcons and fake Robins all to kill Batman!  Bats can’t make it, will Green Arrow do?
Green Arrow’s last appearance in B&B.  He totaled ten appearances (nine with Batman – more than anyone else – and one with the Martian Manhunter in the first team-up issue in #50) in the comic. He ranks fourth among total B&B appearances (only Batman, Flash and Hawkman have had more – Hawkman with six issues devoted solely to him.  And that’s not counting Viking Prince and Silent Knight!).
            Nemesis: “Triple Threat”, (Burkett/Spiegle). The three remaining Council members make a deal – whoever destroys Nemesis will become the new Head of the Council! Nemesis infiltrates Jay Kingston’s manor, not knowing Kingstonkeeps lions roaming his grounds. Bad time for his wound from last issue to start bleeding again!
#186:   … & Hawkman, “The Treasure of the Hawk-God’s Tomb”, W: Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn, Art: Jim Aparo.
            The Fadeaway Man steals treasures from Gotham’s museums to sell them to the highest bidder, unless Batman & Hawkman stop him first!  Penguin must have escaped – he has a cameo during the museum auction eyeing the Gotham Eagle statue!
            Speaking of Hawkman, this was his last appearance (his 11th). He had six issues as a try-out series (#34-36 and 42-44). His silver-age revival was second only to the Justice League as a successful B&B try-out. He was featured in four team-ups with Batman and one team-up with Aquaman.
            Nemesis: “In the Lion’s Den”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Nemesis escapes Kingston’s lion and his gun toting henchmen, but Kingstonhas other plans.  He discovers that Nemesis is somehow connected with widow Marjorie Marshall …
#187:   … & Metal Men, “Whatever Happened to What’s’ername?”  Writer: Charlie Boatner, Art: Jim Aparo.
            Nameless, the robot created by Tin (he called her Beautiful), was kidnapped by Platinum Man (of the Metal Women, don’t ask…). Platinum Man rebuilds the Floating Furies, the Gas Gang, the Missile Men and BOLTS to kill Doc Magnus and the Metal Men!
            I remember Nameless, she has a brief cameo in Brave & Bold #74!
            Nemesis: “Arena of Despair”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Kingstonkidnaps Marjorie Marshall, who with her husband Ben Marshall raised Nemesis and his brother, to lure Nemesis back to Kingston’s manor and certain doom!
            Jill Weber contributes again to the letter column – her second!  Karen Wu’s second letter appears this issue, too!
            Another B&B staple makes their last appearance. The Metal Men appeared nine times – twice without Batman (teaming instead with Metamorpho and the Atom) and seven with Batman.
#188:   … & Rose & Thorn, “A Grave as Wide as the World”, Writer: Robert Kanigher (Rose & Thorn creator, and his first story for B&B since #52 18 years before).
            A Nazi spy on his death bed thinks he tells Hitler himself the location of a lethal canister of nerve gas he had stolen during WWII. Instead of Hitler, it was a neo-Nazi bent on destroying America! Continues in the next issue.
            Rose & Thorn was a reboot of a Golden Age Green Lantern villain and appeared many time as the backup feature to Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. This was during the time at National when it seemed the backup feature was more interesting than the lead – Black Orchid, Captain Fear and Rose & Thorn are examples.
            Nemesis: “Gladiator’s Gauntlet”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Nemesis fights off gun traps! Spike-filled pits! Bullwhip carrying goons! A man with a hook for a hand! Knife tossers!  Judo experts!  Exploding doors!  I can’t watch anymore!  Tell me when it’s over!
#189:   … & Rose & Thorn, “Grave…” Part Two, W: Kanigher, A: Aparo.
            The hunt for the nerve toxin leads to Argentinaand Martin Bormann!  “Agoinzed”?  Should have been “agonized”, a veryrare typo!  The last multi-part story in B&B.
            Nemesis: “Betrayal”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Nemesis evades more traps and rescues Marjorie. Kingstonis killed by a rival Council member’s spy.
#190:   … & Adam Strange, “Who Killed Adam Strange?” Writer: Mike W. Barr, Artists: Carmine Infantino and Sal Trapani.
            Still in the jungle in South America (where’s Thorn?) Batman is sent by Zeta-Beam to Rann. With the use of the beam, Batman restores Adam Strange to life, finds his killer and helps defeat alien invaders.
            Infantino’s art is very good for his style at this late date. Too bad it is such a poor story. Batman’s detective skills are at their nadir – he guesses who killed Adam Strange and happens to be correct. He brings Adam back to life because the Zeta Beam takes Adam back to earth in the same state he left. So how come it doesn’t work in reverse and he returned to Rann dead? Mike W. Barr is better than this!
            Nemesis: “Murderer’s Proxy”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Council member Maddox hires a hitman to kill his mole in Kingston’s operation, to stop the mole from squealing.  Nemesis is bent on stopping him!
#191:   … & Joker, :Only Angels Have Wings”, Writers: Don Mishkin & Gary Cohn, Art: Jim Aparo.
            An imitation Joker kills the Penguin (he’s back again!?) on live television. The real Joker asks Batman to track down the killer. This story makes for a better “team-up” than the classic #111.
            This is the third time a Batman villain appears as a guest, the second for the Joker and his fourth cover blurb (along with #111, 118 & 130). He also appeared as the villain in #s 68 and 141.
            Nemesis: “Dead Man’s Bluff”, (Burkett/Spiegle). Disguised as the assassin, Nemesis convinces Maddox’s mole to turn himself in and implicate Maddox in Kingston’s murder.
#192:   … & Superboy,, “You Can Take the Boy Out of Smallville…” Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Jim Aparo. Len Wein takes over as editor.
            Mr. IQ tries to whisk Superman into the distant past to prevent Supes from foiling IQ’s plot. Instead, he mistakenly switches the Superman of 1982 with the Superboy of 1967!  IQ tries to empower his computerized brain that will take over the world with solar flares! Can Batman and the Boy of Steel stop him in time?
            Great idea turned into (thankfully) a great story. Note that Superman was shown only in silhouetted shadows – there is a touching scene where he avoided nearly being seen by his parents. It was heart-wrenching to see him fly away instead of seeing his parents alive again. Also, it was interesting watching Batman “train” Superboy on using his powers more effectively (“don’t use your heat vision to detonate a gun – you could hurt someone!” “Yes sir.”). Considering he’s talking to someone who could break his neck with his pinky, Batman does a very good job teaching and instructing the lad!
            Nemesis: “Operation Overkill”, (Burkett/Spiegle). Sole surviving Council member Irene Scarfield tries to resurrect the Council. Nemesis, disguised as an actor in Scarfield’s traveling troupe, overhears the plans to Operation Overkill that brings a chill to his spine. Good thing the next stop of the theater troupe is Gotham City! Next issue’s guest with Batman is … surprise!  Sisemen!  Er, Nemesis!  Damn that Zatanna!
#193:   … & Nemesis, “Those Who Live by the Sword…” W: CaryBurkett, A: Aparo.
            Scarfield hires the terrorist group the PLA to kill a senator who is sponsoring a strict anti-crime bill. Batman defeats the PLA and its leader Bloodclaw. Nemesis sacrifices himself to destroy the last Council member in a helicopter crash. The scales of justice have finally balanced. (Nemesis survives the crash, spends years recuperating in a hospital and joins fellow Brave & Bold alumni the Suicide Squad).
#194:   … & Flash, “Trade Heroes and Win!”, Writer: Mike W. Barr, Artist: Carmine Infantino and Sal Trapani.
            Little-known/long forgotten Flash and Batman villains, the Rainbow Raider and Doctor Double-X take lessons in self-confidence from a female Tony Robbins-like character and nearly defeat our brave and bold comrades.
            It is announced in the letter column that issue #200 will be the last issue featuring a Batman team-up format, and announces Batman and the Outsiders, but provides no other information.
            This is Flash’s last appearance: six times teaming with the caped crusader, four times with other superheroes and three times with the JLA, not counting cameos (#172 for example). Only Batman, Viking Prince and Silent Knight appeared more than the Flash.
            Infantino drew the first Flash-Batman team-up (#67) and the last. These are the two superheroes with which he is most associated. Infantino’s art isn’t bad here, but still not very good. As with his later Flashwork, sometimes his art just doesn’t look realistic.  But compared to more stylized artwork in comics in the past ten years, it’s still very accessible.
#195:   … & I …Vampire, “Night of Blood”, Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Jim Aparo.
            A Gothamgangster makes a deal with Batman – find the vampire killer that attacked his daughter and Batman will be provided with incriminating evidence against a rival gangster. In one of those coincidences that only happen in comics, the rival gangster is in cahoots with the vampire cult The Blood Red Moon, sworn enemy of Andrew Bennett (who tells the tale in his first person narrative typical of the “I … Vampire” series).
            I do not recall if any other B&B tales were told in first person narrative.  None spring to mind. Neither the Viking Prince or Silent Knight tales, although some might have been. Some of the Sgt Rock tales had sections told in first person. Lots of issues had “flashback” scenes in first person, but a whole comic? This might be the first – I’m not going back through 194 issues to find out!
            Future Flash scribe Mark Waid writes a (deservedly) scathing review of issue #190. Constant letter writers TM Maple and Kent Phenis also contribute. It is hinted in the letter column that after issue #200, Brave & Bold will feature stories by new talent rather than team-ups. This idea will turn instead into what will be a 19-issue run of New Talent Showcase beginning six months later in January 1984.
            This issue could have ranked with the Haney/Adams Deadman stories (#79 & 86) as a great chapter in the guest character’s mythos. This tale, although a good story, did not make you want to run out and buy House of Mystery.  It is also a rare case of bad Aparo art. Let’s put bad in quotes. The art is still marvelous, but not his best.  For one thing: there’s hardly any background!  Instead of looking stylized, it looks rushed. You can actually tell on which panels he took his time and on which panels he did not. This issue was in desperate need of a finisher. Fortunately, even his poor artwork is better than most . The reason?  Well, by this time he was doing other Batman books, including preparing Brave and Bold’s replacement!  Where this issue could have been a classic, instead it seemed like they were buying time. The end is nigh.
#196:   … & Ragman, “The Two Faces of Midnight!” Writer: Robert Kanigher, Art: Jim Aparo, doing his last Batman team-up for Brave & Bold.
            A banker’s daughter is kidnapped by terrorists.  Batman and Ragman, each exhausted and wounded, take the other’s leads, and costumes, to find her!
            Another great tale with a unique hero.  If DC really wanted to push this issue and issues 195 and 197, they would be best-sellers.  Instead they already had their sights set on Batman’s new book.
#197:   … (Earth Two) & Catwoman, “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne”, Writer: Alan Brennert, Art: Joe Staton (who else but the pre-eminent Earth-Two artist?) and George Freeman.
            The Scarecrow’s latest trick is a gas that creates the realistic illusion of one’s greatest fears come to life!  Batman sees Robin, Batwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred and Clark Kentall disappear! He is alone! Who can help him since his friends are gone? How about an adversary? Batman asks Catwoman to help catch the Scarecrow.  During the hunt, they help each other conquer their fears and also fall in love.
            Bruce writes: “But lately I’ve had the feeling that time is somehow running short, that endings are not so very far away.”  He was writing about his own death previously shown in Adventure Comics, but he could also be writing about the end of his world’s existence – three years from now the Crisis on Infinite Earths will be published: DC’s failed attempt to reboot their long and wonderful history, eliminating any and all references to Earth-Two and these types of stories. Or he could have been writing about Brave & Bold’s demise in three months…
            Back to this issue:  another great story, and a fine addition to the Earth-Two Batman mythos. This tale has been reprinted in several “Greatest Batman Stories…” anthologies.
These last three issues were fantastic!  Could it be that they were trying to revive an interest in keeping B&B going, or were they trying to make their last issues final blazes of glory? Regardless, overall the quality of the tales (story and art) of B&B’s last year was phenomenally good! Certainly more hits than misses.
#198:   … & Karate Kid, “Terrorists of the Heart”, W: Mike W. Barr, A: Chuck Patton.
            It’s a story that can only happen in comics: Terrorist group the Black Heart hire Karate Kid bad guy Pulsar to kill their traitor, Katy. Katy escapes and hides out in Karate Kid’s girlfriend Iris Jacobs’ apartment. Karate Kid travels to 1983 just in time to get in the middle of it all! Oh yeah, Batman is after the Black Heart too!
            The letter column features fans reaction to B&B’s “cancellation”. But the editors, over the past few issues, have only stated that #200 will feature the last Batman team-up and will change its format. Ominously, the editors do not correct the mistake. The final team-up in #200 is announced.
#199:   … & Spectre, “The Body-Napping of Jim Corrigan”, Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Ross Andru and Rick Hoberg.
            The Spectre enlists Batman’s aid to find the body of Jim Corrigan, who was kidnapped by a sorceress who will use Corrigan’s body as earthly host for her astral lover. If she succeeds, Spectre will be unable to regenerate and will cease to exist!
            The editors announce #200 will be the final issue in the letter column.
#200    Batman & Batman (Earth Two), Smell of Brinstone, Stench of Death” Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Dave Gibbons.
            $1.50!!  Aw, it’s the last issue, let it go…
            Earth-Two 1955 (the year B&B began): After a series of robberies, Batman and Robin finally defeat Brimstone. Earth-Two 1983: Hate is all that has kept Brimstone alive. His hatred of Batman is so great; when he hears of Batman’s death, his mind passes into his Earth-One counterpart where another hated Batman stilllives! Earth-One 1983: Brimstone causes riots in Gotham and eventually traps Batman in the same lava “hellpit” Batman escaped 28 years before! Can Batman escape – er – again – in time to save Gotham, catch Brimstone and find out who the heck Brimstone is? Well of course he can, but he never figures out Brimstone’s Earth-Two secret. And he never will.
            “Batman and the Outsiders”, Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Jim Aparo. Batman and the Outsiders protect Mikos from his own terrorist subordinates – who vow to kill Mikos (under his own orders) for the glory of the cause!
            Oft-requested Batmite finally appears in Brave & Bold in a one page comic.
            For the first time since Nemesis, new characters were introduced – Halo, Geo-Force and Katana.  They are the first new B&B superheroes since Metamorpho, who is also a member of the new Outsiders.
            One last team-up and one last try-out.  The try-out was a success: the Outsiders going on to their own series (replacing Brave & Bold on DC’s roster) and lasting for several years afterward. Later incarnations link the Outsiders (still featuring the resurrected Metamorpho) as a splinter group of the Teen Titans.  Appropriately, both groups began in Brave & Bold. The third incarnation harks back to the Batman-formed play-by-their-own-rules meta group.
            It was trendy at DC for a while to introduce new groups by mixing new characters and old. At times it worked brilliantly (the Teen Titans), at times it was an utter failure (the Justice League of America). The Outsiders were another success.
            And that’s it!  After 262 new stories and 28 reprints Brave & Bold was gone.  We’ve seen them all – from the Atom to Zatanna.  We’ve been from Camelot to Hell, from Rann to Oa and all points in between.  We’ve seen knights and dictators, Vikings and terrorists, ordinary citizens and supermen, hard-working cops and pliable freaks.  From King Arthur to Satan, from Queen Elizabeth II to Snapper Carr.  It was quite a ride.
            Team-up books were not necessarily on their way out with B&B’s cancellation – there were only four in existence by this time.  But the cracks were showing – Marvel Two-in-One was canceled one month before Brave & Bold with issue 100 (June 1983).  Solely on the strength of their stars (as opposed to the quality of material), Marvel Team-Up was cancelled on February 1985 after 150 issues, and DC Comics Presents’ last issue was September 1986 with issue #97.  Subsequent attempts at team-up-books (mostly by Marvel with Spiderman Team-Up and a revived Marvel Team-Up, didn’t last long.  Although supergroups would come back to popularity, with JLA, JSA, Avengers, Defenders and others being vigorously revived, the team-up book is probably gone forever.
            The Brave & Bold format, as discussed, probably wouldn’t have fit into DC’s paradigm after 1983.  That includes to this day.  Kevin Smith brought up the prospect of bringing back Brave & Bold with Green Arrow, but it has yet to come to pass.
            But history won’t judge Brave & Bold by its team-up years, praiseworthy as the Haney-Aparo issues were.  B&B will be more known for its first fifty issues – the Viking Prince, the Justice League, Hawkman.  And rightly so, but the team-up stories were also good, quality fun. Some were fantastic! Some of the very best stories appeared in the last twenty issues of the magazine’s run!
            DC still trots out comics under the Brave & Bold banner to preserve its copyright, but they have all so far failed to capture the wonder and wonderfulness of B&B’s glory years; B&B’s very best issues.
            All two hundred of them.
Next: Fun Facts
Copyright (c) 2012

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 16

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 16
Team-ups: The Long Goodbye Part 2
June 1979 – July 1983

#170:   … & Nemesis. “…If Justice Be Blind”, Writer: CaryBurkett.
            The Head hires a killer to assassinate his contacts with the members of the Council. Then he has the assassin killed! Batman and Nemesis finally find The Head by finding the ex-Nazi scientist who brainwashed Craig. The Head turns out to be a criminal shot by Ben Marshall early in his career and forced to live the rest of his days in an iron lung. In a moment of truth, Nemesis refuses to kill The Head when he had the chance.
            A Batman comic’s back-up series teams up with Batman to finish a major story arc. Shades of Simonson’s Manhunter from Detective Comics
#171:   … & Scalphunter, “A Cannon for Batman”, Writer: Gerry Conway, Artist: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (excellent and flawless art as usual from Lopez, but I would have lovedto see Aparo do Civil War battle scenes!).
            Bruce Wayne finds a Civil War campaign patch suspiciously similar to his bat symbol. Through hypnotist Professor Carter Nichols, Batman goes back in time to the Civil War (Nichols hypnosis technique was used by Batman in the 1940s and most recently in the Superfriends comic). Batman and Scalphunter help Martha Jennings, “the Florence Nightingale of the Civil War”, deliver medicine to the Union forces, if they can get past the Confederate Army! Wah dew awl thuh nawthun soljerz tawk with a suthun ache-cent?
            Nemesis: “Double or Nothing”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  With The Head dead, Nemesis goes after the rest of the Council. His first job: stopping the rigged gambling house of M.C. Curtis – unless the pretty blond with the bomb stops Curtis first!
#172:   … & Firestorm, “Darkness and Dark Fire”, Writer: Gerry Conway, Artist: Carmine Infantino and Steve Mitchell.
            Firestorm is experiencing memory blackouts, and Batman investigates.  It seems the same explosion that created Firestorm gave the nuclear power plant sentience, and is slowly taking control of Firestorm’s mind.  Jason Bard, who appeared in only one panel in #165, has a larger role here.
            Infantino’s art is fair here (a rare thing at this time); in fact, his final battle between Firestorm and Batman (dressed in an asbestos suit) is fantastic!  His talent for drawing futuristic machinery never faded, but the rest of the art was angular and sketchy – his trademark in later days.  Does he draw faces with a T-square or something?
            Nemesis: “Pirate’s Peril”, (Burkett/Spiegle). After rescuing the lady from the casino, Nemesis chases Curtis to LA, where he foils Curtis’ video pirating racket.
#173:   … & Guardians of the Universe, “One of Us is Not One of Us”, Writer: Gerry Conway, Artist: Jim Aparo.
            Green Lanterns are missing!  One of the Guardians of the Universe is an imposter!  A Guardian comes to earth to enlist the help of the world’s greatest detective.  But first Batman must stop a jewelry theft ring.  “Very well,” sighs the Guardian, “let us go stop it, then.”  They eventually find Hal Jordan, revive his memory and discover Sinestro is behind it all!  On to Maltus, the Guardian’s home world!
            When someone suggested this as a team-up in the letter column of B&B #152, it was (nicely) called one of the strangest ideas ever submitted.  But here we are.  It is an excellent off-beat issue; Aparo’s art is at its best!  This is one of my favorites – full of dry humor.  The Guardian states, “… it seems odd that the law-breakers have left no one on guard!” And as a ship’s rigging smashes harmlessly against his skull, he says, “perhaps I spoke too soon!”  Wonderful!   This story continues in the next issue.
            Nemesis: “Knight’s Gambit”, Burkett/Spiegle.  English Council member Noel Chesterton is next on Nemesis’ hit list.  Why does Chesterton want to kidnap ex-RAF officer Sir Robert Greene?
#174:   … & Green Lantern, “To Trap an Immortal”, Writer: Gerry Conway, Art: Aparo.
            On Maltus, Green Lantern reunites with the Old Timer, the mortal Guardian from the classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow series #76 – 81.  The Old-Timer and Batman trick Sinestro into revealing himself, while GL goes for reinforcements – the entire Corps!  Sinestro takes over the minds of the Guardians, leading to “a battle that will live in legend as an epic”: Green Lanterns versus Guardians!  Well, they saidit is an epic battle; the readers couldn’t tell – the battle only lasted two pages…
            Nemesis: “Bishop’s Sacrifice”, Burkett/Spiegle.  Nemesis uncovers Chesterton’s plot – first he kidnaps a knight, his next victim is a bishop!  Is the queen next?
#175:   … & Lois Lane, “Heart of a Monster”, Writer: Paul Kupperberg, Artist: Aparo.
            Another oft-requested team-up comes to pass.  A high-ranking member of crime-terror organization Skull wants to turn himself in, unless Superman bad-guy Metallo gets to him first!
            Nemesis: “Queen: EnPrise”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  As Nemesis rescues his female companion Valerie and the kidnapped bishop mysteriously returns. Why?
#176:   … & Swamp Thing, “The Delta Connection”, Writer: Martin Pasko, Artist: Jim Aparo.  Excellent cover by Mike Kaluta (a non-Aparo cover being very rare!).
            Someone is killing off all the participants of a Gotham jewel heist from years before – and Felicia Kyle (Catwoman’s sister) is next!  (Un)Fortunately, she has escaped her Louisianaprison and has fled into the swamp.
            This was an unsuccessful attempt to relaunch a Swamp Thing title (that influential title reboot wouldn’t happen for two more years). “Created by Bob Kane” appears under Batman’s splash-page logo for the first time.
            Nemesis: “Endgame”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Bishop takes Rook (sonic trap on the bishop knocks castle occupants unconscious)!  Knight takes Queen (fake Sir Robert Greene kidnaps Queen Elizabeth II)!  Fake Queen (Valerie in disguise) and Nemesis take Council-member Chesterton!  Will Nemesis mate Valerie?  Check!!
#177:   … & Elongated Man, “The Hangman Club Murders”, Writer: Mike W. Barr,   Artist: Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano begins as editor.
            This story was dedicated to Bill Finger and a very … er … Fingerish story.  A genuine whodunit, complete with a challenge to the reader to ID the killer before the heroes do! Who is killing fellow members of the Hangman Club – an organization of reformed criminals? Well, all but one member!
            Nemesis: “Honor Among Thieves”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  The next Council-member on Nemesis’ hit list is Samuel Soloman. Too bad Soloman captures Nemesis first!
#178:   … & Creeper, “Paper Chase”, Writer: Alan Bennett, Artist: Jim Aparo (who has said this was his favorite story in B&B!).
            A right-wing TV commentator’s hatred creates a living origami monster that kills off criminals, poor people, minorities and then goes after Jack (The Creeper) Ryder!
            Was that a Legion cruiser silhouetted against the moon?  Yes, this issue starts a brief tradition in B&B’s last years – each issue has a “clue” as to next issue’s guest.  Jim Aparo: “I’d find out who the next team-up would be and I’d start leaving a clue for the readers in the drawing to see if they could find it. That way the readers would know who was going to be coming next. If it was Green Arrow, I’d have an arrow lying around or stuck in a wall. I did it to make sure these kids were reading.”
            Nemesis: “The Bitter Choice”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  With a devise strapped to his chest that could stop his heart, Nemesis agrees to bring all other Council members to justice, leaving Soloman alone to rule!
            A shortened letter column only has room for one letter – the third letter to appear in Brave & Bold by T.M. Maple.  His letter was roundly mocked by Dick Giordano.  It made one wax nostalgic for the old days of Murray Boltinoff laughing at the fans.  No, actually it didn’t…
#179:   … & Legion of Super Heroes, “Time Bomb With the Thousand-Year Fuse”, Writer: Martin Pasko, Artist: Ernie Colon & Mike DeCarlo.  Price increases to 60 cents.
            Never say never. The Legion has been suggested for a B&B team-up with Batman as long as there has been a letter column in B&B. It was always laughed off as silly or “undoable”. Maybe they were right…
            In 1981, an impenetrable anti-matter egg, set to hatch (and explode) in 1000 years, is switched with a Gotham Citytime capsule by an evil 31st century scientist. This is all a plot by Legion villain Universo to destroy Metropolis! When the time capsule hatches…boom!
            Although well received according to later letter columns, to me it seemed very rushed and confusing, even at 25 pages. Why not simply open up the egg in the 20thcentury?  It was under lock and key in the 31st century to prevent just that! Why go back in time? This should have been a two-parter, or another 48-page “Special”.
            Jill Weber is mentioned in the letter column in the team-up round-up.
#180:   … & Spectre, “Scepter of the Dragon God”, Writer: Mike Fleisher, Artist: Jim Aparo. Fleisher and Aparo together again on the Spectre! They redefined the Spectre in Adventure Comics in the mid-1970s. If hyped, this issue would have been a mega-seller!
            One-third of the scepter is placed too close to the ashes of ancient wizard Wa’ar Zen, resurrecting him. Zen gathers the other two pieces and Spectre and Batman are too late to prevent him from becoming omnipotent. Well, almostomnipotent. Some of Fleisher’s dialogue for Batman didn’t ring true – Batman’s flippant “I did it with my little batarang.” And calling Zen “old buddy” were too out of character even for me!
            Nemesis: “Be Still My Trembling Heart”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Nemesis finds the doctor who created the heart accelerator, and the doctor promptly turns on the devise, leaving Nemesis writhing on the floor!
#181:   … & Hawk & Dove, “Time See What’s Become of Me”, W: Alan Brennert, A: Aparo.
            An excellent story. B&B does something it hasn’t done in years – it makes a major change in a character (or two in this case). Here, it marks the end of two superhero’s careers! The art is also not to be believed. Aparo was inspired!
            Hank Hall (Hawk) has mentally broken down over the past 12 years and is losing control of his emotions. Don Hall (Dove) has become more and more passive. The “Presence” that gave Hawk & Dove their powers returns and realizes that giving Hawk & Dove their powers merely atrophied their humanity. So it strips Hawk & Dove of their powers to allow them to grow. Bad timing – Hawk has been kidnapped by a heroin kingpin!
            Nemesis: “Heartbreak”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  Nemesis subdues Dr. Rice and uses him as a disguise to again infiltrate Soloman’s mansion, where Nemesis deactivates the heart stimulator and puts it instead on Soloman himself!
#182:   … & Robin (of Earth Two), “Interlude on Earth Two”, W: Alan Brennert, A: Jim Aparo.
            Another excellent story and art!  Intelligent and thought-provoking!  Two stories in a row that dealt more with emotion than violence – things that might have been, lost opportunities and second chances. Both should appear in any “best of …” compilation.
            Professor Hugo Strange steals Starman’s cosmic rod and threatens to decimate Gotham City. So great is the storm he creates that it causes a rift between earths, whisking Batman to Earth Two. Strange, having taken over the Batcave, assaults Batman, Robin and Batwoman with the batmobile, a Batman robot and other bat-weapons.  Robin is angry at Batman – for treating him as a junior partner (he points out that he and Batman are the same age and Robin has been fighting crime much longer) and considers Batman a rank imitator of the original. Robin is also mad at himself for thinking such things. Batman is angry at himself for forgetting how much he misses Batwoman (the Earth-One version is deceased). Batwoman is angry at herself for not telling Earth-Two Batman her true feelings, all the while trying not to fall in love with Earth-One Batman.  Can the three heroes overcome their jealousy, mourning and melancholy in time to stop Strange?
            Nemesis: “Enter: Greyfox”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  The three surviving Council members hire the Grey Fox – French assassin – to off Nemesis. The Fox’s only clue is Valerie’s brother in Las Vegas. In the terms of Marvel Role Playing Game this is known as the Disadvantage: Relative.
#183:   … & Riddler, “The Death of Batman”, W: Don Krarr, A: Carmine Infantino.
            Clues on a board game leads Batman to a kidnapped mystery writer. The Riddler receives clues too – he’s trying to find the fiend who’s stealing his modus operandi!
            Carmine Infantino art is typical Infantino at this time – very stylistic, to put it diplomatically. Takes some getting used to. Actually, this looks very much like one of his 1960s story. Hard-corps fans probably loved it, but it is somewhat stiff and distant.
            This is the Riddler’s first appearance in Brave & Bold since #68, fifteen years before. This plot – a villain going after an imitator – is done much better in #191.
            Nemesis: “Fox & Hounds”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  The Grey Fox hunts Nemesis through his stolen helicopter, Nemesis hunts the Grey Fox through his henchmen. A deadly confrontation builds on a lone airstrip.
#184:   … & Huntress, “The Batman’s Last Christmas”, W: Mike W. Barr, A: Aparo.
            In the first Christmas story since #148, Batman discovers evidence that his father bankrolled gangsters! Bruce decides since his father was a hypocrite, so was his entire career as Batman! Can the Huntress (visiting from Earth-Two for the holidays) convince Batman to put back the cape and cowl back on to find the truth?
            This is the third issue in a row featuring a character strictly from the Batman family. What gives? Are they trying to see if a new Bat-book might sell without a non-Batman Family guest star? Considering they only have sixteen issues left, it’s possible.
            Nemesis: “Outfoxed”, (Burkett/Spiegle).  The Grey Fox kidnaps the daughter of Barney (Nemesis’s mechanic) as bait. Nemesis is injured while rescuing the girl and Barney’s wild rifle shot causes the Grey Fox’s helicopter to explode!
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G Curry



The Brave & The Bold Index Part 15

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 15
Team-ups: The Long Goodbye Part 1
June 1979 – July 1984

            The inmates are running the asylum! Or more accurately, the fans have taken over the comic book company!
            By July of 1979, uber-fan Roy Thomas has been editing at Marvel for over a decade.  Joe Staton, whose letter to Justice League of America #9 slamming Wonder Woman and praising Green Lantern reverberated for months in that comic, is now drawing those characters!  B&B letter-writers Bob Rozakis, Bob Rodi, Keith Griffen and others are now in comic books on the first page instead of the last.
            No more will fans suffer under the boot of the Moltinoff-Haney junta! Rise up, fellow fans! We have nothing to lose but more Wildcat team-ups! Guest stars who were laughed at or ignored are starting to appear: Supergirl, Superman, the Legion of Superheroes, the Guardians, Firestorm, Black Lightning, etc.
            As many new team-ups appeared in these last fifty issues (23) than in issues #50 – #100!  (Thirty heroes appeared total in issues #50 – #100, but only twenty-two with Batman). The fans were finally getting what they craved!
            But why weren’t they happy? Part of the reason is because Bob Haney left, leaving a succession of writers to finish the series. Jim Aparo drew less and less frequently – he was now considered THE Batman artist, and his work appeared everywhere! Was there a cover he didn’t draw in the late 1970s and early 1980s (with apologies to Ernie Chua!)? So much demand was on his time something had to give. It was issues of Brave & Bold.  Fans were back to B&B’s early team-up days – various artists and a rotating roster of writers contributing stories that ranged from classics to just plain bad. There was no sense of continuity – you weren’t sure what the next issue would bring. Paul Levitz admitted the same in his letter column.
            Fans were no longer eagerly anticipating the next issue of B&B, which meant they started looking elsewhere.
            Back to the fans running the company: During Haney’s reign, as stated, Batman was the world’s greatest detective, a super-cop. Now the fans thought Batman exchanging jokes with the Atom didn’t fit his personality – he was a lone wolf, a creature of the night. This style of Batman worked in the pre-Robin days, and the O’Neil-Adams Detective Comics of the late 1960s; isn’t it time the pendulum swung back from Batman the world’s greatest detective to Batman the brooding loner?
            Fans, editors and creators thought so. So much so that by the later part of the new century’s first decade; the pendulum has yet to swing back fully, although there is some light at the end of the dark (knight) tunnel.
            This style eventually lead to Frank Miller’s criminal Dark Knight Returns, turning Batman into a brutish thug; and eventually culminated in the awful series of Batman movies.
            Brave & Bold would obviously not fit into this paradigm. Batman constantly insulting, assaulting, threatening and/or ignoring his guest stars would not make for good reading. Later attempts at Brave & Bold prove the point: either ultra-violent encounters with terrorists (with Green Arrow, the Question and the regrettably-named Butcher) or ignoring the team-up altogether for a more World’s Finest-style mode with Flash and Green Lantern starring.
            It was time to replace Brave & Bold with a comic more in line with this style of Batman. I will let others discuss the logic in replacing B&B with a comic about Batman (the brooding loner) forming a new group of superheroes!
            I guess B&B is a lesson in extremes: here’s what happens when you ignore fans outright; and here’s what happens when you kowtow to the most vocal fans every whim.
            Well we still have four years and two months of fun left.  Let’s dig in:
(unless otherwise stated, Bob Haney wrote and Jim Aparo drew the issues)
June 1979
#151:   … & Flash, “Disco of Death”, (No, I’m not kidding!)
            Who is killing the patrons of Gotham City’s most fashionable disco? Batman believes it’s the mob, Flash thinks it’s the ghost of a marathon dancer from the 1930s. As bad as it sounds.
#152:   … & Atom, “Death Has A Golden Grab”
            Computers run amuck – planes crash, traffic snarls, prison cell doors open, Bruce Wayne apparently steals money from his own foundation and Ray Palmer embezzles Ivy University funds! The hunt for the computer criminal concludes in Switzerland, with Batman being fed into a trash shredder and Atom thrown into a garbage incinerator.
#153:   … & Red Tornado, “The Menace of the Murder Machine”, Writer: CaryBurkett, Art: Don Newton & Bob Smith.
            A scientist, injured in a lab accident, takes his revenge by siccing his Mars probe robots against his industrial backers, unless Batman and the eternally whiny Red Tornado stop him first.
            A story about robots that doesn’t co-star the Metal Men?  Did they have to chain Haney to a water heater in the basement?
#154:   … & Metamorpho, “The Pathway of Doom…”
            Sapphire Stagg “hires” Batman (offers him one million dollars to his favorite charity) to find Metamorpho.  The trail leads to Franceand Turkey, where our heroes stop a gold extortion ring, if they can avoid a mysterious assassin.


#155:   … & Green Lantern, “Fugitive from Two Worlds”
            Tri-Vul, a well-respected scientist, steals a large meteorite from Gotham’s bedrock to take back to his planet, causing massive earthquakes in Gotham!  But why?  Batman and Green Lantern fight over jurisdiction: will he be tried in Gothamor before the Guardians? Can our heroes stop fighting long enough to find the meteorite and get it back to Gotham before an earthquake destroys the city?
#156:   … & Dr. Fate, “Corruption”, Story: Cary Burkett, art: Don Newton & Bob Smith.
            A golden age character is treated with dignity and respect – Haney must be chained to the hot water heater again!
            A dead cop accused of taking bribes from a drug lord turns the Gotham City PD (including Commissioner Gordon) into thieves and murderers!  Batman must find evidence to clear the cop, while Dr. Fate battles the demon inhabiting the late cop’s spirit.
#157:   … & Kamandi (ties into Kamandi #59), “Time … My Dark Destiny”
            Extortion, Inc. has a new Enforcer: Kamandi! How is that possible? Seems he was flung back in time, lost his memory and imbued with invulnerability and super strength!  Can Batman stop his crime wave?
            Levitz announces in the letter column that it is time for B&B to grow and as a result Haney is leaving as of this issue to allow him time for more projects. And that’s it, no great goodbye, no mention of the tremendous effort he put into Brave & Bold for the last 24 years, nothing! Was it amicable? Maybe I shouldn’t have made so much fun of him. Nah…
#158:   … & Wonder Woman, “Yesterday Never Dies”, Writer: Gerry Conway.
            The first issue without Haney features something Haney rarely used: a supervillain, and a new one at that!  Flashback, whose chemical gas makes his victims relive their worst life experiences, vows to kill the members of a French-US business conglomerate. Can Batman and Wonder Woman overcome the traumas of the deaths of Batman’s parents and Steve Trevor in time to stop him?
#159:   … & Ra’s Al Ghul, “The Crystal Armageddon”, Writer: Denny O’Neil.
            Super villains are coming out of the woodwork!  Ra’s is the second bad guy to co-star in a team-up! The Joker (#111) is the other.
            A single drop of Professor Hatter’s formula could turn the ocean into crystal!  Imagine what a bottle-full would do!  The League of Assassins kidnaps the professor, and Batman and Ra’s try to find him before either he or the League spills/breaks the bottle!
#160:   … & Supergirl, “The Brimstone Connection”, Writer: CaryBurkett.
            Colonel Sulfur kidnaps Supergirl’s adopted father who knows the third part of a new rocket fuel formula.
#161:   … & Adam Strange, “A Tale of Two Heroes”, Writer: Gerry Conway.
            As with the Special and issue #200, Batman never meets his costar in this issue.
            A Zeta Beam switches Adam Strange and (an unknowing) Batman.  Batman is sent to Rann to help clear Adam who was framed for murder. That leaves Adam Strange to capture Gotham’s serial killer before he strikes again! Well done story!
#162:   … & Sgt. Rock, “Operation Time Bomb”, Writer: Bill Kelly.
            Featuring the Earth-Two Batman. World War II sabotage: bombs are planted on a new squadron of tanks financed by Wayne Enterprises. Now Batman and Sgt. Rock must disarm the tanks, discover the Nazi’s attack plans, and defeat the man behind it all – the Iron Major!
#163:   … & Black Lightning, “Oil, Oil, Nowhere”, Writer: Paul Kupperberg, Art: Dick Giordano.
            Black Lightning won a reader’s poll for most requested team-up. After a delay (BL was to appear in DC Comics Presents and the editors didn’t want to compete with their sister magazine), he finally debuts in B&B. Other than Mal appearing with the Teen Titans in #102, this is the first African American character to co-star with Batman in Brave & Bold.  Not that DC had a lot of black characters to choose from…
            Someone is stealing oil tanker trucks from Gotham and Metropolis. Enter Batman. One of the stolen trucks runs over an old lady in Metropolis’ suicide slum.  Enter Black Lightning. They both find the missing gasoline. Enter the general-turned-senator and his private army ready to take over the US. Buncha jive turkeys!
#164:   … & Hawkman, “The Mystery of the Mobile Museum”, Writer: J.M. DeMatteis, Art: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.
            Batman and Hawkman deliver “The Mysterious Ones” – two pre-Cambrian statuettes – to the Midway City Museum. Unfortunately, the original owners haunt the museum and Shiera Hall in order to get the statuettes back. A very Lovecraftian tale, including a cameo appearance by Cthulhu!
#165:   … & Man Bat, “Prescription for Tragedy”, Writer: Marty Pasko, Art: Don Newton & Dan Adkins.
            South American drugs, smuggled into the US, may be the only thing to save Man-bat’s daughter. Unfortunately, thisbatch has a deadly viral strain in it! Can Batman stop the lethal injection in time? Old Batman cast member Jason Bard appears in a panel.  Bard is an obscure member of the Batman Family. He was Batgirl’s detective boyfriend and was given his own feature (e.g. Detective Comics #425, July 1972). Around this time he was a regular cast member of the Manbat feature in Detective.


#166:   … & Black Canary, “Requiem for Four Canaries”, Writer: Michael Fleisher, Art: Dick Giordano and Terry Austin.
            Fifty cents?  Again!?  Well, they added eight pages…
            The Penguin (his first appearance in B&B since #68 14 years before) vows to kill his four former henchmen who testified against him.
The story’s been done before (most notably with the Joker), but the art by Giordano is beautiful! The story seems to focus more on the flirtation between Canary and Batman. This potential romance was also hinted at years before in an issue of JLA.
            This issue was roundly panned in the later letter columns. It wasn’t that bad!
            For the first time in fifteen years (since the debut of the never-seen-since Bat Squad), a new hero is featured. “Nemesis” by Cary Burkett (writer) and Dan Spiegle (art). To atone for a murder committed by his brother, Thomas Tresser becomes the master-of-disguise Nemesis. In his debut outing he captures crime lord J. R. Ogden and his hired gun, George Peal.
#167    … (Earth Two) & Blackhawk, “Ice Station Alpha!”, Writer: Marv Wolfman, Artist: Dave Cockrum & Dan Adkins.
            Another long-time B&B requested team-up finally comes to pass. The golden age (Earth Two to the purists) Batman and the Blackhawks each discover the Nazi’s ultimate weapon: a machine that will melt the polar ice cap and drown the entire eastern seaboard!
            Nemesis: “A Name Writ in Blood” by Burkett & Spiegle.  More of Nemesis’ origin it revealed: When their widowed father dies, Tom & Craig Tresser are raised by Ben & Marjorie Marshall, their father’s best friends.  When they grow to adulthood, the boys begin working for Marshallas government agents. Craig, mysteriously, shoots and kills Ben and is himself killed. Tom, now always under suspicion, removes his name from the government roles, takes his experiments (disguise techniques, bullets that shoot only non-lethal paralyzing toxins, etc.) and becomes the Dark Herald of Justice, Nemesis.
#168:   … & Green Arrow, “Shackles of the Mind”, Writer: CaryBurkett.  Jim Aparo is back after a six issue absence. Hmm, six issues missed to draw a three-issue mini-series Untold Legend of Batman. His “vacation” seems to have paid off; his artwork in this issue is more marvelous than ever.
            Green Arrow coaxes Batman into appearing at a charity benefit featuring a thief-turned-escape-artist reformed by Green Arrow. Meanwhile, Batman tries to hunt down a museum thief who makes nearly impossible escapes. Hmm. Could Green Arrow’s friend be behind it all? Or is he just a patsy for a real stage-magician-turned-thief?
This issue shows more escape tricks and techniques than all of Mr. Miracle’s past appearances put together!
            Nemesis: “Swift Wing of Recompense”; Burkett & Spiegle.  Picking up his brother’s investigation where it left off, Nemesis find his brother’s undercover work was discovered by a mob boss named Kingston. Craig was brought before the “Council” and brainwashed, is that why he killed Ben Marshall?  During his investigation, Nemesis also stops a drug smuggling ring.


#169:   … & Zatanna, “Angel of Mercy, Angel of Death!” Writer: Mike W. Barr.
            I’m honored to have Zatanna herself describe the plot of this comic.  “A retsgnag sllik a htiaf relaeh ohw t’ndluoc eruc sih kaew traeh.  Fi eht htiaf s’relaeh dewodiw efiw t’nac eruc mih, ll’ehs eb dellik oot, sselnu Namtab dna I pots mih tsrif!”
            Thank you, Zatanna.   That was wonderful…    …        …
            Is she gone?  Between you and me, Zatanna has never been a character I liked very much.  Mostly because, for the reader, her spell-casting method is a pain in the ass, or as she would say, a “niap ni eht ssa”!  Thank you, but I don’t want to read what Zatanna says backwards. Besides, her spells are usually explained in the next panel.  Here, she stops a criminal by saying, “Snug otni sag!”  That is, “Guns into gas!” In the very next panel the criminal says (and we are shown), “My gun has turned into gas!”  Thanks, I just spent five minutes of my life trying to figure that out for myself! Well, not five minutes, as anytime Zatanna appears I always try to keep a mirror handy. But I shouldn’t have to read a comic book holding a compact!  (Besides, isn’t “Guns into gas!” backwards really “!sag otni snuG”?)  Why can’t she just say something silly like Dr. Strange and be just as effective; “I shall turn the guns into gas by using my Amulet of Amaretto!” Just as dramatic, and makes me feel less dyslexic!
            Nemesis: “The Council Calls for Death”; Burkett & Spiegle. Kingstoncalls a meeting of the Council, a federation of all mob bosses under the leadership of “The Head”. Kingstonupdates the Council on Nemesis’ search for more details of Craig’s brainwashing (Nemesis finds out the brainwashing was done on the orders of The Head by a former Nazi scientist). Nemesis is at the meeting disguised as the Council’s security chief (all through the story the reader was left guessing who could have been Nemesis – he had to be in the meeting somewhere!). His next move is obviously to find The Head at his base of operations, which is in … (cue exciting music) Gotham City. Guess who stars with Batman in B&B next month? That’s right – Sisemen!  Er, Nemesis (damn that Zatanna!)!
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 14

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 14
Team-ups: Coasting Part 3
March 1972 – May 1979

Continuing my index/history of the greatest comic magazine! 😉

#132:   … & Richard Dragon – Kung Fu Fighter, “Batman – Dragon Slayer”
            With this issue Joe Orlando takes over as managing editor and Denny O’Neil is the story editor. Cary Burkett handles the letter column. They promise some new blood in B&B and not the same old team-ups again and again! They start with one of only ten new team-ups in this era.
            Carlos Esteban hires the Stylist, a kung fu killer, to assassinate Richard Dragon.  Why? Esteban was once the partner of Calvin Curtis, deceased eccentric billionaire.  Dragon once helped Curtis – he fixed his bike and gave him a quarter for a cup of coffee.  In return, Dragon may have inherited Curtis’ billions!
#133:   … & Deadman, “Another Kind of Justice”
            Batman enlists Deadman’s help to lure drug lord Achille Lazlo back onto USjurisdiction by reviving a ghost from his past – the former drug lord Lazlo killed years before!
#134:   … & Green Lantern, “Demolishment”
Green Lantern defects to the “other side’s” People Republic! Batman attempts to kidnap GL and bring him back, but is captured instead and put through the brainwashing technique known as Demolishment!  It ends up GL’s defection is a rouse to reveal the Demolishment technique by having it used against the one person who might withstand it – Batman! Too bad it did brainwash Batman into trying to kill Green Lantern! Let’s hope GL finds his lost ring in time!
The editors admit in the letter column that Wildcat and Sgt. Rock might have been overused in the past few years. “Hell factory” is used – arguably a swear word, but they’re still pushing it!
#135:   … & Metal Men, “More than Human”
            Prince hikes to thirty-five cents.
            A robot (created in the 1800s) claims legal right to the land on which sits Bruce Wayne’s tower. The judge agrees, thus ruining Bruce’s empire. Could his rival Ruby Ryder be involved?  Continues in the next issue.
#136:   … & Green Arrow, Metal Men, “Legacy of the Doomed”
            This is the third multiple-issue story (second with Green Arrow) and the fourth multi-guest issue (third with Green Arrow).
            Batman and the Metal Men are enjoined by court order from interfering in Ruby Ryder’s shenanigans, but Green Arrow is not!
#137:   … & Demon, “Hour of the Serpent”, Artist: John Calnan.
            This is a “sequel” to #76, as the evil Shahn-Zi returns.  Teenage gangsters in Chinatown disguised as Shahn-Zi terrorize citizens.  But their actions summon the real Shahn-Zi who seeks revenge against Gotham City and Batman!
#138:   … & Mister Miracle, “Mile-High Tombstone”
            Trond-Hag, “the Tombstone”, is a volcanic island riddles with caves. Geologist Steve Lang goes missing while exploring the mountain, and Batman and Mister Miracle go to the rescue. They find Steve, as well as the villainous escape artists Cosimo (sent to kill Lang), and Kraken – the computer running an international crime cartel!
#139:   … & Hawkman, “Requiem for a Top Cop”.
            Back to bi-monthly!!? Noooo!!!  Hawkman’s first appearance in B&B since #70 (over ten years).  This has always been one of my personal favorite stories. One time fan – now DC boss – Paul Levitz takes over from Denny O’Neil as story editor. Since Paul does his own letter column, Cary Burkett leaves for other pastures. Paul mentions that Bob Rozakis has had 135 letters published in his fan career. So in which four issues of Brave & Bold did he not write a letter? J
            In the late 1930s, Commissioner Gordon killed an alien accidentally. Although Batman and Hawkman agree it was in self-defense (Gordon thought the alien was about to fire at him), an alien mercenary disagrees, and tries to bring Gordon in for trial per intergalactic law.  Gordon, a fellow adherer to the Rule of Law, agrees!
1978 B&B Special (DC Special Series #8):     …Sgt. Rock and Deadman.  “Hell is for Heroes”
            Ric Estrada and Dick Giordano artists.  Paul Levitz, editor.
DC had “annuals” (larger editions of existing comics published once per year) throughout the 1960s with mostly reprinted material.  Marvel Comics had since developed the Annual into an art form. DC Comics in the late 1970s, in an attempt to boost a sagging market, tried bringing back the annuals. Not wanting to be accused of copying Marvel, DC instead referred to their annuals as Specials and Spectaculars. Every comic from Wonder Woman and Superman to the Secret Society of Super Villains had their own specials. Unlike the annuals of old, these were all new stories and art. The issues were not published as an edition of their parent comic, but instead published under the umbrella title DC Special Series. Brave & Bold was given its own special in 1978 as DC Special Series #8.
            To celebrate the uniqueness of this Special (that is, to differentiate it from a “usual” issue of Brave & Bold), Batman never meets his partners – Sgt. Rock and Easy Company along with Deadman appear together in one storyline linked with the Batman storyline.  This was the fourth time more than one star (other than as an established team – the Teen Titans, for example) appeared with Batman – #100 and the two-parters in  #129-130 and 135-136– and would be the last. Too bad, it is an interesting plot device and would satisfy readers who clamored for more stars.
            Batman tracks down Lucifer, a mad bomber. Meanwhile Sgt. Rock searches for a Batman statue stolen by Scottish Nationalists. But whatever harm comes to the statue, will also be wrought on Batman! Ouch! The statue is rammed by an army truck, set it on fire by gypsies, attacked by the Loch Ness Monster and flung from a clock tower … you get the idea. Who’s behind all this voodoo? Lucifer himself (the fallen angel, not the mad bomber) with the aid of the ghosts of Hitler, Guy Fawkes, Benedict Arnold, Bluebeard, Nero and Jack the Ripper! Rama Kushna sends Deadman to a mysterious stranger for clues, and Deadman and Rock recover the statue just in time for Batman’s final battle with Lucifer (the mad bomber, not the prince of darkness). Rama Kushna herself takes care of Lucifer (the vile spinner of lies, not the mad bomber) and his ghostly ilk!  Deadman eventually discovers the identity of the mysterious stranger to reveal this Special’s fourth star – the spirit of Sherlock Holmes!
#140:   … & Wonder Woman, “Dastardly Events Aboard the Hellship” (spell out the first letters of the title – get it?)
            There’s that aitch-eee-double-hockey-sticks word again.  Swear words or appropriate?  Hmm…
            The CEO of Belmont Technologies offers Batman one million dollars to charity if he will rescue his daughter Esmeralda from the clutches of evil industrial spy Dimetrious (because she knows the secret of the new energy-crisis-ending solar cell). The UN’s Crisis Bureau asks Wonder Woman to capture Dimetrious for his crimes. Actually, Dimetrious kidnapped the scientist who created the solar cell and Esmeralda and Belmont trick Batman and Dimetrious into revealing where the solar cell is by Esmeralda stating she loves Dimetrious and was neverkidnapped!  Dimetrious’ simian guards capture Batman and Wonder Woman, who are drugged into performing as circus animals…
            Whew!  Anyone for an index of Richie Rich and Casper instead?
#141:   … & Black Canary, “Pay or Die”
            Lots of “Jaws” references in this issue, as the Joker is back and now in the loan-sharking business. Those who can’t pay mysteriously explode! Batman sets a trap using Alfred as bait to catch the Joker. Batman and Black Canary must track down the Joker to discover how his victims explode or, for Alfred, it’s so long old chum (chum, sharks, get it? Never mind…!)
            Haney must have learned a new word – vigorish: underworld slang for loan interest – as it is used about every third page. This issue also contains a rare thing for B&B up until now – recognition of continuity of other DC comics! It is recalled that Joker was supposedly killed the last time he and Batman fought in Detective Comics, and that the Joker was once in love with Dinah Lance (that is why Joker saved her from an exploding lendee)!
#142:   … & Aquaman, “Enigma of the Death Ship”
            The logbook of the sunken Alhambracontains the name of a stowaway who later becomes Gotham’s drug kingpin.  The book may also contain incriminating evidence against Aquaman’s father, the lighthouse keeper who may have caused the wreck!  Batman must fight the drug lord’s scuba squad and Aquaman himself to get the log book!  He does get it eventually, and absolves Aquaman’s father from blame.  And the name of the drug lord is …
#143:   … & Creeper, “Cast the First Stone”
            …Montgomery Walcott, TV’s most respected and trustworthy newsman!
            Unique to B&B is this continued storyline without necessarily being a continued story – something at which Marvel’s team-up books excelled!
            With this issue begins the DC Explosion!  Increasing the price to fifty cents and increasing the page count to 44, with all new material throughout the DC line!  The beginning of a new era in comicdom! The greatest thing to happen to comics since Superman! Why are you giggling?
            The ripple effect of the DC Explosion hits Brave & Bold as a new feature debuts: Christopher Chance, the Human Target. “The Cat and the Canary Contract” by Len Wein (story) and Dick Giordano (art). Chance impersonates people marked for murder, betting he can stop the killers before they stop him!  Here Chance must protect the mob witness who years earlier had Chance’s father killed for failing to pay a debt!
#144:   … & Green Arrow, “The Arrow of Eternity”
            Monthly!  At long last!  After twenty-three years Brave & Bold goes monthly!
            While searching for Merlin’s invincible arrow, Batman and Green Arrow are magically whisked to the Battle of Agincourt to face the old Teen Titan’s foe the Gargoyle!
            Aparo’s art is fantastic: a rare venture into the sword and sorcery genre. He could have excelled in the Blazing Adventures years of B&B. While we’re on the subject: with a little rewrite this could have been a book-length story, reset in King Arthur’s time and also co-starring the Silent Knight! Why not? We will have to be satisfied with the Silent Knight having a small cameo in a battle scene being killed by an arrow! Boo!
            Human Target: “The Symphony for the Devil Contract”, Len Wein (writer) and Dick Giordano (art).  The Human Target impersonates a famous symphony conductor, protecting him from a religious fanatic.  Everyone’s a critic…
            “Dammit!” Brave & Bold’s first blatant and undisputed swear word appears!
#145:   … & Phantom Stranger, “Choice of Dooms”
            The only member of Gotham’s diamond-smuggling ring willing to testify suddenly becomes paralyzed! You see, the head of the ring is also a voodoo priest!
            Back to seventeen pages and now forty cents, as the “DC Implosion” hits the comic giant, making them cancel many of their new books and reeling back their much-hyped back-up features.
#146 :  … (Earth Two) & Unknown Soldier, “The Secret that Saved the World”
            Artist: Romeo Tanghal.  #84 was partly set during World War II and told in flashback. This is the first B&B story (during the team-up years) set during the war.
            A defecting German nuclear scientist is murdered and his secret designs for an atomic bomb will be smuggled back to Germanyunless Batman and the Unknown Soldier can catch the Nazi killer!
#147:   … & Supergirl, “Death Scream from the Sky”, Writer: CaryBurkett.
            The Children of Light, a terrorist-cult, gets control of a communications satellite complete with a killer laser aimed at Gotham!  Batman and Supergirl finally discover an old JLA foe is behind it all.  It seems the “father” of the Children of Light is a certain Doctor…
            Mohammed comes to the mountain: some issues back, Paul Levitz admitted he was having trouble convincing Bob Haney to do a Supergirl team-up.  The solution was simple: Haney got the boot and former letter column editor Cary Burkett wrote the much-demanded story!  This is only the fifth issue of Brave & Bold since #50 Haney did notwrite!
#148:   … & Plastic Man, “The Night the Mob Stole Christmas”, (Artist: Jim Aparo and Joe Staton).
            Haney returns and takes his frustrations out on his favorite whipping boy, Plastic Man , the last of Plas’ four appearances in B&B. Plas is (of course) still shown as a lone loser (see the commentary of #123 for Haney’s dislike of Plas.). A Florida mobster smuggles in illegal (untaxed) cigarettes into Gotham City and smuggles out the city’s Main Street Christmas decorations to lure his competitors into a Christmas party trap.  Too bad they also kidnapped Santa – it was Plastic Man trying to make a buck!
            The combination of Aparo and Staton works here despite their divergent styles – Staton’s heroes are drawn thickly and muscular, Aparo’s are wiry and thin.
#149:   … & Teen Titans, “Look Homeward, Runaway”
            This is the last appearance of the Teen Titans in Brave & Bold, the magazine in which they debuted nearly fifteen years before.
            Haney’s temper tantrum over, it’s back to B&B business. Batman asks the Teen Titans to reunite to infiltrate the Runaways – an organized teen crime gang of (who else) runaways – to break up the gang and find their leader.
#150:   … & ?, “Today Gotham, Tomorrow the World”
            Terrorists called the Battalion of Doom threaten Gotham City with an atomic devise. They also kidnap Bruce Wayne and is guarded by Keeper Karnes. Bruce discovers Karnes is super-powered!  He knows Wayne’s Batman identity, is super fast (faster, even, than a speeding bullet), is very strong (more powerful than a locomotive)…
            You get the idea, the terrorists have also kidnapped Jimmy Olsen. Superman hoped to be assigned as Jimmy’s bodyguard, but got Bruce Wayne instead.
            In the past fans screamed for Superman to guest in B&B. Those requests were (rightly) ignored: if you want to see Supes and Bats together, go buy World’s Finest. In fact it was clearly stated in #120 Superman will never appear in B&B.
            How times change. Letters in later issues panned the choice for this anniversary issue, saying it was nothing more than a warmed-over World’s Finest story.  I disagree.  If this was a story from WF, there certainly wouldn’t have been any “surprise”.  However, I expected a more special guest for #150. Superman could have easily been Martian Manhunter. Throw in Green Arrow (like Haney and company needed an excuse to bring himinto a story) and you would have Batman teaming up with B&B’s first team from #50! That would have been a good anniversary team-up. Still, it was an interesting story and well done, if not up to hype. The letter column lists all the team-ups in B&B starting with #50. Unfortunately it also lists #150 as starring Superman, ruining the surprise for anyone reading the letter column first (including yours truly…).
            The issues in this era of B&B weren’t all stinkers.  In fact, it contained some of the most interesting plots.  And Aparo’s art is brilliant. But the comic wasn’t cutting edge anymore; it wasn’t leading the field.
            Although the letter columns promised new team-ups, you could almost hear the arguments behind the door – Levitz admitting to all that Haney does not want Supergirl in B&B is a good example. Was he trying to coax readers into pleading for her appearance?
            And Batman, for all his different interpretations, was turning into nothing more than a super-cop. He did fight some name supervillains, but the Joker as a loan shark?  Dr. Light as a terrorist leader? What was the point of that? There were no new super-bad guys introduced in these fifty issues (like Hellgrammite or Bork), no new versions of old heroes (like Green Arrow), just Batman and … whoever.
            And because of that, Brave & Bold was no longer the best and brightest star at DC. Then again, it didn’t need to be. It was no longer challenging and exciting. Instead of asking, “Who knows what the next issue will hold,” readers said, “I don’t know who will be here next issue, but the writing will be good and the art will be great and that’s all right with me!”
            Instead of leading the field, Brave & Bold ran in place.  Naturally and inevitably that meant it started to fall behind.  Its momentum has kept it going after its prime for eight years now. In only half that time it will be gone.

Next: The Long Goodbye…

Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 13

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 13
Team-ups: Coasting Part 2
March 1972 – May 1979

#110:   … & Wildcat, “A Very Special Spy”
            Rozakis again is named in the letter column, as well as the first request for a Swamp Thing team-up and a Black Orchid team-up. One reader suggested Plop! Now thatwould be interesting!
            Ted Grant (Wildcat) takes the job as a vice president of an energy corporation for the sake of publicity.  Too bad the company is involved in corporate theft and murder!
#111:   … & Joker, “Death has the Last Laugh”
            This is the best selling issue of (and one of the most sought after) Brave & Bold in this period.  Features letters by Rozakis (does he slip twenty dollar bills in with his letters?) and Bob Rodi.
            Someone is framing the Joker for murder! To prevent an underworld massacre, Batman makes a deal with the Clown Prince of Crime to bring in the real killer – together!
#112:   … & Mister Miracle, “The Impossible Escape”
            Sixty cents!  Sixty cents!!  What am I, made outta money?  Well, it is 100 pages of comics.  Most of it reprints, but tripling the price for over triple the pages – well, okay for now!  This issue also features reprints from issue #s 59 (Batman and Green Lantern), #52 (Aquaman and Hawkman) and the Silent Knight story from #15.  A letter from Keith Griffin is published (who apologizes for his “nasty letters” to B&B).  Uh-oh, where’s Rozakis? Is he sick? Twelve mentions in the letter column in a row – a DiMaggio-like run!
            Another milestone:  for the first time in 16 years the Silent Knight appears on the cover of a comic book!
            Another Kirby creation debuts in B&B (the first being the Demon two issues ago)! And the only character from Kirby’s “Fourth World” series of comics to appear in B&B.
            To investigate possible museum fraud, Batman searches for the tomb of Atun, first pharaoh of Egypt. Accepting the challenge of an archeologist, Mr. Miracle does the same. Will they find the secret of eternal life! Or be trapped forever in the tomb?


#113:   … & Metal Men, “50 Story Killer”
            The new mayor of Gotham fires Commissioner Gordon and forces Batman to retire. A new commissioner and the Metal Men will continue the fight against crime.  Good thing – terrorists have just “hi-jacked” the Wayne Enterprises Building, with Bruce Wayne and hundreds of employees inside!
            Also features reprints of a B&B Viking Prince story and Hawkman’s debut tale; a Green Arrow story from 1958’s World’s Finest, and a Challengers of the Unknown tale from #14 of their magazine.
            Bob Rodi and regular contributor Joe Peluso are mentioned in the letter column that also features full page biographies of Bob Haney and Jim Aparo.  Bob Rozakis created a puzzle page, now being on National’s payroll.
#114:   … & Aquaman, “Last Jet to Gotham”
            Batman and Gordon wait for a jet to land in Gotham holding a mafia boss.  Unfortunately it also holds a nuclear bomb, set to go off when the plane lands!  Batman and Aquaman try to rescue the passengers as mafia lieutenants try to rescue their chief.
            This 100 page giant features a solo Aquaman story from 1961, a Teen Titans reprint, as well as the first team-up from B&B #50 – Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter.
#115:   … & Atom, “The Corpse that Wouldn’t Die”
            Okay, I’ll explain it again if need be. Batman is electrocuted when searching for a kidnapped girl. The Atom microscopically enters Batman’s brain to stimulatehis neurons to simulate movement to again try to rescue the girl. Atom is pretty good at it!  He makes Batman walk, punch and do a backflip! Oh yes, Batman comes back to life after so much cerebral excitement.
            This issue also features reprints of the Challengers of the Unknown, a solo Atom story, one of the Viking Prince tales from B&B #23 and a reprint of Showcase #55 starring Dr. Fate, Hourman and the golden age Green Lantern fighting Solomon Grundy – the best tale of the issue!
            Bob Rodi again appears in the letter column, how close is he to tying Rozakis’ number of entries (13)?  #118’s letter column swore on a stack of DC’s that they received hundreds of positive letters on the recent Atom team-up and only two negative letters.  Wow!
#116:   … & Spectre, “Grasp of the Killer Cult”
            Army veterans turn into strangling thugs.  No, they really do, literally: they are possessed by the spirits of nineteenth-century Kali-worshipping Thugs from Burma!
            Good issue:  reprints of a Teen Titan adventure from #16 of their comic, a Silent Knight reprint from B&B #2(!) and the Batman-Wonder-Woman-Batgirl team-up from #78.
            Letter column: another letter by Bob Rodi, and someone asks who designs the puzzles in B&B? Bob Rozakis! Sorry, Bob, a mention in the letter column doesn’t count if you work for the company! More seriously, the letter column shows some revealing things this time around: The editor laughs at a Krypto suggestion for a team-up.  Actually, it might make for a fun story!  He certainly would have fit better than Wildcat (again) in #118!
            Why do they take such pains to laugh at some suggestions? And belittle the remarks of some letter-writers? One writer in #119 called Haney and Boltinoff smug.  This kind of criticism was usually shrugged off with a smirk by saying if they were why’d they publish the letter? Well, from reading nearly thirty issues of editorial comments, they were smug and arrogant! Stop talking down to us!
Great example: in this issue when more golden age characters are suggested, the editor makes a point to say, “What is it that makes these tarnished heroes so popular?”  Well, I don’t know, but they obviously are popular. Apparently, the only people who do not want golden age heroes to team up with Batman are the people in charge of selecting the team-ups. Every issue begs for Dr. Mid-Nite, the Crimson Avenger, or some other golden great. So why drag out Wildcat – again!? Considering how they treat Wildcat in every issue (“Pardon me, can you help a fellow superhero who’s down on his luck?”), do they really think it would satisfy a golden age fan?
Do they think reprinting the Dr. Fate-Hourman team-up from Showcasewill satisfy demands?  Will running Challengers of the Unknown reprints instead of teaming them in a new adventure with Batman stop the flood of requests? No, it didn’t! Some readers took the editors to task for that question in the upcoming letter columns.
#117:   … & Sgt. Rock, “Nightmare Without End”
            The last of the 100 page giants, with reprints of a Viking Prince story from #24; the first issue of Secret Six, a Mission: Impossible-style group of “normal” people fighting international crime; a Blackhawk reprint from 1965 with Dick Dillin art and a Green Arrow Adventure Comics reprint from 1952.
            Rock participated in the execution of a soldier for cowardice during WWII. And the soldier’s been haunting Rock ever since. Or is he really still alive and spying for the US all this time?
#118:   … & Wildcat with Joker, “May the Best Man Die”
            Twenty-Five cents!  This is better!  Twenty-five cents for a comic book.  Beats sixty! Well, it’s not a hundred pages anymore, but I can accept that …wait a minute!  It’s only 18 pages of comics!  That’s three pages less than when it cost 20 cents!
            Well, as of this issue it is going from bi-monthly to eight-issues-a-year!  So I get less pages per issue, but two more issues per year!  (Still, sounds like a rip-off!)
            To hush up a stoolie, the Joker poisons the drinking water of a prison. All 600 inmates will die unless Batman and Wildcat can rush the antidote to the prison before the Joker gets to it first. The trouble is the “antidote” are antibodies inside a small dog named Spot. And Spot has run off and is hiding somewhere in Gotham…
            Does this count as a second team-up for the Joker? He is given credit on the cover, obviously to boost sales in an otherwise silly story.
            For your consideration: Batman’s B&B stories always seemed geared toward the guest (how many times did Batman fight evil robots when the Metal Men weren’tfeatured?). Since this story involved a dog, why would a Krypto team-up seem so far fetched?
#119:   … & Man-Bat, “Bring Back Killer Krag”
            A Mafioso widow puts a contract on the bounty hunter who killed her husband.  The killer is living in a country ruled by a US-hating dictator. Three sets of hunters go after the killer: two ex-CIA agents, Man-Bat, who is desperate for money, and Batman!
#120:   … & Kamandi, “This World is Mine”
            Batman is magically brought into earth’s future after the Great Disaster to lead a group of humans hiding in Mt. Rushmoreto safety.  Trouble is, Kamandi shows up – being pursued by gorilla slavers and bear rangers!
Two new team-ups in a row! This issue features a reprint from Secret Six#2.  Letter pages features Bob Rodi and future comics scribe Jo Duffy and Justice League’s Dan Jurgens. The price of the comic hikes to 50 cents for 64 pages this issue only, ala Superman Family, Tarzan Family, etc.
#121:   … & Metal Men, “The Doomsday Express”
            B&B quickly converts back to 18 pages for twenty-five cents. Why so soon?  Sales were very good for #120. Maybe the powers-that-be decided against a bigger format for B&B.
            A train bearing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is hijacked by Native American terrorists! Twist: foreign terrorists have hidden a bomb on the train!
#122:   … & Swamp Thing, “The Hour of the Beast”
            A plane-load of experimental biochemicals crashes into Gotham’s reservoir, causing killer vines to spring throughout the city – crushing all in its path. Elsewhere in Gotham City, a P. T. Barnum-like huckster has captured Swamp Thing and is displaying him in his sideshow. Guess who the citizens blame for the plant attacks?
            The letter column thanked a reader for a nice letter, explained a continuity flaw and asked if it helped improve the reader’s enjoyment and thanked readers for their team-up requests. Oh, yeah, and whole letters are printed, not printed “sound bites”. What gives? Ah, Jack C. Harris is now the assistant editor, taking over the letter column!  I guess Boltinoff was too busy strangling puppies for profit and touring orphanages presenting his “Surprise, Brats, There Ain’t No Santa Claus” lecture to do B&B’s letter column anymore. He remains the editor though…
#123:   … & Plastic Man & Metamorpho, “How to Make a Super-Hero”
            A rare three-teamer, and a sequel to #95.  Batman finds Plastic Man out of work and panhandling as a bum.  He asks Plas to guard Gothamas Batman while he is away.  However, Plastic Man is then put under the sway once again of Rudy Ryder – who 1) brainwashes Plas into thinking he is the real Batman and 2) frames Bruce Wayne for murder! Coincidentally, Bruce Wayne is in competition with Ryder over the purchase of an ancient African statue.  Metamorpho springs Wayne and together they hunt down Ryder and Plas!
            Long-lost letter writer Joe Peluso contributes to the letter column.


            Bob Haney created Metamorpho, who has powers similar to Plastic Man (as they each admit during their battle). So guess which hero is called a freak (twice), a fool and an idiot? Plas gets a similar treatment in his last appearance in B&B #148. C’mon Bob, don’t be so petty! Cosmic justice: for a time, Plastic Man was one of the primary members of the JLAcomic, while Metamorpho was killed off in JLAcomic in its first story arc. See Bob?  I told you not to be so petty…
#124:   … & Sgt. Rock, “Small War of the Super-Rifles”
            Joe Peluso contributes to the letter column again.
            Top secret infantry rifles are stolen by terrorists. Rock, assigned to find them, ends up tracking the terrorists to Gotham. But the terrorists have managed to also steal the script to Brave and Bold #124, and hunt down Jim Aparo and Bob Haney to stop them from completing the comic and thus halting their defeat!
            Jim Aparo “appears” in this story as an actual character.  Jim Aparo from Comic Book Artist#9: “That was corny. I didn’t live near the water as they had me in the story. I climbed out of my studio in the basement and climbed into a boat and went to a lighthouse or something. It was just written that way. I guess the readers believed it. I was just a joke. They [Haney and Boltinoff] wanted to fool around.”
#125:   … & Flash, “Streets of Poison”
            Batman and Flash go to Rangoon to stop a poppy farm/heroin factory.  While there they meet a female aviator missing for many months. Only later do they discover she has been in on the heroin trafficking the whole time!
#126:   … & Aquaman, “What Lurks Beneath Bouy 13?”, Artist: John Calnan (Aparo inks).  Joe Peluso is again in the letter column; the price hikes to thirty cents for eighteen pages.
            Atlantis, America, the USSRand terrorists play keep-away with an Atlantean satellite that can track nuclear submarines.
#127:   … & Wildcat, “Deadman’s Quadrangle”
            Illegal aliens are smuggled to the USvia Ted Grant’s island resort. Is he somehow involved? No, but after five appearances with Batman in only 39 issues, fans have had enough. Wildcat appearing became something of a joke to letter-writers and future editors (including Mike W. Barr’s text in the “Best of Brave & Bold” mini-series); this is his last appearance. Wildcat does later become intertwined with the Batman mythos: he taught Batman how to box and had a fling (and a mini-series) with Catwoman.
#128:   … & Mister Miracle, “Death by the Ounce”
            This is B&B’s “DC Salutes the Bicentennial” issue.  Joe Peluso again writes a letter.
            In exchange for one ounce of a youth-restoring potion, Apokolypsian Granny Goodness kidnaps the world’s richest ruler – the Shah of Kirkan – to prevent him from signing a USpeace treaty.


#129:   … & Green Arrow, Atom, “The Claws of the Emperor Eagle”
            Only the third multi-guest issue, and the first multi-issue storyline since #25 and 26 with the Suicide Squad seventeen years before!
            Okay, I’ll explain it again if need be: The people of Pathanistan created the Emperor Eagle to appease Alexander the Great. All who have since owned it are cursed and doomed. Oliver Queen, believing he can beat the curse, buys it. The plane carrying the Eagle is skyjacked by the Joker and Two-Face, who have been hired to return the Eagle to Pathanistan. Queen is put on trial in Pathanistan for “stealing” their national treasure, but Batman and the Atom rescue Queen before his execution.
            Later, Joker and Two-Face steal the Eagle for themselves, and with Batman as a hostage, head for high ground, with Green Arrow and Atom and the whole Pathanistan army in pursuit!
#130:   … & Green Arrow, Atom, Joker, Two-Face, “Death at Rainbow’s End”
            The cover boasts “Four Famous Co-Stars” in the same manner as the 100th issue.
            Our heroes find the ancient city of Pathan, where the Emperor Eagle was created.  Green Arrow convinces the citizens to make a duplicate and switch it with the real Eagle being held by Joker and Two-Face. During this time, Batman supposedly is killed in a landslide, but he pops up in the nick of time at the end of the story. The ruler of Pathanistan recovers the Eagle but plummets with it (we discover that the Eagle is filled with gold, rubies and diamonds) down a chasm where it is lost forever.
            Joker and Two-Face, meanwhile, now own a large, hollow iron statue of an Eagle!
#131:   … & Wonder Woman, “Take Seven Steps to Wipe Out”
            Bad: the African country of Sudaria smuggles drugs into the USvia diplomatic attaches. Worse: they are smuggling out the blueprints of the most top secret encoding devise ever created in the United States. Worst: they’re latest diplomat is … eek! … Catwoman!
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 12

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 12
Team-ups: Coasting Part 1
March 1972 – May 1979

            For the rest of the 1970s, Brave & Bold seemed to rely on its popularity.
            This was the lowest point in Brave & Bold history, if only because it was its least creative.  Sales were still good and solid (it went monthly in this period as did many DC comics), and the stories and art were sometimes fantastic. But as a reflection of the superhero comics industry at the time, Brave & Bold seemed tired and in need of some fresh ideas. Batman met only ten new characters (that is, they never appeared before in B&B) in this fifty-issue run, and one of them was Superman.  That averages one new team-up every two years.
Most of the new team-ups were exciting in idea if not in application.  Some of Batman’s most bizarre partners were in this time period – the Demon, Manbat, Kamandi, Swamp Thing, the Unknown Soldier and Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter!  Mr. Miracle appeared – the only nod to Kirby’s Fourth World series going on elsewhere at National.
These new heroes reflected National’s attempt to refresh their line in the 1970s.  Kirby’s work (including the aforementioned Kamandi), gave a shot of excitement at National. The horror genre was at its peak with DC’s mystery magazines such as Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing putting out excellent stories and art.  Sword and sorcery magazines came back – harkening to B&B’s earliest days only with a more modern twist (read: more sex and violence) – Warlord, Claw, Stalker.  DC even tried pulp heroes (the Shadowand the Avenger in Justice Inc.) and gave villains their own comics – Kobra, the Secret Society of Supervillains and the Joker!
            While these comics were wonderful and exciting in themselves, the superhero genre was stagnating.  At one time the two biggest selling comics at National, both Justice League of Americaand Brave & Bold were at their lowest ebb.  Even turning the comics into 100 page giants packed with new material and wonderful reprints couldn’t help boost sales in a faltering economy.
            The price of comics going from ten to twelve to fifteen, twenty-five, fifty cents hurt sales; a lot.
            Maybe it was also partly the fault of the editor, Murray Boltinoff, and his choice of guests. He insisted B&B feature “real” heroes – no more ubermensch in underwear with impossible and inexplicable powers.  Reprints in the 100 page giants consisted of Viking Prince, Silent Knight, Green Arrow, Secret Six, Teen Titans and Blackhawk stories.  While this idea worked for Charleton comics (this was one of Dick Giordano’s favorite mantras), at B&B it made for boring team-ups.  Wildcat appeared on average every eight issues.  Green Arrow appeared annually.
Plus the guests seemed interchangable – Metamorpho could have been Plastic Man could have been the Metal Men.  Green Arrow could have been Wildcat could have been Black Canary.  Batman needed someone to investigate a health spa who could not be seen. He called Deadman. Why not the Martian Manhunter? Come to think of it, why not Element Girl instead of Metamorpho?  Why not Black Orchid instead of Wonder Woman? Dolphin instead of Aquaman? They did it once – with Supergirl instead of Superman, and it worked!  They didn’t take the hint…
            Imagine Batman meeting the New Gods or the Forever People (Mr. Miracle’s appearances hardly mentioned the Fourth World: there was one appearance by Granny Goodness and a mention of Darkseid but otherwise Miracle’s three team-ups added nothing to the mythos).  Or imagine his teaming with the Avenger, Travis Morgan the Warlord, Captain Comet, Code Name: Assassin or Kirby’s Sandman.
            Meanwhile, Marvel was once again beating DC at its own game:  The Thing in Marvel Two-in-One, introduced new characters such as Spiderwoman and teamed with Doc Savage.  Spiderman’s Marvel Team-Up guest-starred Howard the Duck and the cast of Saturday Night Live.  It had continuing story lines with more than one guest (Thor and Havok in one, Dr. Strange and Ms. Marvel in another, Hulk, Woodgod and Warlock in yet another!).  How can B&B top that?
            Ironically, Batman was having more exciting team-ups elsewhere other than in his own team-up magazine.  Walt Simonson’s Manhunter fought Batman in Detective Comics; the Shadow out-spooked Batman in both Batman and Detective Comics, where he also “met” the ghost of Enemy Ace. On television he met Scooby Doo for goodness’ sake!
This is why the stranger team-ups (Swamp Thing, Kamandi, Manbat) seemed sostrange and brought a lot of response, positive or not. Swamp Thing? I gotta buy that!  Kamandi and Batman together? How? Good or bad, the powers-that-be didn’t look at sales figures, only what they thought would “work”.  For that matter, however, when the stories worked, they worked.  The Joker team-up is one of the best selling comics of this era. But then they wondered why the fourth Wildcat story in as many years didn’t sell as well. Even adding the Joker as the titled villain to a Wildcat story didn’t help sales.  And the editors asked, “Why?”
Still, it wasn’t all that bad: experiments were made – three of B&B’s four three-person team-up (the fourth being the 100th anniversary issue) and two of its five multi-part story lines appeared in this era (both with Green Arrow {sigh} well, their hearts were in the right place). The villainous Ruby Ryder appears in several issues to taunt Batman and Bruce Wayne – a small attempt to make B&B truly a third Batman book?  But as is the danger of team-up books, continuity and characterization must take a back seat to getting our heroes together to beat the bad guys in about twenty pages (not counting the unnecessary splash).
But such attempts were fleeting and (apparently) unnecessary.  B&B still had good sales and loyal readers from years past (the sales drop was proportionate to the industry as a whole), and the marvelous Aparo art was always spectacular, giving B&B its distinct look. This was the time when Aparo made his nitch as the Batman artist. As influential to Batman as Wayne Boring or Curt Swan were to Superman.
It wasn’t the best, but it was still good!  And that’s all that matters!
Isn’t it?
(Unless otherwise stated, Bob Haney wrote and Jim Aparo drew the issues)
May 1972
#101:   … & Metamorpho, “Cold Blood, Hot Gun”
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Jim Aparo.
            A Gothammansion is being sold via sealed-bid auction.  A hired killer named Bounty Hunter is trying to eliminate everyone who submitting a bid, including Bruce Wayne and Metamorpho’s girlfriend Sapphire Stagg!  Who hired him and why? Ends up being one of the brothers selling the mansion.
            This issue features a blurb for the return of a Metamorpho strip in Action Comics, a reprint of a B&B Viking Prince story and a third letter by Bob Rozakis is published.
#102:   … & Teen Titans, “Commune of Defiance”
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Jim Aparo and Neal Adams.  These masters working together result in one of the best artwork in comics!  Wondergirl never looked prettier (in all of three panels she was in!  Boo! Hiss!)
            Barcleyville is Gotham’s oldest city, but now it’s a crime-ridden slum and set for demolition.  The Young Aquarians (a good-natured youth gang) can prevent the town’s demolition if in 30 days they can roust out all the muggers and pushers and clean up the town. It works, until the mob boss brings in his hired goons during the victory block party! The plot is somewhat reminiscent of issue #84 (ghetto teens clean up their town), but this was executed better, almost as if it were a rewrite.
            This is Aparo’s second visit to Barcleyville, the town was featured in Phantom Stranger #4, which he also drew.
            Also features a silver age Robotman story, also featuring his fellow Doom Patroller, the Chief. Rozakis and uber-comics-fan (the late) Robert Morrisey have letters.
#103:   … & Metal Men, “A Traitor Lurks Inside Earth”
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bob Brown.  Twenty cents?  That’s better!  Well, they did cut the page count in half, but we’re paying five cents less than last issue for the same number of pages before the price hike when it was fifteen cen – HEY!!  Bob Rozakis’ name is again mentioned in the letter column applauding #101.
            John Doe, the robot in charge of all USnuclear missiles goes insane.  Batman asked the help of the newly-reformed Metal Men, until they decide to join John Doe’s side! As with #101 (Metamorpho), this issue picks up the threads to the guests’ canceled magazine.
#104:   … & Deadman: “Second Chance for a Deadman”
             Deadman helps Batman infiltrate and gather evidence on a Florida spa that also changes the identities of fugitive criminals!  Only one problem: Deadman falls in love with the woman in charge!
            Bob Rozakis’ and Mark Gruenwald’s letters are published.
#105:   … & Wonder Woman, “Pay Now – Die Later”
            Another Bob Rozakis letter (anyone keeping track?  Seven so far, six in a row) appears. This issue features superb art by Aparo – a shining star among a galaxy of great performances in Brave & Bold by “Jaunty Jim”!
            A senorita and her revolutionary brother ask Bruce Wayne to pay their father’s ransom before he reveals the location of his country’s exiled treasure trove. Waynesuspects a scam and enlists Wonder Woman’s help to expose it all. Trouble is, Batman finds out it isn’t a scam after all!  Is it too late?
#106:   … & Green Arrow, “Double Your Money or Die”
            Eighth Rozakis letter.  And a letter by professional fan-boy, the late Rich Morrisey from Framingham, Mass. also contributes.
            There are “five little shareholders” who will cash in a ten million dollar dividend.  Unfortunately, someone is killing them off – the sole survivor is Oliver Queen!  If all shareholders die, the money goes to a Swiss clinic dedicated to new plastic surgery techniques.  Ah, thatexplains Two Face’s murderous intent.
            This is the first appearance of a major Batman villain in seven years – since the Joker-Penguin-Riddler team in #66.
            It is a greatstoryline!! Full of twists and turns! A blatant Haney-ism though:  Queen is no longer destitute and collects the ten million in dividends at the end of the story! This is explained later – either the story took place before Queen lost his fortune, or Queen is the type to “… gain a million, lose a million”. Or Haney goofed.
#107:   … & Black Canary, “The 3 Million Dollar Sky”
            Another Rozakis mention, as well as regular letter contributer Joe Rusnak.  Note that B&B’s letter columns read more like movie posters than actual letters – “Fantastic,” says Bob Rozakis of Elmont, NY; “Fair,” Keith Griffin of Mobile, Ala. Writes; “Blows!” Mike Curry of St. Louis, MOshouts. This way the editors can mention twenty or more letter-writers in one issue. Every few issues someone complains about publishing complete letters and addresses so they can contact fellow fans, but the editors continually refuse to do so. Too bad, it would help establish a stronger fan base if they could contact each other and discuss their favorite issues.
            A skyjacker demands three million dollars, the release of a drug kingpin and a trip to San Pedro. Batman and Black Canary disguise as an aviator and a stewardess (you are left to you own devises as to who disguised as whom!) to foil the plot.
#108:   … & Sgt. Rock, “The Night Batman Sold his Soul”
            No Batman didn’t sign on to be the commercial spokesmen for Pepsi, he shouted that he’d give his soul to be rescued after being trapped in a well during a manhunt. Now the old man who rescued him claims to have his soul! Batman thinks he is the devil, Rock thinks he’s an alive-and-well Adolph Hitler (there’s a difference?).
            Letters? Yep, Rozakis again – ten times so far, ninth in a row.
            B&B’s first swear word – “hell” – is used three times, but in context (“we’ve gone into the bowels of Hell”) rather than cursing.  They are fighting the devil after all! So I guess that’s all right…
#109:   … & Demon, “Gotham Be My Grave”
            The first Kirby-created character to appear with Batman!  And discounting the Bat Squad (who weren’t established characters) and the House of Mystery (that was more of a style than a team-up), this is the first new team-up since Adam Strange in #90 – three years ago!  “Hell” is mentioned twice in this story, but still not used as swear words. Still … they’re pushing it!  Rozakis, Keith Griffen and Richard Morrisay all contribute to the letter page.
            A sailor condemned to death in 1883 returns to haunt Gothamkilling all sailors and seamen in its path.
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 11

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 11
Team-ups: Lo, there shall come a Dark Knight! Part 2
January 1968 – January 1972

#87:     … & Wonder Woman, “The Widowmaker”,
Writer and Artist: Mike Sekowsky and inked by Dick Giordano.
Issue #150 lists the writer as Bob Haney, but this issue and #88 state Sekowsky wrote the tale of Bruce Wayne racing at Monte Carlo.  Wonder Woman discovers that Bruce’s car is sabotaged by his racing adversary Willi Van Dort.
Batman appearance here is almost token. Could this have been a Wonder Woman tale revamped for inclusion in Brave & Bold? Sekowsky wrote and drew Wonder Woman’s comic at the time, and with the artwork of Neal Adams being so much in demand could this be a “rush job” to meet a deadline?
            Part One of a text page summarizing the first 24 issues of Brave & Bold debuts, written by Marv Wolfman!
#88:     … & Wildcat, “Count Ten & Die”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Irv Novick (his first work on Brave & Bold in 66 issues – just short of eleven years).  Future DC scribe Marty Pasko has a line published in the letter column (one of the few slams on the Green Arrow remake – “Where’s Speedy?”)
Washed-up has-been Ted Grant lives on skid row, but is convinced by Bruce Wayne to coach the boxing team for the World Youth Games in Vienna.  Batman goes too, to capture an iron curtain spy!
            Part Two of a text page summarizing the issues of Brave & Bold that presented the new characters introduced in B&B that went on to their own comics (JLA, Hawkman, Teen Titans and Metamorpho).
Wildcat appears in costume in only five panels!  Was this a Batman story originally featuring a “normal” ex-boxing champ and rewritten – substituting Wildcat to make it a B&B tale?  Good story (so was last issue), but what gives?  Were the editors at B&B caught so unawares?
Maybe it was done on purpose, as an experiment (a team-up in which the superheroes never actually meet except in their other identities).  Just as last issue was a Wonder Woman story with a Batman cameo, so this was a Batman story with a Wildcat cameo.
Regardless, it was well done, which was the whole point.
#89:     … & Phantom Stranger, “Arise Ye Ghosts of Gotham”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ross Andru.  Part Three of a text page summarizing the first team-ups in Brave & Bold.
            Okay, stay with me.  150 years ago the Hellerite sect settles in Gotham.  Being different, their settlement was burned and they were run out of town.  Now a descendant of sect founder Joseph Heller and descendants of the Hellerite survivors settle in Gotham Park and demand reparations!  Their hatred summons forth the ghosts of the Hellerites and Joseph Heller!  Gothamstarts turning into salt and (Holy Charleton Heston!) every first born male child turns into warlocks!  Including Dick Grayson!  Will Batman side with Phantom Stranger who offers his assistance, or go with Doctor Thirteen, who believes the Stranger a charlatan?
            The idea of reciprocity (one sovereign state recognizing and obeying the laws of another) between Gotham’s family law/guardian statutes and the Laws of Divine Retribution is intriguing.  In other words, if the Cosmic Laws of Vengeance recognize Dick Grayson as being Bruce Wayne’s first born male child; then, under Full Faith and Credit provisions, it must also recognize the right to due process, illegal search and seizure and trial by jury.  Wouldn’t that put the Spectre, for example, out of business?  What hath Haney wrought?
#90:     … & Adam Strange, “You Only Die Twice”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ross Andru.    Part Four of Marv Wolfman’s history of Brave & Bold team-ups continues.
            Adam Strange is accidentally whisked into the future and brings back Batman’s obituary!  Can they prevent his humiliating demise?
#91:     … & Black Canary, “Cold Corpse for the Collector”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Nick Cardy.  The fifth and final Chapter of the history of Brave & Bold team-ups is included.
            Black Canary falls in love with the Earth-One counterpart of her deceased husband Larry Lance. Unfortunately, Lance may be the mob boss Batman is currently hunting!
#92:     … & the Bat Squad, “Night Wears a Scarlet Shroud”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Nick Cardy.
            This is an attempt to create a group of sidekicks or aids for Batman ala the pulp heroes that inspired his creation – the Shadow, the Spider and Doc Savage. Just in case the point is missed, the girl was named Margo (however, they held back giving her the last name of Lane).  The Bat Squad consisted of the Major, retired Scotland Yard; Mick, reformed pick-pocket turned mod-rocker; and Margo, eye-candy (shades of the Suicide Squad and Cave Carson!).  They never appeared again, and were probably better suited for Detective Comics than as a team-up in Brave & Bold.  Was this an attempt to go back to B&B’s “try-out” days to test the water for a new group of “Bat-partners”?
            During a filming of “The Scarlet Strangler”, the star and the director disappear.  Batman and his Bat Squad track the clues and find themselves back in 1904 Londonand come face to face with the real Strangler!!  Or is it a giant ruse by a Strangler wannabe?
            Oddly, in #89 Batman did believe in ghosts and spooks, but in this issue he plays the skeptic.
            Nick Cardy’s art in his five-issue stint as “regular” artist is spectacular! Rather than Neal Adam’s lithe, lean Batman, Cardy’s caped crusader is beefier: strength versus agility. His style is similar to George Tuska, who has contributed a few one-page stories in the past few issues. He is a wonderful artist and continues to keep a sense of continuity in B&B.
#93:     … in the House of Mystery, “Red Water, Crimson Death”,
            Writer: Denny O’Neal, Artist: Neal Adams.  Adamsis back as artist, in one of the best Batman stories, and for that matter one of the best comic book stories, ever.  This issue appeared in a “Best of DC’ tabloid in the late 1970s.  The art is perfect, the tale is suspenseful and moody!
            Cain, the House of Mystery’s host tells the tale: While on (what should be) a restful vacation voyage to Ireland, Bruce Wayne befriends Sean, a boy from the Aran Islands. Wayne stays with Sean’s family and discovers a plot to frighten the fisher folk off the island to ensure exclusive fishing rights for the villain behind it all – Alouysios Cabot. A typical tale, until Batman is helped by the ghost of King Hugh of Aran.
            Future Justice League and Legion of Superheroes author/artist Keith Griffin contributes a letter.
#94:     … & Teen Titans, “Rebels in the Streets”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Nick Cardy.  In the Titan’s own book, Robin had left the group.  Haney and Cardy (who also wrote and drew Teen Titans) used this issue to bring Robin back into the group.
            Ghetto teens make an atomic bomb and will detonate it unless their demands are met – jail all drug dealers, slum lords and (eep!) Commissioner Gordon and Batman!
#95:     … & ?, “Cold Corpse on Delivery”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Nick Cardy.  B&B Baddie Ruby Ryder, the world’s richest (and most ruthless) woman, makes her debut.  Outside of Haney’s work, though, Ruby is rarely seen.  Also, the tale ends with the “Read it Ever, Miss it Never” tag line at the end of the story.  This tag line hasn’t been seen in B&B in years (used mostly during the “Go-Go Checks” era), and will never be seen again!  Another tag line will debut next issue, with a bit more staying power!
            Ruby Ryder hires Batman to find her missing fiancé.  When he finds him in South America, Batman brings him back to Ruby, who shoots him dead!  Luckily it was Plastic Man in disguise and trying to establish a new life.  This starts Bob Haney’s apparent hatred of Plastic Man – hereafter portraying him as an unlovable loser, social pariah and washed-up hero.  Haney would have given Plas BO if it would get past the comics code.
            The first “mystery” guest in B&B – the reader is provided clues as to the guest’s identity.  This one’s a toughie!  The “clues” provided are merely vague shapes (a hand pushing Batman, etc.).  Once you know who the guest is, the clues are easy in retrospect.  The hand pushing Batman was next seen in a sewer grating.  How did he get down there so fast?  Easy – he stretched out of the grating!
#96:     … & Sgt. Rock, “The Striped Pants War”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Nick Cardy.  “B&B Seeing You” debuts as the tag line in the letter column – and used from here on.  Rock remembers Batman from issue #84.  He must have been debriefed after the adventure – Rock met Bruce Wayne, but was unaware of Batman’s participation!
            Bruce Wayne’s friend, the ambassador to an unnamed South American country is kidnapped (I would avoid being Bruce Wayne’s friend…).  Bruce is appointed interim ambassador and, as Batman, hunts for the terrorist-kidnappers.  The clues point to an insider helping the terrorists.  Clues that point to the thirty-year man – Sgt Rock!
#97:     … & Wildcat, “The Smile of Choclotan”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bob Brown.  Twenty-five cents?  Twenty-five cents for a comic book!?  Hmmph, well, the page count did double to 52 pages.  Still, in my day you could buy a comic for a dime…
            Deadman’s debut /origin story from Strange Adventures is reprinted.  Future DC Answer Man Bob Rozakis asks questions in the letter column.  The editor claims there were only five dissenting letters received for #94 (Teen Titans) and only one dissenting letter for #93 (House of Mystery).  One … out of two hundred thousand readers wrote to say he didn’t like the issue. Hyperbole? Quite likely, but they were great issues!
            Amnesia strikes Wildcat (wildcat strike?) as he looks for the lost temple of an Aztec god. Can Batman help him regain his memory and re-find the temple before temple-raiders kill them both? This is the third issue in a row that takes place in Latin America.
#98:     … & Phantom Stranger, “Mansion of the Misbegotten”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Jim Aparo.  Two reprinted stories in this issue – a Challengers of the Unknown tale and a rare Phantom Stranger story from the 1950s.
            Batman’s friend Roger Birnam dies (another friend bites the dust…).  On his deathbed Roger makes Batman promise to care for his widowed wife and young son.  Ooo, too bad they are the ring leaders of a murderous satanic cult…
            This was Jim Aparo’s first attempt at drawing Batman, having been selected for this issue by his stunning work on Phantom Stranger.  It was a throwback to olden days where the regular artist of the guest star did the artwork in B&B. Comic fans to this day should be grateful for this decision!
            Dick Giordano brought Jim Aparo from Charleton Comics, where he worked on Nightshade, among other stories.  His style is more like Neal Adams than Nick Cardy – although his first few issues were Cardy-esque – beefy and stout characters.  His lean and lithe Batman will develop quickly.  While not the photographer that is Neal Adams, Aparo’s art is just as good – characters are alive – skinny, fat, curly hair, balding, every illustration is … well … different!  Angry characters are livid, happy characters are ecstatic, surprised characters are in shock!  When Batman lands a haymaker on the bad guys, the comic shudders!  Aparo’s portrayal of emotion and action is perfect.  Aparo’s Batman will be the template for the next twenty years.  He’s one of the best.
#99:     … & Flash, “The Man Who Murdered the Past”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Nick Cardy (the index in issue #150 states this issue was drawn by Jim Aparo).  Viking Prince returns to B&B in a reprinted story.
            The ghost of a Satan-worshipping Portuguese whaler possesses Batman.  If Old Manuel can come back from the dead, can Batman use the same method to bring back his parents?  Well, no, but it’s suspenseful for a few panels!
#100:   … & Green Arrow, Black Canary, Green Lantern, Robin, “Warrior in a Wheelchair”, Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Jim Aparo.  History repeats itself – Aparo replaced Cardy as artist for Aquaman, and does so again now in Brave & Bold.
            A Deadman reprint rounds out the issue.  Bob Rozakis appears in the letter column again.
            Batman is temporarily disabled – the slightest shock could kill him!  So he enlists the aid of his friends to do his detective work for him.  Black Canary almost blows her mission – she would have ruined her hairdo standing in the rain!  After her last appearance (siding against the Batman in favor of her husband’s doppelganger), one wonders how Batman could have trusted her the next three times she appears!
            The artists and writers from this era would be inducted in any comic book hall of fame on the first ballot.  And these weren’t guests – these were the regular monthly artists!  Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo.  Guest artists included Mike Sekowsky, Joe Kubert, Irv Novick.  Add writers Denny O’Neal and Bob Haney and Brave & Bold’s pedigree is complete.  Neal Adams was so popular that he was quickly moved to National juggernaut Justice League of America before settling into DC’s flagship Detective Comics.  He and Denny O’Neal worked together again in Green Lantern where they redefined what we think of as “funny books”.
            Chances were taken in this era – B&B introduced new characters, highlighted little-known or forgotten heroes.  Batman appeared in cameo in one issue (#87) and the guest barely appeared in another (#88).  If they were really willing to take a risk, #88 could have been done with the secret identities only – no long johns could have appeared at all and it still would have been a terrific story!
            It was uncanny – every story was well written, beautifully drawn and well received.  Few comic books in the past seventy years can claim such a flawless span of issues, and most of those comics making such a claim would be from DC’s main competitor!  As for Brave & Bold, the stories and art were tremendous and the sales of the magazine reflected it.  B&B was National’s pride and joy, one of DC’s very best comics.
            Brave & Bold was at the very top.  Unfortunately, once you’ve reached the top, there is only one place to go.
Next: Coasting
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 10

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 10
Team-ups: Lo, there shall come a Dark Knight! Part 1
January 1968 – January 1972

            The next twenty-five issues of Brave & Boldare considered the best of the run during the team-up years. And rightly so: the issues from #79 through #86 inclusive are considered the best issues of the entire run; and among the best comics ever published!
            By this time Marvel had been regularly beating National comics in popularity (nowadays we could call it “buzz”), if not in sales.  Charleton was successfully publishing heroes like Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle.  There were more superhero comics being published than there had been in twenty years. Compared to all the Distinguished Competition, DC seemed staid, static and – worst of all – boring to the older reader. So National decided to fight back! Such strong competition helped DC grow rather than wither. National decided to change their style – introducing new and off-beat characters like the Creeper and Hawk & Dove. Comics such as Aquaman and Justice League of America and most notably Green Lantern/Green Arrowstarted to become – what’s the word? – relevant!  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
            This was to be the “new-look” Brave & Bold: no longer will the adventures of the caped crusader be square and archaic, to use the words of a letter-writer, but real and important. Drug runners instead of petty crooks, terrorists and spies instead of monsters and aliens! Heavy; and deep, man, real deep.
            Chances were taken – team-ups were done (and done well) that would seem unlikely: Adam Strange, Sgt. Rock and Phantom Stranger met the Caped Crusader. DC’s most recent creation the Creeper starred. Experiments were done: The Bat Squad introduced a cast of assistants for Batman akin to the aids of pulp heroes Doc Savage and the Shadow. Batman entered the “House of Mystery”. And Green Arrow, the most frequent guest in the team-up years, was given a make-over: a new costume and character. That hadn’t been done in B&B since the Hawkman reboot in March 1961, 8½ years earlier.
            Neal Adams was the artist during the classic eight-issue span (#79-#86) and helped make these issues the comic book classics they are. Adams wasn’t a comic book artist – he was a photographer! The art in Brave & Bold never looked more realistic, and the stories were inspiring.
            Otherwise the artwork was excellently done by (mostly) Nick Cardy.  With #98, however, another artist took over most of the art chores. Dick Giordano brought him over from Charleton. His name was Jim Aparo. More on him later.
            Bob Haney was still in his own little continuity bubble – Bruce Wayne was a Senator, adopted a second ward and became a godfather to another youth, none of these facts have been acknowledged since – not even in Haney’s later stories.  Nonetheless, the stories written were still exciting. You never know what would happen on the next page!
            For the most part these twenty-five issues featured stories and art which were fun and admirable; entertaining and laudable.  It was a brave and bold step for the comic and it helped put it at the forefront of comics generally and National Comics specifically.  Comic book readers were starting to grow up, and Brave & Bold grew up with them.  It was the very best.
November 1967
#74:     Batman & Metal Men, “Rampant Run the Robots”, (since Batman stars in all remaining issues, only the guest – as indicated on the magazine’s cover – will be listed).
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ross Andru.
Batman begins his run through the remainder of B&B as its star.  This is also the first meeting of many with the Metal Men. Robots run amuck and commit crimes aplenty during a robot exposition in Gotham. Are the Metal Men also affected and committing crimes?  Batman thinks so!
#75:     … & Spectre, untitled tail, Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ross Andru.  Wonderful cover by Neal Adams!  A typo has the editor being George Hasdan instead of Kasdan!
            On Chinese New Year (the Year of the Bat), the Lord of the Yellow River, Shahn-Zi traps the citizens of Gotham’s Chinatown until its mayor, Bill Woo, turns over his son to become the new Lord of the River.
#76:     … & Plastic Man, “Doom, What is thy Shape?”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: George Roussos.
The Molder and his plastic robots terrorize Gotham!  This issue also features a reprint of a Robin solo story, but the comic doesn’t tell us when and in which comic it was originally published.
#77:     … & Atom, “So Thunders the Cannoneer”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ross Andru.  Artist and writer credits are starting to appear more regularly now.  Ross Andru has been drawing so many issues of B&B lately it almost, almostseems to establish a specific look of continuity for the book!  This idea of a certain look for B&B will be very important in future issues with Neal Adams and Jim Aparo. Also in this issue, in the text page, the editor requests letters to the comic.  Instead of one-page texts regaling us with information on the Great Wall, ghosts, real-life tiny individuals, “real” proof of ghosts, etc., we will soon get correspondence from fellow fans!
The Cannoneer and his circus cronies steal the Brotherhood Train – featuring one car for every nation, a World’s Fair on a rail!
#78:     … & Wonder Woman (with Batgirl), “In the Coils of the Copperhead”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bob Brown, Editor: Murray Boltinoff.
To lull the villainous Copperhead into the open, Wonder Woman and Batgirl pretend to be in love with Batman, distracting him from his battle against crime.  It seems to work, until they really fall for him!
Batgirl is the co-star, and is giving a mention on the cover, but it is more of a Batman-Wonder Woman team-up.  Batgirl’s presence is more to capture the TV fans.
This issue also introduces the villainy of the Copperhead, the last bad-guy of note to debut in B&B (others being Starro, Amazo, Matter Master, Shadow Thief, and the Manhawks).  Copperhead fought Hawkman in the fourth series of his magazine, teaming with the Shadow Thief – a Brave & Bold reunion that went unnoticed!
#79:     … & Deadman, “Track of the Hook”, August-September 1968.
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.
            Beginning the “classic” run of B&B through #86.  At the time this issue was phenomenally popular (still is in the back issue market).
            Deadman helps Batman identify “The King” – Gotham’s syndicate leader, in exchange for Batman helping track down Deadman’s killer, the Hook.  They break the syndicate, but fail to find the Hook. But we do meet Max Chill – the brother of the man who killed Batman’s parents.
            The first letter column appears in Brave & Boldsince issue #49, exactly five years before!
#80:     … & Creeper, “And Hellgramite is his Name”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.  Another new villain is introduced with some durability – Hellgramite tormented Green Arrow through the 1970s in World’s Finest Comics, but hasn’t been seen much in the past thirty years.  Future DC writer Tony Isabella has a letter in the letter column..
Hellgrammite captures three of Gotham’s gangland bosses.  Batman and Creeper fight Hellgrammite, Commissioner Gordon and each other to find out why!
#81:     … & Flash, “But Bork Can Hurt You”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.
A two-bit hood suddenly becomes invulnerable and takes over Gotham City’s underworld!  Flash discovers Bork’s secret (island natives created a stone statue of Bork, imbuing him with invulnerability) just before Bork forces Gotham’s mayor from banishing Batman forever.  Flash runs in outer space and through the sun unharmed, a power he’s never shown before!
            Bork was revived by Kurt Busiek as a member of his “Power Company” series.
#82:     … & Aquaman, “Sleepwalker from the Sea”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.  This issue begins a new logo.  Gone is the waiving Brave & Bold banner seen since the first issue.  Now we have simple blocked script in capital letters announcing the comic name.  Small wonder – the banner logo has been shrinking for years and was almost invisible.  The plain logo belays the excellent material within!
Aquaman’s brother Orm, the Ocean Master, tricks Aquaman into being his “muscle” in a shady marine development deal.
#83:     … & Teen Titans, “Punish Not My Evil Son”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.
Robin is jealous when Batman adopts a second ward – the son of a deceased friend. But the second son of Batman is a bad seed. He finally turns from the dark side in time to save Batman.
#84:     … & Sgt. Rock, “The Angel, The Rock & The Cowl”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.  Joe Kubert assists an uncredited co-artist.  The combination of Adams and Kubert (who assists on the panels with Easy Company) is fantastic!  Adamsphotographic style and Kubert’s distinctive style gives the art a natural look – actions become realistic speed blurs!
            Another friend of Bruce Wayne is killed (two issues in a row now…), this time during WWII while spying on the Nazis.  Bruce Wayne takes over the case and interferes with Easy Company’s orders to blow up a bridge on D-minus-one-Day.  According to the Overstreet Price Guide (and others), this is the first appearance of the golden age (Earth-Two) Batman in the Silver Age (barring an earlier one-panel cameo in Justice League #82).  In the letter column to #86, one writer complains about the time-anomaly:  A 60-year old Rock and a still-young Bruce Wayne.
            A house ad for this issue appears on the last page – “how can it (this team-up) be possible?”
The blurb for the next issue asks, “How can we top this?” The answer: this is to prepare you for what’s coming next!  The beautiful thing about B&B in this era is … they’re right!
#85:     … & Green Arrow, “The Senator’s Been Shot”.
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams. Fifteen cents?!  Fifteen cents!  For a comic book?  Outrageous!  This better be some story!
It is!  Although probably not to compensate us for the extra three cents, this is the most popular B&B of this era.  It is certainly the most reprinted, most recently as a Millenium Edition.  This issue introduced a “new look” for Green Arrow – new costume, blond goatee – but the radical attitude came later in Green Lantern’s comic.  Here B&B combines its team-ups with its old genre of introducing new characters (or newly remodeled characters) and is done excellently!
            The Senator was shot because he supported a crime bill that would eliminate the career of evil financier Miklos Minotaur.  Bruce Wayne is appointed interim senator.  Meanwhile, Minotaur must eliminate his competitor (Ollie Queen) from wining a multi-million dollar Gotham renovation plan.
            This is a prime example of Bob Haney’s isolated DC Continuity.  Bruce Wayne’s stint as a senator has never been elsewhere referenced, not even in Brave & Bold.
#86:     … & Deadman, “You Can’t Hide from a Deadman”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Neal Adams.  Tony Isabella again contributes to the letter page.
            In a story continued from Strange Adventures#216 (Deadman’s last issue in that magazine): Deadman is poisoned while in Namba Parbat (where he obtains corporeal form).  To save his life, Batman and Deadman’s brother Clevelandfight the Sensei’s Society of Assassins, one of whom has the antidote.
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry