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

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