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

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