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.
#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