The Brave & The Bold Index Part 9

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 9
Team-ups: The World’s Greatest Super Heroes Part 2
November 1963 – November 1967

#63:     Supergirl & Wonder Woman, “Revolt of the Super Chicks”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: John Rosenberg.  George Kashdan is back as editor.  By this time the once proud Brave & Bold banner has been shrunk down to two inches.
A huge step back for the suffragette movement:  Supergirl renounces her heroic lifestyle to live with the jet set in Paris.  Wonder Woman, sent to convince Supergirl of the error of her ways, also falls into the sway of the jet set, and renounces her super-do-good lifestyle.  With their new boyfriends they head to the Ile D’Amour, not knowing the island is also the hide-out of the evil Multi-Face!  Will our girls go back to their super life or remain “frail and feminine” and keep their boyfriends happy?
A small tag line on the last panel warns us that “the Spectre is coming!”  Cool!


#64:     Batman vs. Eclipso, which was also the story title.  March 1966.
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Dick Giordano and Sal Trapani.  Hey, where’s the Spectre?  This issue (March 1965) begins National’s checkerboard design (“Go-Go Checks”) along the top of all their comic covers.
They get an “A” for a great idea: the first villain as a co-star! Batman’s greatest love and one-time crime-fighting companion, Marcia Monroe returns (Who!?  You probably won’t find her listed in any Batman sourcebook)!  But she frames Batman for the theft of the cat emerald.  While he sits in stir, Marcia, as the Queen Bee (not the JLA foe) and Eclipso take over Gotham’s crime cartel.
Saints preserve us! Chief O’Hara debuts in B&B, having been broadcasting his befuddlement of the most dastardly assortment of criminal minds the likes of which Gotham City has ever produced lo these past ninety days (translation: he had already been on the Batman TV show for three months).
#65:     Flash & Doom Patrol, “Alias Negative Man”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bruno Premanini.  An ingenious idea: team up a new, lesser-known DC character with an established one – introducing fans to the Doom Patrol who might otherwise not buy their comic.  This was also done the previous issue, but more was made about the fact that is starred a villain rather than a newer more obscure DC character.
Negative Man is kidnapped by the Brotherhood of Evil (no, not Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, just Brotherhood of Evil.  Hey, give the Doom Patrol a break; they predated that other superhero group led by a man in a wheelchair by three months – June 1963 as opposed to September 1963)!  The Flash disguises himself as Neg Man and fills in, fooling the Brotherhood into thinking, “If that’s Negative Man, who’s in this lead-lined coffin?”  Creek!  Whoosh!  “Aargh!”
            Flash and Doom Patrol were a featured team-up in the revived B&B in 2007 as an obvious (and admitted) homage.
#66:     Metamorpho & Metal Men, “Wreck the Renegade Robot”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Mike Sekowsky, legendary JLA artist, who last appeared in these pages six years ago in issue #30 and does an excellent job in this story!  His artwork looks almost Kirby-esque.
Doc Magnus cures Metamorpho and turns him back into Rex Mason!  What a bad time for someone to take over the minds of the Metal Men and order them to destroy Simon Stagg!
#67:     Batman & Flash, “Death of the Flash”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Carmine Infantino, who last appeared in these pages three years earlier with his masterly work on Strange Sports Stories.  Here he does a very good job on the two superheroes for which he is best known.
The Flash discovers that his super speed skill is slowly killing him – he must stop running or he will die!  Bad time for the Speed Boys to start a super-speed crime spree in Gotham!


In January of 1966 the TV show “Batman” debuted on ABC.  By this issue (September 1966), the show is a runaway smash and anything with Batman’s image on the cover would become a huge seller!  Flash has starred in more issues of B&B than any other character (during the team-up or even try-out years).  Batman has starred in only three issues.  Flash’s reign as most popular B&B character will end shortly.
#68:     Batman & Metamorpho, “Alias the Bat-Hulk”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Mike Sekowsky, in another excellent job!  Why didn’t he do this well in Justice League of America?
The Joker, Penguin and Riddler all make their B&B debut.  Metamorpho appears for the second time in three issues.  Batman is the first character to star in two consecutive issues with different stars.  Ads in the comic explain why: the Batman TV show, the Batman movie, the Batman syndicated newspaper strip, Batman Aurora models and, oh yes, Batman comic books are advertised in this issue.  Metamorpho tells Batman in the final panel that he’ll see Batman “on the TV”.  Subtle, isn’t it?
The three dastardly bad guys spray Batman with a chemical that changes him into Bat-Hulk: a huge lumbering bad guy whose hands destroy everything they touch!  He can even throw chemical fireballs.  In a moment of lucidity, Batman goes to Simon Stagg and Metamorpho to try to find a cure.  Before they do, Metamorpho must stop Bat-Hulk and his three allies during their criminal rampage on Gotham.
            Unabashed plug department: This is Batman’s fourth starring appearance in B&B, and in the last three he mentions Robin being away at a Teen Titans meeting to explain his absence.
#69:     Batman & Green Lantern, “War of the Cosmic Avenger”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Win Mortimer.
The Time Commander (from issue #54) returns and again tricks Green Lantern and Batman into giving him some of GL’s power.  Time Commander then uses the power to summon Cosmo: “A humanoid recalled from the limbo of the past …” but now imbued with cosmic “star power”.
#70:     Batman & Hawkman, “Cancelled: Two Super-Heroes”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Johnny Craig.
The Collector decides to start collecting super-hero secret identities.  When Batman realizes what is going on, he tricks the Collector into thinking Batman is Carter Hall and Hawkman is Bruce Wayne!
#71:     Batman & Green Arrow, “Wrath of the Thunderbird”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: George Pepp.  This is Green Arrow’s second appearance in B&B and his first team-up with Batman (of nine – the most frequent guest star in the series).
Batman and Green Arrow help train a friend to win the chiefdom of his Native American Kijawa tribe.  His opponent cheats to win and releases the Thunderbird, who attacks everyone in sight!  Native American slurs abound in this pre-politically correct story!
#72:     Spectre & Flash, “Phantom Flash, Cosmic Traitor”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Carmine Infantino, who we saw last in issue #67 also featuring the Scarlet Speedster.  This is the last issue starring the Flash without Batman.  Issue #63 told us that “The Spectre is coming!”  It’s about time!  Actually, they were talking about his silver age debut in Showcase.  This issue of B&B is the Spectre’s 4thsilver age appearance.
            The ghost of a World War One squadron fighter wreaks vengeance on his surviving comrades (he was the only fatality); and he’s brainwashed the Flash into aiding him!
            This issue mentions Earth Two, the alternative world in which the golden age heroes live, for the first time.  It sets up some strange scenes – One, the Flash from Earth One is there to visit the Spectre (who visits the Spectre?); and two, when crooks spot a crimson blur racing toward them they shout out, “It’s the Flash!”  What they don’t shout out is, “Wait, what’s with the different costume?”
#73:     Aquaman & Atom, “Galg the Destroyer”, Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Sal Trapani.
            Galg the Destroyer is out to conquer the universe.  The catch?  He lives in a microscopic world in a drop of ocean water!
            The Go-Go Checks are gone in this issue. So is Batman. As far as Brave & Bold is concerned, the Go-Go Checks will never return, and Batman will never leave.  Next issue, Batman will begin his 127-issue run as the star.
            These last two issues of Brave & Bold (#72 and #73) were the lowest-selling in some time.  The reason was obvious – they were the first issues in a nearly a year that did not feature Batman on the cover.  Issues before the Batman TV show were selling from 249,000 to 279,000.  Issue #69 (for example) sold 398,000 copies.  As the TV show would say, “Zap! Pow! Ka-Ching!!”  Seeing the dollar signs in front of their eyes (and the many zeroes before the period in their sales reports), the editors of Brave & Bold vowed never to make that mistake again!  World’s Finest aside (that was always considered a Superman book at worst and a comic co-starring Superman and Batman at best); from here on, Brave & Bold becomes the third Batman book.
            When did National finally decide this?  The comic itself doesn’t say.  Despite Batmania being in full bloom, #68 tells us that “we’ll be seeing more team-ups of DC’s fabulous heroes in the very next issue of The Brave and The Bold!”  But not Batman specifically!  Besides, limiting B&B to one star and a guest would limit its scope, wouldn’t it?  Hardly, the best was yet to come!
Next: Lo, There Shall Come a Dark Knight!
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 8

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 8
Team-ups: The World’s Greatest Super Heroes Part 1
November 1963 – November 1967

            Why did National decide to turn Brave and Boldinto a team-up comic?  It had never been done before and there was no indication it would be a success. Sure, World’s Finest had featured Superman and Batman teaming up together for years (but by this time they were more team-matesthan a team-up). Flash and Green Lantern would pop up in each other’s magazines, but could continuous (seemingly) random encounters between superheroes sustain a series?
            The Justice League of America was hardly a team-up magazine.  Ditto All-Star Comics before it.  Still, Marvel has had wonderful success having characters crossing-over every few months, as the characters featured would get some publicity they wouldn’t otherwise get. And besides, who knows? National might strike gold with a team as popular as Superman-Batman. B&B’s days as a magazine of swashbuckling adventure had gone, and it did not want (or sales could not sustain) another Showcase-like anthology, maybe it can become another World’s Finest.
            As with a change in format in Brave & Bold #50 (November 1963), so there will be a change in format for this index.  Each issue shall be listed numerically, with issue number, guest stars, writer and artist, plot synopsis and other information (trivia, other features, letter page content, editorial comment, etc.).
November 1963
#50:     Green Arrow & Martian Manhunter, “Wanted – The Capsule Master”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: George Roussos.  Murray Boltinoff and George Kashdan take over as editors.
Martians land on earth and try to recover three pieces of a doomsday weapon, unless Green Arrow, Speedy and the Martian Manhunter stop them.  An editorial confirms the “World’s Finest”-style format and requests readers to write in and request characters to appear in the comic.
#51:     Aquaman & Hawkman, “Fury of the Exiled Creature”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Howard Purcell.  Fish and Fowl!  This is Hawkman’s 8th appearance (the month before (11/1963) he started a solo stint in Mystery on Space).  He would get his own magazine in March of 1964 and join the Justice League in November 1964.
Tyros, an Atlantean exile, finds a ruby that turns him into a winged reptile with the ability to control birds and sea creatures.  Hawkgirl and Aqualad have as much action as the two stars, but do not appear on the cover at all!  The letter column states the next issue will feature the Flash and the Atom.


#52:     Sgt. Rock, Johnny Cloud, & The Haunted Tank (labeled as Three Battle Stars), “Suicide Mission”,
            Writer: Robert Kanigher, Artist: Joe Kubert (his last credited work for B&B).  Editor: Robert Kanigher.
            Three of DC’s World War Two stars team up to rescue a leader of the French underground.  The leader is locked in a suit of armor.  When released, the leader is revealed to be Mlle. Marie! A fourth Battle Star! Joe Kubert fans have been spoiled with B&B: now we can watch his mastery of the war genre. And we weren’t disappointed.  Superb art as usual.
            Where’s Flash and Atom?  Might have been deadline trouble.  Plus this story may have fit better in B&B than in a war comic. Each chapter featured one of the battle stars, which would have been awkward in a supposed Sgt. Rock “solo” story.  Kanigher is once again in the editorial seat and the text feature is Rock’s “Combat Corner”, which implies this was meant for one of National’s war comics rather than B&B.  But who’s complaining?  Good story, good art!
#53:     Atom & Flash, “Challenge of the Expanding World”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Alex Toth.  A golden age great for an artist!  Boltinoff and Kashdan are back as editors (giving more credence to the theory that #52 was a fill-in).
            A microscopic world begins to expand, threatening to destroy the earth.  Unfortunately, the microworld’s inhabitants don’t see a problem with this!
            The folks at National can learn!  Brave & Bold has never touted the magazines of its guests – other than stating the JLA will get its own magazine.  This issue, however, has house ads for both Flash and Atom’s magazines.
#54:     Robin, Kid Flash, & Aqualad, “1,001 Dooms of Mr. Twister”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bruno Premanini (His first art in B&B since Cave Carson).  Fans have been clamoring for a Junior Justice League ever since there has been a Justice League. One such request was published in the letter column of Brave & Bold #30. The fans finally get their wish. This is touted as the first appearance of the Teen Titans, although they were never called by that name in this issue.
Teenagers of Hatton Corners are kidnapped by Mr. Twister, fulfilling a curse from colonial times!  Ironically, Robin stars in B&B before Batman!  (Batman makes his fourth cameo appearance in B&B here, after the three-issue Justice League try-out).
#55:     Metal Men & Atom, “Revenge of the Robot Renegade”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ramona Fradon.
            Dr. Magnus’ first robot creation, Uranium, turned evil and was destroyed.  In this story he re-forms, creates a female sidekick – Agentha (silver) – and destroys the Metal Men. Ray Palmer intercepts Magnus’ laser SOS, re-forms the Metal Men, and all tackle Uranium!


#56:     Flash & Martian Manhunter, “Raid of the Mutant Marauders”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bernard Bailey (another golden age great – the original artist for Hourman and the Spectre), George Kashdan is listed as the solo editor.
            Scientists from the planet Argon create a mutant with all the Justice League’s powers (I know, I know, that sort of technology is Amazo-ing) that raises havoc at the New York World’s Fair.  This issue should have been billed as featuring three DC stars, as Hawkgirl plays a crucial unbilled role.  Well, she is just a girl after all…
            A fair display of the Justice League members does not include Hawkman, although the mutant does sprout Hawkman’s wings.  Plus Flash and MM contact Hawkgirl through Hawkman’s JLA communicator.  This issue was published in November of 1964 – the month Hawkman joined the JLA.
#57:     Metamorpho, “The Origin of Metamorpho”, February 1965
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ramona Fradon.  B&B reverts back to its try-out days.  Why?  Who knows, but it’s another success!  The Element Man won his own series that summer and has popped up everywhere in the DC Universe since. He even appeared in the 2002 Justice League cartoon on Cartoon Network. He became a founding member of another B&B spin-off – the Outsiders.
Okay, keep up with me now.  Rex Mason loves Sapphire Stagg.  Her father, millionaire industrialist Simon Stagg hates Mason.  Simon Stagg will allow Mason to marry Sapphire if he will obtain the Orb of Ra.  Mason, accompanied by Stagg’s toady Java, finds the Orb.  Java takes the Orb and traps Mason in the pyramid.  Mason is bombarded by radiation from a meteorite inside the pyramid.  Nearing death, he takes a pill that Stagg gave him years ago in the event of imminent death.  The radiation and the pill combine to turn Mason into Metamorpho the Element Man – who can transform into any element!
Despite being “no whiz at chemistry” Mason becomes magnesium, sodium carbonate and fire foam (carbon, sodium and water) in this issue.  Just think what he could do if he was a whiz at chemistry!
#58:     Metamorpho, “The Junkyard of Doom”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ramona Fradon.
            Metamorpho is kidnapped by ex-Nazi Maxwell Tremaine and battles his junkyard of doom – a repository of the world’s dud weaponry that Tremaine has repaired or improved.  This includes a robotic praying mantis and daddy long-legs, a missile with insect wings and a giant tank with a spiked drill.
#59:     Batman & Green Lantern, “Tick-Tock Traps of the Time Commander”,
            Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Ramona Fradon.  Batman’s first starring appearance in Brave & Bold, and fifth overall.
            The Time Commander uses Batman as bait to trap Green Lantern and absorb his powers.  Then he sends parts of Gotham City into different time periods for ever until his alter ego, John Starr, is pardoned of all crimes.
            In DC’s revival of Brave & Bold in 2007, Batman and Green Lantern were the first issue’s stars as an obvious honorara. One issue featured Superman and the Silent Knight.
#60:     The Teen Titans, “The Astounding Separated Man”,
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Bruno Premanini. Team-up or try-out?  You decide!  Regardless, this was another B&B try-out triumph! Fully one year after their unofficial “first appearance” in issue #54, now the youthful sidekicks of our favorite heroes are officially a group. Other than a lull in the late 1970s, there has been an incarnation of the Titans ever since they first appeared here. This issue debuts Wonder Girl – the last new character introduced in Brave & Bold until Nemesis some fifteen years later.
            After the events of #54, Robin and gang decide to form a group to help kids in trouble.  The teens of Midville (as well as everyone else) are menaced when a criminal steals a serum from the father of Midville’s Teen-Mayor-for-a-Day, turning him into the Separating Man: whose giant individual body parts attack the town!
#61:     Starman & Black Canary, “Mastermind of Menaces”,
            Writer: GardnerFox, Artist: Murphy Anderson, Julius Schwartz takes over as editor. For the first time in over 15 years Black Canary stars on the cover of a National Comic (as opposed to being one of many in a JLA-JSA meeting), almost twenty for Starman! Black Canary’s logo has never appeared on a cover before!
            National was likely testing the waters to see if any of the old JSA stalwarts could handle a solo series, as four months earlier Dr. Fate and Hourman teamed up in two issues of Showcase. Interesting role reversal: Showcase copying Brave & Bold!
            Murphy Anderson’s art is spectacular as our JSA team mates fight the Mist who is using Dinah Drake’s hypnotic flowers to force rich socialites to steal from themselves!
#62:     Starman & Black Canary (with Wildcat), “The Big Super-Hero Hunt”,
            Writer: GardnerFox, Artist: Murphy Anderson.
            For the first time in B&B a team-up returns!  This time to fight Mr. & Mrs. Menace – the Sportsmaster and the Huntress.  Here is it revealed that the two villains have married (the first marriage of super villains?).  Wildcat makes his silver age debut, and his first of many in Brave & Bold.

Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 7

The Brave and The Bold Index Part 7
Showcase: Of Strange Suicide Squad Stories Inside Earth, Part 4

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

Strange Sports Stories ran for an unprecedented five issues of Brave and Bold in 1963.  From #45 – 49 sports tales were told with a science fiction twist.  The best way to explain is to describe them:
1.                  (#45: Challenge of the Headless Baseball Team) The World’s Series championship pole contains an element needed by aliens to maintain their warp drive, so they challenge the Champion New York Jets to a Worlds’ Series!  This tale was selected by Infantino himself as one of his favorite tales included in DC Special #1.
2.                  A chemist raises huge berry bushes; eating berries turn the chemist into the “Goliath of the Gridiron (#45)”.  But within a week, the same chemicals that caused the enormous growth killed the plants. Uh-oh.
3.                  (#46: Hot Shot Hoopsters) 14-year old college geniuses use science and mathematics to defeat AlvaniaUniversity’s basketball team.
4.                  (#46: Danger on the Martian Links) John Broome wrote an excellent tale of Wale Marner, the greatest golfer in the solar system of 2372, who wins the Mars Nine-Planet Tournament.  Oh and defeats an alien invasion along the way!
5.                   (#47: The Phantom Prize Fighter) A Faustian tale: Boxer allows an alien to take over his body in six months so the alien can survive earth’s radiation belt in exchange for being invulnerable in the ring for half a year.
6.                  (#47: Saga of the Secret Sportsmen) John Broome’s tale of a time when sports and athletes are outlawed! And on top of that – Uranus attacks (stop giggling)! Interestingly, people participate in sports through what we would now call virtual reality – one wears special glasses and you see and can participate in various sporting events.  John Broome was thirty years ahead of his time on this one!
7.                  (#48: The Man Who Drove Through Time) A man drives an 1896 automobile so fast he goes forward in time to 1964 and competes in the Indianapolis 500.
8.                  (#48: Duel of the Star Champions) An Altairan kidnaps the earth representative of the intergalactic Olympics and steals his “will to win”.
9.                   (#49: Warrior of the Weightless World) Zero-gee basketball players are sent to destroy the evil alien Creon rocket-repair depot.
10.              (#49: Gorilla Wonders of the Diamond) Genetically engineered baseball-playing gorillas beat the Yankees, the Reds, The White Sox and the Dodgers then try to conquer the world!  Note that the story only said they played Chicago – I presume it was the White Sox and not the Cubs, because the story stated the crowd was surprised that the gorillas won. J
            Gardner Fox and John Broome gave us tales that could have come straight out of “Astounding” or “Asimov”.  The stories were incredible for their day.  In the more cynical 21stcentury, the storylines sound quaint. But taken in light of their times the stories are wonderful pieces of science fiction for pre-teens and older!
            The art was by Carmine Infantino.  His artwork was even more stylized than Joe Kubert’s, and is definitely an acquired taste.  I was never a big fan of his artwork – though I grew to like his work on Marvel’s Star Wars – his term on Spiderwoman and his last years on the Flash were just plain bad.
            But he’s such a giant in the industry and his interviews are so darn interesting how could you not like him personally?  Well, I will say this – his work on “Strange Sports Stories” was the best thing he ever did!
            Instead of angular and stiff, his characters looked almost realistic.  Add in the scientific machinery at which he excels and you have a very stylized comic. 
            His most unique contribution to the series was the silhouetted text box next to the artwork.  Nearly every panel in each story had a text box next to it describing the action, (“Suddenly a Venusian walked onto the basketball court” along with a silhouette describing the action – such as a Venusian walking, a man lighting a pipe, a basketball or baseball thrown, etc.).  It added a unique dimension to the stories.  So much so that Infantino still talks about the series as being among his favorites.  Mine too.
            The letter columns praised the series’ originality and requested more.  Unfortunately, there would only be the five issues.  In the early 1970s, National brought back Strange Sports Stories as a horror book rather than in the science fiction genre.  Instead of alien invaders, clawed hands sprang from the thirteenth hole, that sort of thing.  It lasted a few issues, enough to qualify “Strange Sports Stories” as a B&B feature that graduated to its own magazine.  A later DC Special titled “Strange Sports Stories” had superheroes vs. super-villains in a baseball game.
            By the way, Infantino said in an interview with Alter Ego that he hated drawing science fiction.  This from the man who made Adam Strange the beloved stylistic feature it was; the man whose only later work of quality was Marvel’s Star Wars; the man who helped make “Strange Sports Stories” one of the most truly unique series in
Brave & Bold and in comics altogether!
            And remember: “Strange Sports Stories” got its own comic book, something the Viking Prince never did.  So this series ranks up there with the Justice League, Hawkman and the Teen Titans.
            Strange indeed.
Although Brave & Bold was advertised in other comic books it never hyped itself.  The Justice League audience could have been enticed to buy the next issue featuring Cave Carson if it was hyped enough at the end of the Amazo story in #30.  Instead it was announced the JLA would get their own magazine.  Whoopie!  I’ll save up for that instead of Brave & Bold!  There was no mention of the return of the Suicide Squad after the first run of Hawkman.  Why not? Couldn’t it only have helped sales?  The first issue of Suicide Squad’s second run (#37) blurbed that they were back “because you demanded it!”  We did?  When?  If we did where were the accolades in the letter columns?
            The last Strange Sports Stories ran in September 1963.  B&B had an eight-year run of unimaginable successes and disappointing failures.  But in those eight years the market had changed beyond even Gardner Fox’s vast imagination.  What do they do now?
Imagine reading the notes from the late-night brainstorming sessions:  Superheroes seem to be the big thing again.  Do we continue our “Showcase”-style or leave that to Showcase and try something different?  We can increase sales by showing superheroes and other popular National characters, but which ones?  Maybe we can split the magazine between two characters, like Hawkman and Adam Strange in Mystery on Space.  Or we can go back to three features; with superheroes instead of Vikings, gladiators and knights!  Maybe we can recreate the magic of the Justice League by bringing back the Justice Society or revamp a new Seven Soldiers of Victory!  Gosh, the Justice League has been so successful even Timely is back in the superhero game with their version: the Fantastic Four.  It has an up-dated Human Torch and they brought back Namor the Submariner!  Timely, Atlas or Marvel, whatever it’s called this week, hmmph!  Who would have thought?  Remember those great Human Torch-Submariner battles?  Two great heroes together in one giant story…
            Two great heroes in one …
            Two …
            That’s it!!!
Next: The Team-Up Years Part One: The World’s Greatest Super Heroes
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 6

The Brave and The Bold Index Part 6
Showcase: Of Strange Suicide Squad Stories Inside Earth, Part 3

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

Showcase was too busy with other things, so Schwartz and Fox invaded B&B for three more issues to see if lightning would strike four times.  With Flash, Green Lantern and the JLA proved rousing successes, there really was only one Golden Age giant left.
            Hawkman made his Silver Age debut in Brave & Bold #34 on March 1961.  He also appeared in issues #35, #36, and later in #42, #43 and #44.  The original Hawkman appeared twenty-one years earlier in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940) and co-starred in the magazine with the original Flash for over 100 issues.  Hawkman never received his own magazine – although he did appear in every adventure of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics.  Still, it had been thirteen years since there had been a solo Hawkman tale.
The revised Hawkman kept his 1940s name of Carter Hall, but his real name was Katar Hol from the planet Thanagar of the star system Polaris.  He and his wife Shayera were police officers on Thanagar, and the hawk costume was their official uniform. 
Unlike Flash and Green Lantern, the new Hawkman’s costume changed little from the original.  Hawkgirl’s mask was redesigned.  The new mask must have worked; the Hawkgirl from Cartoon Network’s “Justice League” cartoons still wears that same style forty years later!
            Although Hawkgirl also starred in these features, it is still considered a solo Hawkman-centered series!
            Three of his (their?) six Brave & Bold try-out issues were “novel-length” and three issues contained two stories:
1)                  (#34: Creature of a Thousand Shapes) Tracking a dangerous Thanagarian criminal named Byth, who can assume the shape of any creature; Katar and Sheyera Hol come to Earth.  After capturing Byth, they decide to stay on Earth to study police methods.  His powers: flight, can talk with birds, can live in the vacuum of space for five minutes.
2)                  (#35: Menace of the Matter Master) The Matter Master debuts!  Hawkman develops super-smell and can dive and swim for a short time.
3)                  (#35: Valley of the Vanishing Men) Carter’s assistant Mavis disappears while tracking the Abominable Snowman.  The Hawks investigate to find the Yeti are really aliens marooned on earth for eons and devolved back into savages.  This story has the debut of the Absorbiscon – Hawkman’s shortcut in lieu of investigation.  He has all of earth’s knowledge, so he knows the Yeti’s teleportation weapons are invulnerable to wood.  This saves a few pages of him finding this out for himself.  New powers:  can speak all languages (even Yeti) and can communicate with all creatures, not just birds.
4)                  (#36: Strange Spell of the Sorcerer) The Hawks defeat an archeologist who steals Babylonian and other artifacts to evoke sorcerous powers.  Hawkgirl defeats a medusa by removing her compact from her belt and using the mirror against it.  If the series were more enlightened, they’d still be stone statues by now. A letter writer requests they change her name to Hawkwoman, but Julie says that name is too awkward – they do it anyway years later.
5)                  (#36: Shadow Thief of MidwayCity) The debut of the Shadow Thief, one of Hawkman’s most enduring foes.  Forty-one years later, the two still battled in Hawkman’s fourth series.  This was selected for an all-Kubert issue of DC Special as one of Kubert’s best–drawn stories.
6)                  (#42: Menace of the Dragonfly Raiders) Resuming his police duties on Thanagar, Hawkman wins his helmet wings (making his helmet look more in line with his golden age counter-part) by again defeating the shape-changing Byth.
7)                  (#43: Masked Marauders of Earth) The deadly Manhawks debut!  Their attacks on Thanagar led to the formation of the hawk-winged police corps; now the Manhawks are on earth stealing Terran rubies to perfect laser weaponry to get their revenge against Thanagar.
8)                  (#44: Earth’s Impossible Day) “Earth’s” July 4thcelebrations coincide with Thanagar’s “Impossible Day”.  So after the traditional Impossible Day picnic, the Hawks perform three impossible tasks:  Make it rain up, throw lightning to capture an escaping convict and dodge invisible bullets from an invisible gun.  New powers: supersonic speed (enough to create a water spout), wings that can flap at hundreds of miles per hour to create hurricane-force winds (it was explained that the American Peregrine Falcon can dive at 160 miles per hour).
9)                  (#44: The Men Who Moved the World) Once Earth was in the same solar rotation with Venus.  The city of Lansimar ruled the planet.  When Earth was pulled to its present orbit by a huge planet-sized asteroid, Lansimar froze under the Arctic.  Three revived Lansanarians try to pull Earth back to its original rotation.  New powers:  Can see in the dark.
The series is a pleasant mix of superhero plots in the early sixties – from scientific mumbo jumbo to magical mumbo jumbo.  And the art … the art…
Joe Kubert’s work on Viking Prince (last seen in #24, thirty-two months before) is the best art B&B has ever produced.  Until now.  Only Kubert could top himself.  Average people looked real; the villains looked real; Hawkman’s muscles looked as hard as steel; and Hawkgirl was beautiful.  Oh that hair …
            The Viking Prince is what Kubert’s Prince Valiant or Tarzan would have looked like.  Hawkman is what his Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon would have looked like – high flying science fiction.  Kubert was really at his prime here and in the next few years.  The Shadow Thief has a thin beard, the Matter Master had a beatnik’s chin stubble, the police commissioner had a thick droopy mustache; everyone looked different!  His detail to the individuality of even the secondary characters was phenomenal – how did he stay on a deadline?
            Hawkman had a letter column in his first issue, including reaction to the rumors of a Hawkman revival and an interview with Gardner Fox (who requested that Hawkman join the JLA – he would in November of 1964 – come to think of it; Gardner, you write the JLA, youmake him join! Like Julie Schwartz would tell you no!).  The letter column also had a letter by Roy Thomas, applauding Hawkman’s revival – but only if Joe Kubert draws him and Hawkman’s helmet is a specific design.  Because of his foresight, the Rascally One got his letter published.
            A letter from Roy also appears in B&B#35 again discussing the new Hawkman’s helmet.  Forty years later in his All-Star Comics Companion (2002) Roy spends a whole page discussing the evolution of Hawkman’s helmet.  And you think I’m obsessive!  There was also a letter from well-known professional fan Jerry Bails and an autobiography of Joe Kubert!
            After the first try-out Hawkman and Hawkgirl left Earth to return to Thanagar.  To National’s credit, a blurb at the bottom of the last page requested fans to send in their letters if they want to see more of the Winged Wonders.  Apparently it worked! 
            The lesson of hyping themselves must have stuck – with Hawkman’s second go-round B&B was littered with house ads.  Even in the Viking Prince days, Batman and Superman magazines were advertised, so were Mystery in Space, My Greatest Adventures and the Flash.  But now we see ads for the Atom, Metal Men, Aquaman, even Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis’ comics!
            Hawkman didn’t launch into a solo series of his own for some time after his two B&B try-outs.  He did share the bill with Adam Strange in Mystery in Space for a while, but he was eventually awarded his own comic for the first time ever and did join the JLA.  Another Julie Schwartz-Gardner Fox success!  Lightning struck for the fourth time.  <Wheet!>
            In between Hawkman’s two three-issue stints B&B dusted off more Suicide Squad and Cave Carson try-outs.  Perhaps the publishers thought the previous low sales of these characters must have been a fluke!  It wasn’t.
So now what?  After Hawkman left Julie Schwartz remained as editor and allowed Gardner Fox to try an experiment – and create one of the most unusual series the comic book medium has ever produced.
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 5

The Brave and The Bold Index Part 5
Showcase: Of Strange Suicide Squad Stories Inside Earth, Part 2

Continuing the index/history of the greatest comic magazine ever! 😉 
            The Brave & The Bold would never match the success or sales of issues #28, 29 & 30, featuring the first three adventures of the Justice League of America.  Since the debut of their own comic in late 1960, there has never been a month without at least some kind of version of the JLA published by National or DC.
            Superman*, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman joined together to fight evil.  These issues were written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Mike Sekowsky.  The editorial reigns of B&B were taken away from Kanigher and given to Julie Schwartz.  This was Schwartz’s third try at reviving Golden Age characters – updating them for a modern audience.  The Flash and Green Lantern were rousing successes (GL was very shortly to get his own comic), so he tried again!  This time he brought back the old Justice Society of America: changed the name to something “more exciting” (someone once said a Society makes them sound like they got together to have tea) and updated the roster with the few heroes available at the time.  There was really no one else around: Adam Strange?  He’s good, but harder to work into a plot than Aquaman, so instead he was a frequent guest.  Roy Raymond TV Detective and Rex the Wonder Dog wouldn’t work, Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks would make things too crowded.  Superboy would be impossible!  Batwoman? Robin?  Nah! Green Arrow?  Oops, forgot about him – he’d join in Justice League #4. Robotman? Oops, well, hey you’re getting Green Arrow soon enough!
            I hate to say bad things about the art by Mike Sekowsky. Fans and critics of his artwork argue to the present day! In my opinion, he drew excellent solo Green Lantern and Wonder Woman stories later on, but his artwork in the first year or so with the JLA was poor.  Figures were either stiff and awkward or rubbery (the cover of #29 has the Flash running in a squatting position).  The stories more than made up for it.
            The plots of these issues are now part of DC’s mythos:
1.                  (#28) “Starro the Conqueror” takes over the minds of the citizens of HappyHarbor, except for resident teenage oaf Snapper Carr.  Why?  Flash presumes it was because Snapper was covered in lime while working in his yard.  I always thought it was because Snapper had no mind to control.    Because of Snapper’s lack of hygiene, he is made an honorary member of the JLA.  The Holy Grail of Silver Age comics – the most sought-after and the most reprinted, second only to Showcase #4.  Only one problem sticks in my mind:  the mighty Justice League is sent out to fight a giant starfish?  Was the Suicide Squad too busy?
2.                  (#29) “Challenge of the Weapons Master”, who comes from 10,000 years in the future, uses his robot-armor to go back in time to battle the JLA!  This has one of my favorite lines from, of all people, Batman:  “Zotar may be one of the most powerful foes we’ve has ever fought!”  Well, that’s true, considering this was the second foe they ever fought!  The first was a starfish for goodness’ sake!
3.                  (#30) “The Case of the Stolen Super Powers”: The robot Amazo absorbs the power of the JLA to give him the power to attain the formula for immortality for his maker, Professor Ivo.
            As opposed to the previous three issues, here the stories (while still aimed primarily at children and pre-teens) were simple without being simplistic.  By this time Fox had been sprinkling scientific facts in stories for twenty years and he was good at it!  Rather than showing off (as was the impression with the Suicide Squad), we were given useful information that fit into the storyline.  It made more sense for Snapper Carr to have bags of lime lying around than for the Suicide Squad to be carrying enough sodium manganate to douse Godzilla!
            The Justice League run in Brave and Bold had many historic moments.  Batman made his B&B debut in #28.  He didn’t see much action though – as with Superman, Batman was kept behind the scenes to allow readers access to the other heroes.  It was often explained that Superman and Batman appear in so many other comics they do not need the exposure.  That logic escapes us nowadays – if a character is successful, he or she should be crammed into as many comics as possible.  Batman in the late 1980s, Lobo in the early 1990s and Green Arrow in 2001 and 2002 appeared in every comic DC published at the time!  And how many X-Men comics have there been?  That way the character will saturate the market, everyone will get sick and tired of seeing his or her mug, and sales will plummet … oh … well, maybe Schwartz was on to something there.
            Also, #30 featured the first letter column in Brave & Bold, as the JLA was so successful the magazine was inundated with mail.  The letter column included information on the Justice Society (“my brother told me about a super hero group from twenty years ago…”); a request for a Junior Justice League featuring Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy, Supergirl and “the Boy from Atlantis”; and (a staple in the JLA mailroom) membership requests:  Green Arrow, Supergirl, Robin and Adam Strange.
            To say the JLA was successful is an understatement.  After a four-month lag from B&B#30, the JLA got their own comic and never looked back.  With Brave & Bold #31, Schwartz gave the magazine’s editorial seat to Jack Schiff for hopefully another successful try-out.
            Or maybe not.  Robert Kanigher was successful with the Sea Devils in Showcase starring underwater adventurers, how about a series of adventurers under the earth itself?
            Cave Carson, Adventures Inside Earth was the next try-out series for issues #31 (September 1960) through #33 and again for two issues in #40 and 41.  Cave Carson and his assistants Bulldozer Smith, professional sandhog and (more eye-candy) Christie Madison as geologist and romantic interest.  Maybe Kanigher learned his lesson from Suicide Squad and kept the silliness to a minimum.  The storylines here were just as silly-sounding as with the Squad, but somehow it worked:
1.                  In their first adventure, Cave and friends are attacked by a magnetic monster, a subterranean sea lizard, a lava creature and killer weed! (Killer weed indeed!) (#31: The Secret Beneath the Earth)
2.                  Evil scientists from an underground city attempt to invade the surface world. (#32: The City 100 Miles Down)
            3.         Cave tracks extra-terrestrial museum thieves under the earth and on to                           their own dimension! (#33: Alien Robots from Inner Earth)
            4.         Cave tries to stop the evil sorcerer Zenod from retrieving three magical                          crystals buried in subterranean caves. (#40: 3 Caverns of Doom)
            5.         Aliens with killer robots use an underground base to invade earth.                                              (#41: Raiders from the Secret World)
            The art was very well done by mostly Bruno Premanini and Mort Meskin.  One would think being underground would make the art limited, but instead the scenery was beautiful – with vast caves, and exotic plant and animal life.  The issue drawn by Joe Kubert (#40) was very well done, but seemed like just another assignment – as lauded as Kubert’s art should be this was a fairly canny effort.  He could draw stories like this in his sleep. In this case, he probably did.
            Cave Carson was given a third try-out in Showcase, indicating National’s strong push for this feature.  But except for brief cameos (e.g., in an early 1990s issue of Time Master and later in JSA); Cave Carson, along with the Silent Knight and the Golden Gladiator, have faded into comics’ history.
            Whether Cave Carson and/or the Suicide Squad appeared in the DC mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths I will leave to those with magnifying glasses and even more time on their hands than I have!
            Brave and Bold’s nine issues of “Showcase”-style try-outs was definitely a mixed bag.  Two strikeouts and one phenomenal success.  Will their next try-out be a dud or soar like an eagle … or a hawk?
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

* Superman fans were very excited that year:  Superman appeared in a “new” comic and Supergirl made her debut in “Action” as well!

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 4

The Brave and The Bold Index Part 4
Showcase: Of Strange Suicide Squad Stories Inside Earth, Part 1

Continuing the index/history of the greatest comic magazine ever! 😉 I admit to giving legendary writer Robert Kanigher a hard time here. As far as I know he may have been as wonderful a mentor and humanitarian as he was a writer. Perhaps he did not have much to work with. Despite a distinguished career as a comic book writer; you have to admit, not everyone hits home runs every time …
With issue #25 of The Brave and The Bold came a change of format.  Why?  Perhaps the genre (swashbuckling adventure) was dying out in comics as it was in movies and television.  Plus superheroes were exploding in popularity for the first time since World War Two.  The Superman television program helped, as had the revival of the Flash and Green Lantern (National Comics being nearly the only publishers still doing superheroes).  National’s Showcase title was among its most successful – Flash, Challengers of the Unknown, Green Lantern and Lois Lane featured in three-issue stints (or so) attracted readers.  The powers-that-be at Brave and Bolddecided to do the same.
            Even the appearance of the magazine would change.  Now the proud “Brave and Bold” banner would be shrunk down and placed in the upper-left hand corner of the comic to make room for the specific feature’s logo, which had been done with the Viking Prince solo runs of #23 and #24.  This has led to some confusion – “Viking Prince #23” was recently sold on Ebay for $5.00 instead of ten to twenty times that if properly labeled “Brave & Bold #23” (a hint to those looking for back issues).
            So the Viking Prince, the sole survivor of B&B’s first four years, was quietly shelved (are there still unpublished Viking Prince stories in a vault somewhere slowly crumbling to dust?) and the magazine was thrust ahead 1100 years!
            “Introducing America’s Top Secret Weapon” screamed issue #25 in September 1959, “in reports never before published to the world!!”  Thus was introduced The Suicide Squad:  Colonel Rick Flagg, command pilot; Jess Bright, nuclear physicist; Dr. Evans, astronomer/astrophysicist; and Karin Davies, eye-candy, er, space-medicine nurse.  Yes, Task Force X, “known as the Suicide Squad because of the fantastic perils it unhesitatingly faces with supreme courage and unique methods.”
Rick and Karin are in love of course (typical 1950s science fiction – there’s always a woman and she and the leading man always fall in love).  However, Jess and Dr. Evans love Karin too!  So Rick and Karin decide to keep their love for one another to themselves for the good of the team.  A love quadrangle would only get in the way of team missions!  This was mentioned every issue and was pretty much the sole character development.
            The Suicide Squad was Robert Kanigher’s attempt at “The Challengers of the Unknown”, with wonderful Ross Andru/Mike Esposito art instead of wonderful Jack Kirby art!  The art was typical 1959 – straightforward and realistic-looking men, women and machinery.  Imaginations were let loose on the “perils” – gigantic aliens and beasts attacked our heroes non-stop.  While the artwork was good, the storylines were for the most part … well … silly; even for the times.  The perils were usually of the science-run-amuck-because-we-tampered-in-God’s-domain found in the “B” movies of the time.  One expected to find Peter Graves or Leslie Nelson popping in to help!
In their first story (#25: Three Waves of Doom) an earthquake awakens a dinosaur-like creature that sets fire to Tokyo er Atlantic City, freezes metal and absorbs all chlorophyll!  The Suicide Squad defeats it by tricking the beast into grasping onto a rocket and shooting it toward the sun! 
The stories seem to talk down to its youthful audience.  Facts are thrown in almost as if the characters are showing off their intelligence (one character actually says, “It’s a good thing we have enough sodium manganate on board!”  What?!).
And in six issues we never learn Dr. Evans’ first name!
The Suicide Squad was given three issues to do their thing (#25 – 27) and another three-issue try-out later in 1961 (#37 – 39), without success.  The plots of the other five issues read like an edition of Weekly World News:
1)                  Radiation shrinks the Squad down to matchstick size, yet they must still thwart a submarine attack against America! (#26: The Sun Curse)
2)                  Dinosaur-like serpent attacks Paris metro, boats on the Seine and the EiffelTower! (#26: Serpent of the Subway)
3)                  Scientist turns self into ten-story reptile – carries A-bomb into city! (#27: Creature of GhostLake)
4)                  Intelligent dinosaurs from other dimension invade earth! (#37: Raid of the Dinosaurs)
5)                  Planeload of nuclear missiles land on island of Cyclops! (#37: Threat of the Giant Eye)
6)                  Alien giant’s pet pterodactyls capture warships, planes, Statue of Liberty! (#38: Master of the Dinosaurs)
7)                  Other-dimensional “mirage men” try to kill the Suicide Squad! (#38: Menace of the Mirage People)
8)                  Gigantic dinosaur-shaped spacecraft contains Jurassic zoo! (#39: Prisoner of the Dinosaur Zoo)
9)                  Sculptor-Sorcerer kills scientists by turning them into gold statues! (“Mr. Kanigher?  The attorneys for Ian Fleming are still holding on line three!”) (#39: Rain of Fire)
The texts in the issues were interesting, albeit soon forgettable: “real” sea serpents and dragons were examined, including the one spotted in Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts in 1817.  Another text teaches us how sonar can track a submarine.
Task Force X faded into obscurity for twenty-five years.  Keith Griffin brought back the idea of a Suicide Squad in the late 1980s as a companion to his new “Justice League” title.  This time, Rick Flagg recruits villains and minor superheroes (including fellow B&B alumni Nemesis) to do battle with evil.  Flagg even went toe-to-toe with Batman to a mutual draw (not even Superman could do that in the late 1980s!).  That version of the Squad was definitely more successful, being fully entrenched in the superhero genre.  But these six issues are the originals and a fun read: just as the Thunderbirds TV show was some years later – silly, but charming.  Certainly the quality of the Squad as a comic book paled in comparison to previous issues with the Viking Prince and Silent Knight.  Overall, not a very good start to B&B’s “Showcase”-style format.
            It would hit a home run next time.

Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 3

The Brave and The Bold Index Part 3
Blazing Adventures Part 3

Continuing my index/history of the greatest comic magazine… 😉 Since writing this index, legendary comic book icon Joe Kubert passed away. Perhaps second only to Jack Kirby in influence and standing. I hope my undying admiration for his work shows…

The Viking Prince was the best feature in Brave & Bold and it’s most popular.  Other than the first issue, he appeared on the cover of issue #2 and was not seen on the cover until #16.  After that he was on every cover until #25, with the exception of #s 18 and 20, the Silent Knight’s last gasp.
            Viking Prince did not appear at all in issue #6, being replaced by the Golden Gladiator (although the cover of #8 advertised a Golden Gladiator story, there was no such tale, but an unadvertised Viking Prince story replaced it). Viking Prince appeared in 23 issues, more than any save Batman (who appeared 138 times in B&B, including the JLA issues).  Flash is third with 13 appearances, followed by Hawkman with 11 (including team-ups and try-outs), Green Arrow and Wonder Woman tie with 10 appearances each, and the Metal Men, Aquaman and Green Lantern are next with 9 appearances each (either as a team-up or in the Justice League).
            Viking Prince was so popular the Silent Knight was dropped entirely after issue #22.  The next two issues featured the Viking Prince solely, even giving him a logo under the Brave & Bold banner.  He was the first solo “try-out” feature in B&B!
            Premise:  In 964 AD, a young Viking warrior is found afloat and adopted by a fishing village, which is constantly being attacked.  Why?  It seems the warrior, named Jon, is actually a prince in exile.  He is being attacked by the man who overthrew his father and is trying to eliminate the competition.  Jon finds a home with the poor fisher folk and falls in love with the village leader’s daughter Gunnda.  Jon eventually meets up with his father’s advisor, a mute bard, and must complete the 12 Tasks of Thor to regain his thrown.
            In the last two issues of his appearances (#23 and 24), the continuity of the last twenty or so issues was ignored.  Jon the Viking Prince (not to be confused with Robin Hood’s nemesis John, the Saxon Prince!) lives with his father and his cortège in their kingdom and is betrothed to Princess Asa from a neighboring kingdom.  Supposedly in issue #23, Jon prevented his exile by avoiding a prophecy told to his father in a vision.  National would more viciously adopt this “let’s pretend that never happened” style throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
            Some of the storylines are:
1.                  Jon had to win two out of three challenges against a redheaded opponent to win the first dance with the Winter Queen.
2.                  A Viking commander from Jon’s forgotten past attacks Jon and his village.
3.                  Thorvald kidnaps Captain Olaf, but will exchange him for Jon.  Jon counters – Olaf for the mystic Hammer of Thor Jon just discovered.  Thorvald tricks Jon, but that’s okay, it was a fake Hammer of Thor, too.
4.                  (In artwork that looks amazingly like Wally Wood) A “ghost ship” attacks Jon’s village, which ends up being a trick (again) by Thorvald.
5.                  An ice dragon torments the fishing village (which is actually an iceberg carved into a dragon and manned by evil Lord Thorvald’s men).
6.                  Giant eagles attack Jon’s village.
7.                  A volcano thaws out a hibernating herd of mastodons that stampede toward Jon’s adopted village.
8.                  A deadly fire troll (which is really a volcano rock uncannily shaped like a human head), traps and kills fishermen from Jon’s village.
9.                  Jon’s boat is blown in a storm to America where be befriends a native village.  Just in time – it’s then attacked by a rival tribe!  Very respectfully of Native Americans, despite it being published in 1957 (compared to the very un-PC Brave & Bold #71).
10.              A magnetic meteorite makes all metal weapons useless!  What a time for Thorvald to attack!
11.              Jon fights a dinosaur that has come to life and attacks the village.
12.              Jon & his beloved Gunnda are captured by pirates and must foil their plot to seize the fishing village alone!
13.              Jon escapes pirates and pretends to be a ghost to win back the village.
14.              Sealed in a cask and thrown overboard, Jon lands ashore in  … Baghdad!  Of course, back then Baghdad was on the ocean!  Yeah, that’s it!  Anyway, Jon recovers a helm, shield and sword stolen by the evil tyrant Saddam Husse … er … El Kazim to help rebels overthrow him!
15.              A maelstrom hurls Jon into an undersea kingdom ruled by the monstrous Trukka.  Jon helps Merla, the Princess of the Lakeregain her rightful throne.
16.              In a continuing storyline, Jon regains his memory and must complete the 12 Tasks of Thor to regain his throne.  He completes three in one story: defeat a giant, bring back fire in an ice demon’s helmet and rescue a maid from the sea.  This maid is Ylla, daughter of the King of Skane.  In later stories Jon is betrothed to Asa, daughter of the King of Skane.
17.              Jon and the mute bard battle the sorcerer Ice King.
18.              Another Task of Thor requires Jon to obtain another feather, this one from a great hawk on the top of a sheer cliff.  The hawk ends up being a winged horse!  Capturing it, the Viking Prince is carried to Valhalla, where he fights the valkyrie, only to ally with them to defeat the Moon Vikings!
19.              Jon rescues a maiden from the underworld kingdom of Wotan.
20.              Jon continues his quest to complete the Twelve Tasks of Thor to win back his kingdom, accompanied by his friend, a mute bard.  Trying to find a feather in the Arctic, Jon drops through a crevasse into the ocean, where he rescues a mermaid from a killer whale.  The mermaid whisks Jon to a tropical island – where he rescues the villagers from an erupting volcano and an attacking Fire Bird!  He gets his feather!
21.              With apologies to Jonathan Swift, when the Viking Prince and the mute bard crash into an unknown island, Jon is tied up by a village of tiny islanders.  Gaining their trust, he helps them thwart a giant spider, a giant squid and a boatload of “giant” (normal sized) bandits!
22.              When the Viking Prince took over as the sole feature of Brave and Bold with issue #23, the Twelve Tasks of Thor (indeed, the entire plot of Jon living in exile in a fishing village) is scrapped when we are shown his “origin”.  The Viking Prince’s father, King Rikk, has a vision of his defeat and Jon’s banishment.  So he trains his young son to fight and to master his physical prowess.  At this time Jon meets his bride-to-be, Princess Asa.  When the Dragon King appears and attacks, Jon defeats the prophecy by beating the Dragon King in hand-to-hand combat.
23.              The Dragon King’s brother turns Asa to wood and uses her as a figurehead on his Viking ship!  Jon rescues her and brings her back to life when he uses the last of his water to protect her from fire (love conquering all).  Jon and Asa ride off in their Viking ship into the sunset.  But whatever happened to Gunnda!!?
24.              Klagg the Red challenges Jon for his title and for his fiancé Asa.
25.              Jon’s father is captured by pirates; Jon, Asa and Reya the black falcon to the rescue!
            Robert Kanigher authored these stories as well, vastly outshining his other B&B features: certainly superior to Silent Knight, even though both premises are equally limited.  Robin Hood had room to maneuver plot-wise (as all the movies and televisions programs over the last half-century will attest), but Viking Prince always had much better stories.  Whether opposing swashbuckling pirates or fighting dragons and valkyre, Viking Prince’s readability never wavered.  The sameness of plot from which Silent Knight suffered never materialized in Viking Prince.  Perhaps the writer and editors were inspired by the art.  …ah the art!
            If the Viking Prince were a newspaper comic strip in the 1920 and 1930s, Joe Kubert’s name would be mentioned in the same breath as Alex Raymond and Hal Foster.  War comic fans would argue Kubert’s best work was with Sgt. Rock and DC’s other war heroes.  Superhero fans would argue Kubert’s best work was with Hawkman.  Kubert became a legend in both these genres and also what would now be called “sword and sorcery” with Viking Prince.  His pencilling would probably even work with Archie and Casper the Friendly Ghost!
            Kubert’s style is very stylized and yet very accessible.  His characters were realistically lean and muscular.  His women were curvy and beautiful.  When Jon looked weary, his shoulders sagged and his arms hung limp at this side.  His action scenes were straight out of “Flash Gordon” and “Tarzan”.  He was the perfect choice for this strip and it showed.
            He had his off moments though, issue #16’s Viking Prince story showed Kubert’s rushed and sketchy style for which he is the most criticized.  #16 was the first issue to feature only two stories, so the Viking Prince and Silent Knight tales were longer than in previous issues.  Perhaps Kubert was rushed to complete the thirteen-page tale.
            Kanigher and Kubert would thrill us with their war comics for the next twenty years.  Sgt. Rock and the Unknown Soldier may be more familiar to readers than the Viking Prince stories, but they equally survive the test of time as comic book classics.  And not just comic books: it’s just as thrilling to reread Viking Prince as it is to reread the aforementioned Tarzan and Flash Gordon strips at their prime.  If B&B stopped publication at this point, it would still be a classic among collectors.
            Reprints of the Viking Prince are scattered throughout the DC Universe.  He was a back feature in one of the aforementioned DC Super Stars with the 3 Musketeers and Robin Hood.  Jon even had his own issue of Super Stars dedicated to his early adventures.  The 100-page giant issues of B&B featured Jon several times, as did the 52-page 25-cent issues in the late 1960s.
            And Jon did have some new adventures since Brave & Bold, proving his durability; whereas (rare cameos aside) Silent Knight and Golden Gladiator have not been heard from in forty years. Robin Hood will always have an audience, but it’s not fair to compare him to National’s original creations.
            We next meet Jon some six years later in the comic “Our Army at War” in which he is encased in ice and is rescued by… Sgt. Rock!!  In this two-parter, the Viking Prince and Easy Company battle Nazis!
            Jon next appears in two issues of Justice League of America in a JLA-JSA meeting along with other heroes through time (Enemy Ace, the Black Pirate and Jonah Hex among them).
            Robert Kanigher wrote a four-part adventure as a back-up feature for Roy Thomas’ Arak comic in 1982.
            A hardback book of new material was also published in the early 1990s.  Jon appeared again in the 1990s in an issue of “Time Master” teaming up with fellow B&B alum Cave Carson
Index by Issue: (stories are listed in order)
Brave & Bold #1:         Viking Prince: Battle for the Dragon Ship
                                    Silent Knight: Duel in ForestPerilous
                                    Golden Gladiator: Thunder of the Chariots
Brave & Bold #2:         Golden Gladiator: Sword of Attila
                                    Viking Prince: Threat of the Phantom Vikings
                                    Silent Knight: Knight for a Day
Brave & Bold #3:         Golden Gladiator: Invisible Wall
                                    Viking Prince: The Hammer of Thor
                                    Silent Knight: Challenge of the Black Lance
Brave & Bold #4:         Silent Knight: Robber Baron of the ForestPerilous
                                    Viking Prince: Whirling Warriors
                                    Golden Gladiator: Captive Champion
Brave & Bold #5:         Robin Hood: The Blind Bowman
                                    Viking Prince: Battle with the Ice Dragon
                                    Silent Knight: Shield of Terror
Brave & Bold #6:         Robin Hood: Battle of the Kites
                                    Golden Gladiator: Battle of the Pyramids
                                    Silent Knight: The Hooded Terror
Brave & Bold #7:         Silent Knight: Duel of the Double Identities
                                    Robin Hood: Forest of Traps
                                    Viking Prince: Invasion of the Sea Eagles
Brave & Bold #8:         Robin Hood: Challenge of the Grim Jester
                                    Viking Prince:  The Outcast Viking
                                    Silent Knight:  The Secret of the Arabian Horse
Brave & Bold #9:         Robin Hood: Three Arrows against Doom
                                    Viking Prince: Peril of the Burning Sea
                                    Silent Knight: Tale of the Falcon and the Stallion
Brave & Bold #10:       Robin Hood: King of the Sea
                                    Viking Prince: Secret of the Feather-Men’s Ship
                                    Silent Knight: Challenge of the Round Table
Brave & Bold #11:       Robin Hood: Versus the Merrie Men
                                    Viking Prince: The Terror Stone
                                    Silent Knight: Forestof Fearful Traps
Brave & Bold #12:       Robin Hood: Apple of Peril
                                    Viking Prince: Monster of the VikingSea
                                    Silent Knight: Shadow of the Silent Knight
Brave & Bold #13:       Silent Knight: Versus the Sleeping Knights
                                    Viking Prince: The Fighting Figurehead
                                    Robin Hood: King Robin the First
Brave & Bold #14:       Silent Knight: The Armor of Doom
                                    Viking Prince: The Ghost Ship
                                    Robin Hood: The Secret of Sherwood Forest
Brave & Bold #15:       Robin Hood: The Bow that Couldn’t Be Bent
                                    Silent Knight: Three Flaming Dooms
                                    Viking Prince: The Viking Genie
Brave & Bold #16:       Viking Prince: The Viking and the Mermaid
                                    Silent Knight: The Trap of Sir Hawk
Brave & Bold #17:       Viking Prince: The Lady of the Lake
                                    Silent Knight: The Triple Tournament
Brave & Bold #18:       Viking Prince: Threat of the Ice King
                                    Silent Knight: The Double Decoy
Brave & Bold #19:       Viking Prince: Challenge of the Flying Horse
                                    Silent Knight: The End of the Silent Knight
Brave & Bold #20:       Silent Knight: The Haunted Castle
                                    Viking Prince: Secret of Odin’s Cup
Brave & Bold #21:       Silent Knight: The Sword in the Lake
                                    Viking Prince: The Viking and the Firebird
Brave & Bold #22:       Viking Prince: The Invisible Viking
                                    Silent Knight: Challenge of the Sinister Queens
Brave & Bold #23:       Viking Prince: Origin of the Viking Prince
                                    Viking Prince: Figurehead of the VikingSea
Brave & Bold #24:       Viking Prince: Trail of the Black Falcon
                                    Viking Prince: Curse of the Dragon’s Moon
            It was a fun four years, but the times and audiences were changing.  Errol Flynn and Victor Mature were giving way to bug-eyed monsters and cold war paranoia.  No one was reading Hal Foster-esque tales.  They were reading comics like the “Challengers of the Unknown”, “Sea Devils” and other hard, gripping modern tales of science fiction and horror!  Even the superheroes were coming back – who would have expected that four years ago?
To survive, Brave & Bold must move on, and bid adieu to our heroes of aulden days.
Too bad though, some of those tales were real classics.
            There would be more classics to come.
Next:  The Brave & the Bold – Showcase, Of Strange Suicide Squad Stories Inside Earth
copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 2

The Brave and The Bold Index Part 2
Blazing Adventures Part 2

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

Just from observing the covers, it would appear the Silent Knight was the star attraction.  Including #1, he appeared on eleven of the first fifteen covers and again in issues #18 and 20.  Only Batman appeared on the cover of B&B more times.
            And with good reason: the Silent Knight feature was certainly the most colorful and energetic of the features in this period.  Bright red and blue hoods and capes abounded in the days of Camelot; as young Prince Brian Kent was trained in the ways of knighthood and leadership until he could ascend the thrown on his eighteenth birthday.  In the meantime, wicked Sir Oswald controlled the kingdom.  To help the oppressed, young Brian assumed the red mantle of a knight, but as he stated in every issue, “Now I must remain mute, lest my tongue reveal my true identity!”
            With the aid of his trusty horse and falcon, Brian fought brigands, Oswald’s henchmen and even some Knights of the Round Table to keep the peace.  Ever attracted to the fair lady Celia, she had eyes only for the Silent Knight (this plot devise long a comic staple).  At times it seemed very superheroic – Brian had to sneak away to change into the Silent Knight.  Often Celia tried to prove Brian and Silent Knight were one and the same, only to be fooled into thinking otherwise.  Lois Lane and Clark Kent – no relation to Brian (how did DC miss that obvious plot twist?) – had been going round and round with this plot devise for seventeen years by this point!).
            Silent Knight appeared twenty-two times in Brave and Bold; as many as the more popular Viking Prince.  The stories were written by Robert Kanigher and sometimes by Bob Haney and were drawn mostly by the legendary Irv Novick (a few stories were drawn by Russ Heath).  Novick’s art style fit the feature perfectly – as clean and brightly colorful as the Cinemascope movies “Ivanhoe” and “Robin Hood” from which Silent Knight was inspired.  Scale armor was painstakingly detailed as were the weapons of the period.  Later stories focussing on dragons and magical beasts did not dampen the spirit of the comic.  One could almost hear the orchestra swelling during the jousting and hand-to-hand combat scenes.
            As beautiful as the art was, the strip seemed to suffer from … sameness.  A brief synopsis of the stories published show some of the flaws:
1.                  His father “accidentally” killed by Sir Oswald, our Brian is ordered by Oswald to train in knightly ways.  Brian impresses his teachers with his skills.  Brian accidentally releases the falcon Slasher; and while recovering it, Brian discovers the mysterious armor, helmet and sword held floating mysteriously in the forest.  He defeats brigands and is given the name Silent Knight.
2.                  Prince Brian has to protect fair lady Celia (who was delivering jewels) from the Robber Baron.
3.                  Cedrick the Black storms the castle.  With all other knights away on missions, the castle’s only defenders are old Sir Grot, evil Sir Cedrick, and Brian!
4.                  How can the Silent Knight defeat the Robber Baron, when the Baron uses a shield as tall as a horse?
5.                  Brian defeats the twin “Hooded Terror”, who blocks a bridge demanding a toll; then on to the Tournament of Roses to defeat Sir Edwin’s knights.
6.                  Evil Sir Edwin hires a fake Silent Knight to lure the real hero into his clutches.
7.                  Ala Cinderella’s slipper, everyone must try on a replica of Silent Knight’s suit of armor.  Will Brian be revealed as the Silent Knight?
8.                  Evil Sir Oswald (Edwin and Oswald are apparently interchangeable) orders Brian to capture the Silent Knight!!
9.                  To appease the wrath of a knight, Alvin the kitchen boy must capture the Silent Knight.
10.              Evil Sir Oswald orders our Brian Kent to deliver the Sun Ruby to Sir Duncan through the Forest Perilious.  How can the Silent Knight save him from bandits when he is the Silent Knight?
11.              Tana the Stallion and Slasher the Falcon compete to see who Silent Knight needs and relies on the most!
12.              Sir Brathe plots to capture the Silent Knight and take him to Camelot to ensure his membership in the Round Table.
13.              In a series of continuing story lines, Sirs Galahad and Lancelot woo fair Lady Celia and battle the Silent Knight.
14.              Tricked into going to Camelot, the Silent Knight bests Galahad and Lancelot in a two-to-one joust.
15.              Guinnevere states that only the bravest knight could challenge the Silent Knight and make him speak!  Galahad and Lancelot accept the challenge!
16.              Silent Knight meets the challenge of the Triple Thunderbolts (evil knight triplets!) to save Camelot.
17.              Sir Edwin tries to drown and then burn the Silent Knight to make him reveal his identity.
18.              As tall as a mounted knight, evil Sir Hawk torments all who enter the Forest Perilous!  When he kidnaps the fair Lady Celia, the Silent Knight must best Sir Hawk in combat!
19.              Silent Knight loses to Morgan La Fay’s champion – an empty suit of armor!  To win his freedom, Brian must retrieve a golden apple and a necklace guarded by, respectively, a dragon and a giant sword-wielding arm!
20.              A horse (Tana) only responds to Brian, will it also respond to the Silent Knight and expose his secret identity?
21.              The Silent Knight rescues a giant eagle from a dragon.  The eagle returns the favor in rescuing the Knight and Celia from the vengeful ghost of a haunted castle.
22.              Russ Heath draws the final tale of the Silent Knight.  Brian must accept the three challenges of the Queensof Dread or England it doomed!  1) Cross the KnifeEdgeMountains, 2) defeat the Knights of the Clock (mechanical knights) and 3) defeat a Queen of Dread in hand-to-hand combat without touching her (as no knight can touch a lady)!  Editorial: One small problem with this story is that Silent Knight falls before completing his crossing of the KnifeEdgeMountain!  He is attacked and thrown off the mountains by Bird Men and is saved by landing on and taming a griffin.  But he never crossed the mountains!  He failed in his first task!  But that fact is gleefully overlooked!
            The similarity in storylines is particularly evident while reading several stories in sequence.  Truly unique plots (such as the competition between the horse and falcon) were too few.  When the limitations of the premise became evident the stories began to focus more on magic and mysticism – for example, King Arthur and Merlin appeared more frequently.  By this time, though, most of the energy of the strip had gone.  Silent Knight began losing more and more cover appearances and his last tale, drawn by Russ Heath, adopted the darker tones of Heath’s other features.
            But the twenty-two adventures of the Silent Knight were still fun to read, which was the whole point, wasn’t it?
            Issue #1 also featured the first of five appearances of the Golden Gladiator, and was his only cover appearance. Robert Kanagher and Bill Finger wrote individual stories with the art on all five stories by Russ Heath.  The equal in skill to Irv Novick, the style was completely different.  The lines were darker, the motion less fluid and the colors more muted.  The characters were also beefier and more muscular than any other feature.
            National was obviously trying to cash in on the success of Hollywood’s sandal epics (“The Robe”, “The Silver Chalice”, and oh yes, “Sparticus”).  A former slave wins his freedom in the arena and makes his name with his fighting powers and honorable demeanor.  Wearing armor made of solid gold gives him his name (and very likely a backache – how could he defend himself?  Gold is among the softest and heaviest of metals, not a good idea for armor).  Some of the storylines were as follows:
1.                  In the origin tale, a shepherd boy named Marcus is framed for the attempted murder of a praetor; he is made a slave, but wins his freedom in the arena.
2.                  The Golden Gladiator battles Attila the Hun – stealing the Hun’s sword and ensuring peace for Rome!
3.                  Marcus returns to his home village, only to find that, while the men are away fishing, the town is under attack by Cassius the Conqueror!  The only aid he can find come from the town’s children!
4.                  Captured by a collector of all things gold, the Gladiator had to fight his way to freedom.
5.                  While stationed in Egypt, Marcus fails to protect the Banner of Peace from being stolen; can he recover the banner before dawn when the desert tribes will attack?
            Golden Gladiator never was as successful as his B&B mates.  Perhaps the premise was too limited; perhaps the writer and editor could not come up with any further stories to tell.  After four issues, he was dropped.  Although he appeared again in issue #6, the Golden Gladiator’s time was gone.  He was replaced by one of the most famous heroes of all time!
            Robin Hood is such an obvious choice for B&B’s format one wonders why they bothered with anything else.  Maybe it was because Quality Comics was already publishing a Robin Hood comic at the time.  Perhaps that’s why Robin Hood only appeared on the cover of B&B three times — #5 (his debut), #12 and #14.
            The premise is well-known: while King Richard fights in the crusades, evil Prince John takes the thrown and oppresses the masses.  Prince John destroys the lords of the land loyal to his brother, including Robert of Lockesly. Hiding in the woods, Lord Robert adopts the name Robin Hood who, with his band of Merrie Men, combat the machinations of the evil Prince John.
            Kanigher again wrote, Heath again drew.  Perhaps in their eagerness to make room for a Robin Hood strip they gladly ousted the Golden Gladiator.  Heath’s art again is dark and thick – perfectly reflecting oppressive times.  Colors were forest green and maroon compared with the Silent Knight’s bright inks.  Even while Robin Hood laughingly thumbs his nose while escaping Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham and their minions, the costumes and colors remained muted and dark; as if telling us the evil of Prince John will return next time.  Joe Kubert drew a few issues, doing his usual competent job, although nothing spectacular as was the case elsewhere in those issues.  In his first few issues, Robin Hood appeared more like Errol Flynn – fair skinned with light brown hair and a goatee.  Later he appeared more muscular, with dark hair and eyes.
            Surprisingly considering the well-known plot, the sameness that plagued Silent Knight did not happen in this strip.  Although Prince John always plotted and Robin always won out, the stories were unique and well done:
1.                  Prince John captures the Merrie Men, and Robin must perform three tasks:  capture the Golden Stag bare-handed, defeat a giant on a bridge over a ravine, and snuff out a candle with an arrow while blindfolded.
2.                  Prince John’s trained boar attacks Robin.  Later, King Richard is rescued by kites flown over Prince John’s castle.
3.                  Robin Hood rescues Little John and is pursued through Sherwood Forest – how is Prince John tracking him so easily?
4.                  A court jester helps Prince John try to capture Robin Hood through various games and challenges.
5.                  Can Robin Hood fight twenty swordsmen, rescue his merry men and save Maid Marion with only three arrows?
6.                  At Prince John’s behest, King Trident’s colossal floating fortress smashes King Richard’s supply ships.  Robin Hood vows to stop the pirate!
7.                  An amnesia-stricken Robin Hood is duped by Prince John into capturing the Merrie Men!
8.                  Robin Hood faces three challenges (spend the night in a haunted castle, steal a black eagle’s egg and shoot an arrow through a solid oak tree) to win a golden apple from Prince John.  Is this the same golden apple the Silent Knight retrieved for Morgan La Fey?
9.                  Robin Hood is crowned king for one day.  His duties: collect unfair taxes, imprison knights loyal to King Richard and (gulp!) capture the Merrie Men!
10.              Three fake Robin Hoods loot the Village of Tynesbury.
            By issue #15 (January 1958), National had bought out Quality’s line of comics, cancelled Plastic Man and kept publishing Blackhawk and GI Combat among others.  That also included the Robin Hoodcomic.  There was no longer any reason to keep Robin in B&B, so he packed up and moved into his own National magazine – the first feature from B&B to obtain his own magazine!*  Robin’s adventures in B&B and his own magazine were reprinted in the several issues of DC Super Stars in the 1970s, sharing the bill with the 3 Musketeers.
            With Robin Hood’s departure, B&B changed format slightly to feature only two stories per issue.  Silent Knight was still going strong, but the star of the comic was obvious from issue #16 on.
copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry

* The first of eight features that debuted in Brave and Bold to move on to star in their own magazine.  The others were the Justice League of America, an updated version of the Suicide Squad (some 25 years after their B&B debut, but it still counts!), Hawkman, Strange Sports Stories, Metamorpho, The Teen Titans and the Outsiders.

The Brave & The Bold Index Part 1

The Brave and the Bold – Index Part 1

Blazing Adventures 1

Anyone who knows me knows of my love of old comics. Fortunately as I age I have gone from being a weirdo teenager who still reads comics to being an authentic collector. That means I am still a weirdo who reads comics, but I am no longer a teenager.
My favorite comic bar none was “The Brave & The Bold” published by DC Comics. I managed to collect and seal up every issue. But protecting the comics from harm means that I will not be able to read them – which is the main reason for collecting.
So I made an index/history of the comic. At the time I prepared it indexes were very popular. Two-Morrows publishing did very well with its All-Star and Miracleman indexes/histories. I sent off this index to Two-Morrows hoping to be published. They never got back to me.
So here it is – serialized over the next few posts. I hope you enjoy it. All editorial comments are my own.
 The Brave & The Bold
From Silent Knight to Dark Knight
Blazing Adventures Part 1
Of silent knights and princes named Jon
            “Invitation” the comic cover read amidst its four-color characters: “If you dream of riding in a thundering chariot – if you yearn to explore unknown seas – if you are ready to wield a clashing sword to guard an astounding secret – then – The Golden Gladiator, The Viking Prince, and The Silent Knight invite you to join them in blazing adventures from now on as a member of – THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD!”
            In May 1955 the first issue of The Brave and The Boldhit the nation’s news stands.  It was published by National Periodicals (only in 1976 did it legally become known as DC Comics) with an August 1955 cover month (hereafter the cover date will be used – keep in mind the date the comic was actually able to be purchased by eager readers would have been months earlier).  To introduce new readers to National Comics, #1 featured ads for their two biggest sellers:  Action Comics (#206) and Detective Comics (#221).
            Although the number of total comics published in the 1950s was more than at any time in history until the 1990s, the number of super-heroes was at its lowest.  The funny-animal strip characters the Fox and the Crow appeared in as many comics as Batman – a feat unthinkable today. 
Only five comics published in August 1955 are still being published today – as you might guess they were the icons of the four-color world Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman , Detective Comics and Action Comics (although each of these comics have been “rebooted” – some more than once – with a new issue #1, but still traceable to the original. I think that counts).  The only other superhero magazines at the time were Adventure Comics, World’s Finest (these latter two featured Superboy and the Superman-Batman respectively, aiding their survival – no one bought World’s Finest to read Green Arrow), and Quality Comics’ Plastic Man, but that would be cancelled within two years.
            A list of National’s other comics published when B&B #1 hit the stands show the typical range of comic book readers at the time:  A Date with Judy, Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces, All American Men of War, The Adventures of Bob Hope, The Adventures of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Peter Porkchops, Fox & Crow, Frontier Fighters, Tomahawk, House of Mystery, Mystery in Space, My Greatest Adventures, Showcase, Strange Adventures, Star Spangled War Stories, Real Screen Comics, Western Comics and All-Star Western.  National staples Sugar & Spike (in their own comic) and Tales of the Unexpectedhad yet to debut.  Quality was still publishing magazines later taken over by National Comics: GI Combat, Plastic Man, Blackhawk and Robin Hood.
            Obviously, grown men in underwear and capes were not on the priority list of comics.  Captain Marvel and other Fawcett heroes had been cancelled due to National’s expensive litigation; Timely’s Captain America, Human Torch and Submariner were revived a few times in the fifties without success.
            New to comics at the time was the Comics Code Authority — the self-regulating body created to prevent the government from regulating comics — ensured no further sexual exploitation, gruesome and/or violent activity or any fun at all would be depicted in comic books.  This rang the death knell for EC Comics and drove their readership underground for the next thirty years.
            The first volley of the superhero revival would be fired two months later with Showcase #4 and the return of the Flash, ushering in the Silver Age of Comics.  Brave and Bold #1 and Showcase#3 shared the newsstands.
            B&B #1 was a fairly typical comic for its day – focusing on swashbuckling sword operas – where adventures abound in ancient bygone days.  Heroes were beyond reproach, their allies no less than absolutely trustworthy, sneering villains were ingenious yet always fallible and damsels were always, always, in distress.
            Until issue #16 there were three stories per issue, along with the mandatory page of text (to allow comics to be mailed at magazine subscription rates) and one-page humorous “cartoony” strips.
            Texts in issues 1 – 24 include descriptions of battles, weaponry and peoples, cultures and specific heroes and villains of Roman and Medieval times.  Single page comics ranged from public service cartoons regarding the International Labor Organization, going back to school, Pennies for Unicef, National Brotherhood Week and getting a library card.  There were also humorous knight cartoons scattered throughout the twenty-four issue run.
            The first issue’s cover showed all three features in actions blurbs (National having no idea yet which of the three would be the star of the magazine) – covers afterward would feature only one star, with banners proclaiming the adventures of the other two.
            The issues featured the characters Viking Prince, Golden Gladiator (whose strip was replaced by Robin Hood) and the Silent Knight), whose tales will be recounted in the next post.
Copyright (c) 2012 Michael G. Curry.




My first post on my first blog. I suppose I need to share something about myself, to repeat a cliche.  I work at Bankruptcy Clinic PC in Mount Vernon, Illinois. 

Here is the biography I wrote for the firm website and it is formal. I expect the posts on this blog will be sillier and more personal… 
Michael G. Curry was born and raised in Coulterville, Illinois by his father, who worked in the Air Force, and his stay-at-home mother. He was raised with two sisters. He loved school and was president of his senior class. Coulterville was and still is a small farming and mining community of 1,100 people in Randolph County. Michael believes that being from such a small town and school instilled in him values such as a strong loyalty to home, church and to friends he still keeps in contact with nearly thirty years later!
Michael attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston for two years where he drew a daily comic strip and advertising illustrations for the college newspaper. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television Communications and a minor in Journalism. While in college, Michael was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, an Honorary Music Fraternity, and Sigma Delta Chi, an Honorary Journalism Fraternity. At SIU he co-founded Radio Action – a student-run radio production company for southern Illinois businesses and was its first President; as well as hosting music programs for WSIU-FM. Outside of his radio interests, Michael also tutored and proctored the learning disabled for Project Achieve.
After graduation, Michael concentrated on his radio career which would total ten years. His work included radio stations in Springfield, IL, and Carbondale, IL. He hosted the first new age music program for WSIU-FM. At another station his oldies show featuring music exclusively from the 1960s was once the number one rated program in its time-slot. His commercial and other radio production pieces included weekly comedy sketches for the morning drive program and spokesperson for a then-up-and-coming sandwich chain called Jimmy Johns – his ads playing in Chicago, Champaign, IL (University of Illinois), and West Lafayette, IN (Purdue University).
Going to law school and becoming an attorney was a goal of Michael’s since he was a child. After his success in radio, Michael decided to enter the legal field in order to help others whereas he would only entertain them. He applied and was accepted at law schools at the University of Illinois, Northwestern, and Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Michael selected SIU because it was closer to his family and it would allow him to continue part-time radio work.
Michael juggled work and school throughout his law school experience. Despite the seeming lack of time, Michael did join the legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi and was a member of the Products Liability Moot Court team for two years. He was also elected Third Year Representative for the Student Bar Association – effectively the Senior Class President again.
Michael worked in the Belleville, IL, law firm of LeChien & LeChien in real estate and family law, juvenile criminal representation as well as creditor work. He began representing individuals in bankruptcy law in 1993 and has since filed over 6,400 bankruptcies in southern Illinois as an associate with The Bankruptcy Center in Mount Vernon from 1995-2009 and now with The Bankruptcy Clinic.
He feels that helping others out of financial troubles is one of the most satisfying of the areas of law in which he has practiced. “I’ve seen thousands of people whose lives are devastated by debt caused by health problems, divorce and job loss. Add to this the sometimes vicious ways banks and lenders treat their customers to collect those debts – when a person instead needs sympathy and understanding and … well … a break – it makes me happy and proud to help them through bankruptcy.”
Michael enjoys listening to music in his spare time as well as playing guitar, piano, trumpet and violin. He has traveled to England once and Ireland three times – where he got to visit the village in which his great-grandfather lived in the 1840s. He enjoys writing and has been published in Whosoever e-magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Michael has lived in Mount Vernon since 1995 and married his wife, Esther, a librarian, in 2000 and in 2009 adopted a daughter. They attend Meadowbrook Christian Church in Mount Vernon.

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, 1992
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois, 1993


  • Southern Illinois University School of Law, Carbondale, Illinois
    • J.D. – 1992
    • Honors: Highest Grade: Senior Writing, Education Law
  • Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois
    • B.S. – 1987
    • Major: Radio-Television Telecommunications


  • Featured Speaker: Changes/Issues in BAPCPA, BASIL, 2005
  • Featured Speaker: Ethical Issues – Bankruptcy Attys, BASIL, 2009

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • National Association Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, 1997 – Present
  • Bankruptcy Association of Southern Illinois (BASIL), 2004 – Present
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • St. Clair County Bar Association

Past Employment Positions

  • Law Office of Mueller & Haller (Bankruptcy Clinic), Associate, 1995 – 2009
  • Law Office of LeChien & LeChien, Associate, 1993 – 1995


  • Phi Delta Phi
  • Sigma Delta Chi
  • Kappa Kappa Psi