Batman's Brave and Bold Journey

One of the books that I got as regularly as possible growing up was Brave and the Bold as I loved the team-up concept. Of course, my other favorites included Marvel Team Up, Marvel Two-In-One and the later DC Comics Presents. The star of B&B was BATMAN, the Caped Crusader and Darknight Detective. I am starting with #74 (N'67) because that's when Batman took over as the permanent star after several years of other heroes pairing up. This was thanks to the success of the Batman TV series but the Masked Manhunter stayed in the book after the show got cancelled so it must have popular afterwards! 

The main author of these tales was BOB HANEY who apparently was quite the character himself. Fondly remembered yet much maligned, he care little for continuity instead focusing on telling a gripping story. Indeed that's why I'm starting here as I want to examine his Protean Batman who he molded to fit his story then alter him for the next one yet created a subtle inner continuity for the book. If the mood strikes me, I may interject some older issues including some non-Batman ones if there is any interest in them.

While I do have most of these early issues, I'll be using the collected volumes for a while.

I hope that you enjoy this, follow along and comment! 


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  • Brave and the Bold #74 (N'67) starring BATMAN and the METAL MEN 

    "Rampant Run the Robots!"

    story: Bob Haney

    art: Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

    plot: Gotham City hosts the First International Robot Exposition, organized by Doctor Daedalus and attended by Doc Magnus and the Metal Men. However shortly after, the visiting robots begin an unstoppable crime wave! The mechanical people are being controlled except for the Metal Men and Dr. Daedalus' robot, ICARUS

    Magnus can't explain why the Metal Men are not controlled and circumstances make Batman believe that they are part of the crime wave and has them all locked up! However, he soon realizes that they were being framed, though they had already escaped to save Doc's life. The true villain is revealed to be Dr. Daedalus and Icarus who are hiding their stolen loot in the City Hall's basement! After a moment's hesitation, the Metal Men help Batman and the GCPD stop the robots! 

    Afterwards the Exposition continues! 

    Guest Stars: THE METAL MEN (Gold, Iron, Mercury, Lead, Tin & Platinum) with Doc Magnus. While they may have one-note personalities, there's still enough nuances to make the Heroic Robots appear more "human" than the people! 

    Nameless is there in a couple of panels but does not take part in the action or has any dialogue. Perhaps artist Ross Andru added her in. 

    By that time, Metal Men was up to issue #28 and by the following year would become the "New Hunted Metal Men"!

    Of course, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito were the Metal Men's regular artists.

    Villains: Doctor Daedalus (1st Appearance) may have been a brilliant inventor but he was an odd fellow. He looked like a squat combination of Doctor Faustus and Hammerhead (both of whom Andru would draw in the 70s in Amazing Spider-Man) with a really wide head! 

    Icarus (1st Appearance) was supposed to an "amazing" robot but we never saw him do anything of note except bully Tin. Batman destroys him with a karate chop! 

    Bat-Role: Sadly, Batman's role is "Bat-Bigot" being prejudiced against robots, thinking that the Metal Men have no feelings and can't be trusted. He repents at the end. Good thing, too as the Metal Men would return several times! 

    Notes: Batman makes a sly reference to Spider-Man.

    There's actually a "Bat-Building" in Gotham City.

    Though he is Gotham's Guardian, neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne had any idea that the Robot Exposition was taking place! 

    There were humanoid robots that resembled the ethnic groups of other countries. I was going to call them out on it but then realized that they were made in the images of their creators.

    Batman was losing to the rampaging robots...big time!

    Nostalgia Factor: I had a copy of this as a kid (back issue naturally) because I really liked the Metal Men! 


    Next: "Way down upon the Yellow River" or "A Spectator in Chinatown"!


    • I have B&B #74-200 collected in three omnibus editions. This discussion alligns with one of my own goals: generally to read all of my omnibus editions, but more specifically the B&B one (then to move on to three volumes of Batman & the Outsiders). I have enough Batman collections I could take an entire year off from reading all other comics for a dedicatedc "Year of the Bat." But I digress. I started reading the B&B omnibus series once before, but took a break between volumes one and two but didn't come back to it. So I've read #74-109 not just too long ago, but I don't mind reading them again because most of them I've read just that one time. The more times I each of my comics is read (by myself or my wife or anyone else), I consider the  intial cost prorated down that many times. Economics on Earth-J. But again, I digress.

      ...I really liked the Metal Men! 

      On topic, I will say that I don't particularly care for the Metal Men and never have. (I find them too silly, but we can chalk our difference of opinion up to "horseraces.") When I come across one of their stories reprinted in an archive or omnibus, I have vowed to read it once (proration be damned) and never again. But I promised to follow this discussion both reading and commenting, so read it i did. It wasn't that bad, but I admit I merely skimmed most of the panels with the Metal Men in them. 

      story: Bob Haney

      I have had an unfortunate tendencey in the past to mistake Bob Haney for Bob Kaninger, but I think I've got it straight now.

      art: Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

      You have already pointed out the "sly reference" to Spider-Man ("a certain web-spinning Peter-come-lately"? Really, Bob?) and that Ross Andru would later go on to be Spider-Man's regular (and most under-rated IMO) pencilers, but I would have once had a difficult time identifying his '60s and '70s styles as that of the same artist. I can see it now, but it still looks different to my eye somehow. It could be the inker, or the way he approaches the main character or simply that his style had changed over the years, I don't know. 

      Nostalgia Factor:

      I would have to admit that the Batman of this discussion (Jim Aparo's, not Ross Andru's) is "my" Batman, if I have one. The Batman of this particular story is a character who simply doesn't exist anymore. His constant running repartee is especially loopy in comarison to the "Dark Knight Detective" version. On page three I thought he had been drugged: "So let's go where the action is, Brucie Boy! Hmm... must never say that within earshot of crooks--and give away my secret I.D.! Follow, follow, follow the gleam..." Yep, he's definitely high on something.

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  • Brave and the Bold #75 (Ja'68) starring BATMAN and the SPECTRE

    "The Grasp of Shahn-Zi!" (on the cover only)

    story: Bob Haney

    art: Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

    cover: NEAL ADAMS

    plot: while celebrating the "Year of the Bat" in Gotham City's Chinatown, the Caped Crusader is confronted by the malevolent SHAHN-ZI, an ancient supernatural being who wants to reincarnate himself in the the body of the son of local leader, Bill Loo. The Sinister Sorcerer then surrounds Chinatown with an impenetrable wall. 

    Luckily, visiting Commissioner Gordon is Gateway City police detective Jim Corrigan who quickly sends out the Spectre to investigate! Unable to locate the source of the magic, the Ghostly Guardian splits himself into FIVE Spectres. Though he does find Shahn-Zi, he is greatly weaken and barely manages to escape. Similarly surviving is Batman who has absorbed some "astral energy" so he can battle Shahn-Zi briefly. 

    Bill Loo sees no way to defeat Shahn-Zi so to save his people, he decides to sacrifice his son, Danny, to become the new Shahn-Zi! However he leaves the Masked Manhunter a clue in a fortune cookie (???) so he and the Spectre can intervene. Using Batman as bait, the Wraith of Good attacks Shahn-Zi who uses his own lifeforce to try to kill the Spectre. This weakens him enough that Batman can finish him off with fireworks (???)! And thus, the day is saved! 

    Guest Star: THE SPECTRE. In all the Spectre's Silver Age appearances in Showcase, Justice League of America and even in the then-recent Brave & Bold #72 (Jl'67) where he teamed with the Earth-One Flash, he had been firmly placed on Earth-Two. This was the first time that fact was ignored. Even if you tried to explain it away as this being a mis-drawn Earth-Two Batman, this story had a sequel in #137 (O'77)!

    Jim Corrigan sends the Spectre out then disappears from the story.

    This issue came around the same time as The Spectre #2 so DC was pushing the character though it didn't last long! 

    Villain: SHAHN-ZI, LORD OF THE YELLOW RIVER (1st Appearance) was nearly unbeatable. He could transfer himself into other creatures, could not be harmed and could become a giant. Basically, he was like most Spectre foes from this period! 

    He was killed off at the end though he would get better! 

    Bat-Role: Here he was very much a public figure, celebrating the Chinese New Year and being friends with Bill Loo. And smiling like he was pumped full of Joker toxin at the beginning! 

    Notes: Beyond the Earth-Two snafu with the Spectre, perhaps the most important fact was the Neal Adams cover. Soon both Batman and the Spectre would benefit from his artwork! 

    Obviously, the people of Chinatown were buttering up Batman as the bat is NOT part of the Chinese zodiac! 1968 was, in fact, "The Year of the Monkey"!

    The Asian population while not caricatures, were still stereotyped: silk robes, obediance to elders, fortune cookies, etc.!

    Nostagia Factor: None as I did not get this one until I was an adult. And even if I did, I wouldn't rate it that highly but it's still not bad!


    Next: "It Gets Bad!" or "Paper or Plastic?"




    • Would you believe that this is the fourth time I've read B&B #75 in recent years? First I read it for my own B&B reading project; then I read it in conjunction with the Wrath of the Spectre Omni-Plus" discussion; after that it was featured on the "Attack of the 50-Year-Old Comic Books" blog; finally, I have read it again for this discussion.

       However he leaves the Masked Manhunter a clue in a fortune cookie (???)

      This entire story is borderline culturally insensitive.

      THE SPECTRE... had been firmly placed on Earth-Two. This was the first time that fact was ignored.

      I'm sure that kind of thing (the "Haney-verse") drove Silver- and Bronze Age fans mad, but I have come to like it. In a way, Bob Haney was ahead of his time, telling stories with a post-Crisis sensibility way pre-Crisis

      Here [Batman] was very much a public figure... smiling like he was pumped full of Joker toxin at the beginning! 

      That grin on his face (pages 2 & 3) reminds me of a used car salesman. I am beginning to think of the Haney/Andru/Esposito Batman as the "Imposter Batman." 

      Bat-Quote of the month: "Keep your chin up, Bill... long as the old Bat-Guy can still swing on a rope, we're not licked!"

      The Wrath of the Spectre "Omni-Plus"
      This hefty tome can be broken into three sections (the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s), and that's how I'm going to handle it. the introduction by Pe…
  • Something I forgot to mention was the rumor/urban legend that before the Spectre was revived in Showcase #60 (F'66), he was going to be paired up with Doctor Mid-Nite just as Doctor Fate & Hourman and Starman and Black Canary were but that was dropped when they realized that Doc M would be superfluous.

    That came across really apparent here as they bent over backwards to make Batman seem like he was contributing. In fact, most of what Batman did could have been done by Jim Corrigan!



      Something I forgot to mention was the rumor/urban legend that before the Spectre was revived in Showcase #60 (F'66), he was going to be paired up with Doctor Mid-Nite just as Doctor Fate & Hourman and Starman and Black Canary were but that was dropped when they realized that Doc M would be superfluous.


      I thought I'd read something along those lines in one of those DC text pieces that infiltrated its comics in '67 and '68.  But I never came across mention of it again---until a dozen years ago, when I came across some reasonable corroboration that a Spectre-Dr. Mid-Nite team-up had been (briefly) considered in 1965.

      I posted that information in a reply to my supplemental Deck Log entry about the pairing of J'onn J'onzz and the Green Arrow in The Brave and the Bold # 50.  I've pasted the pertinent portion below:



      In an interview, Michael Uslan, the executive producer of several of the Batman films, talked about The Great Comic Book Heroes, a book by cartoonist Jules Feiffer that came out in 1965.  If you've never read it, it's a combination of essays by Feiffer on the heroes of the Golden Age, along with several reprinted stories of that vintage.  Uslan stated:

      That book was essential. That was the only thing we had that gave us clues about the Golden Age of Comics. It was our Bible. It was my first exposure to characters like the Spectre, whom I had to pester Julie Schwartz to bring back.

      He wrote me back and said, "We can’t! The Comics Code says no walking dead!" So I wrote him a note back that said, "Yeah? Really? What about Casper?"

      The next thing I know, I got a note back from Julie saying, "You’ll be happy to know that the Spectre is coming back in Showcase # 60, teamed up with Doctor Mid-Nite."

      That's about as close to the horse's mouth as it gets.  It confirms my memory that there was an intention by DC to go with a third pairing of Earth-Two super-heroes---the Spectre and Dr. Mid-Nite.

      I think it’s pretty apparent why Julius Schwartz ultimately scrapped the notion and went with just a solo Spectre effort.  Teaming the Discarnate Detective with Doc Mid-Nite (or any mortal, for that matter) would be even more overwhelming than Superman paired with Batman.




    • 3-1.jpg?profile=RESIZE_400xWhich raises a question in my COVID-addled head. When The Spectre was finally joined by a JSA co-star in his eponymous title, it wasn't Doctor Mid-Nite -- it was Wildcat! I seem to vaguely remember a co-starring role (ish) in one story, and then maybe some back-ups. If Doc Mid-Nite was the original choice for a Spectre "co-star," why the switch?

      I'm not disappointed, as I prefer Wildcat to Mid-Nite. Neither add much in the way of super-powers, but at least Wildcat has a personality. (Maybe one-dimensional, but distinct.) Also, Wildcat's costume was perfect for Adams' style.

      Needless to say, I agree 100% that Spectre needed a co-star like a hole in the head, no matter who it was.

    • I remember being fascinated by ads for that book that I saw in back issues! By the time I got a copy, I was disappointed that it wasn't really a team-up. In fact, it read more like Wildcat was retiring.

      However, I'm sure that it was The Spectre #3 that led to Wildcat appearring two years later in Brave & Bold #88. Thematically the two books are similar, just not as cosmic! 

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