Last year I picked up one of those large collections of comic stories in the DC Showcase series, this one featuring stories from The Brave and The Bold, which featured the Batman teaming up with a special guest hero every issue.
Many may only know The Brave and Bold as the lighthearted Batman series which ran on the Cartoon Network for some years, but anyone who appreciates Batman should check out this collection, which runs from B&B #59, April/May 1965 (the first time Batman made an appearance in the comic) to B&B #87, December 1969/January 1970.
I began reading The Brave and the Bold in the Spring of 1969, when the Teen Titans (“Punish Not my Evil Sun”) made an appearance. With art by the famous Neil Adams, it is included in this collection.
It was interesting to catch up again with those who helped the Caped Crusader after so many years in this black-and-white collection. Black-and-white seems to suit the Batman better, especially in the later stories.
Included are some real gems, including a dandy story with Green Arrow (“The Senators’ Been Shot!”).
Most of the stories were written by Bob Haney, with the exception of a Batman/Wonder Woman story by Mike Sekowsky.
What’s particularly intriguing to read in this collection are the various interpretations of Batman through the years, from the straight but lighthearted approach in 1965 to the more dramatic stories of the early 1970s.
And in the middle are the ABC TV show years, when one can almost imagine Adam West himself saying the lines as written. In fact, there a couple of not so sly references to the TV show, just as when Metamorpho tells Batman, “Be seeing you on the TV, pal!”
Well, I’m sure it seemed cute at the time.
My personal favorites are the later stories, including the stories where Batman teams up with Sgt. Rock, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how this guy in the 1970s ever had a mission behind enemy lines in World War II.
Bob Haney, who wrote most of the tales, had a long career in comics, co-creating the Teen Titans and Metamorpho, among others. But it was his 1965-1979 tenure on B&B which many remember him for.
As evidenced by this collection, Haney was able to switch story telling styles when the times demanded it – straight, camp, gritty.
And with the right artists – especially Neil Adams and Jim Aparo – his writing really shone.
Like many comics writers, though, Haney had woman trouble, meaning that he just didn’t know what to do with them once he had them in a story. Most of them are motivated by a teenage girl type of puppy love for Batman, including an embarrassing story (“In the Coils of Copperhead”) where Wonder Woman and Batgirl compete for some Batlove.
Even when women are heroes, Haney seems unsure of himself. Part of it may be due to the sexism of the period, but it also seems as though he never read the comics these women headlined, where they were heroes in their own right.
Over all, though, this first volume of The Brave and the Bold has much to recommend it, and I have just finished the second volume, when The Brave and the Bold teamed Batman with the popular series, The House of Mystery.
To the Batlibrary!
Quote of the Day
We seek a thousand reasons to accuse vice in poverty, but two thousand to excuse it in prosperity, – J. Petit-Senn