Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.
Best of the Brave and the Bold #5 (cover by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez)
Batman and the House of Mystery, “Red Water, Crimson Death” by Denny O’Neil (writer), Neal Adams (artist), Petra Scotese (colorist), and Murray Boltinoff (editor)
Viking Prince, “The Ghost Ship” by Robert Kanigher (writer), Joe Kubert (artist), and Petra Scotese (colorist)
The Golden Gladiator, “Captive Champion” by Bill Finger (writer), Russ Heath (artist), and Petra Scortese (colorist)
Robin Hood, “The Secret of Sherwood Forest” by Robert Kanigher (writer), Russ Heath (artist), and Petra Scortese (colorist)
This is the fifth issue of a six-issue reprint series spotlighting Batman team-ups, but as you can see, there are also some backup stories from the Silver Age. While those were interesting to read and I particularly liked Russ Heath’s art in the two stories, I’ll focus on the Batman story (originally printed in Brave and the Bold #93).
This might be a weird one to modern Batman fans. It starts off with Batman having a close call with a thug, followed by Commissioner Gordon ordering Batman to take a vacation to Ireland (“You’re no good to me dead!”). Also, Gordon gives Batman a ticket on a steamship–how did that work exactly? After all, it’s Bruce Wayne who is the passenger. After saving a young boy who tried to kill himself by jumping into the Atlantic (because the kid was trying to join his dead grand-da), Bruce opens up his suitcase to find his Batman uniform in it (maybe Customs worked differently back then?), scolds Alfred in absentia, and then he throws it into the ocean (“Until I regain my health, the Batman is dead!”)! Later, a mystery presents itself, and Bruce deliberately ignores it: “No, blast it! I’m thinking like Batman again. I’m Bruce Wayne… and I’m on vacation!”. Ignores it until a ghost wakes him up, he suddenly has his Batman costume on, and the kid he saved earlier is wandering off into the Irish countryside in his PJs. Long story short, a local fishery owner is attempting to convince the island populace that the area is haunted so that he can take over (?). In one of the fights, Batman gets poisoned and the villain offers him a chance (for some reason) by pointing out two beakers, one of which contains the antidote. Logical Batman, however, sees the portrait of the ancestral king on the wall pointing to a test tube nearby, and so he dives forward and drinks the liquid from it that actually does contain the antidote. And for the second time in this story, Batman gets lucky against a guy with a gun to his head when the portrait of the king falls from the wall, killing the fishery owner. Cain, from the House of Mystery, who has been our narrative guide for this story, let’s us know that the spirit of the king caused all of these unexplained occurrences (which we knew already because we clearly see the ghost in several panels).
The story may not make much sense (weird for weird’s sake–but that is a staple of the House of Mystery stories, I guess), but the Neal Adams art is good, as expected. It’s especially good when Adams is drawing Cain.