Podcast 129: Christmas Gab Bag

Direct Download (2:21:31)

Happy holidays! George, of the now defunct George and Tony Entertainment Show, returns to finish out the year to talk about some Christmas, or Christmas adjacent, comics. Specifically, we discuss:

Fantastic Four #4

New Adventures of Superboy #39

Brave and the Bold #184

Batman Family #4

Fast Willie Jackson #3

DC Comics Presents #67

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Thanks for listening!


RandoMonday: Best of the Brave and the Bold #5

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.

RandoMonday: Brave and the Bold (2007) #4

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Brave and the Bold (2007) #4 by Mark Waid and George Pérez (storytellers), Bob Wiacek (inks), Tom Smith (colors), Rob Leigh (lettering), Stephanie Buscema (asst. editor), Joey Cavalieri (editor), and George Pérez and Tom Smith (cover)

Man, I loved this series when Waid and Pérez was doing it. They took the whole Brave and the Bold team-up concept and tweaked it just enough to make it very interesting, i.e., told one longer story with multiple heroes teaming up along the way. Case in point, the tale end of Batman and Blue Beetle’s team up is shown at the beginning of this issue (along with the Fatal Five), but then switches to Supergirl and Lobo. Along the way, the two bond a bit, meet Destiny (of the Endless), and Supergirl arrives on Rann to help Green Lantern. The issue ends with a Batman/Tharok amalgam encountering the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Pérez and Wiacek art is classic and enjoyable, and Waid manages to use Lobo in a way that doesn’t annoy me. Not bad for $2.99.

RandoMonday: The Brave and the Bold #184

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Brave and the Bold #184 by Mike W. Barr (w), Jim Aparo (a & cover), and Adrienne Roy (c)

Ok, I cheated a bit. This is not an issue that was picked by the randomizer, but I pulled out a few Christmas related/themed issues from my collection in preparation for a guest spot on the Heroes and Villains podcast and this was one of them. So I “randomly” chose it to spotlight today.

This is one of my favorite late Bronze Age Batman stories, mostly for the appearance of the Earth-2 Huntress. The story opens with Batman having just dropped off a bunch of presents at the Gotham Childrens Home. Holy St. Nick, Batman! Anyway, Huntress visits her “Uncle” Bruce because she doesn’t want to spend the holidays alone (what does that say about her relationships back home, eh?). (Side note: I love how Mike Bar and Jim Aparo take two panels to explain the whole multiverse concept to a possible new reader, and you know what? I think it works perfectly and simply. Take that multiverse detractors!) She appears just in the nick (see what I did there?) of time because Batman, after apprehending a thief who stole some accounting records belonging to a mobster, discovers that his father bankrolled the very same mobster, “Spurs” Sanders. Batman has a crisis of faith, but after talking to Helena, they go off to investigate. After talking to a Wayne family accountant whose records seems to corroborate the claim that Daddy Wayne was EVIL, Bruce decides that he can no longer be Batman. Of course, this doesn’t last long, and he figures out that his father was framed by the very same accountant he spoke with earlier via a very flimsy finger tapping tick the accountant has that Bruce remembers from when he was a boy–yeah, I find that hard to believe as well. Regardless, at the end and with Huntress nearby, Batman stands at his parents’ graves and rededicates his life to “warring on all criminals”. On the last page is also a scroll listing the names of DC staffers who wish us a Merry Christmas. I wonder how many other comics out at the same time has this scroll?

I loved looking through this dog-eared issue (I need to buy a replacement copy some time) because of the Jim Aparo art–his Batman was MY Batman for many years. No one can draw Batman so simply and effectively as Aparo in my mind. And Adrienne Roy’s skill as color artist graced many a comic I read from this time period–the industry is much poorer without her.

What comics will be featured in 2014? Tune in, same Bat-day, same Bat-blog to find out!

RandoMonday: Brave and the Bold (2007) #12

Here’s a cover image chosen at random from my collection.

Brave and the Bold (2007) #12 by Mark Waid and Jerry Ordway (story), Bob Wiacek (i), Tom Smith (c), Rob Leigh (l), with George Pérez (cover)

This comic was one of my favorite team-up books of all time because the team-ups weren’t restricted to one main character with a guest star. This book started out with a couple characters and then expanded as the story dictated, following threads set up by Mark Waid in issue 1. This issue concludes that long arc and starred Superman, Green Lantern, the Challengers of the Unknown, and Ultraman, with guest appearances by Supergirl, Power Girl, Metamorpho, and Firestorm, and cameos by Wonder Woman, Flash, the Teen Titans, and Destiny (intrigued, aren’t you? Admit it!). In the end, the bad guy is defeated, though not without a heroic sacrifice (which in the end turns out to be a bit of a hollow one) and a dire portent being issued about a coming crisis (a house ad refers to Final Crisis), though it seemed to me like that was kind of shoe-horned in.

I really enjoyed Mark Waid’s stories in this series and was sad to see him depart the book. Also, I missed George Pérez’s artwork (he began this series), despite the nice looking cover he provided. Jerry Ordway does a fine pinch-hit, however. If you haven’t read this short-lived series, I highly recommend you read the first two trades.