Another Blazing Adventure with DC’S Magnificent 7!

Long-time ISB readers might recall that while I love the concept, I’ve had my difficulties with the Blackhawks in the past, most notably when they decided to forsake their careers as flying aces and instead become the Worst Super-Heroes Ever in a story not even the mad genius of Bob Haney could save.

Still, while I’m not the Blackhawk fan that Dr. K is, this was not a cover I could turn down when I ran across it yesterday:

 

 

Wow.

Not only does this cover feature the phallocentric bondage that has been the hallmark of the Blackhawk name since 1941–what with the fact that Stanislaus is tied up straddling a spiked battering ram and all–but man. How much of a Nazi do you have to be to weld swastikas to your tank treads so that you leave little swastikas in your tracks?

Answer: Enough that you also have one of these:

 

 

Based solely on the cover and the title page, I’m already willing to declare this one of the best comics of 1965. The art comes courtesy of Dick Dillin, and while the writer’s uncredited, but I’m pretty sure this is a Bob Haney joint, based on four pieces of evidence I’ve been able to gather:

1. Haney wrote the surrounding issues of Blackhawk, numbers 212 and 214,

2. There’s a character in the second story named “Bo Baney,”

3. Blackhawk talks pretty much exactly like Batman does in Haney’s Brave and the Bold issues,

and most importantly,

4. It is fucking awesome.

It all starts back in World War II, where a Ratzi by the name of von Horst sets out with his own band of strapping √úbermenschen to take out Blackhawk and his team of charming stereotypes. Of course, this (presumably) being a Bob Haney comic, von Horst is no ordinary soldier:

 

 

Yes, he’s got a steel skull, which is why he’s been nicknamed The Steel Skull. Pay attention, because this fact will come up exactly twice in the story, and will lead directly to our standard-issue last-page deus ex machina ending.

Needless to say, von Horst’s Sinister Master Plan doesn’t exactly work out and he’s eventually captured by the Blackhawks. Under normal circumstances, one has to imagine that a high-ranking German officer would’ve been taken prisoner or, I dunno, shot or something, but Blackhawk elects to settle things High School Bully Style:

 

 

They tie him up, put a sign on his back, and let him go back to his camp.

Truly, they were the Greatest Generation.

As you might imagine, von Horst is not one to take such humiliation lightly, and immediately sets about plotting his revenge, which takes twenty years of living in a cave and culminates in a plan involving a fake treasure map to a cache of stolen Nazi gold, a conveniently located Roman arena in North Africa, and of course, Robot Nazi Stormtroopers:

 

 

Even against those titanic odds, the Blackhawks manage avoid certain doom. Stanislaus is freed when Hendy makes a pair of amazing trick shots, electing to shoot the ropes binding his pal to the tank rather than the guy sticking out of it–because, you know, Comics Code–and the robots are defeated when they manage to drop a rock on them.

It’s a big rock.

Eventually, von Horst is tracked to his cave, where Andre and his moustache save the day by activating a giant yet previously unseen electromagnet that von Horst–who, if you recall, has a steel head–wandered underneath. In his own cave.

 

 

So yeah, maybe slightly less awesome than previously advertised. But still, robot Nazi stormtroopers being smashed with rocks… that’s gotta count for something, right?

 


 

BONUS FEATURE: And Then This Happened

 

 

Super Sunday!

I’m not really much of a sports guy (surprise!), but I did manage to catch the end of the game today, and I’ve got to admit that it was pretty thrilling!

I mean, the high stakes…

 

 

…the hard-line defense…

 

 

…the dynamic plays…

 

 

…the thrilling last-minute surprises…

 

 

…and of course, that halftime show!

 

 

Commemorate the action and excitement of MetaBowl LXVII in the pages of the absolutely essential Showcase Presents: Metamorpho, Vol. 1.

Pop Quiz

From Haney and Aparo’s Brave and the Bold #126:

 

 

Is The Double Dolphin:

a) A lost page from the Atlantean Kama Sutra?

b) A delicious blended cocktail of rum, triple sec, squid ink and seawater?

c) A bar full of angry rednecks that can only be tamed by martial artist and philosopher Patrick Swayze?

“No Percentage Mixing With You Oriental Style!”

I caught the first episode of the new Brave and the Bold cartoon this weekend, and I’ve gotta say, I thought it was fantastic. Everything about the show, from the opening sequence with Green Arrow to the team-up with Blue Beetle was a lot of fun, and while it’s clearly the spiritual successor to Batman ’66–what with the fact that Batman pulls a freakin’ lightsaber out of his utility belt to fight a robot clock–I don’t really consider that to be much of a problem.

Still, as much as I enjoyed the show itself, I was even more interested in the opening credits and the list of guest starts that it promised, because I’m pretty sure I saw both The Demon and Kamandi the Last Boy On Earth in there, and brother, that’s pretty exciting. And while I’m all for new stories, there’s a part of me that hopes that they go back to the original Brave and the Bold comics for story ideas, especially where Kamandi’s concerned, because that thing is rad.

If that is the plan, though, there’s issue that I’d definitely like to see adapted for the screen:

 

 

Brave and the Bold #132, by–who else?–Bob Haney and Jim Aparo!

As you can tell from the cover, this one features Richard Dragon: Kung-Fu Fighter, who never quite managed to fight his way out of the z-list because… Well, because Marvel had Master of Kung Fu, and really, who would you rather read about: Some guy who’s all “Hey, I’m a kung-fu fighter”… or the Kung Fu Master?

Also, his name is Dick Dragon.

Fortunately for Dick, Brave and the Bold was nothing if not the perfect showcase for characters built around Eastern philosophy and punching bad guys, and so when he saves Albus Dumbledore from a gang of Kraven-lite muggers…

 

 

…he quickly finds himself embroiled in a good old fashioned team-up.

Although actually, there’s nothing quick about it. In fact, according to the story, the bulk of the action doesn’t take place until a year later, when Dragon comes to Gotham City. And why the arbitrary time jump? Because Bob Haney, that’s why.

In any case, Dickie D. eventually winds up in Gotham, and he’s taking a midnight stroll through the park when he’s set upon by a villain with a remarkably unfortunate name:

 

THE STYLIST.

 

“Richard Dragon! I am… THE STYLIST!”

“Your name is known to me. Think you can give me a quick trim, maybe some highlights?”

“Hey, that’s not what I–”

“I could really use a pedicure too, if you’ve got the time.”

“HEY! SHUT UP! It’s because I’m a master of many different STYLES.”

“Yeah, great, do you have any magazines I could look through here, or…?”

“I WILL MURDER YOU WITH NUNCHUKS.”

Or at least, that’s how it would’ve gone if I wrote it. Haney’s Dragon, however, doesn’t take the bait, and instead they get right into the fisticuffs, which–and I am going to be totally serious for a second here, guys–is one of the all-time greatest comic book beatdowns I have ever seen.

Because when the Stylist comes at Richard Dragon with set of nunchuks, Dragon decides to grab for whatever’s handy–which in this case is a park bench–and winds up facing down a highly trained karate assassin…

 

 

…with A TWO BY FOUR WITH NAILS IN IT.

What follows is violence as only Aparo can bring it, as Dragon breaks his leg…

 

 

and his jaw…

 

 

…and then goes in like he’s going to just beat the living hell out of him:

 

 

Unfortunately for fans of plank-based violence, Batman interrupts before the beating can continue any further, and–mistaking Rich for a mugger–starts what is probably the talkiest fight scene of all time.

This, I think, is what would translate best to the new cartoon. They’re obviously going for a friendlier Batman than the dour loner of Justice League and the Animated Series, and Haney’s version is chatty as hell:

 

 

Even with all the talking, though, Haney still manages to make him sound like Batman by having him seem thoroughly bored with the fact that he’s dealing with a kung fu assassination plot in the middle of Robinson Park. “Karate stuff. Great. That’s new.”

Anyway, to make a long story short, once Batman sorts out who’s the bad guy here and informs Dragon that the bearded transient of the opening sequence was actually a recently deceased millionaire who may have left Dragon his fortune, he then agonizes over the fact that he can’t do anything to stop the Stylist because he hasn’t committed any crimes. Even putting aside the fact that the Stylist just Attempted Murder two pages ago, Batman fails to remember that he’s a private citizen who puts on a mask and beats the crap out of muggers every night because he’s got nothing better to do, and that now is a little late to start worrying about things like “rights.”

In any case, he’s able to roust the Stylist with a bit of good old-fashioned entrapment, and once he flees the country for South America, we finally come face to face with the real villain of the story. See, the bad guy here isn’t the Stylist, or even the potential heir who hires him.

No, the bad guy here is the economy, because apparently things have gotten so bad that BATMAN HAS TO FLY COACH.

 

 

Blazes indeed, Batman. Blazes indeed.

Pop Quiz

Which of the following panels from Bob Haney and Jim Aparo’s classic Batman/Kamandi team-up in The Brave and the Bold #120 is the craziest damn thing you have ever read?

A:

 

 

B:

 

Or C:

 

 

Please show your work.


 

EXTRA CREDIT

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have just witnessed Batman karate chopping a talking gorilla hard enough to kill a normal man, which, coincidentally, is also hard enough to create a pink explosion at the point of impact. On a scale of one to freaking out, how awesome is this?