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:
“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.