The Brave and the Bold 108, 1973 “The Night Batman Sold His Soul!”

From the cover, you’d think that DC put out a comic book with Batman and Sgt. Rock versus a vampire. Well, if they ever did, this isn’t the issue. No, this isn’t a bait and switch, but the contents certainly don’t match up (100%) with the cover. Rest assured though, this book is highly entertaining, and will leave you happy you’ve read it!

Somewhere up near the Canadian border, Batman has cornered a kidnapper. The guy has a kid, but Batman insists it’s not who the kidnapper believes it is, so there will be no ransom. The kidnapper is losing his mind, so Batman attempts to jump through a window to try and surprise him, but it doesn’t work. The kidnapper shoots Batman, then for some odd reason dumps him in a well. As batman is coming to, he’s helped out of the well by some cloaked stranger. The man has a hat on as well, so you cannot see his face. Batman thanks him for the assist, then heads back to apprehend Mad Dog Dorn (the kidnapper). After returning to Gotham, and his guise as Bruce Wayne, he then slumps over in an alleyway, still reeling from the wounds from the gunshot. As he’s trying to get up, that same cloaked figure appears, and tells him that he owes him for the help he gave him in the well. Wayne tells him he owes him nothing and the strangers tells him that his soul now belongs to him! As the man shuffles away, Wayne attempts to catch up. He does, or so he thinks, and grabs a man in the foggy street, but that man was also following after the cloaked figure. The man Wayne grabbed turns out to be none other than Sgt. Rock! Rock then reveals the identity of this mysterious figure, and Wayne cannot believe it!

I know of a few encounters between Batman and Sgt. Rock, and this is a good one. Sure, it’s a bit ludicrous, but it’s a ton of fun as well. You can’t deny that Bob “Zany” Haney writes wild, but fun stories. I honestly haven’t read one yet that disappointed me. The artwork is by Jim Aparo (cover and interiors), whom I, and quite a few others feel is the best artist to ever draw Batman. Of course there are plenty of other fantastic artists that drew him over the years (Neal Adams, Irv Novick, Bill Finger, etc.), but Aparo seemed to really get the character and his moody scenery better than anyone. Colors by Tatjana Wood, and letters by Jim Aparo (cover letters by Gaspar Saladino).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest 26, 1982 “The Brave and the Bold”

Thanks to a podcast (Digestcast on Fire and Water), I discovered this wonderful series of books. I’d never heard of them before, but when I was trolling eBay recently, I saw them at a good price. I snagged this super cool edition of The Brave and the Bold! Other than a slight tear of the cover, the book is on fantastic shape, too! This series was an anthology reprint (most of the time) book that brings some of the best DC had to offer from the Silver Age! Six big stories (part six having three chapters) are encased in this powerful, pint-sized book, and it’s all led off with a great cover by Jim Aparo (framing sequences as well)!

After some framing material, the first tale is from issue 86, 1969. “You can’t Hide from a Deadman!”, brings some incredible action from the Dynamic Duo, as they’re busting up an extortion racket and run into Deadman! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, and art by Neal Adams!

Next, is “Three Arrows Against Doom!” This fantastic Robin Hood story is from issue 9, 1956/57. In this story, we see how Robin escapes from the sheriff’s men yet again, but this time with only three arrows at his disposal! Written by Bob Haney, with art by Russ Heath!

The third tale is called “Menace of the Mirage People!” It’s from issue number 38 (1961), and involves the Suicide Squad (no, not the lame movie characters from 2016)! Colonel Rick Flag, Jess Bright, Dr. Hugh Evans, and Karin Grace must fight against illusions that seem like reality! Written by Robert Kanigher, and art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. For further reading on this team, click here and here!

The following story, “Threat of the Ice King (issue 18, 1958)” is a tale of the Viking Prince! These ongoing stories were great and not only because they gave you epic fantasy tales, but because they had names like Bob Kanigher (writer) and Joe Kubert (art) behind them!

In the days of Camelot, knights and warriors ruled the day (story from issue 21, 1958/59)! And in “The Sword in the Lake,” we get to see some great action involving the Silent Knight! He’s tricked into the service of Morgan Le Fey, and must retrieve some incredible artifacts for her! Written by Robert Kanigher, with art by Irv Novick!

Lastly, we have some wild adventures of Cave Carson! In three separate chapters, we learn “The Secret Beneath the Earth!” These chapters from issue 31 (1960), show us some crazy adventures involving dinosaurs, lava men, and other shenanigans. Written by Ed Herron, art by Bruno Premiani. For more on Cave Carson, click those links above in the Suicide Squad section!

Do yourself a favor and grab some of these as they are a great way to get some fantastic material from the Silver Age at an affordable price!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold 119, 1975 “Bring Back Killer Krag”

After sitting down and thinking about what book to cover next on my blog, it seemed like quite a while since I covered a DC book. Looking back, it has been, and to be specific, it was all the way back on November 11th! Since then, I’ve acquired a few more DC books, this awesome issue of The Brave and the Bold being one of them!

The creative team on this one (and many awesome DC books from the Bronze Age) is fantastic, but we’ll get to them later. For now, I’ll just say that this crazy (or zany) story has Batman investigating a murder at an equestrian event. The murder makes the newspaper, and Dr. Kirk Langstrom sees it. He realizes a reward of one-hundred thousand dollars could benefit him quite a bit, so he ingests his formula, and the Man-Bat is back! This one has it all, a Great White Shark (remember, it’s 1975) restless natives, real bats, and a second Man-Bat…?

As usual, this book is super entertaining for me. Mostly because I enjoy Bob “Zany” Haney (writer) and Jim Aparo (interior and cover art, Tatjana Wood colors). These two creators are probably my favorite team from DC comics. The stories are always solid and borderline on the bizarre, which suits my tastes perfectly. From an artistic standpoint, I can’t get over how much Aparo reminds me of my favorite artist, Gene Colan. He’s the perfect artist for Batman, Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, etc. His moody pencils create an atmosphere I don’t see consistently from any other artist from this era in DC books (not even Neal Adams).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold 115, 1974 “Batman and The Atom!”

The DC 100 page comics from the Bronze Age are nothing short of gems. These multi-storied books bring a variety like no other to a reader, and they do it by simply providing extraordinary content. With one original story and four reprints, this book is an excellent representation of what made DC comics a great company.

A new Batman story, straight from the mean streets of Gotham! We see Batman down for the count, as he’s nearly killed by some hoods! It’s up to the Atom and Commissioner Gordon to save the Dark Knight! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, with art by Jim Aparo!

Next up is a reprint of Challengers of the Unknown (issue 12) with “Three Clues to Sorcery.” You get it all in this one – a gorilla, a gigantic squid, a mysterious gem, and more! Written by Ed Herron (most likely), with art by Bob Brown.

In the following reprint, we get a good one (and a personal favorite of mine)! “Solomon Grundy Goes on a Rampage!”, features just that, Grundy going ape and kicking the crap out of Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Murphy Anderson.

in the fourth installment, a legend in the comic book industry brings us one of his best illustrations with the “Origin of the Viking Prince!Joe Kubert is the artist, and he delivers the goods. Script by Bob Haney.

Lastly, we get another titan of the comic book industry (well three really), as Ray Palmer, A.K.A. The Atom, is brought to us in “The Case of the Innocent Thief!” – by Gardner Fox (story), Gil Kane (pencils) and Murphy Anderson (inks)!

The cover features illustrations by Jim Aparo (Batman), Murphy Anderson (Grundy), and Bob Brown (Challengers).

 

 

 

Limited Collectors’ Edition C-32, 1974 “Ghosts”

As October marches on, so do the macabre posts! This time around one of DC comics over-sized books will get the treatment! Limited Collectors Edition ran for 1972-1978, and had all sorts of strange comic book stories attached to it. In this edition, we see reprints from the ongoing series “Ghosts.” You get some pretty good quality in this one, and it’s a perfect book for the special treatment!

The stories are all “ghost” based, but some are just straight up ghosts, some are voodoo, a couple of witches, and more. There are also games, puzzles, a diorama, and other fun surprises inside this great book. This one definitely needs to be in your collection!

Writers include – Murray Boltinoff, Leo Dorfman, and Bob Rozakis! Artists include – Nick Cardy (cover), Art Saaf, Jim Aparo, Gerry Talaoc, John Calnan, Tony DeZuniga, George Tuska, E. R. Cruz, Ernie Chan, Jerry Grandenetti, Frank Redondo, Jack Sparling, and Sam Glanzman (back cover/diorama). Letterers include – Milt Snapinn, John Costanza, Jean Izzo, Ray Holloway, and Ben Oda.

 

The House of Mystery 192, 1971 “Dare You Enter?”

Eight simple words, that’s all it takes to get my blood pumping. Do you dare enter The House of Mystery? An anthology title from DC comics that started in 1951, the book went on for an amazing 321 issues! The stories were all over the place of course, as the times changed (and the comics code), so did the material. Honestly though, it wasn’t until the Bronze Age that the book had some of the best creators on it.

The cover to this book is by none other than Neal Adams (pencils and inks). He proved that no matter the genre, he can produce incredible work. The inside brings three different stories (along with some extras). The first is “The Gardener of Eden” by John Albano (writer) and the exquisite work of Jim Aparo! A doctor learns a new lesson the hard way! “Image of Darkness” brings a tale of terror when a husband and wife are having domestic problems. Written by Robert Kanigher, and art by Gray Morrow! Finally, “Nobody Loves a Lizard!” shows a boy with a pet lizard that has an incredible secret. Writer Virgil North, with art by Don Heck!

 

The Brave and the Bold 199, 1983 “The Body-Napping of Jim Corrigan!”

I’ll come right out and say it, I’m not a huge fan of The Spectre. Probably because I haven’t read very many of his appearances. Batman however, is a different story! In this penultimate issue of the series, we see the Spectre separated from Jim Corrigan (the two were sort of bonded together for most of the character’s existence). Two magic users (Kalindra and Stephos) kidnap Jim Corrigan, and The Spectre (isn’t he supposed to have cosmic awareness?) needs to locate his host (Corrigan), so he enlists the help of the greatest living detective, Batman! It isn’t long before the heroic duo find where Corrigan is being kept, and then the two begin to clean house.

The highlight of the issue is the cover, but that’s not a slam against the interiors (Ross Andru and Rick Hoberg). It’s just that Jim Aparo (cover) is so good, he overshadows the other two gentleman. There is a two page splash, where The Spectre is fighting a demon that is fantastic. The script is fine but the story (Mike Barr) is very bare bones. A nice little action issue with solid art, but nothing Earth shattering.

 

Time Warp 1, 1979 “Doomsday Tales and Other Things”

In the late 1970s, DC cut back on their titles, and laid off a ton of employees. The comics just weren’t selling, and they needed to regroup. The early 1980s would bring some new hope in the form of All-Star Squadron, and New Teen Titans, but there were also some additions that are very obscure, but noteworthy for the comic book aficionados out there!

A short series of only five issues, this weird book gave us some rather interesting material. Mostly sci-fi (with a little horror), this first issue is chocked full of creators with a long list of credits, and quite frankly, legends in the business. From aliens to spider-men, you’ll be whisked away to fantasy worlds that will take you back to a time when comics were great!

Cover by Mike Kaluta, interiors stories by Denny O’Neil, Michael Fleischer, George Kashdan, Mike Barr, Jack Harris, Bob Rozakis, and Paul Levitz. The art teams are nothing short of spectacular and include the late, great Rich Buckler, Dick Giordano, Steve Ditko, Tom Sutton, Jerry Grandenetti, Don Newton, Dan Adkins, and Jim Aparo!

 

 

1 vs 1 Which comic is Best?

I was thinking about boxing matches the other day, and how two big-time fighters entering a boxing ring to duke it out used to be a bigger deal than what it is today. In the vein of that time-honored tradition, let us take a look at two “number ones” and see how they stack up against each another! The first round will feature two books from DC comics, and they are good ones! Batman and the Outsiders #1 (1983) vs All-Star Squadron #1 (1981), are the two participants so get ready for a throw down of epic proportions!

Batman, Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Katana, Halo, Geo-Force, and Looker. This team, mostly composed of new characters was a good mix, and that favored the book’s appeal. Not only that, but it didn’t hurt that Mike Barr (writer) and Jim Aparo (art) were the creators. A jam-packed first issue featuring the sinister Baron Bedlam!

 

Secondly, we have All-Star Squadron! A period piece starring some of the Golden and Silver Age heroes that were a part of the JSA (Justice Society of America). Hawkman, Atom, and Dr. Mid-Nite are joined by Plastic Man, Robotman, Liberty Belle, and Johnny Quick, as they meet the POTUS, FDR, as he helps them create a new super team, to fight against the Axis powers in WWII! But, before that they need to find some missing members of the JSA as well! The creative team is one of legend, as Roy Thomas (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils), and Jerry Ordway (inks) brought a fantastic new comic book to the shelves!

 

Time to break these two books down: first the covers…

Cover – All-Star Squadron (+1)

While the B&TO has tighter pencils and inks, I think All-Star Squadron is better overall. The different array of characters in the pictures is pretty cool. I do love two of the faces on the other cover though, as Superman and Metamorpho are the best reactions to Batman’s dialogue. Speaking of that dialogue, it seems a bit forced and doesn’t match the interior page, so that is definitely taking points away. Buckler and Ordway are on point with this cover for sure. Definitely in the “iconic” category.

 

Interior art – Batman and the Outsiders (+1)

This is a close one, but Aparo definitely pulls slightly ahead of Buckler and Ordway if for nothing else than his rendering of Batman. That aside, both books have some very strong work, but again, Aparo is just a bit cleaner with his style. Colors and letters are both on the same level.

 

Story – All-Star Squadron (+1)

This one isn’t even close. A good WWII story with a myriad of characters that come together to fight Nazis, plus save other heroes from Solomon Grundy, Professor Zodiak, Sky Pirate, Degaton, and Wotan! Don’t get me wrong, Barr tells a good story in the other title, but it’s just not on par with this one by Roy “the boy” Thomas. Oh, and FDR (image below) is in this comic, so that seals it!

 

So, by a score of 2-1, All-Star Squadron #1 is the winner!

 

Weird Adventure Comics 435, 1974 “The Man Who Stalked the Specter!”

Yeah, I’m a Marvel Zombie, but sometimes, a comic is so cool, no matter who the publisher is I must buy it. That’s the case with this one! The character “The Specter,” is one that is creepy and heroic at the same time. His run-ins with Deadman are pretty cool too, so check those out. Characters that are ghosts have always intrigued me (Gentleman Ghost, Deadman, etc.). Most of the time they’re always in the middle of a story that has a supernatural aspect, and that’s most of the allure for me. There is also a good Aquaman back-up story (Steve Skeates writer, Mike Grell art) in this issue as well!

The name Michael Fleisher (writer), is one that most avid comic book readers should know. I know his work from the Ghost Rider stories he did back in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. The artwork (cover, interior pencils and inks), was by a man who I’m growing ever fond of, and it seems that Jim Aparo never disappoints me. The editor was another solid name in the biz, Joe Orlando!

 

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