Tomorrow, Batman and Aquaman #29 comes out from DC. Why this isn’t a national holiday, I couldn’t tell you. Outrageous!
See, the folks who brought you the “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” cartoon knew just how much story potential could be mined from one of the oddest possible team-ups in DC lore.
Think about it. Guy who runs in and out shadowy alleys combines forces with guy who lives in an undersea kingdom and talks to fish. INSTANT AWESOME.
For me, Batman and Aquaman are forever linked because Channel 5 here in New York used to run the Filmation cartoons after school in the same show. I could be wrong, but in my memory they’d run Part 1 of the Batman story, then the Aquaman cartoon, then the finale of the Batman story.
So when I was running around the backyard or through the house, I was Batman. But when I went to the pool or the beach, I was Aquaman.
No wonder I made sure to get Aquaman as part of my Mego set.
They even teamed up solo in Super Friends!
One of my favorite comics as a kid was Brave and the Bold #114, cover-dated Aug.-Sept. 1974. I remember reading it poolside.
The cover image by Jim Aparo gets you right in the gut — I mean Aquaman’s not only really pissed about something (he always was those days) but he was willing to kill Batman over it. And not just kill him, but yank off his breathing tube and forcefully drown him! And Batman looks so damn helpless and weak! Stop being such a bully Aquaman! And shave those eyebrows before you go home to Mera! Jesus, don’t let yourself go just because you’re married!
A couple of years later, we got another team-up, in #126, dated April 1976. There’s Batman getting his Aqualung — Batqualung? — yanked off again, and here comes Aquaman to (presumably) rescue him. Rescue him from whom? WATER NAZIS!
These days, comic books are so dang serious, you don’t see Batman getting his Atlantis on too much. Which was why those Aquaman team-ups on the Brave and the Bold cartoon worked so well: They were — pun very much intended — such a breath of fresh air.
So that brings us back to tomorrow’s Batman and Aquaman #29. If you’re not in the know, this is really the Batman and Robin title in disguise. When the latest Robin — Bruce’s son Damian — was killed last year, DC kept the title around as a de facto team-up series, by regulars Peter Tomasi, the writer, and Patrick Gleason, the artist.
The first arc was brilliant. It had Batman joining forces with various Batfamily members as Bruce went throught the classic stages of grief over Robin’s death. The second arc was a Two-Face pairing that gave us a pointless new origin for one of Batman’s classic villains.
But this third arc has Batman traveling the world searching for Damian’s body, encountering a series of heroes a la Brave and the Bold, starting with the swift and powerful monarch of the ocean.
(I wrote awhile back that this issue was a big clue that Damian was coming back. DC’s laid even more clues since — they are teasing this arc as The Hunt for Robin, after all — and I really hope they don’t cheat the ending. If for no other reason, it would seem cruel to get Batsy’s hopes up. The dude needs some good news every once in awhile.)
And I, for one, cannot wait to get back in the ocean.
From the Batcomputer: Well, obviously you know my pick for Batbook of the Week, but here are some other books worth a look: There’s Batman ’66 #9, with art from our friend Ruben Procopio, as featured here; Birds of Prey #29, with some Ra’s al Ghul action; Batwoman #29; and Harley Quinn #4, by Conner/Palmiotti/Hardin. Speaking of Amanda Conner, she has an awesome “Silver Age” variant for Superman Unchained #6. If it’s not too pricey, I’m a-buyin’ it!