A BIRTHDAY SALUTE: Columnist Jim Beard visits Earth-B…
I am in the thick of a Brave and the Bold re-read (I’m up to 1977) and it’s been, obviously, a Bob Haney tour de force. (And Jim Aparo too, natch!) Well, the late writer was born 96 years ago on March 15, 1926, so it’s time for a birthday tribute.
Now, I was tempted to write this myself, but I still have a number of years to go in my read, so 13th Dimension columnist Jim Beard — a big-time Haney fan — is going to take you on a tour of Earth-B. (Though I will chime in from the Bat-peanut gallery a few times.)
Oh, and if you dig Jim’s writing on Batman, don’t forget the trilogy of Batman ’66 episode guides that he’s edited (all on sale now): Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One, Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.
By JIM BEARD
Bob Haney… what can I possibly say about Bob Haney? How about this: Bob Haney is one of the prime architects of my love for comic books.
Pretty strong statement? You bet it is! Bob’s work—specifically on early 1970s issues of The Brave and the Bold—captured my imagination as a young comic reader and I’ve never escaped from it to this day. It’s been said many times before that his stories were a universe all their own, and when it comes right down to it, I’m pretty sure that’s one of the things I love about them the most.
Happy Birthday, Bob! The highest compliment I can give you is that I didn’t even have to re-read these 13 stories of yours for this article—they are forever seared into my brain:
Brave and the Bold #54: Kid Flash, Aqualad and Robin. I read this as a reprint in 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-21 in 1973, and while I read a lot of reprints in those days, this one has stayed with me more than most. I love Bob’s handling of the proto-Teen Titans, the “generation gap” between them and their mentors, and the super-creepy Mr. Twister.
Brave and the Bold #59: Batman and Green Lantern. There’s something SO Silver Age about this story, another of my fave reprints. Bob created a really cool villain in the Time Commander, one that deserved to become a much bigger star than he did.
Dan adds: Batman’s first B&B team-up!
Brave and the Bold #64: Batman vs. Eclipso. Ah, here’s where the Haneyverse begins for me… Batman falling in love and getting engaged—in continuity! And, wait for it, a super-creepy Eclipso and a villainess that should’ve had more life past this story, Queen Bee. At least she had a card in the Whitman 1966 Batman Card Game.
Dan adds: This story is off the hook, with some seriously groovy Win Mortimer art. Batman is written completely out of character — he even calls his gal pal “Baby” — but it doesn’t matter because this is one of the most entertaining Bat-stories of the Silver Age.
Brave and the Bold #78: Batman and Wonder Woman, guest-starring Batgirl. Bob really liked stories about love and super-heroes, I guess. This was such a tour de force to me as a kid, with three heroes—how cool was it to have both Batgirl and Wonder Woman in an adventure with Batman?—and, yeah, super-super-creepy Copperhead.
Brave and the Bold #92: Batman and the Bat-Squad. If you’ve never read this one, track a copy down and give it a go. The Bat-Squad was a solid idea, but maybe Bob was a little ahead of his time, a time when readers wanted colorful costumes and weird gimmicks, not a group of civilians helping Batman. Still, I dig it the most and would love to revive the Squad in the modern era.
Brave and the Bold #110: Batman and Wildcat. This is where I came in. I got this one fresh and clean off the spinner rack and I have to tell you, it was a heckuva way to jump into this series and the then-new work of Bob Haney. And this is also one of the prime reasons I’m a Wildcat fan today. Thank goodness for Bob’s obsession with the character.
Brave and the Bold #111: Batman and the Joker. It was brave. It was bold. It was brassy. If I remember the letter columns correctly, it was even a little controversial. Only Bob Haney could have done it. And he did.
Brave and the Bold #112: Batman and Mister Miracle. Full disclosure: I met Bob Haney’s Scott Free before Jack Kirby’s Scott Free, and it was right here in this amazing adventure. From its explosive opening to its weird-ass ending with aliens, it’s one of my most favorite B&Bs of all.
Brave and the Bold #115: Batman and the Atom. Another story that has no business working, but Bob makes it seem like a piece of cake. It should have had supreme ramifications in Bruce Wayne’s life, but as insane as it is, it’s just another day on the job for him and his pal the Atom.
Dan adds: My all-time fave B&B story. It was even adapted into an episode of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold TV show.
Brave and the Bold #120: Batman and Kamandi. Full disclosure: I met Bob Haney’s Kamandi before Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, and it was right here in this terrific tale. Being a big Planet of the Apes fan, I took a leap of faith with Batman and the Last Boy on Earth and wound up loving this stand-out Haneyverse opus.
Dan adds: Totally agree with Jim. A memorable issue that allows you to completely buy-in on this bizarre team-up.
Brave and the Bold #124: Batman and Sgt. Rock (featuring Bob Haney, Jim Aparo and editor Murray Boltinoff themselves.) Good Lord, how did that man come up with this stuff issue after issue? This was mind-blowing when I was 10 in 1975, though it’s probably old hat these days. Still, I love the way Bob doesn’t really preface this story with any sort of explanation, but simply co-mingles fiction and the real world as if it was a walk in the park… and for him, it was.
Dan adds: This issue is completely bonkers, with Haney, Aparo and Boltinoff all playing key roles in the story. There’s a fine line between clever and stupid and this ish definitely falls in the former category.
Brave and the Bold #150: Batman and ?. I won’t spoil the surprise if you’ve never read this one but suffice to say it was a Big Deal for DC fans back in the day, and probably for Bob, too.
Dan adds: Good story, but personally I would have put B&B #85’s famous Green Arrow revamp, and Issue #79’s “The Track of the Hook,” starring Batman and Deadman, on my own list. Both also featured gorgeous Neal Adams art.
Brave and the Bold #154: Batman and Metamorpho. Bob’s last B&B go-round with Metamorpho, another of his go-to co-stars for Bats. End of an era? You bet, but Bob does it with style and class, and I expected nothing less.
— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite JIM APARO BRAVE AND THE BOLD Covers. Click here.
— The TOP 13 BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Episodes. Click here.
Jim Beard has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.
Check out his latest releases, a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting, his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World, and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One, Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.