Friday, December 22, 2006

B&B Seeing You (Conclusion)

Part V—I’ll B&B Back
Following Bob Haney’s unceremonius departure from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, the title continued under a system of rotating writers, with Mike W. Barr being the most prominent, until it was removed from DC’s schedule in 1982 to make way for Barr’s BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS. Since then, DC has twice revived the B&B name for six-issue miniseries, neither of which featured the Batman. The first, in 1992, written by Mike Grell and Mike Baron, teamed frequent original B&B guest star Green Arrow with The Question and Baron creation The Butcher. In 1999, a second B&B revival explored the early years of the friendship between The Flash and Green Lantern, neither of whom had a particularly strong connection to the original series. The next year, Bob Haney made a brief return to DC to write a B&B one-shot teaming Batman with perennial original B&B co-stars The Metal Men as part of DC’s “The Silver Age” special event.
During his brief tenure as writer for the revived GREEN ARROW series, film maker Kevin Smith announced plans for a B&B revival which never came to fruition. Recently, DC has revealed plans to bring the title back as an ongoing series beginning in February of 2007. While the Batman will star in the first issue, with Green Lantern, perhaps in a nod to Batman’s first team-up appearance in the original B&B, he will not be the title’s permanent co-star. Rather, B&B will return to teaming two entirely different heroes in each story, which writer Mark Waid terms the “classic” B&B format. I would disagree, however, with that characterization. That approach lasted only twenty-two issues (50-73, not counting Metamorpho’s first appearance in issues 57 and 58) before Batman officially nabbed the lead spot, and of those twenty-two, Batman co-starred in seven. Furthermore, in an interview published posthumously in two recent issues of THE COMICS JOURNAL (#276-278), Haney claimed that it had been his intention from the beginning of the team-up format for Batman to be the permanent co-star, though his first choice was Superman whom that character’s editors had declared unavailable to him.
With or without Batman, it’s good to see B&B, or any team-up title, back in the comic shops, as the format has been absent from the new releases shelf for almost two decades, since ACTION COMICS converted to its short-lived weekly anthology format following an equally short lived run as a Superman team-up book.
If, however, it is truly classic B&B that you seek, then you should check out the January release of Showcase Presents The Brave & The Bold: The Batman Team-Ups, a 500 page trade paperback compiling, in black and white, the earliest B&B appearances of Batman from issues 59, 64, 67-71, and 74-86, which team the Caped Crusader with such heroes as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Deadman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Sgt. Rock and others. Allof these tales, except #86’s adventure co-starring Deadman, were written by Bob Haney, and feature a wide selection of best of B&B’s pre- Aparo era artists, including Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino, Ross Andru, and Neal Adams.
Prior to Neal Adams’ eight issue run, the art chores on B&B rotated from issue to issue. After Adams, Nick Cardy illustrated several issues until Jim Aparo appeared on the scene with #98 and settled in permanently as of #100. I should also note that while the checklist in the back of B&B #150 credits Haney with writing #86, the recent hardcover collection, Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Volime II, part of a three part series reprinting every story and cover Adams rendered featuring the character, credits authorship of that issue to Adams, who had written co-star Deadman’s regular series. Having recently re-read that story, and found the portrayal of Batman to be more in line with that of stories Adams collaborated on with writer Dennis O’Neil than the Haney norm, I would tend to credit the citation of Adams as writer of “You Can’t Hide From A Deadman.”
This volume is especially welcome and anticipated by me, as B&B remains the favorite and most fondly remembered comic of my childhood and Bob Haney one of my favorite comics writers of all time.

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