Friday, 11 September 2015

The Brave And The Bold #151 - DC Comics

THE BRAVE ND THE BOLD No. 151, June 1979
Undoubtedly a 'child' of the Late Seventies, “The Disco Of Death” is as fantastically corny and riddled with the ambience of the 1977 American dance film “Saturday Night Fever” as its horribly trite story title would suggest. Indeed this seventeen-page periodical even dares portray the oft-times moody socialite Bruce Wayne not only taking to the dance floor “choked with gyrating bodies, rocking with sound and pulsating with whirling lights”. But also has the billionaire ‘bogeying on down’ with jetsetter Rhonda to “Staying Alive” whilst wearing a flashy white “John Travolta” leisure suit drawn by legendary series artist James “Jim” Aparo; “Ha! Ha! Come on, Bruce -- You don’t want Batman being the only “secret swinger” besides Alfred in town!”

This tongue-in-cheek comical portrayal of the Caped Crusader’s public persona surprisingly actually gets wincingly worse though once Bob Haney’s script has the Scarlet Speedster, Barry Allen, and his “liberated” wife join the partying Industrialist under the disco ball. For the two superheroes encounter the freakish-looking “Phantom of the Stardust”, complete with operatic horror mask, and having watched the cloaked scintillating performer ‘show up from nowhere, dance for hours with one foxy knocked out chick and then vanish’, quickly realise that the “bizarre figure” is actually responsible for at least “two unexplained deaths” at “The Stardust Discotheque!”

Such a dramatic deduction fortunately however proves to be the making of this book’s storyline, and seems to give the co-creator of the “Teen Titans” the opportunity to turn the “chauvinist devil” Wayne back into the thug-bashing night-time detective the cowled character was originally envisaged by Bob Kane as being. Whilst simultaneously providing the infinitely more colourful “Monarch of Motion” a far more fittingly light-hearted solo-mission “chasing figments of his own imagination” by trying to get “a ghost to free a ghost!”

Admittedly some of the “DC Comics” long-time writer’s plot points do become rather contrived as a result, such as the Flash’s blasé use of “his amazing Cosmic Treadmill to race back through the time barrier to the 1930’s” in order to photograph the Phantom’s dancing dead girlfriend and Batman’s miraculous discovery that Allen's spouse Iris is a ‘dead-ringer’ for Jack Dawes’ deceased Emily. But there again this entire hokey Haney narrative is based upon the whacky premise of a Prohibition-era spectral murderer disco-dancing his victims to death…
Writer: Bob Haney, Artist: Jim Aparo, and Colorist: Jerry Serpe

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