Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Brave And The Bold #148 - DC Comics

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD No. 148, March 1979
As a “DC Comics” Christmas tie-in publication, Bob Haney’s narrative for Issue One Hundred and Forty Eight of “The Brave And The Bold” was arguably always going to contain a certain amount of festive joviality and silliness. In fact, considering that Batman is partnered with the quirky, comical character of Plastic Man, many of this seventeen-page periodical’s buyers probably felt an “offbeat” tongue-in-cheek tale was effectively guaranteed.

Sadly however “The Night The Mob Stole Xmas!” actually seems to take this notion of “surreal slapstick humour” a little too far, and not only milks Jack Cole’s creation for all the funnies the malleable superhero can muster, but does so within an atrociously contrived storyline that is as implausibly manufactured as it is unamusing. It’s certainly hard to imagine that despite all his wealth and power the Crime Lord Big Jake still found it necessary to steal “Gotham’s Great Xmas Display” and transport it to his residence “at Conch Key -- A palm-studded coral island off the Florida Coast”, rather than simply build an alternative to “the famous Lacy’s Department Store” yuletide exhibition; unless of course he purposely wanted to attract the attention of that particular metropolis’ Dark Knight and ruin his well-prepared plans for murdering “all the creeps who tried to muscle in on our butt-smuggling” operation.   

Equally as illogical is the Philadelphia-born writer’s handling of the Caped Crusader himself. Clearly aware of Commissioner Gordon’s deep concern regarding a spate of hijackings and murders related to illegal cigarettes, Batman nonsensically decides to initially ignore the Policeman’s request for him to ‘crack the smuggling ring’ and instead needle him by explaining he has to “do my Xmas shopping”. To make matters worse, Haney also has Bruce Wayne’s alter ego later impotently surrender to two armed gangsters, and subsequently be stretched out across a gigantic evergreen conifer “as a tree decoration”, despite the fact that Plastic Man is right beside him and could presumably readily dispatch the goons with a couple of elongated fists?

Fortunately what this comic lacks in credibility, it more than makes up for with its wonderfully dynamic-looking artwork, courtesy of Joe Staton and Jim Aparo. Imbued with a genuine feeling of energetic athleticism, whether it be him landing flat-footed on top of a van roof, karate-chopping a goon with throat strike, or swinging into his open-topped Batmobile, the creative team’s rendering of the Caped Crusader, as well as Plastic Man, is top notch throughout.
Writer: Bob Haney, and Artists: Joe Staton & Jim Aparo

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