Thursday, November 20, 2008

Brave and The Bold #98 - Nov. 1971

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The Phantom Stranger returns to The Brave and the Bold!

A mere nine issues after teaming-up with Batman in the title, The Phantom Stranger got a return engagement. This issue's creepy cover is by Nick Cardy, the interior art is by Jim Aparo, and the story is by Bob Haney.

So strap in and get ready for Haney to bring teh crazy:



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Batman is some kid's Godfather? What?!?

Yep, Batman is little Enoch's(!) Godfather. After thinking he sees his late friend Roger's doctor at the memorial service, he is called to the Gotham City Morgue by Commissioner Gordon.

There they look at a body that the coroner thinks has been killed in some sort of ritual murder. Batman takes a look at the body's face, is shocked, and takes off, without saying why.

He does some investigating at the bank where the victim worked. The bank's boss shows Batman what he found in the man's desk:

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...aside from Batman seeing this weird ghost-like being in his friend Roger's house, I wanted to highlight the second panel, above. I love how casual Batman looks on the phone there. For some reason, it just makes me chuckle.

Anyway, Batman tries to get near this ghostly blob, but it zaps him with some sort of energy, nearly killing him. But before Batman can recover, it disappears!

At that moment, the local constable, Walt Higgins arrives, and mentions to Batman that a group of townies has been harassing Roger's wife Clorinda, supposedly because they are resentful of her great beauty and immense wealth. Batman notices that Walt looks at her more than a friendly glance.

While investigating the grounds that night, Batman runs into the same ghostly being, but this time it doesn't attack him. Instead, it points to a specific lit window in the house. Batman looks inside:


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Batman wakes up, and is told by Clorinda that these people are merely friends of hers here to comfort her. Did he imagine the rest?

After signing some autographs(!), he goes to bed to rest. Enoch stays by his side, holding his hand.

An evil grin comes over Enoch's face, and Batman has an awful dream of that ghostly being threatening Enoch, in the middle of a huge conflagration. In the dream, Enoch converts into a bolt of energy, changing into:


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Batman wakes up, and Enoch is gone, but the Stranger is there. He tells Bats that this house is a coven for witches, and Clorinda and Enoch are the masters!

Batman finds he can't move, and the Stranger tells him because that autograph he signed was later used as a token to put a hex on him. The Stranger mixes some sort of potion and gives it to Batman, which allows him to move again.

The Phantom Stranger has more bad news for Batman--Enoch is "The evil godling they all worship!"

The next day, Batman asks Walt to exhume Roger's body, to check for foul play. As they talk, someone else comes up from behind Bats and hits him over the head, knocking him out!

He soon wakes up, and that's when the crazy really kicks in:


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...as if a little demon kid in short-pants isn't creepy enough, you've got Batman fighting Satan on the next page. Let me restate that: Batman fighting Satan.
Satan carries Batman off, we learn that, well...it wasn't Satan at all, it was The Phantom Stranger who changed forms to help Batman escape.

The Stranger tells Bats Enoch is the source of the coven's power, so Batman sneaks back into the house, and kidnaps the kid. At a Gotham hospital, they watch over him, but he seems scared of the occult objects they have placed in Enoch's room. Could their theory be wrong?

Suddenly, a light goes off in Batman's head, and he and the Stranger do some investigating. Turns out there is no record of Enoch's birth in the Town Hall's files. They return to the house, and:


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...Bats has figured out there are two kids, not one! Clorinda left the "good" Enoch out, figuring Batman would kidnap him, which is exactly what he did!

Batman smashes his way in, knocks out Walt, and chases after Clorinda and the evil Enoch. They run up the stairs, but at the very top, they see...the ghost of Roger!

At that moment, The Phantom Stranger emerges and tries to reach for them:


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...whew!

Batman's Godson, devil worshipping, fake Lucifers, evil kid in shortpants, ending with that same kid falling to his death. Bob Haney didn't mess around--and remember, this was a full five years before The Omen.

And if that wasn't enough, this issue ends with Batman still with a Godson! Holy Continuity!


But that isn't all the Phantom Stranger material in this book! There's a reprint from The Phantom Stranger, Volume 1, #2, "The Killer Shadow" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Sy Barry:


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For some reason, Myra goes along with this bizarre idea, not taking the clue that her family and friends are bat-sh*t crazy. Burying a body under your house for good luck?

They "wrap" a string around Myra's shadow, "trapping" it inside a box, which they bury under a cornerstone of the house. Sure, makes total sense.

Later, Myra is startled to see her shadow, claiming that it is "dying", which means Myra will die within 40 days! Luckily, there's more weirdness to come, as The Phantom Stranger arrives
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Myra resolves to leave this crazy house (finally!), and takes up in her Uncle John's summer house. But when she arrives, she sees...more shadows?

No, silly! She's told this is a "Shadow Party", organized to poke gentle fun at Myra's weird shadow experiences. What?!?

Using colored lanterns and matching skintight suits, they explain how you cann "leave your shadow behind":


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Myra's shadow returns, and tries to kill her! Luckily the Stranger grabs it, and they're struggle ends up toppling them both over the house's balcony into the waters below!

Turns out the "shadow" is just Myra's Uncle John, who wanted to drive his niece mad to get at her vast fortune.

This story nearly matches Haney's for pure crazy--I wonder if whoever selected it (editor Murray Boltinoff?) did so for that reason?

Nah.


(Fun Fact: This comic was on the stands the month I was born. Make of that what you will.)

6 comments:

russell said...

Speaking of team-ups, PS meets GL (Hal Jordan) in the pages of the current B&B. I haven't read it yet, but I did pick it up and when I did I thought of you, Rob!

Earth 2 Chris said...

Whoa, early Aparo Batman. It's fun to see his early take. He hadn't quite distilled it down to his classic look yet.

Chris

BentonGrey said...

Man, Haney is one wacky story teller. Devil children...for heaven's sakes.

bribaby said...

That was a frequent Haney device, introducing "lifelong" friends of Batman or Bruce Wayne that had never been seen before and would never be seen again. But I do give him points for the sheer convolutedness of the story. What was the ghost/energy being? Roger Barnam? The Stranger? Faulty wiring?
And thanks to the reprint story, I now know what my next theme party's going to be!

rob! said...

"And thanks to the reprint story, I now know what my next theme party's going to be!"

"What do you mean you're out of skin-tight purple costumes?? I have blue, yellow, red, and green...what am i going to do now?!?"

rob! said...

russell--

yep, happy to see PS in the newest B&B. we'll get to that comic, sometime next summer...

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