Friday, May 11, 2012

That Zany Bob Haney: The Brave and the Bold 120


The Brave and the Bold #120 (July 1975)
"This Earth Is Mine!"
Bob Haney-Jim Aparo

Doug:  I'm back by popular request with another Bronze Age Brave and the Bold from the pen of Bob Haney and pencil of Jim Aparo.  As I said back on April 26th, these issues are contained in the recently-released Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo volume 1.  I've really enjoyed leafing through that tome, checking out all of the crazy combinations for the Batman team-ups.  But is today's fare a good story, or one of Haney's trademark "throw caution to the wind, along with the kitchen sink!" tales?  We shall see.

Doug:  Raise your cyber-hand if you're a Kamandi fan.  I distinctly recall a buddy of mine having some Kamandi issues when we were 7 or 8, but I don't think I ever read them.  To be honest, my knowledge of Kamandi comes from the Superman/Batman mini-series of a few years ago that involved all of the out-of-time characters of the DCU.  It was a fun mini, but I can't say that I became any sort of authority on the character from having read it.  I'll lead this post off by saying that seeing the Kamandi headshot by Jack Kirby on the cover feels "right"; my first impression of Aparo's rendition is that it's off.

Doug:  We open on Kamandi's Earth, in a farflung future that (for those not in the know) is not unlike the Earth of the Planet of the Apes films.  Humans have been reduced to slaves, while animals can talk and have come to dominate the planet.  Kamandi is fleeing from a troupe of gorillas on horseback, led by "Captain Bat", a mysterious humanoid with a flowing cloak and pointed ears.   The Batman finally catches Kamandi, but when he does (after a tussle), he helps him to escape!  Kamandi is baffled, but isn't going to hesitate for fear of punishment on the galley oars of the Great Lakes.  Finding a wild mustang, Kamandi leaps upon the beast and breaks it -- wary that now if he's caught it will certainly be trouble.  Humans, you see, are forbidden to ride.  Kamandi rides hard, when suddenly he comes in sight of Mount Rushmore -- and a patrol of bears!

Doug:  Avoiding the bears, Kamandi finds that the animals worship the giant stone presidents as gods!  Suddenly the National Anthem begins to play from the mammoth sculpture.  In a "who are these guys?" scene right out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Kamandi spies the Batman and his band of gorillas closing fast.  Now running, Kamandi heads straight for the Mount, and through a strange energy field.  But Batman won't be stopped, as he uses a batarang and rope to swing over the energy field and once again in pursuit of the blonde-maned youth.

Doug:  Once inside the mountain, Kamandi finds that he is not the "last boy on Earth" -- instead, in a scene reminiscent of the ending parts of Logan's Run, Kamandi finds an entire settlement of humans who have been living inside the presidential mount.  And then -- Haney gets Zany.  You see, these squatters have in their possession a copy of The Brave and the Bold #118.  They decided that the Batman would be their hero, and summoned him from the past using some old Indian magics.  Mm hmmm.  Anyway, in our present Batman had collapsed while with Commissioner Gordon, gone into a coma, while his "astral projection" journeyed to post-apocalyptic Earth to hang out with these survivors, and solidified.

Doug:  Batman tells of his arrival to Kamandi's time, and of how he was discovered by a gorilla patrol.  But the Batman is no dummy, nosiree.  He quickly deduces that he's a) in a future world b) ruled by animals that can talk.  Mm hmmm.  Batman bested the gorilla officer and became their leader, instantly christened Captain Bat.  Back in the Mount, Batman learns of the energy field that surrounds the Mount and keeps the animals at bay -- he deduces that it's a) radioactivity from old nuclear missile silos housed in South Dakota and b) by swinging over it he avoided any problems with it.  Mm hmmm.  To top off this bizarre scene, we are to believe that the National Anthem that had played for folks from miles around to hear came from a simple cassette recorder.  And Batman uses that same device now to broadcast his own message, leading the bears and gorillas to believe that George Washington is a god!

Doug:  After Batman's ruse, all of the animals busy themselves with moving a large jet -- Washington's command.  While occupied, the band of humans make their escape from the mountain.  But one young man, Garth, is so enamored with his newfound freedom that he's running around like a loon, drawing attention to himself.  Bad call.  Spied by a gorilla, a flare goes up and the cover's blown.  Batman has to rescue Garth, but in the process is lassoed and dragged behind horses for several miles.  In Christian Bale's kevlar?  No problem.  Adam West's tights?  Not so good, I'm guessing.  Anyway, Kamandi finds his former steed and in a daring rescue mission slashes the Batman's bounds.  The humans have made their way up a mountain and onto an abandoned rail car.  Setting it in motion, they are able to speed quickly away to full-time freedom.  After Batman catches up, thanks are given and the Dark Knight offers Kamandi the opportunity to return with him to 1975.  The boy declines, and the next thing we know Batman is awaking from a multi-day coma.  How, you ask?  Explanations be damned, I say!  This story is from the pen of Zany Bob Haney!


Doug:  This was a fun story, and for my money a bit better than the Teen Titans morality play I'd reviewed a couple of weeks ago.  I think part of my positive attitude has to do with my love of the previously mentioned films (see above) and how certain plot elements reminded me of them.  I would also say that I find Kamandi intriguing and do at some point plan to purchase the various collections of the Jack Kirby series.  Jim Aparo is solid on the art, and you may have noticed that he inked himself on this story.  It's pretty good, and as others have said, I can certainly make the argument that Aparo's Batman is my very own Dark Knight.


Edo Bosnar said...

I really like Kamandi. It's arguably the best of Kirby's DC material, and it's certainly the most madcap. Based on your write-up, I'd say Haney found a way to create a team-up story with Batman while staying true to the zany aspect of the actual series. And based on the panels you posted here, it would appear that as usual, Aparo doesn't disappoint.

Doug said...

Edo --

I really want to read Kirby's DC output, for posterity's sake if nothing else. I've read his Marvel work where he had control of the books as writer/artist, and it's somewhat painful. I've heard this about the DC stuff. But, no one can deny his creativity, even if it did border on silly. Were some of that stuff put out by a much younger man, we'd have had to have suspected the presence of LSD or some other hallucinogenic in said creative process!

And yes, I did tease on Haney's script, but darned if he didn't find a way to make the team-up somewhat plausible. This makes me want to check out the B&B's with Sgt. Rock.

Happy Friday!


J.A. Morris said...

Thanks for posting this review, and the scans. I've been thinking about getting this book, but DC often does weird re-colorings in their reprint books. Looks like that's not the case here.
And I'm with Doug, I love Neal Adams',Marshall Rogers' and Frank Miller's takes on Batman, but Aparo is my "definitive" Batman artist. No one else could match his bat ears!
It's always bugged me that there were very few tpbs/hardcover reprint books that featured Aparo's work,looks like DC is fixing that now.

Doug said...

J.A. --

DC does seem to be making a concerted effort to get some Bronze Age material out. I saw today, for example, that the second volume of the Secret Society of Super-Villains is shipping next week. I don't believe I've seen volume 2 of the Aparo book solicited yet, but I'm sure it'll be along the way sometime.


Inkstained Wretch said...

My understanding is that Kamandi was a direct homage to Planet of the Apes. ("Homage" being French for "rip-off.") DC directed Kirby to create a series like the Apes films and Kamadi was what resulted.

This is a fun tale, precisely because it is so insane. "Zany Haney" is, I think, slowly being recognized as a daring and brilliant writer. Aparo was at the height of his powers here.

Anonymous said...

Blazes! It's Bob Haney!

It looks like no challenge was too crazy for Haney to take on. This is another good example of a typical Brave and the Bold from the mid-70's. Haney and Aparo operated like a well-oiled machine by this point. Every issue was consistently entertaining, but might make your head hurt if you started thinking about it later. The amount of plot that Haney packed into these done-in-ones is mind-boggling.

I think Haney belongs to the tradition of great pulp writers. He was so adept at building a furious sense of momentum in a story. Because of this, he was able to get away with plot twists that any other writer would probably have been fired for long ago. That, and his contempt for continuity caught up with him in the 80's. But looking back now, his stories are actually aging better than most of DC's output at the time.

It's a shame that Haney never got his hands on Doc Savage. He might've been the ideal writer for the Man of Bronze in the 70's. Although, I thought Doug Moench did a fine job in the black 'n' white series.

James Chatterton

david_b said...

Won't comment much about this type of story, but I always wondered about Aparo's Batman ears here.. It must have seemed stylish at the time, but how does Bats keep them from being bent all out of shape with all his ropings, brawls and falls..?

Totally impractical, but yes, as a youth, they seemed a bit too pointy.

I suppose the same argument can be made for WW's costume staying on during pitched battle, leading many a young boy (and adult) to 'ponder astray'.

humanbelly said...

I bought this comic when it came out-- I would have been 14, it looks like. DISTINCTLY remember it being a laborious read, and I'm sure that's the only reading it ever had. I was a BIG Kamandi fan for quite awhile, mind you-- and if it wasn't Kirby/Royer doing the art, then it was scarcely more than the attempt of a pretender. But for awhile there, the three titles I was committed to were The Hulk, Werewolf by Night, and Kamandi. Quite the eclectic mix, eh?

Kamandi had a dynamic very much like a funhouse corridor of doors. What in the world was going to be behind the next one? Plus, there was an adamant refusal to clearly explain WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE WORLD, ANYHOW??? HOW DID IT GET THIS WAY??? There was a clear and direct statement that it was NOT a nuclear accident or war. I believe the catalytic event was referred to as The Great Disaster-- but geeze, it clearly existed as a mystery for its own sake.

Hmm. I imagine there probably was an explanation finally given at some point. . .


Garett said...

Awesome! Thanks for the review Doug! Laughed out loud at your "Hm mmmm"s!!

This review makes me want to go read this again. At one point in Kamandi's series, Kamandi comes across a copy of his comic book as well. No, correct that, it's in issue 4 he's reading a copy of Kirby's Demon. The hardcover reprint of Kamandi 1-20 came out last year, and those are about the issues that I enjoyed as well. Kirby and Haney both had wild imaginations--I wonder how Kirby would've written the Batman/Kamandi teamup?

The color looks good on these pages--I like the B+W Showcase, but the color looks at least as good here. I think Haney enjoyed Sgt. Rock as a guest star, so those issues are entertaining as well, especially #124.

Interesting connection with the movies. Love the B+B reviews!

Garett said...

Oop--make that "Mm hmmm"s. Don't want to get those confused!

Edo Bosnar said...

Inkstained - re: Kamandi as POTA homage/rip-off. I think DC editorial did indeed want to cash in on the Apes craze going on at the time, but Kirby's Kamandi idea actually pre-dates Planet. Pete Doree mentioned this in a post a few years ago (, and I'm sure other Kirby-oriented sites/blogs have more info.
Doug, in one way or another, either back in the day or more recently, I've been able to read the bulk of Kirby's DC output, and I have to say, it's far better than his subsequent second tenure at Marvel. I definitely agree with you about his Marvel material - I haven't read as much of that, but what I've seen is often indeed painful to read and look at...

Karen said...

I've got Kirby Fourth World Omnibus 1 and 2, and I've read most of the stories. My own opinion is that he was a a great idea man, but not a very good writer, and he should never have been handling dialog.I don't think the Fourth World stuff is as painful to me as his later Marvel work was, but it may be due to the fact that I have little or nothing invested in it. This was not the case when he returned to Marvel and took one of my favorite comics, Captain America, and just destroyed it.

I've only read a couple of issues of Kamandi; I'd like to read more. The premise seems perfect for Kirby to go wild.


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