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.