Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and the reviews are free!
Lately, I've had a pretty good run of luck while out Longbox Junkin' at the local flea markets. There's been some unexpectedly sweet finds coming my way, and ain't THAT the truth!
In my last Longbox Junk post, I took a look at a great Golden Age Lone Ranger comic that I bought for a couple of bucks. So I thought to myself, "Why not show off another one of those Fantastic Flea Market Finds?"
And so here we are. . .ready to crank up the Longbox Junk time machine for a trip back to 1969 and a look at another surprise find I made back in early August that cost me a measly TEN BUCKS at the flea market!
It's a comic featuring the iconic artwork of the great Neal Adams and the introduction of his Bronze Age makeover for Green Arrow. When I spotted this comic in the shape it's in (I'd grade it at a 7.5/8.0, but I'm no expert) for the price they wanted, I couldn't believe my good fortune!
So strap in, because it's time for another Longbox Junk Retro Review!
Ready? LET'S DO IT!
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #85
THE SENATOR'S BEEN SHOT!
SCRIPT: Bob Haney
PENCILS: Neal Adams
INKS: Neal Adams
COVER: Neal Adams
Now THAT'S a nice cover! A Bronze Age beauty by the Legendary Neal Adams at the top of his game. Green Arrow is the star of the show on this one, sporting his new (at the time) look front and center. I really like how Batman's cape serves to frame the Emerald Archer. The tilted logos and bright splashes of color also really catch the eye. There's nothing I don't like about this cover. It's the sort of thing that grabs my attention and makes me want to buy a comic book! Let's get inside and see what's going on. . .
After witnessing the attempted assassination of newly-elected Senator Paul Cathcart, a staunch supporter of a pending anti-crime bill, Batman fails to capture the gunman. Later, in the hospital as the Senator lays in critical condition, Bruce Wayne is shocked when the Governor asks him to take over the Senator's term in order to push the anti-crime legislation through!
Meanwhile, as Bruce Wayne ponders his decision, we find multi-millionaire Oliver Queen discussing his bid on an important building project meant to keep the state and Gotham City from bankruptcy. His opponent for the project is Argonaut Incorporated, headed by Miklos Minotaur. . .a man Oliver knows is the head of a powerful criminal organization (thanks to his other identity as the Green Arrow).
As he wonders whether or not he can do Gotham more good as Oliver Queen or as Green Arrow, he is suddenly attacked! After narrowly escaping the assassination attempt, Oliver realizes that he's been targeted by Minotaur.
The next day, Bruce Wayne, still agonizing over the decision to take over the Senator's term and fight crime through legislation, or to continue to fight crime as Batman, he reveals his secret identity to his psychiatrist, Edmond! Sworn to secrecy, the psychiatrist isn't really much help, telling Bruce/Batman that this is a decision he's going to have to make by himself.
Later that day, we learn that the psychiatrist that Bruce Wayne revealed his identity to is ALSO Oliver Queen's psychiatrist as we follow Edmond and Oliver while they survey the contested land development project and Oliver Queen reveals his identity as Green Arrow! Edmond is either the luckiest, or the unluckiest psychiatrist on the face of the earth!
That night, Green Arrow and Batman both decide to visit Edmond's office to continue their respective discussions with him. After they get over their surprise at running into each other in such a seemingly random way, they find that Edmond's office has been broken into and the psychiatrist is missing!
Both heroes realize that Miklos Minotaur is trying to get to their public identities through their mutual psychiatrist. The suspicion is confirmed when they review Edmond's office recording and they hear the kidnapping in progress. Green Arrow and Batman agree they have to team up and rescue their friend. . .
The following morning, realizing the lengths Minotaur will go to, Bruce accepts the task of completing Senator Cathcart's term. . .and so becomes Senator Bruce Wayne! In the meantime, on a small volcanic island in the Mediterranean, Green Arrow is hot on the trail of Edmond's kidnappers. . .
As Green Arrow pursues Minotaur's men, vicious animals are released in the maze of rocky tunnels leading to the crime lord's hidden base. Green Arrow manages to fight them off, and shortly after is joined by Batman, who followed the signal of Green Arrow's Justice League transmitter to his location. The two heroes continue on together to rescue their mutual friend. . .
In the meantime, Miklos Minotaur reveals to his prisoner that he plans to have agents destroy both Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen for their interference with his schemes. At that moment, Batman and Green Arrow burst onto the scene! Minotaur takes Edmond hostage. . .
Minotaur believes he has the upper hand, but he didn't count on Green Arrow's superior bow skills, which give the heroes the chance to attack and easily subdue Minotaur's men. Unfortunately, in the confusion of the fight, Minotaur himself manages to escape!
As Batman rushes back to the United States in order to vote on the anti-crime bill as Senator Wayne, Green Arrow concocts a plan to capture and arrest Miklos Minotaur for his crimes by inviting him to a posh party at the U.S. Embassy in his public identity of Oliver Queen.
At the party, Oliver Queen informs the smug crime lord that he's to be arrested and taken back to the United States to stand trial. Minotaur is shocked when he realizes he's fallen into a trap. . .the embassy is legally U.S. territory and he's taken into custody. . .
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Batman arrives just as the voting for the anti-crime bill has begun. As he rushes toward the Capital, Batman discovers and defeats an assassin waiting for Bruce Wayne. He manages to arrive just in the nick of time to deliver the deciding vote in favor of the anti-crime bill!
At the end of the day, Edmond is safely returned to the U.S., where he learns that Oliver Queen has decided to fund the land development project AND continue fighting crime as Green Arrow.
Later, Edmond discovers that Bruce Wayne plans on giving up his Senate seat now that the anti-crime bill has passed. Wayne prefers to fight crime as Batman.
In a final scene, we see that Edmond has decided to undergo self-hypnosis in order to wipe the knowledge of the true identities of Batman and Green Arrow from his mind.
Okay then, there it is. Let's break it on down!
What we have here is a pretty typical example of early Bronze Age DC "One and Done" storytelling. They weren't quite as tuned in to the continuing storylines as Marvel was at this time, and this story shows it. This is a tale that needs just a LITTLE more room to breathe. I think this would have made a fine two-parter. Anything more than that would probably have been too much, but one issue just seems like it's too little.
That's not to say it's a BAD story. It's not. Bob Haney does a great job in the space he's given. The story is well-written and interesting. It just seems a bit rushed and overly-compressed.
What I liked most about the story was the spotlight on both the public AND heroic personas of the two main characters. With limited space to tell comic stories during this time period, the secret identities of the heroes often fell to the wayside in favor of the more action-oriented superhero side of things. In this story, Haney makes great use of Batman and Green Arrow's public identities, and truthfully, the scenes with the heroes out of costume were the more interesting to me.
The central conflict of this story was very engaging, with two superheroes grappling with the question of how to better serve the public. . .as themselves, using their money and position to fight crime. . .or as costumed crimefighters able to do what the authorities are unable or unwilling to do.
This kind of superheroic introspection was just becoming popular at DC, and it's a welcome change from the usual supervillain of the month punch-ups that were more characteristic of DC comics at the time. This story is a great example of the more mature storylines that would begin to come out of DC in the following years to come.
So the story is good. . .an early example of the more socially-conscious, or "relevant" comics to come. I just wish that it had a little more room to move around in. Let's talk about the art side of things.
In my humble opinion, Neal Adams is a living legend and a national treasure. His fantastic art is always a joy to see in a comic. His writing? Not so much. But THAT'S something for another review!
What we have here is Adams at the top of his Bronze Age game. The pages of this comic are FULL of superb Neal Adams artwork, featuring his trademark realism and interesting "camera" angles. Like the story, the art is at its best when spotlighting the characters out of costume, but every single page of this issue is worth lingering over for an extra moment before turning to the next.
From the fantastic cover to the final panel, this is comic that delivers in a big way! It has an interesting story based around heroes conflicted about how best to serve the public and is backed up by some great Neal Adams artwork.
Sure, the story is a little rushed and could have been better served by having an extra issue to tell it in, but I don't blame that on Bob Haney. . .I blame it on DC thinking that every comic book had to tell a complete story in one and only one issue at that time. As a modern reader used to comics being a bit more decompressed, it just seems like a missed opportunity to make a good story great.
If you are a Batman fan or Green Arrow fan or a Neal Adams fan in particular, you'll love this comic! But I can certainly recommend it for just about ANY comic fan that wants to see a somewhat unusual story (for the time) that focuses not just on superheroics, but also on the men behind the masks.
Me finding this actual issue in good shape at a flea market for ten bucks was just lucky, but a bit of research shows me that this one has been reprinted many times, and is available on ComiXology, for those who like to read their comics online, so it's not hard to find at all. Give it a look!
Up Next. . .
Spotlighting a few of my more "valuable" lucky flea market finds has been fun, but I've been inspired by Ed Gosney at COOL COMICS IN MY COLLECTION
to return to my Longbox Junk roots by taking a look at some. . .Longbox Junk!
By taking a short look at 1987's "G.I. RAMBOT" from Wonder Color Comics in his blog, I was reminded that not everyone is going to be able to snag a 1950's Lone Ranger comic, but there's plenty of forgotten and "worthless" comics lurking in the bargain bins that need a little love too!
And not for nothin' but if you're looking for a place that keeps comics fun and gives you JUST enough bite-sized pieces of comic goodness to make you want to come back for more. . .check out Cool Comics in the link above or on Facebook.
Okay, plug time is over! See you next time with some ACTUAL Longbox Junk.
Be there or be square!