Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brave and the Bold #85

Brave and the Bold #85 (On Sale: June 24, 1969) has the classic Neal Adams' Batman and the new Green Arrow cover.

I can still smell the paper and the ink of this issue, I poured over it so much, digesting every panel over and over. This book was a revelation to me; I think it hooked me on comics more than any other book. After living through John, and Martin and Bobby, the opening assassination attempt gripped me because it felt so real. The 1960's were a decade of liberal politicians being gunned down in our streets and this book gave us a revised hero, a modern-day Robin Hood, who was there to help fight the corruption of our country. He had a mustache and a goatee and cool new threads and he was an obvious good man. It put Batman into this world too, and said that he was more than just a crime fighter. Both of these heroes were the "rich guys" of DC, but both of them show that they cannot be corrupted by their wealth, as some are. A classic issue for sure.

Batman and Green Arrow star in "The Senator's Been Shot!" by Bob Haney and Neal Adams. Election day and Senator Paul Cathcart wins the race only to be shot while making his acceptance speech, falling into the arms of friend Bruce Wayne. Bruce changes into Batman and chases down the assassins, but is foiled by a low overpass. Bruce Wayne visits Paul's room at Gothan State Hospital where Paul's son Edmond is by his father's side, Paul in a coma.

Bruce gets a call from the governor who discusses the importance of an anti-crime bill that Paul was going to vote for and the need to appoint someone else in Paul's place. Bruce suggests Paul's son, Edmond, but the governor says that Edmond's psychiatric practice keeps him too busy and he wants to appoint Bruce as Senator. The governor mentions how the bill is aimed at the biggest crime combine of all run by Miklos Minotaur, who may be behind the assassination attempt. Bruce says he will think about it.

Meanwhile Oliver Queen is finishing up plans for "New Island" a second Gotham that could save the state from bankruptcy. The only other bidder on the project is Argonaut Unlimited run by Miklos Minotaur. After his assistant locks up the plans and leaves, Oliver pulls out his new Green Arrow costume. He ponders if he should give up Green Arrow completely and devote his energies to helping humanity instead as plain old Oliver Queen. At the same time he notes that his assistant has stolen the plans for New Island a man on a window-washing rig throws a grenade into Oliver's office, but an arrow with a hook on it flings the grenade out the window where it explodes harmlessly. He pulls out a duplicate set of plans for New Island and can't figure out which identity is more important, Oliver Queen or Green Arrow.

The next day Bruce and Edmond are at the gym working out when Bruce tells Edmond that he is not sure he will take the governor's appointment. Edmond lashes out at him, that people's lives are at stake and "you won't even stand up and be counted." Bruce confesses that he can't because he has another job to do, Batman's job, "because I am Batman!" Bruce continues that he told Edmond because he knows that, as a psychiatrist, Edmond will never reveal his secret and because he needs his advice. Who is more important, Senator Bruce Wayne or Batman?

Later Edmond is looking over the New Island project with Oliver Queen when Oliver confides that he is Green Arrow and needs Edmond's help is figuring out which identity is more important. That night in his office, as Edmond ponders the two heroes coming to the same crisis in their lives, he is kidnapped by two of Minotaur's goons. Hours later Green Arrow pays Edmond a visit but finds Batman there instead. They listen to a secret recording that Edmond had running. Hearing that Minotaur is behind Edmond's capture both heroes silently think Minotaur is trying to get to their civilian identities through Edmond.

The next morning Bruce Wayne is sworn in as a US Senator, while Green Arrow parachutes onto a small Mediterranean island and plants a tracking device on Minotaur's yacht as it enters a hidden grotto. The tracking device is found and destroyed, leaving Green Arrow lost in the grotto. Minotaur releases his private hunting stock into the grotto and Green Arrow is attacked by a bear, a boar and a lion. He takes them out but is floored by the charging lion.

He is awakened later by Batman, who has tracked him through his Justice League locator transmitter. Batman uses a real bat and another locator device to find their way out of the grotto. Batman and Green Arrow crash into Minotaur's lair, only Minotaur puts a gun to Edmond's head and tells them to stop or he will kill Edmond. Green Arrow jams the trigger of Minotaur's gun with a trick arrow and while they are fighting his men, Minotaur escapes.

Bruce flies back to Washington for the crime bill vote while Oliver invites Minotaur to a lavish party on the island. When Minotaur arrives Oliver tries to have him arrested, but Minotaur notes that he cannot be arrested in a foreign country. Oliver then informs him that he should have noticed that the party was at the American Embassy. Oliver knocks him out and they take him away in a helicopter from the roof. Meanwhile back in Washington, Batman lands at the airport and makes it by Batrope and leg-power to the Senate, where he quickly changes into his civilian duds in time to vote for the crime bill.

Later Edmond meets both Oliver and Bruce separately. Oliver thinks that there is room in his life for both of his identities, while Bruce has resigned his Senate seat and has chosen the road of Batman. Later, alone in his office Paul begins sessions of self-hypnosis to wipe the knowledge of the secret identities from his mind. This classic story has been reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #23, Best of the Brave and the Bold #1, Millennium Edition: The Brave and the Bold 85 (#48), Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams Vol. 1 HC, Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol. 1 TPB and Showcase Presents the Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1 TPB.

Some mention must be given to the loose artwork by Neal Adams. It has none of the stiffness that would creep into his work over the years as he labored to be "Neal Adams," rather than a great comic book artist. Just my opinion here, but Adams seemed to just be having fun in these days; he hadn't yet become the "it guy" of comics and with nothing to keep proving, he was free to just cut loose.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

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