Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bat Lash #7

Bat Lash #7 (On Sale: August 25, 1969) has another great cover by Nick Cardy.

Inside we have "(Brothers)" which is plotted by Sergio Aragones, scripted by Denny O'Neil and drawn by Nick Cardy. One night Bat Lash runs into Don Pasqual, his father's best friend, who relates to Bat the night his family was killed and how Pasqual was able to pull Bat's brother, Billy, away from the
"evil ones" who burned his family's farm to the ground and killed his father and mother.

Pasqual related how he took Billy and fled to Mexico, to the house an an aunt, but how Billy would not speak and would not take notice when spoken to. A doctor examined Billy and said his problems were of the soul and he offered to adopt Billy. On the way back to the Lash ranch Don Pasqual was shot by bandits and "struggled with death" for a year. When he finally returned to the farm he learned how Bat had dealt with those who murdered his family and how since that time Don Pasqual has been searching for Bat.

Meanwhile in El Paso, a blond-haired bounty hunter is pulling a Bat Lash wanted poster off the wall and heads off in search of the man he does not know is his brother, while at the same time Bat and Don Pasqual set off in search of Billy. As the bounty hunter searches he recalls his lack of a childhood and how he does remember Dr. Jimeniz taking him to a camp of revolutionaries where he was trained like a man in the ways of shooting. As a revolutionary the young boy fought against the tyrannical Mexican government before traitors in their midst were their undoing. He sought out and hunted down the traitors, killing them one-by-one, and when he was through, he felt as if a part of him had died with each man. All that he was good for was killing, so he took up the life of a bounty hunter.

Billy hit the small town of Encinitas just after Bat and Pasqual, who are in the cantina trying to enjoy a meal wile being eyeballed by a group of brothers who think Bat looks a whole lot like the bounty hunter that nailed their pa, though, the bounty hunter looked younger than Bat. Bat overhears the brothers, knocks them around and then he and Don Pasqual convince them it is better for them to leave the cantina vertical rather than horizontal. As they are chased into the street they meet Billy coming into town and can't believe that there at two of them.

Unable to figure out which one nailed their pa, they run for cover and decide to take them both out. As bat and Don Pasqual leave the cantina, they are confronted by Billy. Bat tries to talk Billy down to no avail and as they prepare to stand off against each other, a shocked Don Pasqual attempts to break up the fight, telling them "You are bro--!" before he is shot in the back by the ambushing brothers. Fighting side-by-side, Bat and Billy neatly handle the four brothers. A dying Don Pasqual tries in vain to tell them who they each are, to no avail.

Billy lets bat go, for Don Pasqual's sake as he seemed like he "was a brave old hombre...an' he seemed to think yo're worth savin'!" As they go their separate ways, both brothers are haunted by the familiarity of the other. Billy is drawn to watch as Bat buries Don Pasqual while Bat laments how everything he touches dies. A sad ending.

What is unfortunate is that this is the end, the last issue of Bat Lash; a book killed way too soon. I think DC ran the ads touting the book's near arrival longer than they published the book itself.

This story was reprinted in All-Star Western #11, Weird Western Tales #12 and Showcase Presents: Bat Lash TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

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