Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brave and the Bold #88

Brave and the Bold #88 (On Sale: December 23, 1969) has a cool Batman and Wildcat cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with Batman and Wildcat in "Count Ten ...and Die" by Bob Haney, Irv Novick and Mike Esposito. Much like the Vigilante in this month's Justice League of America, this too is a new Wildcat of Earth 1 and never before seen. Bruce Wayne visits a flophouse on skid row to find Ted Grant, the retired undefeated heavyweight champion, who has fallen on hard times since he left the world of heavyweight competition to open a gym for underprivileged children. Over time Ted lost the gym and is now just another bum existing on the seedier side of town.

Bruce offers to pay off all of Grant's debts if Ted will coach the American boxing team for the World Youth Games in Vienna, in which Bruce is coaching the fencing team. Ted declines, saying his best days are in the past and after Bruce leaves he pulls out his old Wildcat costume and thinks how he is even too old and slow to wear it anymore. But when he sees Bruce being hassled by two guys on the street, Ted leaps into action and takes the two out easily. He decides that maybe their is still life in his old bones after all and accepts Bruce's offer. After Ted leaves Bruce pays off the two "thugs" whom he hired to rough him up knowing it would spur Ted into action.

Weeks later in Vienna, the seemingly Russian coach (if is never said for sure), Koslov, taunts Grant in front of his team, saying he was too afraid of Koslov to ever fight him. Meanwhile, as Batman, Bruce is briefed by "Military Intelligence" in Vienna on a free-lance spy named Kurt Schimmerling who was supposed to sell some information on the date the "other side" is planning on launching an armed space station. Schimmerling never delivered the information and it is now assumed that the "other side" has offered him more to sell it back to them. Batman's job is to get the information from Schimmerling before he sells it back.

Back in the athlete's village Ted breaks up a fight between the American boxing team and the team from the "other side." Koslov is there to say that the Americans started the fight and are bad sportsmen. Signs of "Americans Go Home!" and "Americans Don't Play Fair" spring up around the village and later Koslov eggs Ted on and challenges him to a fight, which Ted backs away from. His kids see it all and are afraid of becoming a laughing stock and Bruce tells him that he has now become part of the cold war and needs to fight Koslov and win. Grant is unsure what to do and walks off to think it over.

Bruce needs the time to change back into Batman and pick up Schimmerling's trail. He finds him and begins following him through the streets of Vienna. Meanwhile Ted has borrowed a bike from the cycling team and is tooling through the streets in his old Wildcat uniform when he sees Batman chasing Schimmerling into the sewers. Schimmerling loses Batman there but Wildcat picks up the trail only to lose him as well when he is suckered over a waterfall.

Back as Ted Grant spots him entering an amusement park and when Ted takes a ride on the giant Ferris wheel, Batman joins him in the car. Batman tells Ted that he must fight Koslov and says that Ted has not lost his old gifts at all and to prove it takes Ted on in a massive fight in the car. In the end only Ted emerges, Batman flat on the floor and thinking that though he pulled some punches, that Ted was quite a scrapper in his time.

The ploy works and Ted begins to train for the fight with Koslov. Batman meanwhile sets a timer on the arena lights to turn them off in the seventh round, figuring that if Ted is losing he will "take his place using a plasti-face-mask from my disguise kit." Batman then gets back on the trail of Schimmerling finding a ticket to the Koslov/Grant fight in his room, but before he can act on this information he is captured by agents from the "other side."

Later the big fight takes place and Ted goes out strong against Koslov, but by the fourth round Ted is tired out and Koslov is coming on strong. Later when Koslov gets Ted in tight he tells him that they have Batman and that if he wants to see him alive he needs to lose the fight. Just then the lights go out and Ted knocks Koslov out, carries him out to a nicely placed cycle with sidecar and gets the now awake Koslov to tell him that they are keeping Batman on a river barge.

Ted drives off a bridge onto the barge and rescues Batman and they somehow manager to get back to the arena before the lights go back on. Batman spots Schimmerling as Koslov knocks Ted to the mat. As Batman follows Schimmerling out of the arena and Ted is being counted out, Batman throws a batarang into the ring to land in front of Ted on which Batman has written "has-been!" This is enough to inspire Ted to his feet where he knocks out Koslov. Meantime Batman is able to intercept the transfer of information between Schimmerling and the folks from the "other side"

The American boxing team does well in the games and Ted begins to think that maybe Wildcat isn't completely washed up either. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2 TPB.

The back-ups are both filler stories written by Murray Boltinoff and drawn by George Tuska: "Death Turns the Dial" and "Killed with Kindness."

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

No comments: