Brave and the Bold #148

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If anyone else is hungover from last night’s company Christmas party, please raise your hand. Only me? Ah well, it’s all good. I may have landed myself on the naughty list for my ill advised shenanigans with the xerox machine but I’m still chock full of holiday cheer!

Jolly would be a good word to describe my mood in all honesty. Here I am with you, the fine reader, and a copy of the Brave and the Bold #148 ( DC Comics, March ’79). By cover alone, this has the look of a Christmas classic. Batman and Plastic Man take on the mob in a yuletide yarn, what’s not to like? Grab yourself a glass of eggnog and join me for a review of “The Night the Mob Stole X-Mas” by Bob Haney, Joe Staton and Jim Aparo.

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lineDirty, rotten, no good, stinkin’ buttleggers. You may be asking yourself “What the hell is that? A new brand of yoga pants?” Sounds right but no. Back in the day, everyone was wacky for tobacky. That may be a stretch but it was still a socially acceptable vice of sorts. So stealing smokes was a profitable racket. This Navidad narrative begins with Batman on the trail of group of hijackers that robbed a cigarette truck. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean Bats is promoting puffing. He’s just not down with murder…or Gotham getting goosed on taxes.

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“The judges gave him a 10 for executing the landing and lambasting lecture maneuver.”

Batman is known for having cool gadgets and per the norm, they will be on full display in this issue. Still, for every Batarang or can of Shark Repellent, The Batmobile will always be the coolest. Everyone has a favorite and there are plenty of versions to choose from but boy, this panel makes me wonder if the Dark Knight has taken too may hits on the noggin.

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“Know what else is real bad? Driving in a snow storm with no roof.”

As Bats cruises around with the top down, presumably so everyone can hear his kicking sound system, he notices a child run into the street. A taxi comes within inches of the boy when he is saved by a street Santa with elastic limbs. Batman is shocked to discover it’s Plastic Man in a merry mask and he angrily grabs the garb. Two things here Ebenezer Wayne. First, you of all people should know maintaining one’s secret identity is paramount and two, think about the kids man. Would you tear off Mickey Mouse’s head at Disneyland? Dreams and sense of wonder are now deader than your parents. Nice job.

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“A man dressed as a flying rat objects to my fake beard!”

The two heroes briefly chat with Plas explaining he quit his carnival gig to play Kris Kringle for the Salvation Army. Batman is fairly bummed he’s become a bell ringer and tosses him some spare change before resuming his search for the buttleggers. While distracted looking for the thieves, a new ghastly crime has occurred. The stogies are second fiddle to the theft of “Lacy’s” Department Store nativity display! Yes, Batman is also a defender of trademark law.

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“Wait, the trucker’s murder didn’t get a Code Red. Never mess with another man’s manger!”

Hope you guys haven’t shipped off your wish lists to the North Pole yet. Especially if you didn’t ask for your very own Whirly-Bat! It conveniently fits in your trunk because you never know when you might need it.  Stuck in traffic? Whirly-Bat! Mother in Law coming over for dinner? Whirly-Bat outta dodge! Order now, Operators are standing by!

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“Warning: Small parts and razor sharp helicopter blades. Not suitable for minors. Except Robin.”

With all my Whirly-Bat excitement I failed to mention Plas was kidnapped. How it all went down irritates me to no end. I should love the dickens out of it really. The elements I typically enjoy are there and It’s completely off the wall zany. But even being half conscious, I can’t get over the fact Plas decided to leave a clue in the snow rather than use that same arm to knock out the driver. Sure, thanks to that tidbit he was discovered by Batman but I’m positive an idling tractor trailer would’ve had the same effect.  I suppose it was an excuse to gift us with one of the more random and unnecessary panels in comic book history. A Reindeer grubbing on tobacco.

bbb11“On that fateful day, Prancer–or whatever your name is…succumbed to peer pressure and ate the devil’s lettuce.”

Plastic Man reveals the Mob has behind all of the holiday hoodwinking and are high tailing it down to Florida in an effort to appease their dying boss. Odd request by the Godfather but what do you expect coming from this story. Time to visit some Blue Haired Betty’s and battle some baddies down in the Sunshine State. But first, Batman needs a bath…in a car wash. Don’t ask. Have some ribbon candy and enjoy the ride.

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“Batman’s shadow feels ashamed after all that hard buffing.”

They arrive in time to bust the party and save Christmas in Gotham but it’s how they win the day that’s spectacular. The Mobsters had arranged for fake snow to be dropped overhead while celebrating. Plastic Man uses this to his advantage by turning his head into a funnel and blasting the mafia into submission. The good news is, following this adventure he quit his gig as Saint Nick and started smuggling coke. Poor guy still believes it’s only synthetic snowflakes but appreciates getting paid in cash.

bbb22.1“Tony Montana eat your heart out.”

Holly Jolly or Ho-Ho Horrible?

Sorry, can’t get my Grinch on this time. This issue was fantastic. Utterly ridiculous and a whole lot of fun. What else can you ask for from a Holiday themed issue? The artwork, while the pencilling credit is given to Staton, it was Jim Aparo’s star that shined the brightest and the pages looked phenomenal. I will admit, Bob Haney’s script is only amusing due to it’s seasonal nature. I’ve busted his hump in a review of his previous work so let’s consider this time around as my attempt at puckering up under the mistletoe.

Next time you’re ready to slap ten smackeroos down on one of the newer anthologies DC is serving up, don’t. Turn around, head to the bins and start digging for Brave and the Bold #148.

Now, If I could only find out what happened to that poor Reindeer from earlier. Sweet Mother Hubbard…NO!

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“15 bucks little man.”

 

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites are used solely for informational purposes.

 

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House of Mystery #148

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House of Mystery has long been associated with horror but it actually featured superhero stories from #143- #173. Martian Manhunter aka J’onn J’onzz was the main attraction for the majority of that span. He’s always confused me a little. Not the character overall but rather his popularity. The dude is a straight up heavy hitter in the DC Universe and when he comes up in conversation among fans there is genuine affection there.

So why can’t J’onn hold on to a solo title like the other big guns? He’s an original member of the Justice League who has appeared in video games, animation and live action TV. He’s also been in so many titles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him DNA tested on Maury.

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” Grant Morrison is a HO!”

I suppose it’s fitting to follow up a paternity test anecdote with Martian Manhunter battling a race of prophylactics. Wait, don’t tell me you don’t recall the Clash with the Condoms back in ’65? All good, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s take a peek at House of Mystery #148 “The Beings in the Color Rings” ( I preferred my title too) by Dave Wood and Joe Certa.

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Before we examine the story, I have to be honest with you. I don’t care for sidekicks. Some have a place. Marvel’s Rick Jones or DC’s Robin for example, had important roles in comic book history. Mention the likes of D-Man or say, any animal in a cape to me and prepare for a look that will melt your face off. J’onn may have had one of the worst of the bunch in Zook. He’s cute, resembles a teddy bear, speaks like a child and every time he appears on panel, I want to punt the little bastard into next week.

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“I’m gonna bring you home and flush you like a turd.”

The issue begins with Bedford City being attacked by a strange creature from the sky. J’onn hears the radio bulletin while chilling in his mountain lair and deducts it must be a manifestation of “The Idol Head of Diabolu”. Other than having a name that rolls off the tongue, Diabolu was an artifact from Mars that granted ordinary folks powers. If his suspicion of it’s involvement is true, we can add giving baby toys sentience to it’s resume.

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“Let your kid play with these at your own peril pal…”

So what form of evil is this thing capable of? Basically, it tosses rings around that suck up items of corresponding colors only to spit them back out sans pigment. Yellow ring picks up a yellow taxi and voila, it’s white. Before you head to the rooftops and start yelling “Cheeseballs!” at the heavens let me remind you this was the sensational Silver Age. An era chock full of random plot points, so there is one cool thing it can do… summon an electrified two headed octopus!

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      “J’onn please. Don’t be rude. It’s name is Larry and he has a Massage License.”

This proves to be a let down. The wannabe Wacky Wall Crawler is merely a mirage. Something that does please me however, was back in the day heroes had powers to suit any pickle. Kids nowadays with their search engines will never understand the importance of  “Super Memory”. That’s right, us old timers used to walk to school during blizzards and had to use our alien brains to access the Encyclopedia Britannica. The struggle was real. Oh before I forget, the Earth is about to be enslaved by ringworm hungry for paint.

hom1487“The Rainbow Paint Factory appears to be constructed from a crossword puzzle.”

Rather than fight any more imaginary beasts, J’onn has a plan. It’s terribly stupid but hey, if you haven’t noticed already, this isn’t the finest work of fiction. He decides the ringworm is absorbing colors and sending them somewhere. If he can become bait maybe the source will be revealed. Showing exemplary carpeting skills, he rolls up giant piece of turf to call attention to green. The trick works and he’s whisked away to another dimension. May I remind you he’s already the correct hue so the sod sushi is a bit unnecessary.

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“Little known fact: Martian Manhunter taught Bob Marley how to twist a spliff.”

At the start, I referred to this yarn as the Clash with the Condoms. Well I’ll be damned if the “disk people” he encounters are not related to rubbers. Seriously. They seem harmless at first. “Color gives us power” and all that jazz but their real intent is to oppress Earthlings and coat the world in latex. Just kidding, I made that last part up but it’s actually an improvement to the plot.

PicMonkey Collage“This Halloween, tell your friends it’s a Disk Person costume.”

Now that our hero has found himself at the mercy of sinister love gloves, how does he save the day? Surprise…he doesn’t. J’onn actually gets his Martian mutton roasted by the baddies. All seems lost until, and I’d rather swallow nails than say this but Zook comes to the rescue. A character I can’t stand shows up, yanks him out of out of trouble and this issue wraps up with J’onn remarking he owes the city a patch of grass.

This book was ghostwritten and I completely understand the creators not wanting to be associated with it. Rancid from start to finish, I had zero enthusiasm to check out the back up feature “The Man who Hated his Powers”. The story was one of the worst I’ve ever read. That’s saying something. I can usually justify the existence of a comic by relating to the time period it was released but in this case, the defense rests.

If your a hardcore Martian Manhunter fan or just someone interested in learning more about him, this is not for you. On the other hand, if you’re eager to get your Zook on, He’s the true protagonist in this drivel. Read away and prepare for a robust slap to be delivered by yours truly.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites are used solely for informational purposes.