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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Brave and The Bold #126 - April 1976

Comics Weekend "What Lurks Below Buoy 13" by Bob Haney, Jim Aparo, and John Calnan.

Way back in 2007, I did a run of posts on Aquaman's Brave and the Bold team-ups with Batman. I covered issue #s 82, 114, and concluding with #142...somehow completely forgetting this issue ever existed! Great Neptune, an oversight like this from the guy who runs something called The Aquaman Shrine?!?

At some point, I had this issue in my collection, but somehow it disappeared, so when I was rounding up all my Aqua-comics, this one wasn't in the pile when it came time to start writing about them on the Shrine. So...better late than never, let's see what's happening inside:
Batman rescues his friend Ed (Haney's Batman had more friends and lost relatives than every other writer's version of Batman combined) from drowning, and he sees a small undersea satellite rocket past.

A small sub comes by and scoops the satellite up, but before Batman can figure out what's going on, a Navy destroyer nearby drops some depth charges, upending the boat Batman and his friend Ed are on!

Batman climbs aboard the Navy's ship, and its commander tells him that their orders were to stop the sub from picking up that satellite...but they were too late. It seems that the satellite could detect U.S. ships, making them vulnerable to a sneak attack.

Batman is asked to help out:
I love that bottom left panel...emo Batman!

Many miles away, we see inside the sub that nabbed the satellite. Two men--one old and one young--are examining its insides, and thinking it's American made:
Aquaman and Batman, in Aquaman's vehicle The Double Dolphin(!), intercept the Navy, which has just stolen back the satellite. They shoot of out of the vehicle and try a more direct assault:
Jim Aparo was great at those at-the-very-last-second sequences, wasn't he? Bob Haney gives him two of them, two pages in a row!

Anyway, we can see that both the U.S. Government and the Soviet Union have taken note of Aquaman's possession of the satellite. They decide to take their case to the U.N., where its agreed that the satellite will become the possession of all countries, to insure no one has the upper hand. No way this can go wrong...

Aquaman reluctantly turns over the satellite to Baron Mannheim, the U.N. representative. Batman shows up at the U.N., saying the hand-off went perfectly, except:
Criminy! Didn't either Batman or Aquaman think to ask for I.D. before they handed over a satellite that could bring about nuclear war? And these two are supposedly some of the World's Greatest Superheroes?!?

Now Batman re-teams with Aquaman to find this Mannheim guy and the satellite. Aquaman says there's a built-in circuit inside the satellite that will go off if its removed from water, so it's still undersea...somewhere...

Aquaman and Batman do their search inside the Double Dolphin, and Batman searches through Interpol's file on Mannheim. Reading it over, Batman spots what he thinks might be a clue as to where Mannheim is headed--a lake called Kanganchero!

Turns out Batman is right, for we see Baron Mannheim at the lake, meeting up with the satellite as it arrives near the shore.

Meanwhile, Batman and the Navy commander find one of Mannheim's partners, radioing a message to unknown parties. The Navy commander shoots him dead (Batman even adds a "Nice shooting, commander!") and they head back to the Navy chopper.

Miles away, we see where the message went to: an army of Nazi goons, armed to the teeth, complete with their own U-Boat! Mein gott!
Batman manages to catch up with Mannheim before he meets up with his Nazi pals in their U-Boat, but the Nazis see this and join in the fray.

Aquaman, traveling even faster through the sea with the help of two dolphin pals (another kind of "double dolphin"), helps fight off the Nazis.

In the fray, though, one of them grabs the satellite from Mannheim, and heads back to their U-Boat. Batman tries to grab the one with the satellite, but he's too late!

But, as I've said many times in my personal life, thank heaven there's Aquaman:
...the end!

Wow, what a story--Atlantis creating really dangerous weapons, Nazis, Aquaman's Double Dolphin, plus Batman commending someone's shooting expertise! Bob Haney knew how to pack a lot in eighteen measly pages.

If there's any minus this issue has, its that Jim Aparo is inked by John Calnan. No offense to Mr. Calnan, but no one inked Aparo like Aparo, but I guess DC was throwing so much work at him at this point that they thought they could get more out of him having someone else do the inks. Luckily Calnan doesn't overpower Aparo's work, so this issue, visually, is a pretty classic take on two of Aparo's most famous subjects, Aquaman and Batman (if only Haney could've worked in The Phantom Stranger somehow...).

I love that one panel featuring the longshot of the White House talking about Aquaman. You can be sure that's going to show up here on the Shrine again.


Rick L. Phillips said...

One of my favorite Brave and the Bold issues. I featured it in Tales from the Dollar Bin at Mail it to Team-Up. I just didn't care that Mr. Haney gave Aquaman a J"Let the AIr Breathers Kill themselves attitude." Sounds more like the Sub-Mariner.

Russell said...

I had forgotten this issue, too, Rob. Are you saying you still don't have a copy of it? I think I might have two, 'cause when I didn't remember it, I also didn't remember that I already HAD a copy...!

Never a fan of Bob Haney Aquaman-Batman team-ups. I didn't like any of them, really....he always seemed to make Arthur an angry copy of Namor (agreeing with Rick). This is probably the best of the bunch, though...

Wich2 said...

Not the biggest fan of Bob Haney; his scripts often read to me like rushed Treatments for longer stories!

But I enjoyed this one a lot.

As far as (God rest him) Jim Aparo, I think he hardly ever touched a character he didn't do justice to - or actually improve upon!

(Well, alright, he makes Supes' hair too wavy - but other than that!)


P.S. - I'll take the chance here to say that I had the real pleasure of schmoozing (there's ya Brooklynese, kid!) with FOAMer Paul Kupperberg last night, at the CAPTAIN ACTION event in NYC

rob! said...


I agree; Aquaman is a lot like Subby here.


I do have a copy of the issue now; I didn't back when I did my round-up of B&B Aquaman issues. Not sure what happened to it...


Yeah, isn't PK a blast to schmooze with?

M W Gallaher said...

I know it's late, but I have to offer up a correction on this post, rob!
The art on this one features Jim Aparo on inks and finishes, with John Calnan doing the layouts (and, uncredited, Ben Oda lettering). DC occasionally credited the inker above the penciller, especially when the penciller provided only layouts.