Thursday, October 23, 2014

Batman's One Time Supernatural Team-Ups

Batman was no stranger to team-ups, thanks to the Brave and the Bold (and multiple team-ups with folks like Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, Spectre and the Demon), neither was he a stranger to the supernatural... the darknight detective had encountered plenty of odd things in his own magazine and Detective Comics as well...

...but, these were a few of the magical team-ups Batman only did once in Brave and the Bold!

Sunny Side Down

Eclipso was only Batman's second team-up appearance in Brave and the Bold, but the story in B&B #64 (February-March, 1966, by Bob Haney and Win Mortimer) was a doozy all under a magical cover done by Gil Kane (who was more known for drawing the Green Lantern and the Atom at the time!).

Batman faced off against Dr. Bruce Gordon's alter-ego...the evil Eclipso, as Eclipso and Queen Bee (Marcia Monroe, not related to the JLA foe, Zazzala) started a crime wave in Gotham, and even framed Batman for the crime!

Eclipso came into being in House of Secrets #61 (August, 1963) in a story by Bob Haney and Lee Elias, and was originally though to be solar scientist Bruce Gordon (no relation to Com. James Gordon), scratched by a black diamond held by tribal sorcerer Mophir during an eclipse. 

Bruce would then turn into the evil Eclipso (like Jekyll and Hyde) and weld the power of the black diamond against the forces of good (and usually his fiancĂ©, Mona Bennett and her father during the run to House of Secrets #80, and a few returns in Metal Men and Green Lantern, among others).  Later, it was revealed that Eclipso was tied to the Spectre as a former wrath of God, and that the diamond imprisoned his essence (in the Eclipso: The Darkness Within 1992 DC Annual event , and Eclipso's own 18 issue series, and a storyline in Spectre #14-18 at the time involving DC magicians Dr. Fate, Zatanna, Phantom Stranger, the Demon and Madame Xanadu)...and that anyone holding one of many black diamonds could manifest Eclipso under anger.

Another House

Batman went into the House of Mystery in Brave and the Bold #93 (December-January 1970/1971) in a story by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams (famous for a run on Green Lantern at the time as well), where Batman had to save a boy in Scotland from what might be the ghost of a Scottish king in "Red Water, Crimson Death".

An odd, but often reprinted tale....and a pretty good one as well, with some historical significance for DC Comics, as the House of Mystery had originally been a horror anthology without a host, then home to the first Brave & the Bold co-star back from issue #50, Martian Manhunter, and a newcomer, Dial H for Hero until they were evicted ...

What made this story a little odd was Batman meeting Cain, who was the host of DC's horror anthology title, House of Mystery (and until his point, thought only to be a narrator of tales for the writer starting in #175), and, with his brother, Abel (who took over House of Secrets when it became a horror anthology after Eclipso and Prince Ra-Man were sent packing) became parts of the DC Universe, with houses that magicians and others went to (like Superman, Blue Devil, Sandman and more).

Daylight Sucks

One of the residents of the title of the House of Mystery, was a real bat-man...and Andrew Bennett (of the feature I...Vampire) met Bruce Wayne's alter ego in Brave and the Bold #195 (February, 1983, by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo).

This set the two against each other for a time, then united against Andrew's foe, Mary and the vampires of the Blood Red Moon as Batman had to deal with this vampire invasion of Gotham and save a mobster's daughter in "Night of Blood"! 

Not the first or last time Batman faced a creature of the night...

Andrew Bennett was one of the earlier "good" vampires, who lamented his existence as a vampire, and had been an Englishman who turned in the 16th century, and bit only one human, his lover, Mary, who joined the evil cabal of vampires called the Blood Red Moon, whom Andrew devoted his life to ending.  His story started in House of Mystery #290 (March, 1981, by J.M. DeMatties and Tom Sutton) and ran in most issues of House of Mystery (continuous from #302 up) until House of Mystery #319.  Andrew then popped up in Dr. Fate's 1980s series for a time, and even returned in the New 52 with his own I...Vampire series, and DC made a collection of all his original House of Mystery appearances as well.

The Doctor Is In

Dr. Fate had met Batman before as a member of the Justice Society, but the two had one adventure together alone, with Brave and the Bold #156 (November, 1979) by Cary Burkett and Don Newton.  The Gotham City police force (including Commissioner James Gordon) had become possessed by an evil force, and it took the help of the mystic from Earth-2 to save Batman and the police!

Now, regular readers of this column might remember a mention of Earth-2 before, but for those that don't, it was a place of heroes that existed since World War II, and gathered as the Justice Society of America (as opposed to the Justice League of America), with some heroic duplicates on each Earth, like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrrow and Aquaman, and some similar, like Flash, Green Lantern, Atom and Hawkman.

Dr. Fate was a hero unique to Earth-2, and was quite the hero!  Kent Nelson first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May, 1940) by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman (under a Spectre cover), wherein the magic user saved Inza from the evil Wotan.  Later, it was revealed that Kent was the son of Sven Nelson, an archeologist, and while the two were clearing a tomb in Egypt, they found Nabu, a Lord of Order, who accidentally killed Sven, and then took Kent as his ward, trained him in sorcery, and gave the boy Nabu turned into a man the helmet of Fate...which allowed Kent to operate as a sorcerer and fight mystical menaces (as well as join the Justice Society). 

Kent learned that the helmet was taking him over, and left it behind for a while (using only his flying powers, strength and invulnerability) to fight slightly more ordinary crime, but by the time of the JLA/JSA team-ups, Dr. Fate was in the full helmet again (with Dr. Fate being separate from Kent Nelson, much to the chagrin of Inza, who had become Kent's wife).  Dr. Fate even joined the Justice League after the Crisis on Infinite Earths for a time, until his body gave up the ghost, and Eric and Linda Strauss took over being Dr. Fate (and they were the Dr. Fate who met Andrew Bennett), and when they gave it up, Inza became Dr. Fate for a time (and she helped face Eclipso with the Spectre and Zatanna....).

Backwards Magic

Batman and Zatanna had worked together many times before, and she even fought Batman and Robin back in an issue of Detective Comics, but her one and only team-up with Batman in Brave and the Bold happened in issue #169 (December, 1980) by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo.

This story, "Angel Of Mercy, Angel Of Death" was a nice chance to see more of Zatanna on her own, yet with the safety of having Batman around as well (kind of the point of Brave and the Bold issues....). 

The pair work together to see if a faith healer is real (as does the mob boss who want to avail himself of the healer's talents!).

Zatanna first appeared in Hawkman #4 (October-November, 1964) in the story "The Girl Who Split In Two!" by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.  Zatanna was revealed to be the daughter of Zatara (a mystical character who first appeared in Action Comics #1), and was on a quest to find her missing father using the same powers of backward-speaking magic that her father possessed.  This saga would unfold in a few individual Justice League members titles, ending in Justice League of America #51

Later on, the mistress of magic joined the JLA (and gained the costume she wore when she was in B&B), and then gave that costume up for one designed by artist George Perez (that is more associated with her time in the JLA).  Later, as Zatanna gained more independent appearances, she returned to the fishnets, top hat and coat that she used in her stage magic act...but kept up helping people using her magic, including John Constantine, the Hellblazer, himself a dabbler, and confidant of the Swamp Thing (who teamed with Batman a few times, though John never did in B&B).

That's the fun of Batman team-ups, they were always magical and that legacy carries on today!

No comments:

Post a Comment