The Dark Knight and the… um… The Elastic Elocutor? I dunno, does Plastic Man even have a cool nickname? And if not, why? And can even these two heroes save Santa Claus? Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Brave And The Bold #148 awaits!
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #148
Writer: Bob Haney
Penciler: Joe Staton
Inker: Jim Aparo
Colorist: Jerry Serpe
Letterer: Dave Hunt
Editor: Paul Levitz
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 40 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $10.00
Previously in The Brave And The Bold: Debuting in 1955, The Brave And The Bold was an anthology title in the beginning, home to features like The Silent Knight, The Golden Gladiator and debuting Katar Hol, the Silver Age Hawkman in ’61. By issue #50, it became a team-up book, and a few issues later it was specifically a Batman team-up book, with the Caped Crusader traveling the width and breadth of the DC Universe to adventure alongside DC icons and lower-key characters as well. This issue opens in Gotham City, as Commissioner Gordon and his men arrive just a bit too late to stop an illegal cigarette ring’s latest caper…
Bob Haney’s dialogue is always a hoot, but I have to admit to snorting just a little bit at the term “butt-legging.” Get used to it, too, ’cause they’re gonna say it every three or four panels for the rest of our tale. This issue also figures the Batmobile I remember from my youth, a crouching blue beast that reminds me of nothing so much as Racer X’s signature roadster, The Shooting Star…
Turning down a side street, the Yuletide Detective sees a young boy chasing his new toy ball into the street, but before he can react, a street corner Santa streeeeetches out to snag the boy and keep him from getting injured or worse by a speeding taxi. But since when does Saint Nick have elastic limbs?
Like most of the heroes the DC picked up from Quality Comics (with the sole exception of Blackhawk, whose monthly title continued from the Quality numbering), Plas has fallen on hard times, and his occasional appearances in B&B were pretty much it for Eel O’Brien. Of course, by the end of 1979, he’d have his own Saturday morning ‘toon, bringing him back to the forefront of DC Comics in a more permanent way. As for The Batman, though he worried about his long-limbed compatriot, he still has a butt-legging (Hee) ring to bust! More importantly, the thieves have stolen the entire Lacey’s display window like a bunch of Grinches in slouch hats. Thus does The Batman decide to bust out the most legendary of bat-gadgets: The Whirly-Bat!
Thanks to the power of his Bat-CB-Radio, the Dark Knight finds that they got a great big convoy, eastbound and down, and this is my best friend Bear!
…I may have gotten carried away there. Upon finding the right truck, Batman slips aboard to find that not only have the butt-leggers (HEE) taken Lacey’s Christmas display and roast beast, they’ve snagged the street corner Santa Plas, as well.
Deciding that they’re best served with Plas staying undercover, the once-and-future JLAers are interrupted by the buttleggers (HEE HEE HEE) who put the kibosh on the Dark Knight and chuck him into the oil disposal dump at a truck stop, leaving him to drown in 40-weight. Once more, the Stretchable St. Nick pulls Bats’ fat out of the fire…
…I love you, CB Batman.
I hope that Ben Affleck reads this before he makes his solo movie, too, because this thing is rife with possibility. Our men of polyvinyl and Chiroptera follow the buttleggers (HEEEEEE) all the way to Florida, where they discover the true reason for the hijacking of the most famous Christmas window: A holiday party fit for the worst gangster of them all!
Of course, there’s more to the story, as the legendary Big Jake is actually faking illness, drawing in all his competitors with the premise of a party in order to wipe them all out in a hail of bullets. Sadly, our heroes are discovered before they put the plan to a halt…
Adding a hog-tied Batman and a still-undercover Santa Plas to their display, Big Jake welcomes his rivals, then gives the signal for his men to gun them down. Fortunately, Santa’s ruse allows him to pull off the big save, reminding them that he’s rubber, they’re glue, and whatever they shoot bounces off him and probably endangers a three-mile radius…
Batman leaps down to take care of Big Jake himself, seemingly miraculously recovered and shooting plenty of lead himself, while Plastic Man dreams of a White Christmas for the rest of his goon squad…
Buttlegging (HAAAAAAAA HA HA HAAAAA) resolved!
Not only that, the Lacey’s Christmas display gets a little extra amorphous holiday cheer, thanks to our crimson guest-star.
I’ll tell ya, for my money you can’t beat a good 70s Haney/Aparo B&B. Jim can make even the most ridiculous of DC heroes (that would be The Creeper, in case you’re keeping score) look dynamic and heroic, and Haney’s plots, while occasionally a bit goofy, were always engaging, and sometimes included phrases like “buttlegging.” The Brave And The Bold #148 is a simple holiday joy, a reminder of the clever, silly, child-like wonder of a four-color comic book, earning a hall-decked 3 out of 5 stars overall and a heartfelt wish for whatever holidays you choose to celebrate (and a happy Sunday for those who don’t celebrate anything.)