Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bob Haney & the Bat-Spank

Here's an image much circulated on the internet:

It comes from the Brave & the Bold #64 (March, 1966), drawn by Win Mortimer and written by longtime B&B scribe Bob Haney. "Batman versus Eclipso" is a free-flowing and frenetic tale, as Haney's could often be, a 12-cent epic of adventure, romance, sin and silliness with more twists than a neurotic pretzel on a bad-hair day.

I'm a big fan of Haney. As the image suggests, his Batman is like no other. In context, bratty rich-chick Marcia Monroe is out one night making a very public spectacle of herself, apparently inebriated and tottering across a catwalk on a suspension bridge high above a river while police risk their lives to try to save her. The Batman appears, disapproves and her antics and administers a much-needed corrective to the wealthy and wayward playgirl. She, of course, falls madly in love and after a whirlwind romance, the two are soon engaged. Marcia and the Batman, that is; while he's prepared to make a wife of her, he never reveals his dual identity. She eventually breaks his heart--sends a him a "Dear John" and skips town for Euro-Parts-Unknown. "I guess the 'cure' didn't take," he laments, and with a forlorn look and perhaps a mental note about the need for a more severe disciplinary regimen with future potential mates, he returns to his life of crimefighting.

Years go by and the Batman, patrolling the docks one night, finds a dishy dame about to be dusted by a well-dressed gangster using a bow! As surreal as that seems, the Caped Crusader then manages to lasso the arrow in mid-flight! And the assassin's target turns out to be none other than Marcia herself.

"But," asks the Batman, "why was that bow buzzard trying to ventilate your beautiful torso?" Marcia's story is that Cyclops, a powerful crime syndicate, is out to get her because her latest fiancee filched the priceless Cat Emerald. The no-goodniks have already blown the boyfriend to oblivion but his dying wish is that Marcia return the emerald to the museum from which he stole it to make up for what he'd done. She tasks the Batman with the job and he goes along.

...which, of course, results in his being framed for having stolen it in the first place.

An indication of how much plot Haney could stuff into a book: everything I've just described only gets us to page 8.

Heartbroken at the apparent betrayal, the Batman is arrested and from his jail cell, he gets on the trail of the Queen Bee, girl boss of the Hive, a crime syndicate moving into town. He learns she's arranged his capture in order to get him out of the way for some big operation.

Allying herself with Eclipso, the Queen Bee launches a crimewave. The Batman escapes and pursues the beautiful bug but ends up waylaid by knock-out gas and, dumped in the river for dead, fired upon by some of Gotham's finest, who think they've killed him.

At the Hive, a hooded fellow turns up and announces he's a representative of Cyclops and is taking over their operation. Eclipso is unimpressed and sets out to kill the fellow, who, it's quickly revealed, is the Batman in disguise. The Queen Bee rescues him and confesses the obvious, that she's really Marcia. But now, her story is that her father had gotten mixed up with Cyclops and she's only doing her Queen Bee schtick for the org to save the old boy from their assassins. She aids the Batman in his escape, a complicated piece of business down the side of a building while pursued by flying bee drones with jet-packs and Eclipso on a window-washing rig.

In the end, the Batman is cleared and both Eclipso and "Queen Bee' Marcia disappear. "Some day, she'll have to pay for her crimes," says the Batman. "And when that day comes, she'll need all my help! Until then -- farewell, honey." And yeah, I laughed at the line.

All of it began with that spanking...

Earlier this year, I started a Facebook group to celebrate Bob Haney's work. If, dear reader, it interests you, "Haneyverse: The Brave & Bold Worlds of Bob Haney" is here--come by and join in.


No comments:

Post a Comment