B&B 2-in-1 Round 17: Morbius vs. the Teen Titans

The Thing is fighting his way back... maybe! 6 to 10 against the Batman is still a wide gap. Can he close it in Round 17?

In the orange corner... it's the Thing and Morbius the Living Vampire written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Arv Jones and Dick Giordano, Marvel Two-in-One #15, The Return of the Living Eraser!

In the black corner... we've got Batman and the Teen Titans, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Neal Adams, Brave and the Bold #83, Punish Not my Evil Son!

Looks like Batman doesn't want to give up his lead and brings in an entire team... DING DING DING!

The Stars
The Thing is taking flowers to his girl Alicia when he surprises her with another man in some sucking action. No, not the Human Torch, that's 15 years ahead, I'm talking about Morbius the Living Vampire, and he wants her blooooooooood. Ben's reaction is much the same either way, as he starts to throw her sculptures around as if they made better weapons than his fists.
Blind or not, that's no way to treat an artist. The greater threat may be the Living Eraser (everybody's Living, in this book), but Ben focuses on the pasty dude who tried to kill his girlfriend, eventually just swatting the Eraser with the back of his hand.
So ok, Morbius WAS the bigger threat. You won't hear me complain about your priorities again, Ben Grimm. +5 points

We haven't seen Batman in such good form for many rounds! He gets in there by riding tons of crude oil through a secret pipeline with nothing but a failing "scuba gizmo" (gee, Batman, can't you just call it a bat-breather or something?) while investigating the theft of the oil from one of his subsidiary companies (all the profits of which go to charity - aww, what a great guy - but how does he make money?). His finishing move is to bat-grapple a line on the fleeing boat of the villain who then attempts to drag him until he drowns. But Batman studied water-skying with a Tibetan Master:
Extra points for being portrayed as a good father to his wards, and an excellent leader when the Titans are around. I'm not even gonna deduct a point for shedding a tear.
+9 bat-points

The Guests
Monster vs. monster is one of Two-in-One's tropes, so the superhero vampire that is Morbius was sure to show up one day. hey, he's just misunderstood! And pretty damn addicted to red corpuscles. Biting Alicia Masters' pretty neck is one thing. But the Eraser? And then a hapless guard from Dimension Whatever?
Insatiable. But you know the way vampires have with the ladies? Morbius has that too. And the princess of Dimension Whatsit falls for him at first sight.
What does she SEE in him? With characterization at an all-time low, I don't have the answers. +4 points

The Teen Titans are Bob Haney's baby, so you'd expect him to treat them right. And he does. Robin spends a little too much time convincing everyone (and himself) that Bruce Wayne is a great father, but he gets to save Batman once or twice, deduce the solution to a mystery, cover for his bum of a "brother", and get hosed down an oil refinery.
Ok, that may not be so good... But the Titans as a whole work as a finely honed team, all of them getting their licks in, and being a fun group even out of costume. Wonder Girl is especially great.
I wish that were me. +9 bat-points

The Villains
The Living Eraser is an old Giant-Man/Wasp villain from Dimension Z (actual designation) who once tried to "erase" a bunch of scientists back to his home so they could give his society atomic power. He's since set himself up as ruler of Dimension Z and now he's back to finish the job. The D-list doesn't even want to be associated with this guy. The only interesting thing about him is the "erasing effect" that accompanies his powers.
His poor performance includes being choked by Morbius, swatted away by the Thing, and sending super-powered characters to the cell that contained the royal family of Dimension Z so that they can come to power again. He does erase a homeless guy, though! +2 points

Batman, for his part, is up against some oil thieves, which is an interesting crime despite the lack of costumes and code names. I don't know how you set up a secret pipeline, but it's cool. The real antagonist, however, is Lance Bruner, Bruce Wayne's new ward! This kid is a bad seed who's been in and out of reform school all his life and who killed his father by breaking his heart. When we first see him, I thought for sure he was Speedy high on crack cocaine:
But it's Lance, destroying priceless Peruvian artifacts. He follows up by stealing money from Alfred, defacing a police bike, smashing up Bruce's sports car, taking himself hostage with the help of a mobster to collect 25,000$ for himself, and if you're not convinced he's a psycho, he insults Wonder Girl in a discotheque. When he discovers the Batcave, you know two things will happen: 1) He'll try to sell the Dynamic Duo out to the oil thieves (for 100,000$ in a Swiss bank account - kid's a real operator), and 2) he'll be dead by the end of the issue. How he dies is of particular note for quickie redemption fans: Seeing how Robin sacrifices himself for Batman, he comes to understand what family and love are all about. So he strips Dick naked, puts on the costume and tries to save Batman. He gets shot, of course, and goes on to inspire the whole Jason Todd debacle. Except he never returned.... right? +7 bat-points

Odds vs. Ends
From Marvel Two-in-One:
-The last issue promised a team-up with Ka-Zar, but that won't be until the NEXT issue. Not the first time 2-in-1's done this either. What was up with Marvel Editorial back then? -1 point
-A quick look at the Dimension Z royal family:
Is the Eraser really that bad if he deposed a guy called "Supremor"? His Minister doesn't seem all there either. +2 points

From Brave and the Bold:
-Twin appearances of bat-vehicles this issue: The ubiquitous Whirly-Bat AND the luxury-size Bat-Sub.
+2 bat-points
-What does Dick Grayson do to relax? Ditch his "brother" and read John Lennon's poetry. The Titans were DEEP into the Beatles.
+1 bat-point

Farewells and Scoring
Since the Thing puts the hate on Morbius all issue, there's no way these guys are gonna miss an Unfriendly Farewell.
Morbius erases himself from the comic with a big "Screw this!" Ben's a bit forgiving though. +2 points

Batman's Friendly Farewell is over the grave of his most recent ward:
Batman: "Thanks, Titans." Speedy: "Anytime." Batman: "And if any of you fall out of line, I'll put you in the ground too." Speedy (thinks): "Gotta get rid of those needles... NOW!" +3 bat-points

Can you say LANDSLIDE? The Titans totally own Morbius' sorry hide 31-14! And so Batman reaffirms his solid lead 11-6 with a little help from his friends. Could Ka-Zar have been more successful? Find out next time (unless his appearance is again delayed).

Color scans brought to you by the Comic Treadmill. Check out H's review by following the link.

3 comments:

Porridge Face said...

I think you mean Batman with the Teen Titans up top there. Unless Bob Haney has Aquaman disguised several people at once. I would believe it.

Siskoid said...

Kid on the cover under Batman's wing kinda looks a little like Aquaman though, don't he?

Porridge Face said...

Yeah, from the cover I thought for a moment it was going to be some sort of time/age regression story.

 

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