B&B 2-in-1 Round 18: Sgt. Rock vs. Ka-Zar

Batman keeps up the spread: 6 to 11 against the Thing as Round 18 begins.

In the black corner... we've got Batman and Sgt. Rock, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Neal Adams, Brave and the Bold #84, The Angel, the Rock and the Cowl!

In the orange corner... it's the Thing and Ka-Zar, written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Ron Wilson and Dan Adkins, Marvel Two-in-One #16, Into the Savage Land!

Pick your side... WWII Europe or the Savage Land in the Antarctic? DING DING DING!

The Stars
The first complete rundown of the DC multiverse I ever read was an essay in ICG's Official Crisis on Infinite Earths Index. It included all the Earths I already knew about, plus a few curious others. One of these was Earth-B, or what we now call the Haneyverse, where stories that defied continuity could be relegated to without a hitch. That essay specifically mentioned the Batman/Sgt. Rock team-up as taking place on Earth-B, because Batman couldn't possibly have been active in WWII, right? Except this was written in 1969, so a story taking place on the eve of D-Day (1944) would only be 25 years away. If Batman is a very mature 45, why couldn't he have been active at age 20? Stretching it a bit, but Haney may just be within his rights to believe the Golden Age Batman to be the same man as the Silver Age Batman. The yellow oval is missing as is proper.
But that's all prologue to one kick-ass Batman adventure. Bruce Wayne is doing his part for the war effort by parachuting into France at the behest of Churchill after the proper agent dies in his arms. Easy Company isn't so keen on bringing this playboy along, but he proves his worth when he does THIS:
After that, the Germans get a good taste of "Ein Fledermausmann", keeping to the shadows and acrobatically screwing their Nazi plans without Easy ever seeing the cowl. It's non-stop action until he blows up a bridge and saves the Rock's life. Oh man, and Batman rides under a tank!
+10 bat-points

Ben Grimm starts this story Mantlo-style, i.e. in the middle of a stunt:
What kind of parachute can break a giant pile of rocks' descent anyway? The slow descent does give him a chance to beat up a pterodactyl though. Yes, he's going to the Savage Land where Reed Richards has detected a chain of volcanoes about to blow simultaneously that could create a ginormous tsunami. Reed's not risking the lives of the Fantastic Four on this one, he just sends Ben. Next up: An allosaurus! And a fat one too.
I like a hero who knows his paleontology. Oh yeah, one more thing:
OTAC! One Thing Army Corps! +9 points

The Guests
Sgt. Rock isn't too sure about this "Fancy Dan" he's being forced to take on, and he seems pretty worried that his mission might be "goofed" by Bruce or even by his own men. The Rock don't take no crap though, no matter how long you've served with him.
He does his job, but it's mostly Batman's show here. The comic postulates that the Sarge survived the war and he appears in a present day sequence where he knocks a Nazi out. If you're wondering, he's still in the army and is stationed in Europe. In Wayne's own words: "Tough, indestructible! Uncle Sam's got nothing to worry about with men like him defending America!" +4 bat-points

Ka-Zar and his pet sabertooth Zabu are obviously going to be involved if we're traipsing around the Savage Land. Sure enough, he shows up all savage-like, with a knife between his teeth, hampering in no way his ability to communicate.
he prompty kills the allosaurus with that knife and then screams out his bloodlust. Ben's opinion: "Wotta set o' lungs!" He later uses his Tarzan yodeling to part a rampaging sea of mammoths spooked by a volcano eruption. It's stuff like that you never saw Mark Waid's Ka-Zar do. +7 points

The Villains
Nazis! Batman fights Nazis. Specifically, a WWI reject (complete with monocle) called Von Stauffen. Ratzi's just begging to get the stauffen beat out of him. Oh! Oh! I kill myself, I am such a wit! Ok, enough of that. Von Stauffen's scheme is to bottle nerve gas in a winery to later release it on our troops. Can Batman and Sgt. Rock save D-Day? Von Stauffen's biggest problem seems to be his own men filching bottles to drink, so he wasn't MUCH of a threat. +4 bat-points

Dinosaurs! The Thing fights dinosaurs. But they're not the real enemy here. Rather, it's "V for Volcanus" and his merry band of Numbered Guys. They've got a vehicle with BIG TIRES!
And lasers that sometimes work on the Thing! And they eventually capture the heroes and put them in a cage above a volcano! V's plan is to use volcanic energy to give himself powers, but when Ben pulls on the cage's chain, it topples a rig and V falls into the lava. "For once a super-villain has died before he was born." Well played, Mantlo, well played. +6 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-Ok, Neil Adams is a great artist and this issue is full of great, great stuff. And yet, I'm giving bonus points for the one page he DIDN'T draw.
Yes, that's the legendary Joe Kubert on his beloved Sgt. Rock. No one draws war comics like Kubert. +2 bat-points
-Haney's a bit proud of himself as narrator: "And as they call, "They'll never top this one,' goes echoing down the halls..." He's kind of right so only -1 bat-point

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-There's a lot of unnecessary blurbage on the splash page. They comment on an alternate title they didn't use, then segue into the credits, and then "Oh, by the way, this is also titled PART ONE!" and when you think it's over, there's a reference as to where the story fits into continuity. Sheesh. -1 point
-It's a pet peeve of mine when the Earth is drawn badly. Ron Wilson should have been sent to remedial geography class.
-2 points

Farewells and Scoring
Though Sgt. Rock will never know Bruce Wayne's real name or the Batman's involvement that day, the two men part as brothers in arms.
No, thank YOU, Batman. +3 bat-points

Ben and Ka-Zar don't get a farewell, friendly OR unfriendly. Though it is the final goodbye for wannabe-Volcanus.
+0 points

It's not for lack of trying, but Ka-Zar loses this bout to Sgt. Rock 19 to 22! If only the lord of the hidden jungle had just turned to the Thing and say "you suck" or something. So close! That puts Batman even more ahead at 6-12.

4 comments:

Steve Flanagan said...

If Batman is a mature 35, why couldn't he have been active at age 20? I think Haney is totally within his rights to believe the Golden Age Batman to be the same man as the Silver Age Batman.

That would mean that he solved "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" at the age of 14, of course. Still, if you added 5 years or so to all ages, your contention would hold. But the real problem is that Neal Adams draws "Jack Pimpernel" at the same age in both time periods, while drawing Frank Rock significantly older in 1969. I can't think of a good explanation for that.

Siskoid said...

To be fair, I look the same now at 35 than I did at 20. My whole family seems to have trouble ageing and we all look at least 10 years younger than our ages. We're not the only ones.

Surely, a "perfect" human like Batman could also benefit from such a quality.

Matthew Turnage said...

Wouldn't a Batman who's 35 in 1969 have been 10 in 1944? There's 25 years in between those two dates.

Siskoid said...

Well color me an idiot!

Hm, looks like an edit in the making. Thanks for checking my math. Hey maybe he was 45 (hm, maybe not).

 

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