B&B 2-in-1 Round 20: Deadman vs. Scarecrow

It's 12 to 7 for Batman, with the Thing struggling to keep up. But wait, the Thing is a monster and therein lies his greatest strength. To help him out, Round 20 brings out the monsters!

In the black corner... we've got Batman and Deadman, returning for a second go, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Neal Adams, Brave and the Bold #86, You Can't Hide from a Deadman!

In the orange corner... it's the Thing and the Scarecrow (who?!?), written by Bill Mantlo and Scott Edelman and drawn by Ron Wilson, Jim Mooney and Dan Adkins, Marvel Two-in-One #18, Dark, Dark Demon-Night!

It's time to do... the Monster Mash! DING DING DING!

The Stars
Batman spends the first act of the story dodging bullets, briefcases and trucks in his own version of the movie Fallen.
Not only does he figure out immediately that Deadman is possessing all his assailants, but that Boston Brand doesn't really want to kill him, cuz if he did, Deadman would just have jumped into HIM and made him jump off a building. Saving aerialists from deadly falls, parachuting into Tibet, starring at deities in the face without flinching, saving souls... He's Batman. Batman with a little bit of the Denzel in him. +8 bat-points

So Ben is at a "late night gallery opening", which are apparently frequent in Manhattan, looking at some ugly-ass paintings of scarecrows, and not enjoying it one bit. He's told the recap... I'm sorry... the STORY of a Scarecrow who comes out of the painting to avenge injustice, but he doesn't believe it one bit, even though he just fought a demon cowboy ghost two issues ago alongside the Son of Satan (which this story keeps reminding us of). A bit thicker than usual, but he does want to get home to watch Space: 1999. Well, if the Thing is gonna be a geek about it, I'll cut him some slack. One good bit is wrapping the baddie in a sheet and punching at him.
Otherwise, he bumps into a fat lady and an ashtray, he gets his unstable molecule tuxedo burnt up, he gets pwned by mystic flames, throws a couple of punches, and says good riddance at the end. He's the Thing. But he doesn't want to be there. +4 points

The Guests
According to the recap, Deadman is solid while at the Tibetan retreat of Nanda Parbat. So the League of Assassins poisons him while they can, but since he's half-solid when it takes effect, it just makes him susceptible to suggestion (because Haney, that's why). His assassin sends him off to kill his best friend, which happens to be Batman (Haney, I tell you). After trying to kill Bats, he jumps into his brother Cleveland's body, as the kid is trying to take up his brother's mantle. Not sure how successful he would be though since...
But Batman saves him, which snaps Deadman out of his hypnosis. Then, using his brother's body, he kisses his former girlfriend, laying the groundwork for a future episode of Jerry Springer.
He's dead, doesn't mean he's not a MAN. Cleveland eventually wakes up in a cute parka and parachute outfit, so this guy's bound to be a little screwed up, and Deadman's unlife is saved. Playing the role of antagonist and victim, but still managing +5 bat-points

If Batman is stuck in Deadman's story, the Thing gets shoehorned into the Scarecrow's. Who? Yeah, despite the extensive recaps, I had to do a little research. See, the Scarecrow was to be a new superhero sensation, but he just never caught on. Scott Edelman created him in Dead of Night #11 and continued his story in Marvel Spotlight #26. A Scarecrow title was even solicited in 1975's subscription ads. But alas, no one cared, and Mantlo was asked to collaborate with Edelman to finish the story, or perhaps give it a little boost. Didn't work. He's a Scarecrow, he jumps out of a painting, has no dialogue except an eerie laugh, and can summon rain, probably among other things. There's plenty of mystery surrounding his origin, but the clues never pay off as the readers took this question...
...and promptly answered it with "We hope so." So what happened to the Scarecrow? Well, he changed his name to Straw Man to avoid any similarities with the Marvel villain of the same name (himself easily confused with Batman's opponent) and showed up in Doctor Strange's 1990s series with a double life as the founder of HTV, the Horror Television network. The next Tomb of Dracula, this wasn't. +2 points

The Villains
The Sensei is the leader of the League of Assassins and a damn sight more interesting than his cronies, especially "Willie Smith", the guy who almost killed Deadman. That dude gets punched out and catchphrased at by Batman:
The Sensei's function is to basically ask for recaps of previous events, look mysterious and walk away. But he does it with style. He's not the kind of guy who sits in his office all day, no, he likes to watch. As the final shot shows, he was there all along.
+4 bat-points

Kalumai is a demon worshiped by goat-headed loony cultists who lives in a dimension beyond the painting. See, the Scarecrow is its guardian and stands in the frame keeping the demons at bay. Well, sort of, because people and things can go in and out regardless of the Scarecrow's presence. It's just that he pops out to send them back. The demon-du-jour is a scaly Ghost Rider wannabe with spring-action kung fu flaming fists... or something.
A couple punches in, and dude reverts to human form. He was just possessed and doesn't remember a thing. Oh and since I know you're worried about Kalumai, I'll tell you he was destroyed in the Doctor Strange issues. Phew! +2 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-Both these stories had extensive recaps, but if Neal Adams insists on making his so gorgeous...
...I'm not gonna ask him to stop. +1 bat-point

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-Comics code approved twist of the week:
You thought he was gonna get staked through the heart, right? Haha, foo on you! +1 point
-Which would make the best 1950s B-movie?
"It had to come from -- THE GALLERY!" or "Made me feel like I was dead!" +1 point

Farewells and Scoring
Batman and Deadman's Friendly Farewell comes with some angst, and not much closure, but at least the two heroes have made up.
+1 bat-point

Seeing as the Scarecrow doesn't really communicate, what kind of Farewell can we expect?
"For good!" That's the kind of tone I associate with never wanting to talk about something ever again. And for a long time he got his wish. No Scarecrow, no finding out what happened to the supporting cast and their missing brother, no way. Ben might as well say: "Edelman, next time you want to try out out yer new concepts, don't call me or Mantlo, ok?" +2 points

The Thing had a shot here, but his lame guest-star may just have killed him. Veteran Deadman brings the rookie Scarecrow down 19 to 12. There's only one monster with staying power here, man. And so Batman widens the lead 13 to 7.

Next up: Is this the end? Last Brave and the Bold in the Showcase!


Anonymous said...

So unfair.


To pose HANEY/ADAMS against nearly ANYONE is going to end in a landslide.

And to have BATMAN/DEADMAN (who have always had some GREAT chemistry together) is the final nail.

Poor Ben.

I hope his sweet Aunt Petunia isn't reading your blog.

"Whatta revolting development!"



Siskoid said...

Oh there's just one more to go! And Haney and Adams are sitting it out!

Maybe Ben can finish with his dignity at least.

You know, I didn't think I was setting Ben up for a fall, but then, Batman is the odds on favorite in any contest, isn't he? Sadly, the early 2-in-1s suffered from crossing over with other titles, terribly uneven art and too many writers having a go.


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