link back). Every four years, these heroes, these team-up masters, seemed destined to fight it out until either of their Showcase Presents/Essentials ends. Who will be victorious this time? By my count, we've got 16 rounds to find out: Ques es mos macho? Batman and his Brave and Bold guest-stars as often written by Bob Haney? Or the Two-in-One combo of the Thing and the hero who will be slightly mean to him as - oh cripes, why did Bill Mantlo abandon this book? - mostly written by Marv Wolfman? It's gonna be weeks before we know for sure...
In the black corner... it's Batman and the House of Mystery, written by
Denny O'Neil and drawn by Neil Adams, Brave and the Bold #93, Red Water,
In the orange corner... we have the Thing and Nick Fury, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Ron Wilson and Pablo Marcos, Marvel Two-in-One #26, The Fixer and Mentallo Are Back and the World Will Never Be the Same!
Ready or not... DING DING DING!
if you're a contemporary Batman fan, I'm not sure you'll recognize this version, a driven vigilante who, after being nagged by Commissioner Gordon that he should take a MONTH OFF to rest...
But then old Benjy the Thing isn't in full control either. The SHIELD boys more or less put him in witness protection - as if he couldn't take care of himself - and the villains still get at him, put him to sleep, and then turn him into a zombie.
I love unusual team-ups, and matching Batman to the House of Mystery definitely counts. What does that actually entail? Two things, really. First, Cain is lurking about, breaking the fourth wall and narrating the story. He and Batman never actually meet, but sequences like this are my everything:
Nick Fury is a natural guest-star for Ben Grimm. After all, both are cigar-chompin' WWII vets. So why all the abuse, Nick? He's the one who keeps telling Ben to shut up so he can get on with the business of delivering exposition (I suppose that would make me grumpy as well), and once the action starts, he does fairly well, busting through a Baxter Building window and fighting a dude that can bench-press about 80 tons (according to the Marvel Universe Handbook) with no super-powers whatsoever.
Batman fights a few Scottish thugs who are soon deterred, and destroys the holographic demon defending the castle. The real villain is Aloysius Cabot, an evil industrialist who's causing perpetual red tides around the island with his polluting ways. As I said, King Hugh's ghost is none too impressed, and after saving Batman from Cabot's poison, he drops his own picture frame on the guy's neck, guillotine-style.
For the Thing, it's twice the villainy when Mentallo and the Fixer team up. A natural pairing, they both look like each other in different color schemes, and complement each other, one controlling people, the other machines.
Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-Neal Adams art. 'nuff said. +2 Bat-points
-Despite all the strangeness, there is nothing so strange to me than O'Neil's dialog when Batman must explain why he's dressed as a bat to Scottish hooligans:
From Marvel Two-in-One:
-SHIELD has amazing top secret Pizza-Parlor Contact Quarters, just for meet & greets, ya know? Cross-section please!
-Marv Wolfman's purple prose was a problem for me on Tomb of Dracula - and that's one of his biggest hits! - so in Two-in-One, it can be a real distraction (-1 point). Check out an example on a panel I have to give BONUS points to. An appearance by the FF's favorite postal worker, Willie Lumpkin!
Farewells and Scoring
Friendly farewell: To recap our methods - it's been a while - the "friendly farewell" is a trope identified by The Comic Treadmill blog to describe Batman's final interactions with his guest-star in B&B. In this case, there is no farewell per se, because Batman never actually meets Cain, but his meditation on his inability to understand what the heck's going on will have to do.
Unfriendly farewell: When it comes to the Thing, his guest-stars don't treat him so nice. He'll always be scored on how BADLY he's treated in that final interaction. But not this time, because there ARE no farewells. The story is to be continued, and Nick Fury's going to stay on a little longer. +0 points
Round 1 of this tie-breaking match-up goes to the House of Mystery 21 to 17 against Nick Fury, and Ben has only himself to blame. It's HIS poor showing that's managed to beat a story where Batman lets Gordon and King Hugh bully him into doing whatever the plot needs him to do. He better pick it up if he hopes to beat the Batman in what promises to be a 16-round punch-up!