B&B 2-in-1 Round 3: Plastic Man vs. Sub-Mariner

It's not looking good for the blue-eyed Thing who's lost the past couple rounds to the Dark Knight Detective. Maybe this time, but he's playing blind when Batman won't show his hand!

In the black corner... it's Batman and Plastic Man, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Nick Cardy, Brave and the Bold #95, "C.O.D. Corpse on Delivery".

In the orange corner... we have the Thing and Namor the Sub-Mariner, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Ron Wilson and Josh Tartag, Marvel Two-in-One #28, In the Power of the Piranha!

Taking the plunge... DING DING DING! (Oops, mixed metaphor!)

The Stars
Batman, International Man of Mystery (he even gets called that) is pretty pimp in this story. The ladies certainly love him, there's no denying it, and on the basis that he must train EVERY skill to peak human perfection, he cab get through a mean tongue-twister.
He's not a greedy man, but he'll gladly accept a check for 5 million dollars sent to his favorite charity, and that's what the world's top female CEO is ready to pay him if he finds her lost fiancé for her. So off he goes, tracking the elusive Kyle Morgan into the headhunter territory in the jungles of South America - beating up a drunk pilot while he's there; not too many points for that one - and eventually making an exception when it comes to hitting women because Ruby Ryder is pure evil. +8 Bat-points

The Thing, is the opposite of a ladies' man. He has ONE lady, and she's blind, which is perhaps why their dates are so freaking HORRIBLE. So like, sure, he's bringing her to London, but with a cyborg zombie rotting at the back of the cabin.
And then the Sub-Mariner makes a fly-by and is attacked by a humanoid piranha, and the date goes pear-shaped, if only because Alicia shames Ben into helping. I know she can't see anything, but she's asking her boyfriend, who is essentially a human ROCK, to jump into the ocean. Well, thank God for Reed Richards' breathing pills. Ben and Subby go down and find themselves in an underwater gladiatorial arena, with Alicia captured and under threat. Ben will kill for her, but Namor is a little smarter, and convinces him to tear the arena apart during the fight. Goodbye, underwater civilization!
I'd like Ben to have a little more agency, but what're you gonna do? He's a bruiser, first and foremost. +5 points

The Guests
Sorry about the spoiler! The issue's cover plays coy about who Batman's co-star is, and in the story, we don't find out until the climax, but we're about transparency here! At first, Plas is in the background, wearing clothes so we can't identify him, acting as Batman's guardian angel.
Is he Kyle Morgan risen from the grave? A masked vigilante hiding in the sewers? A bottle Djinn? All of the above. He does lose points for not figuring out Batman's identity ("Oh, he MUST be using Bruce Wayne's passport without his knowledge!" Yes, that must be it. Crisis averted.) But then, he has other things on his mind, because as it turns out, HE'S Kyle Morgan, the man who was just shot by his fiancée! He's let the world think him dead, and led Batman to apprehend his "killer", only because he wants to see her beg for her life on the electric chair. He's even taken the executioner's place!
Plastic Man removing his glasses?! BIZARRE! Opponents of the "loony" Plastic Man we so often see these days will be heartened to see he's nothing of the kind here. This is an angst-ridden Plas who loves a woman who plainly hates him! Sad and pathetic! Hm, I'm not sure I like that idea either. +4 Bat-points

Namor is so completely hardcore that when he gets jumped by old foe the Piranha, he spikes the sucker and leaves him for dead.
Oh geez. It's somewhat at odds with his cheery post-being mind controlled by Dr. Doom disposition, smiling at the Thing, and having fancy ideas like "working together", but when you get him into a fighting mood, no worries, the Sub-Mariner talks smack like no one else!
IMPERIUS REX! +6 points

The Villains
Ruby Ryder - and does Haney have a thing for bejeweled names, or what? Plas and Ruby and kind of Metamorpho and Sapphire gone wrong - is quite the villain. She's super-rich; puts a giant double R on all her stuff, including buildings and island retreats; oh yeah, and she's a cold as ice:
Shoot your husband-to-be, sure, fine. Smile while doing it? PURE EVIL! But look, this woman is RUTHLESS (and SMOKIN', but I'm getting away from the point). She penalizes Batman for wasting FOUR MINUTES of her time. She hates most men's fragrances so sprays Batman with her OWN brand...
...and of course, she frames Batman for the murder of her fiancé and makes him a wanted man. Though she's eventually convicted, she's exonerated of murder and doesn't fry in the chair. At the idea that she might still face attempted murder charges, she responds with "See my lawyers, I'll be too busy!" Well. +9 Bat-points

The Piranha was a lame Sub-Mariner villain last seen being devoured by his pet piranha in Sub-Mariner #71 three years earlier. Well guess what. All those nasty little fish have grown up and eating of their master has turned them into bad Doctor Who monsters (specifically, toothy Silurians). So even when Namor kills the one trying to stretch his mouth of her head, there are more. In fact, they've got a whole civilization down there, one where they force superheroes' girlfriends to watch their men fight each other to the death in gladiatorial combat.
Lucky they have air-breathing apparatus handy for just such an occasion. Their ultimate plan though: To eat the heroes. I guess they just need them to get at each others' soft, fleshy organs. +3 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-That upside down panel gave me the spins. -1 Bat-point
-I'm not sure I like that, in 1971, Ruby Ryder is made to use the uterus defense at her trial.
How sexist is this? Your Honor, I'm just a girl, of COURSE I'm a little crazy. What woman WOULDN'T kill her fiancé while her Aunt Flo is visiting... if you know what I mean, your Honor!" Thankfully, the jury isn't swayed, but still... -2 Bat-points

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-Reed Richards thinks Jaime Sommers is a TV doctor, apparently.

Normally, this might be grounds for penalty points, but you know what? That seems SO in character for Reed, I'm not just going to allow it, I'm going to reward it. +2 points
-I like how the creative felt the need to justify Namor's winged flight power, which does seem odd for an aquatic hero. How? Visually:
Just put some flying fish in the frame with him and it's Kool and the Gang. Good show. +1 point

Farewells and Scoring
Friendly farewell: Batman is hopeful, but Plastic Man is filled with angst.
A little more dour than usual, but Batman is obviously willing to be Plas' support system. +1 Bat-point

Unfriendly farewell: Namor is so high on life in this issue, he robs us of the expected unfriendliness.
"We met on the battlefield as enemies... but we parted as friends." That's the OPPOSITE of what I want from Marvel Two-in-One! +0 points

Oh crap! Namor beaten by Plastic Man 17 to 19? It happened! And so Batman and his allies net a third victory in a row. Can Benji break the cycle? Next time, he DOES team up with one of my favorite 70s Marvel characters, so there's a chance. It'll be all-out war!


SallyP said...

You know, I'm more of a Namor fan than a Bat-fan, but dang...Nick Cardy artwork!


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