B&B 2-in-1 Round 4: Sgt. Rock vs. Shang-Chi

It's 3-nada for the Batman, but it's not too late for ol' Benji, especially if he draws a kung fu guest star I like. And he does. Wishing you luck, big guy!

In the black corner... it's Batman and Sgt. Rock, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Nick Cardy, Brave and the Bold #96, "The Striped Pants War!"

In the orange corner... we have the Thing and Shang-Chi and his Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Ron Wilson and Sam Grainger, Marvel Two-in-One #29, Two Against Hydra.


The Stars
In this story, BOTH Bruce Wayne and Batman and deputized as diplomatic envoys by the President of the United States, and off they go to Spain to replace/rescue a U.S. Ambassador taken by terrorists in Spain(?). Millionaires get all the perks in Nixon's America! And with Alfred's help, Wayne can "meet" the Batman, who appears to enjoy relative popularity abroad as BatHombre. Bruce already knows the embassy's chief of security, former U.S. Sgt. Frank Rock because remember, Bruce was briefly in Easy Company, at least according to Bob Haney!!! Being in Spain allows Batman to fight bad guys who use all sorts of Spanish or Latin American weapons, but you can't bolo Batman!
See? You just can't. +8 Bat-points

Meanwhile, the Thing is in London with his girlfriend Alicia Masters, basically playing the part of the bad American tourist. Big Ben? Just a clanging noise to him (and SHE'S the one that's blind). He's kind and tender, grabbing pigeons and letting her stroke them, but he seems to be a massive bore on a vacation, working vacation though it is; he still needs to find a scientist who can help Deathlok. When they find the dude's house in a shambles and the man missing, Alicia screams (see the reason below) and brings Shang-Chi running, and because they MUST fight as per the standard Marvel Comics Team-Up contract, Ben says stupid misleading stuff like "The girl's mine!", leading the martial arts master to think he's a monster. Much couch throwing ensues.
It's clobbering - with soft upholstery - time! +4 points

The Guests
Not only did Sgt. Rock make it out of World War II, but he went to Korea as well, and is now desperate to re-enlist. They just won't let him! So this military attache gig is only until he can be sent into the mix once again. There's no stopping the Rock, y'know? Well, maybe there IS stopping him, like with accusations of treason! Could he have had a hand in the Ambassador's kidnapping? It certainly doesn't help that he essentially lets Batman do all the work, waiting for him to track down the malefactors before jumping in. But of course, he's innocent, and shows plenty of courage, staying behind to face the terrorists while Batman escapes with the Ambassador in a dumb waiter (why would I make that up?) and throwing a grenade in an enclosed space, damn the consequences.
He survives. If the last couple wars couldn't kill this guy, a supporting beam isn't likely to. Penalty points for using the word "sojer" over and over again... did he do that in the Rock comics?! So annoying. +4 Bat-points

The thing with Shang-Chi is that he doesn't need powers to go toe to toe with someone like the Thing. He holds his own.
Not only does he not lose to someone who's been able to fight the Hulk to a standstill, but he's also the one to call for peace when he realizes Ben isn't the bad guy. Ben, in fact, slaps him down hardest for his purple prose, saying "Ya ask fer directory assistance, an' ya get Robert Frost!" It's true that Shang does have a way with words; perhaps it's cultural. Speaking of cultural, he gets to use nunchucks in this story, because he knows his roots. And his roots are Bruce Lee. +6 points

The Villains
The terrorists our heroes face are the Companeros de la Muerte, or the Companions of Death. A bold name for guys who use bolas, piano wire and... bulls on wheels?
But they're brazen, I'll give them that, using old tunnels in the U.S. embassy to hide the Ambassador where none will think to look for him. They've also got an inside man who frames Sgt. Rock, which is pure evil. You don't do that to a patriot of his stature. But yeah, bulls on wheels... +2 Bat-points

The Marvel heroes are up against Hydra, so bonus points right there. Hydra is serious business. This is my new mantra:
This tentacle of Hydra isn't quite as awesome as their bluster, however. Their London base is under a bad (the narrator says "uninspired") Italian restaurant, which must be hard to get in and out of seeing as the trap door is under a stove. Shang-Chi is unimpressed with their fighting style, calling them simple bullies.  They're no match for the Thing and the Master of Kung Fu. BUT! They ARE making hundreds of Spider-Women. Or something. HAIL HYDRA! +5 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-I'm struck by the similarities between this premise and the one from the previous issue. Once again, a "president" sends Batman to another country to recover someone, and once again a hero seems to act like a villain. The big difference is that the president in question doesn't turn out to be a heavy. Oh wait, this came out in 1971? I guess I take it back. -1 Bat-point
-Alfred gets the kill shot on the head spy. Does Batman allow his butler to carry a gun?! Sheesh! But good on you, Alfred. +1 Bat-point

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-Ron Wilson has a strange relationship to cheek bones:
I don't like it. -1 point
-Alicia Masters, blood taster! We should count ourselves lucky she didn't develop a taste for it. After all, Marv Wolfman was writing Tomb of Dracula at this time, wasn't he? +2 points

Farewells and Scoring
Friendly farewell: Bruce Wayne and Sgt. Rock are old friends and part on a handshake.
Not only that, but all's well that ends well - a treaty is signed AND the Rock is sent to Vietnam so he can finish the job over there. Uh... Well, the important thing is that they have a friendly farewell. +2 Bat-points

Unfriendly farewell: We don't see Ben and Shang-Chi say goodbye, but here's the thing - after Ben complains there's too much talking during fights (WHILE NEVER SHUTTING UP HIMSELF), Shang-Chi says he doesn't have time to talk anyway, not when he's fighting. And then never speaks to Ben again. He just stands there are various goals are accomplished, never saying a word. Here's his last exchange:
And that's it. Ben doesn't like talking to him? Fine. No more words need be said. A cold London goodbye. +2 points

Surprise! Shang-Chi defeats Sgt. Rock 18 to 16! Well, it's all in the power of Kung Fu. That's just one fight though, and in the overall battle, Batman is still winning 3 to 1. Plenty of time for either of them to outpace the other. Batman brings back an old favorite next time, just to make sure he does...


SallyP said...

Well, Alicia blew it for me, with that blood-tasting thing. Seriously, that could have been ANYTHING that she slipped in! Blood, chocolate, urine, motor oil!


Siskoid said...

Good thing for her I rate stories on their insanity quotient.

Alicia's London adventures continue next month/week!

Michael May said...

Whew! Close one! Glad Shang Chi pulled it out.


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