B&B 2-in-1 Round 7: Flash vs. Invisible Girl

Batman leads 4 to 2, which has caused Ben Grimm to call in reinforcements. How many guest-stars does that guy need to cancel out the power of Bob Haney anyway?

In the black corner... it's Batman and the Flash, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Bob Brown and Nick Cardy, Brave and the Bold #99, "The Man Who Murdered the Past!"

In the orange corner... we have the Thing and Invisible Girl (plus a couple of Spider-Women), written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Ron Wilson and Pablo Marcos, Marvel Two-in-One #32, And Only the Invisible Girl Can Save Us Now!


The Stars
Keep in mind that this is Bob Haney's Earth-B-minus Batman. Keep it well in mind. Because in this story, the Bat feels compelled to return to the Wayne family summer home on an island in New England, and because he forgot to bring a change of clothes, rents the place out in full costume. Cue flashbacks to happier days, but more importantly, this clearly abandoned house is where he keeps his parents' ashes. Wait--whaaat?! What about all those cemetery scenes we've suffered over the years? Like I said: Earth. B. Minus. And the place is haunted by more than childhood memories. Batman soon finds himself possessed by a Portuguese harpooner, providing us with amazing panels to post out of context somewhere:
Batman is soon getting into trouble with the law - or rather, his peg-legged alter ego is - and needs a friend to bail him out (see below). He also comes across his father's lab, where Thomas Wayne had been conducting experiments to break the door between life and death open (again, see below). Batman becomes obsessed with bringing his parents' souls back from the afterlife, even if it means they'll have to possess someone else (because nothing indicates there's any other way). It's a case of the Bat going completely batty... +4 Bat-points

Ben Grimm proves in this issue that he'll do anything to protect his monstrous girlfriend from all comers.
From Spider-Woman, from the cops, from Hydra's control, and if London is destroyed in the process, so be it. He'll even try to protect her from himself, and considers breaking up with her for her own good (once she's cured of that unsightly condition, of course). That's all very commendable, but he's not much of a thinker in this. He comes late to the realization that Hydra is controlling Alicia with that very obvious control chip on her forehead (very late, considering he's just been through an adventure where Mentallo and the Fixer used the same gear), and then it backfires anyway, turning the monster loose on the city. +3 points

The Guests
Would you believe Barry Allen is the one who pays Batman's bail? Well, he is (and keeps bailing him out of trouble with the law). He's not there completely by coincidence though. he picked up the same vibrations that lured Batman to the island on his equipment (Barry is very interested in vibrations, if you know what I mean), and calculated their origin to a specific door in the Wayne summer home (the door he seems to be looking for and not finding in the above panel). He's the real hero of the piece, figuring everything out (including a stroke-sufferer scratching out tons of exposition on his wheelchair arm), saving Batman from himself, vibrating his way into the afterlife, and then throwing the artifact responsible for these shenanigans (an ankh - looks nothing like an ankh - made of black diamond - what - buried in the Waynes' ashes) into outer space with his patented fast ball. +8 Bat-points

Ben calls the cavalry, i.e. the Baxter Building (because the FF can cross the Atlantic in a nick of time?) and no one answers. When Sue comes out of the shower (or something), she finally picks up the phone and shows up in due course. Oh how I hate how she was written for the first two decades of her existence.
Absolutely loathe her indecision, her need for Reed to tell her what to do, her three-panel arc where she discovers she's more capable than even she thought. Ugh. Her first attempt at capturing Spider-licia is a bust because she didn't make her force field powerful enough; why wouldn't you put your best foot forward?! After all that hand-wringing, she finally chokes the monster out. Easy peasy. And Spider-Woman's not doing much better.
After spending an inordinate amount of time bundled up in Alicia's webbing, she suddenly breaks free like she could always have, but what just taking a break. +1 point (uh-oh)

The Villains
Manuel the peg-legged Portuguese harpooner ghost who practiced devilish rites in life and can now cross over from Limbo to the world of the living via Thomas Wayne's dimensional door and possess Batman to do stuff like this:
Haney has just the craziest one-off villains, doesn't he? For Manuel's next trick, he uses an abandoned but working lighthouse (so do ships crash into the island all the time?) to guide the spirits (including the Waynes') to new bodies. I don't know why they have to go into the summer house for any of this to work, but don't let Batman open the door! +5 Bat-points

Before we get to Hydra, Chauncy and Trevor are still around. They've found their treasure, printing plates with which to counterfeit WWII era pounds sterling, and Chauncy is all about careful spending and not upsetting the economy, turning himself into a billionaire over time. It's an older man's crime, for sure. And then they both get sucked into the box.
WHHHAAAAA??? Well, I guess that's to be continued. As for Hydra, they're really failing hard and the Supreme Hydra isn't too happy. The only thing the agent in charge was really good at, it seems, is begging for second chances.
Ah, no, he wasn't very good at that either. +3 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-Thomas Wayne needs his own score here. In Haney's fevered mind, he's not so much a doctor as he is a scientist and an occultist! But he's also a boring dad who's super into fish nomenclature. +3 Bat-points -1 Bat-point = +2 Bat-points
-I love some wonky perspective, but have to wonder how much mass Batman and the Flash lost while they were in Limbo. -1 Bat-point
-Villagers with torches alert! Oh, New England. What's next for you, Frankenstein's Monster? +1 Bat-point

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-Mounted police to the rescue! These guys have a lot of grit, willing to take on Ben and Alicia, just the two (okay four) of them. Also, a lack of perspective. "London must never fall again!" Geez, Blitz trauma much? The irony, of course, is that Alicia isn't really some kaiju destroying the city. Most of the destruction is caused by the Thing trying to stop people from hurting her; she's just trying to kill HIM. But grit. +2 points

Farewells and Scoring
Friendly farewell: Good enough friends that the Flash can suggest Batman get some psychiatric help, and Batman can act like it's a joke, haha. But the real farewell is to his parents' ghosts.
You read it here first, people. Batman is finally free of his past, his parents are at rest, and so is he. So he never wore the cowl again... Right?! Goodbye, house! Goodbye, ashes! Goodbye, cowl! +3 Bat-points
Unfriendly farewell: As has become usual, the guest-stars don't tell Ben goodbye (still around or disappear into the background), but the city of London is sure ready to!
That's harsh, but you know, kind of deserved. Let's just say not every city is used to casual superhero destruction like New York is. +3 points

This race isn't even close! Flash 22, Invisible Girl 12. Two-in-One timidly limps to that finish, giving Brave and the Bold an even greater lead, 5-2 after 7 rounds. And B&B is celebrating its 100th issue anniversary next time. Hard times.


Anonymous said...

"Her first attempt at capturing Spider-licia is a bust because she didn't make her force field powerful enough; why wouldn't you put your best foot forward?!"

The maddening thing is, there are so many of these scenes that a judicious word balloon or two could perfectly fix. Like Sue could be trying to use her force field gently so as to not hurt Alicia, which is why it wasn't strong enough at first. You don't have to pay the art team to redraw a single thing, nor does it make Sue "too masculine" -- I don't see how it would violate a single expectation of Sue that Marvel had at the time.

"But he's also a boring dad who's super into fish nomenclature."

It would explain why young Bruce was a member of the Sea Scouts, though.


SallyP said...

To be perfectly frank, Barry is used to bailing heroes out...he had to do it on a regular basis for Hal.

But seriously...Nick Cardy artwork? Pirates? You just can't go wrong!

Siskoid said...


Were pirates banned by the comics code like witches, or something?


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