B&B 2-in-1 Round 8: Batman's Friends vs. Modred the Mystic

Batman leads 5 to 2, and he's not relieving the pressure on the Thing, not on his 100th issue anniversary day! Sorry, Ben, but this is really his to lose.

In the black corner... it's Batman and Robin, Green Lantern, Black Canary and Green Arrow, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Jim Aparo, Brave and the Bold #100, "The Warrior in a Wheel-Chair".

In the orange corner... we have the Thing and Modred the Mystic (and Spider-Woman), written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Ron Wilson and Pablo Marcos, Marvel Two-in-One #33, From Stonehenge... with Death!


The Stars
B&B's 100th-issue spectacular begins with Batman being shot in the heart by a sniper Captain America-style. He survives, but needs an operation from the famous Dr. Hellstrom of Zurich, the only man able to take the bullet out of his chest before it hits his heart. But what'll he do while he waits the required three days for the good doctor to arrive? Get life-saving armor like Tony Stark? Nope. Allow his physician to induce a coma that will keep him from moving around? Neither. How about SAVE AN ENTIRE GENERATION FROM THE DRUG TRADE WHILE CONFINED TO A WHEELCHAIR?!
It all came down to cabin fever, I suppose. Batman was so bored, he started watching a spider catching flies in its web. And so began a master plan to block every smuggling avenue used by the story's drug kingpin with a little help from his friends. It's Batman as Oracle. And like Oracle, he's far from harmless even in a maimed state. This is a Batman who fights off the effects of the anesthetic to stop a killer surgeon from putting a scalpel to his throat. I might shave points off for taking his orders from "Spidey" (copyright pending) the spider though. That's some crazy Mackenzie King stuff, right there. +8 Bat-points

Ben Grimm is a lover, not a fighter. Well okay, he's a fighter, but there's an awful lot of monster smooching in this issue.
When it comes to relationships, he should really stick to kissing through, because talking... not so much. Despite the fact that his girlfriend insists that she wants to forget her experience as Spiderlicia, he keeps bringing it up. No wonder she tries to make him jealous with Stonehenge. "What's so special about a bunch of rocks?" he asks. Dude, have you looked in a mirror? At least Ben uses his "patented style of comedy" for some streetwise repartee, and even drops a Leonard Nimoy In Search Of reference. +4 points

The Guests
Robin thinks girls are icky and doesn't know what Black Canary could possibly bring to the team. She's useless! And there's every chance that Bob Haney agrees with him: Dinah gets off the grid for a while to dry her hair, no joke.
But they DO need her because one of the drug kingpin's potential smuggling operations is an evil Euro-feminist rally, no boys allowed. I miss the days when Batman would just have sent Robin in in drag. No matter, under Jim Aparo's pencil, everyone gets hit SO HARD, and Black Canary doesn't make an exception for Monique de la Tour, author of "Why, Men?" (wouldn't removing the comma make for a more militant title?). Speaking of men, the guys do a little better, or at least don't get sidetracked by muggy weather. Green Arrow attacks the evil post office... and KILLS A DUDE!
Look, GA has a very real reason to hate smack dealers. They ruined his sidekick. Meanwhile, Green Lantern shuts down operations at Gotham City's docks WITH HIS FREAK CLAW!
He's also quite good at disassembling cars. He should work at customs. And GL is absolutely crucial to saving Batman's life by flying Dr. Hellstrom to his bedside at hyperspeeds. Of course, the REAL guest-star is "Spidey", but I don't think the character made it into Who's Who. I'd have to check. The group gets +7 Bat-points

Ben also has more than one guest-star, because Spider-Woman is following him around. Told you, he's a lover. And she could be an Olympic diver, even if her experience is less with swimming pools than it is with giant water elementals.
But the real guest-star is Modred the Mystic, who I keep calling Mordred, which is damn confusing. He's Merlin's wayward apprentice, the one who wears buckled shoes and talks in cod Shakespeare (as indeed, all Marvel characters from an ancient time must). Merlin must be incredibly powerful if his student can do the things he does. Among his many feats are:
Right, making the sun burn the wind (whatever, it's magic), merge with other dimensions, make elemental monsters fight each other, and retcon Spider-Woman into Jessica Drew (evolved spider no more!). Also, deus ex machina the crap out an issue while Ben stands around and watches. +6 points

The Villains
Batman faces the "Drug Ring" and its Euro-trash kingpin, Belknap. This guy believes in redundancies, have no less than four ways to get his Swiss smack into the U.S. (all through Gotham City), but he's no simple mastermind. He's also rather hands on. When his smuggling operation is threatened, he shows up at the hospital disguised as a surgeon and means to off Batman HIMSELF.
AND he brings the heroin inside medical equipment. Hey, the spice must flow. And dude's an addict himself; doesn't he know the first rule of drug dealing? +3 Bat-points

Ben and his Amazing Friends are up against elemental giants summoned up by Merlin to capture Modred.
Hilariously, they're all really crappy to their water guy. The fin is rather adorable, I must say. They shout a lot, but the heroes seem outmatched anyway. If Modred hadn't turned himself into an extra-planar god, they might have had a chance. +4 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-Great art from Aparo throughout, made only better by his use of Zip-a-tone. Check out Batman's heart! +1 Bat-point

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-Look, Doctor Who fans! It's the Underhenge! In the comics, it's like a pocket of Hell itself, filled with the zombie husks of tourists who dared visit Stonehenge. And it's real chilly; Alicia keeps going on about the sweater she wishes she'd brought even though she's wearing a snug hoody!
As you can see, superheroes must be terrible for the tourist trade. +2 points

Farewells and Scoring
Friendly farewell: Everyone's crowded into Batman's hospital room to congratulate him, and he tanks everyone... PLUS his imaginary friend. I don't know how I'd take that if I were a Justice Leaguer. +2 Bat-points

Unfriendly farewell: With Ben, we always score in reverse, but we like it when it's at least bittersweet. Well, the Thing does get a kiss from Spider-Woman, and vows to remember her in his prayers, but...
...then gets mindwiped by Modred so that he won't remember her, or any of his U.K. adventure. Total violation! And how's that gonna play when he gets home and Sue is all, like, how's Alicia doing after being turned into a spider? I was THERE, remember?! Not cool, Modred, not cool. (And not logical, Wolfman, no logical.) +3 points

A narrow miss for Team Grimm! Batman's Drug Busters 21, Modred the Mystic 19! The Bat's lead is growing, now at 6 to 2. But with his Anniversary issue out of the way, will the Dark Knight Detective now sit on his laurels?


Anonymous said...

Heh, my eyes read that last line wrong and I thought you were referring to this as the Dark Night Defective. Well it is a Bob Haney story ...

My first thought with the hairdrying scene wasn't about the sexism, it was, "I wonder what 1970s wigs were made of, and could they catch on fire in a hair dryer". And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all the proof of my nerdiness you'll ever need.

SallyP said...

More Aparo artwork! People just don't use Zipatone anymore, and it's a darned shame.

And yeesh, Dinah, you're wearing a wig for Pete's sake! Get it together!

Siskoid said...

Maybe it's not a wig! Remember, this is Earth-B's Black Canary. She's Bruce Wayne's secretary and might actually be blond!

SallyP said...

Hmmm...I thought it was still a wig at this point. She actually had black hair, and eventually, she did decide that the wig was a pain and simply started dying it.

Siskoid said...

On Earth-1, sure. Bob Haney's world is... variable, shall we say.


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