B&B 2-in-1 Round 14: Creeper vs. Iron Man

Batman's maintained his lead at 8-5 over the Thing, but with Battling Bill Mantlo coming onboard Two-in-One, can he keep it? It's Round 14!

In the black corner... we've got Batman and the Creeper, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, Brave and the Bold #80, And Hellgrammite Is His Name!

In the orange corner... it's the Thing and Iron Man written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Ron Wilson and Vinnie Colleta, Marvel Two-in-One #12, The Stalker in the Sands!

Without further ado... DING DING DING!

The Stars
The Haney/Adams hybridization of Batman continues. It's still "Brave" Haney's Batman, because he says things like "Close, but no cee-gar!", watches tv with the Commissioner and apparently needs a hand getting out of an 8-foot-deep hole, but "Bold" Neal Adams draws him so serious and intense, you hardly notice! And Adams does show us what that ribbed cape is for:
It makes for handy panels! When Adams isn't being this inventive (see Odds and Ends), he's making Batman in turn acrobatic, intimidating and intelligent. Not sure he should be handing out bat-radios to guys like the Creeper though. +8 bat-points

If the opener is a sign of things to come, I think Mantlo's going in the right direction for Ben Grimm. The story opens with Tony "Iron Man" Stark using the Thing as a guinea pig for a new kind of rocket.
It's wired wrong though so Ben ends up under the earth rather than above it, but needless to say, I'm excited about seeing the Thing's particular talents used for stunts like this. It seems like the sor of dangerous stuff I'd do for kicks if I were impervious to harm. I'm less enthused about the rest of the story devolving into a humdrum punching match with the villain. Still, Ben gets some good dialogue in, contrasting wildly with Prester John's faux-Shakespearean (or should that be Stan Lee Speech Mode #3?). Example: After Prester John calls Iron Man doomed one, he responds: "Nobody Dooms no buddies o' mine without my written consent!". Shouted as a pipeline sprays crude oil all over the place in the background, no less. And Ben has the smart idea that saves the day... with smartass Tony Stark standing right there! +8 points

The Guests
Jack Rider is the kinda guy that takes a grassroots approach to advertising his version of the Maury Povitch Show, using a helicopter to annonce the show personally. And with lettraset.
The show is on WHAM TV, if you're interested, operated and owned by George Michael. But by night, Jack Rider is the no-less subtle Creeper, a yellow, red and green Ditko creation who laughs more than the Joker and is a Menace II Society(TM). He's on the trail of the story's villain while the cops are on HIS trail. Still doesn't stop Batman from helping him. Low moment: Almost being entombed inside building construction. High point: Doing away with the Hellgrammite by putting live wires directly on the tip of his tiny, tiny antennae.
It's important to be precise when electrocuting someone. +6 bat-points

Meanwhile, the Thing teams up with Iron Man who almost kills him in the opening pages with his contraption. Ben Grimm used to be a test pilot, sure, but I wonder if he ever flew a rocket with its engine apparently mounted ON THE WRONG END. Way to go Tony. Well, we all knew he was a jerk, so why not forget about the Stark reality and look at his performance as Iron Man. Well, for starters, this is the armor with a NOSE:
So now we know Iron Man smells as well. And you know what? Aside from getting his metal ass handed to him by Prester John and oh, distracting him while Ben does the real work, he doesn't just smell, he stinks. +2 points

The Villains
Brave and the Bold #80 features the first appearance of the Hellgrammite, one of the relatively few Haney villains to stick around after the collapse of Haney-Earth. He's a big, gross bug monster who's named after a real life insect I've never heard of. The cops seem to think he's a grasshopper man. Real scary, that. But since this guy eventually came back to hound Superman, I guess he's got the chops. What he doesn't have is a plan that makes sense. He kidnaps some Gotham City mob bosses and puts them in cocoons from which they should emerge all Hellgrammatize. Dude doesn't want to be alone, y'know? Well, he's certanly an ugly one, even after he comes out of his coccoon:
That's no butterfly. +4 bat-points

The Marvel heroes are up against Prester John, an immortal medieval crusader who's been given delusions of grandeur by a mystic gem. According to Marvel Two-in-One's usual requisite multi-page flashback, after his last defeat, he was found by a bunch of bedouins who admired his Shakespearean turn of phrase and giant moustache so much, they made him a god. So he's just chillaxin' Dr. Doom style when they hand him his new "precious"...
...which gives him visions, then helps him murder everyone and finally throws him in a hole until roused by Tony's retro-rocket. Possibly with his own powers augmented by the gem, Prester John verily doth pwne them both. And then Ben throws the gem away, and that's that (see the Farewell). +6 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-Neal Adams experiments with page layout a lot, sometimes a bit too much and each page tends to look like a broken mirror, but at least he's trying stuff. Along with the cape page shown above, there's one where Batman's first goes through a wall of bricks, each one a panel. It's cool, and not just because Batman just PUT HIS FIST THROUGH A BRICK WALL!
+3 bat-points
-Stupidely-named goon of the month: Bronk Boyle. When we meet him, he's already pulled a Sunset Boulevard in the nearest swimming pool. +0 bat-points
-Haney's Gotham Geography Lesson: There's a junkyard right over the fence from a mansion. The lesson? If you need it in the story, IT'S THERE! -1 bat-point

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-Methinks there may be a gratuitous use of crotch shots in this comic. Iron Man is apparently a front...
...while Ben is a bottom. I didn't really have the strength of will to make a collage of them all. -1 point

Farewells and Scoring
Batman's Friendly Farewell: He lets the Creeper escape before the GCPD arrives.
Well... sorta. Let's just say the Creeper helps him let him escape. For cutting out on Bats while he was talking (turnabout is fair play, eh?): +0 bat-point

The Thing's Unfriendly Farewell: He tells Iron Man to shut up about the time he went to a Star Trek convention already, and proposes instead to fatten up Prester John on Mickey D's.
Definitely NOT friendly of him. +2 points

Get your calculators out, this may be close. The Creeper... 20. Iron Jerk... 17! Well, it's all Tony Stark's fault. And here I was sure the new Mantlo-sized 2-in-1 was going to get Ben another point. Batman's in a convincing lead at 9 to 5! (What a way to make a living!)


Matthew Turnage said…
Poor Iron Man. He's had to endure a lot of bad writing in his publishing history. Pawn of Kang, replaced by a teenage version of himself from an alternate timeline, inexplicably supporting the super-hero registration act (hello, does anyone remember Armor Wars??), and of course, the nose.

Still my favorite Marvel character, though.

Bill Mantlo actually did a run on his solo title in the late 70's (right before the first Michelinie and Layton run) that was all kinds of awesome.
Chris said…
Just wait till you get to the ROM/Thing 2-in-1. Heh.
Siskoid said…
Though not reprinted in any Essential 2-in-1 because of copyright issues (GRRRR), my good friend Bauble has found it for me, so I'll certainly do a special post when I have it in hand.

All that Mantlo goodness...