Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time-Traveling Detective

A few weeks ago, I posted about a Brave and The Bold issue that featured a Golden-Age Batman fighting Nazis.

Well, if we're going to look at Batman in the past, then it's only proper to balance that out by looking at Batman in the future. Because it's my blog, darn it, and those are my rules.

Brave and the Bold #179 (October 1981) was published at the tale end of the era in which it was possible to simply tell an entertaining Batman yarn without a requirement to fill it with angst and depressing themes. (Which I can bizarrely say this without irony even though the villain in this story is planning on detonating a bomb in the middle of a city.)

The villain is Universo, a member of the Legion of Superhero rogue's gallery. He's teamed up with a one-shot villain who, like Universo, has reason to want to take revenge against the Legion. Their plan is actually a clever one:

The bad guys steal an egg that is filled with potentially explosive anti-matter. It's due to "hatch" in almost exactly 1000 years. So Universo's partner (Anton Halkor) travels back in time to 20th Century Gotham City, swapping the egg with a time capsule that will be buried and opened in the 30th Century. Essentially, he's just planted a time bomb with a 1000 year fuse.

Batman encounters Halkor in the 20th Century, but inadvertently comes along for the ride when Halkor jumps back to the future. So the Dark Knight breaks into the Legion HQ to get their help, then uses his detective skills to track down first Halkor and then Universo. Along the way, the villains kidnap some Legionaries, then displace them in time. Later, Universo uses his hypnotism power to turn several Legionaries against each other--getting them to fight to the death.  But there are few things that can stop Batman from getting the job done.

It's a lively and entertaining story, with everything proceeding along nicely according to Comic Book Logic. Like the WWII Batman story we looked at, I think it may have benefited from being a two-parter--it would have been nice to have more space to emphasize Batman's detective skills and show a little more of the Legion fighting one another. And maybe show some mini-adventures involving the time-displaced Legionaries, giving them something to do other than be hostages.

But that's more of a personal opinion than a legitimate criticism, because the story is handled very well within the space it's been given. Batman is shown to be clever--the Legion is shown using effective team work--and Ernie Colon's art is clean and fun to look at.

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