A Tribute to the of






"Will our new western hero…save the west or ruin it?" This was the rhetorical question posed in DC house ads back in 1968 accompanied by a foreboding looking silhouette of a cowpoke or perhaps a gunslinger headed toward the reader toting a shotgun and surrounded by desert landscape. Little did we know it at the time, but this was the initial introduction of Bat Lash, who would make his debut in Showcase #76 in August of that year. As a matter of fact, you can see the house ad and some other nifty stuff at the currently defunct Dial B for Blog here: http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/357/.

Back in the day I never gave much of a hang for the western books, but I'd seen the house ad and after interviewing Carmine Infantino and Denny O'Neil and asking them about Bat Lash, I became intrigued enough that I picked up a couple of issues from eBay to give them a whirl. You know what? They're worth the time. See if you don't agree as I take a look at Bat Lash #5 from July of 1968. The untitled story, as they often seemed to be, was expertly drawn by Nick Cardy (who I'm still trying to interview) with scripting by Denny O'Neil and Sergio Aragones and editing by Joe Orlando. Cover art was also courtesy of Nick Cardy. (Nick: Please return my calls!)

The splash page has one Bartholomew "Bat" Alouysius Lash "somewhere in Mexico" facing a firing squad, apparently for accidentally burning down the Mayor's home. Fate smiles upon Lash, though as the firing squad seems to be without ammunition and right about then the daughter of the captain rides up with a horse to spirit him away to safety. He leaves the senorita with a kiss and rides away to whatever lies in wait.

A mile up the road we see what lies in wait as a mustachioed Mexican bandito is relieving one of his countrymen of his money. Bat isn't far behind and decides he should head for the border, but needs money to allow his passage, so he employs his six gun to the same hapless Mexican who begins to laugh, telling Lash that he was just relieved of his ranch payroll by "El Aragones the Terrible." Bat Lash decides to take after the bandito as he's only got a 10 minute had start and he soon locates Aragones' camp, but he discovers the Mexican has been bushwhacked and is suffering a gunshot wound in the back. Additionally, the 1,000 pesos are gone. Bat tends to him and then prepares to call it a night when he suffers a snake bite to his freshly exposed foot. Fortunately, the Mexican has revived and offers to help. "You have saved Sergio's life…Sergio save yours!" So there you have it. Bat Lash has just met "Sergio Aragones"! Anyway, as Lash recovers and Sergio pledges that they are now brothers, Lash asks about the 1,000 pesos. An enraged Aragones draws his sidearm and demands to know how Bat knows of the money and Bat swiftly brings his own gun into play. They then decide on a truce and ride together for awhile, comparing notes. Just then a posse appears and the two men split up, continuing to proclaim their brotherhood as they do so.

Later, Lash discovers a wanted poster with a handsome reward for Aragones while Sergio has concluded he needs to find out what became of his money. Both men then remember a certain senorita of their acquaintance in Agua Prieta named Maribel and they decide to look her up.

On the next page we meet Maribel, who is in the throes of a temper tantrum toward the man who robbed Aragones. She tells him in no uncertain terms that he should have just brought Sergio in for the reward, punctuated with objects thrown at the hapless thief who quickly departs. Bat Lash then lets himself in through the window and asks Maribel, after a warm kiss and embrace if she knows the whereabouts of Sergio Aragones. She says she'll see what she can do and he excuses himself to the cantina. Of course, moments later, Aragones arrives and Maribel beats him to the punch, asking if he's looking for Bat Lash, who also has a bounty on his head and sends Sergio off to the cantina, reasoning she can double cross them both and collect two rewards.

In the cantina, the two spot one another, but are then spotted by Senor Monsivias, who also happens to be there and was the victim of the robbery earlier in the day. Next, pandemonium breaks out in the cantina and the duo finds themselves uneasy allies with hidden agendas.

And speaking of hidden agendas, Maribel hasn't been idle, employing a boy to go into the cantina and give a message to each man to meet her at the corral. Inevitably the two meet up, exchange insults and start throwing punches but land only a few before they are apprehended and jailed by the local law.

The two begin to discuss matters in the lockup and realize they've been taken for a ride by Maribel. They stage a ruckus to get the guard's attention and then overpower him and break free from the jail.

Next stop; Maribel's place. When the two men arrive, however, it is just in time to see Maribel turn over the 3,000 pesos to the banker who thanks her for the money and says that in a matter of hours he'd have had to foreclose on her father's ranch. Overhearing the conversation, Bat and Sergio feel remorseful for wanting to take the money from Maribel and shake hands and go their separate ways…allegedly. Each man has again, however, cooked up a duplicate scheme to rob the banker, but instead they close in on each other again rather than their intended mark. The banker then stumbles into view and Aragones and Lash decide to their latest uneasy truce, but the tables get turned for the last time when the angry banker cries that he's already been robbed by a woman and that she has been jailed, just as they will be by the sheriff right behind them. The adventure ends on that note.

This was a pretty fun little tale with action, romance and the classic backdrop of the old west, even if it was south of the border and I confess to getting a kick out of the inside joke of the villain being Sergio Aragones with a thick Spanish accent throughout the story. The stand out star of this story, however, was the utterly jaw-dropping art of Nick Cardy. The legend of the "Cardy Babes" is well-earned. The man can draw women like nobody's business and he does a pretty fair job on the men, too, not to mention horses, scenery, landscapes and your great grandmother's outhouse. Simply stunning all in all and I can't think of enough superlatives to give you an accurate taste. Get yourself a copy of Bat Lash. It's actually pretty easy right now as the Showcase Presents edition is out and available for the low, low price of $9.99 containing the entire 7-issue run of the classic series along with his Showcase debut and appearances in Jonah Hex. If your local comic shop or bookstore doesn't have it, get them to order it in. Here are the specifics:

http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=11918

Again, while westerns aren't really my forte, this was a lot of fun with some standout art and I'll rate it with a 9 on the 10-point scale. Well worth the time.

Great as always to see you here, faithful reader, and as usual, I'm at your disposal for questions, comments or anything else you may have on your mind as we continue to explore the creative apex of DC Comics, our beloved Silver Age. Address those thoughts of yours to me here at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you soon and…

Long live the Silver Age!



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