A Tribute to the of

he early part of this month, November 3rd, to be precise, we lost yet another one of the good guys when the great Nick Cardy passed away at a youthful 93 years of age. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Nick was someone I actively sought out to interview for literally years until a friend referred me to a website where Nick had been contacted and an e-mail to that interviewer led me to a couple of more stops until I had an appointment to talk with Nick at last.

Nick was worth the wait. He had plenty to share and was delightful and humorous and generous with his time. When I’d call him later, just to chat, he was equally enjoyable. Nick loved to talk. Yet he was fully aware of his foibles and I’ll long remember and smile over the time we were chatting on the phone and he was on a real tear when he abruptly paused and said, “Bryan, you’re a nice guy, but…you talk too much!” We had a terrific laugh over that one.

Nick was Carmine Infantino’s cover artist of choice for years and his prodigious output and innovative designs will be a lasting legacy all on their own.

There were at least 5 books written about him, including the one I co-authored, Nick Cardy: Wit-Lash, so it isn’t like he’ll be forgotten. He kept telling me, though, that when he was in the business, he never got any noticeable accolades and often remarked that a pat on the back is a great thing. Nick was a humble guy and I only wish I’d got the chance to shake his hand and tell him so in person. I’ll have to satisfy myself with the great conversations we had and my small part in documenting his personal history.

With that, I’d like to dedicate this edition of the Silver Age Sage to Nick, where he handled the interior art on The Brave and the Bold #95, from April/May 1971. Neal Adams was the cover artist for that provocative hook where we are informed it’s the B&B’s most bizarre team-up and gives us only a shadow profile to guess at as far as Batman’s partner. Then, of course, there’s the tease at the bottom of the cover: “We dare you…to guess the identity of Batman’s shocking co-star!”

“C.O.D./Corpse on Delivery!” was written by Bob Haney with editing by Murray Boltinoff and Batman is starting things off with a visit to the wealthy Ruby Ryder, world’s richest woman and tycoon and apparently not very well liked by anyone but her missing fiancée, Kyle Morgan. Ryder is proposing a $5 million dollar check to Batman’s charity of choice if the World’s Greatest Detective and track down the man she adores who was last known to be in South America, checking into emerald deposits for her mining operations. Batman hesitates, but ultimately acquiesces and is soon on his way to the South American continent to begin his hunt.

The Dark Knight’s first contact is with Jake Angel, who had been hired to pilot Morgan to the emerald fields. Jake claims he’s never seen the man in the photo and soon illustrates his displeasure at being disturbed by swinging on our hero.

Not a good plan, but he is soon persuaded to take Batman to the drop off point where our hero discovers a native tribe who are not in the mood for visitors. Angel departs in the plane, leaving Batman to deal with the hostiles, so he brings the famed utility belt into play and simultaneously distributes photos of Kyle Morgan.

The natives point toward a hut where Batman sees a collection of shrunken heads, one of which appears to be a match for the missing man.

A couple of days later, a familiar figure is again accosting Jake Angel, explaining he’s got to do better than a phony shrunken head and the pilot takes the World’s Greatest Detective to some ruins not far from town where he seems to be addled at best. Angel claims Morgan has been under the influence of a fever for months, but Batman suggests it’s all a ransom scam and helps himself to Jake’s plane and is about to land at Ruby Ryder’s country estate when Morgan attacks.

Batman is able to subdue him (and one panel in particular is interesting as the dialogue balloon and text is deliberately upside-down like the characters in the plane) and lands, delivering Kyle to Ruby, who draws a pistol and fires four rounds into Morgan.

Ruby then disappears when her attorney and the state attorney general walk in, finding the Caped Crusader literally holding a smoking gun. Between that and the $5 million dollar check, Batman doesn’t have a very solid case and takes his leave.

Later, he catches up with Hinton, Ryder’s lawyer, at the cemetery and demands to know how much he knew about Ryder’s plans. It is revealed that Morgan apparently left Ruby and she was seeking revenge, along with the opportunity to frame the Batman. Hinton, pining after Ryder, is solidly in her corner.

Seeking to clear himself, Bruce Wayne is soon doing some “business travel,” while we are directed to a mausoleum where a casket is opening and an arm is snaking out.

Now that Bruce Wayne is out of the country, on Ryder’s trail, Batman is doing some detective work when he is not only suffering from attempted ambushes, but is also receiving some covert help, being shoved out of the way of a collapsing chimney and later a thug is grabbed from beneath the surface of the nearby water.

Finally, thanks to some prime detective work, Batman locates Ruby Ryder hiding out in the Moroccan desert. He then brings her back stateside where she is found guilty of the murder of Kyle Morgan. Her attorney, Hinton, remarks to Batman that there was something not entirely human about Morgan and it seems to linger in Batman’s mind.

In the next scene, Ruby Ryder is walking the last mile to the electric chair when Batman and the D.A. arrive, demanding the execution be halted due to the fact that not only is Kyle Morgan alive, he is in the room. Just then, the executioner bursts out of his uniform, revealing another, more familiar uniform, that of…Plastic Man!

Plas removes his famed white goggles and begins to explain to the warden what had happened. He describes how he was sick of being a “plastic clown,” and wanted to lead a normal life and fall in love. Using his malleability, he changes his features and became Kyle Morgan, but soon found that while he could attract the world’s richest woman, he couldn’t soften her heart. That led directly to his taking a powder and when Batman came after him and the fever broke, he didn’t want to face Ruby again.

Fortunately bullets don’t affect Plastic Man and he was able to feign death and then serve as Batman’s clandestine protector. He posed as Ryder’s executioner to see her humbled at last, but Batman had deduced what was going on, so he arrived with the Governor’s stay of execution. An enraged Ryder storms out, leaving Batman and Plastic Man in her wake. Plas is crestfallen as he still has feelings for Ryder, but knows he will recover. What he doesn’t know is if there’s still a place in the world for him or if he’s an out of date freak.

The curtain falls on this final panel and one of the most unusual “team-ups” in the pages of the Brave and the Bold. Nick Cardy’s mastery of expression and making even an ice queen like Ruby Ryder lovely was just another testament to his talent and while I’ve never been a huge fan of Bob Haney’s work, this plot had enough twists to hold my interest. Bob sure didn’t get too concerned about existing continuity, though, did he? I’ll give this one a 6 on the rating scale.

Remember to keep those notes rolling in to professor_the@hotmail.com and the webmaster and I will continue to field questions, requests and comments.

Also, in the shameless plug department, be sure to check out BACK ISSUE #69, the 10th anniversary edition, which contains 100 pages of great material including a 3-page piece by yours truly about Superman #300 with comments by Elliot S! Maggin, Cary Bates and Mark Millar.

See you in about two weeks and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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