A Tribute to the of

Did you know there were seven other stories in the pages of Action Comics #1 besides the debut of Superman? That doesn’t include a 2-page text piece. Interestingly, each and every creator had a byline, too and one of those bylines in the last story simply titled “Tex Thomson,” was Bernard Baily. He actually had it down on both the first and last panels. Apparently things were quite different in 1938.

Having been born in 1916, Baily would have been about 22 when Action #1 came out and this was far from his only published work. It turns out he also spent time as a writer, editor, publisher (Baily Publications) and even ran his own comic shop with Mac Raboy, the Bernard Baily Studio that was a packager. According to Wikipedia: “Among the fledgling artists gaining a foothold in the industry at Baily’s studio were Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino and Frank Frazettea, who at 16 assisted the established artist John Giunta there. Other personnel included Dan Barry, Dick Briefer, Manny Stallman and Nina Albright, one of a handful of Golden Age women comic-book artists.

He did work for Fawcett, DC, Key Publications, St. John, Atlas and Cracked. Working with Jack Schiff he did a number of public service announcement pages as well.

Tex Thomson even has a history, running through issue #32 of Action (01/41) and then transforming into Mister America and finally the Americommando in Action Comics #52, 09/42.

Baily is probably best known for co-creating Hourman (+ splash page) and, with Jerry Siegel, The Spectre (+ splash page). He even had a hand in a couple of short-lived syndicated strips. Baily left behind a pretty impressive body of work and did some in the Silver Age as well, which, of course, is where I’m going with all this.

A year after he was half of the very first team up in the pages of The Brave and the Bold, the Martian Manhunter was back, this time with The Flash in the Bob Haney scripted “Raid of the Mutant Maruaders!” It was issue #56 from October/November of 1964 and Bernard Baily was the cover and interior artist while George Kashdan took care of editorial chores.

The opening scene is the International Fair of ’64 where Barry Allen and his fiancée Iris West are attending along with a cleverly disguised J’onn J’onzz, though neither of the Justice League members are aware the other is there. They find themselves at an exhibit showing the members of the JLA in statue form. And this is where I spot a fairly major error. Superman is missing his belt, but I could let that slide. Batman, however, is sans a bat emblem on his chest. Not once, but twice. For shame!

Meanwhile, on the planet Argon, Queen Tatania and her orange-skinned minions are looking at a similar set of figures and the plan is to create their own superhero, with the combined powers of the Justice League.

The scientists labor at length and then announce that they’ve successfully produced an android with all the powers. They will present him on the morrow to Queen Titania. (Yeah, note the misspelling of the queen’s name here. Oy…)

The next day they discover the android was somehow activated and escaped, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. They manage to capture it and are commanded by Queen Tatania to launch the menace into space to get rid of it. Her wishes are observed and wouldn’t you know, the craft lands on Earth.

There, it is discovered by some workmen who assume it’s the time capsule for the fair, which will contain souvenirs such as atom smashers and Beatle wigs. After they’ve finished and left, however, the craft begins to glow and a bit later, at another exhibit, Barry Allen and Iris West notice a bizarre creature heading toward it. It’s literally half a Flash and half a Martian Manhunter and it is wrecking the exhibit.

Barry slips away to change garb into the Fastest Man Alive and the Martian Manhunter follows suit until they’re battling this odd amalgam of themselves, with little success. Using the abilities of both heroes, the hybrid thwarts them and gets away, ending Part I.

The heroes consult with Fair Security and await the next appearance of their foe, which doesn’t take long. A new half and half creature arrives, this time sporting the dual likeness of Green Arrow and Aquaman and riding a whale, it attacks another exhibit, which is an atomic submarine. A gimmick arrow is brought into play to start drawing the atomic power into the android’s body, but the Manhunter from Mars is on the job and pursues the hybrid below the waves only to have it fire acetylene arrows at him, neutralizing his Martian powers.

Flash and J’onn regroup and compare notes while the android continues the reign of terror at the Fair, using and discarding more JLA hybrid forms like Hawkman and Aquaman, Green Arrow and Batman and Flash and Green Lantern, thwarting our heroes at every turn.

Obviously the attendees at the Fair are losing their enthusiasm with all the havoc going on and the director of the Fair pleads for the Flash and Manhunter to get things under control. Soon they’re at the dedication of the time capsule when J’onn, using his Martian vision, discovers it’s not the time capsule at all, but a space canister containing a strange form and the remains of a robot girl it had stolen earlier.

Now the object is emanating a radioactive field, further complicating matters. Apparently it’s part of what powers the creature. As a stop-gap measure, the Martian Manhunter encases it temporarily in some lead and then uses the teleportation machine that originally brought him to Earth to check out the cosmos to find the source of this threat.

Following a faint energy trail through the cosmos, J’onn discovers it had to have come from Argon.

While, back on Earth, the Flash is dealing with the fact that the lead is melting from the radioactive bombardment and soon the canister is airborne with what appears to be a force field.

Flash instructs the skipper of the sub to fire a Polaris missile at it, but J’onn returns about then and races to intercept the missile, ending Part II.

Part III opens with the Martian Manhunter successfully deflecting the Polaris into the ocean and then huddling with his teammate, explaining that the initiative would have been disastrous, causing an explosion greater than an atomic bomb. He further enlightens that he’s discovered why the mutant is using its powers for evil and that they will need to recruit Hawkgirl to help them.

When Shiera arrives, J’onn says he needs her for her acting ability and her alien background. He then reveals that he’s learned that when Queen Tatania ordered the creation of the mutant, she had plans in mind for a worthy husband and king, but when she released it prematurely from the ooze the scientists held it in, she was repulsed and rejected the ugly creature, even though he adored her. That, of course, created an angry, destructive monster.

Since the Queen refused to aid our heroes, Hawkgirl is recruited to pose as her to try to do some damage control. Soon she is using her expertise at disguise to impersonate Tatania and to lure the hyrbrid out of the canister, but due to an unfortunate gust of wind, Shiera’s cover is blown (pun not intended) when he spies her non-Argonian ears.

He quickly returns to his canister, which is about to reach critical mass when the real Tatania arrives via space vessel and tries to set things right. She apologizes and that causes the android to fly off into the stratosphere where the detonation cannot harm anyone on Earth.

Each of the heroes then go their own way and the story comes to a close.

It’s kind of interesting to see how the Brave and the Bold evolved over the years and of course Bob Haney was the scribe for quite some time. This was a little bit more sophisticated story than what I’ve grown to expect from his typewriter, but it still wasn’t anything that impressed me. Unfortunately, despite his large and underappreciated list of accomplishments, Bernard Baily’s art left me cold, too. Something about the figure work just didn’t make the grade and he gave J’onn J’onzz eyebrows that would have made Joan Crawford jealous. Despite my well-known love of team-ups and crossovers, and this one even had a guest star in Hawkgirl, looks to me like another 4 on the rating scale.

The next issue of this ongoing feature will be posted on the 1st of November, and we look forward to hosting you again. In the interim, don’t hesitate to drop a note about your thoughts, compliments or suggestions to professor_the@hotmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you and, as usual...

Long live the Silver Age!

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