A Tribute to the of






Sometimes the Silver Age was just about goofy fun and I can’t think of many better examples than the October/November 1966 edition of the Brave and the Bold when issue #68 teamed up Metamorpho the Element Man with Batman or in this case, Bat-Hulk!

Yes, it’s another Bob Haney special script with cover art by long-time Justice League of America penciler Mike Sekowsky with Joe Giella on inks while Mike’s interior figure work was inked by Mike Esposito. George Kashdan had editing chores and I’m about to give you the skinny on “Alias the Bat-Hulk!

Bear in mind that Batmania was in full swing and obviously they were taking full advantage by the tone of the opening captions: “This is Wayne Mansion, home of the most famous hero of ‘em all…” “This is a closet in the home of the most famous hero!” “This is a famous costume in the closet of the most famous hero!” “This is a secret door in the home of the most famous hero…” You get the idea. The only thing missing was the bat pole and the hotline and maybe a ZOK! OOF! WHAM!

The patrol begins and Batman quickly gets not Commissioner Gordon, but the Riddler on his monitor in the Batmobile and a riddle is forthcoming, leading our hero to a giant pair of spectacles on top of an optometry building and then to the diamond exchange where the Riddler is pulling a theft. Flinging the “ice” toward the window, Batman catches it, but it heats up and pops into nothingness when he tosses it, leaving our hero a bit baffled, but also allowing the Riddler to escape. Batman has little time to ponder what’s happened, though, as he is soon encountering the Penguin, who leads the Caped Crusader on a merry chase until the Foul Fowl releases a blackbird with some sort of strange dust. As Batman avoids this latest gimmick, the Penguin makes good his own escape.

Our dark knight detective is trying to put the clues to the puzzle together when he notices that his gearshift knob is now a likeness of the Joker and it is “speaking” to him via a miniature tape recording that had been activated through the shifting of gears.

Batman is warned by the knob that another practical joke is about to destroy the Batmobile. Batman states that he’s ready and hits a button marked, “Anti-booby trap circuit,” but instead of being safely ejected, he’s released some sort of gas and promptly runs the Batmobile into a pole and then begins to laugh hysterically while the image of the Joker says, “I told you you’d “die” laughing, Batman!” Thus ends part I.

Part II shows us a guffawing Batman who is quickly transforming into a huge, shambling version of himself, quickly dubbed Bat-Hulk. His very hands burn with a great heat that he uses to destroy the pole that the Batmobile crashed into and of course his gloves are melted away in the process.

This oversized caricature of the Dark Knight soon encounters the local police and he throws a burning blob at their car, wrecking it. They fire on him, but the bullets are simply absorbed as Bat-Hulk describes himself as “…a chemical pheenom!” He further states that, “Anything that gets in my way, I eat up! Wood, metal, stone—anything…it’s all candy to me!” He bids the commissioner and his men farewell and heads off to the park, leaving smoking footprints in his wake.

A bit later, Batman is restored and he knows he needs help, so he heads for the mansion of Simon Stagg but is so weakened he is literally crawling onto the grounds when Stagg’s security finds him and brings him in. The caped crusader quickly explains his dilemma and Simon does an examination in his laboratory, but discovers he cannot produce an antidote and the gas exposure is in Batman’s system to the point that Bat-Hulk could easily return. The Dark Knight suggests that perhaps the Element Man can help, but before things can progress, the transformation takes place again and Bat-Hulk tosses Java across the room as Rex Mason, aka Metamorpho engages.

The battle is brief, but Bat-Hulk trips up the Element Man by creating a duplicate of our Fabulous Freak and then proceeds to crash through a wall to escape.

Meanwhile, the Joker, Riddler and Penguin are toasting victory over their common foe when Bat-Hulk crashes into their lair and informs them that he’s going on a crime spree and they’ll be assisting him. He emphasizes his point with a menacing gas emanating from his fingertips, but once again, the chemicals in his system do a switcheroo and a confused Batman is standing in the midst of his enemies, ending Part II.

Part III has the terrible trio closing in on the masked manhunter, when he transforms yet again to Bat-Hulk. The monster also claims that Batman is now dead, leaving only Bat-Hulk.

Shortly, with the aid of the flying Batcave, Bat-Hulk and his enlisted henchmen are pulling a heist. Just then Metamorpho arrives and tries to set things right. The battle is on!

Metamorpho succumbs to the chemical onslaught of Bat-Hulk, but a quick-thinking Simon Stagg has Java restore him with the electrical charge from a nearby junction box. Next thing we know, Bat-Hulk is up on a clock tower and the Element Man gives chase. It’s nip and tuck until Bat-Hulk tears a massive lightning rod from the roof to bring the battle to an end, but just then the rod does it’s work and receives a massive jolt of electricity that cures the Dark Knight and brings the story to a close.

This story was obviously taking advantage of the Batmania craze while also incorporating one of the hottest new heroes in Metamorpho, who of course was the co-creation of Bob Haney. In fact, the Element Man had made his debut in the pages of the Brave and the Bold a mere 11 issues prior in #57 [Sage #20]. He would also have another team-up a couple of issues prior to this in issue #66 [Sage #201] with the unique Metal Men.

Mike Sekowsky was no stranger to penciling Batman and it was kind of interesting to see his take on Metamorpho and company, along with some of the heaviest hitters from Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Mike would, of course, have another shot at drawing Metamorpho in Justice League of America #42 [Sage #114] when he famously said, “No!”

These stories have their place, but of course Bob Haney’s wacky scripts are sometimes an acquired taste. I’ll give this one a 5 rating, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time.

A new latest review will be forthcoming on the 1st of March and in the interim, don’t be shy. Drop a line any time at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you in the funnypapers and…

Long live the Silver Age!



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