A Tribute to the of

Time for another team-up and in the process time to tie up one of my oldest loose ends.

Quite awhile back, when I did what is to date my sole review of a Rip Hunter, Time-master story I made mention of an issue that would be reviewed in the future.  It's time I did so.  The issue is under the Brave and the Bold banner.  Issue #59 from April/May of 1965, to be precise and it also happens to be the first time Batman made a team-up appearance in the Brave and the Bold.  Beginning a little later, in issue #67 he became the standing member to team with up until issue #200.

Credits for the issue at hand belong to the crew that used to also bring you Metamorpho, namely scripting by Bob Haney, pencils by Ramona Fradon and inks by Charles Paris.  Editorial details were accomplished by George Kashdan.  Cover art comes courtesy of Gil Kane.  The name of the story is "The Tick-Tock Traps of the Time Commander!"  And away we go…

Things begin in the Gotham City mansion of Bruce Wayne, who is in a rather unlikely position; alone and bored.  The alter-ego of Batman is reduced to throwing darts at a newspaper when he notes an ad in it referring to a lecture by a 20th Century Monte Cristo.  When Bruce arrives at the location of the lecture, the marquee announces it is John Starr who is the lecturer and the subject of the 20th Century Monte Cristo moniker.  Wayne knows the name and is suddenly understanding of the reason that Commissioner James Gordon and his police are in attendance.  It seems Starr is an escaped convict.

People are seated in the hall, the lights go down and a giant screen is illuminated with the face of John Starr, who apologizes for his absence but says his location must remain a secret.  He then proceeds with evidence that he hopes will clear him of what he claims is a frame job for a crime convicting him.  He compares himself to the fictional Count of Monte Cristo and offers that some of the evidence used against him is suspicious as the footprints were made by someone pigeon-toed who had stolen his shoes.  "You, the people of Gotham City, are my real judge and jury!  Save me from a fugitive's life—by forcing the state to grant me a new trial!"  As the people exit the hall, Bruce suggests to Gordon that the public seems to be swayed by Starr's plea.  The Commissioner replies that his instincts as to Starr's guilt tell him otherwise.

When Wayne enters his home he is dismayed to see his 18th century Italian clock crash to the floor and shatter.  In the next moment, however, a blue hourglass image shines upon the broken clock, reforming it.  The light has come from an uninvited guest in Wayne Manor; the Time Commander.  After repairing the timepiece and introducing himself, he doffs his purple mask to reveal that he is also John Starr, fugitive scientist.  At Bruce's querying, Starr explains both his hourglass and himself.  While in prison, he developed time control, allowing him to focus the hourglass' power on the timepiece, sending it back in time to a moment before it fell and then "erasing" the moment of impact.  He further explains that he had no qualms about revealing his secret identity to the man who also carries a secret identity; that of the Batman.  Wayne denies it, but the Time Commander merely calls his hourglass into play again, this time using it to send Bruce's clothing back in time, revealing the uniform of the Batman.

Starr says he wants to enlist the help of the World's Greatest Detective in exonerating him and Wayne says the case he presented at the lecture is a good starting point.  The men shake hands on it.

We now switch time and place to Coast City, two days later, where test pilot Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan is plying his trade, having just landed a new plane at Ferris Aircraft's runway.  Carol Ferris, his boss and love interest, has arrived with a telegram which, to Hal's surprise, contains a coded message from Batman, revealing his own secret identity and revealing his knowledge of Hal's.  He quickly slips away to change personas, charging his power ring for another 24 hours at the power battery and is soon enroute to Gotham City.  The message had also contained a notation that Batman was in a desperate situation requiring his assistance.

Upon arrival, he is shocked to discover the Masked Manhunter lying in a weakened condition near his laboratory.  Batman is barely able to move or speak.  GL uses his ring to create a stethoscope and holds it to Batman's mouth so he can learn the situation.  The Caped Crimebuster says a chemical experiment went awry, robbing him of his strength.  He asks if Green Lantern can use his power ring to energize him.  The Emerald Warrior gladly does so and then departs.  Partway back to Coast City, however, the Green Gladiator realizes he's lost the watch Carol gave him.  He backtracks to Wayne Manor and spots it on the floor.  Batman is nowhere to be seen, but as Hal retrieves the watch he hears a radio bulletin notifying all units that Government labs have been robbed of priceless isotopes by Batman.  Part I closes on that dramatic note.

As Part II opens, the astounded Green Lantern listens to more of the report, which states that Batman, wielding an hourglass device, focused an image of the glass onto the lab vault, which in turn caused the time lock to open.  Jordan is soon airborne above Gotham to try and get to the bottom of matters.  It isn't long before he spots Batman, flying under his own power and using the projection from the hourglass to make a police chopper vanish.  He quickly extends a green hand to nab the rogue detective when the hourglass is again brought into play, causing the hand to rebound back at GL in the form of a fist, knocking him silly and sending him plummeting toward the asphalt.  A gloating Gotham Goliath laughingly taunts Green Lantern, saying that when he gave him his powers, he never dreamed they'd be used against him.

As Hal Jordan goes into freefall, he groggily calls his willpower to bear, creating a hob-nailed boot to scrape along the wall of the skyscraper, slowing down his descent.  Uh…sure.  This is the best you could come up with, Haney?  So, Hal makes a soft enough landing and prepares to deal with Batman.

Soon he arrives back at Wayne Manor, just in time to see a disheveled Bruce Wayne emerge from a doorway.  The Emerald Warrior swiftly drops a cone over Wayne and demands to know what's going on.  A baffled Bruce replies that he's been unconscious for two days (I've got to wonder just how he knows this) and he has no knowledge of the telegram to Green Lantern or the isotope robbery.  Wayne then relates the meeting with the Time Commander, up to the point they shook hands.  At that point some sort of knock-out force entered his body, leaving him unconscious, only to revive later in a basement storage room when his body was struck by a green aura that also happened to strike the lock on the door.  Jordan muses that when he used his power ring to revive Batman that the aura could have also penetrated below, but he remains skeptical.  Hal then notes that his watch has stopped.  Bruce quickly suggests that the time it stopped was five minutes to twelve.  The Green Guardian replies affirmatively and asks how he knows.  Bruce points out that all his antique clocks in his collection are stopped at that precise time.  It appears to be the trademark of the Time Commander.  At that moment a television bulletin alerts the two heroes that part of Gotham City is vanishing.

Convinced that Bruce is telling the truth, GL releases him and after a quick change of garb, Batman joins him in the Gotham skies, courtesy of the Whirly-bat.  The duo soon locates the bogus Batman projecting a huge sundial that is causing section of the city to disappear.  When he spots our heroes, the Time Commander ditches the Batman costume and prepares for battle.  Green Lantern strikes first, creating a huge green shield to remove the rays of the sun, making the Time Commander's sundial ineffective.  As a result the buildings begin go reappear.  Retaliating, the Time Commander uses his stolen powers to project a massive green hourglass above the Emerald Crusader and then pours yellow sand from it onto him, rendering him helpless.  Once again he begins to fall to Earth, this time rescued by the quick reflexes of Batman.  The Caped Crusader eases his teammate to the ground and flies back upward in the one-man helicopter to take on their foe.  As he ascends, however, the Time Commander strikes again in a unique way, causing multiple clocks with pendulums to appear, menacing Batman's flight pattern.  After a valiant attempt at elusive maneuvering, the Batman is kayoed by one of the pendulums, knocking him completely out of the Whirly-bat.

The Time Commander scoops up the comatose forms and flies away, to the dismay of the onlookers below.

Shortly, the Time Commander has taken the inert forms of Green Lantern and Batman to his hideout and laboratory.  Then, using a series of lenses, prisms and the stolen power of GL's ring, he beams Batman 24 hours into the future and Green Lantern 24 hours into the past while simultaneously ending Part II.

I thought I'd briefly mention an interesting little text page between Parts II and III.  DC did this quite often and some were more interesting than others.  These two columns of text were titled "Timely Topics" and began with this paragraph:

With the heroes of this issue of Brave and Bold combating a villain who is able to "command" time, the subject of time takes on a unique new dimension.  But what about some of the old, everyday concepts—those which we take for granted?  Have you ever wondered about them?

It then goes through several different topics, one of which was a listing of the origins of the names of the days of the week, which came from the ancient Saxon's, who named the days after some of their gods, to wit:

Sunday – Sun's Day Monday – Moon's Day Tuesday – Tiw's Day Wednesday – Woden's Day Thursday – Thor's Day Friday – Frigg's Day Saturday – Seterne's Day

Okay, on to Part III and the conclusion of the tale.  

We join a meeting of an emergency session of the Gotham City Council where the leadership of the city is trying to decide what to do now that both Batman and Green Lantern have been abducted by the Time Commander.  In the next moment, a message is beamed into the room onto the wall with a menacing threat: 

Clear John Starr's name—or face my wrath!  The Time Commander.

The council is ready to capitulate, but Commissioner Gordon is adamant that he believes that John Starr is guilty.  Later he goes so far as to appear on a televised bulletin telling Starr that he has new evidence confirming his guilt and that Gotham City will not be blackmailed.

An enraged Time Commander retaliates by causing a downtown block in Gotham to regress one million years, resurrecting a dinosaur and calderas spewing lava.

We then join a slightly groggy Batman, who is just discovering via a moving light sign on a nearby building and then dates on newspapers at an outdoor newsstand that he has been transported one day into the future.

Likewise, the Green Gladiator has noted on a nearby newspaper (with an ad about a lecture by Stagg – a little inside reference to Simon Stagg perhaps?) that he has been sent into yesterday.  He then hits upon an idea and using his amazing power ring, beams a message to Batman across the bands of time into the future.  The beam soon reaches the Dark Knight and a communication portal is open to the heroes.

Following a meeting of the minds, GL flies into action, arriving at the special holding cell of John Starr, isolated in a desolate spot and afforded every comfort including a lab, due to John's scientific contributions.  Some punishment…  GL looks around the premises and discovers a clock stopped at 5 minutes before twelve.  He then speculates that perhaps Starr used time itself as a means of escape.

Back in the present, the Time Commander continues his assault, using his ability to manipulate time to shift segments of Gotham into different periods to include the great fire of 1785.

Back in the future, Batman experiences some of the fallout from the Time Commander's work as a spacecraft filled with malevolent alien invaders begins a strike on Gotham City.  Batman streaks away from the hostile fire of the aliens and is saved just in time by another communication and protective properties from the power ring.  GL instructs him to go to the air raid siren atop City Hall and will send further instructions soon.

In the present, the city council yields to the Time Commander's demands that they will issue a pardon to John Starr in exchange for a cease of his "time bombs" against the city.

A meeting is arranged and the next day at precisely five minutes before twelve, the Time Commander swoops triumphantly toward the gathered officials at the steps of city hall.  At the same moment, however, the air raid siren goes off, emitting an odd frequency that shatters the hourglass hanging from the Time Commander's belt.  He falls to the ground, unhurt but utterly powerless and in the next startling moment Batman and Green Lantern reappear.  A swift right cross from Batman sends the villain into the waiting green hand produced by Green Lantern's ring.

Later in Police Commissioner Gordon's office, the pieces are put together.  Green Lantern explains that they managed to use Starr's own weapon, time, against him.  The hourglass prism trapped light rays and converted their speed, the universal constant into colored time planes.  "That's how Starr escaped from prison—by sending himself back in time, to a day before the prison was built!  He simply walked away, then returned to the present!  But I found the prism's formula scrawled on one of the prison's wall!  Being trapped one day in the past, I couldn't reach Starr, who was in the present!  So, I sent Batman, trapped one day in the future, instructions to set the air raid siren at a frequency that would shatter the prism's unique molecular structure!"

As the erstwhile Time Commander is taken away, Gordon vows that they won't make the same mistake of giving him a lab to use.  (Great idea, Commish.)  He then thanks Batman and GL for saving Gotham.  As the two heroes prepare to go their separate ways, Batman reminds Green Lantern that Starr knows Batman's secret identity and so does GL.  The Green Gladiator replies that Starr did know, but he used his ring to wipe the information from his mind and proceeds to do the same to himself, since that was the custom of the Justice League at that point in time.

The story closes with Green Lantern heading back to Coast City.

As we've mentioned before, the Time Commander managed to make another appearance in the Silver Age, once again in Brave and the Bold and once again with a Batman/Green Lantern teaming.  That issue was #69 from December of 1966/January of 1967 and was again the brain child of Bob Haney.  I've not read it yet, but one day I shall.

Rating time.  I'm afraid, as usual, I just wasn't very impressed with Bob Haney's work.  There seemed to be some major holes in this story that defied explanation, such as giving John Starr a full laboratory to work in during his incarceration and the ease with which he dispatched a seemingly witless Bruce Wayne and conning Green Lantern into giving him his powers.  Obviously you've got to have a tension-filled premise for a story, but this one was kind of flimsy.  Also, while I have nothing against Ramona Fradon's artwork I found myself once again dissatisfied with seeing familiar characters drawn differently than what I'm accustomed to and it seemed to further detract from my reading pleasure.  My rating for this issue is a 5.  Nothing very special for a team-up that had much more potential than was realized.

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Remember to join us again in approximately two weeks for the next review.

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2006 by B.D.S.

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