Comics Review: Batman 286, Brave & the Bold 133

Batman 286 coverBatman #286 – “The Joker’s Playground of Peril” – (Denny O’Neil/Irv Novick/Bob Wiacek)

This one starts with Joker escaping Arkham Asylum (again!). He kills his psychiatrist by shrinking him (get it? Shrinking the shrink? Yeah, I didn’t think it was funny either, but then I’m not a homicidal maniac like the Joker). The dead shrink leaves a clue, so Batman (with Robin tagging along) goes to an amusement park where there’s a big costume party for charity. The cops know a notorious fence named Frage is also going to be there. He spots the Joker but it turns out to be Joker’s lawyer, a guy named Steakbury. Steakbury thinks the real Joker might be there in disguise, looking to kill him for losing the courtfight on the beach case. There’s a fire on one of the rides and Batman rescues a kid. He and Robin then track Frage to the beach and beat the crap out of him and his men. They find $70,000 on Frage, the exact amount never recovered from Joker’s last job. Batman figures Joker must’ve left it with Steakbury, who stole it and gave it to Frage in exchange for something less conspicuous, like gems, so he could skip the country. Batman realizes the Joker is at the park in disguise and sends Robin to save Steakbury while he bags the Joker.

Noticeable Things:

  • Joker must be a scientific genius if he can invent a spray that literally shrinks people; too bad he’s nuts, or he could probably have quite the lucrative business.Joker shrinks his psychiatrist
  • The clue Batman uses to figure out Joker’s disguise (he mentions the psychiatrist’s murder, even though the news was never released) is fairly transparent. There’s also a profile shot of the dude in question and the Joker-ness is pretty obvious.Joker in disguise
  • The final capture of Joker takes place in a hall of mirrors; Orson Welles has so much to answer for.
Hall of Mirrors
Dammit, you’re not Rita Hayworth!

Brave and Bold 133 coverBrave & the Bold #133 – “Another Kind of Justice” – (Bob Haney/Jim Aparo)

This one starts with a flashback scene: a couple guys named Bannon and Lazlo are smuggling bootleg booze in a boat called the Jolly Marie. Bannon tells Lazlo he’s got big plans for them (and that Lazlo’s like a son to him) and Lazlo rewards him by pushing him overboard and harpooning him. In the present, Batman and Comissioner Gordon are checking out a wrecked ship beyond the three-mile limit. They figure it’s where dope smugglers are offloading their product, but can’t legally do anything. They see an old fishing boat inside the limit though, and Batman pounds everyone on board and finds a bunch of heroin. He figures out where the dope is going, switches it with sugar, and sends some undercover cops to deliver it. They mention Lazlo is behind all the dope smuggling, but he’s running things from abroad. Bats gets in touch with Deadman (who apparently has nothing better to do than hang around the subway and read newspapers). When the fake heroin is delivered, the mob doesn’t believe Lazlo tried to screw them, but when they tell him, he’s not sure where the drugs could’ve been intercepted. Deadman takes over one of Lazlo’s henchman and freaks him out by talking like his murdered partner, Bannon.Deadman gaslights Lazlo Lazlo shoots the henchman, then blames the drug-switch on him. Deadman tips Batman to the next drug drop and Bats intercepts it. This time, the mob figures Lazlo Must have double-crossed them, since nobody else knew exactly where the dope was going. Deadman hints to the mob that Lazlo might’ve killed Bannon all those years ago. Lazlo returns and the mob has a “trial” for him on the abandoned ship. Deadman makes oneLazlo dies of Bannon’s old henchmen accuse Lazlo of killing him. After unmooring the wreck, Batman boards and starts kicking ass. Lazlo flees (on the Jolly Marie, natch) and crashes into Dead Man’s Reef when the wheel mysteriously turns in his hands. The mob guys are all arrested since the wrecked ship has drifted inside the three-mile limit. Deadman says he had nothing to do with crashing the ship, so I guess we’re supposed to think it was Bannon’s ghost getting revenge.

Noticeable Things:

  • I know Bob Haney isn’t much for continuity, but this one’s really off; the prologue is set in 1933, near the end of prohibition. The mob guy that Deadman inhabits to accuse Lazlo of murdering Bannon is taken seriously because he worked for Bannon back then, but there’s no way this guy’s old enough to have been around 44 years before. And through the whole issue, people talk about Bannon like everyone’s familiar with him, but I think a dude who died 44 years ago would be all but forgotten by then.
  • More Haney continuity; when Deadman’s trying to make the mob suspect Lazlo, he inhabits a painting of Bannon. As far as I know, that’s beyond Deadman’s power (and I’m sure it was never referenced again).Deadman in painting
  • When he and Batman intercept the second shipment, Commissioner Gordon is blasting away at the cargo plane with some kind of submachine gun (or maybe a really weird assault rifle); when did Gordon get so bad-ass? Maybe Haney was anticipating the Ben McKenzie version?Gordon with machine gun
  • There’s a lot of talk in this ish about the three-mile limit, but unfortunately we don’t get to see a Muhammad Ali/Secretariat fight.

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