free web hosting | free hosting | Business Hosting Services | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting
Brave and the Bold 56
"Raid of the Mutant Marauders!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND October-November 1964
Script: Bob Haney
Art: Bernard Baily
(originally posted 01/28/02)

As this title's pre-Batman teamup format continued, the focus came to Flash and J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars! The splash page might have been insurance against resistance to the peculiar pairing, as it features the Justice League, sort of.

PART ONE: It's opening day at the International Fair of '64, where Iris West congratulates her fiancee Barry Allen on being on time for once. Soon, they stand before effigies of the Super-Heroes of Earth. Also in attendance only a few feet away is J'Onzz, in his human disguise.

Coincidentally, a few days earlier "across the vast wastes of space" on the planet Argon, Queen Tatania ponders a similar set of figures. Kholus, one of her henchmen, tells her that their intra-stellar scopes has studied these heroes, their powers and qualities, very carefully. Is it possible to reproduce those powers? "Oh yes, my queen," he simpers. "Our Argonian science has achieved cybernetic synthesis of biological genetic and mutational..." She cuts him off, demanding he make a super-hero who possesses all these powers in one being. The scientists labor mightily, facing endless frustrations as they wrestle with the physical requirements needed of such a being. Finally, though, one evening, the android being is complete. It will rest inactive in a "serum solution" until they present it to Queen Tatania the next morning.

But, you guessed it! The morning comes and they return to mass of technological rubble. Something had activated the android overnight! A royal rocket follows the path of destruction and it's at Godzilla level. Luckily, a Bio-Ray on-ship will quiet the stray once they catch up. Soon, they sight their target and down it as expected. Woefully, the scientists report their failure to the Queen, who orders the menace hurled immediately into space. In short order but with regrets, the scientists comply. The exiled ship, hurtling aimlessly through space, comes to ground on Earth, a couple of acres from the site of the International Fair. Of course. It is found by workmen who've arrived to build a dedication stand for the Time Capsule, and who assume that this half-buried cylinder by the side of a dirt road must be it.

Not long after the workers leave the site, the capsule begins to glow ominously. Shortly thereafter, Barry and Iris marvel at The House of Steel, a steel bandstand complete with orchestra, as it hangs suspended from a single steel cable from a steel girder. For those who never attended a World's Fair (I was at the '64 show), they were full of shills like this, touting the advantages of their particular industry. Anyway, a flying figure chooses that moment to attack the steel contrivance, twisting its framework out of shape. Iris immediately recognizes that the figure's costume, on the right side anyway, is that of the Flash!... and Barry is perhaps uniquely qualified to declare that the other half is the Martian Manhunter. Without another word he scoots off to a photo booth to change into his own costume before racing back. At the speed of thought he races circles around the bandstand, creating a downdraft to bring it safely to ground.

At the same time J'Onzz arrives on the scene to confront the two-in-one impostor. The latter, already in action, wraps the girders tightly around him... so tightly, the Flash observes, that he can't flex his Martian muscles to break out. Flash opts to follow the twin-powered figure to an atomic-powered treadmill (!) where they engage in a test of super-velocity. The hybrid proves a match for the scarlet speedster, and then pulls a fast one (as it were) by throwing a lever marked "stop," which brings our hero down on his chin! By the time he revives to Iris calling him "Flash dear," Manhunter has wriggled free, and the pair scoot off to confront this terrible threat.

Interlude: full-page ad for Walter's International Wax Museum at the World's Fair. The Curt Swan illo touts Superman attacking a Giant Cyclops (about 10 feet tall) while the accompanying coupon grants a 20% discount (pay only 40 cents) to children under 12, when accompanied by an adult. Swan clearly worked from his own imagination; the waxworks weren't as impressive. But, I'm here to tell you that it was a thrill to see a Superman figure among the Victorian horrors and elder statesmen.

PART TWO: The being, referred to as the "mysterious mutant," has stolen a robot female and then leaped over an ostentatious fountain, to a height of maybe 60 feet. But why, asks an observer? Our heroes confab with the Fair's security people, and the costumed pair have to admit that the hybrid is beating them and they'd better do better, right quick! Uniformed security will be doubled in hopes of capturing this threat.

Later, J'Onzz is on hand as the feature of the Navy exhibit, an atomic sub, pulls up to a pier, ready to take on a crowd of fairgoers. Who should approach then but a hybrid of Aquaman and Green arrow, riding on the back of a whale! The whale then rams the sub as the hybrid fires a "strange arrow" at it. J'Onzz flies close and sees that the wire trailing from the arrow is drawing the sub's atomic power into the hybrid's body! Not a good thing! The hybrid dives deep into the harbor with J'Onzz in pursuit. Just as he's closing the distance, the hybrid turns, takes an archer's stance and shoots acetylene arrows at the Manhunter! Helpless against the flames, J'Onzz beats a retreat and climbs the dock, where he and Flash confer. This double power advantage is proving unbeatable, and meanwhile, they still have no idea who this being is, or where it will strike next!

And indeed, the hybrid's attacks spread to every corner of the vast fair. We see a Hawkman/Aquaman character slamming some exhibition high-divers; Flash/Green Lantern running past an artsy fountain and shattering its abstract adornments; Batman/Green Arrow walking a tightrope and firing upon an exhibit hall. J'Onzz is thwarted by Flash/GL as they slam him with a rapid-motion jackhammer; Batman/GA trip Flash with a bolo-arrow, and Hawkman/Aquaman send him skidding on water jetted from a fountain. Oh, those nasty boys!

Soon, a world of visitors is abandoning the pavilions. Even these JLA guys can't control the threats! Meanwhile, the guys are meeting with the Fair director, who's getting desperate. His Fair is quickly heading toward failure! Flash can do nothing but apologize and look at his feet as Iris bursts into the office. While looking for Barry she found a torn scrap of the female robot near the Time Capsule, about which we know more than they do. Flash, his hand to his chin in puzzlement, attributes it to the hybrid's senseless rages. J'Onzz, though, wonders why it would bother to steal the robot if its motive was merely destruction. The director meanwhile says that it's time to dedicate and bury the Time Capsule, with its miniature atom smasher and Beatle wig and whatever else. This is one part of the Fair that's going to succeed!

The dedication is going without a hitch as J'Onzz stands on a nearby hillock, keeping it all in view. Then, as the Capsule is lowered into its prepared pit, he uses his Martian vision to peek inside for no particular reason and realizes that this is not the Time Capsule! Inside is a strange form and the remains of the robot girl! As he comes near it to stop its descent, the thing emits a "weird" glow, knocking him back, and keeping the others at bay. By now J'Onzz has told Flash that this is in fact some sort of space canister, and that his "alien instincts" tell him it's the source of the hybrids. The emanations are radioactive, likely needed by whatever's inside, and the reason for the siphoning from the sub. J'Onzz strides purposefully away, to return with a disk of lead shielding from the sub, which he molds around the glowing canister. Flash cautions that the lead won't last forever, but J'Onzz bolts away to play out a hunch, and heads to his secret mountain hideout. There, he activates the teleportation machine that originally brought him to Earth. Then, he moves out on a beam of invisible energy moving "even faster than light," as there's no time to lose. Shortly, he's flying purposefully over a nifty alien city and telling himself, "Unless my Martian education was faulty, that canister could only have been built and designed here... on ARGON!" Then, intangible, he slips inside Queen Tatania's "private quarters," sumptuously appointed within stone walls. She's reclined, fully clothed as before, and talking in her sleep: "Send it into space... into space..."

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the lead shielding is disintegrating under the gamma ray bombardment, and the canister rockets upward! It then hovers above the fairgrounds, surrounded now by an aura. Flash says it looks like a force-field, and realizes the atomic sub may be able to help them now! Racing to the sub, he tells its commander that a Polaris missile, with its normal TNT warhead, should crack the force field and destroy the canister without harming anything else! The commander agrees, and fires the missile! As it arcs from the marina over the fairgrounds, J'Onzz speeds into view. "OH, NO! If that missile so much as DENTS the force field, there'll be untold disaster!"

PART THREE: J'Onzz slams his hands against the missile, pushing it off-course before tossing it into the bay, to explode "harmlessly." He then assures Flash that a penetration of the force field would have set off the booby-trapped canister with a power greater than an atomic bomb! Further, he's discovered why the hybrid is using its powers for evil, and that the only person who can help them now is Hawkgirl! Iris shouts in amazement! Shortly, the distress call goes out to Carter Hall, who passes it along to Shiera, who in turn is as surprised as Iris. But, the call was explicitly for her and not the pair of them, so off she goes. As she meets with our heroes, J'Onzz informs her it isn't her aerial powers he requires, but her acting ability, coupled with her alien background!

J'Onzz the Manhunter used his skills as Jones the Detective while on Argon, and found that Queen Tatania was the cause of the menace. In a manner not explained, he determined that she visited the lab that fateful night after the scientists had left. She couldn't wait to see the results of their work. "Perhaps he's handsome and loving... fit to be my husband and rule beside me!" Eagerly, foolishly, she released it from the serum that kept it inert, and beheld "the ugly toad form, which was the mutant's basic identity!" It approached her with arms opened devotionally, but she recoiled, and it reacted in rage! She never told her scientists what caused its berserk behavior before having it hurled into space. At this point Iris is in tears for poor Tatania, whose heart must be breaking! Ah, ever the dispassionate reporter. J'Onzz continues that he asked Tatania to help them, but she refused. "Now, we must work fast -- before that mutant up there hurls any new hybrid threats or explodes the canister! Evidently, he can control its atomic force with the same willpower that sends the hybrids out!" Ah, so the thing itself doesn't possess the powers, but can manifest them in agents who will carry out its will, we learn on page 21. Shock follows shock! So, J'Onzz concludes, their one hope is for Hawkgirl to impersonate Tatania and convince the mutant that she DOESN'T find him ugly!

Hawkgirl's Thanagarian police training, and a trip to an on-site cosmetics exhibit, has aided her transformation into a Tatania lookalike, seemingly on nothing more than J'Onzz description. We can imagine that the Absorbascon, which allowed the Hawks to learn everything known on Earth when they first arrived, could have been brought into play, but it's aboard their orbiting ship and there are only four pages to go. So. She positions herself under the canister and apologizes, begging it to return to Argon and use its powers for good. Momentarily, the Flash/Manhunter being drops out of the sky and practically sighs at the sight of her. Flash, Iris and J'onzz are high-fiving each other when the hybrid notices that Shiera's ears aren't pointy, that she's not an Argonian! Pushing her aside, it leaps into the air Toward the canister! J'Onzz surmises that the force field must have been turned off while it was outside, and so they must stop it before the field can be reactivated! Unfortunately, they're too slow and fail again.

But even as Shiera apologizes for blowing it, she sees that the real Tatania, climbing down a rope ladder, is firing a ray pistol at the canister, breaking the field... and triggering the booby-trap bomb! Then she speaks, identifying herself as its queen and ordering it to end the threat to Earth and return to Argon at once! She has come too late, the mutant replies, and once again only to command, as she did when she had it banished. In moments they will both be blasted to atoms. But unexpectedly, we see she has tears in her eyes as the begs forgiveness. What she did has haunted her ever since, and the Earthlings are getting pounded for no good reason. Canister-boy reacts with shock that she could shed tears over the fate of others, and intentionally hurtles off into space to explode harmlessly. Flash declares that the mutant sacrificed itself to save Earth, but Iris corrects him, that the deed was done not for Earth's sake, but to save Tatania.

Later, Tatania tells J'Onzz that his visit shamed her into flying to Earth to stop the disaster she caused. "The poor mutant... he had the heart of true super-heroes all the while!" She returns to Argon, a better and wiser ruler. Hawkgirl flies off with the gratitude of her not-quite teammates. Flash and J'Onzz depart in their separate directions 'til the next JLA meeting. And soon, as the Fair resumes its hustle and bustle, Iris catches sight of Barry: "Where have YOU been all this time?" He mumbles that he'd been locked in a photo booth by accident, then hands her the snaps as a souvenir of the Fair! "OOH! To think I'm stuck with a clown like you, when that dreamy FLASH is around! How can the two of you exist in the same world?" The end.

Bob Haney held nothing back, as bizarre events called for powerful reactions. Unlike Marvels of the day, this one was strong on quick events and devoid of emotional content, except that Iris hung around with Flash in every scene and for some reason felt pity for the haughty perpetrator. How odd that a story with so much JLA interest, when that series at issue 31 was ridin' high, would have none of it on the cover, which incidentally is on view at the Grand Comic Database. Since house ads from each editorial office tended not to cross over, JLA fans might have overlooked this one.

Speaking of the GCD, it lists Baily as inker on the cover, but I disagree. The inkwork is much smoother than anything else I've seen by Baily, though I am not familiar with enough DC inkers outside the Schwartz stable to form an opinion as to the person's identity.

Marvel had already been using the term "mutant" for a few months but didn't have a stranglehold on it yet.

The big surprise here was artist Bernard Baily. By 1964 Baily was long out of the hero game and drawing stories for Jack Schiff's books (House of Secrets, House of Mystery, My Greatest Adventure). So, why did he get this uncharacteristic assignment? He clearly put a lot of work into it. My first guess was that this was a tryout for a new penciler to take over for Mike Sekowsky on JLA. In fact, that shakeup didn't happen until four years later, when Dick Dillin became available upon the cancellation of Blackhawk. Second thought: this a tryout for the Flash. Well, no, Infantino didn't give up that title till '68 either, and by then we've seen his final work, so far as I can find. Baily might very well have been successful there: his crewcut Barry Allen was credible, and his angular artwork suited the established Flash "look" while bringing a new perspective, much as Everett followed well after Ditko on Dr. Strange. His Martian Manhunter has an angular face and heavy, arched eyebrows. Almost like Sub-Mariner!... but without the flattop hairstyle to complete the look. The effect is a bit less human-looking than MM's typical presentation in the years following his introduction. Baily may have been unaware of the heavy brow ridge that marked MM's first year. It's probably fair to assume that editor George Kashdan, who'd been editing the suspense books, simply asked Baily if he'd like to pick up 24 extra pages that month.

The Argonians are typical of many unearthly races, in that the females match our feminine ideal while the males are...other. In this case, they're uniformly bald, bigheaded and pointy-eared, with flat brainpans and scaly legs. Oh, and they're orange, which suits their purple hooded-sweatshirt-with-trunks outfits pretty well. Tatania, the only female we see, wears something that Dale Arden would've liked if she dated Ming the Merciless, and I'll leave it at that.

That robot girl who was abducted early on was pretty fetching, clearly the daughter of Maria from the silent film Metropolis. She has the, uh, secondary female characteristics we've come to expect, as well Robotman's shoulder pads, Lois Lane's hairstyle and Ramona Fradon eyelashes, and an articulated cable running from waist to hip. Her functionality was not mentioned.

Hawkman/Aquaman is truly bizarre. Flying aloft with one wing would be at least as unlikely as swimming that way. The visual wasn't even any good. Better to have had both wings and both swimmers' legs, if anything, and even then you'd lose the lung advantage, but that'd be better than those underwater lungs and Hawkman's flyer's (underdeveloped) legs.

J'Onzz is awfully matter-of-fact in using his teleportation machine to resolve this story's mystery. I don't recall this sort of thing in his Detective Comics series, then current, and I passed over his House of Mystery issues, but they came later. Denny O'Neil took him back to Mars around JLA #75, but wasn't that his first time back to his home planet during his 10-year duration at DC? Questions, questions.

Tom Orzechowski.