Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2

First Published: January 2007

Contents: The Brave and The Bold #88 (February-March 1970) to #108 (August-September 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Bob Haney, Neal Adams, Ross Andru, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo, Bob Brown, and others

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The Brave and The Bold Batman Team-Ups Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the Batman team-ups from The Brave and the Bold. Once again, Bob Haney weaves a unique take on Batman, finding unusual ways to bring Batman together with the likes of Green Arrow, Deadman, and the Metal Men.

A couple of books highlight this volume in particular:

  • The Brave and the Bold #98 featured Batman meeting up with the Phantom Stranger. While that match-up, in particular, is not huge, it does mark Jim Aparo’s first take on Batman. Aparo was a rising star at DC at this time, having gained notice for his work on Aquaman and The Phantom Stranger. Aparo would then go on to handle the art on nearly 80 of the next 100 issues of The Brave and the Bold.
  • The Brave and the Bold #100 (February-March 1972) featured Batman “teaming up” with Robin, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern. In all actuality, Batman had been shot and needed the other heroes to solve a crime for him while he recovered. This was published around the same time as the “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline was coming to an end in the pages of Green Lantern (see Showcase Presents Green Lantern Vol. 5 for that full story).

Why should these stories be Showcased?: I’ve said it before and I will say it again – any of the team-up books from DC (or Marvel) should be must-own for any fan. This is Batman with some of the greatest art talents of the time (Adams, Aparo, Cardy) providing covers and enticing stories to match the crazy stories being delivered to us by Bob Haney. These stories do not worry about continuity, so try not to take these too seriously. Just enjoy the absurdity of Batman teaming up with Sgt. Rock or the House of Mystery.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
#88 – Batman & Wildcat
#89 – Batman & The Phantom Stranger / Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
#90 – Batman & Adam Strange
#91 – Batman & Black Canary
#92 – Batman & The Bat-Squad
#93 – Batman & House of Mystery
#94 – Batman & Teen Titans / Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol. 2
#95 – Batman & Plastic Man
#96 – Batman & Sgt. Rock
#97 – Batman & Wildcat
#98 – Batman & The Phantom Stranger / Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
#99 – Batman & Flash
#100 – Batman & Black Canary, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Robin
#101 – Batman & Metamorpho
#102 – Batman & Teen Titans
#103 – Batman & Metal Men
#104 – Batman & Deadman
#105 – Batman & Wonder Woman
#106 – Batman & Green Arrow
#107 – Batman & Black Canary
#108 – Batman & Sgt. Rock

If you like this volume, try: the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. Running on the Cartoon Network from 2008 to 2011, this was a beautiful and fun homage to the Batman team-ups of the 1960s and 1970s. While some team-ups occurred more frequently (Aquaman and Green Arrow), the creators of the series pulled team-ups from all corners of the DC Universe. You would think that the spirit of Bob Haney was supervising the writer’s room for this series. Truth be told, I think I even teared up some with Batman teaming up with the Doom Patrol at the end of that group’s career. The finale of the series tied everything together and made promises that the adventures of Batman will never end. If you have not watched them, or not watched them recently, you owe it to yourself to give this series a look. (There was a Johnny DC book released to support this cartoon as well. While it captured the look and humor of the series, part of the joy with the series is seeing the team-ups animated on the screen. Track this series down for the young Batman fan in your life.)

Essential Avengers Vol. 5

Essential Avengers Vol. 5

First Published: January 2006

Contents: Avengers #98 (April 1972) to #119 (March 1972); Daredevil #99 (May 1973); and Defenders #8 (September 1973) to #11 (December 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Roy Thomas, Harlan Ellison, Steve Englehart, Barry Windsor-Smith, Rich Buckler, Don Heck, Sal Buscema, Bob Brown, and others

Key First Appearances: Imus Champion, Mantis

Story Continues From: Essential Avengers Vol. 4

Story Continues In: Essential Avengers Vol. 6

Overview: In the aftermath of the Kree-Skrull war, the Avengers have returned to Earth to find that one of their members is missing. Tracking down the Warhawks, the Avengers are reunited with Clint Barton, who has dropped the Goliath act and is now back to the bow and arrows of Hawkeye. With him, they find another former Avenger, Hercules, confused and disoriented. What a way to start the next volume of Essential Avengers!

The disoriented Hercules leads into a storyline that leads into #100 anniversary issue, which brought back every former Avengers – including the Hulk – in a battle between Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Following that, the Avengers face numerous familiar foes, including the Grim Reaper, the Sentinels, the Space Phantom, and Magneto.

The highlight of this volume is the Avengers-Defenders War, which crossed over between the two titles, both scripted by Steve Englehart. Loki, the step-brother of Thor, and Dormammu, long-time foe of Doctor Strange, manipulate the two super-teams into battle. This has been reprinted multiple times, including in the Essential Defenders books.

The volume concludes as the Avengers make another return to Rutland, Vermont, for the annual Halloween parade. Once again, chaos ensues as the Collector shows up trying to complete a set of Avengers.

What is interesting with this volume is Englehart advancing the characters into relationships, bordering on a soap opera. The Scarlet Witch and the Vision start a relationship, much to Quicksilver’s chagrin. Mantis shows up, and wants to claim the Vision as her own. The Swordsman has fallen head over heels in love with Mantis, but can’t get the time of day from her. All of this gets resolved in the next volume.

What makes this Essential?: We see another transition in the Avengers title as Roy Thomas steps down as writer, and Steve Englehart comes in as the new scribe of the book. The X-Men – friend and foes – make numerous appearances during a time when their book was strictly a reprint title. Englehart scripts one of the first multi-part crossovers between the Avengers and the Defenders. With the introduction of Mantis, we start approaching the Celestial Madonna storyline that will dominate Essential Avengers Vol. 6. The downside to this volume is the art, which suffers from a lack of consistency. If you liked Essential Avengers Vol. 4, you should probably have this volume as well to continue the run.

Footnotes: Avengers #111 and Daredevil #99 was also reprinted in Essential Daredevil Vol. 4.

Avengers #115-#118 and Defenders #8-#11 are also reprinted in Essential Defenders Vol. 1.

If you like this volume, try: Avengers: Under Siege by Roger Stern and John Buscema. Running in Avengers #270-#277, the Masters of Evil are back with a vengeance, taking down the Avengers one-by-one. During the onslaught, Hercules is beaten within inches of his life; control of the Avengers Mansion falls over to the bad guys; and even the butler Jarvis is caught up and injured. But falling back to the group’s origins, the Wasp rallies the troops, calling in Thor and Captain America to defeat the Masters of Evil. When fans are asked to name the best Avengers stories, this is easily in the top five for everyone, if not the top choice. This has been collected multiple times and remains in print nearly 30 years after it initially ran in the monthly book.

Essential Defenders Vol. 1

Essential Defenders Vol. 1

First Published: September 2004

Contents: Doctor Strange #183 (November 1969); The Sub-Mariner #22 (February 1970), #34 (February 1971) and #35 (March 1971); The Incredible Hulk #126 (April 1970); Marvel Feature #1 (December 1971) to #3 (June 1972); The Defenders #1 (August 1972) to #14 (July 1974); and The Avengers #115 (September 1973) to #118 (December 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema, Ross Andru, Steve Englehart, Bob Brown, Len Wein, and others

Key First Appearances: Valkyrie, Nebulon

Story Continues In: Essential Defenders Vol. 2

Overview: Doctor Strange! The Hulk! The Sub-Mariner! More than men, these beings border on being forces of nature. Brought together against their wishes, these heroes unite as one to form the first non-team in comics history, the Defenders!

A loose story line drifted across the three titles of the featured characters, all written by Roy Thomas, over a two year period before the trio of characters came together under the Defenders banner in Marvel Feature #1. Following three appearances in Marvel Feature, the Defenders graduated to their bi-monthly title. What made the team unique is that they didn’t necessarily consider themselves as an organized team. The Defenders did not have an organized charter and rules like the Avengers. They did not have matching uniforms like the Fantastic Four. Rather, they happened to be characters who hung out at Doctor Strange’s home and were pulled together at different times to fight foes (mainly magical characters) that threatened the Earth.

The Silver Surfer joined the “team” in issue #2 and is now considered to be one of the core members of the team. Longtime members Valkyrie and Nighthawk soon appear, and the regular cast of characters is set for the next few years.

The highlight of this volume is the Avengers/Defenders War, which ran for four months across both titles. This was one of the first major crossovers between two Marvel titles that last more than two or three issues. Hawkeye was hanging out with the Defenders at this time, so it made for a lot of interesting match-ups between the two teams (Captain America vs. Sub-Mariner, Swordsman vs. Valkyrie, Iron Man vs. Hawkeye, Vision & Scarlet Witch vs. Silver Surfer, etc.). The format for this storyline became the template for future crossover events for years to come.

What makes this Essential?: For a team that was not officially a team, the Defenders have a long history in the Marvel Universe. Primarily composed of characters best described as “anti-social” or “loners”, the members fought each other as much as they did their foes. There are a lot of times where this title feels more like an extension of the Doctor Strange book, as his villains are the team’s primary foes.

I think if you are a fan of the team or the main characters (especially Doctor Strange) then give this volume a read. If you are coming to this for the Avengers/Defenders crossover, then pick up Essential Avengers Vol. 5 or the Avengers/Defenders War collection.

Footnotes: Doctor Strange #183, The Sub-Mariner #22, The Incredible Hulk #126, and Marvel Feature #1 are also reprinted in Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 2.

The Incredible Hulk #126 is also reprinted in Essential Hulk Vol. 3.

The Avengers #115-#118 and The Defenders #8-#11 are also reprinted in Essential Avengers Vol. 5.

Tom Hagen and the Rutland, Vermont, Halloween parade make an appearance in Marvel Feature #2. For more information on Tom Fagan, see Essential Avengers Vol. 4.

If you like this volume, try: the Defenders series from 2001. Created by Kurt Busiek and Eric Larsen, this series once again reunited the core members of the team under a spell — Yandroth manipulated a spell so that Doctor Strange, the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer must reunite any time the world is in danger. This volume ran for 12 issues when it was then renamed The Order, which ran for six issues. These were numbered #1-#6, but they also continued the numbering from The Defenders with #13-#18. This story mixed a lot of humor into the action. Sadly, this volume has not been collected into any trade collections so you may need to dive into the back-issue bins to track this down.

For a look at the 2008 series The Order, please take a look at Essential Defenders Vol. 3.