The Brave & The Bold #124
Did I not just say in my last post that I had been unable to find this particular issue? Once again, Bell, Book & Comic comes through for me. I found it while browsing for some Aparo Batman at Gem City last week, and got it for mere pennies. I swear, I could never set foot in my local comic shop as long as I get to see these guys at conventions twice a year.
Team-up books frequently provide oddball stories given the unlikely pairings of characters shoehorned into their twenty-odd pages. This issue is the champion of such books, giving us a Batman/Sgt. Rock adventure that gets taken to strange new territory when artist Jim Aparo has to become personally involved. Rock is cool, but I almost wish this could have been a straightforward Batman/Aparo team-up, just so I could see Jim’s name with a cool logo design on the cover.
I thought this would be some sort of time travel story or maybe an imaginary tale. It was actually jarring when Rock steps into the picture on page three and he and Batman start comparing notes on the case they have both been investigating. Checking the first page again, I was reminded that this issue was published in 1976– so Rock could have conceivably been in his late 50’s or early 60’s, not yet retired from the service. He proves that he’s pretty spry for his age, as the old coot takes a significant amount of punishment from the bad guys before the story is over but still retains his cat-like reflexes and his gift for conducting interrogations.
The pair are pursuing a terrorist group which has stolen a shipment of super-rifles the military has developed. Facing a high-tech crime wave, the pair join forces to tackle the daunting task of tracking down every missing weapon. Their investigation has just begun when the scene switches to the studio of Jim Aparo, still in the process of drawing the issue– when a couple of terrorists invade his home, steal the script, and order him to draw Batman and Rock getting killed by a booby trap!
Aparo escapes, taking refuge in a friend’s house, where he can draw our heroes escaping the trap. From here the chase is on, as the terrorists keep rewriting the script to kill Batman and Rock while Aparo, on the phone with writer Bob Haney, keep devising wildly improbable escapes for them. Will Batman and Rock find the terrorist leader before the villains track down Aparo and force him to draw their death scene?
Aparo lucks out, as Bob Haney provides the characters with a trail of clues that lead them to the villains just as they are approaching the house where Aparo is hiding. Batman and Rock take out the terrorist hit squad, capturing their leader who happens to have on his person a list of all the members of his organization and the location of the stolen super-rifles. Even more remarkable is the fact that Jim Aparo drew the climactic four pages of the comic in a little over twenty minutes (story time). All the pantywaist artists working in the trade these days who can’t meet a deadline should take note.