Saturday, March 20, 2010

Green Arrow in The Brave and the Bold (Part 3)

(I apologize to anyone who actully gives a crap for the week long delay in getting up further Green Arrow posts.  I'll fill you in on what I was up to a little later.  In the meantime, to get up to speed, you might want to check out parts one and  two of this series on GA's appearances in The Brave & The Bold...or you could just leap right into Part Three....)
Apparently unwilling to bow to pressure from new B&B editor Paul Levitz to bring his stories more in line with the rigid continuity of the other Batman books, longtime B&B writer Bob Haney wrote his last Batman team-up story for issue #157.  The remaining forty-three issues were written by a rotating roster of writers that included Gerry Conway, Cary Burkett and Mike W. Barr. Jim Aparo remained with the book to draw the majority of the final stories.
Haney favorite Wildcat, who at the time supposedly lived on a different Earth from B&B's Batman, a matter of continuity that Haney never addressed, made no further appearances in the book, however, Green Arrow, another mainstay of the Haney era, would show up twice more. 

The twenty-four issue period between Haney's last GA team-up in #144 and the archer's next appearance in #168 is the longest that B&B ever went without a Green Arrow story.  "Shackles of the Mind" was written by Cary Burkett and drawn by Jim Aparo,  and is, in many ways, quite reminiscent of Haney's work. 
Green Arrow arrives in Gotham to recruit Batman for an appearance at a charity benefit show to introduce the star attraction, GA's friend escape artist, and reformed petty thief, Samson Citadel.  Batman reluctantly agrees, but only on the condition that Green Arrow take over his patrol of the city on the night of the show, as Batman fears a surge in crime when the crooks find out he's going to be busy that night.  A week before the benefit, Batman takes GA out on patrol with him to familiarize the archer with Gotham city.  The pair soon encounter a museum robbery. They capture most of the thieves, except one who manages to slip out of GA's handcuff arrow.  That leads Batman to suspect that GA's friend Samson has returned to crime, but the Arrow, of course, doesn't want to believe it.  While Green Arrow goes to have a talk with Samson, Batman follows a clue that leads him to a place called the Magician's Club, which is, as the name implies, a club whose membership is limited to professional magicians. 
Once inside the club, Batman promptly gets captured and is confronted by the man behind the museum robbery and other recent crimes, master hypnotist The Great Rhinehart.  Rhinehart obligingly explains his plan, which involves using a new hypnotic process he's developed to get unwitting dupes, including Samson Citadel, to commit crimes for him, before tying up the Caped Crusader, tossing him into a wooden box and dropping that into a tank filled with piranha. 
After reassuring Green Arrow that he was nowhere near the robbed museum the previous night, Samson gets a call from Rhinehart  that places him once again under the hypnotist's spell. He knocks out GA and leaves to carry out Rhinehart's latest crime plan. GA recovers quickly and follows his friend.
Samson eventually shakes off Rhinehart's control when the hypnotist orders him to kill Green Arrow and he is unable to follow through. Then Batman shows up to capture Rhinehart and explain how he escaped from his death trap.
While not as crazily imaginative and off the wall as the best of Haney's work, this story does, as I said above, evoke Haney's spirit in certain ways.  It has Green Arrow showing up to rope Batman into a scheme that inevitably leads to danger for both of them, and continuity is slightly flaunted through the introduction of Samson Citadel, an "old friend" of GA's who supposedly has helped him on some cases in the past but had never appeared in a comic before, nor has he, as far as I know, since.  Despite efforts to bring it more in-line with continuity, B&B still seems, at least in this issue, to be taking place in its own little universe. In this world, Batman, despite some token protests, readily agrees to compromise his dark avenger of the knight rep to appear at GA's charity show.  The name of GA's friend, Samson Citadel, is evocative of some of the crazy names that Haney would come up with for one shot characters and villains. Speaking of villains, the Great Rhinehart is also reminiscent of the many disposable one issue villains that Haney created for the book over the years.  Green Arrow even refers to the Caped Crusader as "Bat-Buddy" at one point.  Perhaps this is part of the reason that I consider B&B #168 one of the best of the few post Haney issues that I've read.  
Unfortunately, Green Arrow's next and final appearance in B&B is also the weakest.  "The Falcon's Lair" in issue #185 is written by someone named Don Krarr, a name that I've never seen on any other story, though based on this issue, I wouldn't read a story if I did see his name on it. The story is accompanied by rather amateurish art by Adrian Gonzales, which fails at certain times during the issue to tell the story clearly, leading to some confusion as to what the heck is supposed to be going on.  
This time its Batman who talks Green Arrow into a show biz gig, providing the entertainment at the fortieth birthday celebration of Bruce Wayne's friend Hamilton Mellor III.  At the party, GA and Batman discover and foil a plot by the Penguin to replace Mellor with a robot duplicate in order to gain control of Mellor's fortune.  
"The Falcon's Lair" is, sadly, an unfitting farewell for GA from the book that had been host to some of his greatest adventures over the past decade.
 In 1992, DC resurrected The Brave and the Bold as a six issue mini-series. Written by Mike Grell and Mike Baron with art by Shea Anton Pensa, it teamed Green Arrow and the Question with Baron creation The Butcher.  I won't be writing about that story. While I have read it, its been several years and I don't have copies of it on hand to refer to.  Nor have I been keeping up with the new volume of B&B, where GA has shown up once or twice.  So that wraps up my look at Green Arrow in The Brave and the Bold
Once again, if you're interested in reading the stories reviewed above, you'll have to hit the back issue bins, as they have yet to be reprinted.

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