The Crank File: The Brave and the Bold #115
Ever since "Hoosier X" mentioned it a few months ago as being Bob Haney's favorite story, I've been looking out for a copy of Brave and the Bold #115, and thanks to my pal Dr. K, I've finally been able to get my hands on a copy. It's in pretty bad shape, to the point where the cover's gone and the pages are falling apart, and I can only assume that it exploded from the sheer amount of radness it was trying to contain.
Because this is the story where the Atom reanimates Batman's corpse so that he can fight crime from beyond the grave
It's official: "By Bob Haney and Jim Aparo" is the sweetest phrase in the English language.
So here's how it all goes down: Debbie Manton is a beloved college student who takes time out from her busy schedule to mentor unforunate kids under the watchful eye of Batman. Unfortunately, she also happened to stumble across a gangland murder on her way home from work, a bit of bad luck that happens roughly every twenty minutes on the mean streets of Gotham City.
Of course, being the good citizen that she is, Debbie comes forward, and--again, because this is Gotham City we're talking about here--is immediately kidnapped and held for ransom.
Needless to say, Batman does not approve, and launches an investigation that consists of him beating the living hell out of everyone that isn't Alfred or Comissioner Gordon with his pantented Jim Aparo Backhand:
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Every time Jim Aparo drew Batman hitting someone, it looked like--at the very least--they would never walk again.
In the wake of a sustained and brutal beating, information is pretty quick to arrive, and in order keep from spooking the kidnappers, he decides that it'd be a good idea to not tell anybody else where the gang's hideout is. This, as you might expect, will be important later. Equally important? The fact that the gang thinks it's a good idea to electrify the fifth-floor windows of their building, but not the front door.
Either way, it's enough to kill Batman:
Yeah, you heard me: Batman's dead! Well, brain-dead at least, with actual death to follow sometime within the hour once his lungs and heart get the memo. It's a shocking piece of news, and although Comissioner Gordon's reasonably upset, he seems a little more bothered by the fact that Batman died without finishing his case. Let me tell you, that guy's all business sometimes.
He refuses to accept the word that Batman's shuffled loose this mortal cape and cowl, and brings in an expert in to confirm things. Because when you have a question of a complex medical nature, you want to get a particle physicist to come in and check things out.
Fortunately, he manages to pick the one visiting physicist who's also well-versed in science of a highly dubious nature and has the ability to shrink down and go stomp around in Batman's brain to see what happens.
Yes, friends, he calls upon Ray Palmer: Re-Animator.
...and that's when the Atom shrinks down, hops into Batman's ear canal, pauses just long enough to drop some knowledge on the kids by explaining how the ear works, and starts stomping around in Batman's brain until he finally kicks the synapse that makes him get up and go fight crime.
By this logic, Sue Dibny should be frigg'n immortal by now.
Also, I feel I should mention that Dr. Frankenpalmer explains that while he'll be contributing to some of the major motor functions, Batman's mostly going to be operating purely on reflex. Which means that Batman's involuntary reaction to the world around him is to hunt down evil and beat the crap out of it.
And that is probably the most badass thing I have ever heard.
So Batman--with the Atom riding shotgun in his skull and giving his frontal lobe a swift kick every time he needs to punch something--heads over to an abandoned police station to rescue Debbie, only to find a thug holding a gun to her head, threatening to shoot her if Batman comes any closer. Which is why the Atom gives up on controlling Batman, jumps out of his skull, and takes care of things in his own inimitable fashion:
For the record, the Atom is punching with "the impact of a closely-fired bullet," which means that he is essentially shooting that guy in the face with his bare hands. Sweet Christmas!
So, Debbie is rescued, and even better, Batman comes back to life... somehow... in a scene that reads like Murray Boltinoff had to call up Bob Haney and remind him that Batman couldn't die again at the end of the story. The actual explanation, however, is much more sciencey. Sort of.
So remember, kids: If you come across a dead body, just kick 'em in the brain a couple times to get things going again.
More of the Craziest Frigg'n Things I've Ever Seen:
| The Brave and the Bold #81 |
| Adventure Comics #303 |
| Metal Men #3-5 |