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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day Special: May The Best Man DIE!

Despite the fact that I plan to keep humming "Jingle Bells" until sometime in mid-January, Chistmas is finally over. But fear not, holiday fans, for a quick glance at the calendar will show that the day after Christmas has its own special designation among the Godless heathens that populate England and the Canadian wilderness. So tonight, the ISB celebrates Boxing Day in the most appropriate way I can imagine:

With everyone's favorite geriatric prizefighter, Wildcat.

Yes, crashing fist-first into the pages of the Bob Haney/Jim Aparo Brave and the Bold--one of the finest runs of comics ever if you happen to enjoy things that are awesome--we have "May the Best Man DIE!", and even discounting the fact that there's really no reason offered up for how Batman's able to hang out with Wildcat when they're supposed to be living in seperate dimensions (because Bob Haney, that's why!), it may be the most nonsensical adventure of all time.

The whole thing kicks off with Mike Dubceck, who, before his current stint in the big house, was hired muscle in the employ of the Joker. At present, though, he's being kept isolated in solitary at the behest of Batman and Jim Gordon until he finally cracks and gives up information on his old boss, which just begs the question of why exactly are they still gathering evidence against the Joker? Once you go on your third or fourth public, clown-themed murder spree, I'm pretty sure they can just go ahead and close the file.

Regardless, being kept in solitary's starting to get to Dubceck, so--in a move that has a good shot at entering the Top One Stupidest Moments In Criminal History--he writes a letter to the Joker where he explains that he's about to crack and give up all the evidence against him.

Quick! Guess who doesn't make it to page fifteen!

This, for the record, is where things start to get convoluted. In a surprise twist, Ted Grant--alias Wildcat--is going to be boxing an exhibition match at that very prison the next day, but instead of bringing in another professional fighter to put on a good show for the guys in lockdown, the Warden has apparently arranged it so that the former Heavyweight champ will just throw down with one of the prisoners instead. Clearly, this plan is flawless.

Fortunately, the prisoner they settle on is, of course, Mike Dubcek, who almost beat Wildcat for the title before he turned to a life of crime. And incidentally, that's also the exact plot of Rocky Balboa.

Thus: Fightin'!

I've said it before, and Haney's dialogue here bears me out: When drawn by Jim Aparo, being punched is like being shot in the face.

Ted Grant wins the fight, of course, but in yet another surprise twist, Grant's volunteer corner-man is actually working for the Joker, and ends up spiking Dubceck's water with a rare, highly infectious tropical disease that spreads to the rest of the prison in a couple of days, marking what would stand as the most convoluted organized crime hit until Snakes On A Plane hit theaters 31 years later.

Luckily for all that evidence that we're still supposed to need, Jim Gordon has a plan:

I've already emailed Polite Scott about this, but while I'm not a doctor, I am almost certain that a small dog "crammed full of antibodies" cannot possibly be the proper way to battle an epidemic.

What follows could pass for the most surreal Benny Hill sketch of all time: Batman puts Spot the Anti-Bacterial Wonder Dog in an armored car, the Joker hijacks it, and Batman and Wildcat spend seven pages trying to track him down. What's really interesting about the sequence, though, is that at one point, Spot runs across a wino, who--recognizing that the dog can do simple tricks--decides that he's going to get rich off a Jack Russel terrier that can both sit and roll over. He feels so strongly about this, in fact, that when Batman rolls through the alley asking if he's seen a dog, he feigns ignorance.

Quick Note for the Population of Gotham City: If Batman is looking for something, it's probably very, very important that he finds it in a timely fashion. (See Also: Every single Batman story ever).

Eventually, Batman and Wildcat realize that the Joker got the bright idea to check with the dogcatcher, and end up trailing him to one of Gotham's scenic abandoned arenas, where they're forced to fight to the death Aparo Style!--in a scene that would later be re-imagined by Beau "The Bro" Smith and Chuck "Pass The Fixins" Dixon for Batman/Wildcat, with this hanging in the balance:

Huh. All the sudden, I have the urge to buy a copy of National Lampoon.

Anyway, Batman and Wildcat beat each other half to death, but the day is saved when Spot bites the Joker and, for reasons that I can only attribute to the fact that we're on page 17 of an 18-page story with no resolution in sight, the Joker flips out, jumps into a nearby river, and then begs Batman to save him from drowning, thus saving the day.

Well, for everyone except for the increasingly irrelevant Mike Dubcek, anyway. But he was a snitch, so dying in a hellish prison from an exotic tropical disease contracted during a boxing match with a senior citizen was pretty much to be expected.

After all... isn't that the true meaning of Boxing Day?

More Haney-tastic Fun From the Brave and the Bold:

| The Crank File: B&B #81 |
| Haney's Got A Gun |
| The Crank File: B&B #115 |
| APARO! |


Blogger Philip Looney said...


12/27/2006 8:21 AM

Blogger LurkerWithout said...

One question. Do they actually wear those spiked gauntlets?

12/27/2006 8:29 AM

Anonymous SanctumSanctorumComix said...


For someone who loves Christmas so much, SURELY you know that it doesn't END after Dec 25th.

As legend has it, it took 12 more days for the 3 Wise Men to reach the newborn baby Jesus (thus leading into the song; "The 12 Days of Christmas") for the Epiphany )or "Little Christmas" as many call it.

That was when they presented their gifts, and as such, YOU (being ever so wise in the way of all things punching) can continue to give the gift of Holiday comic reviews.

(Not that you really need any coaxing to offer up Christmas comic cheer for a few days longer.)

We'll let this entry slide since it is/was Boxing Day (and their aren't many Kwanzaa comics stories out there).


12/27/2006 9:55 AM

Blogger SallyP said...

Haw! Heck of a way to celebrate Boxing Day!

12/27/2006 10:17 AM

Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

I always loved how Aparo would draw some scenes in a tilted perspective (like that cover), I suppose to bring the Bat-comics in line with the TV show, but a LOT of non-villain scenes were in what I lovingly call "JokerVision".

Infinite Crisis would have been over a lot quicker if they just sicced Ted Grant on SuperWaid.

12/27/2006 10:35 AM

Blogger Bill Reed said...


But you better keep your promise for St. Swithin's ROM.

12/27/2006 12:09 PM

Blogger Kevin said...

If there really are 12 days to xmas then I humbly submit that we figure out what to get Chris on each of those 12 days...I'll start.
On the first day of Christmas we got the ISB-
A story from Bob Haney...

12/27/2006 12:45 PM

Anonymous Gamoid said...

Would you believe me if I said that this was the first DC comic I ever read? I was young--must have been six or seven--and was looking through my uncle's collection, reading whatever looked interesting. Batman punching the crap out of some guy in a catsuit made me freak out. Years and years later, I have a deep and abiding love for both characters that's never abated because of this comic.

This is also my excuse for listing the Claremont-era New Mutants as my favorite team book ever.

12/27/2006 2:51 PM

Blogger Brett said...

On the second day of Christmas we got the ISB, A polar bear punched in the kidney!

12/27/2006 3:38 PM

Anonymous oxy moronovich said...

On the third day of Christmas we got the ISB, an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikini

12/27/2006 5:10 PM

Blogger thedeadpenguin said...

I just found out that Chris has the top Google result for "aparo batman punch" and that's exactly as it should be.

12/27/2006 6:48 PM

Blogger Kevin said...

On the fourth day of christmas we got the ISB-Four Hell Stares Staring.

12/27/2006 6:50 PM

Blogger Kevin said...

I just checked and he is also the top result on Google for "Batman Battery Throwing". Both of these positions we should protect with all the ferocity of a Sgt. Rock vs. Hitler cage match.

12/27/2006 6:55 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Of course I'm familiar with the Epiphany--It's also the ISB's birthday.

12/27/2006 7:15 PM

Blogger John Bligh said...

How many times did Aparo use that same exact layout (which he probably took from Neal Adams) for a cover? Regardless, despite his occasional reliance on formulaic page designs, Aparo was one of the best ever...

12/27/2006 7:36 PM

Blogger Wicked Juan said...

Best. Comic. EVER.

12/27/2006 9:53 PM

Blogger Brett said...

Skipping ahead. Sue me. On the tenth day of Christmas we got the ISB, ten Batrocs a leaping!

12/28/2006 9:44 AM

Anonymous Cuthbert said...

It cannot succeed in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.
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10/13/2011 6:55 AM


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