Monday, June 16, 2008

It Came from the Back Issue Box: Brave and Bold #147

A week ago I was reminded about how great Jim Aparo was as an artist on the Fortress of Fortitude blog (

It's funny, but it is his version of Batman that usually comes to mind when I picture the Dark Knight in my head. Most likely this is from the glut of Batman issues he drew in the formative years of my collecting. One such issue was The Brave and the Bold #147, release in February 1979, and written by Cary Burkett. Aparo both drew and inked the book.

The story is titled 'Death-Scream from the Sky' and guest stars Supergirl.

The story starts out with a terrorist group called The Children of Light announcing that they have hi-jacked a Wayne Enterprise communication satellite and rigged it with a huge laser cannon capable of destroying whole cities. Unless their demands for prisoner release and cash are met they will begin annihilating cities. (I can't help but be reminded of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers talking about his air-quoted laser.)

And what a time to start this plot! Outside of Batman, the rest of the JLA just happens to be away on a space mission. The Dark Knight follows some clues to the STAR labs in Midvale. And who should he literally stumble upon there, Supergirl.

Kara explains she has been following a student from New Athens college who exudes some field which weakens her. She followed him to STAR where her powers abandoned her and she was ambushed and knocked unconscious.

Figuring that Supergirl can help take out the satellite, Batman hops into a single passenger space shuttle and heads into space. The terrorists have thought things through though. The satellite is rigged to emanate red-sun radiation which will make Kryptonians powerless, so Supergirl cannot approach it. (The student/terorist she has been following has been working so closely with the red-sun radiation technology that he has been giving off low levels himself, thus explaining his effect on Supergirl.)

Amazingly Batman tries to take out the satellite only to be gunned down by the cannon. Kara is able to save him from a death in deep space and brings him quickly earthward.

Back on Earth, the two do some more snooping and find a key clue in the student's apartment. Turns out the "top secret" terrorist group are wearing badges on there chest (scroll up to first pic) which are handed out at a night club in Gotham called 'Le Soleil'. Those tricky terrorists!

After breaking into the terror cell, it is revealed that the mastermind villain is Dr. Light, still decades away from becoming a rapist and getting mind-wiped in Brad Metzler's Identity Crisis. Here, he is just another evil scientist trying to scam a buck.

Batman trashes the goons and deactivates the red sun field around the cannon. In a rage, Light activates the laser cannon. In the best moment of the book, Kara has to outrace Light's radio signal to the satellite. She gets there in the nick of time, destroying the satellite before it can fire.

This is fairly typical 'one and done' B&B issue with standard excellent Aparo art. His Supergirl is both strong and beautiful.

As for Supergirl, this takes place during the "Superman Family" continuity period meaning Linda is working as a guidance counselor at New Athens college. It is a period of her history that I actually know little about. In this issue, she seems in awe of Batman. Throughout the story he tells her to stay behind for her own safety since the villains have a way of robbing her of her powers. In the end, she acts the way we expect Kara to act - heroically- and charges into the terrorist HQ to save Batman while risking her own life.

If only to see Batman and Supergirl interact one-on-one, I would recommend this issue to all Supergirl fans.

Overall grade: B

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