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Comic Book / The Brave and the Bold

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Issue #124, where the villains attack Batman by attacking the comic's writer and artist... Just a normal day for Batman!

The Brave and the Bold was a DC Comics Silver Age comic book series that ran from 1955 to 1983. It is best known for its incarnation as a superhero team-up comic, in which various DC superheroes joined forces with each other (but mostly with Batman) to fight menaces too big to face alone.

The original concept for The Brave and the Bold was an Anthology Comic of historical adventure stories, featuring the likes of Robin Hood, the Viking Prince, and the Silent Knight. From issue #25 it became a try-out title for new potential series, beginning with the debut of the original (pre-Amanda Waller) Suicide Squad, and going on to introduce the Justice League of America, Cave Carson, the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and "Strange Sports Stories", all of which went on to achieve at least occasional recurring status.note 

It became a team-up comic with issue #50, which featured an alliance between Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. (Although with occasional lapses back into being a try-out title, such as #57, the debut of Metamorpho.) Issue #54 featured a team-up between Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad, which led a few issues later to the formation of the Teen Titans. Batman appeared in the title for the first time in #59, teaming up with Green Lantern, and from #67 on, he was in every single issue. The series ended with its 200th issue, a double-sized special featuring a team-up between Batman and ... Batman.

The tone of the team-up stories could vary considerably. Some were straightforward Batman stories (you wouldn't think a crossover between Batman and House of Mystery would work, but in #93 Denny O'Neil made it), but many, to put it bluntly, carried the torch for the kind of Silver Age wackiness that made Superdickery what it is today, into the Bronze Age. (Exhibit A: #108, in which Batman accidentally sells his soul to the Devil to save a child, then teams up with Sergeant Rocknote  who reveals the "Devil" is actually Hitler! But also actually the Devil!). Most of these (and the majority of the series, in fact) were written by "Zaney" Bob Haney, the man so famous for his cheeky defiance for continuity, common sense and logic that even his editors once claimed his stories might take place in their own alternate universe, "Earth-B(ob)". Needless to say, Haney's stories have developed their own fans, not hindered by the fact that he worked with Neal Adams and Jim Aparo doing career-best work.

A limited series titled The Brave and the Bold, by Mike Grell and Mike Baron, ran from 1991 to 1992 and teamed up Green Arrow, The Question, and creator-owned character The Butcher. A new The Brave and the Bold ongoing ran from 2007 to 2010, which removed Batman's ex officio status and returned to being a series where any combination of heroes could team up. The spirit of the Silver/Bronze Age Bob Haney original is arguably better carried on and very faithfully adapted by the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

The Silver/Bronze Age version of the comic provides examples of:

  • Avengers Assemble: Featured in issue #28, the debut of the Justice League of America.
  • Back for the Dead: Issue #187, "Whatever Happened to What's'ername?", features a team-up with the Metal Men and the return of a character who had fallen victim to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in Metal Men over a decade earlier. Three guesses what happens to What's'ername in the end.
  • Cernunnos: Cernunnos makes a prominent appearance in The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman. He's a large, bearded and horned humanoid, who resides in Tir Na Nóg along with his fellow Celtic deities. He attempts to keep peace between the two factions of gods, the Fomorians and the Tuatha dé Danann, but when his efforts fall on deaf ears he turns to Diana and Batman for help and, later, to help uncover the murderer of the Formorian king Elatha. While he's killed during the crossfire between the two sides, the story ends with him being reborn as a horned child.
  • Clear My Name: Played with in #59, as Time Commander claims he escaped jail to prove he was convicted in his civilian identity of a crime he did not commit, going so far as to claim he's "a modern Edmond Dantes." He steadily maintains his desire to be cleared of that crime throughout the story, but we never learn if he was actually innocent. His crimes as the Time Commander that didn't have anything to do with clearing his name render it a moot point.
  • Continuity Snarl: All the damn time, to the point that some issues are considered to be set in a tongue-in-cheek alternate continuity, nicknamed "Earth-B" after writer Bob Haney. The above example of Sgt. Rock (a military hero from World War II) teaming up with Batman in the modern day to fight Satan/Hitler is merely the tip of the iceberg. Some stories don't blatantly defile continuity, but still have pretty implausible premises, such as Kamandi (the last surviving human from a post-apocalyptic future) somehow arriving in present day Earth and getting mind-controlled by Gotham mob bosses, or Catwoman inexplicably murdering people even though she has a Thou Shalt Not Kill rule of her own. There's also a story where Batman gets possessed by a demonic spirit and it's revealed that his parents dabbled in occult magic; suffice to say, that little nugget has never come up again.
  • Emergency Impersonation: In issue #196, Batman and Ragman swapped uniforms so they could double as each other. Batman was injured, so Ragman went first.
  • Enemy Mine: Occasionally, the team-up partner would be a well-known villain rather than a hero. Indeed, Batman twice teamed up with The Joker to solve murders that Joker had been framed for.note 
  • Eye Remember: In issues #188-189, during a team-up between Batman and Rose & Thorn, Batman comments that seeing the image of a killer in a dead man's eyes is myth, but nonetheless checks. Sure enough, he sees an image of the killer frozen in the victim's eye. No explanation is ever given.
  • Horror Host: Cain, the host of House of Mystery, introduces and narrates issue #93, in which Batman might or might not be receiving spectral assistance in his latest investigation.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: In issue #191, when Batman and the Joker turn the real villain (the Penguin) over to the police, the Joker says "Let's take him downtown and book him!" Then he turns to Batman and says "Gee...I always wanted to say that!"
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Played literally in #115, where the Atom shrinks down and jumps on Batman's brain to control his Only Mostly Dead body. Includes the revelation that Batman punching criminals is literally a reflex for him.
  • Mind Screw: The series as a whole could occasionally fall into this territory, owing to the laissez-faire writing style of Bob Haney. Ignoring Haney's usual disregard for continuity, many of his Brave and the Bold stories could just be plain weird, even by Silver/Bronze Age standards. The page image at the top? That comic cover is not merely a fake-out to draw attention like something out of Superdickery; the terrorist villains actually jump through the fourth wall to threaten the artist into killing off Batman in the story itself. No, they never explain how that works, just roll with it.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Issue #166 has a female mercenary being hired to impersonate Black Canary. The real Black Canary is held bound and gagged in her undies while the impostor dons the heroine's trademark fishnet outfit in order to fool Batman.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Issue #63 (from 1965) revolves around this trope. Basically, Wonder Woman and Supergirl both get new boyfriends that don't approve of what they do and would be disillusioned if they saw them at work. This leads the two to bend over backwards trying to save lives without losing their boyfriends by lying to them about their actions. Finally, they give it up and return to fighting crime, as they realize that it is what they need to do.
  • No-One Could Have Survived That: The vigilante hero Nemesis (real name: Tom Tresser) had a backup feature in B&B for a few years, even teaming up with Batman a few times in the main story. For issue #193, they teamed up again to look for the murderer of Nemesis's brother. At the end of the story Nemesis pilots a helicopter full of explosives into the villain's headquarters. Upon seeing the resulting devastation, Batman practically says the trope word-for-word note  Nevertheless, Nemesis turned up hale and hearty a few years later in the pages of Suicide Squad.
  • Not Me This Time: In one Batman-Joker team-up story, Batman is investigating the murder of the Penguin and suspects the Joker, only for Joker to prove he couldn't have committed the crime. It's revealed that the Penguin actually faked his death to kidnap a cardinal.
  • Superdickery: Many instances, including the particularly unusual version in the page picture, where the villain threatens the artist to make him draw Rock shooting Batman, and thus, kill him.
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • Team-Up Series: Batman teaming up with others, in the Trope Codifier.
  • Totally Radical: The Teen Titans in their introductory stories.
  • Weird Crossover: Bob Haney had a fondness for teaming Batman up with various incongruous characters, often from different genres entirely. His favourite guest to bring in was undeniably Sgt. Rock, a trigger-happy military hero from World War II who really has no business being in a superhero book, not least one co-starring Batman.

The 21st-century version of the comic provides examples of: