Direct from the 7-11 came this next issue of SUPER-TEAM FAMILY, a giant-sized reprint series that was very much my meat during my early collecting days. Every issue featured team-up stories between different heroes, so here we get Batman and Eclipso and Superman and Superboy, all wrapped up in a fairly uninspired cover by Ernie Chua.

The lead story comes from the pages of BRAVE & THE BOLD at the height of Bond-mania and is one of the oddest Batman stories ever written. Author Bob Haney was a mainstay on the series, and wrote dozens of tales matching the Masked Manhunter up with the cream of DC’s crop–but this one was the first. And it’s a doozy, deliberately trying to promote itself as hip and current and with-it–and coming across as anything but. Haney’s Batman was always less a super-hero than a super-spy or an oddly colorful policeman. 

This particular tale treats Batman like a Rat-Pack swinger who says things like, “Why was that bow-buzzard trying to ventilate your beautiful torso?”, dialogue that sounds way better if you imagine it in Sammy Davis Jr’s voice. It opens with Batman saving heiress Marcia Monroe from agents of the evil syndicate Cyclops, who are after the stolen Cat-Emerald that she was passed by her now-dead fiancee. Turns out that prior to this, she and Batman–AS Batman–carried out a torrid affair.

Marcia prevails on the still-lovesick Batman to help her by returning the Emerald to the museum from which it was stolen, which he does. Unfortunately, the security system gets photos of him doing so, but they look as though he was stealing the Emerald–and as it’s still missing, Batman is arrested by Commissioner Gordon. Heartbroken in his cell (and somehow not unmasked through his booking procedure) Batman overhears two crooks in the next cell exchanging information concerning Cyclops bigwig Queen Bee and a mysterious  Mister E who will be meeting with her.

In Solar City, agents of Cyclops prevent Dr. Bruce Gordon from isolating himself from a lunar eclipse, and his evil self, Eclipso, once again splits off from his body. They bring Eclipso to their headquarters, the Hive, where he schemes with Queen Bee to loot a now-defenseless Gotham City. Which they do. Hearing about the assault on his town, Batman breaks out of prison, and follows the recently-released Gorilla Grimes back to the Hive.

But Batman is discovered and waylaid by Eclipso, and only narrowly escapes with his life. Meanwhile, Bruce Gordon has come to Gotham to offer his assistance to Commissioner Gordon in capturing Eclipso. And Eclipso is cozying up to Queen Bee, who wants no part of him on a personal level. But the amorous overtures of Eclipso are interrupted by an agent of Cyclops, who tells the pair that they are being relieved of their command. Eclipso strikes out at the intruder, who is revealed to be Batman in disguise.

Queen Bee is, of course, Marcia Monroe, and she helps Batman elude Eclipso, claiming that she only joined Cyclops to help out her father who had been drawn into their web. Batman fights a running battle with Eclipso and the agents of Cyclops until Bruce Gordon arrives with a powerful light grenade that forces Eclipso back into his body, unseen by everybody else. Batman has recovered the missing Emerald, so he’s cleared. And Marcia has disappeared, leaving a remorseful Batman behind to contemplate his star-crossed love life.

The back-up is a fun SUPERBOY story in which the Boy of Steel journeys o teh present by accident and meets up with himself as Superman–or possibly only dreams that he does, the story deliberately leaves this vague. But given that young Clark interacts not only with Superman but also Lois Lane, a woman he hasn’t met yet, it’s a pretty safe bet that this was more than a dream (even if that could just be chalked up to artistic license.)

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