I got this issue of BRAVE AND THE BOLD while on another shopping trip, in a store where the selection of titles was rather limited. I was beginning to follow the book semi-regularly despite the fact that it was often weird, that writer Bob Haney’s approach to super heroes and continuity wasn’t really in tune with what I was looking for. The blurb on this cover attempts to make something special out of the fact that Batman and Hawkman haven’t teamed up in a decade–a situation that wasn’t too amazing given that the winged wonder had lost his title at around that same time.
This ultimately was a pretty good story, though it was certainly bizarre. This splash page is a good example of that strangeness, with Commissioner Gordon and Batman enjoying a stroll through Gotham City in broad daylight (and absolutely nobody giving a second glance to the caped crusader.) Haney tended to write Batman in B & B as a “gimmick detective” whose particular quirk was that he dressed up as a giant bat rather than sucking on lollipops or keeping a parrot. As such, this scene wasn’t out of keeping with his philosophy–and I could accept it at the time because it was in some ways reminiscent of the BATMAN TV series treatment of the character, which was still in daily reruns.
As they walk, a racing automobile tries to run down Gordon and, failing that, fires a barrage of shots at the Commissioner. Gordon is all right, and he refuses batman’s entreaties to keep a low profile. Thus, at the Police Academy graduation two days later, Batman intercepts a gunman attempting to put a bullet through Gordon’s heart as he gives the commencement speech. Batman tussles with the shooter, who is able to get away after Batman dislodges the human features that he’s wearing as a mask. In the aftermath, Batman tells Gordon that his assailant didn’t appear to be human.
In Gordon’s office where Batman once again tries to convince his friend to lie low, shots again ring out, and Batman pursues the shooter to the roof–where he’s promptly knocked off. Fortunately, a friendly arm reaches out to save him. It’s Hawkman, who gives Batman a rundown on the guy who’s been trying to kill Gordon. His name is Vorgan and he’s an interstellar bounty hunter of renown whose moral code compels him to only hunt the guilty. If he’s after Gordon, there must be a reason. Batman is forced to confront his old friend–who proceeds to tell the masked manhunter about the worst mistake he ever made.
When he was just starting out as a Lieutenant, Gordon was in pursuit of a criminal laywer. breaking into the man’s house to try to find evidence. But when he was caught in a sudden spotlight, Gordon opened fire defensively–but the light wasn’t coming from any human source, but rather a spaceship. Gordon has accidentally killed an alien, and after the ship retreated back into space, he buried the body in an unmarked grave and covered the whole affair up. Gordon is wracked with guilt about what happened, thinking tat maybe he deserves Vorgan’s justice. Outside, Vorgan is ready to try another hit on Gordon, but Hawkman intercedes and drives him away. But the winged hero tells Batman that, given the circumstances, he can no longer interfere on Gordon’s behalf.
But Batman can be very convincing, even though Hawkman’s own life will be forfeit if he gets in Vorgan’s way again. Te two heroes scour the city for the alien bounty hunter while Gordon hides out. But the mob picks up on their manhunt, and gets involved in looking for whatever the two heroes are after. Meanwhile, Gordon just can’t sit still while Batman and Hawkman risk their lives for him, and so he leaves his concealment and sets out to find Vorgan and face his fate. The three forces converge near the docks, but before Vorgan can attack Gordon, he’s startled by the appearance of the criminal lawyer from long ago, who thinks that Vorgan must be a partner of the alien that he did business with many years ago.
When Vorgan refuses any new alliance, the lawyer shoots him point blank. Gordon leaps out to struggle with the lawyer, who winds up shot with is own gun in the struggle. Vorgan, though, is bulletproof, so the earlier shot didn’t faze him–and now he’s ready to pronounce sentence on Gordon. Having learned that the alien that he shot was actually a criminal working with the lawyer, Gordon’s guilt is gone and e’s ready to face his fate. But Batman and Hawkman arrive and place themselves between Vorgan and his target. Impressed both by Gordon’s bravery and sense of duty and the fact that Hawkman was willing to die to protect him, Vorgan relents and leaves Gordon in peace. As I said, it’s a weird story–and one that could certainly have been told without either Batman or Hawkman involved in it.