This issue of BRAVE AND THE BOLD was the first released under the auspices of the DC Explosion, which saw the line increating its cover price to 50 cents a copy from 35 while adding additional pages of material. Here, the Human Target, a feature that briefly ran in the back pages of ACTION COMICS several years earlier, was selected to be the B-feature. It never quite hit the big time in the world of comic books, but it’s been adapted as a television series twice now, so it definitely had something going for it.

This is about the time that Bob Haney, the longtime B & B scribe, began to withdraw from the assignment, as younger, fresher faces came on board. Haney always had a somewhat strange approach to the character of Batman and his world, but his stories were typically pretty memorable–if only for how utterly outlandish they were. Artist Jim Aparo remained the anchor man of B & B, and his work was always consistent and elegant. On this particular issue, Cary Burkett came into do some work on the story–I’m not certain whether Cary dialogued it from Haney’s plot, or finished up the back half of the story or something else. This issue’s guest star was the Creeper, a Steve Ditko creation whom Haney had used on a few other occasions, as he fit well into Batman’s world.

The story picks up from the preceding issue, which saw Batman hot on the trail of the drug kingpin of Gotham City. The trail has led him to Montgomery Walcott, a Walter Cronkite riff who’s the most trusted news broadcaster in the city. But as Batman gathers the proof he needs and prepares to swoop down to collar Walcott, he’s struck from behind and finds himself in a tussle with an opponent who turns out to be the Creeper. But the Creeper isn’t also after Walcott, in fact he’s acting in his capacity as Jack Ryder, the security agent for Walcott’s network. There have been some threats on Walcott’s life recently, so Ryder as the Creeper has been shadowing him for extra protection. Batman shares his intel with the Creeper, but Ryder isn’t entirely convinced by it.

Together, the dup trails Walcott to a drug payoff that’s taking place at the top of the broadcast studio. Batman’s efforts are being somewhat stymied by the Creeper’s need to prove himself just as good as the Caped Crusader, which make him reckless and even a bit dangerous. The two heroes aren’t able to stop the escaping helicopter that was meant to pick Alcott up, but Batman does save the imperiled newsman after he’s accidentally knocked from the perch by the Creeper in his zeal. But even so, it’s case closed, or so they think.

It isn’t long before Alcott’s trial looms, and Commissioner Gordon is hoping that Alcott will turn over information on the rest of his outfit in a plea deal. (Batman has no use for namby-pamby plea deals, as he’s quick to point out. The guilty should be punished.) But when Alcott is escorted to the Commissioner’s office where he’s to spill the beans, he instead unleashes a strange vertigo effect on Gordon and the Batman, incapacitating them. He’s able to simply stroll out the front door and escape without incident before they can recover and attempt to stop him.

So Alcott is in the wind. But the Creeper puts together a clue that points to where he may be trying to escape the country from, and he and Batman race over there in a hurry. And sure enough, Alcott and his goons are present. From there, it’s a simple matter for the two heroes to go to town on the assorted hoods and take Alcott and his gang into custody. And before they part, the Creeper expresses his admiration for Batman’s ability to scare a malefactor, something that the Creeper himself has been touting as his own specialty.

Meanwhile, the Human Target back-up story was produced by the character’s originator, Len Wein (though Len does cop to the fact that he based the idea on a long-forgotten 1950s Batman story) and Dick Giordano, who had drawn most of the hero’s prior appearances outside of the first one, which was the work of Carmine Infantino, then DC’s publisher. The premise of the strip is simple: using his mastery of disguise, Christopher Chance hires himself out to people who feel their lives are imperiled in some way. He replaces the would-be victim, putting himself on their bullseye until he can take down whoever is attempting the murder of his client. It’s a good, simple premise with a lot f possibility to it, and it’s also tailor made to be a television series–which I’m sure is part of why it became one twice.

As the first new installment in a while,. Wein takes the opportunity to build this tale around the Human Target’s origin. We see how his own father had been gunned down by a fixer for loan sharks, despite Christopher Change’s attempt to intervene, and how this failure drove him to develop his skills and to take on the role of the Human Target. In this adventure, Chance is hired to impersonate the loan shark who ordered his father killed. Chance does prevent the man’s assassination, but that doesn’t mean that the syndicate will stop at one, and so the loan shark is still living under a death sentence, despite his deal of security in exchange for informing on his fellows.

4 thoughts on “BHOC: BRAVE AND THE BOLD #143

  1. Where’s an editor when you need one? The 2nd & 3rd images were duplicates. Haney did write some stories wackier than others. A B&B # 155 team-up w/ Green Lantern, Batman tracked a meteorite stolen from a Gotham museum to an extra-terrestrial who escaped off-world. He fights GL in order to bring the alien back to Gotham to stand trial. OK.

    The Vertigo Human Target material was really good. Written by Peter Milligan. The 1st mini was drawn by the great, and sadly deceased, Edvin Biukovic, Covers by Tim Bradstreet. Javier Pulido drew the GN, and then he and Cliff Chiang drew alternate arcs of the subsequent ongoing series, I was disappointed when the monthly ended. It was classy, high quality, and quirky. Which might be why it couldn’t survive, long-term. And the disguises just seemed far-fetched. But the psychology and conflicts were interesting.


      1. It’s weird. I know I bought both books. It’s what I did, buy just about every super-hero comic by DC and Marvel. I have vague memories of the Creeper part but no feeling of familiarity for part one at all. I guess my extreme not caring one way or the other for Aquaman has affected memory storage. I think the David and Busiek runs on the character are all I’ve touced since kicking the completism habit.


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