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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #142

Bob Week saunters into Day Three as I discuss one of my favorite comic writers, whose superbly crazy works have provided the blogosphere with much joy.

5/22/07

142. Bob Haney

Haney 3.jpg

Bob Haney was a brilliant man. He may never have written the Great American Novel like he wanted to, but by God, did he write all the Great American Comics. I mean, this was the Bob who brought the Teen Titans together (and worked with Nick Cardy on their title, as well as a run on Aquaman), who co-created Metamorpho (with Ramona Fradon), Eclipso, and Cain (the host of House of Mystery), and, yes, the awe-inspiring B’Wana Beast, and is credited for creating the Doom Patrol with Arnold Drake. This Bob wrote the hell out of war comics and put his stamp on just about every superhero DC Comics had in its stable.

Haney 4.jpgHaney 5.JPG

His most fondly remembered work, however, is most certainly Brave & the Bold, the Batman team-up title he penned for quite a long time. What I love most about this run is his vehement denial of continuity. Whatever he wanted to happen, Bob would make happen. If he wanted to tell a story about Batman in World War II, he did. If he wanted Bats to act wildly out of established character, well, what the hell. There was so much glorious nonsense going on in the book, that current fans have begun to talk of Earth-Haney as part of DC’s multiverse. The series was just a brilliant run of stories that were wild and crazy. (Greg Hatcher was talking about this just the other day, in fact.) There’s currently one Showcase volume out collecting it. Pick it up! It shan’t disappoint you. And hey, pick up the Haneyriffic Metamorpho volume as well, while you’re at it.

And when Jim Aparo took over the art chores… hoo boy, it became the greatest comic in the universe. Take #124, for instance, where Bob Haney, Jim Aparo, and editor Murray Boltinoff all appear as themselves. The terrorist bad guys hold Aparo hostage to force him into drawing the death of Batman into the issue. Yes, the Batman/Sgt. Rock team-up is running concurrently, and within the same reality, as Haney and Aparo creating the comic itself. It’s completely insane, but my God, it’s a joyous masterpiece. Here’s some pages where the creators appear (click to enlarge):

Haney 1.JPGHaney 2.JPG

I love Haney’s portrayal of himself– as a grizzled mountain man ready to kick some ass.

The stories were just perfectly madcap. For further examples, check out the Comic Treadmill‘s archives, or enjoy this look at what’s purported to be Haney’s favorite issue, #115, in which Batman dies and the Atom crawls in his brain to reanimate him, courtesy of Chris Sims.

Mr. Haney also scripted a run on World’s Finest, which, as Greg brought up, quite often featured the Super-Sons, unexplained teenage offspring of Superman and Batman that showed up every now and then for some crazy adventures. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can read their first appearance at the Superman Through the Ages site.

There’s also a four page story by Bob Haney and the esteemed Alex Toth which you can find at Dial B for Blog that is considered to be Haney’s true masterpiece. Entitled “Dirty Job,” it’s a story about Roman soldiers discussing the consequences of their actions. And it’s got a hell of an ending.

In his later years, Bob Haney moved down to San Felipe, Baja, Mexico, and its website actually has quite a good piece on the man himself. Unfortunately, Bob passed away in November 2004, but he’ll be remembered forever for his terrific stories and wild dialogue.

For more Haney goodness, you can stop by the Invincible Super-Blog, where Chris Sims, possibly the biggest Haney fan in the world, regularly discusses Bob’s various works. Chris featured possibly the Haneyest story of all time from Teen Titans, but I think this Metamorpho tale tops it. Fantastic madness poured onto paper. Yep– that’s Bob Haney, it is.

Somewhere at DC headquarters, in a drawer, lies Bob’s final work, a Teen Titans graphic novel featuring art by Mike Allred, which was once solicited but never released. C’mon, DC, let’s make everybody happy and publish the damn thing. The world needs it.

13 Comments

Oh god, please yes, I would pay good money for the Haney/Allred book. I don’t even care who’s in it.

Bob Haney was totally awesome/gonzo/whatthefuck/AWESOME. Those stories have an infectious energy to them, which just permeates from the page.

And that story with the Atom is genius.

J.C. Carandang

May 22, 2007 at 6:29 pm

The Ding Dong Daddy.

Man, if that’s not a testament to mad skills, I don’t know what is.

Haney was a madman, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Here’s a look at one of my favorite Haney stories.

ABOUT FRICKING TIME!!! Bob Haney is about 142 days too late in my view.

The very first DC comic I owned–bought at an Avondale in St. Catharines, Ontario when I was six years old in case anyone was wondering– is Brave and the Bold 125, a Batman/Flash team-up. The second comic I owned–bought in a pack of three, admittedly, but it was the one that made the most impact on me– was World’s Finest 225 (which actually came out a year before B&B 125, but through the vagaries of repackaging I didn’t get until much later). The cover can be seen here:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=27719&zoom=4

And as a child, it didn’t matter that Haney actually wholesale ripped off the story from Children of the Damned– the fact is the story scared the shit out of me right from the get go. Something about the image of Batman being ripped apart by kids just did it to me.
I read a lot of Brave and Bold and World’s Finest as a kid and I loved it– Super sons and all.

The thing is Haney could write outside his own continuity when given the chance. His Kamandi team-up is remarkably consistent with the Kirby series as I remember it. But on the flipside, several characters had its own B&B continuity that had nothing to do with the rest of the DC universe. The Plastic Man that appeared in his B&B stories lived only in the continuity Haney wrote, for example. And the Super sons pale in comparison for canon-busting mind blowing thing that is Bruce Wayne’s brother.

But the thing I love most about Haney is his dialogue. I love how he always called the guest star in B&B (either by Batman himself or in the caption boxes) some pet name that any other sane person would consider insulting. Hawkman was Featherhead. Martian Manhunter was, I swear I’m not making this up, Greenskin. It wasn’t limited to Superheroes. He’d call firemen ‘smoke eaters’ and Uncle Sam ‘Mister Whiskers’.

As a teenager, I wrote off Bob Haney as a loopy loon who used hackneyed plots he ripped off so many movies and TV show and I fear I missed the point. Because now, I read his stories and I find them funny and supremely entertaining. And subversively demented in a way I just couldn’t appreciate as a youngster.

Haney got a very subtle shout out in the last episode of JLU. At the very end, all the heroes are running towards the screen divided into to groups like “Steve Ditko characters” or “Justice League Detroit”. Being able to tell why Metamorpho was running alongside B’wana Beast is one of my geekiest moments.

Rachelle at http://livingbetweenwednesdays.blogspot.com/ also devotes a lot of space to Haney-love. Check out her great archives.

Why did DC never put out that Teen Titans Elseworlds graphic novel? Seems like some good clean fun to me and with Didio’s over the top reverence for DC’s icons what’s stopping them?

By the way, is #124 in that Brave & Bold Showcase you mentioned? If it is, that might be a good reason to pick it up, looks promising.

The Brave and the Bold Showcase stops at # 87. And it’s fairly weak overall. There’s some decent Neal Adams art before that, but Brave and the Bold kicked it up a notch with Nick Cardy’s debut on art chores in # 88, and didn’t enter it’s golden age ’till Jim Aparo took over as regular artist with issue # 100. The earlier stories are much, much weaker.

Great choice, by the way. I like Metamorpho and the Unknown Solider, but I LOVE team-up books. And the Haney/Aparo Brave and Bolds are unquestionably the gold standard.

I’ve been eyeballing that METAMORPHO Showcase at my local store. Looks like it’s time to finally break down and try to get it at a ridiculously reduced price.

Hey, I’m a comics fan, not a farggin’ Rockefeller!

I was lucky enough to read all of those as they came out. Aparo was my favorite Bat artist, and B&B never disappointed. I figured out early on that continuity was for lesser men than Haney, but it was easy enough to dismiss with a wink and an Earth 2 nod. The Haney/Aparo combo gave us this weird juxtaposition of street-level, realistic art with fearlessly insane stories. And Batman punching people in the head really, really hard. You could always count on Brave & Bold to be one of the best comics in your stack.

Bring on the Kanigher!

The Kirbydotter

May 23, 2007 at 6:53 am

I am a huge fan of DC writers of the Silver and Bronze Age.
These guys could make the craziest of concepts make sense or at least enjoyable reading: talking gorrilas, walking buildings, weird and strange superheroes, etc.

But I have to say that Bob Haney was never a favorite of mine. My POV is that most of the stuff he is remembered for has more to do with the artists he was paired with (a young Neal Adams and Nick Cardy on Brave and the Bold for exemple) than the impact his stories made on the medium. His stories were never as exciting or original as Arnold Drake’s or the whole Julius Schwarts stable of great writers (Gardner Fox, John Broome, Otto Binder…).

I bought and read the 6 issues reprint series BEST OF BRAVE AND THE BOLD that came out in the 80′s. It had most of the Neal Adams work on Brave and the Bold. Most stories were written by Bob Haney and I didn’t enjoyed them very much. They were some great pairing of characters (Batman and Creeper, Batman and Green Arrow, etc.) but the stories were bland. I prefered by far the late Golden Age stories of adventure heroes by Joe Kubert and Russ Heath (Golden Gladiator, Silent Knight, Robin Hood, Viking Prince) that were the back up/fillers in that reprint series.

“Why did DC never put out that Teen Titans Elseworlds graphic novel? Seems like some good clean fun to me and with Didio’s over the top reverence for DC’s icons what’s stopping them?”

Because it was fun and not at all rape-y, and thus verboten at current-day DC.

I propose that all of the fun comics sneaking out the door at Marvel are taking place on Earth-Haney, or the Marvel equivalent thereof.

Back in 86, when the Crisis/Crisis Crossover Index was published, Earth B was established as where [b]B[/b]ob Haney’s [i][b]B[/b]rave & The [b]B[/b]old[/i] took place

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