How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
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.
142. Bob Haney
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.
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):
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.
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