Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
All October long I will be exploring the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator using the characters in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!
Today, I’ll feature a suggestion that reader Gary S. e-mailed me (I think someone else did, as well, I can’t find the e-mail, though), where Bob Haney ever so gently pushed back at the prevailing attitude of the mid-1960s that Marvel was home to more original ideas.
A common refrain in the mid-60s Bullpen Bulletins was the notion that DC Comics were beginning to attempt to copy Marvel Comics due to the success of the upstart company. There is a great deal of truth to this idea, although more towards the very late 1960s and early 1970s. But even in 1966, Stan Lee would write about DC copying Marvel (this led to a particularly interesting back and forth between Lee and a DC staffer that reader Keith Alan Morgan pointed out that I’ll spotlight in the future, probably in CBLR).
So that was almost certainly on Bob Haney’s mind when he wrote 1967’s Brave and the Bold #74 (which was the beginning of Batman’s uninterrupted stretch as being always one half of the team-ups in the book) and the opening page…
This is clearly one of the tamest Meta-Messages, but for its time, it was quite outlandish. Batman breaking the fourth wall in a 1960s comic? That’s pretty darn out there!
The art was by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.
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