skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
skjam ([personal profile] skjam) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-03-09 08:35 pm

The Modern Monte Cristo...or is it?

As threatened, here's the story behind the recently posted panel where Green Lantern is "energizing" Batman.

From "The Brave and the Bold" #112, but reprinted from an earlier issue, here are 8 1/3 pages of 24 of "The Tick-Tock Traps of the Time Commander."

This story is also notable for being the first Batman team-up in The Brave and the Bold, before he took over the book entirely. It takes place before the Justice League members trusted each other with their secret identities.

Yes, that's right, Gotham City once had such a low crime rate that Bruce Wayne could go several days without putting on his Batman costume.

We never do find out precisely what John Starr's supposed crime was. Nor do we ever see Commissioner Gordon bother investigating this new evidence.

Carol's behavior here is the opposite of how she's portrayed in the Green Lantern comics of the time, playing hard to get to Hal Jordan.

Continuing with the plotline...Hal flies over to Gotham City and stately Wayne Manor. In a laboratory (and not in the Batcave, in Wayne Manor itself!) GL finds Batman sprawled helpless on a lab table. Fashioning a stethoscope so he can hear Batman's faint whisper, Hal learns that this was caused by a chemical accident that sapped Batman's physical strength. (Hal does not stop to wonder how a Batman unable to lift a finger or speak audibly could have sent that telegram.) If Green Lantern could use his power ring to energize Batman's body, the Caped Crusader would be able to recover almost instantly.

Which results in the panel we saw earlier.

Hal flies off, his good deed done, only to discover halfway to Coast City that he's somehow dropped his watch. He zooms back to the lab, the last place he had it, and notes that Batman is already gone. No doubt fighting crime. There's the watch, which has stopped. But just as GL is about to leave again, he hears an automatic police scanner transmission indicating that Batman has stolen priceless isotopes from a government lab! Supposedly, he used an hourglass to make the time lock open.

Green Lantern decides to investigate, and soon finds Batman flying about and making police helicopters disappear with an hourglass. Hal forms a giant fist only to have it turned back against him by the mysterious hourglass and get knocked silly. So silly, that the only way he can think of to slow his fall is a giant hobnailed boot. Hal reasons that Batman will return to his home to stash the isotopes, and heads back to Wayne Manor.

Where, quite naturally, he encounters a disheveled Bruce Wayne. GL imprisons Bruce in a cone, The wealthy playboy claims to know nothing of what Green Lantern's talking about, as he's been unconscious for the last two days. He explains the John Starr thing, but Hal isn't convinced. Surely Batman couldn't have been duped so easily!

Yes, he could. Bruce was locked in the basement storage directly below the lab, and only came to a short while ago when a green aura came from above and revived him. Hal admits that some of the "energizing" could have leaked through in that manner. Plus, it turns out his watch is stopped at five to twelve, just like every clock in Wayne Manor. It's the Time Commander's ego signature!

Hal cuts off the sunlight to the dial, which makes the buildings reappear. The Time Commander counters with a giant green hourglass, which somehow contains yellow sand, and Green Lantern isn't able to think of an out before he's suffocated. Batman catches him, but then must dodge a flock of deadly pendulum clocks.

Time Commander continues his Monte Cristo obsession.

Inside his secret laboratory, Time Commander uses a ramped-up version of his time control apparatus to send Green Lantern twenty-four hours into the past, and Batman twenty-four hours into the future.

(Fanwank digression: How this works, precisely, is never explained. From the effects, it seems that Time Commander uses himself as the fulcrum of equal and opposing time forces, causing his opponents to stay at a precise distance from his "now". Thus GL can't simply command his ring to bring him to the present, and neither hero can directly interact with the Time Commander who exists in their current timeframe.)

Thank you, Commissioner Javert. Again, there's no indication Gordon did any investigating and he may well be fibbing to get Starr's goat.

Time Commander turns a city block into dinosaur territory.

Batman and Green Lantern discover their respective predicaments. While Hal can't move himself through time right now, he can beam a telepathic conduit to Batman so they can collaborate.

That's right, lock a brilliant scientist who you already know is a skilled escapologist in a fully equipped laboratory. That will hold him.

Time Commander sends sections of Gotham City back to the Fire of 1786 and forward to an alien invasion. The latter also affects the part of the city Batman is in one day later. He's saved in the nick of time by another telepathic message from Green Lantern, who tells him to go to the air raid siren atop City Hall.

In the present, without their heroes to save them, the Gotham City government is finally forced to capitulate and agree to issue a pardon for John Starr. He stops terrorizing the city, and makes arrangements to pick up the pardon at five to twelve the next morning. He plans to unmask once he's been cleared of that past conviction.(!)

As Time Commander gloatingly flies in, the air raid siren begins wailing at an odd frequency, causing his hourglass to shatter. Without it, Time Commander's powers vanish, and Batman and Green Lantern return to the "now." Seems that Starr had used an early version of his hourglass prism to escape his prison by going back to the day before it was built and walking away. But he'd foolishly left the formula for said prism written down in his lab. With that, Green Lantern was able to determine the sonic frequency that would shatter the prism, and tell Batman how to boobytrap the siren so that when Time Commander reached that time point, it would go off.

Time Commander vows he'll be back (and he would be) but this time he'll have to do so from a bare cell. But wait--isn't there a loose end?

Yes, brainwashing! That will never, ever backfire on you in the future.

My best guess as to what Time Commander was on about? While he obviously is and probably was a criminal even before he invented time control, he was probably, in fact, innocent of the one crime he was convicted of, and that just ate at him so much Time Commander couldn't let it go even as he started his supervillain career. By the time of his next appearance (fighting Green Lantern and Batman in The Brave and the Bold again) his "Monte Cristo" theme was completely forgotten.

Your thoughts and comments?

[personal profile] psychopathicus_rex 2011-03-10 10:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Especially since 'making love' has completely changed meanings since then. That being said, though, I agree with you - there's not enough snappy patter in comics these days.