Batman Preserves the Cold War, Part 1

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, June 4, 2007

There are moments in our lives where emotions become so overwhelming that our conscious minds cannot fully comprehend what we are feeling. Even years later, when we relive those moments--as they are indelibly burned into our memories so vividly we do not merely remember, but relive--we can't sort out everything we felt. Joy, pride, wonderment, confusion, ecstasy, and perhaps a hint of sadness at the realization that these moments are so few and far between--these are just some of the emotions that hit us all at once.

We all have these moments. The first time you kiss a girl. Making the game winning catch. The birth of your child. Winning a Nobel Prize for Physics. Your wedding.

Or--as happened to me on Saturday--the first time you're flipping through back issues and find a cover that features Batman and Aquaman fighting Nazi scuba divers with harpoons. I have every reason to believe Jim Aparo's original cover to The Brave and the Bold #126 included a giant robotic squid, but the Comics Code Authority made him erase it because kids in 1976 couldn't handle that much awesome in one dose.

While I oppose censorship in principle, I have to agree it was the right call in this case. A majority of the kids would have merely lapsed into a catatonic trance for a few days before their brains recovered sufficiently to process every day stimuli, but roughly 10-12% would almost certainly drop dead, their brains having turned to soup and leaking out every orifice in their heads. And if there's one thing I learned getting my MBA, it's that producing a product that kills more than 8% of your target audience is just bad business... unless you make cigarettes.

The cover also asks the foreboding question "What lurks below Buoy 13?" and Bob Haney wasted no time answering that question, no doubt because the answer really has nothing to do with the story whatsoever. In fact, I don't doubt the guy who had to come up with the title for this story just saw Batman jumping off a boat at buoy 13 on the first page and decided that was enough information to devise a title.

Batman and his friend, Ed, are at buoy 13 to intercept gun smugglers who are bringing in a couple cases of Saturday night specials. Instead of Chevy Chase, Sigourney Weaver, and Gregory Hines, they find the US Navy.

The destroyer plows through Ed's boat, nearly killing Batman and Ed. After diving overboard, Batman sees a small mechanical sphere, which is swept up in a big net by a submarine. Ed nearly drowns, but Batman rescues him and both are brought about the destroyer.

The ship's captain exposits that the sphere is an underwater satellite capable of pinpointing every submarine in the world. The sub was a Soviet ship and now that Russia has the device, they can destroy all America's nuclear subs. Thus, what Haney calls the "balance of terror" has shifted, putting the world on the verge of nuclear war. In other words, with the threat of mutually assured destruction removed and the Ruskies having the upper hand, Gerald Ford nuke-launchin' finger is getting itchy.

The entire 2nd Fleet is gathered to chase down the underwater satellite, which has been handed off by the sub to a Soviet ship disguised as a whaling boat. Russian scientists on board counteract the American's story, however. They believe the sphere is one of many built by the Americans and that they must have this one to restore the balance of terror.

So the Americans think the Soviets built it and the Soviets think the Americans built it, but no one really knows where it came from until Batman puts on scuba gear without any motivation and jumps off an aircraft carrier to have a chat with his buddy Aquaman, who reveals he's in hiding since being exiled from Atlantis, raising the question of how Batman knew where to find him.

The satellite, it appears is an Atlantean invention used to track the migration patterns of fish... and pretty much can track every single thing in the two-thirds of the world covered by water, including nuclear submarines.
Batman urges Aquaman to come forward and stop World War III, but Aquaman doesn't care if the land-dwellers want to kill each other... until Batman points out that nuclear fallout won't just stay on the land.

Together, Batman and Aquaman track down the satellite, which has been taken back into US custody by a dozen Navy SEALs. Outnumbered merely 6 to 1 by some of the most highly trained warriors on the planet, Batman and Aquaman go easy on the crack commandos, though Batman does manage to take out two with an underwater ninja flip.
Doing a huge flip like that in a dark alley is impressive, but doing it underwater is something everyone who's ever been in a pool has done himself and knows is not difficult nor quickly executed.

The heroes get back the satellite, which rightfully belongs to Atlantis, but the UN decides they should have it so it can be used for the good of the world as a whole. Reluctantly, Aquaman hands over the sphere.
And everyone lives happily and safely ever after.

Ha ha, Batman, you just got F-ed in the A.
Part Two

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