Why Must The Brave and Bold Ones Die?

Why Must The Brave and Bold Ones Die?

Seventy-two ain’t bad, but there’s no such thing as a happy ending–and I’m gonna miss Jim Aparo too. This is a guy who (in the pages of The Brave and The Bold, along with the remarkable, and already much-missed, Bob Haney) made Batman palatable to me–a die-hard Bat-hater… I also had a weakness for The Outsiders (which Aparo co-created with Mike W. Barr), back in the mid-eighties. However, I would argue that Aparo did his finest work (in collaboration with Michael Fleisher) on The Spectre serial in Adventure Comics #431-440… What bizarre tales! They can best be described as supernatural Dirty Harry stories (just imagine if ol’ Clint had been capable of tossing sea monsters at the riff raff he so enjoyed being mean to on the streets!), which sounds like a recipe for disaster, from my bleeding heart perspective, but, somehow, the hyperbolic assasination methods always managed to make vengeance look like the petty thing that it is, rather than the glamorous “who-needs-a-girlfriend-when-you-can-rip-someone’s-balls-off?” emotion that Frank Miller and friends have so often portrayed it as… I mean–the Spectre definitely inhabits a black and white universe–his victims are undeniably “bad people”…but who among us would use our powers to do something like this–even to a crime boss known as “Ducky”?

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The other cool thing about the series is that, oddly enough, it featured a lot of “romance comic” type interludes between Gwen Sterling and her intended corpse groom, which gave Aparo a chance to show off his skill at conveying intense states of mind through the faces and postures of his attractive uncostumed characters (I think Aparo’s women are almost up there with Colan’s, Infantino’s, Heck’s, and Wood’s):

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Isn’t that final panel great? (sob!)

Good Afternoon Friends!
Dave

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2 comments

  1. Aparo was my favorite comics artist throughout my childhood. His run on Aquaman in Adventure Comics coincided with me starting to read superhero books when I was 4. Aparo was also appearing every month in Brave and Bold and occasionally in Detective Comics, as well as doing covers for most of the Batman titles. His heavy use of zip-a-tone lent a gritty quality to his material, and his lettering (which he did over all of his pencils and inks) was fluid and very readable. He and Haney achieved something sublime on Brave and Bold–the stories were perfectly dippy nonsense, and the art was so grounded and dark–the resulting whole was pretty much perfect bronze age comics. his art lost something essential when he stopped inking himself, but for a few years in the early and mid-1970s, he was unbeatable. I think he was better than Neal Adams at a style Adams pioneered–better layouts, better storytelling, better mood. His action sequences were graceful and always clear. Many people will remember him for his later Batman work, especially the vote-Robin-off-the-mortal-coil stunt (which he apparently disliked), much of which was marred by Mike Decarlo’s flat inks, but Aparo deserves to be remembered for more than that. I hope DC takes the occasion of its new Brave and Bold series to reprint some of Jim’s best work on that book. Just the Batman/Wildcat team-ups alone would make for a satsfying trade paperback.

    Speaking of Aparo’s women, his Black Canary was almost up there with the Alex Toth rendition.

    Cole Odell

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