Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I had the weirdest sex dream last night ...
Hearken to the tale of Cannoneer and the Brotherhood Express! yes, I realize that it sounds like an early-1970s funk band, bu it is in fact one of the most insane issues of Brave and the Bold ever scripted by Bob Haney, the grand-pappy of the weird Brave and the Bold tale.

It's high praise to claim that any one of Haney's scripts was particularly more bizarre than any of the others, but "So Thunders the Cannoneer!" (Apr-May 1968, Brave and the Bold vol.1 No.77) - a product of the high-camp era inspired by the Batman TV show - is definitely in the running. The Batman and the Atom fighting circus performers on a train full of the Western world's greatest treasures? I'm in, pass the popcorn.

I'm alarmed that Batman's knowledge of chemistry was
all gleaned from high school.
To relate the contents of the issue, first we have to set the stage, so let's begin with The Brotherhood Express: a coast-to-coast exhibition of great treasures and cultural goods from around the world, the train includes such priceless rarities as the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David, as well as some wheels of cheese from Holland. I like to imagine the Dutch representative watching the world's most famous painting and statue being loaded onto the train and complaining "Yu guysh, ve promished to keep all our antiquitiesh to a five-dollar maxshimum! Yu bunch of yerks!" Then he just throws his cheese wheel on the dais and storms off in a huff.

Then there's the performers at the Dulcamora Grand Imperial Circus, an international assemblage of circus talent with such a deep roster that it's got two competing glamorous midgets on staff. In fact, the competition between Lili de le Pooche and her rival Queen Bee ("Tops in midgetdom" at half an inch shorter) provides an opportunity for the issue's main villain, the Cannoneer!

"With eyes like gun muzzles and a voice like a snapping rifle bolt," the Cannoneer is a human cannonball type with spring-loaded titanium shoes designed to absorb any impact and an aerodynamic hat which basically resembles a silver dildo. Own your look, is the takeaway from this. Armed with the ability to be shot out of a cannon - which is, to be honest, an ability we all have to some degree of success - the Cannoneer sets his sights on robbing the Brotherhood Express.

His aides and weapons? Well, for one thing, he's got a shrinking pill which reduces Lili de la Pooche from three magnificent feet to a hateful six inches, and also knocks her out in the interim. Some kind of shrinking roofie, evidently. Beholden to the Cannoneer, she serves him in order to acquire the antidote, and therefore works alongside the bestial and powerful Dum-Dum. the Cannoneer's dim-witted but muscular sidekick. He also staffs some generic circus types to back his play - you can tell they're from the circus because at some point they go "HEY RUBE" which is all comics have ever taught me about circus culture, although to be fair that's a lot more than college ever did.

That's a good joke, he's earned his laugh.
The Cannoneer actually makes good on his scheme, and manages to replace the Brotherhood Express and all its treasures with exact duplicates. Seems to me that would cost as much as you'd get for stealing everything, but who am I to speak? I'm not only not a criminal mastermind, I've never even been shot out of a cannon! I have much left to learn.

Naturally, this brings Batman down on the Cannoneer, but not before he gives Holland some much-deserved shine. "Welcome to Holland," he tells a gang of thugs atop the windmill-sporting Holland car of the Brotherhood Express, "Land of dikes, windmills and plug-uglies." Is that the Dutch national anthem?

Meanwhile, the Atom faces off against Lili De La Pooche inside the very car on top of which Batman insults the great nation of Holland. This ought to be a short fight, owing to the fact that the Atom maintains his full-sized strength at six inches tall and ... I don't want to say it like this, but "and clearly could mop the floor with that small woman," however Lili knows the secret of Dutch martial arts; she hurls a wheel of cheese at the Atom, nearly cuts him with a mock-up pair of Hans Brinkers skates, and slaps him with a wax tulip. No, seriously, how much money did Holland spend on this thing, a buck eighty? Did they have this stuff lying around the garage?

The Atom literally defeats Lili De La Pooche with a powder puff, reaffirming his manhood forever, while Batman just beats his bad guys insensate, leaving the good circus folks to stop the train and set everything else to rights. At the end, six-inch Lili takes the antidote (at her size, the pill in question is the size of her entire jaw, so we all just learned a sexy secret about Lili De La Pooche) and becomes a giantess. This is good news because now she can marry the giant cowboy employed by the circus, and Queen Bee gets to keep being the tops in midgetdom, and we all have interesting things to tell our therapists about the shared hallucination we all apparently had.

"She's too beautiful to hit."

No comments:

Popular Posts