Brave and Bold #115: "The Corpse That Wouldn't Die!"

The Brave and the Bold #115, November 1974
"The Corpse That Wouldn't Die!"
Story - Bob Haney
Art - Jim Aparo
Editor - Murray Boltinoff

The dramatic splash page shows two trenchcoated thugs kidnapping a young
woman on a dark, rainy night. Before long, Batman has been summoned to assist in
the investigation. One of the reporters gathered outside police headquarters
notes that the Caped Crusader seems even grimmer than usual... "grim as the

Commissioner Gordon introduces Batman to the kidnap victim's parents, Howard
and Mrs. Manton, a wealthy society couple. But it turns out that Batman
already knows them, through their daughter Debbie. The public knows Debbie as a rich
and privileged "golden girl", but Batman knows that she spends much of her
time doing charity work, counselling underprivileged kids. One night, while
walking through a playground on her way home, she witnessed a murder -- gang boss
Buggsy Cathcart rubbing out one of his rivals. Now it appears that Cathcart's
gang has kidnapped Debbie to prevent her from testifying.

In a nearby holding cell, Cathcart himself laughs uproariously at this turn
of events. Enraged, Batman reaches through the bars of the cell and threatens
to "tear your rotten heart out!". Gordon and his men manage to restrain him,
and Batman quickly calms down. But he knows that Cathcart's gang will kill
Debbie, sooner or later, and that they have to find her before that happens.

Batman leads the police in a massive manhunt, grilling informants and
sweeping criminals' hangouts in the hopes that someone will know where the girl is
being held. Gordon notes with concern that Batman seems to have thrown all
caution and restraint to the wind in his obsession with solving the case. Finally,
Batman stumbles across a clue -- a homeless army vet tells him that he'd found
an abandoned building to sleep in, "but gorillas with guns beat me up and
threw me out!" Batman realizes that this must be where Cathcart's gang is holed
up, and decides to charge in without waiting for police backup.

From the roof of the building next door, Batman leaps across, intending to
grab hold of the rainspout and swing through an open window. "A short leap for
Batman, yes --" the narrator observes, "But it is really a leap into
eternity!". As soon as he touches the spout -- TZAK! Batman's body is struck with a
lethal amount of electric current. As his lifeless body slumps to the ground, one
of Cathcart's thugs comments that they had electrified all the entrances as a

Batman's body is dumped elsewhere in the city, where he is found and taken to
the hospital. But too late; the doctor declares that Batman is dead. Although
he is still breathing, for the moment, his brain-scan is completely flat.
Eventually, the rest of his body's systems will shut down as well. Gordon can't
accept this, and demands another opinion. Fortunately, Prof. Ray Palmer,
described as "an old friend of Batman's", happens to be at that very hospital,
demonstrating new medical eqipment that he helped develop. Ray, of course, is also
the superhero known as the Atom. Though he's a physicist and not a physician,
Ray can only concur with the doctor's diagnosis; Batman is finished. Gordon is
heartbroken, and wishes that Batman could at least get up off that table long
enough to finish this last case and rescue Debbie.

Gordon's words inspire Ray to try a desperate plan. "I may be about to do the
craziest thing a man ever did..." he ponders, "But if it will help you finish
your last mission, Batman, it's worth every risk!" After the others leave the
room, Ray produces one of the new inventions he was demonstrating -- a
miniature camera and receiver. Placing the camera on Batman's chest, he shrinks down
to microscopic size and enters the Dark Knight's ear. He travels past the
eardrum... the semicircular canals... and finally reaches his goal: Batman's

By running across Batman's medulla oblongata, the Atom stimulates his body's
functions, increasing his heart rate and breathing. Running to the cerebrum,
he prompts the area devoted to motor control... and Batman rises from the bed!
With the camera and receiver, the Atom can see from Batman's point of view.
Using the cerebellum to regulate Batman's equilibrium and coordination, the Atom
prompts Batman to climb out the hospital room window, much to the shock of a
nurse who happens to come in.

Since Batman didn't tell anyone where Cathcart's gang was holed up, the Atom
isn't sure where to go... but he counts on Batman's "subconscious
crimefighter's instinct" to lead him to the spot where he was killed. Sure enough, Batman
and his tiny passenger are soon standing outside a most unlikely hiding
place... an abandoned, boarded-up police station! The "sleepwalking" Batman boldly
heads right for the front door. The Atom tries to tickle his brain into taking
a more circumspect approach, but Batman's subconscious rejects the idea --
giving the Atom an electrical "hotfoot" with the strength of his brain current.
The Atom concedes that Batman probably knows what he's doing -- "Maybe using a
shrewd entry is what got him killed before" -- and allows Batman to rip the
planks off the front door and enter.

One of Cathcart's goons spots Batman, and the Atom springs into action --
planting an idea in Batman's cerebrum, then leaping to the cerebellum to make
sure it's carried out. Batman swings wide with his left fist, missing the target.
The Atom chastises himself for forgetting that each half of the brain
controls the functions of the *opposite* side of the body. Leaping across to the left
side of the cerebellum, he manipulates Batman into punching out the thug with
a solid right cross.

Flush with victory, the Atom manuvers Batman upstairs, where he believes
Debbie is being held. But he fails to notice the gang member sneaking up from
behind with a lead pipe. WOK! Batman falls to the ground, and the Atom is tossed
around inside his skull. Regaining his footing, he checks the camera and sees
the goon closing in for the kill. Moving quickly, Atom triggers Batman to
deliver a vicious kick to the crook's midsection, knocking him out. A few more
instructions, and Batman stands up again to continue the search.

Suddenly, Batman stops, refusing to move forward. Again trusting his friend's
instincts, the Atom nudges him to turn slightly, revealing another crook with
a shotgun aimed right at Batman's head! With death seconds away, the Atom
leaps across Batman's brain, "programming" it for his most complex manuver yet --
a backflip that carries him out of the line of fire, followed by a kick to
the head to take out the gunman. Success!

Finally, the reanimated Batman reaches the room where Debbie is held. But
another of Cathcart's gang is already there, with a gun pressed against her head.
The Atom observes that even a fully-functioning Batman couldn't move fast
enough to disarm him, "let alone this clumsy, walking corpse!". Atom realizes he
has only one chance...

Much to the crook's surprise, Batman suddenly drops to the floor with a THUD!
With no one left to stop him, the thug turns to Debbie, intending to shoot
her. But before he can fire, the Atom appears, his tiny form hitting the
gunman's jaw "with the impact of a closely-fired bullet!" Batman's collapse had
distracted the thug long enough for the Atom to leave the Caped Crusader's body and
deliver the K.O. punch personally. He's relieved that he was able to save the
girl, but also saddened because he knows that this was truly Batman's final

Back at the hospital, the doctor is at a loss to explain how the brain-dead
Batman was able to function, even temporarily. But Gordon isn't surprised.
"Nothing was impossible for the Batman! Nothing!" And as if to prove his words,
suddenly Batman's brainwave pattern springs to life. "He's moving... he's going
to live!! Yet there wasn't an 'atom' of life energy in his brain! It's a
miracle!" Standing nearby, Ray Palmer muses that there was indeed an "Atom" of life
in Batman's brain... him! And he can only assume that his stimulation of the
various parts of the brain somehow jump-started it into being able to work on
it's own again.

Outside the hospital, a grateful Debbie Manton rewards Batman with a kiss.
Ray Palmer wryly observes that the Atom deserves a similar reward... "But I
doubt Debbie would want to kiss a fellow only six inches high!" Ah, Ray, if only
you knew that would be the *least* of your troubles with women...

Haney delivers one of his typically offbeat tales, combining a fairly
realistic crime drama with a clever (if far-fetched) sci-fi twist. The suspense is
very real, though, and the Atom / Batman "team" having to work through their
unusual handicap to solve the case makes the action all the more harrowing.
Ordinary crooks who normally wouldn't cause Batman to even break a sweat become a
force to be reckoned with. The story's even a bit educational, with the Atom
pointing out the functions of the various parts of the brain.

Aparo's art is gorgeous -- he was in his prime here, and his eye for detail,
dramatic lighting, and clever staging lends believeability to the somewhat
wacky premise. Whether it's Batman skulking through dark alleyways, or the Atom
hopscotching across the corpus callosum, Aparo draws it like he was really

This issue is one of those 100-page "Super-Spectacular"s. In addition to the
new story, we also get a batch of reprints: The Challengers of the Unknown,
Viking Prince, an Atom solo tale, and the classic Dr. Fate / Hourman team-up
where they take on Solomon Grundy. Definitely a jam-packed package!