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You are in: Galleries > The Brave and the Bold > Issue 105

Issue Number: 105
Published: February 1973
Cover Artists: Jim Aparo
Writer: Bob Haney
Pencils: Jim Aparo
Inker: Jim Aparo
Letterer: N/A
Colourist: N/A
Editor: Sol Harrison
Story Title: Play Now...Die Later!
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Batman
(Bruce Wayne)
Conchita Vasquez Pilar Vasquez
Alfred Commissioner Gordon Raoul Vasquez
Ernesto Francisco Montoya Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
El Moro    

Cover of Issue 105

Comments:

Diana plays merely a supporting role in this Batman story and rather stupidly, has to be saved from certain death by her "Amazon Guardian Angel"!!! Why it was felt such a clumsy plot device was needed is unclear, as a guardian never featured in the main "Wonder Woman" book. It also both undermines Diana and underlines how ineffective she had become since denouncing her super powers, seeing as she is no longer able to even save herself from dire peril let alone anybody else. Yet the all too human Batman does it all the time!!!! A little chauvinism on the Editors part perhaps?
As is typical of this era, the cover scene bears no relationship whatsoever to the story inside, apart from further emphasising Diana's role as the "damsel in distress". Truly, the character of Wonder Woman had reached an all time low point, having drifted so far away from William Moulton Marston's very clearly defined vision of her as a strong, smart, confident and courageous super powered female on a par with Superman.

Synopsis:

Millionaire Bruce Wayne has just finished Dinner at a swanky South American restaurant in Gotham. He spots a beautiful latino girl accompanied by a much older woman and asks the restaurant manager who she is. The manager does not recognise her and says that it is unusual for a girl of good family to be out this time of night, even with an old crone as a chaperone.

Bruce decides she looks very sad and wants to find out why. He follows the two women out as they leave and gallantly offers them a ride home. The old crone, named Pilar, snaps back that they do not take rides with complete strangers and leads the young girl away. But as Bruce watches the two women walk off down the street he hears a scream and sees shadowy figures leaping out at them from an alleyway. He quickly instructs Alfred, his butler, to follow him in the car as he rushes to the rescue.

He clouts one of the thugs and scares them away. However, Pilar collapses from the shock and Bruce asks the worried girl if she will re-consider his offer of a lift. She agrees and they clamber inside the car with the unconscious Pilar. As Alfred drives them to a hospital the girl introduces herself as Conchita Vasquez from San Sebastian. As Bruce assures her that they will get Pilar quickly to a doctor, Alfred warns of trouble ahead. Bruce looks out and sees an innocent young boy caught in the middle of a gun battle in the street, taking place beneath a distinctive advertising billboard that depicts a man smoking a cigar, blowing out real puffs of smoke. He swiftly orders Alfred to continue with the two women to a hospital before leaping out of the car.

Darting down a back alley he quickly changes into his Batman costume and swoops down into the melee. Realising he has no time to reach the boy, he picks up a couple of trash cans and hurls them at one of the men holding a machine gun. He uses the distraction to his advantage and darting across the street scoops up the boy and puts him inside a nearby parked truck, telling him to lay down out of harm's way. As the sound of police car sirens fill the air the gunmen scatter and Batman races after the machine gunner. As he grabs the machine gunman by the scruff of the neck the police cars pull up and armed officers alight, lead by Commissioner Gordon.

Batman warns Gordon that the whole Spanish Quarter of the city seems to be a tinder box. Gordon orders his men to fan out after the other gunmen and explains to Batman that these people from San Sebastian seem to have brought a gang war with them.

A short while later at police HQ the gunman has been brought in for questioning. He gives his name as Raoul Vasquez, a revolutionary from San Sebastian. Batman recognises the surname as being the same as Conchita's and wonders if there is a connection. As Raoul is taken away on charges of possession of a deadly weapon he spits that they are arresting the wrong man and he is no criminal. As they watch him be dragged away, Commissioner Gordon tells Batman that the others had gotten away but at least they seem to have the leader. Batman replies that a few nights in the cell will cool him down.

A short while later at Gotham Hospital Batman has arrived in his civilian persona of Bruce Wayne to check on Conchita and Pilar. The young girl thanks him for his help and says Pilar is being looked after. She adds that he seems a friend she can confide in. As they take a stroll outside in the cool night air, she explains that she and her family are in a lot of trouble and asks for his help. He suggests she tells him all about it while he takes her home.

Shortly at an apartment in Gotham's East Side they enter Conchita's home but as they walk in a man grabs Bruce around the throat, holding him at knife point and ordering him not to move. Bruce recognises the voice as that of Raoul who has obviously escaped from police custody! He manages to break away and turns to confront Raoul, but finds another man named Ernesto pushing a gun into the small of his back! Conchita tries to explain to her brother that Bruce had helped her and Pilar earlier and that she has told him of their family's troubles.

A skeptical Raoul asks Bruce why he would help them. For all he knows Bruce is working for his enemies. The millionaire replies that his name and reputation are well known in Gotham but he knows nothing of Raoul's. Conchita's story seems very hard to believe. Raoul goes on to explain that his father, leader of the San Sebastian Revolutionary Forces, is being held prisoner in Gotham. He can be freed however with money for a bribe. Bruce replies that he finds it hard to believe one of his father's captors will accept a simple bribe but Raoul snaps back that his enemies are dogs who will do anything for money. This particular individual named El Moro would betray his own mother!

Bruce presumes that as per Conchita's request, they are looking for him to give them this "ransom" money. Raoul nods, adding that the Montoya family who are holding his father are torturing him in order to extract the location of a great treasure that his countrymen need very badly. A doubting Bruce responds that if Raoul's father cracks under torture then his money will be a wasted ransom. Raoul snarls that his father would rather die than give up the treasure's location but that they must ransom him quickly before that happens. Bruce reluctantly agrees to provide the cash and Conchita thanks him, adding that he will be able to share in the treasure with them as a token of their gratitude.

Just then they hear police sirens outside and Raoul makes his escape through a rear door, warning Bruce that he holds the millionaire to his promise. Conchita bemoans her poor brother who has to run like a criminal and her poor family and poor countrymen. Bruce assures her to stay strong but on leaving the apartment and being driven home by Alfred, he muses how fantastic the situation is because Conchita and her bother are obviously con artists, trying to hook him on the old "Spanish Prisoner game". A puzzled Alfred asks him what he means and Bruce explains that it is the oldest of con games that started in Spain centuries ago. There is always a gorgeous female to get the sucker interested and there is always the relative held prisoner by "bad hombres" and a treasure he alone knows about. Plus a bribe or ransom that will set him free. If the sucker hands over the cash he is promised a cut of the treasure as his reward. Of course, it is all faked just to extract money from innocents.

As they arrive at Wayne Towers Alfred says that Conchita had seemed so sincere and had only met them tonight. Bruce nods and continues that these scamsters are clever operators. She had probably heard his name mentioned at the restaurant and knew he was wealthy. Those thugs that had attacked the two women were accomplices which is why they ran away so easily. Alfred is still not totally convinced though, reminding Bruce that the women had at first refused a lift home. And what of old Pilar's collapse - was that also part of the cunning come on? And the brother? And the gun battle?

As Batman dons his costume he tells his trusty butler that he has not put together all of the pieces yet but he is positive Conchita and her brother are working a scam on Bruce Wayne. With that he departs for an emergency meeting that has been called at the City Hall. Not long afterwards he joins Commissioner Gordon and the Mayor, who explains that the meeting has been called to deal with the gang war in Gotham's Latin quarter. He then introduces a man called Francisco Montoya, who was one of San Sebastian's leading citizens before moving to Gotham. Montoya shakes Batman's hand and says that he is distressed by the current violence caused by his countrymen. There is one group in particular who attack peaceful San Sebastian exiles, attempting to terrorise and extort from them, lead by Raoul Vasquez! Batman nods, saying that there had even been trouble that very night.

Commissioner Gordon adds that there is currently a man hunt for Raoul and the Mayor explains that although it is a delicate situation, with help from Montoya they can keep the San Sebastian community calm while the authorities corral the bad element and prevent Gotham from boiling over.

A short while later Batman is swinging through the darkened streets, pondering that he had not mentioned how the Vasquez clan where working the "Spanish Prisoner" scam on Bruce Wayne because he wants to handle it personally. But he decides he will need very special help to do so.

The following day the lithe form of the gorgeous Amazon Princess formerly known as Wonder Woman saunters into the Latin quarter of town. As she arrives outside the apartment block of Conchita she suddenly sees an Amazon Warrior appear in front of her eyes. The Amazon Guardian Angel asks Diana what she is doing here and she explains that she is helping her friend Batman on a personal case he is working on. Her Angel replies that the task is worthy of her noble heritage but warns that she foresees danger in store for Diana. She reminds the Princess that she is now a mere mortal who has the same vulnerabilities as any other human female. As the Guardian bids farewell Diana muses to herself that she had "better be on my toes!".

As she knocks at the door it is opened by Ernesto who demands to know what she doing here. She smiles and replies that she is here from the agency as they had requested a replacement "Duenna" - a chaperone - for Conchita. Ernesto is unconvinced and says that not only had they not requested one but that a Duenna was always old and homely. Diana persists though, saying that someone had definitely called her agency and sent her here. She shows her reference papers and assures the man that she can speak fluent spanish too. As Conchita appears wondering what is going on, she sees Diana and suggests that perhaps Raoul had sent her.

She greets the Amazon Princess warmly and says that she does indeed need a new Duenna since Pilar still lies sick in hospital. However, although Diana seems very qualified she is still quite young. Diana smiles back that she will be all the better a companion then, before complimenting Conchita on her pretty dress and suggesting adding a flash of colour by adding a sash or a belt. Impressing Conchita with her trendy fashion knowledge, she continues to explain that she also owns her own Boutique when business is good, but right now she needs to earn some extra cash.

Convinced that Diana will be a great companion and that they share much in common, she hugs the Amazon Princess and says that she likes her new Duenna. Ernesto says that Conchita's father would not approve of her having such a young and pretty Duenna, but she tells him to be quiet as her father is not here. Nor indeed is her brother, which is exactly why she needs someone. She then warns Diana that there may be danger and asks if that bothers the Amazon. Diana says that on the contrary, she finds the thought quite exciting!

Not long after in her newly allocated room, Diana uses a radio to communicate secretly with Batman, advising that his plan had worked and that Conchita seems very friendly and hardly the con artist type. Batman assures her it is just part of her front and to keep her eyes and ears open. He is about to switch to the role of Bruce Wayne - the sucker!

That night Bruce arrives at the apartment with the money. Conchita thanks him and introduces him to Diana. The Latin girl hugs Bruce gratefully and he is impressed by her acting skills. A little while later after he has left, Diana radios again to say that she and Conchita are going to meet a man called El Moro at Pier 93 in order to hand over the "ransom". She asks the Caped Crusader that if the deal is phony, why is Conchita still going through with the whole charade? Batman replies that this "El Moro" is probably either Raoul or Ernesto. While they split with the money, Conchita will keep up the front a little while longer to completely fool Bruce Wayne. Then she will join up with the others later. He then advises Diana that he is on his way to Pier 93 to expose the scam!

Diana takes on the gunmen but during the brawl is clouted unconscious!Soon at the Gotham waterfront he watches from his hiding place as a man whom he presumes is El Moro appears, looking around nervously. Batman also notices Raoul hiding in the shadows which seems to confirm his suspicions. A few minutes later Conchita and Diana arrive and approach El Moro carrying the money. He takes the ransom quickly and Conchita demands to know where her father is being held. Diana remains impressed at just how far they are taking the ruse. The nervous El Moro removes a piece of paper saying that the location is written on it. Suddenly though before he can hand it over he hears a shout behind him and turns to see a couple of gunmen racing towards him yelling "traitor!". He makes a run for it with the money and the note as they open fire on him and give chase. Another couple of gunmen appear and demand that the two women accompany them. But Diana has no intention of being taken hostage and attacks them, disarming one and then the other. But the first gunman recovers quickly from the attack and clouts the Amazon Princess unconscious with a crowbar!

Meanwhile further down the pier Batman is shadowing the fleeing El Moro as he is chased by the gunmen. He sees El Moro take a hit and decides it is time to intervene. He jumps down and the startled gunmen stop in their tracks, recognising him. They turn tail and flee but as Batman turns his attention back to El Moro he sees that the wounded man is about to topple off the pier and into the river. He rushes over and grabs him just in time, only to find that El Moro has already died from his wound! Batman takes the note he still clutches in his hand and reads the location written on it.

Suddenly he hears a voice behind him and turns to see Raoul standing over him with a gun, demanding he hands the location over. He tells the Caped Crusader that his sister had paid this dead man good money for this information, but Batman remains unconvinced and replies that Raoul should stop playing this game. His father is not a prisoner and that he and his sister are simply con artists. A furious Raoul clouts Batman with the butt of his revolver for insulting his sister, before snatching the paper from Batman's hand. Suddenly he hears the sound of approaching police cars and as the officers open fire on him he makes a quick escape, leaving the groggy Batman to inform that police what has just taken place.

They search El Moro and find he still has the bag full of money. A confused Batman cannot understand why Raoul made off with the note but left the money behind? Is it possible that perhaps he has been telling the truth all along? He swiftly runs off, heading towards the location he had seen written on the note and as he goes, tries to radio Diana but gets no reply. He assumes she has taken charge of Conchita somewhere but unknown to Batman, the still unconscious Diana has been carried to a nearby cargo warehouse exit ramp and dumped in the middle of it. As dawn approaches the fleet of freight trucks inside start their engines preparing to begin another day's work and the first one thunders towards the exit...

Elsewhere Batman arrives at the advertising billboard of the cigar smoking man, still not believing that Conchita and Raoul's whole story of their captive father can really be true. He makes his way to the roof top sign and stealthily enters the shed which contains the apparatus that operates the smoke. Inside he finds a manacle still dangling from the wall - sure signs that a prisoner had been held here! Suddenly though an unseen assailant smashes a wooden plank over his head and knocks him out!

Diana lies helplessly in the middle of the road as the truck bears down on her!A short while later he comes to only to find that one wrist is now held in the manacle. He realises that the captors of Conchita's father must have learned he had discovered the location and moved their prisoner, leaving someone behind to clobber him! He knows now he has been a fool and has to free himself in order to put things right! But how? He can only move one arm and his wrist radio is crushed under the manacle. He hopes Wonder Woman can find him...

However, for her part, Diana still lies helplessly on the ramp as the truck accelerates out of the warehouse. Too late the driver sees her lying in the middle of the road and futilely tries to slam on his brakes. At the last instant before the huge vehicle crushes the Amazon Princess she is whisked to safety by her Guardian Angel!

Once she has regained consciousness, the grateful Diana tries to raise Batman on her radio but with no success. She races back into the Latin quarter of the city trying to locate him and notices the advertising billboard with its puffs of smoke. Strangely though, she notices the irregular intervals of the smoke rings and recognises them as being morse code! She races up to the roof and finds Batman, freeing him as he thanks her and explains how he had managed to operate the smoke generator with his one free hand to send out an SOS.

Diana tells him that the gunmen have taken Conchita hostage and she apologises for failing the Caped Crusader. He tells her that he is the one who has failed. He had been so hung up believing the Vasquez family was working a con game he became blind to the obvious truth! They are in fact "on the level" and since Montoya owns the Marvilla Cigar Company and the sign that advertises its products, he deduces that he must be the baddie here.

Just then they see the door open and Raoul stagger in. As Diana tends his wounds he explains that he had been wounded by the police while making his escape and had made his way here to free his father. Batman tells him that Montoya's men have already taken both him and Conchita elsewhere. Raoul realises that his father will be forced to reveal the treasure's location or else Montoya will threaten to harm Conchita. Batman agrees but says that perhaps this is a good thing. Find Montoya and they find the treasure!

With that the three of them exit and a short while later arrive at Montoya's warehouse where some sort of carnival parade is taking place. Raoul explains that it is the "Festival of the Fisherman". This traditional ceremony blesses the fishing boats before they sail out and as the possession reaches the docks Batman has an idea. The treasure could well be inside the floats together with Conchita and her father. Raoul agrees but says that it would be sacrilege to try and interfere with the blessing. As they continue to watch, the floats are lifted aboard a freighter by crane as Montoya himself climbs onboard. Raoul explains that this is also part of the ritual because they are carried out to the fishing grounds for luck and set adrift. Batman decides they must get aboard quickly and save Conchita and her father.

The three of them sneak onto the vessel unseen and make their way to the cargo hold. The crates are labelled as innocently containing "Tortillas" but when they open them they find that they in fact contain jet aircraft parts! This is the "treasure"! A few jet planes will tip the balance of power in San Sebastian and Montoya obviously intends to return there to crush the revolution using them! Batman decides now is the time to create a revolution of their own!

Batman, Diana and Raoul quickly climb up on deck but realise that they are already moving down river. They are spotted by Montoya's men and a fight breaks out. Raoul is impressed by Diana's fighting skills as she wades through her attackers with her martial arts skills. Batman reminds them that these are simply the small fish and that they are after Montoya. He and Raoul the hear a voice and turn to see their foe standing there holding a gun against Conchita and her father. As he warns them not to try anything Diana, who has sneaked back inside, suddenly launches herself through an open port hole and knocks the unsuspecting Montoya flying!

Soon Montoya and his men are in custody as Vasquez Senior thanks Batman ands Diana for their help. The planes will now go to those who fight for freedom and San Sebastian's future will be bright once again! Batman replies that hopefully it makes up for him wrongly suspecting that the Vasquez family were playing an old con trick on his friend Bruce Wayne. Conchita accepts his apology and adds that because Bruce is not here to share in the "treasure", Batman will have to pass it on for her. With that, she plants a huge kiss on Batman's lips leaving a smiling Diana to quip "Ole!"

The End

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