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You are in: Galleries > The Brave and the Bold > Issue 87

Issue Number: 87
Published: January 1969
Cover Artists: N/A
Writer: N/A
Pencils: N/A
Inker: N/A
Letterer: N/A
Colourist: N/A
Editor: Murray Boltinoff
Story Title: The Widow Maker!
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Batman
(Bruce Wayne)
Willi Van Dort Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
I Ching    

Cover of Issue 87

Comments:

The first Brave and The Bold storyline that features Batman and the "New" Wonder Woman, now referred to simply as Diana Prince, since she became de-powered. As is rather typical of covers from this era, the dramatic cover bears no resemblance to what actually happens in the storyline itself!
The issue also has a very silly ending, in which Diana is arrested for stealing a car! Of course, she has simply made an innocent mistake by taking a vehicle that looks exactly like her own, but it hardly paints a flattering light of the so called "Wonder Woman" - so ditzy she cannot even recognise her own car! Scheeesh!!

Synopsis:

Diana Prince and her Chinese Mentor I Ching decide to stop over at the Monaco Grand Prix on their way home after another adventure. A fashion shoot is underway in the glamorous resort, making the most of the exotic back drop and the publicity of the race. Diana coos at the lovely outfits worn by the models and comments to I Ching how exciting it is to see these clothes in such an unusual setting.

Not far away Bruce Wayne is putting on his racing outfit and recognises the gorgeous Amazon Princess. Another driver by the name of Willi Van Dort has also spotted her and decides to make a move on her. Bruce sees his intentions and decides to gallantly rescue her from his unscrupulous competitor! As he too walks over he muses to himself how Wonder Woman had only met him as "The Batman" back when she was in the JLA.

Before Willi can ask her out, Bruce barges in and hugs her, saying how nice it is to see her again. A puzzled Diana has no idea who Bruce is as she does not know Batman's secret identity. He leads both the Amazon Princess and I Ching away out of earshot of Willi before introducing himself as millionaire Bruce Wayne. Diana recognises the name as the rich "playboy" from Gotham she has read about . Bruce tells them that he is a playboy no more and jokes that she should be more grateful to him for having saved her from the clutches of European predators!

They hear the roar of a car engine and see Willi zoom away on his qualifying lap in his evil looking black car named "Widow-Macher". Diana comments on the odd name and I Ching remarks that it is quite apt because the vehicle sounds as if it is indeed a "widow maker". A mechanic overhears their conversation and agrees, adding that this is Willi's eighth year on the racing circuit. Each time somebody has looked like beating him, that driver has ended up being killed in an accident. Diana asks why someone has not produced the proof to have Willi barred from racing and the mechanic replies that the only ones who can prove Willi is cheating are dead!

Just then the track announcer requests Bruce to prepare for his own qualifying run. The Millionaire makes his excuses to Diana and I Ching and as he climbs into the cockpit of his own race car, invites Diana to dinner that evening. She smiles and says "We'll see" before watching him zoom away on his lap. Willi, having returned from his own lap, also watches Bruce coldly, eyeing up his opponent. Bruce drives like a demon and clocks up the fastest lap of the day, leaving a furious Willi to ponder what must be done to take care of this new threat to his title.

Later that day on the way back to their hotel, Diana and I Ching pass an open garage doorway and accidentally see Willi communicating to his three pit crew members using sign language. Diana finds this communication method very strange and uses her Amazon skills to translate what he is saying. She realises to her horror that the driver is instructing his men to sabotage Bruce Wayne's car tonight before the big race tomorrow! Diana tells her Chinese Mentor that they must act quickly but he asks why they do not simply warn Bruce. She replies that the millionaire playboy would be helpless against three burly thugs like that and that it is up to them!

Diana takes down a knife weilding thug!And so later that night in Bruce Wayne's garage she and I Ching sneak in to find the three mechanics lifting the bonnet of the racing car, intending to tamper with it. Before she and Ching can make their move though Bruce himself suddenly walks in on the thugs and demands to know what they are up to. A fight breaks out and Diana, concerned that the millionaire is completely out of his depth, charges into the fray assuring Bruce that she and I Ching are coming to help! Hearing it is the Amazon, he decides it is unwise to let her see him doing any of his "Batman stuff" and so allows himself to be floored like a rookie.

As Diana grabs the thug responsible, he pulls out a knife on her but she expertly uses her martial arts skills to clobber him unconscious. I Ching also lays into one of the other thugs with his cane leaving just the last thug, who is still pounding on Bruce. As he takes another punch in the face, Bruce decides that he cannot let a woman and a blind old man save him and as Diana offers to take down the final thug he declines her offer, saying he can take care of it himself. But being momentarily distracted, he is clouted unconscious with a wrench by the thug who then flees together with his compatriots. A concerned Diana checks on Bruce and tells Ching that they should get a doctor quickly. "Poor Bruce doesn't know the first thing about handling himself in a fight!".

Sometime later in a nearby hotel room, a doctor finishes bandaging Bruce's head and tells the worried Diana that he is suffering from a possible concussion. A groggy Bruce tries to sit up and says that he has a race to compete in tomorrow, but the Amazon Princess tells him to rest and that she will race in his place. His wounded pride will not allow him to have the "Wonder Woman" race in his place and so he comes up with a desperate excuse, saying she cannot race because she doesn't have a license. She seems undeterred though and so he has an idea and picks up a nearby phone, pretending to make a call to Commissioner Gordon in Gotham City. He "asks" Gordon whether he can arrange for his friend "The Batman" to race in his place instead. Diana however seem unconvinced that Batman will show and waves Bruce goodbye, telling him not to worry about tomorrow.

The following morning Diana suits up, preparing to get into Bruce's car and assures a worried I Ching that she can handle the vehicle. She also remarks how kind it was of the Princess of Monaco to grant her a special license just for the event.

Meanwhile at the nearby hotel Bruce unwraps the bandages around his head and dons his Batman cape and costume. Minutes later the track announcer tells the surprised crowds that there has been a last minute substitution and that "the famous Batman will now race in place of Miss Diana Prince". A disappointed Diana removes her helmet while a shocked Willi is determined not to let this news faze him. Soon the press are clamouring around Batman's car as he poses for photos. An envious Diana tells I Ching that it is not fair but her mentor replies that "the superior person does not bewail misfortune - she rises above it!"

Just then Willi walks over and says that he has wanted to meet Batman for a long time. Batman pretends he does not recognise Willi and his opponent continues that he may not know who Willi is, but he must surely know the name "Van Dort". The Caped Crusader tries to think why the name is familiar and suddenly remembers a General Van Dort - someone who had been a strutting, pompous lunatic with a crazy dream of taking over the world. He had fought the General before putting him away behind bars. Willi nods in confirmation and adds that today he will avenge his father and his family honour!

As Willi walks away a worried Diana pleads with Batman not to race against as his opponent is a killer. Batman assures her that there are plenty of track side marshalls who will ensure fair play during the race. With that his mechanics push his car towards the start line in anticipation of the race, while Diana bemoans how stubborn men are! She suddenly borrows a pair of binoculars from a nearby spectator and scans the pit lane until she finds Willi, who once again is using sign language to secretly communicate with his mechanics. She sees that he has given them orders to set traps throughout the race to ensure Batman is killed! She realises they must warn the Caped Crusader but too late the race starts and the cars zoom off down the street. Diana and I Ching quickly run to their hire car and leaping in, gun the engine.

Meanwhile the racers thunder down the road and within a minute the event suffers its first casualty as a car spins out of control and crashes into a wall. Ahead of the pack, Batman begins to pull away from Willi and thinks to himself that it is too easy. What has his opponent got in store for him he wonders.

Further down the road Diana and I Ching spot one of Willi's men up ahead, setting up what looks like a camera on a tripod. However the Amazon suspects the innocent device is not what it seems and accelerates her car while leaning out...

Not far away Willi presses a button on his dashboard and a blade springs out from the centre of his wheel! As he pulls up alongside Batman's vehicle the blade begins to scrape along the bodywork. Realising Willi intends to kill him, he shifts down a gear. Braking, shifting down and up - car and man working in perfect harmony - the Caped Crusader starts fishtailing across the road. He slams his car into the menacing blade, shattering it before it can reach his tyres!

Ahead, Diana zooms up to the unwitting sniper and clouts him as she rushes past. She quickly gets out and ties the unconscious thug up to a tree to ensure he cannot interfere with the race again. As the race cars zoom by a frustrated Willi wonders why his man has not done anything yet. He decides to take matters into his own hands and takes a short cut, cutting a corner and pulling ahead of Batman. He then presses another button that releases oil onto the track behind him. Batman's car skids out of control and he has to use all his strength to keep the car on the road. He spots some bales of hay on the track side and drives through them, using the straw to clean the oil from his wheels. He then accelerates after Willi again!

Just on the other side of the haystacks Diana and I Ching are speeding down a parallel road and hear the commotion on the other side. Suddenly the Amazon spots another of Willi's men waiting to drop a large bale on top of Batman as he passes. Once again she reacts swiftly and as they zoom by she borrows I Ching's cane to knock the feet out from under the thug, sending him sprawling. The bale lands with a thump on top of the saboteur, leaving him helplessly pinned underneath. Diana drives on, knowing that there is still one more of Willi's men ahead somewhere...

Meanwhile Batman is threading his way through the pack and closes in on race leader Willi again. His opponent spots him approaching in his rear view mirror and prepares to set another deadly trap. As they enter a dark road tunnel Willi flicks a switch and a powerful light located on the back of his car suddenly illuminates. Batman is temporarily blinded and his car bumps against the tunnel wall as he struggles to see where he is going. Reaching into his utility belt he removes a telescopic rod and uses it as a guide, scraping it along the wall and enabling him to drive blind!

As Diana desperately changes the tyre she is accosted by a gunman!Once out of the tunnel his eyes adjust once again and he speeds after his deadly foe. Willi curses Batman's persistence and wonders where his men are. Nearby, Diana is desperately asking herself the same question but suddenly hears a thumping sound coming from her wheel. As they pull up she is horrified to see she has a puncture. Desperately she opens the trunk and quickly changes the wheel. However, the third thug creeps up behind the distracted Amazon and sticks a revolver against her head. She and an equally powerless I Ching have no choice but to sit quietly and do as the thug says.

Overlooking the finish line, the gunman crows how he has cut all but one of the wires holding up the banner across the track and as soon as Batman exits the tunnel and hurtles down the final stretch he will cut the last wire. Diana asks him how he can be so sure that it will be Batman who emerges from the tunnel and is told that this is how Willi has planned it. The thug was supposed to do it in the middle of the race but has decided to hold off until the end. That way, Willi can witness Batman's demise as he crosses the line - his boss will enjoy that!

Lap after lap roars by until finally the last one approaches. Batman is just ahead by two seconds and the furious Willi believes his men have deserted him. He decides it is down to him. As they enter the tunnel for the final time, Willi pulls up alongside and rams his car into Batman's. Caught by surprise, the Caped Crusader lurches into the wall and blows a tyre! A laughing Willi sees his opponent disappear from view in his rear view mirror as he exits from the tunnel triumphantly!

Unaware of what has just occurred in the tunnel, Diana weeps as they watch a race car zoom towards the finish line and the smiling thug cuts the wire. The banner flutters down and smothers the car beneath, causing it to lose control and slam into a wall, exploding into flames! But before the thug can celebrate they see Batman's car come limping through behind it with its damaged tyre. As Batman crosses the finish line in first place Diana uses the thug's shock and surprise to strike him before he can react. She tells I Ching to keep an eye on the floored gunman while she gets the police. With that she drives her car down to the garage enclosure where a group of officers and an irate man seem to be waiting for her.

Puzzled, she gets out as the man accuses her of having stolen his car. As she tries to explain to the police, showing them her rental papers, the victorious Batman walks over, amused by the commotion. As the flustered Amazon Princess points to the registration documents in her hands and then to the licence plate on the car, she suddenly realises they are different! Just then she spots her car parked nearby - exactly the same model as the man's one she has taken in error! She tries to tell them it is all just an innocent mistake in the heat of the moment but the man is not convinced and demands she is arrested for car theft!

As she is lead away by the police for further questioning, Batman tells her he is leaving but that he has a message from Bruce Wayne, who asks if she will still have dinner with him tonight? She smiles back that she will be happy to, as long as he will cover her bail! She then wonders to herself what her former JLA colleagues will think when they find out an ex-member has a police record!

The End

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