Writer J. Michael Straczynski
Art Jesus Saiz
J. Michael Straczynski has been in a zone for this year. The Twelve, Thor, The Red Circle and now The Brave and The Bold. Writers seem to get into grooves at times and can do no wrong. Warren Ellis a couple of years ago was in that type of groove and Geoff Johns was doing it for 2008. I know Johns is doing great things with Blackest Night, but prior to that he was hit and miss with some of his work this year. No writer is perfect every time out, but when they hit a groove they are pretty much a mortal lock for delivering a great story and JMS has been that way for me of late. The Brave and Bold is no exception and this introductory issue was a great one.
Colors Trish Mulvihill
Colors Trish Mulvihill
A few things really stood out for me. Number one the great use of Robby Reed (Dial “H” for Hero), the use of the Joker (understated elegance), the use of Travers Milton (the everyman) and how we never had to know if this was Bruce or Dick under the cowl. It was a great one and done story.
We begin with Robby Reed and his grandfather arriving in Gotham to see the sights and then immediately cut away to Travers Milton. He is portrayed as a loser whose life has gone from ok to poor to worse. We then cut to the Joker making an absolutely fantastic speech to his henchmen. Some of the quotes are “if you stop and think about it for a second - - a process I realize may not be familiar to many of you” and “failure is not a word that exists in my universe. Except for when I have to use it for purposes of illustration.” He plays the Joker as the bad guy in this story, but makes him have a level of sophisticated menace to him, that I just loved. The Joker’s plan is to kill Batman.
From there we move back to Robby who after watching the news about the Joker’s crime wave uses his dial and becomes Mental Man and sees into the future. Mental Man looks horrified and than we see Robby has crawled back into bed. The next morning Robby and his grandfather go off sight seeing.
Travers comes into the picture and robs their room taking the dial. He feels an irresistible compulsion to use the dial and becomes the super hero Star. Travers learns that being able to be the hero actually makes him feel good about himself. He ends up teaming up with Batman and ultimately saves Batman but dies himself in the effort.
Batman is shown as Gotham’s protector and we also see the detective side of him as he manages to gather information on Star via a subtle method of obtaining his fingerprints. Batman also returns the dial to Robby and we learn the twist behind the story. Robby saw that whoever used the dial next would die, so he left it out in the open to be stolen. Robby feels like he let himself down because he was unwilling to die. Batman lets him off the hook by telling him about Travers and how this one chance was the best thing to every happen to him. He also tells Robby that he has the lives of a thousand heroes ahead of him as we all do, but for Robby it is more then a metaphor.
Some may think it is a little heavy headed in an espousal of a personal philosophy, but I don’t have problems with writers making points as long as it fits within the context of the story and is not just preaching to us. It can be a fine line, but I think JMS successfully negotiates staying on the right side of the line. It was a very well done story that gave us insight into Robby, Travers Milton and used Batman and the Joker as effective characters in a good drama.
Jesus Saiz’s art was outstanding also. A strong realistic style that mixes the Neal Adam’s style with a little of Alan Davis that creates a great super hero book. I think this is the strongest effort I have seen from him and should give him a raising star status at least. As a side note it seems that DC has really gotten stronger on the art side of their books. I believe the internet has made it easier for artists around the world to contribute to various books and we have seen a lot of great art. Jesus does it all with strong expression and good page design as the book read very easily. This was a great marriage of writing and art.
Overall Grade A – The Brave and The Bold is back on my list. Reminiscent of the best days of this book where each story told a one and done and often highlighted characters in the DCU which had been forgotten (see what was done with Green Arrow years ago in Brave and Bold).