Saturday, February 25, 2012

Batman: The Brave and the Bold # 16 – A Review

Writer: Sholly Fisch
Artist: Rick Burchett
Inker: Dan Davis
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Cover: Rick Burchett, Dan Davis and Heroic Age
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

This is the way a great series ends.
This is the way a great series ends.
This is the way a great series ends.
Not with a whimper but a Bat-Mite!

“Sniff, sniff.”  I’m sorry to say, but this month’s issue of Batman: Brave and the Bold is the last one.  I’ve been enjoying this series for nearly the past year and a half and it has really been consistently entertaining and more than occasionally – downright exceptional.  (You can find my past write-ups on the title here, here, and here along with one from my local comic shop too.) I had a little bit of advance warning when I saw that it wasn’t solicited in a recent issue of Previews (and I predicted as much back in September).  I’m really bummed that it’s over even though it frees up another slot on my pull list.  However, if a series has to end, this is a GREAT way to do it.

One of the hallmarks of the series has been the really obscure guest stars/references and we have more of the same in this story, such as the Mad Mod, the Space Cabby, and the Dingbats of Danger Street.  Of course, the main purpose is for Batman to team-up with someone and this time we have him and Batgirl.  Really, it’s him, Batgirl, and Bat-Mite, whose help is usually more trouble than it’s worth.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the little Imp.  He showed up regularly on the late-70’s Batman cartoon (the one that was part of the Tarzan hour) and there was a story or two in the “From the 30’s to the 70’s” HC that I frequently checked out at the library when I was a kid.  Bat-Mite claims to be Batman’s greatest fan and appreciates the caped crusader the most when he’s working extra hard against adversaries/challenges, usually supplied by him. 

In this issue, the Mad Mod (think John Lennon) has stolen several of Batman’s unique special uniforms that were on display for fashion week.  Batman has just immobilized each of them with a remote control when Bat-Mite shows up crying “Cheat!”  “POOF!” goes the remote and the crooks are on the loose again.  Batman is quickly disabling them the “hard-way” when Batgirl shows up to help and for Bat-Mite it’s love at first sight! (Just in time for Valentine’s Day – another great thing about this book was its topical stories.)

Now, this is where it gets really good.  As Bat-Mite tries to impress Batgirl, he conjures up some comic book logos.  Sound unbelievable?  It’s not, because he can do ANYTHING!  He even brings the Pied Piper, the Fiddler, and the Music Meister together to help serenade her over champagne and flowers.  He has Batman in the role of waiter. (As always, Rick Burchett’s panel layouts are awesome.) Batman offers Bat-Mite some relationship advice, which the little guy mocks with a very funny marionette show of Batman and Catwoman.  “Oh, Catwoman…Let me KISS you!  I mean ARREST you!  I mean KISS you!  I mean ARREST you!”  Besides, he gets all his guidance from comic books.  This he says while sitting amidst a mint collection of Golden Age Batman comics.

Batman’s concern is justified when Bat-Mite starts to put Batgirl in peril like Lois Lane.  There’s a great Looney Tunes sequence with an anvil and really, really long arms.  Batman saves them from certain death with a pair of enormous scissors.

Batman: “I assume the giant office supplies were YOUR doing?”
Bat-Mite: “EVERYTHING’S better with giant props!”

Batgirl still spurns his advances and we have a wonderful full-page comic-dot splash page (they’re really composed of comic-dots now) of the brokenhearted imp.  This leads to an appearance by Mister Polka-Dot with the associated bad puns.  That doesn’t work, so Bat-Mite quickly erases him with a large pencil.  When Batgirl suggests that he find someone more like him who is “cute and magical”, Bat-Mite pops off to see Zatanna.  (What a wonderful piece of original art that would be.)  “Never The End”.

Cut to Bat-Mite finishing the issue, excited about the next installment, when he gets a call from the DC editors that the book is being cancelled!  It was totally AWESOME!!!  Batman consoles him that he can always re-read the old issues anytime. That seems to help. (I think I’ll be following the same advice.)  The book really ends with a “turn the lights off” black panel and a “Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel”, which is totally appropriate considering the campier version of Batman depicted in the related cartoon.

GRADE A+: A WONDERFUL conclusion to a FANTASTIC series!!!

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