Current Reviews


Sunday Slugfest - Brave and the Bold #1

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2007
By: Keith Dallas

“The Lords of Luck: Roulette”

Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: George Perez (p), Bob Wiacek (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Average Rating:

Tobey Cook:
Shawn Hill:
Chris Murman:
Kevin Powers:
Caryn A. Tate:
Thom Young:

Tobey Cook

It’s great to see DC re-launching what to me was the premiere team-up title back in the ‘80s when I first started reading comics. Sure, they had DC Comics Presents, but it was always more interesting to me to see who they would pair up Batman with just because he was a much different character back then. Now, with Mark Waid at the helm and with George Perez on art, you have the makings of yet another stellar team-up book in an age when it’s very rare to see characters crossing over, much less getting along.

The first issue features Batman and Green Lantern, and unlike the previous team-up books, they actually have a reason to work together. Green Lantern is returning home from a mission and finds a body floating in space, and contacts Batman to see if he can help him identify it. Batman is able to do so, but only because the same body is currently lying on the floor of the Batcave.

After Green Lantern arrives at the Batcave, Batman tells him that 64 bodies in total of the same victim have been found around the world at sites known to be visited by other heroes. They are suddenly attacked from nowhere by an alien creature, which they are able to dispatch rather quickly by using the Batmobile and the Giant Penny as weapons. There’s also a reference to the Batman TV show thrown in for good measure. The rest of the issue sees Batman and Green Lantern head to Las Vegas, where we get another moment between the two, this time as Bruce Wayne and Hal Jordan. It’s nice to see these two interact outside of their costumes, especially two characters we never would see together under normal circumstances. There’s a great bit of interaction when the two decide to play blackjack, and the look on Bruce’s face after they’re done playing (hint: look at Hal’s chip count) and the line he delivers is the best part in the entire book: “I wish Barry had lived to see you with money.”

The rest of the issue is devoted to trying to find the boss of the casino (Roulette) only to finally get to her and discover that someone is trying to steal the Book of Destiny from her, and they manage to get away, which sets up the team-up for next issue.

What I loved most about this book was the little references to continuity, and the absolutely stellar artwork of George Perez, who is still the master of conveying emotion in characters. The story made perfect sense and gave Batman and Green Lantern a reason to work together towards a common goal, and lead to a believable setup for the following issue. The only problem I had with the book was that the art was a bit rough in some places and a little too dark. I’m used to Perez inking his own pencils, so seeing someone like Bob Wiacek on inks was a bit jarring, but I did get used to it after a while.

Overall, not a bad first issue. I firmly believe that Waid’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things DC and Perez’s love of drawing anything you can throw at him will make this book much better in the future, but it’s not off to a bad start.

Shawn Hill

Plot: Mark Waid decides the DC Universe needs more aliens, and also more Legion of Super-Heroes villains. He’s right.

Comments: What a fun issue! The art is solid and not as obsessive about details as Perez can sometimes be. This is a functional, action-oriented style, and it’s been sorely missed. Teaming Perez with an inking pro like Wiacek is definitely a smart move. It’s actually nice to see Perez let loose on something that isn’t epic or multiverse-redefining for once.

Well, not yet anyway. Who knows where this might go, with the Luck Lords involved. This is an old-style story in the sense that it feels full of details, of the richness of the DC universe, without making an effort to redefine the characters or reinvent the wheel all over again for current sensibilities.

The “wheel” ain’t broke, and this book seems to be an example of what happens when Superboy’s punches allow the best of several worlds to mix and match. Hal and Bruce banter like “Emerald Dawn” and “No Man’ s Land” never happened, and they’re better off for it.

Along the way they chatter about Sinestro, use their skills like pros, trash most of the Batcave, and go on a gambling spree in Vegas on Bruce’s dime. It’s almost silly that Hal still wears his bomber’s jacket to the casino, but then these are the iconic versions of the characters, reborn as if they never left or died or got lost along the way, and that’s how the iconic Hal Jordan looks.

Bruce does make a funny joke about changing times, as he uses hi-tech devices to find one of the culprits behind a very odd string of identical dead bodies turning up on superhero doorsteps around the world. Who turns out to be a very freaked out Roulette, off her game and desperate for help against an adversary that hasn’t yet come clear.

I haven’t read a lot of Waid’s Superman stories, but this one issue is already leagues ahead of the strange annals of continuity he’s setting up in Legion of Super-Heroes. Whereas that book is obscure and off-kilter, somehow disconnected by more than just 1000 years, this book is as mainstream as it gets. It’s a thrill ride, and I can’t wait to ride again!

Chris Murman:

Should we or should we not expect a lot from the first of a new series that include the names Mark Waid and George Perez in the credits? Some would say that we need to evaluate each book on its own merit, and each title on its own steam. I, for one, think that it’s okay to not expect the best from a writer or artist no matter what their body of work includes previously.

But come on, this is Waid and Perez for crying out loud! I can expect a little better than this.

Many readers will praise Perez’ classic work on the pencils and laud the usual solid job of painting an epic picture. Waid too gave a sweeping story that will easily move from duo to duo and move with the action packed pace needed for this book. What I’m saying is this isn’t that bad of a book, but in this day and age, I need more than that.

The groundwork for this team-up tale starts with Batman and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. All across the world, identical dead bodies are showing up on the doorsteps of the DCU’s heroes. A “whodunit” trail of breadcrumbs ensues with the team ending up in Las Vegas. After many a fight, the Dark Knight and Cosmic Cop part ways to go after their respective quarry. The door is opened for the next issue and Supergirl to enter the fray. With his new partner, I’m sure the tale with Hal will move towards outer space next issue.

Again, this isn’t a horrible story. It was good to see the team of Bruce and Hal get along (although I always liked it better when they traded punches) and work smoothly together. You get the feeling, however, that neither was stretched too much as a hero by the villains. They almost had an “ho, hum” type of attitude. That’s the exact attitude I had with this book as well.

This book was a big seller in my shop last week. Because it’s a number one of a highly publicized series, featuring two of the big guns in the DC arsenal right now, written and drawn by a classic team, this book was a “can’t miss.” I’m certainly not saying I am upset this team was set up giving me two of my favorite characters either. That’s just it, though. When you do, don’t mail it in.

Sales were good, but the one thing needed for me to continue on with Brave and the Bold didn’t happen. This book may continue to do well in shops, and may actually get good in the long run.

I just won’t be reading it then.

Kevin Powers:

Who doesn’t love team-ups? Team-ups are a quick and easy way to tell compelling stories featuring great characters without interrupting their respective titles. (If they so have one.) Sure, there have been hundreds of team-ups over the years: Marvel characters, DC characters, Marvel and DC characters; even characters outside of the “Big Two” have found their way into each other’s universes. But there have been few team-up titles that have introduced characters and teams as influential as The Brave and the Bold has. After all, the Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Silver Age incarnation of Hawkman and the Silver Age Suicide Squad all first appeared in the pages of The Brave and the Bold. Mark Waid, who coincidentally pens this first issue, used the moniker for a miniseries featuring Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. It is safe to say that The Brave and the Bold is a staple of DC Comics that has been long overdue for a return.

The first issue of the revival features probably the two most deserving characters to bring this title back. The original run of The Brave and the Bold often featured Batman; his version of the Outsiders also debuted there. Green Lantern was also a prominently featured character, and given Mark Waid’s aforementioned miniseries, it only makes sense that Hal Jordan highlight this issue with Batman. However, the history of The Brave and the Bold isn’t the only reason why this title has the potential to be a sure thing. Aside from being a big Hal Jordan fan and a Bat-fan, I love the decision to start this book off with these two characters.

Following Hal’s possession by the “fear demon” Parallax, there was one character that did not want to help rehabilitate Hal. Even when Hal was Earth’s only hope on two occasions, Batman did not trust him, and following Rebirth, Batman still did not want Hal Jordan to wield the ring once again. But even before the events of the past decade or so, the two characters never really got along. John Stewart laid it out for Bats during Rebirth: Batman thrives on fear and Hal’s never been afraid of Batman. Given the tension over the years between Batman and Hal Jordan and the events that took place in Green Lantern #9, the choice for the first new The Brave and the Bold is near perfect.

If you put Batman and Green Lantern together, you’re bound to get some good substance and whenever they get together, readers are guaranteed to get some good action, mystery, sci-fi and a good story. Mark Waid delivers all these things and takes it all one step further.

Following Green Lantern #9, a new bond was formed between Batman and Hal, a newfound respect. After all, Hal let Batman put on his ring and put his past behind him. While I almost expected the tension and the conflict between these two to be a central point of this issue, I am happy that it wasn’t. Batman and Hal were at odds for so long that Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer seemingly put that tension to rest in GL #9 and Justice League of America #1, respectively. (In Justice League of America #1, Batman couldn’t answer Superman when asked if he still didn’t trust Hal leading to the unanimous decision to make Hal a member.) Mark Waid knows this history and has put the apprehension between these characters in the past or at least for now, showing their newfound respect. Before I continue to ramble on about the history and newfound respect between these two characters that really make this title appealing, I need to actually get into the real review.

Mark Waid has crafted a team-up that is not riddled with Infinite Crisis rhetoric or Infinite Crisis plot points; he has created a an issue and a story that even the occasional comic reader can get into. Even further than that, Waid gives a story that is accessible to fans of all ages. It is not overly cheesy nor is it campy. It’s a great first issue that provides a serious story, engaging plot and most importantly, it is a fun and entertaining read. This story is a perfect mold of kid-friendly, die-hard fan approved status, and if the momentum is kept, this title will be a big hit for years to come.

The best thing about this issue doesn’t necessarily come in the writing or the history of the characters. Rather, the best element of this issue is the way Mark Waid captures the characters and the personalities that define Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne. The two are brought together when Hal finds a body floating in space with a gunshot wound through the chest. Hal’s no detective, so any card carrying member of the Justice League would turn to the world’s greatest detective, the Dark Knight. The plot thickens and crosses the line from mystery to “DC Comics-weird in a good way” when Batman has the same dead body lying in the bat cave.

The dialogue and the banter between Hal and Batman are truly first-class for a title trying to reach a broad audience. But this dialogue does not stray from the personalities that have defined these classic characters. This issue is Mark Waid at his finest, and it proves his love and respect for these characters. But there are two pages in this issue that are undoubtedly the best in this book. In the span of two pages, Mark Waid first shows us the classic portrayal of playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne and then follows with the classic cocky, arrogant and fearless pilot Hal Jordan.

This scene warrants a brief discussion with the only spoiler coming in the form that Bruce and Hal are in Las Vegas. Bruce, dressed to impress, puts on his façade as he enters the casino, sweet talking the ladies and sporting and unlimited credit line. Hal, dressed in casual attire with the trademark bomber jacket, needs assistance from Bruce to enter the exclusive casino. Bruce thinks that Hal is way out of his league, but when they sit down at a blackjack table, the stack of chips and the ladies that were momentarily in Bruce’s possession have jumped to Hal’s side of the table.

In a single page and a game of blackjack, Mark Waid perfectly and impressively conveys the personality of Hal Jordan. If you’ve ever played blackjack, you know your cards have to add up to 21 or beat the dealer’s while staying 21 or under. Hal Jordan is dealt a eighteen and he hits and wins. The page continues with Bruce summing up what has happened: “That’s the most reckless card playing I’ve ever seen.” Waid shows one of the major differences between Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne: while Bruce operates methodically and rarely ever without a strategy, Hal Jordan is impulsive and flies by the seat of his pants. I applaud Mark Waid for giving readers and fans of these two characters this classic and fantastic moment.

I don’t even need to comment on the art, it is George Perez. THE George Perez.

This first issue has a little bit of everything, including a plot easy to follow for all ages, great characterization, fantastic artwork and a promising set-up to what should be the next big hit in comic books.

Caryn A. Tate:

Despite a few minor flaws, this is one of the most fun and refreshingly classic superhero comics that I’ve read in a long time—especially involving Batman.

The first issue involves Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) finding a human body floating in space, dead from a gunshot wound. Bewildered, he petitions the World’s Greatest Detective (who else?) for help. To Hal’s shock, Batman reveals that the exact same body, with the same wound, has been found all over the world—in locations near other superheroes like Atlantis, the Daily Planet, etc., revealing a pattern somehow involving heroes. Their investigation leads them to Las Vegas, where they find some leads. Upon finding a few of the main people involved, they discover that the entire situation is much bigger than they imagined.

There is a classic, lighthearted feel to this book that has become uncommon in the comic book medium. There is no pretension here, no forced angst, no dark, depressed characters. It’s just a well told, action packed superhero tale full of character moments that help you to feel more invested in the storyline and the individuals involved.

Speaking of character moments, there’s a very small part of this issue that I just adored. When Hal first calls the Batcave, he asks if he can speak with him. Batman responds simply, “Go ahead.” A year ago in the DC Universe, Batman probably would have said something like, “What do you want? I’m busy.” It’s refreshing to see the Dark Knight being portrayed as himself again. That level of characterization, not just for Batman but for all involved, continued throughout the book.

Frankly, this depiction of Hal Jordan was probably as interesting as I’ve seen. I liked him here—he had a personality. More often than not, when I’ve read a comic with Hal in it, he seems to be lacking that small human characteristic.

The entire plot is fast paced yet detailed, and combined with the stellar pencils of Mr. Perez, this is a comic worthy of the classic title. Both of the main creators’ styles are perfectly suited to this type of book.

Mr. Perez has an amazing knack for detail and for action. There were a few panels in this comic, though, where he seemed to falter a bit; there was a lack of clarity in these few sections that surprised me, since I’ve never seen this failing in his pencils before. I had to go back and re-read these segments once or twice. While this isn’t a huge problem, nor unheard of for any artist, it did distract me from the story somewhat.

If you have any interest in superheroes, and especially if you have a love for classic styled stories and storytelling, pick up this issue. You won’t be disappointed.

Thom Young:

If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed that this first issue of the All-New The Brave and the Bold was written and illustrated in the mid 1970s. It’s penciled by George Pérez and inked by Bob Wiacek—two artists who broke into comics in the 1970s. Additionally, the story by Mark Waid is typical of the type of stories that Bob Haney would write when he wrote almost every story in the old Brave and the Bold series from issues #4 to #158.

The nostalgic part of me that enjoys reliving my childhood loved this story—which means, of course, that this story is filled with melodramatic situations that don’t quite make sense (but, after all, “it’s only a funny book”). However, the book fails to entirely re-capture the feel of a comic from 30 years ago because the paper stock (including the slick covers) is of too high a quality. It feels more like a contemporary reprint of a 30-year-old comic.

It’s going to be difficult for me to decide whether or not to continue buying this series. I’m not sure that buying “stories with melodramatic situations that don’t quite make sense” fits into my budget. However, I’m also not immune to the pleasures of reliving my childhood.

The story involves Batman and Green Lantern following the clues to a strange murder mystery to a Las Vegas casino where they find an old JSA villain attempting to destroy a book. I must add that the end of the issue grabbed my attention when it was revealed exactly what that book is and why it’s indestructible.

Based on that revelation, it would appear that a character created by Marv Wolfman and Berni Wrightson in 1972 for Weird Mystery Tales #1 will be making an appearance soon—and that news might also be intriguing to fans of Neal Gaiman’s Sandman. I know I’m intrigued enough to buy the next issue—which will team Green Lantern with Superman (who met the owner of that indestructible book in Superman #352 in 1980).

This was a fun comic reminiscent of the stories from the Bronze Age DC Universe. What more can I say?

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