The New Old Comics Return Another Time

*And now here’s today’s post, even though it’s probably more of a short continuation of yesterday’s post. There is a new post underneath this, by the way, in case you missed it.

The Brave and the Bold #1

This actually came out last week. It’s a new revival of the long-running DC team-up series, and this issue is a pretty nice start; to temporarily extend yesterday’s (which is to say, 10 hours ago’s) 52 comments to the DCU as a whole, this would be an example of the light, whimsical side peeking through, courtesy of 52 writer Mark Waid and much-admired veteran artist George Pérez.

It’s probably Pérez who captured the most of my attention here; his is a style that I think is capable of serving most of the emotional tones that superhero books have to offer, maintaining a firm balance between realist character art with a certain jauntiness of pace, mainly expressed through his gracefully energetic page designs. Be sure to pay special attention to page 2, since it’s a very nice object lesson in guiding the reader’s eye across the page what with Hal shining his ring on a sudden discovery, the illumination of the beam leading right to another panel of Hal, ‘illuminated’ by his observations, Hal’s hand moving across to the right, which leads to the adjoining panel of another ring’s beam being fired off further to the right, the image of the right-cutting beam repeating in wide panels drifting down the page, just as the beam drifts gradually down to Earth, down to Gotham, down to the Batcave, one two three panels. Very nice.

This does make it a bit more frustrating when, later in the issue, the art becomes unfortunately convoluted during a big fight in the Batcave, as Batman and Green Lantern face off against a giant glowing monster by using all of Batman’s miscellaneous home decorations against it - the t-rex, the Batmobile, etc. It took me a good three reads of the climactic page to figure out how the hell the fight resolved itself -- Hal flings the giant penny into the monster’s back -- which is a real shame, although I’m willing to chalk that up to some unwise coloring choices. I can imagine Pérez’s pencils (inks by Bob Wiacek) making the sequence a lot clearer, but colorist Tom Smith lathers the most crucial panel is luminescent, detail-distracting yellow, an extremely similar color to the bronze(ish) hue of the penny, additional glowy effects added even atop that - it’s distracting, and genuinely impedes the reading experience. I think Pérez’s pencils require a less showy presentation to tease out their details, although there aren’t any other major problems through the issue, truth be told.

As for Waid’s story, it’s perfectly fine superhero team-up stuff, with Green Lantern and Batman joining forces to solve the murder of an alien visitor and his many duplicates. Aside from dinosaur fights, this involves the two of them infiltrating a casino and making several quips about the delightfulness of adventures past (“Eight times out of ten, we enter a room like this, the Royal Flush Gang pops out.”), and the series (from this initial issue) seems interested in carrying that particular feeling forward into contemporary stories. It does it well here, and will very likely please anyone hungry for a certain type of energetic, continuity-light superhero book. It also doesn't support much further discussion in terms of story, so I'll merely restate that the book's virtues lay in entertainment craftsmanship, not a readily dismissible set of virtues, and leave it at that.

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