Archive for Brave and the Bold

Friday Night Fights: A Giant Shard of Artificial Kryptonite!

It’s time for the twelfth and final match of the latest round of Friday Night Fights.

Let’s set our stage. It’s The Brave and the Bold #6, from October 2007, by Mark Waid and George Perez. Someone has stolen the Book of Destiny — the magical book owned by Destiny himself. The book shows the complete history of the universe — everything that has or is going to happen. By reading it, you can know your how your enemies are going to move against you and counter them perfectly. It’s fallen into the hands of a guy named Mondath, who plans to use it to become the champion of the planet Rann, and it’s going to get handed over to the evil Luck Lords, who want to use it to conquer the universe. Green Lantern, Supergirl, Adam Strange, and Batman are trying to fight off Rann’s forces, and Batman figures out that the Challengers of the Unknown, because they’ve cheated death, are completely invisible to the Book of Destiny, so Adam Strange uses the Zeta Beam to teleport them from Earth to Rann. Their actions are the only possible counter to the Book of Destiny, and they show immediate success in foiling the plans of Mondath and the Luck Lords.

Or so Supergirl thinks, until she gets a rebuttal from a Giant Shard of Artificial Kryptonite.

Thanks to our pal SpaceBooger for another fun 12 rounds of weekend fightin’, and I’m looking forward to the next 12, too.

Y’all have a merry weekend, and I’ll see y’all back here on Monday.

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Fun, Fun, Fun

Everyone pay attention — these were the two comics that gave me the most joy last week.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #14

After a short intro where Batman and Plastic Man defeat the Scarecrow with the power of terror and good acting, we get to our main story — the Huntress calls Batman to help her corral a lunatic crook named Mr. Camera. His gimmick: he has a camera on his head. Batman thinks Huntress wants him around because it’s Valentine’s Day and she’s got the hots for him. She eventually heads home while he tracks Mr. Camera to his hideout — and discovers that Huntress is in more danger than he suspected!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice story, but I must admit, it was the little details in here that really made it fun for me, particularly the revelation that Bruce Wayne participated in theater in high school and college, and the amusingly long list of all the things his “theme villains” have been obsessed with. I really wish we could see a story featuring the wheatcakey villainy of the Griddler…

Power Girl #9

After chasing down the person she thinks is trying to blackmail her (not only is it apparently not him, but she also ends up dropping her bathtowel in front of one of her neighbors), Power Girl heads to work and the bank. Unfortunately, Satanna, the Ultra-Humanite’s ex-girlfriend, is attacking PeeGee’s bank with her highly-destructive genetically-engineered animal army. The animals aren’t too much trouble, but Satanna shows up with a couple of specialized weapons — an oversized sonic hammer that’s actually able to knock the stuffing out of Karen, and a nasty chunk of nanotech that can do a heck of a lot worse…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Things get pretty serious towards the end, but still, this is the best mainstream-superhero humor comic that DC is producing. And again, the fun is in the little details, whether that includes the usual shenanigans of Power Girl’s horrible, horrible cat, Dr. Mid-Nite’s pet owl watching a TV show about mice, PeeGee throwing a subway pervert off the train, or all the outstanding facial expressions and body language. As always, the writing by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti is great, and Amanda Conner’s artwork is amazingly fun and appealing and charismatic.

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Bat Out of Hell

Batman and Robin #7

Batman — as in Dick Grayson — has taken Batman’s corpse — as in Bruce Wayne — to Jolly Olde England. While there, he teams up with the Knight and the Squire, England’s versions of, well, Batman and Robin, to foil some terrorist attacks. While there, he visits an imprisoned criminal called the Pearly King of Crime. After getting a surreptitious clue to the location of a mysterious coal mine from the King, Batman and the Squire fight their way into the mine, where they join up with the Knight and a surprise guest star — Batwoman, who ain’t real happy to hear why Dick brought Bruce’s body into the mine — he’s found a secret Lazarus Pit, and he’s going to use it to bring his mentor back to life…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Always fun to see Grant Morrison write about Ol’ Blighty. The Pearly King is just a grand character, the surprise appearance of Batwoman is well done, and everyone gets a chance to shine. Next issue, though, when whoever-it-is gets out of that Lazarus Pit, might be a bit rough…

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13

Things start off really cool, as Batman makes a short team-up with, of all people, Angel and the Ape. Unfortunately, Bats gets a broken leg when a tree falls on him, leaving Gotham City without its regular protector. But Batman has lots of friends, and Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Aquaman, and Captain Marvel decide to lend a hand. But rather than doing it in their regular costumes, they all dress up as Batman. And from that point on, it’s just pure unbelievable awesomeness.

Verdict: Thumbs way up. The high concept alone is worth the price of admission. You get a ton of superhero guest stars and a ton of Bat-villains running around to get beat up. One of the coolest thing about this issue is how all the heroes still retain enough elements of their regular costumes to keep them recognizable, even while they’re dressed up in a Batsuit. And there are also all the other guest stars who show up on the last two pages, too. If you haven’t gotten this yet, go pick it up. It’s tons of fun.

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Christmas on Infinite Earths!


DC Universe Holiday Special ’09

Most years, these holiday specials are about as welcome as a stocking full of coal — atrocious writing, bad art, hackneyed holiday cliches. But this year’s edition is actually pretty darn good. This one has 16 different stories — Batman tracking a dishonest Santa; Superman fighting a snow-golem; the Flash doing a ton of holiday chores in a small amount of time; Beast Boy finding a new family with the Doom Patrol; the Martian Manhunter solving a Christmas crime; two different tales of holiday cheer during wartime, starring Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace; Deadman bringing comfort to a couple of lost souls; the Red Tornado trying to convince greedy shoppers to embrace the holiday spirit; Adam Strange trying to beat a deadline so he can make it back to the planet Rann for New Year’s; and many, many more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one is just amazingly good, with excellent art and writing. There are some clunkers here and there, but they’re not actually bad — just not real successes. And the good definitely outweighs the merely mediocre in this one. If I had to pick my favorites — the Doom Patrol story, Martian Manhunter, Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, Red Tornado (he never puts on the stupid costume once!), and the Adam Strange story. The whole thing is a nice dose of holiday cheer.


Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12

This is the comic based on the goofy Cartoon Network series. In their first Christmas issue, Batman starts out knocking the stuffing out of the Calendar Man who plans to destroy all the Christmas cards in Gotham City! ALL THE CHRISTMAS CARDS! (insert evil laughter here) And right when Batman is about to deliver the knockout punch, he gets transported off-planet by a Zeta Ray. Huzzah! Calendar Man is triumphant! And a second or two later, Earth is destroyed by a wave of antimatter. Is there no hope for a Merry Christmas?

Well, Batman arrives safely on the planet Rann, where Adam Strange reveals that the Psions have generated the antimatter wave which has already destroyed almost everything in the universe but Rann, which is resistant to antimatter because of its natural Zeta radiation. (No, that makes no sense, but it’s a comic book, so shush.) While Batman and Adam fight off antimatter shadow-demons, Adam’s wife Alana shows up to help. When they all make it to the Psion base, they learn that all the destroyed planets have been converted into pure information. Alana can use the Psion technology to reverse the deletion effects, but Batman and Adam will have to help out from inside the antimatter generator. Their recent exposure to Zeta radiation should protect them from instant destruction, but it won’t stop them from undergoing some unusual transformations…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, it’s very silly stuff, but I still thought it was fun, funny, and pretty nicely Christmasy. I thought the transformations at the end were cute, and I enjoyed Batman’s appropriately gobsmacked musings about the Earth being destroyed. All in all, a cute dose of Christmas cheer.

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Geek Squad


The Brave and the Bold #29

J. Michael Straczynski’s previous two issues of this have not been very good — lots of blatantly weird stuff that went against all other interpretations of the characters. But this issue is a lot better. Batman runs across Brother Power the Geek, an old ’60s era sorta-superhero who was a living clothing mannequin who hung out with hippies. Brother Power has made very few appearances in comics because his name and concept are so bizarre. Anyway, Bats doesn’t really know what to make of Brother Power — he certainly hasn’t broken any laws, and he seems content to lie around, talk in ’60s catchphrases, and not be a bother. But the mannequin is conflicted about the 21st century — it’s all a great deal unfamiliar to a nonhuman with greater experience dealing with the 1960s counterculture. Can his idealism be rekindled when an arsonist begins targeting old buildings?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent storytelling, characterization, and artwork. Not sure Brother Power could actually carry his own book, but Straczynski seems to have turned him into a credible character again. Hope we get to see him in some other comics someday.


Love and Capes #11

I read an issue of this ages ago at Free Comic Book Day, and finally saw another issue recently and decided to pick it up. Like it says on the cover, it’s basically a romantic sitcom about superheroes. Our main characters are Mark — better known as the Crusader, Earth’s most powerful superhero, and Abby, Mark’s nonpowered fiancee. There’s also Charlotte, Abby’s sister, Darkblade, the world’s greatest detective, and Amazonia, a glamorous superhero and Mark’s ex-girlfriend. Anyway, in this issue, Abby is desperate to find the perfect wedding dress, but when she finally finds one she likes, she learns that it was designed by Amazonia, who she really doesn’t get along with very well. Mark and Charlotte find out and arrange for her to get a trip to Amazonia’s home dimension so they’ll design her a wedding dress for free. Can Abby handle otherworldly bridal fittings, interdimensional cocktail parties, and hanging out with her fiancee’s jealous ex?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Cute, humorous stuff. Abby’s culture shock is funny, and I love the way she manages to terrify her boyfriend, the strongest guy on the planet, with a good withering glance.

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First Rule of Pet Club: Do Not Talk about Pet Club!


Tiny Titans #21

It’s an all Pet Club issue! Everyone is bringing their pets to the Tiny Titans Pet Club — but what about students who don’t have pets? Well, Cyborg has some cute robots, and Starfire and her sister Blackfire send a letter to their home planet asking for their pets. Let’s meet their pets, shall we?


Heh. Poopu.

Other pets include the Atom Family’s dog Spot, Terra’s pet rock, Blue Beetle’s bug collection, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, and the Bat-Cow! But with all these pets, the tree house is now too small for everyone? Can the Titans find a new Pet Club meeting place that they won’t wreck?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun artwork and story — and very funny material, too, with Poopu and the return of the Bat-Cow being the real standouts. This is excellent reading for kids, or for grownups who enjoy good, funny comics.


Sugarshock #1

I absolutely love this story, but the problem is it’s already available online for free. And it’s also in the first volume of the MySpace Dark Horse Presents trade paperback collection. This comic has the exact same story, with a nice cover by Fabio Moon and a few sketch pages in the back.

Verdict: I can’t bring myself to give this a thumbs down, because this story is absolutely one of my favorites — Fabio Moon’s artwork is awesome, Joss Whedon’s story and script are hilarious. If you haven’t read the story, you really, really should, and you can definitely read it in this comic book. But dangit, I was hoping for a new Sugarshock story, and I’m a bit grinched that Dark Horse didn’t get one cooked up here.

Power Girl #6

Power Girl is trying to corral a bunch of superpowered aliens — three fashionmongering partygirls and Carl, a guy who’s trying to bring them back to their home planet. Kara sticks the guy in the ferris wheel on Coney Island to keep him occupied, but loses the girls after they get picked up by a chubby guy in a limousine. And while she’s looking for the girls, Carl manages to escape, too. Without any other leads, she picks up her horrible, horrible cat from her office and takes him to her new apartment, meeting up with Terra and discovering that some stalker has been taking pictures of her and has discovered her secret identity! Not much time to worry about that — Carl tracks Kara down and reveals that the girls’ tracker chips have stopped in Atlantic City — and their chubby limousine pal is in big trouble with the mob. Can Power Girl rescue everyone in time and with a minimum of bloodshed?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A pretty lighthearted issue, so the deaths here and there seem a bit out of place, but it’s fun, nicely humorous, and packed full of excellent characterization. Kudos to Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. And as always, Amanda Conner’s artwork is an absolute dream. Is there anyone else out there who can do such outstanding facial expressions and body language? Just check out the scenes on the subway and in the emergency room — there is so much to see and enjoy in both of those settings.


The Brave and the Bold #28

Barry Allen agrees to help test some scientific equipment and ends up getting shot back in time to the Battle of the Bulge — and he’s got a broken leg, too, so he’s not going to be able to get up enough speed to get back home. Luckily, the Blackhawk air squadron is on hand to help — unfortunately, they’re down here without their planes, so their ability to help is a bit limited, too. The Blackhawks want Flash to help them fight, but he’s unwilling to take lives. Can Flash find a way to help win the war?

Verdict: Ehh, not that bad, but not that great either. The story wasn’t that bad, but why give us the Blackhawks without their planes? Sgt. Rock and Easy Company would’ve been much better fits here than the ‘Hawks. I’m also not buying the Blackhawks’ insistence that Barry has to kill the Germans, nor the ease with which he gives up his principles.

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The Incredible Hercules #134

Hercules is disguised as Thor in a bid to stop the Dark Elves before they attack the mortal realm. He’s babysitting his amnesiac father, Zeus, inconveniently de-aged to childhood, but still possessing many of his godly powers. After briefly battling a bunch of marauding trolls, they then run from them, then ally with them, then turn on them again.

And when they get to the castle of Queen Alfyse of the Dark Elves, instead of battling, Hercules, as usual, lets himself be fooled by a beautiful woman. He mostly fails the Drow’s tests… but Alfyse is willing to let herself be fooled, too. So a lengthy night of revelry begins, and Herc learns about obscure elvish customs that decree that if he sleeps with the queen, they’re married — and the Dark Elves celebrate the wedding by preparing to invade the mortal realms. Luckily, Asgard’s Warriors Three have a plan to stave off disaster…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Even if I hadn’t loved every page of this comic, from Zeus’ exasperation with his demigod son to Herc’s semi-clueless references to Midgard pop culture, this would’ve been worth six or eight thumbs-ups just for the plot twist on the last page, which actually had me laughing out loud because it was so wonderful.


The Brave and the Bold #27

Robby Reed, owner of the legendary H-Dial that lets him transform into different superheroes, is visiting Gotham City with his grandfather, just as the Joker decides that he’s finally waited long enough, he’s not getting any younger, and it’s time to kill off the Batman once and for all. What follows is an intense city-wide crime spree designed to wear the Dark Knight out. When Robby spins the dial to try to help out, he comes up with a precog super-psychic called Mental Man — and when he looks into the future, what he sees scares him so badly that he gives up, turns back into Robby, and runs off to huddle under his bedcovers.

The next day, a desperate hard-luck case named Travers Milton breaks into the Reeds’ motel room to steal a few valuables and snags the H-Dial. When he spins it, he turns into a flying brick called the Star. He quickly gets busy saving lives and meets up with Batman — Milton’s background in the underworld means he knows a lot of the details about the ongoing crime wave, which he eagerly shares with Bats. The Star runs off to fight crime and save more lives, and in the end, he saves Batman from a bomb the Joker had left for him, but at the cost of his own life. Batman later returns the H-Dial to Robby, who reveals that his psychic powers revealed that the next person to use the dial would die, so he chickened out and left it for someone else to use instead. Bats says he’s okay with this, because it gave a no-hope loser like Milton the opportunity to be a real hero.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I actually liked most of this comic, but that bizarre ending, where Batman shrugs off Robby’s spectacularly craven cowardice, is a complete deal-killer. It’s actually monumentally out-of-character for both Batman and Robby, and I can’t thumbs-up a story that screws up those characterizations so easily.

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Spooks, Spectres, Science, and Snakes


The Brave and the Bold #26

Another team-up between an established DC character and one of the characters from Milestone Media — this time, it’s the Spectre joining up with Xombi, a man named David Kim who’s been injected with nanites that make him immortal, but with the danger that anyone touching him when he gets injured may get scavenged by the nanites for biological material to rebuild David. The original Milestone “Xombi” series was marked by an almost Grant-Morrisonesque level of weirdness, including a couple of Catholic superheroes called Catholic Girl and Nun of the Above, villains called the Sheer Shears that had scissors in place of their heads and couldn’t be harmed by anything that was derived from written knowledge, and evil homunculi formed from the carcasses of insects that had died trapped between windows.

We actually start out with that level of weirdness — the Spectre tracks down a sadistic serial killer named Ray Walker and kills him, but Walker becomes a ghost who specializes in killing other ghosts. Heaven won’t allow the Spectre to take care of Walker’s ghost, because he’s only allowed to punish the guilty if they’re still alive. David Kim is alerted to the problem by a psychic investigator and takes part in a seance where the medium’s ectoplasmic spirit guide is eaten by Walker, killing her and several other attendees of the ritual. David and the investigator escape and summon the Spectre to ask for his help — when he refuses, David appeals to the Spectre’s human host, Crispus Allen, hoping that as a former cop, Allen won’t be willing to let a perp get away. But if the Spectre still refuses, can the Xombi take down the murderous ghost by himself?

Verdict: Thumbs down. It starts with a great hook, with the serial killing ghost who preys on other ghosts, but it never develops into anything more interesting. David Kim is portrayed well, but the Spectre is, as usual, wasted. And the art is just plain spectacularly awful.


JSA vs. Kobra #3

Kobra has been three steps in front of the Justice Society the entire time — every time the heroes go to stop one crisis, they end up failing to prevent a bigger tragedy, or being misdirected away from the Kobra cult’s true target. After their latest failure to prevent a massacre, they return home to find that Kobra has hacked into their computers. The team finds evidence that suggests that the cultists are going to attack Opal City, former home of several different the Golden Age Starman, Ted Knight, and his son, Jack, a more modern version. While the rest of the Justice Society is occupied with a pointless battle against Kobra’s expendable cultists, Mr. Terrific realizes that Kobra’s new leader is going to raid the Starman Museum — and he still gets outmaneuvered, as Kobra ends up with Ted Knight’s scientific notes and his advanced technological inventions.

Verdict: I think I’ll give this one a thumbs down, too. For the most part, this series has been focusing solely on Mr. Terrific and Power Girl — the rest of the Justice Society are there as backup players. Heck, most of them don’t even have lines. They may as well be scenery. The Justice Society has some of the DC Universe’s most interesting characters — I don’t know why no one seems to want to use more of them.

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Armor Wars


The Brave and the Bold #25

DC’s strategy for re-introducing Milestone’s old characters back into continuity seems to involve giving them guest-star appearances in “The Brave and the Bold” — so be it, as y’all are well aware by now, I’m a sucker for the characters from the ’90s classic Milestone Media. In this issue, we’ve got Milestone’s Hardware — basically, he’s Iron Man with a rotten attitude — teaming up very reluctantly with Jaime “Blue Beetle” Reyes to take down an advanced high-tech SYSTEMatic — a powered armor drone working for an international criminal conspiriacy called SYSTEM. Unfortunately, Hardware really prefers to work alone, so even though he’s getting clobbered by the SYSTEMatic, he’s refusing all assistance from Blue Beetle. After Hardware gets his power drained by the SYSTEMatic, Beetle is able to give him a jump-start with his own armor. But will the villain still be too tough for both of them working together? And who’s behind the new redesign of the SYSTEMatics?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good characterization for both characters. I’ve got quibbles about the SYSTEMatic’s power levels and the guy pulling the strings back at SYSTEM, but as long as this issue includes both a Milestone character AND the Blue Beetle, there’s not much doubt that I’d love it.


JSA vs. Kobra #2

The international religious/terrorist organization is back and stronger than ever, as the JSA learns when it becomes clear that the bad guys have successfully infiltrated both Checkmate and S.T.A.R. Labs. And again, Kobra uses misdirection perfectly — while the Justice Society fights off a horde of cultists, a single Kobra operative manages to sneak into a big corporate office and get information about a project that could help Kobra destroy the world.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit odd that we see so few members of the JSA — it’s primarily just Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, and Green Lantern — but I do like the idea of a Kobra organization that’s both perfectly competent and screamingly scary.


Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1

Meet Sir Edward Grey, dashing nobleman, detective, and occult investigator. Called in to investigate a series of mysterious murders, he interrogates a man who participated in an expedition with all the victims. The found the shattered skeleton of some sort of animal-human hybrid, and ever since then, they’ve been getting killed off in surprising ways. When a monster attacks and kills the final victim, Grey attempts in vain to apprehend a creature that can be solid one moment and mist the next. Can Grey follow the clues to track his adversary, or is it already too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mike Mignola doesn’t often leave the pulp horror genre, so this foray into Victorian detective mystery/ghost story is notable and interesting for that alone. Sir Edward makes an excellent stoic hero, and the murders and setting here are excellently eerie.

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2 Brave 2 Bold


The Brave and the Bold #23

We start out this issue of DC’s semi-venerable team-up comic with Booster Gold fishing Rip Hunter out of a future timestream where he’s battling someone who appears to be the new Magog from the “Justice Society of America” comic. This soon leads to a confrontation between the two after Magog involves himself in a hostage crisis in Kahndaq. Magog is pretty good at tearing terrorists’ arms off, but he’s not so good on little details, like where bombs are located, or where child hostages are. Booster is a good deal better with those sorts of details, but he’s not the sort of guy who can intimidate a hardcore badass like Magog.

Verdict: Ehh, I want to like it, but thumbs down. The main problem is that there’s no connection between Booster and Magog — it comes across as an entirely random meeting. That’s worked just fine in previous B&B comics, but here, there’s just no common ground. Magog meeting Guy Gardner would’ve worked — they’re both tough guys, but there are still enough differences between them to allow for plenty of friction. By the same token, I could see a good story coming about from a meeting between Booster and the JSA’s current Starman — both come from the future, and it would be fun to see Booster try to deal with Starman’s various mental illnesses.


The Brave and the Bold #24

This issue does it right — Black Lightning and Static. You get two African-American heroes, both electricity-slingers. One is the older, more established character, while the other is from the newly re-introduced Milestone Comics universe. The conflict here is that Jefferson Pierce used to be a Cabinet member in former President Lex Luthor’s administration, and so Static suspects him of being crooked. So does another Milestone character — the pyrokinetic gangster Holocaust, who’s willing to roast both heroes alive just so he’ll look tough.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good characterization, good action, excellent art by Howard Porter. All in all, a fun comic. The next several “Brave and the Bold” comics will spotlight Milestone characters — I hope they give all of them the great treatment they give Static here.

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