DKN Spotlight Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #1

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #1
Writers: Tom King, Ed Brisson, Christopher Cantwell, Dan Mora
Artist: Mitch Gerads, Jeff Spokes, Javier Rodríguez, Dan Mora
Color Artists: Mitch Gerads, Jeff Spokes, Javier Rodríguez
Letterers: Clayton Cowles, Saida Temofonte, Simon Bowland, Tom Napolitano
Review by Davydh Tidey

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #1, DC’s brand new anthology series in the Urban Legends vein, has what is unarguably an all-star lineup, but does it live up to the hype?

Yes. Yes, it does. 

Crime of Passion

Do you think it’s midnight yet?
– Joker

A missing child. A husband murdering his spouse. A threat of a robbery. What do these things all have in common? They’re all the start of a much larger, much darker story… 

The first story in Batman: The Brave & The Bold #1 is one from the early years of The Batman. Tom King and Mitch Gerads deliver a terrifying look at the Joker’s early antics, Jim Gordon’s police career before becoming commissioner, and Batman’s brutal beginnings. The grand game between Batman, the GCPD and the Joker is only just beginning, but the rivalry’s already there, whether these people know it or not. 

Tom King’s story here is not a simple one. There are a lot of different moving parts that come together to a foreboding conclusion, and I can already tell this tale’s going to be something special. King has a talent for making single parts feel like a whole, giving the reader a short story in each issue, all serving the overall narrative beautifully. We’ve seen it in Human Target, Rorschach, and Strange Adventures. Now we’re seeing it for the character he’s (arguably) contributed the most to in recent years. 

Mitch Gerads. That’s it, that’s the tweet. 

Gerads is an amazing artist, we all know this, but adding his grainy, muted colors to this makes it an all-round incredible experience. There are so many visual clues that this is actually early days for Batman and Joker that are easy to miss on the first go around, but once you go back and take it in they’re all there for you to see. This is a beautifully illustrated story.

I can’t wait to see where this one goes… and who dies along the way. 

Stormy Weather

Okay, team, remember, Huskk lives. Everyone else dies.
– Flint

The Justice League is gone, and there will always be a shadow of doubt over whether the Titans are capable of taking on responsibility for protecting the world. The US government has to respond in kind, but how? Their tactics haven’t worked against superhumans so far, what makes them think they will now?

Enter Stormwatch. 

Director Bones, former head of the DEO, runs a new unit in cooperation with the DEO, and boy does he run them hard. The team; consisting of Ravager, Phantom-One, Peacekeeper-01, Shado, Flint, Winter, and Core, have their work cut out for them, as they go up against Flash villain, Black Hole.

Ed Brisson has been doing a great job with Ghostmaker’s Batman Incorporated, showing his capabilities with team books, and this Stormwatch story is a lovely follow-on to that. The team dynamic’s clearly defined from the go, and each member gets their time to shine and show what they’re about (apart from Peacekeeper-01, but I’m sure that’s coming). This is an overall great introduction to the new Stormwatch. I love that Black Hole are being brought back into stories as well, they were criminally under-utilized after Joshua Williamson’s Flash run, and I’m more than happy to see them again. 

I love Jeff Spokes’ art for this as well. The simple, clean linework and high-definition colors work really well for the story being told and each team member’s distinct from every other in various ways. No corners have been cut for this artwork, I’ll tell you that. 

Message in a Bottle

Not tonight, fellas.
– Superman

What on Earth is Superman doing in a Batman book?! Well, it is the Brave and the Bold after all! 

The Daily Planet’s readership is dropping, and Superman stories just aren’t as exciting as they used to be. How can Clark and Lois keep the readers interest? When a decoder ring from a long-forgotten TV show turns up for Clark, Superman’s on the case, and it’ll be the Kryptonian powerhouse’s name on the byline for this story.

What a tale! The vintage-style stories that Javier Rodríguez told with Al Ewing over at Marvel have clearly had an effect on the artist, and now Christopher Cantwell has stepped up to create more of the same for DC. 

Cantwell tells a wonderful story on these pages, monologuing on the effect of memory and time in the text boxes while telling a relatable, heartfelt story between the characters. Clark and Lois are dealing with a real-world job problem in this issue, and it’s up to Superman’s weird, insane life to solve it. The dichotomy between the two worlds, and their eventual merging to solve the issue, is a great premise by itself, and with Cantwell at the helm, the tale’s taken to the next level. 

Seeing Rodríguez’s art on the cover of any issue’s enough to make you want to buy it, frankly. You know you’re in for a great time with the story, regardless of the writer, if Javier Rodríguez is involved. His Tim Sale-esque art style works on the same level as that of Mike and Laura Allred; Modern Age stories with Silver Age sensibilities. It’s so great to see this type of art being embraced so much recently. LONG may it continue! 

Batkira

You have a lot of courage, son.
– Batman

Akira but Batman. You get it. 

In a world far from our usual Gotham, the Dark Knight fights the good fight against the Royal Flush Guardsmen, with the help of his trusty sidekick V2. When two suspiciously familiar-looking youngsters are in trouble, it’s up to Batman to step up and save the day. 

Dan Mora writing AND drawing? This I gotta see! 

Mora’s manga-esque take on Batman, complete with his own Power Rangers Morphin powers, is a thoroughly enjoyable time. Reminiscent of the Future State line of comics, this short story is beautifully illustrated and well-written. It’s clear Mora’s time with Mark Waid and Kieron Gillen has served him well, and I would in no way object to seeing a series like this (although it might be a lot for Mora considering how much he’s already doing!)

More Mora’s never a bad thing!

Conclusion

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #1 is a refreshing look at, not just Batman, but other characters around him or in his sphere. You have your classic tale from King and Gerards, your Bat-adjacent story with Ravager and the new Stormwatch from Brisson and Spokes, his best friend Superman’s story from Cantwell and Rodríguez, and an exciting alternate Batman from Mora. What more could you ask for? 

If the tales from these teams continue to be as good as this, The Brave & The Bold will be on a LOT of pull lists moving forward, that’s for sure! 

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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