Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #3

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #3
Writers: Dennis Culver, Ed Brisson, Christopher Cantwell, Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing
Artists: Otto Schmidt, Jeff Spokes, Javier Rodríguez, Jorge Molina
Color Artists: Pierluigi Casolino, Jeff Spokes, Javier Rodríguez
Letterers: Pat Brosseau, Saida Temofonte, Simon Bowland, Rob Leigh
Review by Davydh Tidey

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #3 brings another crop of Bat-goodness to our shelves! Continuing the stories of Stormwatch and Superman, giving us another monochrome Elseworlds Bat-tale, AND introducing a new villain to Batman’s rogues’ gallery?! 

We’re spoiled, we really are. 

Batter Up

Heh. Heart of a champion.”
– Mr. Baseball

This issue may have waved goodbye to Tom King and Mitch Gerads, but one hell of a team has come on board to replace them in the headline spot. Dennis Culver, Otto Schmidt, and Pierluigi Casolino take the reins and lead the charge in this issue, with their own unique new villain, Mr. Baseball. 

Delivering as interesting an origin story as you can get, “Mr. Baseball” tells the tale of a bank robbery gone wrong, amateur surgery, and running into the Bat for the first time. There’s nothing more to give, it’s perfect. 

I make no secret at all of my love for Dennis Culver’s work, and once again he’s managed to impress me. Taking a villain that sounds like he was a random pull from Cards Against Humanity, making him genuinely intimidating, and giving him a higher purpose, all without leaning into the very typical tropes of a Batman villain? That’s juggling a lot of balls at once (sorry). Luckily, Culver is an experienced juggler. 

Otto Schmidt, hot off of DC Vs. Vampires and joined by color artist Pierluigi Casolino delivers an impressive performance of violence and menace, and I’m here for it. Mr. Baseball looks terrifying, Batman’s as threatening as he needs to be and he moves like an absolute demon. The artwork delivers everything you would want from this type of story. 

Benched

“Do not kill. Do not kill”. So boring.”
– Shado

The intrigue continues to build in the third part of the Stormwatch section, with the team off on another mission to retrieve yet another powerful weapon… hmm… what could Director Bones possibly be up to? 

With Peacemaker-01 benched (see previous issue), the team’s down one powerhouse and short-staffed for their mission. Of course, that won’t stop them from finding their target! 

I’m really hoping that these stories are setting up an actual ongoing Stormwatch book from Ed Brisson and Jeff Spokes because I’m loving these sections and the team of characters. There’s a unique feel to all this that I haven’t felt in a team book for a while. It almost feels like the original Runaways series, due to the character interactions and relationships. Ravager’s always an interesting character to have in any book, and she’s being used really effectively here. 

As always, Jeff Spokes’ clean artwork is a pleasure to look at, and his character designs are on point. Shado hasn’t looked so good since Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Green Arrow! 

In The Ring

Lucerna lucet tenebris!”
– Hop Harrigan

Superman’s foray into journalism comes to an end! Having discovered the purpose of the decoder ring in the previous issue, The Man of Steel struggles against the mysterious force keeping his distant memory hostage… and he may end up losing more than he thought.

This is an unusual story in that its resolution is… not resolved. I don’t want to say too much, but the ending of the tale is an unusual way to finish, for sure. It’s a really cool, unique idea, so huge props to the creative team for this.

Once again, this retro tale made me smile multiple times. Christopher Cantwell’s whimsical story comes to a very satisfying (if not totally resolved) conclusion, and it’s been a hell of a flight. Still employing the framing device of Superman’s notes from the field as narration, it’s cool to see the hero’s internal monologue as a retelling, especially with how the story ends. Seriously, guys, the ending is genius. 

Javier Rodríguez always delivers incredible art, but this story’s definitely a standout for me. Fairly restrained in comparison to some of his wilder art (I keep mentioning Al Ewing’s Defenders, but honestly how could I not?), the work channels the Silver Age while still keeping things current and vibrant. It reminds me in places of the late Darwyn Cooke’s work, and that can never be a bad thing. 

I do hope the team returns to this story someday and gives a full resolution to the tale, but even if they don’t I’m more than happy. 

Home Run

DRINK AND GROW CLOSER TO MY GLORY!”
– Man-Bat

Oh boy, it’s Castlevania… but also Batman, but of course! 

The mysterious Kirk Langstrom rules a Gotham City that’s under permanent cover of night, with a cadre of like-minded individuals determined to oppress the common people. However, one man stands alone against the flood, one individual holds the line with his Bat-chain, taking the fight straight to Langstrom and his horde. One Bat-man. 

This story was a lot of fun. Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing haven’t had a miss in recent memory, I’ve liked pretty much everything I’ve read by them, so seeing their names on a cover always draws me in. They have experience with Batman as well, writing Batman Beyond: Neo-Year as well as the current series, Batman Beyond Neo-Gothic, so having a story from them for Batman: The Brave & The Bold was a no-brainer. 

Jorge Molina turns in some very interesting artwork for this, fitting the aesthetic perfectly and giving readers the dark, gothic vibes the story needs. I loved the manga-esque style employed here, as it really made the story feel special. 

Conclusion

Yet another strong entry into the Bat-verse, Batman: The Brave & The Bold #3 brings some interesting new perspectives on long-established characters. So far, this series has been a cut above the usual ongoing anthology titles, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon. 

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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