Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #4

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #4
Writers: Colin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Ed Brisson, Rob Williams, Meghan Fitzmartin
Artists: Kelley Jones, Pasquale Qualano, Stefano Landini, Belén Ortega
Color Artists: Michelle Madsen, Ivan Plascencia, Antonio Fabela
Letterers: Rob Leigh, Saida Temofonte, Simon Bowland, Pat Brosseau
Review by Davydh Tidey

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #4! New creative teams! Brand new stories! New characters to play around with in the sandbox that is this newest The Brave & The Bold iteration.

Shadows

You want my mind? You’ll have to do better than that.”
– Batman

Well, hello Kelley Jones, long time no see! Joined by Colin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing and Michelle Madsen, this story is a stunning slab of dark, brooding Batman content that we all so desperately deserve. In all its 90’s vibes goodness, The Dark Knight’s facing a primal darkness, a presence as old as time. How can he possibly manage this? Because he’s Batman.

“Enter the Abyss” acts as a lead-in to Batman Beyond: Neo-Gothic from the same author pair of Kelly and Lanzing, and covers the same primal terror that will be addressed in that book. A fantastic, unnerving, looming story, this is a great one-shot story. 

Kelly and Lanzing are responsible for some of my favourite comics of the last few years. Kang the Conqueror, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, Guardians of the Galaxy and, of course, Batman Beyond: Neo-Year. These books are all up there among the best Big Two comics we have right now, so any new stories from this team are more than welcome. I really liked the tone this story was trying to convey, and the writing behind it was fun and intelligent. 

Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen deliver an absolute visual masterpiece here, invoking the best nostalgic, long-eared Batman,. The artwork’s tonally perfect against Kelly and Lanzing’s writing. Taking into account that the story took place in Batman’s past, the nostalgic artwork works heavily in the story’s favour. 

Nightmares

I never miss.”
– Shado

Stormwatch enters  the Knight Terrors continuity in dramatic fashion, with all the team members experiencing their own worst nightmares (minus Ravager, as you can find Rose in her own book Knight Terrors: Ravager). Some of these nightmares prove… enlightening to the team members, while others are just plain rude. 

Ed Brisson continues to build the suspense with Director Bones’ true motives, and what the team are really doing with all their field missions. I don’t know what the future of Stormwatch after these stories will be, but I know that I’d love to see more from this unlikely team. Batman Incorporated ends it’s current run in September, and I’d love for Brisson’s next project to involve these characters, especially Shado. I’ve got a massive soft-spot for her. 

New artist Pasquale Qualano and veteran color artist Ivan Plascencia bring a slightly different vibe to the issue, which fits the nightmare setting particularly well. It has a similar tone to the work of Jeff Spokes, but the colors are smoother and darker for the nightmare sequences. Some of those horrors will haunt me long after I close the book.

Resurrection

I’m looking for the man who murdered me.”
– Emilia Harcourt

Emilia Harcourt has been dead for a long while now, yet another victim of Amanda Waller’s ambition, but with her recent appearances in the DC movies/TV shows? Well, it was only a matter of time before she reappeared. The real surprise is who brought her back, and why… 

A particularly brutal opener, Harcourt’s newest story is an intriguing first chapter. Waller is, as always, clearly playing a bigger game, but this particular one feels… sketchy. Between Suicide Squad and her other multiversal shenanigans, she’s always been a woman with a plan, and who knows what it will look like when she finally executes it? 

Rob Williams co-created the Emilia Harcourt character, so it’s nice to see him as the writer bringing her back. With her… abrupt end during his Suicide Squad run, it seems fitting that he be the brains behind her resurrection. Harcourt’s taking no prisoners in her quest for revenge, and this story delivers a fitting comeback for the badass NSA agent extraordinaire. 

Stefano Landini and Antonio Fabela bring some brutal art to the story, with some top class fight scene choreography. It’s a showcase of Emilia’s abilities, old and strangely new, and it’s unleashed in this first part. I’m intrigued to see where Harcourt and Waller are headed next. 

Family

I knew you were fine.”
– Robin (Damian Wayne)

 

“Then explain why we had to pry you off Hush.”
– Batgirl (Stephanie Brown)

Batman’s main strength, all the way back to his early days, has always been his family. From Jim Gordon, Dick Grayson, and Alfred all the way through to Damian Wayne, the Batfamily has always been Bruce Wayne’s greatest asset. Sometimes, though, Batman needs… reminding of that fact, and this story’s one of those times. 

Meghan Fitzmartin did a great job with the Tim Drake: Robin series, and she continues to show she has a true understanding of the Batfamily and their relationships with their mentor/father figure in this short story. Pitting them all against Hush and Bane at the same time was a stroke of genius. As they say in the story, they are the men who broke his mind and his body, respectively, who better to fight against his heart?

Speaking of Tim Drake: Robin, artist Belén Ortega rejoins Fitzmartin for this tale. These two work very well together, and compliment each others efforts beautifully. The sequences in Bruce’s head are really well done, and tell all the words left unsaid in a poignant way. Brilliant work. 

Conclusion

Giving fans an almost all new line-up of Bat-tales, Batman: The Brave & The Bold #4 lives up to the hype of the previous issues and then some. With Tom King returning for the final part of his and Mitch Gerads’ Batman and Joker story next issue, we’ve only got more to look forward to with this awesome anthology series.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment


Related posts

Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #10

Review: Harley Quinn #37

Review: The Penguin #7