Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #7

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #7
Writers: Guillem March, Kyle Starks, Gabriel Hardman, Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Guillem March, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Wade Von Grawbadger, Gabriel Hardman, Matteo Scalera
Color Artists: Arif Prianto, Matt Herms, Matt Hollingsworth
Letterers: Guillem March, Rob Leigh, Simon Bowland, Clayton Cowles
Review by Davydh Tidey

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #7 marks several firsts. Aquaman’s debut story in this stellar anthology, Wild Dog’s first mainline universe appearance in AGES and the first early Etrigan story we’ve seen in a good while! 

With an almost full deck of new stories, this issue was destined for greatness from the start. 

Recover

The mask is no longer a mask. It is our true self.”
– Bryce/Batman

Bryce/“Batman” is starting to regain his memories, and is getting back to grips with his gear and traversing rooftops, but a chance encounter with the one person who knows Batman best brings some startling realizations to him. How will he deal with this? Well, the only way he knows how; answering the signal. 

The second part of three in this amnesiac Batman story has some pretty damn big surprises in store for the reader, and writer/artist/letterer Guillem March, along with colorist Arif Prianto, have really dug deep on this one. Even I didn’t see the reveal coming, and I’ve been reading comics for a very, VERY long time.

Boiling Batman down to his base elements is always a good idea, but the real genius this time comes from the big reveal. Shifting the focus from one thing to another, and turning the story on its head was a brilliant move. Everything you thought you knew about Bryce/Bruce is turned around in an instant, and the discovery comes to the reader at the exact same time as the characters themselves. Very subtle and very cool. 

I’ve always known that Guillem March is a great artist (James Tynion IV’s Joker and Batman runs are a fantastic indicator of that). Having read this, and since gone out of my way to read his series Karmen from Image, his writing talent cannot be denied. I’m hoping to see a whole lot more from him in the future, whatever form that ends up taking. Independent, more Batman… I don’t care. It’ll be an instant buy from me. 

Arif Prianto’s colors, as always, brings the art to life. Contrasting the last issue, where we saw the more bright, hopeful side of Gotham City, now we see the darker edge of the city as Bryce reacquaints himself with the night. Give me more!

Remove

What?”
– Wild Dog

Stormwatch is officially over (for now), and as sad as I am about that, Wild Dog has returned with a bang in Batman: The Brave & The Bold #7 to fill that void!

This is a character that’s had a pretty rough couple of years. He’s the protector of the Quad cities, the ONLY protector of the Quad cities, mind you, the only “superhero” in the Midwest! Is that the real problem, though? He’s the only one there, and when some certain supervillains realize that, then that’s bound to be trouble. Couple that with certain legal troubles, and Wild Dog’s life just got a lot more complicated… 

Ever since reading Peacemaker Tries Hard!, I’ve been looking for more Kyle Starks in my life, and this just happened to come at the perfect time. Stark’s unique brand of humor fits this character so, so well, with Wild Dog’s deadpan attitude contrasting the ridiculous situation perfectly. This in turn contrasts perfectly with his previous work with Peacemaker, where Christopher definitely reflects the iconic John Cena interpretation of the character and acts with all the humor you would expect from that. It’s nice to see Starks explore new ground here, and show off that he’s capable of more than just humor. You really feel for Wild Dog in this story, it’s not an easy situation he’s going through here. 

Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Wade Von Grawbadger and Matt Herms are great for the action sequences. Everything is unique to look at, and the storytelling and scale fit the situation amazingly. Great job all round, honestly. 

Relive

You’re overfishing these waters.”
– Aquaman

While stopping an illegal fishing operation, Aquaman stumbles onto a fish with a desperate message for him. It needs him to follow it, and what he finds defies all expectations.

Another name that I’m very familiar with on the list this month, Gabriel Hardman delivered one of the best Green Lantern stories every created in Green Lantern: Earth One. Joined by Matt Hollingsworth and Simon Bowland he’s back with another gem, in Batman: The Brave & The Bold #7! 

Hardman has a skill for writing realistic, focused characters. Aquaman in this story has a mission, and he’s barely letting anything slow him down. The art and the script flow together beautifully to tell the tale, and the storytelling on display is wonderful. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors are skillfully applied, and work with Hardman’s thick, distinctive linework beautifully. 

I’m very excited to see what Hardman does with Aquaman moving forward as this is hero who doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I’m very excited to see a creator take him seriously. 

Relinquish

I had just scared him so that his pants were @^#$. Go away now. This doesn’t concern you, man of Bat.”
– Etrigan, the Demon

The Batman is hunting down a target, but when he runs into an actual demon with a penchant for rhyming, he realizes that this collar might be a bit more trouble than it’s worth.

Matt Rosenberg and Matteo Scalera? Someone’s been reading my wish-list! 

Rosenberg has always ranked among my favorite writers (DC Vs. Vampires, Task Force Z, What’s the Furthest Place From Here?, Hawkeye: Freefall, We Can Never Go Home, honestly the list goes on and on), and this story is a great example as to why. The Demon Etrigan can be an extremely complicated character to write, and is easy to screw up, but Rosenberg hits the nail on the head here. We get a great blend of humor, drama and action, making this story is a great example of a Batman tale done right. 

Matteo Scalera is, as always, amazing. His depiction of Etrigan is menacing and creepy, and the lack of color really drives home just how intimidating The Demon can be, and how he should be treated. This isn’t the garden variety threat to Batman, this is a LITERAL DEMON. The gravitas the situation deserves is conveyed wonderfully through the art, it really ties the story together. 

Conclusion

Boy, oh boy, what a wonderful crop of new stories. Batman: The Brave & The Bold continues to excel among other anthologies, showing the best that DC has to offer from its writers and artists in brilliant fashion. There’s not a single weak link among this months offerings, and I have no negatives to report! 

If this series continues to excel the way it has, it’ll stand the test of time as some of DCs best. Long may it reign.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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