Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #8

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #8
Writers: Guillem March, Kyle Starks, Gabriel Hardman, John Higgins
Artists: Guillem March, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Wade Von Grawbadger, Gabriel Hardman, John Higgins
Color Artists: Arif Prianto, Matt Herms, Matt Hollingsworth
Letterers: Guillem March, Rob Leigh, Simon Bowland, Troy Peteri
Review by Davydh Tidey

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #8 continues the story of our brave heroes; the Batman imposter, Wild Dog, Aquaman, and, of course, the real deal, OG Batman. 

I praised this new crop of stories last month, so was expecting more gold this time! 

Purpose

Have rooftop traps gone viral lately?”
– Bryce/“Batman”

Shock revelations! A surprise villain! An unlikely hero! New love blossoming?! 

Where on Earth has this Batman story gone?! 

With the imposter Batman’s identity revealed and his memory slowly recovered, a more immediate danger has presented itself… our faux-batman will have to wear the cowl one last time.

Concluding Guillem March and Arif Prianto’s three-part epic, this story has been like nothing you’d expect. From the very start, it shifted the readers’ expectations and sense of reality, taking the very base idea of Batman and molding it to a brand new set of eyes. We should have all seen the reveal coming in hindsight, considering most of the first part was dedicated to “Batman” discussing how dumb some of his own ideas were, but the reveal still comes like a gut punch and is extremely effective at achieving exactly what it was trying to do. 

March continues to impress with his detailed, moody artwork and bold storytelling in this issue, and I’m sincerely hoping to see him with a miniseries to work on (or, even better, an ongoing title). Seriously DC, this is some gold right here, hand him a character and let him cook. 

Prianto’s colors really are a great pairing for March. Tonally they fit the story perfectly, shifting along with the mood and the scene in a seamless way. I’ve not seen many color artists pull this off the same way as Prianto does, so hats off for that. 

Payback

Why would I fight you? I just shoot big dummies like you.”
– Wild Dog

Wild Dog continues his ridiculous exploits and is left swinging in the breeze. Oh, we are SO back! 

The anti-hero/vigilante uncovered a threat to the Quad Cities last issue, one that threatens to destroy their entire way of life, and turn them into yet another superhero battleground state. Now, he’s doing everything he can to fight against it… which, admittedly, isn’t a lot, but HE’S TRYING! 

Kyle Starks, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Wade Von Grawbadger, Matt Herms, and Rob Leigh are throwing Wild Dog back into the spotlight, whether he likes it or not! This character has always had a special place in my heart thanks to the brilliant Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye mini-series, so it’s an absolute pleasure seeing him back doing what he does best. Where Cave Carson took him firmly out of his comfort zone, this story puts him firmly back into it. He may be out of his depth, but he knows what he’s doing at least! 

Starks continues to show that he’s not just a comedy writer here, with some striking action scenes, some clever twists, and a “big” villain reveal (no, it’s not Snowflame again, we’re not that lucky)! Wild Dog’s well due a comeback in the DCU, and who better than a DC specialist in weird characters to helm it? 

Pasarin, Albert, Von Grawbadger, and Herms continue delivering consistently good art for this messy, action-filled black comedy. I mean, anyone who can make the mystery villain they picked to face WD look like a threat needs a medal… honestly. I love how they’re swapping out Wild Dog’s jersey every issue now as if WD himself is trying them on and deciding which one to keep. I’m sure that the whole situation will work out in the end… right?

Preservation

I couldn’t be more conspicuous.”
– Aquaman

Aquaman, by sheer definition, is not an easy character to tackle. Between the ridicule he’s received over the years and the absolute rinsing Black Manta has given him throughout that time, Arthur’s never been an easy property for DC to push. However, I feel confident in saying that if every creative team were as good as Gabriel Hardman, Matt Hollingsworth, and Simon Bowland, people would find a place for Arthur in their hearts. 

After a slower, more interpretive start, “Aquaman: Communion” starts dropping more exposition as to why there’s an army of aliens and gorillas under the sea. If any situation demanded more exposition, it would probably be this one, to be fair. 

Hardman’s unique visual style lends itself extremely well to this story, with the mix of sci-fi visuals, industrial settings, and natural phenomena giving him a chance to shine. His take on the Dominators is HAUNTING, frankly, and paired with Hollingsworth’s dramatic, shadowy colors creates an effect of Aquaman being a real fish out of water (I apologize). 

This story feels like the Aquaman: Year One series we never got, and it’s a very welcome tale to finally receive.

Parasocial

You’re hiding something, Dr. Stuart.”
– Batman

Y’all remember Pokemon! Go? All the horror stories that came out of that about people walking into traffic or climbing high places to get that rare, shiny Pokemon? Strap in and get ready for that x1000. 

Batman has started to notice something odd about his nightly patrols; yes, even moreso than the usual Gotham antics. He’s being followed around by children with scanners! The only leads coming back to a WayneTech medical experiment and a pediatric care doctor and Batman seems to be at a dead end. Until one of them pays the ultimate price for their game.

It’s been many a year since we’ve seen new art from John Higgins, but what we get here is all good. Delivering a haunting tale about the dangers of AR and VR, and the allure of parasocial relationships, my estimation of his work has only gone up more. The beautiful black-and-white art captures the meaning of the story he’s conveying and slaps you in the face with it. It’s possible that it slaps you a little too hard, but the message is an important one, so I can forgive a hard slap. 

Conclusion

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #8 takes all the positives I talked about last month and builds upon them. Wild Dog’s story has become crazier and raised the stakes even higher, just as he was starting to get a handle on everything. Bryce’s story ends in an emotional finale that still has a few twists and turns to throw at you on its way out, while Aquaman’s tale explains why there are talking gorillas and Dominators working together, for goodness’ sake! Everything about this anthology delivers quality in new and different ways at the moment, and I look forward to every issue.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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