Review: Batman: The Brave & The Bold #11

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #11
Writers: Karl Kerschl, Christos Gage, Delilah S. Dawson, Michael W. Conrad, Zac Thompson
Artists: Karl Kerschl, Danny Kim, Serg Acuña, PJ Holden, Ashley Wood
Color Artists: Msassyk, Diego Rodriguez, Matt Herms, Mike Spicer
Letterers: Steve Wands, Pat Brosseau, Dave Sharpe, Tom Napolitano, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Review by Davydh Tidey

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #11 gives us a Western tale, a horror-noir thriller, a spiritual journey, a war story, and a clean-cut superhero tale… all in one book. 

We’re spoiled! 

Bat

“Batman: Mother’s Day” part 2 is here, continuing Maps’ journey to become the new Robin! Oh, and there’s a cult of Man-Bats… or something. 

Bruce is struggling to reconcile his role as Batman with his public life as Bruce Wayne, and recruits Maps to help him handle a pressing Batman mystery. It turns out that this may not have been such a great idea. 

Karl Kerschl clearly has a passion for these characters, and with Maps becoming a part of the wider DC universe through the Birds of Prey ongoing series, it’s never been a better time to expand on what drives her and her aspirations. The story and art are fantastic, as always. The storytelling panel to panel flows wonderfully and makes the entire tale a pleasure to read. 

Msassyk also does a wonderful job on the colors, especially in the sequence where Bruce learns the truth behind what’s happening. The work here looks and feels fantastic, as we have a creative team working in pure tandem. 

Bruiser

I love a good Western, and a vaguely Batman-related one will certainly scratch that itch. Hence, we come to The Sweet Science, featuring Cousin Bat and Josephine Harkness in a story of cheating at cards, pugilism, and indentured servitude. Oh, what fun there is to be had in the old West!

Christos Gage is a great author with a long history in comics, and it’s not hard to see why. In 12 pages, he tells a story that could expand out to a miniseries easily and gives you juuuust enough information to intrigue and want more. We have a master at work here, people! 

Danny Kim and Diego Rodriguez’s visuals complement the story very well, delivering fast-paced action that’s easy to follow and doesn’t disrupt the narrative. For a story like this, they’re exactly what was needed! 

Bana-Mighdall

Artemis is, and always will be, an interesting character. Warrior, bodyguard, and outlaw, she has filled many roles. Artemis: The Poison Within part 2 seeks to address all of this, and give this conflicted character a clear purpose once again! 

I still think she should keep hanging out with Red Hood, but that’s just me! 

Delilah S. Dawson continues the rogue Amazon’s spiritual journey, building on the themes from the last issue in a heartfelt way, detailing her trying to fulfill her people’s wish to change for the better, and her own need to be something more. Even her horse gets its own rebirth… in a fashion. 

Serg Acuña and Matt Herms manage the visuals for Artemis’ spirit journey, and they do a fantastic job The artwork elevates the story above its peers, and conveys the point of the story in a way no other format could.

God, I love comics.

Brutalized

Sgt. Rock is a great character, there’s no denying that. From his original appearances all the way through to last year’s Sgt Rock Vs. The Army of the Dead, Frank Rock has had a long and detailed history of war and carnage. This story, “Private Stein”, embraces his history, and all the sagas and tall tales that surround his name. 

Michael W. Conrad gets this character. He understands the stakes behind him, and gets the tone the character always has to have by nature… he just GETS him. The weight Frank carries with the stories of his history, the faith his fellow soldiers have in him, and the duty he’ll carry out to his last breath are all displayed beautifully here.

This story was, in a word, brilliant, and nails everything you’d want from a war-time tale.

I’ve heard of PJ Holden from quite a few war stories (The Lion and the Eagle and Battlefields with Garth Ennis were my first introduction to his work) and with colorist Mike Spicer they nail the tone and compliment Conrad’s writing perfectly. This choice of artists was a great one for this short story. 

Bodies

After the Ratcatcher’s cinematic debut in The Suicide Squad, it’s honestly amazing we haven’t seen him pop up more in the comics since then. 

Well, here’s Batman to explain why. It’s grisly. Yikes!

The Dark Knight has to solve a violent, bizarre murder, while also finding out where all the rats are going and the potential return of an old villain. Yeah, it’s not a straightforward case for the Bat. 

Zac Thompson’s a familiar name to me, from Devil’s Reign: Superior Four from Marvel and Hunt for the Skinwalker from Boom!, and he seems to be a name to watch right now. Bringing a body-horror twist to Gotham, he’s going for a non-traditional Batman story here, and it’s very much appreciated.

It’s no secret that superhero stories can get repetitive, but that feeling is completely avoided here with this unique story setting and tone. 

Ashely Wood needs no introduction, and their artwork certainly speaks for itself. The work is beautiful and brings the dark, gritty story to life. The issue ends on a high note here, and I seriously hope we get a new collected volume of Batman: Black & White out of this title. 

Conclusion

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #11 is a mixed bag of emotions. With every story apart from the first and last focusing on lesser-known, or entirely new, characters, this title has certainly embraced being an anthology title with open arms. We’ve had some fantastic one-shot stories throughout its history to show for it. 

This series shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, so let the good times roll!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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