Overview: In Batman Brave and the Bold #1, we see stories from year one of Batman, Stormwatch, and Superman, then to the future for more Batman.
Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each short story rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: Batman in “The Winning Card” Part 1 by writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads
Synopsis: The first story in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 begins in year one Gotham. Captain Gordan is entering a mansion on the Claridge Estate – a little girl is missing. At the same time, at the railroads in northeast Gotham, Batman pursues an abuser on the run. Batman catches and just stands over the man as he justifies his actions with a slew of profanities. His justifications turn into pleas for safety.
We move to Northwest Gotham, the Robinson Apartments. A father on the phone pleads with the police to help him find his missing daughter. In Adams Park, we see that his little girl isn’t alone. She sits on a bench in the rain, talking to the Joker. He tells her that he has a knife, “but you can’t have it yet.”
Back at the Claridge Estate, we learn Captain Gordon is there to protect an anxious Mr. Claridge. A threat called into the radio threatens to “poison all of Gotham’s water at dawn. I’m going to kill Henry Claridge and steal his precious diamond tonight at midnight.” It’s currently 11 PM, and Captain Gordon believes it’s all a joke.
At Wayne Manor, a Brute Nelson is looking for Bruce Wayne, who is missing from his own party. He passes Alfred a note, hoping to do business with Bruce in the future.
The abuser is still whirling profanities, pleas, and justifications at the rail yard. Batman finally gives him the justice he screams for by smashing his face with his boot.
The Joker has taken the little girl to an unknown location. They play hide and seek, and he shares with her how he became all white. He asks her if she thinks it’s midnight.
It’s midnight at the Claridge Estate. The diamond is found to be fake, and Mr. Claridge dies with a big smile on his face. Back at the Robinson apartments, the little girl’s father opens the door to his little girl but also to the Joker. He gets to see the knife.
Analysis: This was not the story I was expecting to kick off Brave and the Bold. I found the story to be very interesting, and I am excited to see where it goes next; however, there are a lot of wasted pages. There are almost four pages of a woman beater just talking nonsense where half the bubbles are @$%^&. The Joker is absolutely terrifying, and all of his pages are gold. The art style is very much like an oil painting which is not my favorite for comics, but again the panels with the Joker stand out. They deserve to be in ornate frames hanging in someone’s home. All in all, I was really hoping to have more fun while reading this.
Story #2: Stormwatch in “Down with the Kings” Part 1 by writer Ed Brisson and artist Jeff Spokes
Synopsis: The second story in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 begins with Dr. Bones welcoming Phantom-One to Stormwatch. As they tour the spacecraft, we learn this is Phantom-One’s first adventure after being a sidekick; the Justice League is gone, and that Stormwatch is there to pick up the slack.
On the tour, we meet the other members of the team: Ravager, Shado, and Peacekeeper-01, none too happy with the new recruit. Further down the tour, we meet Winter, Dr. Xanto Zema, and finally, Core, a walking reactor.
Core is unplugged from their spacecraft Skywatch, as Winter and Dr. Zema explain to Phantom how Dr. Bones no longer “works” for the DEO but that he still relays all the missions. Plausible deniability.
Winter leads the mission brief. A faction of the Black Hole known as the Singularity will try to break out one of their leaders, William Husk, from Iron Heights Penitentiary. They have also been able to harness the power of the Speed Force and the Negative Speed Force, thus creating a lot of interesting weaponry. The mission is to take Husk alive before his team beats them to it.
The Singularity gets to the penitentiary first. As soon as they get Husk out of his cell, Stormwatch arrives, and the battle ensues. A canister is dropped from a Singularity plane in the pen. A giant sphere starts to form and expand. Everything inside begins to age at a super increased rate.
While the others attempt to reach the canister inside the sphere to destroy it, Ravager, Flint, and Phantom-One are in pursuit of Husk, who is trying to use the distraction to escape. Ravager and Phantom-One peel off to aid other prisoners in evacuation, despite being ordered to continue their pursuit by Bones.
Flint uses his super speed to catch up to Husk easily. He begins to threaten him to turn off the sphere. Before the threats are needed, Core powers up and enters the sphere and is able to neutralize it. Flint is barely able to hold himself back from killing Husk.
Part one ends with Bones on the phone with an unknown person, presumably at the DEO. The voice, though happy with the result, is disappointed in the execution.
Analysis: This was an enjoyable read. It’s a solid team-up story but nothing special. What really makes this one interesting is the group of characters the creators have chosen to put together. I really enjoy seeing Ravager and Phantom-One featured in a story. There is Shado, and I only know of her from the first season or two of the CW show Arrow. I read that Peacekeeper-01 was made to replace Batman and then taken over by Scarecrow. The art is solid. It’s more like what I expected to see to kick off the comic. I am by no means itching to read the next part, but I am interested in seeing how they continue to utilize this group of characters.
Story #3: Superman in “Order of the Black Lamp” by writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Javier Rodriguez
Synopsis: As the next story in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 begins, the first panel shows a ship freighter caught in the middle of the ocean in a storm. As the panels play through the disaster, the narrator tells the story of a young boy meeting a girl at camp. Superman then bursts through the storm, lifting the ship above the clouds as the narrator’s story begins to fizzle as he can’t remember the name of the girl.
An acting chief Lois Lane interrupts Clark trying to remember the name. They banter, and we learn that not long ago, everyone “out there” knew that Clark Kent was Superman. Now, his secret back intact, he feels like just another bum on the metro beat that can’t even write a good story about himself. Lois assures him that he is a wonderful reporter and that the people that matter to him the most, her, Jon, and Bruce, know his secret and accept him for it. Then Lois quickly reveals that the Daily Planet is also about to go down, and she needs super strong bylines – putting the pressure she just relieved right back on Clark.
The next panels show Clark continuing to write. He tells of a bank heist at the world’s most difficult vault. A major feat easily thwarted by the Man of Steel. He is again interrupted by Lois Lane as they are sitting on the couch at home. This time she agrees with him, calling his writing bland.
A mysterious package left for Clark at the Daily Planet interrupts them. It’s a decoder ring. This brings Clark back to his childhood. He uses the ring on the note inside, and it reveals “SAVE ME” followed by coordinates. Clark feels this could be his story, but Lois is apprehensive.
Part 1 ends with Superman’s decoder ring acting strangely as he heads towards a structure built right into a mountainside.
Analysis: This was easily my favorite story of the four. While the first two seemed to be trying too hard, this story flowed. We got the cute Clark and Lois banter, the insecure, inferior alien feeling from Clark Kent as he tries to fit in, and a wonderful mystery that ties childhood television with a decoder ring. It is difficult to have cliffhangers that really make me want to come back. This one hit. The art is very simple, bright, and just Superman. After having Tom King be scary serious, followed by being introduced to a big new team, this was the perfect story to slide into the third slot.
Story #4: Batman in “Heroes of Tomorrow” by writer and artist Dan Mora
Synopsis: “Another Gotham. Another life.” This final story in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 is a black-and-white story that takes place in Future State Gotham. Batman is our narrator. We watch as a machine-like figure chases and corners two small children. Batman jumps into action. He signals his robot bat companion, V2, to protect the children as he attacks the machine, a Royal Flush Guardsman. V2 responds with sentience, letting Batman know he is powered up to ninety percent energy for bonding.
He defeats the guardsman, and the kids get to safety. As they move away, the guardsman begins to rise. This was a trap, it’s not a guardsman but a Joker bot. Bonding is now at ninety-six percent as the Joker grabs both children. Batman tells V2 to initiate bonding, it’s successful! With the Caped Crusader Form now activated, he commences Dark Knight kick. With a flash, he takes down the Joker bot, saving both kids.
Richard introduces himself and his brother Jason to Batman. They explain how they were out looking for their younger brother. Batman looks into his eyes and knows they are orphans. This issue ends with Batman telling V2 they have another mission. Finding the boys’ youngest brother.
Analysis: This is the only story that does not say part one or has a “to be continued” at the end. Which, if true, is unfortunate because I really enjoyed this manga-style version of a Future State Batman story. It was fast-paced and super exciting to read. The choice to keep it black and white paid off. It said: please don’t take me too seriously and just go with it. We will have the Joker playing video game robots, and let’s give Batman his own flying robot bat sidekick. It was the right comic digest, fun, quick, and a touch off the beaten path to wrap it all up. With our first story being so dark and serious, I really liked how they ended with a story that isn’t supposed to be taken so seriously. The only setback I see is they should not have left the end open-ended if they do not plan on continuing.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1
There are three interesting stories returning next month, and I am hoping for four. If they continue to follow Tom King with fun, energetic stories with interesting characters, this run will have success.