Overview: In Batman: The Brave and the Bold #2, readers sees the continuation of Batman: The Winning Card; Stormwatch: Down with the Kings; Superman: Order of the Black Lamp; and the introduction of our fourth story, All Things Considered.
Story #1: “Batman: The Winning Card, Part 2” by Writer Tom King, Artist Mitch Gerads, and Letterer Clayton Cowles
Synopsis (Spoilers ahead): This issue starts at Wilde Manor. Mr. Wilde is The Joker’s next victim promised to be dead at midnight. Senior Detective James Gordon is on the scene again. This time, he is sure there is no way that The Joker has broken their defenses.
Midnight hits; there is a moment of relief as nothing has happened, then from nowhere a small dart hits Wilde in the neck. Green gas begins spilling from the dart, and everyone falls into a waking paralysis. The head on a suit of armor creaks forward, now looking over the detective. “The poison dart will kill him. Yes. The gas though, that only leaves you paralyzed.” The Joker proceeds to hack every single paralyzed cop to death with a sword in full knight’s armor, leaving only Gordon alive.
We cut to Gordon telling this story to Batman on the roof of GCPD. This gives Batman an idea. Back at the Batcave, he gives Brute Nelson a call as Bruce. Knowing Nelson is dumb enough to do it and strong enough to think it would work, he baits Nelson into calling The Joker out and thus controlling who The Joker’s next victim is.
Brute Nelson sits on his couch holding a pistol. Midnight comes and goes again. Just as he is about to give up on waiting, someone knocks on the door. Nelson puts multiple shots through the door as The Joker jumps at him, knife out. More shots, this time right into the gut of Joker. It doesn’t stop him as the knife goes through Brute’s hand, just inches from his face.
Batman appears and throws The Joker across the room. The Joker laughs, then jumps out of the third-story window. Batman pursues, just able to attach a bat-claw to the back of Joker’s newly stolen vehicle.
The Joker slams on the brakes, and Batman crashes into the back of the car, unable to move. As he continues to tell jokes, The Joker smashes Batman’s face in with his foot, finishing him off by dropping him from Starlin Bridge.
Analysis: This very well may be the most terrifying Joker iteration I have read or seen. The way they are using the moving picture style where The Joker’s speech bubbles are their own panel is amazing and really works. The way Tom King is using the lore of The Joker really works. Is this a person, or the chaos of Gotham that crawls out of the sewer and can’t ever die? It is terrifying.
This ultra-dark direction was not where I wanted Batman: The Brave and the Bold #2 to start; I was hoping for lighter and more fun, but I don’t have anything bad to say about this story. It’s clear we have a year-one Bruce Wayne trying to figure it out. As he is making the plan to use Brute as bait, there are two or three panels where Alfred Pennyworth warns him of what happens to bait while fishing; I thought they were not just spectacular in the conversation, but the placement of them to give us that touch of persona we need from Bruce, to make him a person, was smartly done.
Normally I am not a fan of Tom King, but this is the second month in a row that I’m looking forward to next month. Part two was better than part one. Let’s hope the trend continues and part three is even better.
Story #2: ” Stormwatch: Down with the Kings, Part 2″ by Writer Ed Brisson, Artist Jeff Spokes, and Letterer Saida Temofonte
Synopsis (Spoilers ahead): The story starts with the entire team investigating a shipwreck on a beach in Puerto Rico. This is the fourth wreck in the last month; all the coast guards that responded to the first three are all dead, and every person they came on contact with over a 72-hour span is dead as well. They believe the sickness is related to the Dead Sea Blade; the blade that the Xect has been searching for to bring Atlantis to its knees. This is the first proof that it exists.
Legend is that the swordsmith who crafted the blade knew it was too dangerous and buried in the deepest part of the ocean. The Xect has set up camp near the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, killing anyone who comes near to keep the Atlanteans from finding out that they may have found the sword. The mission: get the sword by any means necessary.
We learn more about the crew on the trip; Peacekeeper-01 (Sean Mahoney) and Shado drink to take off the edge; Core and Flint discuss Core’s affection for Ravager (Rose Wilson) while she tries to figure out what Phantom-One wants. Back at Skywatch, Dr. Zema discovers why the virus only lasts 72 hours. It feeds on salt water to survive, and that’s how long it takes to eat all the salt out of the human body. He needs someone exposed within those 72 hours to continue his research.
The ship is attacked from the water and Peacekeeper-01 is pulled overboard. Ravager cuts the head off one of the monsters as Shado jumps in after Peacekeeper. Flint rips off the arm of one of the other monsters, stabbing him with it. A call comes in from Bones: he orders Flint to get the sword and stab the captain with it. Enough to infect him, so he can be brought back to Skywatch and studied.
The last Xect monster tries to escape, and after nearly being drowned, Peacekeeper-01 takes it personal. He goes after the last pirates, shooting the captain, killing the pirate, and being stabbed himself. Mission successful, they have the blade and an infected Peacekeeper-01 to study.
Analysis: There was a lot going on in this story. It’s strong and interesting, but I would like it to be more fleshed out. The author tried hard to give us a little bit of insight to the characters and their motivations, but it was just an attempt without really sticking the landing. We barely know anything about any of the characters, and with such a big team, I fear we never will.
The art is solid; I really enjoy the Xect monsters. It would have been nice to see more of them or where they came from. We see three, and one of the three has this super special sword. It seemed a bit silly to be attacking ships that way. Since the characters aren’t a priority in the story, I really could care less if Peacekeeper-01 dies or not. I’m not feeling the direction this story took this week.
Story #3: “Superman: Order of the Black Lamp, Part 2” by Writer Christopher Cantwell, Artist Javier Rodriguez, and Letter Simon Bowland
Synopsis (Spoilers ahead): The story picks up forever ago. We see an explorer, Hop Hardigan, following the ring just as we left Superman at the end of last issue. The plane is hit by a missile and goes down. We cut to now. The ring illuminates as Superman flies closer to the structure built into the side of the cliff.
Clark Kent couldn’t find anything to confirm his memories of the ring. If not for the coordinates and the ring currently in his hand, there would be no evidence that those memories actually happened.
Superman enters the structure. It is vast, filled with scientific laboratories, a heavy industrial output, and a healthy paramilitary defense. He goes in stealth mode, gathering information and taking out key strongholds. As he goes deeper into the mountainside, Superman learns that this is also a prison. A labyrinth. He starts to feel a familiar feeling, a green glow: this is a trap.
Superman looks up and sees the skeleton of a dead pilot: it’s Hop Hardigan’s good friend Tank Tinker. Hop’s voice tells Superman, “We went down nearly 75 years ago, I thought the whole world had forgotten about us.”
Superman responds, barely able to speak from the Kryptonite, “ I think….. I think we did.”
Analysis: I am loving this story. The color palette and the art itself are perfect. The story is to the point and super interesting. It slots perfectly in third following these first two stories that take up the majority of the comic. The idea to have Clark be narrating by telling us a story for the Daily Planet works great, even when it turns to Clark asking Superman to write the portion while exploring worked as well. The only problem I’m running into is that if I am reading a story published in the Daily Planet then I know that Superman succeeds.
Story #4: “All Things Considered” by Writer and Artist Joelle Jones and Letterer Steve Wands
Synopsis (Spoilers ahead): Bruce Wayne sits in his chair in the Batcave. He gets lost in his mind. Alfred interrupts his thoughts and begins to stitch him up.
Analysis: These seven pages alone make this book worth picking up. The art on every page is absolutely stunning. We span the life of Batman completely in visual art. The interaction with Alfred giving him comfort at the end was amazing. I ended this issue with tears in my eyes.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of Batman: The Brave and the Bold #2 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.