Overview: In this month’s Brave and the Bold we skip Tom King for a standalone Batman story featuring Mr. Baseball; Stormwatch gives Thunderbolt’s vibes as it heads into Knight Terrors. Superman: Order of the Black Lamp continues and this issue ends with a story from Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Jorge Molina.
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, Mr. Baseball, Written By: Dennis Culver, Art by: Otto Schmidt, Colors by: Pierluigi Casolino, Letters by: Pat Brosseau
Synopsis: The issue gets swinging right from the start. A man with a baseball shaped scar on his head swings away on some thugs with a baseball bat in a Gotham alley. Finally he shoots the last one in the back.
Batman perches on a rooftop across from the crime scene listening to the cops, thinking of past memories he has with the game of baseball. Batman’s eavesdropping reveals the men belong to crime boss Vito Grande.
Batman locates and reaches Vito Grande’s hideout first. Under interrogation he tells Batman the origin story of who is after him, Austin Clutch, Mr. Baseball. They met as a result of Mr. Baseball accidently robbing a bank that held all of Vito Grande’s money. He never came up on Batman’s radar because he always made sure to have a big distraction at the same time as the heist. Once Vito found him, he had his boys pay him back with a beating that gave him the baseball shaped scar on his head. They may have given him little more than that. Before he was just a thief, but now he’s murdering people on a path to revenge.
Just as Vito finishes his story, Batman throws himself in front of Mr. Baseball, crashing through the window. Vito’s nephew pulls him to safety. As they battle, Mr. Baseball lets it out that he is the distraction. Batman races out of the safehouse and gets there just before the trigger pulled.
The comic ends with Mr. Baseball in Blackgate Penitentiary planning his escape.
Analysis: I don’t keep up with future comic news so when I opened this up, I expected to have part 3 of a Tom King Batman story that I’ve been invested in. What I got was an overly cheesy comic version of a scrapped episode of BTAS. The thought process behind the type of story choices for this series flabbergasts me. I don’t get it. It would have been easy to take the wonderfully artistic story at the end of this issue drawn by Jorge Molina and put it first. This really feels like they pulled a completed but scraped comic from the servers and slid it in here because Tom King was busy this month.
There is no “part” at the beginning or end so I don’t think we will be getting more even though they leave they leave it open ended. The only stories in this series so far that haven’t continued have been overly artistic and haven’t followed normal comic book structure. WHY IS THIS HERE? Overall I don’t think it’s a bad story, but to take the place of the story it does and to still leave it as the first one, just makes no sense and makes me hate it.
Story 2, Stormwatch: Down with the Kings, part 3, Written by: Ed Brisson, Art and Color by: Jeff Spokes, Letters by: Saida Temofonte
Synopsis: Very slow if any progress is being made on PeaceKeeper 01’s condition. There are hopes but nothing concrete yet. Bones heads to lab to get the Faraday case from Husk. The next mission is to extract Malware, a creature that nearly killed Cyborg, and that box is the key to the extraction. Husk assures him that even though he is a lab rat slave, he has constructed the box perfectly.
We move to the Halo building in Star City. Phantom One has taken out the power, it’s what Malware feeds on. Flint, Core, Shado and Ravenger enter the building. Once they get the Malwares prison cell, Core melts them through. Flint connects the faraday box to take Malware from one prison to the next. Outside the cell they are detected; Flint takes two steps but something is wrong. The box fails and Malware is freed. He takes over the body of one of the facility goons, rewriting his DNA, then kills the goons.
While this is happening, Bones has made his way to Husk’s office. Husk immediately shuts down Bone’s attempt to call him out, instead explaining that he is only needed to take down the Flash, Malware to corrupt cyborg, the Deadsea blade for Aquaman and the Darkness Engine for Superman. Then he asks the most important question: who is behind Stormwatch?
Back in the Halo facility Shado easily takes down Malware with an EMP arrow. Mission is successful.
The team unwinds at a bar now owned by Nigel Keane. Phantom-One catches Rose Wilson, Ravenger, on her way out. She tells him that they should have done more to save the innocent workers, just as she leaves everyone falls to the ground. The Knight Terror has reached them.
Analysis: At the end of the day, I just don’t care about what’s happening in this story anymore. I don’t care about a single character. I honestly have to revert back to the first issue to see who everyone is sometimes. There is zero indication that Rose Wilson is upset with her arrangement at all, which makes the ending where she is upset about killing workers just out of left field. The motivation for every character is do what you’re told. Even Mr. Bones is just doing what he’s told by someone else. Probably Waller or Luther. Which brings me to the biggest gripe with the months story: we finally get the reason for collecting all of the tools and it’s to kill the Justice League….. and I just don’t care.
I am really two-faced on bringing this into the Knight Terrors as well. On one hand, I don’t believe any of the stories coming out of the comic should be in the main continuity at all. We are already paying 8 bucks for 70 pages of story and now to continue it I have to go get more. It’s just too much. On the other hand, this story has just been meh, so maybe pulling it into the super successful Knight Terrors may give it some positivity moving forward. I doubt it though.
The art is the art. It isn’t good enough to save a failing story. The panels that feature Malware are worth taking a look at – they are beautiful.
Story 3, Superman Order of the Blacklamp, part 3, Written by: Christopher Cantwell, Art and Colors by: Javier Rodriguez, Letters by: Simon Bowland.
Synopsis: We begin this issue exactly where we left off: Superman falling into a trap. Hop Harrigan kneels down and lends him a hand. The cell they are in is lined with just the right amount of Kryptonite to keep Superman in and not make him suffer. Hop Harrigan looks just the same as the day he vanished 80 years ago and has been in the cell for all the time.
They get to talking, Clark still writing as he takes part in the story. Superman shows Hop the ring. Just as Hop tells him that he didn’t send it, a man in what looks like a futuristic welder’s mask bursts through the door and turns up a dial, causing more kryptonite to pierce the room and keep Superman at bay. He is Dr. Anthelme and he specialized in the process of erasure of the human memory. He makes people forget other people ever existed. His greatest achievement would be to make people forget the great Superman.
Luckily Hop remembers how the ring works and he yells the special phrase:, “Lucerna Lucet Tenebris,” (“the lamp in the ring shines dark”), showing him the way out. Superman is too weak to fly so they both board Hop’s plane. As soon as they get over the ocean, Dr. Anthelme activates his failsafe causing Hop to forget how to fly. They crash into the water.
Days later, Superman is pulled from the water. We then cut to Clark back at the Daily Planet. Lois reminds him he has a deadline due and asks about the pilot Hop something. Clark has no idea who she is talking about.
Analysis: I’m still loving this story and I feel it’s the bright spot now that we are 3 issues deep. If they would have done two similar stories with this length, added the super artsy story at the end like they have been, and sold it for a normal $4, I think we would be talking about a much different Brave and the Bold. This is quick, it’s fun, and the art is spectacular. It gives a sense of mystery that makes you want to come back next month. Brave and the Bold to this point has been long, scary, and sometimes entertaining, but by the end I am almost way too drained to appreciate some of these creatives really going for it at the end of these issues.
Whoever is behind the construction and pace of Brave and the Bold as a whole should be reprimanded. There is no flow and it’s ruining some stories that in other settings may shine.
Story 4, City of Monster, Storytellers: Jacskon Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Jorge Molina Letters by: Rob Leigh
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): This story starts in an elseworld’s Gotham. On this earth, Bruce Wayne’s parents were not killed by a mugger with a gun but instead by Langstrom, a vampire who is more monster than man.
Inside Langstrom’s tower, Batman makes sure that Alfred is prepared for his part. He enters a chamber where Langstrom is and the monster immediately instructs his many vampire minions to attack. They are no match as Batman slices through them easily. Now even angrier, Langstrom hurls batman from the side of the tower. While falling, batman whips a specialized bat-a-rang connected to a metal chain. It wraps around the neck of the beast and Batman uses the momentum of the fall to reign it in.
On his way down, he instructs Alfred to do his part. A missile ejects from the Batmobile and destroys the tower. Batman finishes it by leaving the monster dead in the street.
The last page is a full splash of this earth’s rogue gallery; what was created with the death of the monster.
Analysis: I think this is what Brave and the Bold should have focused on from the beginning. High end talent doing different stories outside of the normal DC universe. Sometimes they will work and sometimes they won’t. For me, these final stories of each issue have all worked. The only problem is that I am so exhausted by the time I get here it makes it hard for me to even try to make other people care.
It’s really hard for me to encourage people to buy this book for $8 just for the 5 pages at the end, but I think you should.
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.