Overview: In Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4, readers are offered four more stories that depart from the cliffhangers seen in the first two issues.
Reviewer’s Note: Before we get into each of the stories for Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4, I wanted to make a statement. I would not recommend this comic to anyone looking for a continuous story. Batman: The Brave and the Bold #3 slipped and started to tumble down the mountain from the first two issues, and this current has fallen on the ground. Not only has DC editorial left out the continuation of the Tom King story for yet another month, but they also left out the continuation of the Superman story that left readers with a huge cliffhanger. This is the first group of comics that I have reviewed that I WILL NOT be picking up hard copies of.
With that said I will be using a different format for this review, which will allow me to at least say a few nice things about the art.
Story #1: “Enter the Abyss”
Written by: Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Art by: Kelley Jones
Colors by: Michelle Madsen
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Synopsis (Spoilers ahead): The story begins with Batman (Bruce Wayne) on the hunt. He is after a Jane Smith (obviously a pseudonym): shadows have swallowed 17 people around her, but not her. He enters a building he believes her to be in, jumping through the window, hoping to surprise the obvious trap, but once inside, all she wants to do is talk.
She tells of her birth in the “Dark Garden,” a realm of darkness. She was able to escape to our world, but hers pulls all the people she cares about or interacts with back to her realm if they have “darkness in their hearts.”
Batman and Jane Smith head into the realm together, hoping to save any of the most-recent missing people. The rest of the comic is their journey together, leading into a continuation of the series in Batman Beyond: Neo Gothic.
Here is the major problem. I think this is the perfect medium to introduce other runs that spin off, but up until now, that’s not what Batman: The Brave and the Bold has been. It has been stand-alone or continuous stories that readers come back to finish. On top of the $8 spent for stories that haven’t continued in two months, DC editorial wants readers to buy another completely separate comic to continue reading this new storyline?
The only comparison I can come up with over the overwhelming frustration I have is that it feels kind of like Apple changing all their ports to make us buy more chargers. I don’t like it.
Art: I really like the Kelley Jones art and the Michelle Madsen colors. This style lends itself really well to this type of story. It has a Leviathan look to it that lends itself to magic and different realms through long lost doorways. With the continuation taking place in Batman Beyond, I hope they continue this style in flashbacks. It could be a really fun contrast to the super bright pinks, reds, and purples that come with Batman Beyond usually.
Story #2: “Stormwatch: Down with the Kings part 4″
Written by: Ed Brisson
Art by: Pasquale Qualano
Colors by: Ivan Plascencia
Letters by: Saida Temofonte
Synopsis: This is the continuation of the last story where the remaining members of the team that were at the bar fall asleep into the Knightmare Realm. Core is aging backwards, Shado can’t hit any targets with an arrow, Phantom-One is battling a giant bug, and Flint is seeing an ultra powerful space being telling her that she is being lied to.
Everyone else in the DC Universe is already awake from Knight Terrors……. so this is either really bad release planning or this takes place in the past. Either way, nothing that happens while they are asleep means anything other than that it scares Flint into barging into Bones’ office to ask who they are really looking for. This leaves us on another cliffhanger, so I’m going to assume that Stormwatch will not be in next month’s issue.
Art: The art is the standout of this issue. This is just another instance where the artists are having just a blast drawing the Knightmare Realm. The panels telling the story of how Shado can’t hit a target don’t need thought bubbles or words. The actions and the expressions on her face are enough to tell us exactly what is going on. The panels with a lost maybe 8 year-old Core searching for his teammates and crying are absolutely gorgeous and again do not need any word bubbles. Flint slowly being swallowed by the truth is the perfect dark contrast to the bright battles going on around in the other panels. Even when it gets silly as Phantom-one eventually finds a baby Core and straps him to his chest and starts stabbing creatures is great!
The lack of thought behind the story and overall placement of this in Batman: The Brave and the Bold really does this amazing work a disservice.
Story #3: “Harcourt: Second Life part 1″
Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Stefano Landini
Colors by: Antonio Fabela
Letters by: Simon Bowland
Synopsis: This story begins in Opal City as Emilia Harcourt is entering Club-539-0, a top secret underground hangout. She is searching for the person who murdered her. She begins to glow bright yellow and attack the guards keeping her from entering.
The story cuts to a flashback: a young Emilia being taught how to shoot a rifle by her father.
We cut again to an adult Emilia in a pool of orange liquid. Amanda Waller gives her a hand, helps her out of the Lazarus pit, and gives her the name of the man who murdered her.
Why are we starting new stories that are going to continue without finishing the ones we have already started? I’m so frustrated, I don’t really have an opinion on a story I shouldn’t have read yet.
Art: The art is fun, but you can tell it was certainly rushed in some areas and really thought-out in others.
Story #4: My Family
Written by: Meghan Fitzmartin
Art by: Belen Ortega
Letters by: Pat Brosseau
Synopsis: Batman and the Bat-family face off in a final battle against Bane, the man who broke his body, and Hush, the man who broke his mind. Batman gets hit hard, causing him to hallucinate. He walks hand-in-hand with himself through the night of his parents’ murder, while they watch the Bat-family continue to fight.
I will continue to say it, I think these last stories are the best part of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. They are short and sweet, always make a good and simple point, and every time that point hits.
Art: I normally really enjoy just the pencil art, but something about this style just really doesn’t track for me. I think I would have rather seen this in color. There is an awful lot going on in the fight panels. In the panels where Batman is walking with himself, they did the characters white with the background completely black. I really thought that looked amazing.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced 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.