Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tha's More Like It!

Now that I got that off my chest, I can talk about all the really amazing comics that I DID buy yesterday. There were so many truly great comics (in a week in which All-Star Superman didn't even come out that it's hard to know where to start.

My favorite, right now, was The Brave and the Bold #3, featuring the two best things to come out of Infinite Crisis, the new Blue Beetle and a kinder, gentler Batman.

Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, is a character we think we've seen before: teen hero, chosen by chance/fate, gifted with phenomenal power and immediately dropped over his head into the craziness of superhero-dom. But the differences from Spider-Man et. al. are telling: he doesn't hide his powers from his family; he rarely encounters other heroes, living out in El Paso, TX; and perhaps most telling, he doesn't have an "Uncle Ben" moment of personal tragedy that drives him. He just does what he thinks is the right thing to do, given his extraordinary situation. In this way, he's one of the most relatable superheroes in comics today.

And the "new" Batman is a hoot as well. He's still scary as all get out, but Mark Waid and George Perez make it clear that it's an act, a purposeful attempt to seem more than human to fit in with the supermen around him. So, to the thug he interrogates, he's nothing but shadow and menace, but to Jaime he's reassuring, asks for help, and on page three, even though it's hard to "hear" in the snowstorm, he makes a joke about hot chocolate (true fact!). It's a hell of an improvement over his treatment of Kyle Rayner, Green Lantern, when Kyle was the novice with more power than experience.

And while the two of them tracking down a missing alien is fun, the real joy comes when they fight the Fatal Five, whose members include a guy who can cut through anything, a guy who can burn through anything, a woman whose magic eye can DO anything, and Validus, who is ALWAYS flipping out! The Fatal Five, remember, routinely make trouble for an entire LEGION of Superheroes, and Batman and Blue Beetle face them down. No, that's not true, Batman runs away while Blue Beetle bravely and foolishly holds them off all by himself. Since he's not killed, I'd say he does pretty well.

Though really, I don't think I'm conveying how much FUN this book is and how well the writing compliments the art. George Perez's skill as a detailed storyteller has only improved over the years. He fills his backgrounds and characters with wonderful details but his staging is clear, his characters feel real, and their emotions are expressive. Similarly, Waid's script is filled with details culled from DC long and extensive history, but the book is absurdly new-reader friendly. Even Batman's origin is retold on the first page. I never felt that I HAD to read Blue Beetle's own series to understand this issue, but I'm sure glad that I do.

Most of all, Brave and the Bold is exactly what I want a Justice League title to be. A romp through the ginormous playground that is the DC Universe. In the first three issues alone, the characters have gone from the Batcave to Las Vegas and from Space Casinos to the Mexican Border, with suggestions of both the far future and the Endless!
Furthermore, while being a fun romp, it's also an exploration of how varied the superhero genre itself can be. So far it's crashed through police procedural, teen romance, sci fi actioner, buddy comedy, and if next issue's cover is any indication, BIKER FLICK!

There's a palpable feeling that anything could happen, that the joy of comics is that the story could turn in any direction, and that only in superhero comics could anything as whacked out as THAT last page ever happen.

And that was only ONE of the amazing books I read yesterday!

1 comment:

SallyP said...

It IS an amazing romp and a fun book, isn't it? I actually LIKED Batman in this, and that is something that I never thought I would say. Heck, I could even sort Supergirl! That's a definite accomplishment!

It has been on time, it has been oodles of fun, and I can hardly wait for the next issue.