The Brave and the Bold #30 (DC Comics)
by J. Michael Straczynski & Jesus Saiz
Straczynski proves the strength he brought to the previous issue wasn’t just an aberration and that his first couple of middling issues on this series wouldn’t be characteristic of his stint as this title’s writer. When this pairing of heroes for the team-up title was announced a few months ago, I was puzzled; I didn’t think it would make for that interesting a story beyond a generic super-hero story. But the basis for his choices quickly became clear. Green Lantern’s ring power is fueled by his will power, while his mystic (or if you will, spiritual) ally in this story is named “Fate.” Straczynski explores the age-old debate of free will versus determinism by means of a plot premise only possible in the super-hero genre. One might find the circumstances that lead to the debate a bit forced, but it worked for me in the context of the DC Universe. The one element of the plot I didn’t enjoy was Straczynski’s use of a thoroughly obscure character from a Justice League comic of the 1980s as a catalyst for Dr. Fate’s introspection. Fortunately, that element is relegated to the prologue and doesn’t hinder the story that unfolds later on. For those familiar with the original incarnation of Dr. Fate, the story might resonate a bit more effectively, but there’s enough information here for newer readers about Kent Nelson that they’ll be able to follow along.
Saiz has also stepped up his game, as is evident in the rich backgrounds he provides for the extra-terrestrial setting. Whereas his work on #28 (the Flash/Blackhawks issue) lacked in terms of backgrounds, in this issue, he provides a fascinating glimpse into the impossible. The alien world on which the action unfolds features an interesting blend of antiquated relics and alien, unfamiliar landscapes. The ruins in which the heroes find themselves look both genuine, like something one would see on the History Channel, and completely new and alien, like something would find in a James Cameron sci-fi flick. Furthermore, the softer features that Saiz’s brings to the characters’ faces continue to emphasize the humanity of the superhuman players, which works well with the more character-driven ideas that the writer wants to examine. 8/10