The Brave and the Bold v.3 #1
“The Lords of Luck, Chapter One: Roulette”
Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils/Cover artist: George Perez
Inks: Bob Wiacek
Colors: Tom Smith
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US/$3.65 CAN
I’m a major fan of Mark Waid’s writing and George Perez’s art in the super-hero genre, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating the launch of this title. But what’s really had me eager to delve into the new series is my fondness and nostalgia for team-up titles. As a kid, I found I was drawn to team titles such as Justice League of America and The New Teen Titans, but also to DC Comics Presents, Marvel Team-Up and, of course, The Brave and the Bold‘s first incarnation. As a younger reader, I relished the chance to get to know new, colorful characters and villains, and I actually loved that I got not just one but two flashy super-hero logos on the cover. Though most of those old-school stories of the 1970s and ’80s were single-issue, self-contained tales and this series promises longer story arcs, Waid has certainly taken a traditional tack with this new series. Unfortunately, a couple of cooler plot elements are cast off, turning out to be minor in nature, and Perez’s art, though full of energy and imagination, is a bit difficult to follow in the more chaotic moments of the story. Even so, those who feel super-hero storytelling has grown too dark and grim over the past decade or so will enjoy the lighter tone that’s restored here.
When Green Lantern finds a dead body in space, he calls on the best detective he knows for help. What GL doesn’t realize is that the Batman is already on the case, as identical corpses have been found all over the world. Following the clues, the two heroes end up in Las Vegas at a casino under new management. Roulette, an underworld figure known for pitting metahumans against one another for entertainment, is the new owner, and the weird events the Batman and GL have been investigating all stem from a strange artifact that’s come into her possession. And they aren’t the only ones to have tracked it down, leading to an explosive conflict with alien thieves.
Perez is a master of super-hero storytelling, and The Brave and the Bold isn’t going to put a dent in that reputation. If there’s one thing that sets this story apart, it’s the variety of settings, characters and plot elements, and Perez tackles the diversity of material with seeming ease. He bridges the gap between the space-faring, carefree adventure of Green Lantern to the dark, brooding world of the Batman perfectly. And then we suddenly find ourselves in the glitz and flash of Vegas, and the artist conveys its unique, busy and loud nature adeptly as well. Where Perez goes astray is with the explosive fight scenes. It’s difficult to discern what’s happening at times, especially in the second action sequence in the latter part of the issue. The energy as brought to life by the colors seems to overwhelm the artwork. I was honestly surprised by these confusing sequences, given that Perez usually choreographs such scenes quite well. He also fails to give the reader a clear look at these villains, save for a single, small panel in the third act.
The plot is all over the place. It starts out as a murder mystery, leading to a confrontation with a super-villain then to the discovery of a powerful mystical artifact and a heist by alien baddies. The scattered nature of the plotting is a bit odd, but there are aspects of it that I appreciated. I like that the story doesn’t end up as a typical hero-versus-hero scenario as engineered by Roulette. It’s something one could have expected, since that’s been her M.O. in the past. The generic nature of the alien antagonists is a little disappointing on the one hand, but on the other, Waid does tap into a charming, Silver Age sense of simplicity with them.
I must admit to being quite disappointed with how the murder mystery that serves as such a strong hook in the opening act is discarded so quickly. It got me in the mood for an old-fashioned, Batman-as-detective story, with sci-fi elements thrown in to give Green Lantern a role in the story. I was also surprised that Waid’s script doesn’t incorporate the tension between these two heroes. I realize that the enmity and suspicion that the Batman has for GL has been addressed to some extent, but I think some continued tension would have brought some small measure of character-driven conflict to this story. While I wasn’t as blown away by this issue as I hoped to be, I can’t deny that the creators have tapped into an old-school sense of fun and adventure. 6/10