Review: Brave and the Bold: Lords of Luck collected hardcover (DC Comics)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In short, The Brave and the Bold: The Lords of Luck is a fantastic story, and one that realizes all the potential set forth in the DC Universe in the wake of Infinite Crisis. Written by Mark Waid with art by George Perez, Brave and the Bold offers smart super-hero team-ups that play on established continuity while still being accessible for new readers. The whole volume has a great Silver Age tone, where the heroes all know each other, like each other, and work well together to get the job done.

There's no question that Mark Waid--he of Kingdom Come and JLA: Year One--knows these characters backwards and forewards, and it shows in this book. At almost the very beginning, there's a perfect scene where Bruce Wayne gets Hal Jordan into a casino that Hal can't afford--and then Hal proceeds to take all of Bruce's chips in blackjack! Bruce's retort? "I wish Barry had lived to see you with money."

The sequence is precious, and shows a great understanding of the characters; plus, there's no question it's more than time that Batman and Green Lantern put the Parallax business behind them and became friends again. I think writers overall had been afraid prior to Infinite Crisis that if the DC heroes got along, it might make them seem boring. Instead, as Brave and the Bold shows, it just makes them seem more heroic, and makes the stories all the more enjoyable.

Additional team-ups in this volume include Batman and Blue Beetle, Green Lantern and Supergirl, Supergirl and Lobo, and Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, with appearances by Adam Strange. In each story, the characterization is spot-on; Hal chides himself for thinking letcherous thoughts about Supergirl, noting "Who are you, Ollie?" Batman's partnership with Blue Beetle is quietly reminiscent of his training Robin, and I appreciate the appearance by Beetle villain La Dama. Mark Waid even shows Lobo's softer side before the story is done, and of course having Waid return to the newest incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes, even briefly, is very much worth the price of admission.

There are gratuituous hints of Final Crisis in this story (as there are in Supergirl: Identity, Blue Beetle: Road Trip, and elsewhere) and I must say, I'm enjoying the run-up to DC's next big crossover. We're still early in the process trade-wise, of course, since we haven't even started the Countdown trades, but I'm reminded of the run-up to Infinite Crisis where various titles suggested "something pounding at the end of reality." Combined, all these repetitious hints add up to something of a muddle, but the sense of reading one giant story is fun nonetheless.

Of course, any story with art by George Perez automatically feels like a large-scale crossover, and the time-spanning finale of Brave and the Bold doesn't disappoint. The hardcover collection finishes with annotations by Waid; these are slim in comparison to, say, notes by Geoff Johns after Infinite Crisis or Brad Meltzer after Justice League of America: The Tornado's Path, but I do appreciate DC including these DVD-style extras.

[Contains full covers, introduction and annotations by Mark Waid.]

Waiting for a big shipment to arrive, but in the meantime I'm off now to take my first foray into the Tangent Universe, followed by the finale of the Ion miniseries. Come join!
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