Review by Ian Keogh
As has been the case with almost all animated Batman since the 1990s revival, the Brave and the Bold TV show was consistently diverting, teaming Batman with the great and the good of the DC universe, some more often than others. So does the related series of graphic novels match it?
Well, they’re more obviously aimed solely at children than previous material based on animated Batman. There is no extra layer for adults to appreciate, and while that’s hardly essential, it instantly drops the level of sophistication. A neat touch is aping the TV show by beginning each chapter with a case about to end as Batman accompanies one hero, before the main action sees him teaming with another. Beyond that primary writer Matt Wayne’s brief appears to be to construct the stories as if they were created by children playing with action figures. There are wild surges away from logic, and what the villains get up to is on the playful scales also. The best use of a guest star is Aquaman, but that characterisation is again direct from the animation with the boastful and egotistical Aquaman a real treat. Apart from that only Blue Beetle’s youthful enthusiasm is distinguishable, as the remainder of the guest stars have interchangeable personalities, be they male or female. On the basis of his opening story it also seems as if Wayne’s only encounter with English as spoken by the English is via films of the 1940s.
Andy Suriano pencils four of the six stories in this collection, matching the angular, square-jawed heroes of the TV show, and bringing across their general good-natured characters. His exaggerated poses have a jaunty style to them, and there’s a greater sense of comic inventiveness to his work than there is to that of Phil Moy. He really is very good. Carlo Barberi is also good, but lacks the wacky comedy touches.
The final two chapters by J. Torres have stronger and more logical plots, while maintaining an off the wall capacity. The better of them involves Kid Eternity, able to summon any hero from history, and Torres has a ball sweeping through the DC universe. He writes most of volume two, The Fearsome Fangs Strike Again.