This title has been a bit of a jangled mess since George Perez left. It got a little messier after Mark Waid walked away. There were some good stories, certainly, but since Waid’s departure, aside from re-introducing a few Milestone characters, there really isn’t a memorable tale that has been told here. Hopes have been high that Straczynski can change that.
When Robby Reed joins his grandfather on a trip to Gotham City, it seems as though everything is going to fall into place — here’s Batman, here’s Robby Reed with his H-Dial, and we know the Joker (who Straczynski writes along the lines of the Heath Ledger portrayal) is going to hatch some nefarious plot. Except that all changes when two-bit crook, Travers Milton, breaks into the Reeds’ hotel room and lifts the H-Dial. Dialing up the hero known as the Star, Milton’s life changes — and so does Robby’s.
For those of us who enjoyed the “HERO” series from Will Pfeifer, this issue is just . . . wrong. Sure, it could be explained away as a retcon, an out-of-continuity story or a shard of DCU history that has been “Superboy-punched.” In Pfeifer’s story, we shared the travels of the H-Dial and met a Robby Reed quite different from the fellow shown here. As I said, there are a number of ways to explain this away and maybe I need to get over it, but I’m certain I’m not the only reader who will get hung up on this. Regardless of how it is set up, there is no denying that this is a tale worthy of the legacy of “The Brave and the Bold.”
Saiz’s art is as rich and deep here as it has ever been. He does a good job with Batman and even makes the Travers Milton scenes engaging. His camera angle choices fit the pacing and action of this story, frequently offering up strong, heroic compositions worthy of a comic book with lineage such as that in “The Brave and the Bold”. There are areas Saiz could improve, such as his cars, but his care to render the bricks in the buildings of Gotham makes these areas forgivable. I like Saiz’s take on Batman and look forward to seeing how he draws some of the other characters Straczynski has promised.
Straczynski’s tale, while not the greatest story you’ll read this year, is memorable in the same way some of the old team-ups from the 1970s and 1980s still ring true to some fans. Every comic fan has a favorite team-up issue from their comic-reading experience, whether it is an issue of “The Brave & the Bold,” “Marvel Team-Up,” “DC Comics Presents,” “Marvel Two-In-One,” or another title. Someone out there is going to remember this particular issue forever and be thankful that it happened. The vast majority of us, however, will be waiting for Straczynski to really roll up his sleeves and have some fun in the DC Universe.