The Brave and the Bold #34

Story by
Art by
Jesus Saiz
Colors by
Tom Chu
Letters by
Rob Leigh
Cover by
DC Comics

The start of the first two-part tale from J. Michael Straczynski features an unlikely team-up between the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Doom Patrol, stalwarts of the Silver Age. Straczynski elects to focus on the three primary Legion members (Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Lightning Lad) and the original trio of Patrollers (Robotman, Elasti-Girl, and Negative Man). Driving this Silver Age half dozen is a quest to dispense a primordial black hole. The black hole, these two teams, and time travel give this issue a Silver Age flavor that is beyond compare in today's comic book market.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't do much more than spew forth Silver Age science fiction theory. The black hole isn't a character that Robotman can hit. It is a threat, but for characters that have gone toe-to-toe with the Anti-Monitor, Darkseid, and dozens of other menaces, it seems like a passive threat. The Legion of three is hardly a Legion at all, and there is little clue given to their names, powers, or purpose. A title like "The Brave and the Bold" has a responsibility to be informative and encouraging to new readers; character identification boxes, such as those used in "Brightest Day" or even the current "Legion of Super-Heroes" series, would help new readers adapt to characters they may be encountering for the first time.

Saiz continues his streak of great art. He manages to make even the tightest of panels feel widescreen with his clean, clear, brilliantly precise style. Details are added in to inform the reader and removed when unnecessary.

The characters all have distinct postures, expressions, and anatomy, from Cosmic Boy pinching the bridge of his nose as he senses a shift in the magnetic field of Earth, to Robotman's presumptive assessment of his new ally, Saturn Girl, to Rita's cautious optimism that she helped fix a problem, each and every one of these characters stands apart from the other. Saiz doesn't just slap decoration or uniform on the same buck body here.

Tom Chu's colors help Saiz's art with a bold, bright collection of hues that perfectly matches the tone of a Silver Age comic. Chu doesn't flatten the colors out as they were in the Silver Age, but rather enhances them through the effects available today.

The visual element of this issue that struck me the hardest was Rob Leigh's lettering. As the Legion fade off into the timestream, so does their dialog box. After Robotman sustains significant damage, his word balloons are filled with a pattern of static, a cue that works so well you can almost hear the hiss and pop as Cliff speaks. The combined visuals of this issue make it worthy of checking out and holding on to for a Silver Age fix, but the issue itself is marginally forgettable without a major threat. This is further compounded by the limp attempt at enticing the reader back for next issue with three caption boxes that are barely discernible from the standard story captions of this issue.

Straczynski continues to find fun combinations in the DC Universe sandbox, but I'd like to see more memorable moments. As an escape, or refresher from continuity and unnecessary sensationalism, this comic has consistently delivered.

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