A new anthology series debuts in this first issue of Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
- Revisit the first confrontation between Batman and Joker in a story written by Tom King, drawn and colored by Mitch Gerads and lettered by Clayton Cowles.
- The new Stormwatch team fights to retrieve a mad scientist from inside Iron Heights in a story written by Ed Brisson, drawn and colored by Jeff Spokes and lettered by Saida Temofante.
- Superman receives a mysterious package and sets out on a quest to save whoever sent it in a story written by Christopher Cantwell, drawn and colored by Javier Rodriguez and lettered by Simon Bowland.
- And in a new Batman: Black and White story, a future Batman must save a couple of lost kids from a Royal Flush Guardsman and its master, The Joker. Story and art by Dan Mora, and letters by Tom Napolitano.
The robots are revolting! And they’re killing all humans, too … but seriously. As Batman and Superman face Ultra-Morpho, all the robotic heroes and villains of the DCU begin to attack. And by issue’s end the true mastermind is revealed. Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #15 is written by Mark Waid, drawn by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain and lettered by Steve Wands.
Catwoman is out of jail, and while she’s on the run, she’s also solidifying her power and allies. She spent a long time playing with the Gotham mobs, but eventually any cat gets tired of playing, and when they do, the claws come out. Catwoman #55 is written by Tini Howard, drawn by Nico Leon, colored by Veronica Gandini and lettered by Lucas Gattoni.
Will Nevin: It’s the thing we’ve wanted for a long time, Matt, and it’s finally here: Tom King writing Batman. Again.
Matt Lazorwitz: I would be better with it if I felt like we were taking the bullet to keep him from other corners of the DC Universe he’s less suited to, but we’re still getting him on Wonder Woman, so I can’t even sleep well knowing that.
Will: Guess there was absolutely no other person alive who could write Diana, huh?
Brave & the Bold
Will: Here at the outset, this fancy new series doesn’t seem to be that much different from Urban Legends since they’re both overstuffed anthology books. This might have a more high-profile series of creators, though — at least until DC gets bored with it.
Matt: That’s it exactly. It’s a number one, which guarantees higher sales, and because it’s a first issue, it can lure in a big name or two to really goose those sales further. I’m curious if the series will keep at least one completely un-Batman related feature as it progresses, as that is something Urban Legends didn’t do.
Will: The Supes story might *eventually* have Batman, but I think it’s a reasonable assumption that it won’t. But, hey, we’re burying the lead here: Tom King and Mitch Gerads are back, baby!
Matt: You mean the Eisner-nominated creative team behind One Bad Day: Riddler?
Matt: Sorry, couldn’t resist. Yeah, we have another Batman story from King and Gerads and … it’s another Batman story from Tom King and Mitch Gerads. I don’t think King has anything new to say about Joker, and he certainly doesn’t feel like he has anything new to say about Batman. He’s riffing on the first Joker story, a story that we covered on the podcast with two other times it has already been riffed on, and so far, other than his formalism, King didn’t bring anything new to this version. And his same bag of tricks at this point just frustrates the hell out of me.
Will: Again, hard to judge since we’re so early, but this seems to be a fairly straightforward retelling of “The Man Who Laughs” … unless King wants to toss some sort of noxious curveball in there. I’d bet dollars to Harvey’s donuts we’re going to recommend the Ed Brubaker/Doug Mahnke story over this one by the time it’s finished.
Matt: I would not take you up on that bet. I won’t rant about any more of King’s foibles short of saying I think someone needs to tell him that the whole excessive grawlix thing stopped being cute a while back.
[Grote’s note: I %&@#ing did!]
The next two stories are much more traditional superhero pieces. We get some superhero espionage stuff in a new Stormwatch serial, bringing in characters from the original Wildstorm series along with some shadier DCU anti-heroes, and a Superman story from Christopher Cantwell that is enjoyable, if not very remarkable so far.
Will: I’m so checked out on the Superman titles that my brain started to freeze when I thought Lois addressed Clark as “Jon.” Did the kid take over the role of Clark *and* Supes? What the hell did I miss? No, that was me confusing a reference to Martian Manhunter. *whew* But, yes, aside from that momentary confusion, I thought that was an absolutely fine story … although Lois seemed a little too thirsty for clicks. Such is journalism in 2023!
Matt: And finally, we get a Batman: Black and White. This is the feature I hope becomes a staple. I always look forward to some new version of Black and White, and we’re starting out with a story written and drawn by Dan Mora. It’s an Elseworlds story of sorts, set in a high-tech Gotham where Joker is running the Royal Flush Gang and Batman has some super techno armor. It’s absolutely Mora writing something he wanted to draw, and hey, it looks damn good.
Will: And equally as important, it’s only a one-off, so I don’t have to remember that high-concept crazy for next time.
Matt: I don’t know what we can say about this book that we haven’t said before. This is Mark Waid and Dan Mora just having a ton of fun.
Will: Speaking of high-concept crazy, here it is in all of its glorious nonsense. Gotta say, though, I miss when this story was only about one dead asshole.
Matt: I have talked about this on WMQ&A with a couple of guests, but this plays into one of the rising tropes of modern sci-fi: technology run amok. Not that it hasn’t been there since the 1950s, but it’s the cornerstone of so much sci-fi now. And even in the real world; a poll whose results were released this week found 61% of respondents feared artificial intelligence as a threat to the future of humanity.
Will: Up here in my ivory tower of academia, it’s definitely a concern, but it’s more of a “Will ChatGPT put us out of business?” than a “Will a bot enslave all of us?”
Matt: Waid once again dives deep here, pulling in all manner of robotic rogues who haven’t seen the light of day in decades, on top of the usual suspects. We also get a glimpse of the Teen Titans again. I wonder if these stories will feed right into the upcoming World’s Finest: Teen Titans series, or if Waid is just having fun writing them and wants to get them everywhere he can.
Will: Waid is probably at the point in his career that he can do whatever he wants at DC, right? Also seems like he’s of the mindset, “I’m not here for a long time; I’m here for a good time.” He’s gotta have something else to do while he’s plotting that Irredeemable reboot.
Matt: When you’ve come and gone as many times as he has from both Big Two companies, he knows to get in his fun while he can. And when he’s partnered with an artist as dynamic as Dan Mora? He just is giving him all the gonzo stuff he can to draw.
Will: And Mora’s like, “Gimme more. MORE. MORE.” It’s all so vibrant and crazy and fluid. I might not understand half of what’s going on, but the pictures are pretty.
Matt: Batman in armor made of The Metal Men? That’s the kind of thing that feeds my old school DC nerd soul.
Matt: You know, going in and reading this, I realize that Catwoman might be a book we should have been reading for this column for a while. I read it anyway, and it ticks off a lot of your boxes, being that it is a crime comic. Since Tini Howard took over, Catwoman has really been Selina vs. the mob, and we’re at a point where that is getting near an endgame, or at least near the upcoming Batman/Catwoman crossover, “Showdown.”
Will: You know me, Matt — I’d gladly read the same three comic stories over and over again. “Heist Story,” “Revenge Story” and “Detective Story.” Those are the three true comic outcomes. But, yeah, I don’t know half of the hell that’s going on here since this is toward the end of a story (Pro tip: Don’t brand the book with the “Dawn of DC” banner if it’s not the start of a new arc.), but even in my confused haze, I didn’t hate it. This Tomcat character seems like an interesting concept.
Matt: Yes, Dario, Selina’s latest stray. The gay son of a traditional manly Italian mob boss who has been cast out because of his orientation. Betrayed by his best friend turned boyfriend who wanted to both keep things on the DL and to take over the mob. He’s been growing and changing over the series, and that’s the big thing that you can do with a book like Catwoman: Since every creative team brings in their own supporting cast, that’s where the actual change can happen, rather than the illusion of change we have to see with the big names.
Will: Fuck yeah, gotta keep some corner of the Bat universe queer as hell. I like that arc, especially as it deals with themes of masculinity and queerness. Well, let me restate: I *would* like that arc had we been reading it. I’m allowed to read comics we don’t cover, right? I should do more of that.
Matt: Hell yeah you are. Adding in Selina’s ex from the Eternal era of her series, Eiko, the head of the local Yakuza branch, this is by far the queerest Bat book this side of Tim Drake: Robin, where Tim is teaming up with Batwoman.
Will: And living on a houseboat. We can’t leave out that part.
Matt: But since that book ends in two issues, well, Catwoman gets to carry the torch.
There is a lot going on here, as Selina starts to line up the pieces on the game board to finally put Black Mask in his place. Selina and Black Mask’s animosity goes back to the Brubaker era, and it’s only gotten worse in this run. It feels like we might be moving back to a Catwoman: Queenpin of Gotham status quo, which I wouldn’t mind. That plotline was cut pretty short by the end of the New 52, and I’d like it to be explored more and feel less like a product of editorial and the Eternal hivemind, and more a result of Catwoman’s own journey.
Will: And that’s a beat that would naturally put her in conflict with Bats, but she can convincingly sell it as bringing order to chaos and keeping the mob conflicts in house rather than allow them to spill out into the civilian population of Gotham. I don’t know what we’re getting with “Showdown,” but at least this setup would make sense and have some air of truth to it.
- Spend a day with Batman’s alter ego in three stories about Bruce Wayne and the Wayne family in this week’s podcast episode.
- Want to hear Matt talk about something not Batman? Tomorrow, he’ll be guesting on Oh Gosh, Oh Golly, Oh Wow, the Excalibur podcast co-hosted by fellow CXF writer Anna Peppard, talking about Excalibur #96. It’s a great time!