The Brave and the Bold #32: A CCW Review by Ironmuskrat

Posted: March 22, 2010 in CCW Review, DC Comics
Tags: , , ,

Title: The Brave and the Bold #32
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Colorist: Trish Mulvihill
Publisher: DC Comics
Cost: $2.99

The big news came down last week that J. Michael Straczynski would be getting writing duties on not one but two major DC comics: Wonder Woman and Superman. I guess it was only a matter of time before JMS got a shot at the major comic titles that a man of his talent deserves. But I couldn’t help but feel a little sad at the news, mostly because I feel these new assignments mean the end of JMS’s run on The Brave and the Bold. I don’t know if the idea of him possibly leaving this book affected my feelings, but I was a little disappointed by the story this month.

I sat there after reading this latest installment of B&B strangely unaffected. Past issues from JMS had been filled with emotional stories of personal sacrifice, making hard decisions in the face of adversity and heroes facing their own mortality. This story had all of the elements of past Brave and the Bold stories from JMS: two strong heroes (Aquaman and The Demon) teaming up to stop a very dangerous threat to the Earth, nice action sequences and smart writing. So why was this story devoid of the emotional impact I felt from previous issues? I went back, read the story again and came to the conclusion that the story failed to work for me because of a man called Whitford Crane.

Who is Whitford Crane? He is a sailor, the sole survivor of a shipwreck that claims the lives of his fellow shipmates. Whitford witnessed his fellow sailors being dragged down to the bottom of the ocean by mysterious creatures before washing up on the shore in front of Aquaman and Demon. Aquaman decides that Whitford can be of use to hunt down the creatures that sank his ship and, more importantly, find the larger menace that threatens the Earth lurking under the ocean. Demon gives Whitford some gills and off they go to hunt down and defeat the Cthulhu like creature dwelling at the bottom of the ocean.

So how does Whitford Crane monkey wrench the story? Well, the story is told from his perspective, not Aquaman or Demon’s. You don’t know what either of our heroes are thinking, fearing or worrying about. I think that is what Straczynski did so well in previous issues, letting readers into the minds of the heroes, showing their fears, hopes and moments of indecision. Straczynski is at his best when he shows the reader just how hard it is to be a hero, just how much you have to give up to do the right thing and having to live with the decisions they make. Poor Whitford is really just an innocent bystander and to be honest, I couldn’t care less about what he thinks about the situation he is in, he is just there watching the action unfold with nothing to add to the battle that is occurring around him.

Unlike previous issues there are no conflicts between our two heroes, not only is there no conflict between them, they really don’t even speak to each other. I understand that The Demon is a, well… demon and not prone to witty banter or a lot of chit chat. Perhaps that is why Straczynski included the character of Whitford to serve as a catalyst for exposition, with either Aquaman or Demon explaining what is happening to Whitford as a way to impart information to the reader.

The battle with the creature itself is pretty straight forward, even fighting a giant demon squid, Aquaman and Demon never seem to be in serious trouble during the battle and make short work of the creature. Without the internal dialog of the heroes involved the battle is pretty boring and even the ending with Whitford Crane trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t imagining the whole experience falls flat because we already know the answers to his questions.

I guess Straczynski was due for a stumble on this book. He really did have a good run up to this point and I can’t really complain too much about one weak issue. I just hope he finishes his run on The Brave and the Bold on a strong note and doesn’t let his last few issues slide because his has bigger fish to fry now.

IM

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Comments
  1. Deemar says:

    Another excellent review Musky

    I keep hearing good things about B&B might buy the trade, I figure JMS used the sailor as the narrator, because the Demon is hard as hell too write dialogue for and Aquaman well isn’t that interesting to him maybe.

  2. Deemar says:

    Also, every time I read one of your reviews it feels like I’m reading a novel which ain’t a bad thing

  3. Mike F says:

    I really enjoyed it. I just felt the ending had a cliche moment of him SAYING what we saw. There was no need to say it Crane, we saw it. Saying it makes it cheesey.

    Other than that, it was really original, and provoking.

    His best issue? No…

    Still good? of course.

    • Ironmuskrat says:

      I hope I didn’t off too negative in my review. Overall I enjoyed the story, it just wasn’t as good as the earlier issues in my option. If people told me they enjoyed the story I wouldn’t argue with them.

      IM

      • Mike F says:

        Yeah it definitely had a lower quality feeling to it than the previous ones like the Flash one and the Green Lantern one.

        I completely see what you meant by how it was different. I just really liked the whole creature concepts thru out it.

        I’d love to know what Aqua man was thinking during it all.

  4. DidioForever says:

    I enjoyed this issue a lot more than the last two of this run

    I think maybe JMS set such a high standard with the first three that now we expect every installment to deliver the same emotional punch, but really that shouldn’t have to be the case for it to be a good read.

    For me, this ish was just a fun little ‘sea shanty’ with an albeit very corny Tales From The Crypt-style ending (the medallion in the casket). Also thought JMS showcased an interestingly ‘sublime’ or ‘fearful’ portrayal of Aquaman and The Demon here, not dissimilar from the way Frank Miller used the Avengers at the end of his ‘Born Again’ story in Daredevil; The idea of ‘Heroes as Gods’ that has been bandied around DC for years can make them seem pretty scary in a (and I’m sorry to use the term) ‘real world’ context.

    I dunno, maybe because I found the Joker/Atom ish so dissapointing my expectations were low enough for me to take this simple story and chew on it with more satisfaction.

    • tomstewdevine says:

      I actully liked the Joker/Atom story.

      • DidioForever says:

        Hrmmm, maybe is was ok but I guess I just don’t like Joker ‘origins’, and this one seemed to play up to TDK movie in a big way if anything.

        Plus I was hoping for something more ‘surreal’ when it came to Atom exploring the Jokers mind… Like that part in JLA: Rock of Ages where (electric blue) Supes and J’onn J’onzz got lost in that physical manifestation of the Joker’s mind and had to ‘laugh’ their way out of it… !

        But there’s MY expectations colouring my enjoyment of a story, so there ya go!

        • tomstewdevine says:

          I guess the main part that made me like it, was the struggle the atom had in the fact that he could of just killed the joker, but he knew that it was against his values. A very common subject in superheroes, but I just thought that it was done very well.

    • Ironmuskrat says:

      It funny how we can both read the same comic and come away with two different impressions DF. I guess I was just expecting more interaction between Aquaman and Demon, more conflict between the two characters like what I had seen in the previous issues. Although the idea of Aquaman and Demon being portrayed as “Godlike” is interesting, I will have to go back a read the comic again and see if I can enjoy it more from your viewpoint.

      IM

      • DidioForever says:

        Yeah I’m not saying your review was bad at all, I just got something else out of this issue, that kind of “OMG imagine if you met these guys in REAL LIFE’-vibe that Bendis and Millar go for all the time but rarely nail half as well as JMS did here.

        And I REALLY hope JMS stays on this book. I’ve never known him to juggle so many books at once though (3x ongoings and 2x ongoing OGN’s?!?), so you’re probably right

  5. tomstewdevine says:

    This review is spot on, nice work IM. Even though this book my not be the best of the series, It’s worth looking through just for that splash page with Aquaman and all the creatures of the sea, very powerful.

  6. phil says:

    I had no interesr in thr Flash, Blackhawk,the Joker, Dial H for Hero, the Atom or Brother Power thr Geek, nonetheless I liked every ish of B&B that they were in. So I.M., I’ll give Fishman and Hells’ halitocis king a shot.

    Once again another great presentation by you.

  7. generaldark says:

    YAY MORRISON IS WRITING BATMAN #700!!!!!!!!

  8. Matthew Guy says:

    The JMS Brave & Bold HC was announced today at CBR in the DC solicitations it will have issues 27-33 for 25 bucks (retail price).

    Matthew

  9. squidracerX says:

    I am the first to admit I should pay attention, but with comics these days I very rarely look to see who the writer is. Maybe because i have subscriptions to the mags so i am going to get the issues regardless? But i think the real deal for me is that if i like Flash i get the Flash comic. I like it for the Flash, not the writer.
    Honestly I am less likely to follow a writer I know I like over to a title I could care less about. For instance Gail Simone on Wonder Woman I liked, she’s going to Birds of Pray – unless I hear glowing reviews i won’t pick it up because I don’t care about Huntress or Lady Blackhawk. (Although I did follow Paul Dini over to Gotham City Sirens)…

    Now obviously a good writer or bad writer can ruin that Flash experience for me, but I have never come across anybody, (including record labels/producers for CDs, or actors/directors for movies) that I like them or what they are involved with hands down every time. They need to prove themselves with each and every new thing they work on.
    And this would be the case with J. Michael Straczynski’s run. I did not realize he had been doing B$B. I like other stuff he’s done, but I have to say i have not been a fan of the past few issues. I liked the Flash/Blackhawks (if that was him); but Dial H for Hero, the Geek, and Atom/Joker left me wanting…

    • tomstewdevine says:

      You know I am just the opposite, the first thing I look at is the creative team, the only book I probably will never drop is uncanny x-men, I’m with that book until the end(hopefully I end before it does). But other than that I will drop a book on a dime if it has someone I don’t like or if it turns to garbage, but I will always try a new book from my favorite artist or writers regardless of subject matter. In my experience it has always paid for me to stick with my favorite creators, they rarely let me down.

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