Posted by: Brian Hibbs on November 27, 2007
Been busy busy busy lately – order form week, and general retailing-shenanigans (its that time of the year, yeah), but I need to kill a few minutes while I wait for the DVR to record enough of HEROES so that I can watch it without commercials, so let me jump in here and write what I was planning on doing tomorrow (since there aren’t new comics to process then… this MAY mean you get two sets of reviews from me this week, whoa)
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #8: There’s something about both the fantastic world of superhero comics, and a shared universe that can make a grown man’s heart go a-flutter. Now, yes, as we’ve discussed around here a ton of that fluttering lately has felt more like the incipient signs of a heart attack, but a good superhero yarn can make you feel young inside again.
B&B may not be the “best” superhero/shared universe comic book (I’d probably lean towards something like Brubaker’s CAPTAIN AMERICA for that), but it is pretty much the purest state of wide-open wonder of the range and possibilities that SH/SU books can bring. Every issue is completely different than the one before, each is building a larger story, and each is extremely thoughtful about its characters. But, this is the most important bit — that thoughtfulness is expressed naturally through the characters, and not through writerly self-importance
Mark Waid has groused that people calling this comic “fun” is causing it to sell less than it might otherwise, so I won’t use that word, but it is definitely the mainline vein of SH/SU books, and every issue makes me cackle with glee.
The Doom Patrol was always a weird one for me — even as a kid I never really got what Rita Farr was doing with them. Sure, The Chief, Cliff Steele and Larry Trainor were freaky as hell, but Rita? A beautiful movie starlet who can grow and stretch? What’s HER problem? You want freaky, try Reed Richards, with his body in one room, and his head in another; or, hell, go the Elongated Man route — Ralph’s nose STILL disturbs me, even to this day — but Rita always seemed to grow proportionately, and seemed to me to be like Marilyn in THE MUNSTERS, y’know? “We better have some non-scary pretty girl trim in here so people tune in”
(I read each and every DC comic that comes out, but even I’m really not all that clear on which Doom Patrol this is meant to be — is this a Superb*y-Wall-punch thing? Does this mean Grant Morrison’s visionary run “never happened”? What, as the children say, Dafug?)
So, color me giddy and green that Waid and Perez make Rita the freakiest one of the freaks with the simplest, easiest, nearly most subtle character change ever: she never stops smiling, ever. WIDE. It’s really quite disturbing. And effective. She’s suddenly weirder than the mummy with a black ghost who’ll die if it takes longer than 60 seconds, or the passionate earthy man with his living brain trapped in an unfeeling body, or the no-really-isn’t-he-a-James-Bond-Foe? of The Chief.
If there’s a problem here at all, it’s probably that one gets the sense that this should have been out 4 weeks before, in time for Halloween; and this seems tonally wrong for Thanksgiving time (which, now that I think of it, makes it EVEN BETTER — just like how CE’s block is draped in X-Mas lights, and we’ve still got our Marvel Zombies window display up, mu-ha-ha)
No, actually, if there’s a problem, it is that the production is nearly too high-tone — the glossy cardstock-ish cover this series bares is Just Too Much for the little ticking Bombs of Imagination that Waid and Perez keep throwing at us. These should be printed on toilet paper, and have go-go checks on them, damn it.
This shit is VERY GOOD, and should be on EVERY superhero reader’s reading list, even if you don’t like DC comics. Because you’ll LEARN to like them… even if this is the only place you’ll ever see these characters in this exact fashion these days!
What do YOU think?