The Good: Starts well, Moments of interesting plot development, Intriguing villain
The Bad: Rapidly diverges with characters that are entirely underwhelming, No character development, Story fizzles.
The Basics: While I was initially quite happy to continue with The Brave And The Bold series, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny nearly lost me with its very awkward middle.
I went into The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny knowing that this was part of a larger series. Having read The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: Lords Of Luck (reviewed here!), it was pretty obvious to me where The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny was going to go. At the climax (fear not, this is not a spoiler!) of the first volume, Supergirl offhandedly asks Green Lantern if the name Megistus means anything to him. When it doesn’t, the two dismiss it and go their separate ways. The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny follows up on that obvious dangling thread. Unfortunately, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny follows up on it with one of the least interesting possible directions writer Mark Waid could go in.
The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny starts out engaging enough, but it quickly takes a journey in a direction that is not only predictable, but boring when it is not overly predictable. The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny starts with mainstream DC Universe characters and while I am very open to stories that deal with the second string (I was one of the few who actually loved the Brightest Day Saga, volume 1 is reviewed here!), the stories and characters have to be compelling. Sadly, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny is now. Instead, this largely plot-based book starts high, plods along with characters that are from the most obscure and uninteresting corners of the DC Universe before ending with a whimper. After the set-up volume, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny is a huge letdown. Because The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny is so plot-based, with no actual character development, it is germane to explore what happens in the book.
In the first chapter, Wonder Woman and Power Girl fight mummies while exchanging quips. Power Girl, hot-tempered as ever, is annoyed and as she is handing Diana back her lasso, she admits that she is off to kill Superman. While Kara tries to shrug the comment off, Diana realizes that she has told the truth because her hand is still on the lasso. So, she tries to find out why and the lasso quickly reveals that Kara is under the influence of a being named Megistus. Unfortunately for both, Power Girl is able to break away and she goes to the Fortress of Solitude to try to kill Superman.
This chapter is an engaging start to the book and had it stuck with events and characters like this, the rating certainly would have been higher. Unfortunately, from this point, the book diverges. This is an engaging beginning, though, with decent artwork and vivid coloring. While there is no character development here, the character interactions between Diana and Kara are, at worst, entertaining.
Flash is the focus of the second chapter and in it, Wally West and Linda take their children Jai and Iris to the laboratory of Dr. Niles Caulder to try to find out and fix what is wrong with them. While the facility Caulder lives and works in is initially menacing, he does seem interested in helping the Wests. But, after freaking out the Wests and the children, Caulder attempts to save Jai and Iris and the result forces him to call upon the powers of Metamorpho, Negative Man, and several others at Caulder’s creepy castle.
This is the chapter with the most character development and as this is my Flash Year, I was quite happy to see that it had to do with Wally West. Wally is a good guy and the way he and Linda are unsettled by Caulder’s laboratory reads as very real. In this story, Wally is put into the worst possible situation a parent can be put into and the coda to the story is heartwrenching. This story, while engaging and primarily focused on the Flash, begins the redirection of the book from the mainstream DC Universe characters to the obscure ones.
The third chapter is where the book seriously lost me. Filled with vignettes involving Hawkman and the (new) Atom, Metal Men and Dial H for Hero, Blackhawk and Commandos, the third chapter is a bit of a mess. Throughout time and space, mystical objects and incredible technologies are being menaced by Megistus. The Book Of Destiny takes on a life of its own and attacks the Challengers Of The Unknown.
This is a heavily plot-based chapter that seems only to move the primary story forward and it does so with the least interesting characters in the DC Universe. In fact, this section was so boring, I cannot muster up the enthusiasm to write anything more about it!
The fourth chapter tries to recover some with the use of Superman. Superman is paired with the Silent Knight for a quest where the two work to destroy a magic object that Superman may be vulnerable to on his own. The other half of the chapter follows the Teen Titans on a trip to Atlantis for the marriage of Arthur Curry and Mera. When the Titans witlessly drive off Aqualad, the boy is captured for his latent precognitive abilities and must be rescued by Aquaman and the Titans.
By this point in the book, the reader gets what is going on. Powers and artifacts are being harvested. We even know that Megistus is behind the plot, but no one knows who he is. The problem in this chapter is, again, characters that are hardly interesting and plot points that make no sense to new readers. How Superman is summoned to Arthurian times by Merlin is a pretty big unexplained issue for those of us who are not Superman fans. In a similar fashion, the Teen Titans are hardly the most compelling protagonists in this book and their part of the chapter weighs down an otherwise adult volume with some ridiculously childish lessons.
In the penultimate chapter, the barriers in the multiverse begin to break down when an alternate universe version of Superman’s villain, Mr. Mxyzptlk, arrives to get Superman and Ultraman to team up to try to stop Megistus. The pair tries to stop Megistus with the Challengers of the Unknown and Hal Jordan, who discovers Metamorpho trapped within his power battery moments before Megistus abducts the battery to start his endgame.
This chapter at least moves the plot forward and ratchets up the tension in a good way. Unfortunately, this comes well after most readers are likely to care.
The book climaxes in the sixth chapter with the revelation of Megistus and damn is he a letdown! That’s pretty much all I can muster up to write.
The Brave And The Bold, Volume 2: The Book Of Destiny is not Mark Waid’s best book, but at least George Perez and the colorists make the book look good.
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© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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