Saturday, March 10, 2012

Future Uncertain: The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck Features Team-Ups In The DC Universe!

The Good: Interesting idea, Good artwork, Fun
The Bad: Story ultimately hinges on a very obscure twist, No real character development.
The Basics: Various team-ups occur as part of an event where aliens try to make their dominance inevitable in The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck.

As part of my reading more graphic novels of late, I have been getting in some very different ones (for me). When I did a simple search through my library of authors I liked, I ended up having a whole new world opened up to me. Given that Mark Waid is the writer of one of my favorite graphic novels of all time, Kingdom Come (reviewed here!), I figured I would look into some of his other works. Because this is my Flash Year, I was encountering some anyway, like The Flash: Terminal Velocity (reviewed here!), but I thought I’d look into some of his other stuff. The first title that came my way was The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck.

The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck immediately struck me in its feel as being like DC Universe Online Legends (reviewed here!), which I enjoyed the concept of at the beginning, but quickly felt the story became more and more like one that was an Elseworlds or would need a reboot at the very end. The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck might not be quite as extreme, but it does hinge largely on featuring crossovers between many major superheroes in the DC Universe.

The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck is the first in a series of team-up stories and while I generally enjoyed it, it hinges on a pretty extensive knowledge of the DC Universe to get the most out of it. In other words, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck is a DC Universe comic lover’s book and not nearly as accessible for those who are not already fans. As it was, the only thing that truly threw me was the final act, which I shall not ruin here. The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck is a six-chapter story that progresses very naturally, but without any real character development or insight. The chapters involve:

Chapter One involves Batman the Hal Jordan Green Lantern. Jordan is soaring around with John Stewart when he is shocked out of the skies. He returns to Earth to find a man floating dead in orbit. He decides that this seems like something up Batman’s alley and is unsurprised when Batman reveals he is already on the case . . . just in an odd way. He has an identical body in the Batcave and he is stymied as to its origins. A quick search reveals that there are many more duplicates and they interact with one another (cutting one cuts all of them). This leads the pair to The Book Of Destiny, which is fabled to reveal everything about the future. While investigating that, Green Lantern and Batman are attacked by aliens with a Haruspex, a gun that alters the laws of probability in favor of the one using it.

The first chapter is certainly an engaging beginning and it sets up the mystery and key pieces very well. Somewhat unfamiliar with the animosity between Jordan and Batman, the attitude they give one another makes less sense to me. But, it is an engaging beginning and made me want to keep going.

In the second chapter, Green Lantern and Supergirl travel to Ventura for the Book. While Hal Jordan is continually reminding himself that Supergirl is a minor, Supergirl is excited to make a difference on Ventura. While Batman finds himself overrun by the aliens who wield the Haruspex, Supergirl defies the odds on Ventura by thwarting the invincible Gragg brothers.

What makes the second chapter so engaging (outside finally learning that Supergirl is, ick, a minor and ought to be looked at as such) is that Waid writes some truly real moments into the story. When Hal Jordan and Supergirl get separated, Supergirl knows that Hal was headed to Rann. As a pretty awesome detail, Supergirl has absolutely no idea where in the galaxy Rann is or how to get there! This chapter builds well upon the last and has some of the best artwork in the book.

In the third chapter, Blue Beetle rescues Batman when the alien who stole the Haruspex comes to the attention of the boy after the device is set off. While Supergirl frees Lobo from a firing squad to get from Ventura to Rann, Blue Beetle and Batman track the alien with the Haruspex. In the process, they fall afoul of villains from the 31st century. In the fight, something entirely unexpected happens to Batman!

The third chapter is a lot of fun, especially the interactions between Supergirl and Lobo. Lobo, pig of a bounty hunter, has no issues hitting on Supergirl and the humor plays out well without diminishing either the story or Supergirl’s character. In the a-plot, Blue Beetle fawning over Batman gets a bit old, but seems realistic. The “voice” of the character leans toward the annoyingly energetic, but it does seem to be accurate. This is one of the big fight sequences of the book and I was actually psyched to see the creature Validus, who I was only familiar with as a Build A Figure bonus figure from the DC Universe toy line!

Supergirl and Lobo journey to Rann in the fourth chapter. After a meeting in a tavern where Lobo tries to slime his way out of his agreement with Supergirl, the two get going on Lobo’s space motorcycle. Back on Earth, Batman deals with his transformation into a cyborg and Blue Beetle apparently kills him! With the cyborg Tharok melded to him, Batman seems more conflicted than ever. Supergirl meets the Guardian of the Book of Destiny, who informs her of the importance of her quest to get the book back.

The fourth chapter is a transition chapter that puts the protagonists in one of their worst positions yet. They struggle to make sense of the conflict they are in and things only get worse for them. The sheer amount of willpower Batman exhibits makes one think he ought to be a Green Lantern, though! The Lobo and Supergirl half of the story is fun, but it is diluted by the very awkward Blue Beetle section.

Thrown into the distant future, Batman awakens for chapter five in the company of the Legion Of The Super-Heroes. Batman and the villains, who were captives of the futuristic Legion prior to being sprung for their timetravel adventure, awaken as prisoners of the Legion in the 31st Century. Batman is trapped there, though Brainiac 5 has no difficulty in splitting Batman and Tharok, much to Batman’s relief. Batman flees the Legion and ends up, problematically, in the company of the Lord Of Luck, the villains behind the entire plot!

Having only recently read anything with the Legion Of The Super-Heroes in it, I am a bit rusty on my Legions lore. Even so, this chapter reads as interesting, though it is unclear why Batman is so determined to flee instead of just sitting tight and trusting these friends of Superman. The chase through the 31st Century is intriguing and finally seeing the villains fully revealed reassures us that the book is going somewhere.

That direction is realized in chapter six, which reunites Green Lantern and Batman. Supergirl informs Green Lantern and Adam Strange about the prophecies and they drag Batman back from the future to try to save existence! Saying more would be spoiling!

Ultimately, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck does not truly enhance the characters of any of the DC Universe characters, but it does play with them well. It is an enjoyable book and it left me with the assumption that the series - The Brave And The Bold is a limited series with four or five volumes now – is actually going somewhere. Mark Waid did a fine job with it and the artwork is very good. None of the panels are cheated for movement and the colors are rich, vibrant and consistent.

In the end, The Brave And The Bold, Volume 1: The Lords Of Luck is a decent team-up story, but is nothing so superlative as to demand fans of the DC universe hunt it down. It is the start to a long story and it is adequate at that.

For other crossover or big event graphic novels, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Final Crisis
Amazons Attack!


For other book reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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