Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Common Experiences Bind Two DC Universe Superheroes In Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold

The Good: Decent artwork, Moments of character
The Bad: Repetitive plots, Develop Hal Jordan much more than Barry Allen.
The Basics: Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold works hard to express the friendship between Barry Allen and Hal Jordan through numerous adversaries set throughout their lives.

Shortly after I began my Flash Year, I found there was an implication that Hal Jordan and Barry Allen were great friends with one another. Unfortunately, the more I have read of the Flash as I study him for the year, I discovered there was ridiculously little textually to back up the implied friendship. In fact, books like Green Lantern/Green Arrow (reviewed here!) actually forge the idea that Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen were more regular buddies than Jordan and Allen actually were. Enter Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold, a volume that seems to retroactively create the strong bond between Allen and Jordan that had not been present in earlier Green Lantern or The Flash volumes I read.

Following the deaths of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, during the tenure of Wally West and Kyle Rayner as the Flash and Green Lantern, respectively, Hal Jordan’s co-worker, Pie, writes of the great friendship between Hal and Barry. Over the course of their grand, heroic period, Green Lantern and the Flash spend enough time together to actually forge a friendship in their alter egos and their mundane lives. Threaded throughout the six vignettes that span their long careers, Hal goes through a number of women and jobs while away from Ferris Air, constantly borrowing money from Barry Allen.

In their first adventure together, Barry Allen is running late for a visit to Coast City. After running out there for a party Hal Jordan is attending, they are both pressed into service as Green Lantern and the Flash when one of the guests’ shadows erupts into something malevolent. Reasoning that the shadow is a conduit to someplace else, Hal leaps inside and the Flash follows him. They find themselves on an alien world that is under attack by the Khund. To fight the Khund, these aliens are harvesting evil from other places, most notably, Earth! Together, Green Lantern and the Flash must stop the invasion of the evil harvesters and their own evil shadows.

In “Lightspeed,” Wally West is visiting with Hal Jordan (who is now in insurance) and Wally West, when Central City is attacked by Mirror Master and Black Hand. After Wally’s powers are sapped by Black Hand, Hal Jordan grants him Green Lantern powers and it is up to Wally to rescue the pair from the villains! In “A World Of Hurt,” Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Alan Scott go camping on a planet with Barry Allen and Jay Garrick, a world that the Green Lanterns have trouble defending when things go wrong for the group.

That story is followed by “How Many Times Can A Man Turn His Head,” where Green Arrow – a friend of Hal Jordan – arrives with Hal during their tour of America. Barry is compelled to spring Green Lantern and Green Arrow from Central City’s prison. Fighting the new oppressive mayor, the trio fights for the value of freedom over authority and control. In “The Man Without Fearlessness,” the Guardians of the Universe conscript the Flash to rescue the Corps from a yellow-hearted sun that turns out to be the weapon of none other than Sinestro! Green Lantern’s nemesis, Star Sapphire pops up on “Running On Empty,” which puts the Flash into conflict with both the Carol Ferris Star Sapphire and the classic Flash villain from the Seventh Dimension Star Sapphire!

I admire what writers Mark Waid and Tom Peyer tried to do with Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold. The purpose of Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold seems largely to be to put Hal Jordan in situations where Barry Allen has the ability to help bail him out. Only Mirror Master and, in the background, Captain Cold, appear from the extensive Rogue’s Gallery of Flash villains. Instead, Green Lantern’s adversaries like Sinestro, Black Hand, and Star Sapphire pop up and part of the point seems to be to illustrate the powerful differences in their nemesi. The final story with Star Sapphire seems only to have the purpose of showing how the two comic books borrowed ideas from one another back in the day.

The artwork in Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold is simple, but the coloring is consistent and rich. The story is interesting enough for the fans, but outside the section that acts as a “lost chapter” for the “hard-traveled heroes” with Green Arrow, this book does not actually deal with much with larger themes or bigger ideas that make a friendship deeper than anything other than shared adventures. In other words, what actually binds Barry Allen and Hal Jordan is the idea that they are friends. Hal Jordan constantly using Barry for money and Allen observing his chaotic life seems far less of a strong bond than the battles they fight together.

Fans are likely to enjoy Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave And The Bold, but those looking for an engaging read that creates a series of characters one will fall in love with and want to read more from, will find this volume lacking.

For other books in the The Brave And The Bold series, check out my reviews of:
Volume 1 – The Lords Of Luck
Volume 2 – The Book Of Destiny
Volume 3 – Demons And Dragons
Volume 4 - Without Sin


For other graphic novel reviews, be sure to check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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