When this issue was solicited, the idea of Batman and Brother Power the Geek teaming up had a certain wacky appeal that suggested a channeling of Silver Age team-up books where two characters you’d never expect to appear together pair up and solve a crime. And, technically, that happens, but if you expected any of the fun suggested by such an odd pairing, you won’t find it here. Instead, a moralizing and nostalgia for the ‘60s is mixed with a Batman characterization that rings false.
The issue begins with another addition to Bruce Wayne’s childhood: a shared love of monster movies with his father, which segues into the resurrection of Brother Power and Batman having no idea what to do about it. The idea that Batman wouldn’t know what to do with Brother Power is interesting because, as Batman narrates, he’s not doing anything wrong. However, that leads to a very uninteresting story since not much actually happens.
Flashbacks to the ‘60s are shown, Brother Power wanders around barely able to understand anything, and Batman tries to stop an arsonist. Since the plot is so light, it falls onto the way in which the story unfolds, the characters, and individual scenes to carry the issue but, there, Straczynski falls short. In what can only be described as simplistic and naive, Straczynski puts forth a comparison of the ‘60s and 2009 (or whenever this story is meant to take place), a comparison that favors the latter as superior because people were... nicer, I guess. This, of course, ignores previous scenes of riots and protests against Vietnam.
Batman’s narration throughout never comes off as fitting the character. He spends an inordinate amount of time debating on what to call Brother Power: ‘it’ or ‘he.’ Considering Batman’s numerous encounters with non-human beings, it doesn’t come off convincing that he would give pronoun use much thought. Besides that, the tone of his narration doesn’t match the character; it’s too informal and colloquial.
Jesus Saiz’s art is the only positive about the issue, his soft lines working well with a character like Brother Power. His Brother Power looks unhuman, like a doll that doesn’t fit in, while his Batman is bathed in shadows much of the time. His art does look static and overposed at times, but has a warmth and humanity about it. Trish Mulvihill’s colors only add to this, using different color schemes for the different times periods to great effect. The contrast of Brother Power’s grey skin to his bright clothes and yellow hair is effective throughout in giving him a striking appearance that jumps out at the reader.
So far, Straczynski’s “The Brave and the Bold” run has been one misfire issue after another as he writes patronizing stories that offer little entertainment or insight. If this is meant to be a modern spin on mismatched superhero team-ups that also instill morals in kids, maybe he is right and we should long for the ‘60s.