"The Brave and the Bold" to me has always been high-octane, continuity-be-damned sit-back-and-read adventure and fun. Or, at least, it should be. After all, "B&B" gave us the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans, Metamorpho and a reborn Hawkman. When this current run of "B&B" started, I was thrilled -- Mark Waid and George Perez?! On the same book? With a tattoo? (Sorry, had to drop the old-school Bugs Bunny reference so y'all would understand my enthusiasm. Thanks for granting me that little sidetrip into nostalgia.)
If anyone can bring the nostalgia, it's Mark Waid. He's always written with a Silver Age lining. Back in the 1990s, he had not-so-grim, completely-un-anti-hero heroes. He has a knack for climbing inside a character's skull, and he brought that knack to "B&B". This issue is no exception. Waid provides a nice plot -- not mind-blowingly original, but nice nonetheless. The story opens with action and continues through to the last page. Waid quickly finds a voice for both Green Arrow and Deadman, making me wonder if he's ever really written either character before, because he does so very well here. Arrow and Deadman are teaming up in an attempt to stop Siva Anuttra, a lost soul who worships gods of death. As Deadman's sponsor, Rama Kushna supports life and the living; Anuttra is her opposite number. The two roll into Nanda Parbat to take on Anuttra and free Rama Kushna from his clutches. While on their way there, they encounter the best line of the book, "Die and die again!"
Kolins comes onto the title hot on the heels of Perez and Ordway, truly two masters of the comic book medium if ever there were. To say Kolins has his work cut out for him would be an understatement. Kolins, however, brings his "A" game. He's become a fan favorite, like Perez and Ordway before him. He brings a kinetic, energized style to this book, completely divergent from Perez's uber-detail. Kolins implies detail through use of strong linework and spotted blacks, much as Joe Kubert did back during his run on "The Brave and the Bold."
The color palette seems garish to me, with certain aspects being muted while others scream with their vibrance. Green Arrow, for example, never seems to lose the luster of his emerald gear, while Deadman cannot ever seem to find a strong lighting source. While the colors are consistent, they could have been punched up a bit more. Additionally, with Kolins penciling and inking, he definitely leaves some areas up to Schwager, who doesn't seem to be completely connected to Kolins' subtle clues. I know this sounds like I'm bashing Schwager, but I'm not. His work is consistent and helps hold this book together.
All in all, this isn't the best issue of "B&B" I've ever read, but it certainly is in the top ten. The action is fast-paced, the story over the top, and the team-up spontaneous. Kolins and Waid seem to have found a groove to work on with this book. As long as they keep looking forward, the book will be an enjoyable read. Continuing the current pattern, this story is seemingly a piece of a larger puzzle and next issue promises to broaden the cast of characters involved, with Nightwing and Hawkman joining the fray. How great will it be to see Hawkman and Green Arrow chatting it up again?
"The Brave and the Bold" should be one of DC's A-list books. Something people buy for fun and excitement, as well as value. Remember buying comics with your allowance as a kid? What books did you buy? I was always buying "B&B" or "Marvel Team-Up" or "Avengers" or "Justice League of America" because I'd get more heroes for my money. In this case, "The Brave and the Bold" #14 delivers.