The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1
Written by Liam Sharp
Art by Liam Sharp and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by DC Comics
Review by C.K. Stewart
‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
Fans of Irish mythology have a lot to look forward to in today’s The Brave and The Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1, but folks looking for another exciting Batman and Wonder Woman team-up will find themselves disappointed. Instead, The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1 finds itself trapped in a bog of murky exposition, punctuated by strange moments featuring the titular superheroes that only serve to emphasize the book’s uncertain sense of tone.
Writer Liam Sharp does double-duty in this six-issue miniseries, handling both the script and the art, potentially to this debut issue’s detriment. It’s clear from the pages of introductory exposition and extremely detailed art that Sharp is very invested in the mythology he’s exploring. At times, though, it feels as if he’s investing more time into delivering a Mythology 101 lecture on the page than he is in setting up the murder mystery that will carry through the following five issues. He’s a talented artist with an eye for tiny details, though his inks are so filled with heavy folds, shadowy clothing, or haggard faces that Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colors can’t help but seem a bit murky. In a lot of ways, Sharp’s attention to detail at times becomes a visual distraction in a very busy book.
While the art suffers at times in close-ups, the wider landscape shots of Tir na Nog are beautifully done, allowing Fajardo’s soft, earthy colors to shine in pages with fewer inked details. Fajardo’s muted blues and rich browns and greens give the realm of the faerie folk the mystical, otherworldly quality they deserve. Letterer Troy Peteri does an excellent job keeping the faerie realm and Cernunnos’ dialogue easy to digest, a tricky feat for many when “old-fashioned” lettering comes into play. The distinctive fonts build a sense of character without being distractingly difficult to read.
Unfortunately, Sharp handles the introduction of the two titular characters with somewhat less care than he does the grandly mythological backdrop of this mystery. He introduces Diana post-coitus with Steve Trevor in a pillow talk chat that gets interrupted by Cernunnos, a former god of fertility. Sharp’s art makes Diana look strangely young and Trevor strangely haggard, and the conversation that follows has all the wink, wink, nudge, nudge charm of an off-color joke from your elderly relatives at the family dinner.
Cernunnos invites himself to the party with the same level of subtlety and grace - to bless their union, of course - in an exchange that immediately makes the book feel surreal and dated. Sharp caps it off with a shot of Diana’s bare back at she looks at Steve, who’s lounging with another uncomfortably wrinkled sheet over his lap. Bruce gets introduced in the Batcave, shirtless and lifting weights with uncomfortably detailed musculature, in a shot that doesn’t seem to know whether or not it wants to go full beefcake to complement Diana and Steve’s sexy interlude. There are ways the scene with Diana and Steve could have worked, maybe, but it just feels like a vehicle to get to make a crack about threesomes with a god that falls flat in the context of the issue’s very dramatic, sweeping mythological epic vibe.
Sharp doesn’t seem to know quite what he wants The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1 to be - funny, serious, mysterious, sexy, educational? There’s so much exposition in the early portion of the book that there’s no sense of urgency or momentum at all until the final pages, when the proper mystery element of the plot finally kicks into gear. The mythological aspects of the book are interesting enough, but this is a book whose title suggests about Batman and Wonder Woman - and what we’ve got, at least for now, is fleeting, unfamiliar moments with both characters that make them feel like a vehicle for a mythology lesson.