Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Brave and the Bold #35 review

Michael J Straczynski is a versatile chap. On the one hand, there's this week's Superman #701 which is, to say the least, a sober comic. On the other there's this confection, a team-up between two of DC's lesser-known teams. I've always loved the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, the plucky Legion of Super-Heroes rejects who built their own legend. And the Inferior Five, wow ... er ... I've never actually read an issue of their short-lived Sixties book, but I've seen their cameos down the years (could we have a Showcase collection please, DC?) and wanted more.

Now here they are, together for the first time. As in their previous starring roles, in the Eighties, the Subs are dafter than in their LSH appearances, even making the Inferior Five look smart at times. Some purists will complain, but I'm all for the odd comic story that dares to be both comic and odd.

The story has the Subs hearing of the 'real' Legion's triumph over a black hole and deciding to steal their thunder by taking a time bubble and saving the day first, relatively speaking. But lack of mathematical nous means they fail to snag the day-saving Doom Patrol, as managed by the LSH in last month's Brave and Bold (still on sale and well worth buying). Instead they're stuck with the frankly delightful Merryman, Blimp, Dumb Bunny, White Feather and Awkwardman - the Inferior Five. Cue a back and forth tale of mad science and madder heroes that's one of the best mainstream comics I've read in ages.

Puzzling moments from last issue are explained, as the Subs manage to show just why, despite their pretty decent powers, they're not ready for superhero prime time. The issue is capped off with a surprise that will hopefully prompt more Inferior Five appearances ere long. Perhaps they'll meet Superman on his road trip ...

Straczynski is on fire, cranking out some splendid gags while keeping the cause and effect thread clear for us science dunces. And Jesus Saiz has a ball with the artwork, letting go with the goofiness necessary to make the story sing (click image to enlarge). The man was born to draw Night Girl's beehive, and if he's not channelling the Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons into Chlorophyll Kid, I'll be a three-eyed Kryptonian babootch.

Comics which embrace the loonier aspects of the DC Universe are always welcome. It's not easy to get it right - the last Ambush Bug mini, for example, proved less than I've come to expect from the creators involved - but this story is a tiny treasure. It made a very wet day much brighter.

8 comments:

  1. I am very excited to read this.

    While I hate the name, the concept of the Inferior Five is seems like a natural fit for the legacy obsessed DC Comics. To the extent that the DC universe has a spine, it is the generational line extending from JSA-to-JLA-to-Teen Titans.

    However, legacy has a flip-side doesn't it?

    For every Prince Hal (or FDR) in history, there is a George "Dubya" Bush. It always seems odd that Alpha Dogs, like Barry Allen, only beget fellow Alpha Dogs (Wally West, Bart Allen). Where are the apples that fell away from the tree and kept rolling? With all the characters made humble and dutiful by their amazing advantages, shouldn't we see a few made lazy and entitled by them?

    ReplyDelete
  2. "You know, that's not actually an air valve. Not that I mind..."

    Brought me a big, big smile, that did.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't normally subscribe to this title and when I saw the team-up, I picked up the book without hesitation. I loved the art and thought every character had a good, different look. Stone Boy and Fire Lad were especially attractive. The story was fun.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're so right, Dean. The Inferior Five would be the DCU's first legacy heroes, even though we never met their parents (I expect they were too busy teaming up with the Justice Experience).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Exactly Mart, the I5 doesn't just fit in with the DC legacy theme, they preceded it. It's like they were the practice run for Infinity Inc.

    As far as them looking good, in the page you post, all the guys seem to have the same body. Fortunately it's a very attractive build to me. And I suppose it was pretty much normally true in the Legion of old, I just never noticed because nobody back then said how different they all looked. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. A lot of chuckles in this issue, and some drop-dead FABULOUS art! I wondered why Night Girl got all the focus, when Polar Boy was Sub leader, and I also stopped a tad because the subs didn't get to demonstrate their powers. Were the Subs ever introduced to the reader by name?

    Why doesn't DC allow new readers into their stories? I'm seeing this across the board, characters brought into the narrative without an introduction. Hm.

    As for names, wasn't the Inferior 5's official name "the Fearless 5"? I'll have to research that when I do my index on them, but I don't think they referred to themselves (officially) as "Inferior."

    But great humor in this ish, and it was humor that fit the situation (unlike a certain issue #33). Especially appreciated the slight breaking of the 4th wall regarding copyright infringement.

    But oh, that art was nice! When whatshisface on the WW book leaves, put this guy on toot sweet! Or he'd be great on Power Girl, too. Though he'd probably prefer the big-selling titles for their increased earnings potential, darn it, ratzen-fratzen...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Darn not being able to edit. Just wanted to say that this was the best use of facial expression since Amanda Conner, and that's saying a LOT for me. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think you're right Carol, everyone wasn't introduced ... a quick skim says Polar Boy and Night Girl go unchecked. Roll calls, we need roll calls. And the art is lovely, yes. I so want to hug the I5 at the end.

    Not knowing they were called the Fearless Five - that's what I get for never having read their strips. Have they ever been reprinted?

    ReplyDelete