Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Brave And The Bold #194 - DC Comics

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD No. 194, January 1983
It’s hard to imagine what inspired Mike W. Barr into penning this twenty-three page periodical’s plot based upon a motivational therapist counselling “the Rainbow Raider and Doctor X to take on each other’s super-heroic opponents… and defeat them.” But whatever it was certainly created one of the more ludicrously unusual tales for the long-running title and could arguably be suggestive as to just the why “The Brave And The Bold” was cancelled by “DC Comics” just six issues later.

Certainly the American writer’s rather farcical prologue leaves a fair bit to be desired as an overly confident bespectacled Professor Andrea Wye somehow manages to convince the depressed “three-time-loser” super-criminals Roy Bivolo and Doctor Ecks that by simply repeatedly chanting “I believe in me” they can somehow remove their “negative thinking caps”, “shatter the[ir] chains of nega-think” and best the formidable duo of Batman and the Flash. Admittedly the counsellor’s method, recommended in her new book “Be All The Person You Can Be”, does prove to be a short-lived success. But only because Barr’s contrived narrative bestows upon both the Scarlet Speedster and Dark Knight an incredulous amount of incompetence and coincidental bad-luck.

Simply because Barry Allen supposedly “is far from the Batman’s equal in intellect” should not mean that the super-hero can be so easily manoeuvred into an unavoidable blast from Doctor X; especially one which is delivered along an underground pipe that the villain fortunately “sensed ‘neath the ground” whilst the trio are battling in the middle of the countryside. Similarly, if all the Rainbow Raider has to do to defeat Batman is create an unbreakable prison prism around him whilst the Caped Crusader is “trying to avoid a multi-coloured sunburn” then why doesn’t Bivolo defeat all his foes so easily?

Just as disappointing is the thinking behind this comic’s “showdown”, as having clearly done some incredibly detailed research into both her patients and their prey, the Professor apparently forgets about the Flash’s “super-speed metabolism” and thus fails to inject him with enough sedative until after she has “induce[d] these heroes to reveal the secrets they possess… The secrets of the Justice League Satellite and time-travel, among others…” Once free the Crimson Comet unsurprisingly rescues Batman by matching the frequency of his prism prison, and then preposterously detains Doctor X by merely dousing him and his "banished" brother with water.

Dishearteningly the artwork for this book by Will Eisner Award Hall of Famer Carmine Michael Infantino is equally less than inspiring, with many of the magazine’s dialogue-laden panels being drawn with the characters rather tediously just stood side-on to one another. Somewhat encouragingly the New Yorker’s pencilling does become rather more energised during the fight scenes. But even these sequences contain some rather wooden and uninspiring illustrations, such as Batman’s rather robotic-looking punch upon the Rainbow Raider whilst flying across the city’s skyline via a bat-line.
Writer: Mike W. Barr, and Guest Artists: Carmine Infantino & Sal Trapani

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