The Brave and the Bold 17 review

The last time story I read by Marv Wolfman which featured Supergirl saw him kill her off. Here, the current Kara Zor-El doesn’t perish, but goodness, it’s a painful read.

Current Kara (moody cow) turns to remade Raven (happy Goth) for help with her tumultuous emotions. She’s sleeping badly because she’s flashing back to daddy Zor-El instructing her to travel to Earth and kill baby cousin Kal-El.

(I was under the impression this had been retconned away as a Dark Angel plot, but the current Supergirl book has been such a mess that I’m not at all sure. Let’s assume this takes place before that was cleared up, if indeed it was.)

Nice but dim Raven agrees to use her empathy powers to try and heal Kara. Kara throws a hissy fit and insults Raven – the girl has her work cut out. She takes Kara to her other-dimensional retreat, Azarath, whose priests shut Kara down. Go priests!

Meanwhile, San Francisco student Jonny is using his heat abilities to cause chaos, and kill, on campus. He’s also flashing back, to his mother telling him she didn’t know who his daddy was; it’s obvious from the first page that, like Raven, he’s the spawn of Trigon, but this supposed mystery is returned to again and again, paralleled with Kara’s painful possible past.

It’s tedious stuff, apparently an inventory tale that’s been sitting in the drawer awhile. Editor Joey Cavalieri should have left it there, and locked the drawer, because I can’t believe there are readers who hadn’t had it with Kara’s whining before recent mood adjustments courtesy of new creative teams in her own comic and on the Superman books.

As the book went on, I wondered how our heroines were going to take down the villain in a page or two (well, quickly, given that Supergirl has a million powers, Raven several and the bad guy but one, but still, you expect a protracted fight when so much time is devoted to a new villain – fully eight pages without either of the leads). Then the full horror of the issue hit me – it’s continued next month. And with the same characters. Oh god.

While Marv Wolfman’s script annoyed me with its blend of tired Kara-centred dilemma and campus politics that were old when he was writing the Titans in the Sixties, Phil Winslade did better on the art. Sure, the proportions of Kara and Raven were rubbish in a Coit Tower sequence, but he generally gives great people. His Kara at least looks appealing, while Raven looks a heck of a lot better than she did in her recent ’emo’ mini series. Plus, he draws great backgrounds, nether-dimensions and unnecessary flashbacks – a coffin sequence is a stand-out, with Likely Trigon reflecting sinisterly off the wood.

A teeny thing on the splash page annoyed me – there’s a ‘Raven created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ credit for Raven, but no ‘Supergirl created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino’. So what if this Kara is not quite the same character, it’s the same property. And this certainly isn’t the same Raven that Wolfman and Perez created.

Since being revived by Mark Waid and George Perez the Brave and the Bold has been one of my favourite titles, with consistently entertaining stories, great choice of characters and gorgeous art. Even when other creators came aboard the book was great. Of course, it couldn’t last, but it’s a shame the first real klunker had to be quite so awful. Brave and Bold? Bitch and Bore, more like.

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