Here we find out, courtesy of the all-ages Batman team-up book. For anyone thinking this tale can’t possibly count in terms of ‘real’ continuity, I spotted nothing that would prevent ‘Shadows and Light’ fitting right into the canon of the regular Batman books. And the benevolent despot of those titles, writer Grant Morrison, says every story Batman ever appeared in counts, so there (click to enlarge images).
Really though, it doesn’t matter a jot whether or not this story ever becomes official continuity, it’s a four-colour festival for lovers of DC lore right now. As well as Batman and Green Lantern, the book features the original Teen Titans taking on the Time Trapper to save the Justice League of Toddlers (including a Superbaby straight out of the pulped Elseworlds 80pp Giant). For extra smiles, the young heroes get to say not only ‘Teen Titans GO!’ but ‘Aw yeah!’
And that’s just the framing sequence. The body of the story has Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott coming out of retirement to check out new vigilante ‘The mysterious Bat-Man’. And he doesn’t like what he sees – a dark, brooding figure, punishing criminals and setting citizens a poor example. The newcomer is the antithesis of Alan, who swore to banish the darkness, never using greater force than necessary. The difference in philosophical and physical approaches leads to some sparky discussion, before the heroes pair up to rescue a kidnapped girl. Each finally sees that the other’s approach has merit, but it’s the Bat-Man who is most affected, dropping the giant bat look to become a brighter figure, one who won’t terrify the public as much as the villains. And knowing that sooner or later his new friend Batman will have to face criminals more formidable than street thugs, Green Lantern arranges lessons from some very exclusive teachers – the Justice Society of America,
The core creative team of writer Sholly Fisch, penciller Rick Burchett and inker Dan Davis crafts another little gem here. Fisch gives us a good thematic hook, clear plotline, entertaining framing sequence, character development, meaningful action, a joke or two … apparently Fisch is a rocket scientist. He’s come up with a hymn to DC history which, I think, could easily be enjoyed by someone as their first comic.
And the art by Burchett and Davis is pretty darn wonderful too – it’s proper cartooning, using only as many lines as are needed to tell the story with maximum oomph, and no more. Whether it’s the bright superheroics of the Teen Titans sequence or the darker doings in Gotham, these chaps are having a great time, and it shows. It’s a treat to see Alan Scott in the DC Animated Universe style, while the original Bat-Man outfit really grabs the eye.
Backing them up are Gabe Eltaeb, providing the perfect colour palette, and Dezi Sienty, supplying good, clear lettering from the imaginative title design on (and this isn’t token praise – I read a couple of comics last week and really had to strain to read miniscule captions with fiddly fonts).
Month after month, this comic proves to be a terrific palate cleanser, a vacation from the complications of the regular DC Universe. Whether or not you watch the TV show, give the comic book Brave & Bold a try.