No doubt there are fans of the Caped Crusader who aren’t thrilled about the new “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” comic-book series, with its Technicolor palate and Saturday-morning cartoon storylines. (The TV version airs on Friday nights, actually.) Come on, though – kids are Batman fans, too, and given how dark the Dark Knight’s gotten lately, a change of pace might not be a bad idea. Besides, the last time he got this campy was on the Adam West series, and since there’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo that’s keeping it off DVD, this is about as lighthearted as the franchise is going to get.
The only thing missing from issue 21 are the usual suspects from the rouges’ gallery of villains – instead of going up against the Joker or Two-Face, Batman has to save the world from Robert, whose profile is less conventional than his name suggests. He’s a meteor-shaped misfit from the other side of the universe, and on top of showing up with telekinetic powers, he’s brought an arsenal of diabolical one-liners. (There might be a new bad guy in town, but the dialogue’s pretty much the same.)
Since neither Robin or Batgirl are around, Batman gets assistance from the Green Lantern, whose superpowers sure come in handy against a villain who’s this powerful. The Green Lantern has the advantage of being able to hover around and blast baddies into oblivion, but at least Batman can keep up with all those gadgets at his disposal, not the least of which is a teleportation device that sends him into space. If you think that’s bizarre, you should hear what the Green Lantern has to deal with: “Got derailed fighting a giant mind-controlled puppet in Coast City, and then Hector Hammond devolved me into a monkey.”
He’s preaching to the choir, of course: “It happens,” the Caped Crusader replies.
That kind of humor works well here, but it also comes from a true place. There are times when comic books get so serious that they turn into parodies of themselves – at least this handles its eccentricities with some sincerity, even if it does cross a line that some fans believe shouldn’t be crossed. Actually, when you think of the iterations this franchise has gone through, maybe something as benign as this isn’t that big of an offense.
He isn’t wearing costumes that have nipples anymore. That’s something.
This article originally appeared on AllMediaNY.com