One thing about comic book fans — we don’t just read our books, we re-read ’em like crazy. This is one of the reasons why so many of us forget our CPR training when it counts the most, but can still quote you the effects of each version of kryptonite (green k kills Superman, red has unpredictable effects for a 24 hour period, etc. And if these conditions have been retconned out, I don’t wanna know). Which is one of the ways in which I can spot a really great story — how many times do I find myself rereading it? I think I’ve read the whole run of Preacher at least twenty times now, and still find myself reaching for it occasionally. Same goes for classics like Lone Wolf & Cub, Usagi Yojimbo, Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing; and obscure gems like The Inferior Five, Gabagool!, and Chrispy Bacon.
So this is why I knew I was onto something when I read Brave & The Bold #33 for the fifth time in two days.
I’m talking about the current series being written by J. Michael Straczynski. For those of you not familiar with this book, each issue promises a team-up between two or more superheroes (usually Batman and someone else, like the cartoon show of the same name). This issue’s cover promised an artist’s dream and a fanboy’s delight: Wonder Woman, Zatanna, and Batgirl. While there really aren’t any slam-bang battles with the Legion of Doom, this issue hit me hard with the emotional impact of… look, I hate spoilers, so let me just say that this standalone issue serves as a prequel/sequel to a VERY popular graphic novel, and holds up admirably. So admirably, in fact, that I found myself in my local comic store a few days later buying all the back Straczynski issues I could find. Every one of them was a winner! Straczynski is one of the best writers out there, and his runs on Thor, Rising Stars, Midnight Nation and Amazing Spider-Man are essential reading (well, not all of Spider-Man, but JMS has been very vocal about his not wanting to have anything to do with the “One More Day” and “Gwen Stacy needs some of that Norman Osborn lovin'” storylines). Over the course of a few issues, his Brave & The Bold stories hold more genuine feeling and character development than the last five DC crossover events combined.
JMS is about to kick off his runs on both Superman and Wonder Woman — why DC didn’t include previews of these in their Free Comic Book Day books, I’ll never know. Until then, please go out and pick up one or all of his Brave & The Bold issues. You will NOT be disappointed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read B&tB #33… for the umpteenth time.