Batman: The Brave and the Bold (All-New) #2

A comic review article by: Kara Young & Thom Young
The Psycho Pirate doesn’t like all the happiness around the holidays so he makes everyone feel rage, terror, despair, or greed. Batman and Captain Marvel must stop him so that the holidays can be enjoyed.

Kara Young:

I like The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold because it’s a holiday issue and Christmas is my favorite holiday. I watch the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold with my dad, and this comic book is a lot like the show. It has a lot of funny parts to the story to go with the superhero adventures.

One of the things I thought was funny about this story was when some angry ballerinas were chasing a guy who was afraid of them because of the Psycho Pirate trying to ruin the holidays. Batman swung down and said, “Crazed ballerinas. Go home!”

The ballerinas got scared and one of them said, “Eeeek!”

I take dance classes every week, and sometimes we act crazy in the class. It would be scary and funny if Batman suddenly came into the studio and said, “Crazed dancers. Go home!”

I also thought it was funny when Batman saved a baby stroller from rolling into the street. That wasn’t the funny part, though. The baby in the stroller was angry and threw his rattle at Captain Marvel--hitting him in the head.

The drawings in this comic book are very good. The characters look like they do in the television cartoon, and the drawings tell a lot about what’s going on in the story. For instance, on the second page, the drawings showed what was going on in Gotham City before Mr. Tawny and Billy Batson got there.

One thing I didn’t understand about the story was why Billy was scared after getting to Gotham City and feeling the effect of the Psycho Pirate’s mask but later in the story he doesn’t show any of the feelings that the Psycho Pirate made everyone feel. My dad said it was because in between Billy had changed to Captain Marvel and that the magic lightning of Shazam had stopped the Psycho Pirate from affecting Billy.

But then I still don’t understand why Captain Marvel wasn’t feeling what the Psycho Pirate was making everyone else feel. Why does the magic lightning matter? The story didn’t do a good job of explaining why Captain Marvel and Billy didn’t feel the Psycho Pirate’s emotions.

Thom Young:

When I was Kara’s age (she is now eight years old), I bought a copy of Batman #208 two weeks before Thanksgiving (actually, my mother bought it for me, but I picked it out at the grocery store). I remember that issue fondly because I liked the cover a great deal--and because it had a reprint of what I consider the best Catwoman story of all time: “The Secret Life of the Catwoman” from Batman #62.

The Batman television series had been my favorite TV show, and my mother had not yet decided to throw away all my comic books--though that impending doom was only a few weeks away once my third grade report card came home with Mrs. Simko’s comments that “Tom is a bright child who doesn’t apply himself as well as he should. He often daydreams instead of doing his work.”

Yes, Batman #208 was also memorable because it was the last comic book my parents bought for me (as a kid). I wouldn’t see another comic book for nearly three years when I secretly bought a copy of Batman #235 at the drugstore, snuck it home, and hid it from my parents for fear of them throwing it out.

The point is, when I was a Kara’s age, the regular Batman series was written so that kids and adults alike could enjoy it (or at least some adults). Nowadays, though, the various ongoing Batman titles in the regular “DC Universe” are written for adults who started reading comics when they were kids. However, most elementary school children would find nothing of interest in a Batman title (or any other regular universe title). In fact, while I enjoy the most recent issues of Batman, Incorporated; Batman: The Dark Knight; Detective Comics; and Batwoman a great deal, I wouldn’t offer any of them to my daughter.

However, she did read the complete Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers run in Detective Comics 469-76, and she seemed to like those stories. Currently, though, if eight-year-old kids want to read a Batman story then The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold is the only option available to them. In a way that’s too bad because it means kids don’t have the option of reading an orthodox Batman story; all they currently have are these lighthearted, bigfoot Batman stories.

Note: Bigfoot refers to a style of cartoon art characterized by bold lines, a lack of distracting detail, and humorous exaggeration of bodily features rather than to cartoons about the legendary animals stalking the woods in the Great Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska.

To tell you the truth, I think Kara probably enjoys these Batman stories because they are drawn in the bigfoot style, so the animated series and the comic book are probably successful due to the style of the illustrations as much as they are due to the actual stories being told. (Kara also tends to like the style of shōjo children’s anime and manga, though she has not actually read any manga).

Primarily, I watch Batman: The Brave and the Bold in order to share a television viewing experience with Kara and to expose her to comic book superheroes (because I want to turn her into a female mini-me, I suppose). I’m glad she enjoys the show, and I buy the monthly comic book for her because she likes the show. However, this issue is the first Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book I’ve read (from either series), and I’m not likely to keep reading each issue as I buy them for Kara.

It’s not that the story in this issue is bad--it's actually an entertaining diversion in the same way that reading a "Garfield" comic strip can be an entertaining diversion--but The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold seems to be directed towards five- to ten-year-old children even more than is the animated series (or was the Batman comics from my own childhood). There’s nothing wrong with that, of course; it’s just that this series is specifically targeting children rather than a mix of kids and adults.

To some extent, the animated series is targeting that same demographic, but there are elements in the television version that are meant to appeal to longtime Batman fans (such as me) who have fond memories of the Silver Age and the 1960s television versions of Batman.

Thus, if your children are fans of the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold series, then they are likely to enjoy this comic book series, too. However, if you are a fan of the TV series but do not have children, you might not enjoy The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold as much as you do the television version.

Based on my reading of just this one issue, I would say that the comic book series is a bit broader in its humor and a bit narrower in its melodrama than the TV show is.

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