The Brave and the Bold. How many people remember the days of Bob Haney and Jim Aparo on the original Brave and the Bold title? One of the great things about that book was the one shot stories. Every issue told a complete story in one issue. Aparo’s artwork was excellent. Haney did a good job within the confines of the limited number of pages he had.
J. Michael Straczynski has returned the one shot stories to this title. In his first issue, JMS used the Haney style combined with a modern take. Let’s see if JMS can work the same magic with this team-up.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Doctor Garton gives him a device. The beam is fired. Flash runs near the speed of light as he takes the readings. The laser interacts with the Flash’s own vibrational frequency and shorts out the device. The resulting feedback pulls Flash into the beam and boosts his speed. He blacks out.
Flash wakes up in a snow covered forest. His leg is broken in 2 places. This prevents him from running back through the rift. He hears noises. Going to the top of the hill, he spots a German battalion. Flash is at the Battle of the Bulge.
The Germans spot him and open fire. Flash runs. He slips and falls down a hill. When he starts to stand up, a gun is pointed at him. It is Blackhawk.
The other members of the Blackhawks tell Blackhawk that they saw the Germans attack Flash. The Blackhawks agree to go to a more secure area and continue their discussion about if they should trust the Flash or not.
We cut to Barry Allen with his mask off and telling his story to the Blackhawks. They don’t believe him. Blackhawk says if he is really from the future, Flash would know the name of the top secret project in New Mexico. Flash says the Manhattan Project. Blackhawk believes him.
The house they are hiding in is surrounded by German troops. They hand a gun to Barry. Barry is unsure of using a gun. Barry finds a stack of bricks. Flash drops the gun. The next thing the attackers see is a rain of bricks. Flash stops the attack.
Blackhawk takes hold of Flash. Blackhawk says that if the Flash does not start killing the Germans then the Flash is a coward. Blackhawk says he will shoot Flash if Flash refuses to fight the Germans.
Flash says that when he put on the uniform, he swore not to kill anyone. Blackhawk replies that when the Blackhawks put on their uniforms, they made a vow to kill as many of the enemy as they can.
Flash realizes in a war people get killed. As he wrestles with his dilema he leaves the others. He finds a US uniform. Flash does not kill. Barry Allen, American, can do those things when his country is at war. He unmasks. The days blur into a cloud of gunfire, smoke, and death.
When his leg is healed, Barry makes it back to the rift he travelled through. Blackhawk stops him. He wants to know if it was worth it. Did we win? Barry tells him yes. Blackhawk asks if it was the war to end all wars. Barry says no. But the country survives. It has it’s flaws but it is still intact.
Barry puts the Flash uniform on. He runs back through the rift and returns to modern day Belgium. It is only 1 second after he left. Doctor Garton says it is extraordinary. Flash thinks to himself, that what he does is not extraodinary. What the soldiers did was extraordinary.
The Good: To me, this is a classic Brave and Bold story. It is told in a compressed fashion and in just one issue. The Flash is in Belgium for a logical reason. His journey into the past makes sense based on previous Flash stories. Flash has frequently traveled through time by using the treadmill. Here the interaction with the beam speeds him up to break through the time barrier.
Straczynski has built a story that plays to the strengths of both the Flash and the Blackhawks. Granted, if the Flash had not broke his leg this would be a different story. However, Flash still finds ways to help by launching the barrage of bricks.
I liked the way Blackhawk doubted him when Barry said he was the Flash. JMS does a nice nod to Jay Garrick who was the one and only Flash during this time period.
Jesus Saiz once again does a great job with the art. War-torn Belgium gave him a stunning backdrop. The scene where Flash wakes up in the snow covered land was amazing. The red Flash suit framed by the white ground and the dark, leave-less trees really caught my eye.
The Bad: I had no problems with this issue but I can understand it if people complain about Barry’s decision to put on the Army uniform and pick up a gun. JMS does not show Barry killing anyone but the reader can assume that he did. In wartime, many people who would never think of killing a person have fought and killed their enemy. Until we are in that position, I don’t think I can judge another for their decision.
Overall: JMS/Saiz are a great team. They know how to tell a story and that is more than I can say about some of the other creators working on books today. Brave and the Bold #28 is definitely a recommended read.