26 October 2012

Faster than a DC Bullet: The Sandman Spin-Offs, Part XXIV: The Brave and the Bold: The Lords of Luck

Comic hardcover, 152 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 2007)
Borrowed from the library
Read October 2012
The Brave and the Bold: The Lords of Luck

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: George Pérez
Inkers: Bob Wiacek, Scott Koblish
Colorist: Tom Smith
Letterer: Rob Leigh

The first volume of the 2000s revival of The Brave and the Bold has some tenuous ties to Gaiman's Sandman: Destiny of the Endless appears here (though he was the one Endless who had been established before Gaiman came along). Destiny has subsequently appeared in his own spin-off, gotten a story of his own in Endless Nights, and even popped up in Lucifer.

Before I get to Destiny's role, though, I want to talk about The Lords of Luck as a whole. It's fun. It's amazingly fun. I wouldn't say that all superhero comics should be all fun all the time, but given their subject matter, there's often a surprising lack of the stuff. Well, not here: Mark Waid manages to give us a story that takes in the length and breadth of the DC universe, showing off just how awesome it is in almost all regards. The old Brave and the Bold comics was, I believe, one-and-done superhero team-ups; Waid hits the perfect middleground between that and the sprawling six-plus-part stories of the modern day by making The Lords of Luck a succession of team-ups that are all one story, meaning characters come and go from the story in rapidfire fashion. But Waid's a smart writer, and I was rarely confused, unlike with the deep levels of referencing going on in JSA: Mixed Signals.

We start with a team-up between Batman and Green Lantern, who discover that something powerful is after two weapons, and they split up to pursue each weapon. Green Lantern and Supergirl head to a casino planet following one. This is my first exposure to the 2000s Supergirl after Jeph Loeb's mediocre introduction of her, and (perhaps obviously) Waid writes her a heckuva a lot better; she's smart but seventeen, and wins you over even when she does stupid stuff. Then we get Batman teaming up with Blue Beetle, Supergirl teaming up with Lobo(!), and Batman teaming up with the Legion of Super-Heroes (!!).

Each of these is more awesome than the last. I always enjoy a bit of Lobo, and the banter between him and Supergirl never stops being entertaining. Even better, though, is watching Batman one-up the Legion of Super-Heroes; one should never give Batman a flight ring, apparently. I was laughing all the way through. It's a very real love letter to the DC universe and all the marvelous strangeness it contains. This is how you use continuity to your advantage. It helps that Waid treats his characters like people with personalities, not datapoints with histories.

It helps even more that Waid is paired with the legendary George Pérez on art.  Pérez's art is always great; he has storytelling skills that are rarely matched in modern comics. His pages are dense and eventful in the best way, and his splash pages have real impact. His characters are as fun-looking as the story, and he even manages to restrict himself to just one Supergirl panty-shot. (Sigh.)

Destiny himself is not exactly the imperturbable Endless we usually see; here, he's distracted and amnesiac, having given up control of the Book of Destiny that contains all history. He seems a little less inscrutable when he talks to Lobo and Supergirl as opposed to Dream and Lucifer, but watching Lobo drive his motorcycle through Destiny's garden is worth the price of admission.

The Brave and the Bold is kind of comic I'd wish I'd read when I was a kid, and that I hope my kids will read one day. I'm going to read the next volume because it too has some Sandman connections, but I'm looking forward even more to my eventual readthrough of the whole series. Cool stuff.

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