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Comic Review: Batman: The Brave and the Bold by Matt Wayne, J. Torres, and various artists

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Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a polished, engaging collection of the first six issues of the comic book of the same name, presenting to readers a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek take on DC comics' superheroes and villains. The series collected here is based on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold television cartoon program, which sports the same light, kid-oriented tone.

From what I can tell, however, the stories in this book are original creations, done in the style of the TV show but not adapting specific stories from it. They were written by either Matt Wayne or J. Torres, both DC regulars, and drawn by a variety of artists, all skillfully keeping to a specific light, bouncy style created for this series.

It seems we've come full circle with our superheroes. Time was, viewers like me were annoyed that cartoons always messed up our favorite comic book heroes, making them too stiff, or worse, goofy, and usually saddling them with a stupid animal sidekick for comic relief. But now, probably because we more than have our fill of grim and gritty superheroes on TV these days, we don't mind the occasional light, retro take on our masked, caped friends.

At least, that's how I feel: as long as there are plenty of straight-up, fairly adult television adaptations of my favorite heroes, I can enjoy the occasional goofy elements in shows like the animated Teen Titans, and the overall it's-all-in-fun tone of comic books like this one.

Every story in this collection starts out with a two-page (no more and no less) mini-adventure prior to the issue's main business. Every issue tells a complete story (once you get past the mini-adventure), and features Batman teaming up with a different hero from the DC universe. One story guess-starred Aquaman, another Superman, Captain Marvel was in one, another had someone named Kid Eternity, etc. Actually, retro take or not, the book was a painless way to catch up on who's running around these days in DC's various comic book titles fighting crime.

I wouldn't read a steady diet of this type of comic book (a little "Curses, Batman, you foiled my plans!" goes a long way), but subsequent volumes of this title will be fun to read every now and then. Stories like the ones in this colorful, bouncy book are like a refreshing bowl of ice cream after a week of rich, gourmet entrees. The gourmet stuff is great, but sometimes you just want a simple, refreshing treat. This first volume of Batman: The Brave and the Bold fits the bill on that score nicely.

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