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Comic Review: Brave and the Bold #33 by J. Michael Straczynski and Cliff Chiang

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A lot of people are new to comics thanks to the recent rash of superheroes at the theaters, but sometimes it really pays off to be a longtime fan of the medium. Every now and again, writers jumping on the “new hero” bandwagon will delve into the history of iconic heroes and bring out a fantastic story from the past.

J. Michael Straczynski’s newest Brave and the Bold issue #33 is just such a gem. The story features Wonder Woman, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), and Zatanna, three of the most recognizable heroes from the DC Comics universe. You have to know the history of all the characters to really enjoy all the nuances of the story and to experience the pain/joy that’s coming. Saying anything more would give too much away.

I loved the way Straczynski sets everything up. The opening on Zatanna while she lays dreaming is fantastic, sets the reader up for the dark shadows that are coming. The action sequences with Wonder Woman, including the double entendre concerning removing clothes, is a blast. Batgirl’s intro as she stops some would-be motorcycle riding purse-snatchers is just fun.

New readers might wonder why the comic moves into a girl’s night out and features the three heroines getting their groove on at a popular club. But agile-witted ferrets with long association with these comics might sniff out what’s happening.

The dialogue Straczynski sets up between the three women feels natural and real. Of course, I’m a guy, so I’m somewhat limited in my total understanding, but I believe the author truly gets it. The talk about the shoes Barbara is wearing seems a little thin, but when she explains that her dad (Commissioner Gordon) got them for her and that she’s going to wear them even though they’re uncomfortable, I thought the touch was awesome.

Cliff Chiang’s art, especially the cover, totally rocks. It was fun and breezy, and I liked the way he portrayed our heroines in their “work” clothes as well as their party outfits. He makes the most of every panel. However, I thought the coloring was a little dark on some pages. I don’t know if that was a print thing or if the coloring was intentionally that dark.

The issue is part of the “Lost Stories of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” arc that’s currently running through the comics, so I’m looking forward to the graphic novel when it comes out. Straczynski and Chiang are really good together, and this is one of those issues that brings it all home — especially for dedicated fans.

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