Batman: The Brave and the Bold. From 2008 to 2011, this series depicted Batman (voiced by Diedrich Bader), teaming up with many various superheroes throughout the DC Universe. I loved this show. It told fun stories, gave spotlight to lesser-known characters, and presented a lighter-hearted, more fun version of Batman. Naturally, this series, like much of DC's animated content at the time, got itself a comic tie-in.
The comics lasted for a couple of years, getting rebranded as the All-New Batman: Brave and the Bold with issue #22. And with that out of the way, let's take a look at All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #6!
The cover is pretty cool-looking. You got Batman leaping at Clayface in horror. You got Clayface himself putting his fist right through the heart of the screaming Martian Manhunter, who is standing in fire, which is the thing hat can weaken him.
"Now You See Me..."
Writer: Sholly Fisch
Penciller: Rick Burchett
Inker: Dan Davis
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Assistant Editor: Chynna Clugston Flores
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Our story begins in Gotham City. Detective John Jones is pointing out a man, saying he committed a crime.
The bald man denies it. However, Jones knows that the man robbed the store, shot the clerk because he refused to hand over his watch, which was a gift from the clerk's daughter, and hid the loot in his home, under a loose floorboard in the bedroom. The man is shocked, asking how Jones knew this. Is he a witch? No, he's a detective.
John's partner, Diane Meade, is awed by his perfect arrest record, and asks how he does it. Jones explains he has...unique methods. She heads out towards a car, but notices that Jones is walking away. She asks where he's going, but he tells her to go ahead to the station. He'll meet her later. Jones walks into an alley.
John Jones is in actuality, a Martian police officer known as J'onn J'onzz, the noble, heroic, Chocco-loving Martian Manhunter. Elsewhere, Batman is fighting the villainous Calendar Man, a criminal who plots crimes around holidays. Calendar Man tries to blast the Caped Crusader with Fourth of July-themed fireworks.
I'm just including that panel because I love Calendar Man's costume. J'onn appears by going through the wall, much to the villain's shock. Batman takes advantage, and kayos the Calendar Man out of season with a Mighty Punch. Batman jokes that today is Boxing Day for him. Heh. Funny. Batman asks J'onn what's up, J'onn is hoping to learn something from Batman's deductive skills. The Dark Knight is confused by this, as J'onn is already a detective himself. J'onn explains that he fears he has grown a bit too dependent on his telepathy. That makes some sense. If you can read minds, why would you need deductive skills?
Batman asks if J'onn wants to shadow him as he solves cases, but J'onn has a better idea. One that could also give Batman a challenge. J'onn can use his shapeshifting powers to look like anyone. He'll disguise himself in certain places in Gotham, and Batman has to find him. Batman is intrigued by this, so he accepts the challenge.
The first site is Gotham Square. Batman notes that over a million people pass through the place every day, so J'onn is easily able to hide. He looks around and is able to spot the disguised Martian.
How did Batman know that lineman was J'onn? Look at his hands. He's not wearing gloves. The streetlight was on, so the wires J'onn was working on were live. However, his disguise did not include gloves or insulation. No experienced lineman would take that risk, because you know, electric shocks can kill. But J'onn is invulnerable, so he wouldn't have to worry about it. Observation and deduction.
The next day, Batman comes to Robinson Park, in his Matches Malone guise. He looks around and can't seem to find the Martian Manhunter. He observes some kids playing, a couple walking by, and even a squirrel. He then figures it out and lights a match.
J'onn was the bench. How did Batman know? J'onn's bench form had no graffiti on it. J'onn can change his shape, but he can't hide his weakness to fire. Later, Batman heads to the Gotham History Museum. Batman immediately finds the disguised J'onn. How? His disguise was writing with his right hand, but his hair is parted on the right side, and his belt buckle is facing right, which is common among left-handed people. Yes, Batman found a shapeshifter, but it's not J'onn.
It's Clayface, everybody! I love that this incarnation of him looks like the Batman: The Animated Series version. DCAU 4 Life! Clayface had wanted to rob the museum, but he's going to now have to give Batman the Hulk treatment. Clayface smash. J'onn changes back from his old lady disguise and take on Clayface. The Malleable Menace slashes at the Martian Manhunter with a chainsaw arm, but J'onn uses his intangibility power to show how unimpressed he is with Clayface's Ash Williams impression.
Clayface recalls seeing Firefly being able to hurt Martian Manhunter at a big brawl during Batman and Wonder Woman's wedding (Which occurred in All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4). Forming his hand into an axe, Clayface smashes a propane tank in a food cart. The flames that result have the effect on J'onn that Kryptonite has on Kryptonians, weakening the mighty alien.
Batman tries to stop Clayface by tossing a capsule of liquid nitrogen at him. However, the freezing agent isn't able to work fast enough, and Clayface gets away by turning into a bird. The Caped Crusader uses his cape to put out the flames, allowing J'onn to quickly recover his strength. He then goes after the Shapeshifting Scoundrel.
J'onn pursues Clayface to an exhibit on African animals. He asks the guard if he saw a bird fly in here, and the guard says no. J'onn looks over the exhibit, thinking about where he could be...and who or what he could be posing as.
Batman comes in and asks if J'onn has found him. The Martian Manhunter believes that he just may have. He guesses that Clayface is the stuffed tiger in the exhibit. And he's right. Realizing he's been exposed, Clayface turns into a blue-scaled monster that looks like it came from the mind of Jack Kirby.
J'onn easily dispatches the villain by telepathically telling him to sleep. Clayface does so, collapsing on the spot, and taking a trip to Dreamland. Batman asks if J'onn found him with telepathy. Nope, J'onn used observation and deduction. Clayface impersonated a tiger in an exhibit of African animals. Tigers come from India. Well, they also can be found in Southeast Asia, but you get the point. No natural history museum worth its salt would put a tiger in an exhibit about African animals.
Batman does note that J'onn did use his telepathy against Clayface to stop him from smashing the museum. J'onn explains that, well, he's improving himself, not stupid. Bystanders were in danger, and Clayface was a dangerous criminal on the loose. Best thing to do there was take him down quickly, and his telepathy could let him do that.
The story ends with a suspect in custody. Diane Meade tells the suspect, Bruno, that she knows that he broke into a garage and stole a car. Bruno denies it, saying that he was at home, watching TV. J'onn, in his John Jones guise, knows otherwise. Meade asks if it's that "magic" of his. Nope. Observation and deduction. John points out oil stains on Bruno's shoes. Oil stains that are still wet. If the crime lab tests those stains, he'll bet they match the oil on the floor of the garage the car was stolen from. Meade is impressed, and says John is the world's greatest detective. John answers that he considers himself more of a manhunter, and there is only one World's Greatest Detective.
This issue was really good. It's a well-told tale that teamed up two of DC's greatest crime-solvers. J'onn's issue is an interesting one. Although I will admit, it got me confused at first. If you were a detective with telepathy, why would you not use it to solve crimes easier? Upon further thought, I began to realize something.
Memory is not the most reliable thing in the world, which is what I assume J'onn is looking at when he reads minds. Observation and deduction can be skills used to help obtain more reliable evidence, like the final scene with the oil stains show. J'onn could have easily read Bruno's mind, but it may also have not been admissible in court. The oil stains would have. Improving yourself indeed, J'onn. Not to mention, it would help him maintain his secret identity.
Despite that, it's a very fun issue. The art does a very good job imitating the style of the show in general, but it also feels a bit more cartoony, allowing it to stand out a bit.
If you loved the cartoon, hunt down the comics. They are really good. At least, the ones I got. Next time, we'll take a look at the beginning of one of my favorite eras of one of my favorite superteams. That's right, after the events of Heroes Reborn, we're going to look at the beginning of the Kurt Busiek/George Perez era of Earth's Mightiest Heroes...