New To You Comics #110: Revisiting The Silver Age In “The Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave & The Bold’

by Tony Thornley

With the comics industry continuing to battle the effects of the pandemic, Brendan Allen and I are continuing to talk about comics that the other might not have read. I’m more of a capes, laser guns and swords guy, while Brendan loves dark magic, criminals, and things that go bump in the night. This week, we’re revisiting a Silver Age throwback that’s new to the both of us!

DC Comics, more than any other publisher, is fueled by nostalgia. So naturally, there’s a lot of stories focused on days gone by. In The Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave & The Bold one of DC’s best writers Mark Waid for this type of story tackled two of their icons, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan. He’s joined by Tom Peyer, Barry Kitson, Tom Grindberg, Lovern Kindzierski, and Ken Lopez.

Join two DC icons in six timeless tales of their time as friends and heroes. Barry Allen is the fastest man alive. Hal Jordan is the fearless champion of the spaceways. Together, they’re the greatest team in the DC Universe.

Tony Thornley: This is not our first Waid DC story, and frankly that one didn’t go well. It’s a prime example of stories aging poorly. I think this one was a much stronger story but it is VERY silver age. It’s barely modernized at all, even to 1999 standards.

What did you think?

Brendan Allen: A couple things are going on here for me. First, I’m not a superfan of the capes and tights, and this is a VERY dated book. 

Tony: Yeah, it was going for a very specific feel and it unfortunately made the book feel straight out of the 60’s. This is a book I’ve wanted to check out for a very long time. I’m a big Flash fan (no matter which version) but NOT much of a fan of Hal Jordan. LITERALLY every other Green Lantern is more interesting than Hal. Though I wish this story had a bit more of a throughline, I liked it for what it was. Though it was heavily continuity based, I never felt like I needed to know classic DC continuity. It also did a really solid job of showing us the characters as human beings and not super-powered props in their stories (a big problem of DC’s in the Silver Age).

Brendan: I’m glad you brought up the lack of cohesion. I had to go back and make sure I was reading the right book for this week, because each chapter reads like a one-shot. There is literally nothing connecting any of the chapters to each other, except for the lead character’s presence. With all these little self contained stories, there really isn’t any room for character development. I didn’t learn anything about any of these Flashes or Lanterns. You could substitute almost any superheroes into these pages, and it wouldn’t change the story much. 

Tony: Yeah, with a few exceptions, I completely agree with you. I think the issue teaming Barry and Hal with their golden age counterparts was one of the better issues of the collection, and the final issue was pretty decent. If there had a throughline, both with an antagonist and a theme, I really think overall an okay story would have been a lot better.

Brendan: Sure. There were also a few pretty decent ideas that may have benefitted from a longer story than they were each allotted. The quick transitions left a lot on the table at the end of a couple of these chapters. 

Tony: I think the art was a highlight. Kitson is a pretty strong superhero artist, and Grindberg’s fill-in issue evoked Neal Adams really well. Kitson’s faces can be kind of same-y, but his figure work is solid, and he’s a very good storyteller. Grindberg was a bit more dynamic for the single issue he did, and it very specifically recalled a specific era of comics.

Brendan: I do like the art quite a bit. The action sequences are gorgeous. Super easy to follow. Dynamic. This is what people imagine when they’re reminiscing about the comics they loved in their childhood. I found myself turning the page a couple times without reading the dialog, wanting to see the next panel already, getting lost in the sequence. 

Tony: Oh I definitely agree. The Silver Age/Golden Age team-up issue in particular is a great example of that. Visually speaking, it was probably the best issue of the series. It had several cool sequences that built up to come intense moments.

Brendan: That was the highlight of this one for me. The scripts were okay. Nothing spectacular, but passable. The art does the heavy lifting, elevates a mediocre story.

Tony: Yeah, if there had been more of the feel of the four character team-up, it would have been much better in my eyes.

I didn’t LOVE this (for exactly the reasons we mentioned above), but overall I liked it. I’m probably never going to revisit it though. It’s just hard to recommend. If you’re not a fan of a very specific set of characters in a specific era, you’re not going to enjoy it.

Brendan: It’s not really for me, but it admittedly wasn’t aimed at me either. I like the weird shit, those funny little indies with the murder, and monsters, and creepy twisted clowns and stabby weirdos. This does call back to some of the first comics I ever read, though, and I understand why people like it. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it again either. 

Tony: What’s up next week?

Brendan: We’re going to check out The Visitor: A Graphic Novel (Animorphs #2) by Chris Grine, adapted from work by KA Applegate and Michael Grant. I haven’t actually read this one, but I am aware of the novels, and I’m a fan of Chris Grine, so let’s see where this goes.

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