It’s that time of year again. Where the leaves fall down, the pumpkins come out and everyone dresses up as their favourite monsters. Well not exactly. Here in New Zealand Halloween is a thing but its not as big as it is over in America sadly. However I try and partake in this spooky season by consuming as much ghoulish media as I can and today I get to write about it. Today we’re talking about one of my (dis)comfort food comics, The All New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12.
So the Brave and the Bold is something very near and dear to my heart. I’m likely about to make a lot of people feel very old by saying that Brave and the Bold was my childhood show. I vividly remember turning into my first episode thinking I had stumbled onto Justice League Unlimited only to find something much zanier. From then on I was absolutely hooked, I caught every episode, every week without fail. It was just such a fun and colorful tour through the DC Universe. Every episode introduced me to some obscure DC character who I had never heard of like B’Wana Beast or Bat Mite. It’s what really got me into comic books. It made me realize how vast and fun the DCU is and pushed me into the comic book world where I now happily reside. But it’s also a series that is just as good when I revisit it. I can pick up on all the deep cuts and references and laugh along to the hilarious meta comedy. It’s a great show, but you know what was also great? The comic that went along with it. I know Dave is also a big fan of the Brave and the Bold tie in comics, primarily the ones written by the supremely underrated Sholly Fisch (Ed. Note: I absolutely ADORE this show and all of it’s tie-in comics!). There are so many fun and creative stories in these comics, some of which have even been adapted into actual episodes. One such gem of a story is All New Batman Brave and the Bold #12, an issue that I revisit every October.
So the issue opens with Batman and Zatanna approaching the House of Mystery. So yeah I’m already fully in on this, love Zatanna and I love DC’s extensive list of magic houses. Firstly just look at how good this looks visually. Ethen Beavers art is just so charming Guy Majors colours give it a great gloomy atmosphere like something out of Scooby Doo. Upon moving into the House of Mystery Batman and Zatanna run into Cain and his brother Abel who has been turned into a tree by an unknown villain. Firstly let me just gush about my love of Cain and Abel. They’re just such fun characters and I adore their appearances whenever they show up. Zatana reverts Able to his usual form and realizes that the entire house has been covered in toilet paper. Side note: I love how amused Batman is by toilet paper and how offended Cain is.
Zatanna and Batman discuss how magic follows rules as much as magic does which is something that will come up later.To find out who did this nefarious deed, Batman and Zatanna head into Gotham to find some supernatural villains to smack down.
The first of these villains is Doctor Destiny looking very much like his JLU counterpart. Zatanna and Batman beat him of course and learn that he was not responsible for the “attack’ on the House of Mystery. Next our heroes move to Metropolis to encounter Mr Mxyzptlk. I love this bit so much because it does a great job of contrasting Batman and Superman by also Mx and Bat Mite. Instead of playing along and outsmarting Mx like Superman, Batman just glares at him until he gives up. It’s not even normal Batman. It’s just Batman as a balloon, that’s how intimidating he is. I love it.
After another failed attempt Batman and Zatanna return to the House of Mystery as they try to figure our any other possible leads. Fun names drop here for a lot of mystical DC villains. Felix Faust of course but also Doctor Fate villain Wotan, absolute deep cut The Wizard, series regular Bat Mite and the Queen of Fables. However given that Batman is the world’s greatest detective he realises that it was really Caine the whole time or rather…..
That’s right the original bratty comic child you love to hate was behind it all along and since he’s been ratted out he needs backup so he brings in a bunch of monstrous DC villains. Sidenote: I love this series of Grundy design. Grundy as a mobster like a dumb Joe Fixit is so fun.
Zatanna does one better however and summons DC’s monstrous heroes to fight back like Swamp Thing, Etrigan, The Spectre and one of my absolute favourites Deadman (a character the Brave and the Bold cartoon introduced me to). Also Tomcat is here, Wildcats son from Johns JSA run. An interesting addition and a character you never see associated with everyone else here.
It is a Batman comic though so when it comes down to it it’s our caped crusader who Batman tricks Klarion through the rules of Halloween. The monsters are defeated, Klarion is turned into a frog and everything is returned to normal which brings us to the end of our chilling tale. It’s just one of those issues that makes you remember what made you fall in love with comics to begin with. Sholly Fisch does such a great job of writing fun one and done issues. She gets the spirit of these characters and this universe and knows how to distill it into a simple, light and charming story. It’s also an issue that I remember being one of my first exposures to DC’s more supernatural corner. It’s probably my favorite aspect of the DCU. I’ve got such a love for these characters and the iconography that surrounds them. Swamp Thing, the House of Mystery and Klarion the Witch Boy. I love all that stuff and its clear that those involved with this issue did as well. So give the issue a shot if you haven’t. Take a break from all the tense horror movies and gruesome comics and read a fun little story about Batman pranking children until they turn into frogs.