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One of the greatest comic book friendships of the DC Universe is finally told inside the confines of the “New 52” – the “Brave and the Bold” – The Flash and Green Lantern!
First off I simply want to start by saying that this is co-writer Brian Buccellato’s third outing as solo writer for the series and really the one that solidifies the idea of him being the superior one of the two. As with his previous two-parter, about a powerless Barry Allen, this story is something that deals heavily in the real of characters and unique personalities. It was, and is, a comforting addition and compliment to the series that this aspect gets some real focus. It is one of the areas that things are clearly lacking in great supply in the main series itself – and something that this annual is able to pull off with great ease and entertainment due to the clashing natures of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan.
Writer Brian Buccellato was able to give more spotlights to the Barry Allen under the costume in his previous work but only in conjunction to his job - here he is able to finally get under the skin of his more casual side. The reader is finally able to witness the humble, very “straight man”, mannerisms of Barry in relation to the wild, impulsive, Hal. This, like any good Odd Couple-pairing, leads to very hilarious and even at points touching moments in a “buddy” way. You get a real look into why two such distinctly opposite personalities would even be connected to one another in any sort of way. In addition we also get some character growth for Barry in that he is put to the test not only emotionally but mentally, and tries to take to reader for the ride.
Other than the already stated focus on character, another thing that really set this Annual apart from the rest of the series is the style of pacing. Even with his previous work Buccellato was able to show that he had a greater grasp on pacing alone then he did co-writing with Manapul, confining a nicely knit story into only two issues and even now restricting himself more – to better results. Alone Buccellato is able to focus more on the dynamics between characters and dialogue exchanges rather than fancy and extensive splash pages – in fact there is only one two page spread. All to benefit of the story itself – which comes to a satisfactory and hilarious conclusion without feeling rushed or forced.
This being an Annual, it’s extra sized and in this case that calls for the inclusion of a back-up story, provided here by relative newcomer Nicole Dubuc. It perfectly encapsulates the pacing skill that the series itself needs to have and that Buccellato is only touching the surface of. In ten pages it is able to tell a tightly wound story that spans two years and has many plot points that tie into one another. It is able to pack in just as much as character beats and emotion as any normal length story should, and with that I tip my hat to Nicole Dubuc for providing a true blue Flash story – especially one that displays his impact on Central City in the front lines.
Manapul was neither on board for writing or art in this Annual, presumably focusing his attentions on completing the “Reverse” story-arc in full. The art was therefore provided, respective to the main story and the back-up, by Sami Basri and Cully Hamner. The former, who was the artist on the now cancelled Voodoo title, provided serviceable, if unimaginative work. There’s no real personality in terms of paneling or arrangement, but is able to get across very pretty looking work nonetheless and is actually quite adept at character reactions. Hamner helms the back-up and while this artist is more experimental with drafting, his art carries with it a slight unfocused quality that at times becomes very distracting.
Overall this was a great Annual, in the vein of such an issue being small self-contained stories that can read aside from the main story arc. Both of the stories presented here are absolutely enjoyable in their own ways and given the rather hectic nature of the current “Reverse” arc, they also act as a very nice breather while that is going on. It is something like this that gets me excited for Buccellato’s next solo outing, Forever Evil: Rogues’ Rebellion, which also calls for a big emphasis on character and dynamics.