Another (Mc)Cool Read: The Brave And The Bold #2 By Liam Sharp

by Oliver MacNamee

A mythical king lies dead and when that happens, only the world’s greatest detective can help, surely? That’ll be how Batman gets embroiled in a magical world of faerie folk and Celtic gods and monsters, but only after Wonder Woman’s own attempts to root out the killer are almost laughed at by the denizens of Tír na nÓg in the royal court of Dé Danann. After all, in a supernatural otherworld brimming with glamours, what’s one more piece of rope going to add?

Sharp has already given us a Wonder Woman that’s almost godlike, so it’s nice to see even she can have her setbacks. This in no way takes away from the warrior she is. But, this is a crime scene and a political hot potato, too. Where angels fear to tread. The time for fisticuffs, I have no doubt, will arrive, but for now I’m enjoying the building tensions in court and the despair of McCool who realises that the love and worship they once had has long gone, and so too, are they the weaker for it.

And, while Diana comes to terms with her limitations in this realm, Batman is trying to come to terms with the growing supernatural happenings in Gotham City, too. By the end of this second issue, written and illustrated by Liam Sharp, the Brave and the Bold finally meet up. But, even with Batman’s presence – a world away for the most part – this is very much a Wonder Woman-centric book, for now.

Once again, Sharp brings his in-depth knowledge of Irish myths and legends to the fore with Irish hero, Finn McCool, making his dramatic debut at court, carrying the decapitated head of an ugly looking Dorcha (think ogre, and you’re not far off) and at a time when the forces of darkness sense the precarious peace treaty to be most fragile without a king on the throne. The world of Tír na nÓg is beautifully and skilfully framed by Sharp’s inclusion of intricate Celtic knots that differentiate this otherworld from the real world of Gotham City, and looking like a reverential mash up of the Book of Kells with modern comics. If these pages didn’t take long enough to produce already, right? I mean, why make it easy on yourself? But, as a reader, I can only thank him for his sacrifice in creating such as magnificent book. Sharp has called this a natural sequel to his work on Wonder Woman, but as his own scripted, his work has been allowed to be more bombastic and more personal with this limited series.

To balance the outstanding art with a sometimes dialogue-heavy script is a skill that Sharp has mastered, thanks in part to the liberal use of large panels that are filled with details that colour the two worlds in which thus story is unfolding. Finn McCool looks every inch the legendary warrior I, too, grew up with hearing about from my own Irish side of the family and falling in love with. A big, brawny, badass you can be thankful of being on the side of good. I think he may well be needed before the end of this addictive series.

The varied demon-like Fomorians of Tír na nÓg look suitably gruesome and dangerous; an enemy that could well prove more than a handful even for the mighty Diana when the fists do eventually fly. Not so much The Coming of The King, as The Coming of The Detective, then. Either way, this is shaping up into one must-buy read for me, and many others too, from what I’m hearing.