When reading Liam Sharp’s The Brave and The Bold #3, you could be forgiven for believing that not much happens in this issue, as Batman awakes in the supernatural Celtic otherworld of Tír na nÓg, like a fish out of water, and begins to not only fathom the sheer size of this once mighty kingdom, but also sets off on his quest for King Elatha of the Formorians. But, you’d be wrong.
What we have, along with the high-caliber of art we expect from Sharp, is a Batman not at home in this otherworld, but not totally dismissive of it, either. Although, that would be hard as he sets off on horseback, along with Diana, to survey this luscious, magical pastoral landscape and question the odd inhabitant or two along the way. You can’t deny what’s right in front of your eyes, right?
He is familiar enough with the old tales of Ireland because of a nanny who was once employed briefly by the Waynes, and in just that simple admission, not only do we have the potential for others to pick the ball up and run with this character in future suites of Batman and Detective Comics (and something Sharp could also mine for future stories should we ever see him on a Batman book more regularly), but a new character is now part of the bigger Batman mythos. Yet, if you’re not careful, it could go almost unnoticed and register it as nothing more than a narrative device to introduce Bruce’s prior understanding of the Celtic world.
We also have a world that is further fleshed out through magical and majestic page length horizontal panels in which Sharp shows the epic – the mountainous ranges and wild, thriving foliage – as well as not forgetting the minute, too. There are hedgehogs and other small creatures we take for granted in our own world, all dressed up and reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s amazing Faerie art and littering this issue. An influence that Liam spoke to us about recently, when this mini-series was first launched.
It’s this attention to each and every detail that must be killing Sharp’s social life, as the detail and references must take him an age to draw. Hey, maybe he’s got his own key to Tír na nÓg were time runs differently? Yes, that must be his secret. Liam Sharp is an inhabitant of Tír na nÓg and must go there whenever a deadline looms. There can be no other answer to how he manages to include both broad, bold brush strokes that add texture and roughness to the landscape, as well as finer brushstrokes to include detailed inks to the characters and their clothing, that flows with them as they travel through this otherworld. He even utilises some Pointillism to create a more ephemeral feel to some of the sprite-like denizens, who gently wake up a bemused Batman at the opening of this issue.
Along the long and winding road we even get Batman’s semi-admission that he doesn’t always rely on the cold hard facts, while they philosophise over the very nature of this forgotten realm. Forgotten it may well have been, but no more. And, hats off to colourist Romulo Fajardo for putting a real polish onto this vegetative world and making it sparkle. It must a rather intimidating challenge to colour one of Sharp’s hyper-detailed pages, but Fajardo does it with aplomb.
So, think that issue was a stroll around Tír na nÓg? Think again.
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