Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 1 - Episodes 12-13: "The Brave and The Bold"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

The Brave and the Bold, and the Simian - but no Superman.

Super-Gorilla Grodd, long-time adversary of the Flash, makes his debut in the two-part story arc, "The Brave and the Bold". This being the Superman Homepage, I try to focus on those aspects of the JL's adventures that involve Superman. Superman is noticeably absent from this arc with good reason. Nevertheless, I have a few words regarding this story anyway. And I will pull a Lois Lane by forcing a Superman angle out of a story that has nothing to do with the Man of Steel - and without having to jump out of any buildings either.

The Brave and the Bold in this adventure are the Flash and Green Lantern. Besides just being a cliche, the title of this story arc is also the title of a comic book series that ran from the early 1950's through the early 1980's. The book began by running adventure strips such as the Shining Knight and the Viking Prince. As the Silver Age of comics began, the series became a "showcase" book like DC's other showcase book, aptly titled "Showcase". In fact, the first adventure of the Justice League of America took place in the B&B comic. In addition, B&B saw the debuts of the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl from Thanagar.

Beginning with issue 50, B&B became a super hero team-up book and remained as such until issue 200. The first team-up featured Green Arrow and J'onn J'onnz. But, beginning with issue 74, the book became a permanent home for the Batman who would team up with a different hero in each issue. One of the few heroes who never appeared in B&B was Superman (though he did make an appearance once as the series neared its end). The last issue was issue 200 which featured two stories - the only "team-up" of the Earth 1 and Earth 2 Batmen and the first adventure for Batman and the Outsiders. Batman quit the JL at the same time and B&B was replaced with a regular monthly Batman & the Outsiders comic book.

Virtually every DCU hero is both brave and bold. Nonetheless, at some point DC decided that the Flash and GL were the bravest and boldest of the brave and bold heroes of the DCU. A few years back there was a miniseries with the B&B title that chronicled the relationship between the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, and the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. And, in 2004, writer Brad Meltzer referred to Modern Age Flash, Wally West, and Modern Age Green Lantern (for now), Kyle Rayner, as the Brave and the Bold in issue 2 of Identity Crisis.

Historically, the Guardians only grant GL rings to those who have no fear. Some might say that those who lack fear are the very definition of the word "brave". So it made a certain sense that Hal Jordan, the GL without fear, would be the brave one and Barry Allen the bold one. Of course, Barry Allen wore tweed suits and white lab coats, married at a young age, and always wore a crew cut hairstyle. Hardly what I would call bold...

John Stewart continues to be season one's singular personality in large part because he's given both a name and a background outside of being GL. He is a perfect foil for the fleet footed Flash who is both the JL's humor and its heart. John Stewart is brave and Flash Wally West is most definitely bold. These two are such a solid pairing that no other heroes even appear during part one of "B&B".

One of the Flash's principal rogues is Gorilla Grodd who comes from the super secret Gorilla City in Africa. Early on in Barry Allen's Flash career he met Grodd and the apes of Gorilla City, and became one of the few humans trusted by Solovar, the benevolent leader of Gorilla City. Grodd was one of the 13 villains in the Legion of Doom on TV's Challenge of the Super Friends and Gorilla City even appeared on the 1978 cartoon. The story of the Flash meeting Grodd is an important and seminal one and JL is served well by featuring that adventure during season one.

Superman completely sits out this story arc as he's probably got a bad headache from having to sludge through "Warworld" last week. Given that Superman sat out the B&B comic book series for virtually its entire run, his exclusion from this story arc is logical and a nice tip of the hat to comic book history. After all, how brave and bold can anyone be when both of the world's finest super heroes are around?

On the Superman Fan Must Watch or Not Scale, this arc earns no speeding bullets even though I thought it was very well done. Without Superman, after all, the story can only shoot blanks. Therefore, and especially because Grodd hates bananas, this story arc earns four out of five hanging yellow fruit.

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