Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 The Winning Card Review

by Wes Greer on May 17, 2023

“The Winning Card”
Writer – Tom King
Art & Colors – Mitch Gerads
Letters – Clayton Cowles
Publisher – DC Comics

  DC Comics is off to the races with their new Dawn of DC initiative and with it comes an all-new Batman Anthology series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold. To kick the series off, DC has assembled a heavy weight team of creators to tackle four unique stories in this first issue which is kicked off by a story titled “The Winning Card” which sees writer Tom King return to Batman along with long time art collaborator, Mitch Gerads.

The Winning Card is a story set during the early days of Batman’s mission against crime in Gotham that echoes the vignette / noir style seen in King’s Gotham City Year One series, but with a much, much darker overtone that re-explores the Joker’s origin to Batman comics from Batman #1 by Bill Finger. The story is told through different instances that at first seem like they are random sequences, but one by one they all tie together to tell a much bigger and scarier story. King is no stranger to telling stories in this format and while it echoes some of his previous works, the way he executes it in this story is a unique experience that has a brilliant payoff in the end and adds to the overall tones of terror and shock. Just a brilliant way to layout this story and lay the seeds for what’s to come in a way that leaves readers guessing.

With a unique story format, you really need an artist who can capture the tones of the story and bring them to life visually to give the reader a fully immersive experience. Enter artist, Mitch Gerads. Gerads has worked with King on many stories in the past and this team has been highly praised for that work, but they really went above and beyond with this new story and deliver the same brilliant aesthetic, but in an all-new way that is unique from anything they’ve previously done. Gerads brings the dark tones to life in this story by creating a very noir like world that include vignettes and blurry, muddied tones. For the most part Batman exists as just a shadow or silhouette, adding to the darker tones of the story that creates an alluring visual. The Joker design in this story also may be one of my favorites as it mimics the terrifying menacing look, he had in Batman the Animated Series, but mimicking the statuesque dark look that Batman has throughout the story. Overall, it’s a brilliant visual that really helps to sell the tones of the story and create what you might compare to a nightmare.

Overall, The Winning Card is a delightful yet terrifying story by Tom King that takes readers into the early days of Batman’s career and shows just how menacing The Joker truly is while laying the groundwork for what may be one of the best Batman and Joker stories we’ve ever seen brought to life by twisted noir like art that only Mitch Gerads could deliver.

-Wes Greer

Our Score:


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