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May 6, 2010

2010 Eisner Nominees: Brave and the Bold #28

Here we are ComicAttackers, with another look at the 2010 Eisner Nominations! With the winners being announced at Comic-Con International, we will be taking a look at one of the nominees for Best Single Issue (Or One-Shot). Last year this category was omitted, and has been restored this year by the judging panel. The last time that the Best Single Issue (Or One-Shot) award was given, Justice League of America #11 : “Walls,” written by Brad Meltzer and drawn by Gene Ha, had won the award.

One of the nominees in this category this year is The Brave and the Bold #28: “Firing Line.” The creative team duo of J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz combined their efforts to bring Barry Allen (The Flash) and The Blackhawks together for a story that is a truly special read. Straczynski is a veteran in the industry, having written classics like Silver Surfer: Requiem and Supreme Power for Marvel Comics. Currently he is working on DC’s Red Circle, a revival of Archie Comics’ superheroes. The artist Jesus Saiz has been in the industry for a little more than ten years, having worked on JLA: Black Baptism, Checkmate, and The Omac Project, all for DC Comics.

What makes a comic book special? Some people read them to escape their daily lives, some read them to see their favorite heroes in action, and some may read them for a reflection of real-life society. Everyone has their own reasons for reading a comic, but The Brave and the Bold #28 really takes its readers for a special ride. It combines the intrigue of heroism with a historic event that many American’s can relate to. Even someone like me, who is Canadian, felt a certain sense of “magic” emanating from these pages.

The story begins with The Flash, who was asked by a Belgian scientist to assist with a light speed experiment in the fields of Ardennes. As Barry Allen runs along a laser traveling at the speed of light, he is pulled into its field, and transported into another time, but at the same location.

Now, for those not familiar with their World War lore, here is a quick recap as to why the field of Ardennes is important. In the First World War, the Battle of Ardennes was one of the opening battle sites. It was between French and German forces, with the Germans routing the French forces. In World War Two, where Barry Allen was transplanted, Ardennes was labeled the Battle of the Bulge. This was the site of a large German offensive, where over 19,000 Americans were killed. It was the biggest battle the Americans were involved in, and one of the turning points in the war.

The Flash was dropped near a German troop, and was immediately shot at. Even with a broken leg, he managed to hobble away and find a group of American soldiers called the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are a fictional group who fought in World War Two. They are characters of mixed descents, fighting for a common cause.

At first the Blackhawks are weary of The Flash, not recognizing him and not fully trusting anyone but their own. Once German forces start firing upon the group, they become brief allies. When Barry refuses to fire at and kill German forces, he is put at a crossroads. Many of the men that had fought in the World War’s were not natural killers. They were drafted into the wars and only killed because if they didn’t, they would surely be killed themselves. This conflicted with Barry’s own beliefs, because no superhero should ever have to resort to killing.

“So when is it right to kill, and when is it not right to kill? What makes it right?”

These are the questions Barry Allen asks himself before he makes an interesting decision. He removes his uniform, and dons an American army outfit. He decides that these are the people who helped make America what it is today, and that he must aid this effort in the way he can, but as a soldier not a superhero.

“There are still men and women out there dying every day. There’ve been more wars, more fighting, more death. But the country is still the country. It has its flaws, and it isn’t always right, but it’s still intact.”

These are the parting words that Barry leaves the Blackhawks with, explaining his thoughts on war and killing. With Barry’s leg fully healed, he leaves the Blackhawks, and returns to a graveyard in the field of Ardennes with these last thoughts: “Extraordinary. No. What I do, what I’ve done, isn’t extraordinary. They were the extraordinary ones.”

For Straczynski to take such a delicate matter and craft such a beautiful tale is a truly amazing feat. The Flash is thrust into a battle that helped shape our world today, and realizes what it took to create what we now have. The fact that Straczynski could have had Barry Allen kill in a war without offending too many people is another amazing feat and show of talent. We as a people should always be mindful of what our forefathers went through to make us what we are today. Straczynski and Saiz give us, the reader, through a medium and with characters that we know and love, a story that can help us respect and be proud of a past that didn’t always come easy.

The Brave and the Bold #28 is truly a story deserving of an Eisner.

Mike Parente



  1. Kristin

    It does sound really good. I can easily see why it was nominated.

  2. Billy

    I like the BlackHawks! Their appearances on the animated show were great.

  3. I missed the boat on this issue…actually this entire series. I have some catching up to do!

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