The Milestone characters’ transition into the DC Universe proper hasn’t exactly been a graceful one. Static’s emerging in the pages of Terror Titans mini-series provided little value to the character and only marginally more to the series, while the Shadow Cabinet’s higher-profile arrival in the pages of Milestone founder Dwayne McDuffie’s Justice League of America run seemed just as coherent as the rest of his run (which was marred by editorial edicts and continuity kerfuffles). But the Milestone characters get their spotlight in DC’s team-up book, The Brave and the Bold, currently in middle of a run of three stand-alone issues. Last issue saw the pairing of Static and Black Lightning, whilst next issue reintroduces Xombi as he meets the Spectre (written by Xombi creator John Rozum, sweet).
This issue find Hardware reluctantly teaming up with the Blue Beetle as they strive to stop an Intergang armaments exchange to The System in Northern Mexico. Hardware has a connection to the buyers from back in Dakota, so he he has a vested interest in ensuring that the transfer doesn’t happen. Beetle, still a bit young, still a bit inexperienced, seems to only be getting in his way, but must prove to the grizzled armored fighter that he can more than hold his own.
Writer Adam Beechen works hard to bring Hardware’s story, now well over a decade since last published, back into the fore, and with middling results. At this stage, most Milestone readers will be hard-pressed to recall where Hardware’s story left off, or really remember the man’s personality, his convictions, and so it’s really tough to say whether Beechen gets it right. His Blue Beetle, on the other hand, is still relatively fresh off cancellation (now appearing as a back-up feature in Booster Gold) and he’s not exactly on-character either, a bit more hip-hop than he usually is.
Roger Robinson and Hilary Barta handle the art chores decently enough, nothing spectacular, but fully serviceable in telling the story. The story itself is of the done-in-one-but-leaving-room-for-more sort, a real 70’s-style team-up story, and it is enjoyable, if far from enthralling. But these days, $3 - $4 a comic, you really do need that little something more.