Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!"

In the Comments Section of this post, “Joecab” urged me to see the episode of BATMAN THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD called “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!”

Well, I’m here to thank Joe, and to urge you all to do the same! And, if MY endorsement isn’t enough, consider that it (like the previous Bat-Mite episode) was written by the great Paul Dini!

From his Trophy Room, Bat-Mite hosts the episode (in which he fast-forwards through the opening theme sequence with some sort of cosmic remote control) and introduces three weird stories of his idol, Batman, plucked from various alternate universes! …Or, would that be “uni-vi”?

The first one, “Batboy and Rubin” (with a short and squat Batman and a Jerry Lewis-like Robin) didn’t do much for me, beyond the nicely retro-rendered comic book backgrounds – colored by lots of “colored-dots” to simulate old comic-book coloring!

The second, I expected not to like, given it was a “Sixties-Anime Style Batman and Robin” – but I DID… quite a bit for someone with no taste (or patience) for anime!

Think “Speed Racer Robin”, and that’ll help you get a handle on it. The voices sounded like “Sixties-Anime” dubbing, but (oddly) NOT so overplayed as they might have been.

But, what REALLY put it over the top for me was the VILLAIN… “Lord Death-Man”!

Most folks, even those well-steeped in Batman Lore, might not know this, but “Death-Man” (…apparently he wasn’t quite a “Lord” back then) was the villain of 1966’s BATMAN # 180 (May, 1966).

This is a comic that I enjoyed very much in its day – and it was a true jaw-dropper to see (Lord) Death-Man …um, "resurrected" for this segment! Dini, of course, must have read the same comic I did – and referenced it as a special treat for those who’d “get it”!

The third "Strange Case" is such a delightful surprise (for those who have not seen the episode – like ME, before today) that I will not spoil it!

Let’s just say it was SOMETHING WONDERFUL, that was plucked from a particular point on Batman’s time line – and was an expertly handled tribute to that unique aspect of Batman's rather varied life-and-legend!

…Though, I suspect there will be fans that will cringe and yowl! And, for the record, it has nothing to do with Adam West – OR the sixties!

Please add No Spoilers in the comments, folks! But, to “Joecab” and everyone, I loved it!

Alas, “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” will not be on the upcoming BATMAN THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Season Two Part One DVD release, coming in August, 2011.

So, see this one any way you can, folks! Either on Cartoon Network -- or through some “other method” that Batman probably wouldn’t approve of!

Bats All, Folks!


joecab said...

My spoilers below don't really spoil anything Joe has already touched upon, but explain the original stories behind the first two segments he describes:

1. The first case is based on a Mad magazine story from the ORIGINAL run, a story by Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood titled "Bat Boy and Rubin!" (you can find the original online). Seriously, when someone uses the word "fershlugginer" you know you're either in a Kurtzman Mad story or a goofy Stan Lee story.

2. The second case is from a honest-to-goodness Batman manga from Japan around the mid-60's (!) so they decided appropriately to give it the same anime style you'd expect for the time. Google "Bat-Manga!" for more info.

3. The third case is ... well I'll also say nothing. This whole episode was one big goofy present for fans, and this was a great way to cap it. Especially if you're a fan of a "certain age" (ahem, me).

Glad you liked it Joe. And everyone else, go see it!

Joe Torcivia said...


This becomes all the more interesting!

Clearly, I was not aware of the MAD Magazine Bat-parody. Not even knowing this, I probably had the same reaction as if I WERE aware of it. MAD is just not my sense of humor – never has been, and knowing that helps better explain my reaction… to me, at least!

You say Segment Two was based on an ACTUAL Bat-Manga of the ‘60s?!!! Did it predate, or follow-up on, the Adam West TV series? Did the Japanese KNOW of the “Death-Man” story of 1966 that I read hot off the candy store racks back then? Or was that just Paul Dini, typically knowing more about Batman than any living being?

As for the third segment… Just enjoy, Enjoy, ENJOY!!! Oh, yes… Enjoy!!!


joecab said...

Ayup, this manga seemed to be the ONLY Bat-Manga: it ran from mid '66 to mid '67 just after the TV series took off there, and "Death Man" appeared in our comics just before he was in the manga, and not again until Grant Morrison used him this year in Batman Inc.

I don't get how the timing of all this was so darn short: it looks like less than a year to first US Death Man to Batman TV series to Bat-Manga with Lord Death Man. That's pretty fast for the pre-Fedex age.

Anyway go check WIkipedia for more info. In 2008 Chip Kidd released a book all about the manga and Japan's Batman craze. Wild!

Joe Torcivia said...


…And now it becomes all the MORE interesting! Or, the Death-Man plot thickens!

Of this, I can be sure… because I was there! The issue of BATMAN that was on sale at the time the TV show hit was # 179. The fact that it featured The Riddler, who was featured in the premiere (…and three other two-part episodes that first season – and was, despite only one more appearance by Frank Gorshin in Season 3, the series “signature villain”) was hardly a coincidence.

BATMAN # 180, featuring Death-Man, was the SECOND issue to have appeared during the life of the TV show. Perhaps THAT ISSUE is what the Japanese latched on to and, in a lack of perspective of the history of the comic, regarded Death-Man as an iconic villain the likes of The Joker!

I can certainly see the DESIGN of the character appearing to manga sensibilities.

And, as you said, they turned it around pretty quickly!

Finally, for all these decades, I thought Death-Man was only special to ME – and now I find out that he appeared in ‘60s Japanese manga, BATMAN THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – and in a more recent Grant Morrison comic! Imagine that!