Sunday, July 17, 2011
Batman the Brave and the Bold: Season One Part Two -- The Episodes!
“Mystery in Space!”: ***
Teaser: Gorilla Grodd and The Question are BOTH hostages of Equinox (First appearance).
Main Story: The normally larger-than-life, heroically spirited Aquaman is depressed over losing a pack of Beluga whales to a whaling fleet. He accompanies Batman to the planet Rann, to assist Adam Strange in repelling an invasion of Gordanians. (An aside: Has ANY planet in the history of science fiction – including EARTH – been invaded or imperiled more than RANN?!) After a while, Aquaman snaps out of his funk… IN SPADES, coincidently just when a hero is needed most!
John DiMaggio’s heroically enthusiastic characterization of Aquaman is one of the highlights of the series and, despite the uncharacteristic start, he doesn’t let us down! Though I might have opted for calling this one “Aquaman’s Bi-Polar Adventure”!
“Trials of the Demon!”: ****
Teaser: Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick and Batman vs. Scarecrow. Jay “flashes-off” before Batman can finish a sentence, giving Bats a taste of how it feels.
Main Story: The Victorian-era origin of Jim Craddock the Gentleman Ghost – by way of Jason Blood / Etrigan the Demon… and with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson thrown in with Bats for double the detective fun! Check this great exchange, as Holmes and Batman size each other up:
Batman: “Actually, it’s Batman!”
Holmes: “How did you deduce MY identity so quickly?”
Batman: “The HAT!”
Gotta love it!
“Night of the Huntress!”: ****
Teaser: Batman and Black Canary vs. Solomon Grundy. Batman: “No one escapes justice, not even the undead!”
Lots of villains, including several from the ‘60s TV show, make cameos in the prison break. The trio find themselves bound in Clock King’s old TV “Hourglass Death Trap” – hidden away all these years in Warehouse X! Warehouse X is a GREAT CONCEPT! After all, those weapons of mass mayhem gotta be stored SOMEPLACE!
“Menace of the Conquering Caveman!”: ****
Teaser: Batman and Wildcat (characterized somewhat like football coach Mike Ditka) vs. Bane. Wildcat comes up with a rather innovative way to stop Bane.
Main Story: Booster Gold tries to form an association with Batman, and cash in with merchandising deals as a result. Oh, but here comes the evil caveman Kru’ll the Immortal to spoil Booster’s fun. A great guest voice cast with Tom Everett Scott as Booster, Billy West as Booster’s robot-pal Skeets, and Star Trek’s Michael Dorn as Kru’ll the Immortal! Kru’ll, BTW, has the same origin as Silver Age Vandal Savage!
GREAT LINE (on how Booster finds Batman and the Batcave): “In the 25th Century, the Batcave is a tourist attraction… with a roller coaster!”
“The Color of Revenge!”: ****
Batman (on using the Bat-cycle): "I thought you LIKED the sidecar!"
Robin: "Yeah – When I was EIGHT!"
“Legends of the Dark Mite!”: (**** Times TEN… TWENTY, even!)
Teaser: Batman and Ace the Bat-Hound vs. Catman.
Main Story: Batman hears the most dread phrase ever spoken: “I’m your Number One Fan!” He spends the next 2/3 of the episode bedeviled by Bat-Mite, a bat-fanboy from the all powerful Fifth Dimension – superbly voiced by Paul Reubins!
Bat-Mite takes Batman on a tour de force of sights and images from ALL AGES of DC Comic Book Lore, in order to see him test his mettle. Costume versions come wild and varied, villains come both vile and lame, and we get a serious nod to the Jack Schiff “Monster-Era” of Bat-comics.
“Hail the Tornado Tyrant!”: *** (Written by DC Comic Book writer J. M. DeMatteis)
Teaser: Batman in his Batmobile and Green Arrow in his Arrow-Car compete to take down The Joker in his Jokermobile. Once done, the rivalry shifts to airborne pursuit of Catwoman in her Cat-Plane.
“Duel of the Doublecrossers!”: ****
Teaser: Batman and The Outsiders vs. Despero.
Main Story: Once upon a time, the galactic conqueror Mongul created War World – first a vast engine of destruction, later a world upon which captives were forced into gladiatorial combat for sport. His offspring, Mongul II and sister Mongal, carry on the family business. Incredibly, we find the time-lost western bounty hunter Jonah Hex supplying captive aliens as fodder for Mongul’s ring – with Jack Kirby creations Lashina and Stompa doing the same for Mongal.
In order to best Mongal’s fighting teams, Mongul orders Hex to retrieve Batman for the games. Hex was transported to Mongul’s (and our) time via a “TIME TUNNEL”! (…Somebody inform the estate of Irwin Allen!)
If, while watching this, you get a feeling of déjà-vu, consider that it’s the same basic setup as “The Main Man” (1996) – the magnificent two-part episode of Superman the Animated Series that had bounty hunter Lobo capture Superman for the zoo of The Preserver! There’s even a “hologram” of Batman that Hex carries to identify his quarry, just as Lobo had one for Superman! Both episodes are great examples of the genre!
“The Last Bat on Earth!”: **** (Overflowing with Kirby goodness!)
Teaser: Batman and Mister Miracle in a tandem escape from an elaborate death trap… for charity.
Main Story: In the post-apocalyptic future of Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth, factions of evolved TIGERS and APES vie for control of what is left. Gorilla Grodd escapes the 21st Century and takes command of the Apes. Batman pursues, and the battles begin. Time travel is courtesy of Professor Carter Nichols, who was responsible for Batman’s many journeys through time in the Silver Age of Comics. Great Moment: Grodd discovers that Batman is now in this future time… by employing his sense of SMELL!
Nearly every episode of Batman the Brave and the Bold has at least one “WOW Moment” in it. This one occurs when Batman finds the near-ruined remains of the Batcave (…presumably after its life as a roller-coastered tourist attraction) inhabited by evolved future Man-Bats!
“When OMAC Attacks!”: *
Teaser: Hawk and Dove assist Batman in bringing peace to two warring factions of aliens. The aliens make peace and, predictably, Hawk and Dove do not.
Main Story: Working with the GPA (“Global Peace Authority”) Batman is teamed up with OMAC (the One Man Army Corps) vs. Schrapnel. Oh, and Equinox steps into the conflict – setting up his appearance in the next episode. Truly, a “ho-hum” in both stories.
“The Fate of Equinox!”: (…Can’t decide the number of *s! See my comments!)
Main Story: “The entire universe is careening violently between Order and Chaos!” So decrees Dr. Fate as he and Batman join forces to defeat Equinox. (Ho-Hum!)
Equinox arranges for Batman to kill him in combat, so that he may be reborn as a huge monolithic god-being. Dr. Fate arranges for the powers of many guest-heroes to be granted to Batman – so that HE might become an equally powerful LARGE hero! It’s kinda like the Tex Avery cartoon “King Size Canary”, but with the universe at stake!
I never bought into Equinox as a villain, or the whole Dr. Fate magic thing, so this one’s not for me – even WITH the Tex Avery parallels!
However, it does offer a nice explanation as to why neither good nor evil permanently achieves the upper hand – and a beautiful rendition of Dr. Fate’s otherworldly realm. In the end, though, I can only hope it REALLY IS the FINAL “Fate of Equinox”!
If I could, I’d give the TEASER Four Stars, and the Main Story just One. What the heck: It’s MY review – and I’ll do just that! ...Nyaah!
“Mayhem of the Music Meister!”: **** (… And many more! Perhaps just a few shy of “Legends of the Dark Mite”!)
Teaser: In a break with tradition, there is no true teaser. We just get our first look at The Music Meister, who steps up to a podium and begins to conduct… as we segue into the THEME for Batman the Brave and the Bold! (Which he is presumably conducting!)
Main Story: This is something you must truly see to believe! Neil Patrick Harris voices The Music Meister – who mesmerizes both heroes and villains alike to do his bidding. Under his spell, no one SPEAKS… instead they SING! A marvelously surreal episode, and is only surpassed by “Legends of the Dark Mite” as the series’ best episode!
“Inside the Outsiders!”: ****
Teaser: Bats and Green Arrow in a Catwoman death trap.
Main Story: “Just remember, Batman, when you die in the dream world, you never wake up!”
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