Sunday, July 17, 2011

Batman the Brave and the Bold: Season One Part Two -- The Episodes!

We continue our review of Batman the Brave and the Bold: Season One Part Two with The Episodes: (Rated by Number of Stars) “*”

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:

Holmes: “He is a HERO. It is obvious by the bright blue and yellow in his costume. (Joe’s note: Fortunately for Holmes this is the Silver Age Batman – colors and all!) The mask means he must be well-known, perhaps a wealthy entrepreneur with ample free time. Square jaw indicates strong lineage – perhaps a doctor’s son. And the Bat-motif must surely be inspired by some childhood trauma… 'The Masked Bat', perhaps…”

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!”

Main Story: Edward G. Robinson parody/tribute character “Babyface” and his gang stage a massive prison break to distract Batman, Huntress, and a (lovesick over Huntress) Blue Beetle, while the villains raid “Warehouse X” – the storage facility for all confiscated super-villain equipment and paraphernalia.

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!”: ****

Teaser: A flashback to when Robin was indeed the BOY Wonder. A more innocent time of a Dynamic Duo responding to a Red Bat-phone, sliding down the Bat-poles, and taking off in a 1940s inspired Batmobile – but with the sounds of the ‘60s version! They vanquish Crazy Quilt and his Color Guard. Unknown to Robin, he does more damage to the eccentric criminal artist Crazy Quilt than he could know…

Main Story: Now, Dick Grayson is older, but he is still Robin. Somewhat resentful of the patronizingly paternal, know-it-all Batman, he’s established his own crime fighting career in the neighboring city of Bludhaven. Crazy Quilt, blinded from all those years ago, seeks his revenge on Robin – bringing Batman to Bludhaven for lots of father/son-type tensions.

Batman (on using the Bat-cycle): "I thought you LIKED the sidecar!"

Robin: "Yeah – When I was EIGHT!"

In keeping with the comics, Bludhaven has a S.T.A.R. Labs facility (Doesn’t Every DC city have one?) and a street corner of “Haney and Aparo” – the primary writer and artist on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD comic book! This story also has its comics parallel in BATMAN # 368 and DETECTIVE COMICS # 535 – both from late 1983.

“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.

Why, there’s even a side trip to a Fifth-Dimensional Comic Con Panel, where otherworldly fanboys (including producer Bruce Timm and writer Paul Dini) argue over what is and is not appropriate for Batman! Finally, Bats turns the tables and suggests that Bat-Mite “become” Batman. With villains galore, it ends up being more than he bargained for – up to and including an unexpected left-turn into a Bat-version of the Bob Clampett Looney Tune “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery”.

This masterpiece was written by the great Paul Dini, who gave us many of the best moments of the previous Batman and Superman Animated series. It may also be the SINGLE BEST EPISODE OF THE SERIES – and with THIS series, that’s really saying something! If you only see ONE of these, folks… see THIS one!

“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.

Main Story: The android Red Tornado creates a “son”. The offspring questions human morality, and embraces the dark side – recreating himself as the huge fearsome “Tornado Tyrant”. An unexpected treat for those paying attention is that when the boy-bot transforms himself there is a “music tribute” to the well-known Bernard Herrmann score for “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (theme for the robot “Gort”), which TV fans may recognize from LOST IN SPACE “War of the Robots” (when the evil robot is activated)!

“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!)

Teaser: Batman vs. Two Face and his two (of course) goons. This may be the most PERFECT version of Two-Face seen in any media outside of comic books! The visual is “Dick Sprang-Inspired”, and “Harvey Dent/Two Face” is unquestionably in character. There’s even a very brief music cue from THE OUTER LIMITS in this teaser! (At about the 35-36 second mark.) The real shame is that what is a mere teaser for a below average episode – COULD HAVE BEEN THE CLIMAX of a Two-Face centric episode! For true fans, this might actually be the best teaser of the series!

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!”

Psycho Pirate has captured the Outsiders (Katana, Black Lightning, and Metamorpho), and is feeding of the emotions resulting from their nightmares – nightmares that he has artificially induced. Batman psychically enters the dreams of each one to diffuse the situation and free his friends.
In contrast with the traumatic dream experiences of Katana and Metamorpho, we get a wonderfully indignant Black Lightning turning his powers against the people and things that annoy US in everyday life! Dog walkers sans scoop, public cell phone chatters, etc. His greatest indigence manifests itself over the prospect of a movie called “Smell That Pig IV” (…coming to a theatre near you!) Can’t say I blame him!

Psycho Pirate is portrayed as a particularly evil being. More so than the usual villain on this series and he’s voiced by Armin Shimerman (Quark the Ferengi on STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE). I don’t usually care for the “young versions” of the Outsiders the show uses, but everything works in this one! Especially the “secret” Batman keeps from everyone – even the viewers – at episode’s end.

Continue on, for the Overall View...


joecab said...

I dunno HOW you could decide between the Bat-Mite and Music Meister episodes. They both get a metric ton number of stars from me.

I can't wait until you (hopefully) get to review "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" and how WB handled the animation details of its third story in particular ...

Joe Torcivia said...

Joe C:

It was a VERY though choice, but “Dark-Mite” gets the edge on the sheer number of both laughs and iconic DC Comics images it presents! And for the very unexpected tribute to Bob Clampett and Daffy Duck!

Do notice, though, that Music Meister gets lots of illustrations over the posts, because I sure don’t want him to feel slighted!

Let’s just call ‘em the two best episodes of the series I’ve seen thus far!

I have NEVER SEEN “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases”! Didn’t even know it existed until you mentioned it!

Why? Because I’ve long since given up trying to catch the series on CN (Either I can’t find it, or don’t know when new eps are aired. They DON’T make it easy!) , and have decided to finish it out on DVD.

I *CAN* tell you that I will have high marks for “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure”! I sure hope “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases” is also on the upcoming August release of the series.

Please – EVERYONE – no spoilers on it in the interim! I want to enjoy it to the fullest!

Joe T.

joecab said...

Dude, get a TiVo! ;)

I know CN has basically given up on B:BatB when it comes to scheduling new eps, but that one aired (appropriately) April Fool's Day.

But this is your lucky day! According to TiVo it's airing again Sunday, July 24 at 1:30pm EDT, followed immediately by the Music Meister one. Looks like someone up there likes ya, Joe.

Joe Torcivia said...

I just checked, and “Bat-Mite Presents Batman’s Strangest Cases”! is not on the August release – so the news of a July repeat is welcome indeed!

Don’t have a TiVo, but do have a DVR via the cable company – and will set it for this!

As for that “someone up there” who likes me – I sincerely hope he’s NOT my biggest fan! :-)

Ryan Wynns said...


Wow, what a cornucopia of fun homages it seems that this show is! Adam Strange, Grodd, Jay Garrick, Dr. Fate (I like Dr. Fate, for what it's worth!)...and a bunch of other characters I don't know, so I don't light up with an, "Oh, cool!" when I read their name! :)

That's too bad the O.M.A.C. episode earned a low rating. I thought the short-lived comic was a very inspired, very focused effort of Kirby's. I felt that it was an evolution of his thoughts and feelings that had gone into the Fourth World comics, but in a new form.

Are you saying that they merged Etrigan with elements of Craddock, or that both characters had a role in the episode?

Have they done an Eclipso episode? Been reading the Showcase collection of that feature (very nice Alex Toth art!), and it has a greater sense of urgency than other Silver Age comics.

Ohhh, Paul wonder you rave about "Legends of the Dark Knight"! I can easily imagine the nature, essence, and spirit of the episode. But...Joe, have I really witnessed you commending and praising Paul Reubens??!!! You do realize he's Pee-Wee Herman, right?! Hmm...there may be hope for you and Fraggle Rock after all! *maniacal laughter* ;)


Joe Torcivia said...


First, it’s just nice to praise SOMETHING with DC characters in it for a change! There’s another such volume out in August, and I’ll be waiting to snap that up!

“Oh, cool!” is exactly how many of these episodes make me feel… and I’ve been around since the Silver Age! There’s almost a new and wonderful surprise, for those with ANY overarching perspective on DC Comics, in every episode.

I may not have cared for the O.M.A.C. episode, but they DO get quite a bit of Kirby right in other areas. Then again, O.M.A.C., in its original form, is not something I’ve read a great deal of – and, in the comics themselves in recent years, they’ve compromised the concept far worse than in the show.

“Are you saying that they merged Etrigan with elements of Craddock, or that both characters had a role in the episode?”

They were both in the same episode. And a wonderful one it was! And, unlike Etrigan’s appearance in the prior “Batman the Animated Series”, he rhymes and is more in character here!

As you can see from my exchange with “Joecab”, I have not seen them all. CN’s scheduling has made that too much trouble for me. So, though I don’t recall an episode with Eclipso, I certainly would not rule one out – given the vast array of characters they HAVE used!

I praised the depiction and characterization of the character of Bat-Mite! …Now, if (ahem!) a voice actor in any way (ahem!) adds positively to that depiction and characterization… then (cough!) I suppose I’d be “commending and praising” said actor’s performance, wouldn’t I? (cough!)

You could say the same about Gilbert Gottfried as Mr. Mxyzptlk. They both brought these characters to life in unique and entertaining ways! And Bat-Mite needed a lot more help than did Mxy… so (ahem!) hats off to Mr. Reubens.

You MUST catch this show, in one way or another!


Ryan Wynns said...


Thank you for further insight into the Etrigan and O.M.A.C. episodes. I'll keep my eyes peeled for an Eclipso episode...gee, how am I ever gonna read all the original comics starring each of this series' featured guest stars?! Thanks a lot, Dini and Timm! ;)

(I hadn't realized that they were behind this series until this review ... I thought this was a totally "new wave" ... not just in terms of it being the "formal", "classic" DCAU, but in terms of who works on it!)

I praised the depiction and characterization of the character of Bat-Mite! …Now, if (ahem!) a voice actor in any way (ahem!) adds positively to that depiction and characterization… then (cough!) I suppose I’d be “commending and praising” said actor’s performance, wouldn’t I? (cough!)

HAHAHA!!! You win! (Really got a kick out of this!) :) ;)


Joe Torcivia said...


Dini and Timm aren’t “behind” this series. Dini wrote the two Bat-Mite episodes, and the series has Timm’s general “look” to it. But they DO seem to remain an influence on it. And, given TEEN TITANS, aren’t we glad of THAT!