Saturday, March 31, 2012

More Brave! More Bold! “The Criss Cross Conspiracy!”

Still working my way through BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Season Two, Part Two on DVD (Released:  March 20, 2012) – and, in addition to the wonderful episode I discussed HERE, I’ve found another one worth reviewing  NOW – rather than waiting to do my (eventual) full review of the set. 

The Criss Cross Conspiracy!” (…a title that, even after seeing the episode twice, seems to have only a tenuous connection to the story at hand) opens “Ten Years Ago”, with The Riddler raiding some sort of “Puzzle-Awards Ceremony” and taking the prize. 

Batman and young teen Robin are there to stop him – but there is another Bat to contend with. 

Batwoman – sultry brunette with classically styled hair, looking exactly as she did in fifties and Silver Age comic books!  Score another one for this show as a magnificent monument to the vast lore of DC Comics! 

 In those comics, she was “Kathy Kane” (presumably, after Batman creator Bob Kane) – but here she is bored heiress turned thrill-seeker, “Katrina Moldoff”. 
This is interesting in ways well beyond the plot!  Sheldon Moldoff was one of Bob Kane’s “ghost artists”, who never got credit for all his fine work of the period in which the character of Batwoman thrived.  So, as if to balance things out, writer Marsha Griffin and the producers appear to have REMOVED Bob Kane’s name (as it applied to the alter-ego of Batwoman), and APPLIED the surname of  Sheldon Moldoff!  …How’s that for retroactive justice! 

Katrina (somewhat recklessly) assists in the capture of The Riddler – but not before she becomes careless and allows The Prince of Puzzlers to UNMASK her before a crowd of onlookers and reporters… to her shock, horror, and utter humiliation.   Clearly, she is known as something of a public figure or celebrity.

Things get worse for Katrina, when Gotham City soon files an order against her, prohibiting her from dressing and acting as an unauthorized crime-fighter, (…we’ll presume Batman had some sort of unofficial exemption from Commissioner Gordon on this matter) and Katrina retires in bitterness.  

 We shift forward, ten years to “The Present”: 
Batman, Nightwing… and Batgirl (!) stop a bank robbery – and are observed by Katrina, resentful that Batman has allowed another to assume the role as his female counterpart. 

Twisted by her anger, she seeks the assistance of FELIX FAUST – the sorcerer from Silver Age “Justice League of America” comics, who has served his time and is quietly operating a sorcery shoppe somewhere in the nether regions of Gotham. 

 Faust is quite taken with the still-slinky Katrina, and provides her with a potion and incantation that will allow her to (…Ready for this?) SWITCH BODIES with the person of her choice.  She lures Batman to her remote mansion and does exactly that, overpowering him in the process! 
She takes Batman’s uniform and awkwardly (auto) pilots the Batmobile back to the Batcave.  Nigthwing and Batgirl become suspicious when Batman exhibits uncharacteristic (To say the least!) hissy-fits – and asks Batgirl about her shampoo (!)  

Things  take a real turn when they learn that Katrina (as Batman) plans to kill The Riddler for his decade-old deeds, and have Batman appear to be the killer.   Batman comes-to, dons Katrina’s old Batwoman suit, and goes after her.  Big bouts of Bat-gender-bending ensue – with “he as she” and “she as he”! 

Riddle me this!”, says Katrina, catching up to her unsuspecting prey – weapon in hand, “How do you stop The Riddler from ruining your Saturday Night?”  …“Kill him on Friday!”  
No more spoilers – but I must note that the episode bears a remarkable (…and likely not coincidental) resemblance to the STAR TREK Original Series final episode “Turnabout Intruder” (1969) – right down to William Shatner adopting feminine gestures and inflections, with Batman’s voice actor (Dedrich Bader) and the episode’s animators following suit. 

A surprising amount of humor springs from Felix Faust, who amorously peruses Batwoman – even after it becomes Bat-MAN in her body!  …This sets up one hell of a great final line of dialogue! 
Oh, just see it!  (No matter HOW many times you’ve seen the “Body Switching” thing in animation!)  You’ll be glad you did, especially when you pick yourself up off the floor at the episode’s fadeout! 


joecab said...

Wow! That's me being impressed by the Kane/Moldoff change that didn't dawn on me the first time. A clever and thoughtful gesture. Boy do I miss this show.

Joe Torcivia said...

Just another reason why the show was SO GREAT!!! It was clearly helmed by folks who KNEW the comics! You can find stuff like that ALL OVER the series, if you look for it!

The lighter, more Silver Age tone allowed for more such tributes than could have been done in the other series.