- Plastic Man: "Are you seeing what I'm seeing? 'Cause I'm seeing gorillas riding pterodactyls with harpoon guns, stealing a boat."
- Batman: "It's Gorilla Grodd."
- Plastic Man: "It's messed up is what it is!"
For a brooding crimefighting loner, Batman sure teams up a lot. And I guess this incarnation finds him brooding not as often as you'd think. What we get in this animated series seems to be the Silver Age incarnation of Batman (guy's even drawn like the '50s & '60s version), and this is a different, more gregarious, sunnier kind of cat. Frank Miller would probably have a hissy fit. The featured stories are set in contemporary times, and yet it's clearly a mash-up of the old and the new. Batman hangs out with the likes of the new Blue Beetle, but when the Green Arrow drops in, the beardless archer is sporting his old classic Golden Age duds.
There's a breezier tone. Check out that gonzo, jazzy theme music! - and the outlandish plots and the lots of exuberant punching and kicking, comic book style. For those who've imprinted on the more angsty, angrier, darker Dark Knight, this type of cheery takes a bit of getting used to. Kids will enjoy what's on the surface. But this show also has something for the grown-ups and the hardcore DC Comics fans.
BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Season One, Part One comes in two discs and contains the first thirteen episodes. And because Season One comprises 26 episodes, this means that the set is officially only half as good. Still, the nifty rotating cast of heroes and the cool character designs and that delightful whiff of camp are things to savor. These are mostly stand-alone episodes, and I love that each episode starts out with a mini-adventure that teams Batman up with a fellow DC character, and that it ends before the opening credits and mostly doesn't have anything to do with the central story. You never do know which cape & cowl is going to step up in any given episode. The writers are careful to guest star not only the more well-known superheroes but the obscure ones, as well. The new Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, is featured prominently. Aquaman, braggadocious and bold, is given the best treatment since possibly ever. This Batman is voiced by Diedrich Bader (also known as that creepy guy in OUTSOURCED). Bader has got Kevin Conroy's timber and cadences down pat to the extent that I initially assumed it was Conroy just picking up where he left off.
The only bonus feature is "Lego Harry Potter." It's pretty much what you think it is.
Brief plot breakdowns now for the 13 episodes. If you're a stickler about not knowing even the most basic reveals, then consider yourself ***SPOILERS*** alerted:
- Episode 101 - "The Rise of the Blue Beetle!" - In the pre-opening credits segment, Batman and Green Arrow go up against the Clock King. Then Batman and the new Blue Beetle fly thru a wormhole in space and end up on a distant planet where Blue Beetle is deified by that world's cute amoeba cell-like inhabitants.
- Episode 102 - "Terror on Dinosaur Island!" - Batman and Fire frustrate the Gentleman Ghost while Plastic Man was elsewhere, stuffing his pants with loot. Then Batman and Plastic Man are stranded on a mysterious island that stands outside of time... and has dinosaurs.
- Episode 103 - "Evil Under the Sea!" - Bats foils Felix Faust's scheme to open Pandora's Box, with the help of a surprise guest (you don't find out who until the end). Then Batman journeys under the sea to visit Aquaman in Atlantis, just in time to save Aquaman from an assassin. Surely, Aquaman's sinister brother Orm had nothing to do with this?
- Episode 104 - "Invasion of the Secret Santas!" - Batman and Blue Beetle take on Sportsmaster in a bowling alley. Then the robot hero Red Tornado tries to get with the Christmas spirit except that, well, you know, dude's a robot. Batman is no help; he's got his own holiday issues. Meanwhile, flying saucers from Neptune invade Earth, and these aliens demand Santa Claus. Or is this a trick being played by Fun Haus?
- Episode 105 - "Day of the Dark Knight!" - The Green Lantern Corps requests Batman's assistance in keeping Guy Gardner's nose clean, but then Guy gets into it with a tiny alien prisoner. Then Merlin Ambrosius, seeking aid against Morgan Le Fay and Jason Blood, plucks Batman and Green Arrow from the modern age and into 5th century Britain. It's all very Camelot-y.
- Episode 106 - "Enter the Outsiders!" - Batman and B'wana Beast stymie the Black Manta's crime caper. Then Golden Age old-timer, Wildcat, fresh off a heart attack, horns in on Batman's attempt to take down the unruly Outsiders (who are teenagers in this incarnation, and also are kind of all villainy).
- Episode 107 - "Dawn of the Dead Man!" - In the far-flung blasted future, Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth helps Batman make off with some antibiotics. Then, in London, Boston Brand (a.k.a. "Deadman") teams up with Batman's astral projected self when Batman's body is buried alive by the Gentleman Ghost and the coffin rendered booby-trapped. Hope no one's run out of nth metal.
- Episode 108 - "Fall of the Blue Beetle!" - First, the flashback adventure featuring Bats and the Silver Age Blue Beetle (that'd be Ted Kord). Then teenager Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle, digs into his predecessor's history and arrives at a sinister plot to take over the world.
- Episode 109 - "Journey to the Center of the Bat!" - Bats, Plastic Man and Elongated Man provide the long arm of the law against Babyface. Then, to remedy a Chemo-infected Caped Crusader, Atom shrinks himself and Aquaman down to microscopic size and they infiltrate Batman's body.
- Episode 110 - "The Eyes of Despero!" - Batman and Dr. Fate thwart Wotan's plan to control the Library of Infinity. Then, with the Green Lantern Corps having fallen under Despero's sway, it falls to Batman and the last three free Lanterns to save the day. But what if these Lanterns were Guy Gardner, Sinestro... and G'Nort?
- Episode 111 - "Return of the Fearsome Fangs!" - Inexplicably in the Old West, in a Sergio Leone backdrop, that squirrely-eyed bounty hunter Jonah Hex and Batman corral the Royal Flush Gang. Then, in China, Batman and the prideful Bronze Tiger seek vengeance against Fox and the Shadow Clan for killing their old martial arts master. "You kill my teachaaa!"
- Episode 112 - "Deep Cover for Batman! (Part 1)" - The Injustice Syndicate, sinister doppelgangers of Batman and his superhero pals, aim to make use of a bridge to parallel Earths to cross over to Gotham. But not if Batman beats them to the punch. To quote Bats: "The resemblance to my friends is uncanny. Like looking into a funhouse mirror... of evil."
- Episode 113 - "Game Over for Owlman! (Part 2)" - Batman returns to his own reality and finds himself a wanted felon, thanks to Owlman, a parallel version of the Dark Knight. With every meta-human do-gooder out to nab him, it's maybe time to team up with a certain Clown Prince of Crime.