You claim the Dark Knight has to be broody and sinister all the time to further his intimidating urban legend. You protest that he works best as a solo act. BATMAN:THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, a ridiculously fun animated series, dissuades such assertions. It showcases the lighter side of Batman, plonks him in silly scenarios, even has him cracking a smile now and then. BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD - SEASON 2, PART 1 collects Season 2's first twelve episodes, offers more team-up fun with the truculent Gotham Detective. And while the episodes are for the most part isolated stories, attempts are made to introduce an overarching plot point, concerning the Faceless Hunter's paving the way for Starro the Conqueror's impending global invasion. Batman's familiar heroic foils are here: his friendly rival Green Arrow, his protege Blue Beetle, his adoring fan Plastic Man, and the delightfully grandiose Aquaman. But this series also spotlights DC's more neglected characters like the Metal Men, the Challengers of the Unknown, and Firestorm (who makes his debut in "A Bat Divided").
Of this batch, the best episodes - in my eyes, anyway - are the hilarious "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!", "The Golden Age of Justice" (featuring the JSA), and "A Bat Divided" (for the Slacker Batman moments). This DVD set comes in two discs and, disappointingly, with no bonus material. Still, twelve episodes aren't too shabby. If you harbor fond memories of Batman as he was in the Golden & Silver Ages and if you don't mind an infusion of Adam West-type wackiness and a cast of quite a lot, then what are you waiting for?
Plot synopsis for the twelve eps (and, of course, you already know that each episode begins with a teaser segment which mostly doesn't have anything to do with that episode's main narrative, right?):
- "Death Race to Oblivion!" - Prequel: Batman and Captain Marvel give a time out to an evil genius kid. Then, Mongol holds Earth hostage as he gathers a group of heroes and villains to compete in a death race. Heck, there's even a nod to the classic JLI Batman clocks Guy Gardner "One punch!" routine.
- "Long Arm of the Law!" - Prequel: Batman and Plastic Man on a rescue mission at a woodsy scout camp jamboree. Then, Plastic Man, his wife and son Baby Plas, and his sidekick Woozy Winks are targeted by Kite Man. As one might expect, this is one slapsticky episode.
- "Revenge of the Reach!" - Prequel: Batman and the Challengers of the Unknown versus a mutated giant spider on Dinosaur Island. Then, Batman, Blue Beetle, and the Green Lantern Corps face off against the Reach, an ancient marauding alien race from which the Beetle's hi-tech scarab had originated.
- "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!" - Prequel: Somehow set in World War I, Batman and Enemy Ace call off aerial hostilities to take out extraterrestrial weaponry. Then, Aquaman's family vacation keeps getting interrupted when the King of the Seven Seas insists on making stops to help out his superhero buddies. Check out Arthur Jr.'s threads, reminiscent of Aquaman's costume from Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton's 1986 mini-series. How awesome is this episode? Four words: Aquaman driving an RV.
- "The Golden Age of Justice!" - Prequel: Batman and Detective Chimp solve the case of the stolen Golden Skull. Then, Batman, a feeling underappreciated Black Canary, and the old-as-dust Justice Society of America join forces to stymie Per Degaton's latest stab at world domination.
- "Sidekicks Assemble!" - Prequel: Squabbling kid sidekicks Robin, Aqualad, and Speedy are scolded by their mentors. Then, cut to the present, as the now teenaged (but still squabbling) sidekicks combat Ra's al Ghul and his plot to transform Earth into a primordial (and lethal to man) paradise.
- "Clash of the Metal Men!" - Prequel: After Batman and Aquaman net a crew of pirates, Aquaman returns to Atlantis only to find his people subjugated by Starro's clones. Then, when the Metal Men's creator, Dr. Milton Magnus, goes missing, the enthusiastic shape-shifting androids and Batman go looking.
- "A Bat Divided!" - Prequel: Trapped in the Riddler's game show, Booster Gold must correctly answer a series of riddles, with Batman's life hanging in the balance (except that Booster doesn't even get one answer right). Then, Doctor Double X intrudes on a science field trip held at a nuclear test lab. He accidentally ignites a nuclear reaction that splits Batman into three messed-up personalities. The meltdown also fuses a brainy student and an oafish athletic coach into one entity, giving birth to Flame Dude... er, Firestorm. This ep is worth it just to see Batman, in his slacker persona, channel Keanu Reeves and consume massive amounts of nachos and cheese.
- "The Super-Batman of Planet X!" - Prequel: Batman, in his "Matches Malone" disguise, and the Metal Men work together to thwart the predations of Kanjar Ro and his space bandits. Then, while Batman and Green Arrow are pursuing even more space pirates, Batman is sent hurtling thru a wormhole, on the other side of which is his doppelganger, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. Oh, and on this world, our Batman has somehow gained super powers.
- "The Power of Shazam!" - Prequel: Starro's emissary, the Faceless Hunter, gives us a voiceover recap, detailing his capturing of or taking out a series of heroes in preparation for Starro the Conqueror's invasion. Then, evil genius Dr. Sivana and Black Adam hatch a plot to siphon the wizard Shazam's magic, that which empowers the World's Mightiest Mortal, Captain Marvel.
- "Chill of the Night!" - Prequel: Batman and Zatanna close the curtain on Abra Kadabra's attempt to ransack a museum showcasing the creations of history's greatest stage magicians. Then, the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre lay a wager on Bats' plan of action when he at last meets his parents' murderer. Will he choose justice... or vengeance? You must dig this episode's special voice actors: Adam West as Thomas Wayne, Julie Newmar as Martha Wayne, Kevin Conroy as the Phantom Stranger, and Mark Hamill as the Spectre.
- "Gorillas in Our Midst!" - Prequel: When Professor Milo engineers rats to steal diamonds, Batman and the Spectre form a vermin-stopping duo. Then, "The great powers of the ape world have finally put aside their differences to found G.A.S.P. - Gorillas & Apes Seizing Power!" It's Batman, Detective Chimp, Vixen, and B'wana Beast against the hairy forces of Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah, and Gorilla Boss in a crazy bananas episode.