Saturday, November 15, 2008

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Regardless of Batman's ups and downs in comics and movies, Batman cartoons have been pretty great since Batman: The Animated Series arrived on the scene and set the bar for writing, art and voice acting in superhero cartoons. Batman: TAS delivered a true to comics experience while still having it's own style. That exact model continued to be used for several top notch super hero cartoons that followed. Superman (the animated series), Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited evolved straight from the Batman cartoon. Justice League Unlimited was the ultimate ensemble. It had a cast that could include almost anyone, and plot possibilities that allowed them to give nods to every aspect of the DC universe. The stories were solid and the voice acting and animation top notch right up to the end. It still makes me sad that I don't get to see any more new episodes of that series.

Another big deal in superhero animation was the Teen Titans cartoon. It went with an anime influence and a youthful vibe about it that while not being exactly what you ever got from the comics, was a perfect look and feel for a team with the word TEEN right there in it's name. The Legion of Super Heroes cartoon was a sort of blend of Justice League and Teen Titans in it's look and feel. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but it was still a decent super hero cartoon.

The Batman cartoon series that ran from 2004 to 2008 was a different thing as well. It's animation style was different again, but not bad by any means. It parted ways with the comics and with previous animated versions in it's portrayal of existing Batman villains in different ways than we were used to. Despite that, it was still a very good Batman cartoon. Batman was what you expected him to be, and the supporting characters were pretty great. It took me a while to warm up to it, but I like it a lot.

The original Batman caricature, the 1960's Live action TV show, was my favorite thing in the world when I was very little. I got older and came to resent it for how it was all people who weren't into comics could imagine that comics were. It wasn't MY Batman. It wasn't a dark avenging detective of a Batman. It was more 'cartoonish' than any of the batman cartoons we would later get. It wasn't all bad, and I enjoy it on some level now, but I think the uninitiated should have to sit through some sort of lecture on Batman and comics before they are allowed to watch one bif bam pow episode(I am mostly kidding there.)

So now I get to Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This series promises us a new Batman team up every week, with nary a Bruce Wayne in sight. The premier was last night, with a repeat this morning at 10:30 eastern. The episode started with Batman and an old-school clean shaved Green Arrow tied up and awaiting their fate at the hands of the Clock-King. Clock-King's goons are Tick and Tock, and you know it because it is printed on their thug shirts. Our heroes are going to die an acidy death, and you know it because there is a big clear vat labeled 'ACID' right there. We are treated to some awesome dialog between the two heroes before they orchestrate their escape, and then we are treated to some Batman voice-over action, which may be a theme with the series. This episode has nothing to do with the Green Arrow. The team up in this one is with the new(er) Blue Beetle. The intro has some relevance because it is about how even though GA gets into some spots due to his own carelessness sometimes, there is no-one Batman would rather team with. The Blue Beetle story starts with Batman stating in voice over that he chose Jaime for the specific mission in order to test him out some as a partner.

The show's theme is like a mixture of the Neal Hefti Batman theme, and the theme to the cartoon series of The Tick. It definitely sets a tone, as does the character design. The characters aren't exactly what you get in the comics, but are also evocative of the 70's (early 80's?) era superheroes shows. The voice acting was good in my opinion, and the overall look and feel was slightly campy but reverent and at the same time fun.

I loved this episode. I love the promise of the show. It's a kids cartoon that can be appreciated by grown-ups and fan-people of all ages. It seems to give a conscious wink to us, but it should be possible to appreciate it even if you don't have 30 years of being a superhero-loving comics consumer under your belt.


Sandy said...

I LOVED Batman: The Animated Series when I was growing up. It had a great blend of action, mystery, suspense, and humor, and the voice acting and animation was terrific. I haven't watched any of DC's animated series since then, but I think I'll have to give Brave and the Bold a look.

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Anonymous said...

I have just always wanted to see a '70's or '80's SUPERGIRL in an animated feature. Seeing a SUPERGIRL from that time period(that look/costume/character,etc.)would be a dream come true.Hey,even back then SUPERGIRL teamed up with BATMAN via Brave and the Bold in the comics.It would be nice to finally now see her(as she was then)on tv!