Warner Bros. (2008), Warner Home Video (March 15. 2011), 2 discs, 298 mins, 16:9 ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Stereo, Not Rated, Retail: $19.98
Batman’s world expands to include an even greater variety of heroes and villains from DC Comics, in the series that celebrates the Silver Age Batman.
The Sweatbox Review:
I loved the first half of season one, and the rest of the season is even better. I could end the review right there, but let’s look at the evidence.
When the first episode is called Mystery In Space!, there is an excellent chance that I’m going to be a big fan. Older fans of DC Comics may recognize that the title refers to the first comic to hold the adventures of Adam Strange, DC’s version of John Carter Of Mars. Sure enough, this episode features a team-up between batman and Adam Strange, mostly on the planet Rann. Aquaman is along for the ride, too, feeling unusually depressed about his prospects of doing good in the world. When Aquaman rises to the occasion and counsels Adam about his own self-doubts, we could all see it from a mile away, but thanks to the awesome gosh-shucks vibe of the show, it comes off as kitschy rather than corny. Nice to see The Question in the opening segment too!
Trials Of The Demon takes Batman back to Victorian London to help solve a mystery. Of course, he wouldn’t necessarily need to go back in time to meet Etrigan The Demon, since Etrigan still exists in Batman’s time. No, the time travel angle is necessary here for batman to meet Sherlock Holmes! That, plus we see the origin of The Gentleman Ghost. The opener brings in a surprise appearance by Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. Of all the Flashes to choose from, it amazing that they chose Jay. I love it!
Night Of The Huntress! brings back Blue Beetle, and adds Huntress to the mix as they go up against Babyface’s mob. Much comedy is achieved when Huntress uses her feminine wiles on a stoically resistant Batman and a hormonal, love struck Blue Beetle. The humor may seem a little close to 60s sitcom level, but it’s all in good fun, as usual. Black Canary appears in the opener, adding more feminine magic.
Menace Of The Conqueror Caveman! starts with a Wildcat team-up against Bane before giving way to the main story, where a caveman named Kru’ll (inspired by Captain Marvel’s barbarian foe King Kull, as confirmed in a later episode) goes up against Batman and Booster Gold, the glory hog hero from the 25th Century.
The Color Of Revenge! is a fanboy’s dream, beginning with a team-up of yesteryear between Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder, showing off all the visual tropes of the 1960s TV show. Then, we travel to the present to find robin all grown up, living in Bludhaven (where the comics’ Nightwing used to live), wearing the costume of The Earth-2 adult Robin. Just awesome. Earth-2 in the comics was the world that the original Batman lived in, and so this is a great nod to the show’s roots in the older Batman comics.
Legends Of The Dark Mite! is also a great tribute to the 1960s comics, bringing Bat-Mite into the Brave And The bold universe. Bat-Mite stays true to his origins as an other-dimensional admirer of Batman, who inadvertently causes Batman all sorts of headaches. Using his magical powers, he also conjures up various images of Batman, including The Dark Knight Returns, and even the nipple-suited Batman of the Schumacher films, who even Bat-Mite doesn’t like. Paul Reubens brilliantly provides Bat-Mite’s voice. The opener even includes Ace The Bat-Hound and Cat-Man, so the 1960s love-fest is complete.
Hail The Tornado Tyrant! gets Batman with Red Tornado, and adds a nod to the comics mythos with the introduction of The Tornado Tyrant. Instead of being Reddy’s “soul,” however, here the Tyrant is a transformed version of a “son” that Reddy tried to create for himself. Green Arrow teams with Bats in the opener against The Joker and Catwoman.
Duel Of The Double Crossers! has Old West Jonah Hex working for the intergalactic despot Mongul… that is so bizarre, my brain is about to explode. In a good way. In the opener, we see more of Batman training The Outsiders.
The Last Bat On Earth! is another time-bender, this time with Batman following Gorilla Grodd into the future, where he meets Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth. I loved seeing Kamandi in an earlier opening sequence, and I’d been wondering how they would use him in a full episode. Suffice it to say, I was pleased. This episode’s opener co-stars Mister Miracle.
When OMAC Attacks! follows the link to another 1970s Jack Kirby creation, after seeing Batman team up in the opener with Steve Ditko’s 1970s Hawk and Dove.
The Fate Of Equinox! brings in Dr. Fate to help Batman against the show’s most intriguing villain, the balance-obsessed Equinox. This follows an uncanny battle against and with Two-Face.
Mayhem Of The Music Meister! is the show’s much-lauded musical episode, the best part of which is Green Arrow and Black Canary performing a duet at the end. Neil Patrick Harris performs wonderfully as The Music Meister.
Inside The Outsiders! requires Batman to save the tails of the outsiders as they are overmatched by The Psycho Pirate. In the opener, Green Arrow helps against Catwoman.
Is This Thing Loaded?
Disc One has a trailer for All-Star Superman, and Disc Two has a trailer for Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5. Yep, that’s it for special features.
Same as the last set, the two discs get packaged in an eco keepcase with a swinging tray, all housed inside an identical slipcase. Also again, batman appears all alone on the front, and you can barely make out his guest-stars on the back cover screenshots. Why Warner doesn’t wish to promote the team-up aspect of the show, I’m not sure. The video format is still described as “matted widescreen,” though I think the show was created for and shot 16:9.
Ink And Paint:
This is one great-looking show, and the video on the DVDs shows off all the color and dynamism beautifully. I love how this show leaves the dark and gritty behind, and embraces the bright. Thick character outlines and excellently assured figure drawing likely help the matter, but the picture looks extremely stable and compression problems are nil.
This show would truly rock in 5.1, but Warner Bros. could only manage to do it in Stereo, so that’s what we get. Sound design is as great as it can be in 2.0, pushing the limits of Stereo to create a pretty fun experience. The discs come with a better assortment of languages this time, with audio in English, Spanish and Portuguese; and subtitles in the same flavors plus French.
This is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite cartoon shows. The writers and artists truly appreciate what this version of Batman has to offer, and Diedrich Bader gives a perfect portrayal. Seeing Batman play off of such a variety of DC Comics heroes is a delight, as the emphasis is on fun. Even when plots don’t quite make sense, you know that the writers are in on the gag, and it all puts a smile of your face. Still, humor never takes a back seat to bombastic action. The designs, inspired largely by Dick Sprang’s cartoony approach, are extremely strong, too making for a very appealing cartoon. For this old comics fan, Batman – The Brave And The Bold is a minor miracle.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?