Warner Bros. (2009-2010), Warner Home Video (August 16, 2011), 2 discs, 286 mins plus supplements, 16:9 ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Stereo, Not Rated, Retail: $19.98
Batman and friends take on crime and injustice all over the world, the sea, and space, in another twelve fun and action-filled episodes.
The Sweatbox Review:
In its second season, Batman: The Brave And The Bold continued to serve up ample doses of comic booky goodness. The Batman of this show can do grim and gritty just fine, but is equally at home with bonkers, off-the-wall craziness too. Every episode is a gem, for various reasons. The descriptions hardly do them justice, though, as much of the show’s greatness comes from smaller moments of characterization or humor. Long-time readers of the comics certainly can get the maximum benefit from the writing, but anyone can appreciate the drama, action, and inventiveness of the plots. Just be warned that the plotlines generally follow “comic book logic,” particularly that especially sketchy kind used in the Silver Age of comics from decades ago, but if you go with the flow, you’re in for a succession of great stories.
There are just twelve episodes this time rather than the usual thirteen, allowing for the big Starro two-parter to appear in its entirety in the next set, following a few teasers in this set of episodes.
DEATH RACE TO OBLIVION – After Captain Marvel helps Batman with Blockbuster, Batman and numerous other heroes are pitted against a small army of supervillains in a “death race” orchestrated by Mongul.
LONG ARM OF THE LAW – We meet Plastic Man’s family, including none other than Baby Plas (he’s got the duds, but exhibits no powers), and baby’s mother, Ramona— hey, what happened to Penny? Kite Man and Rubberface aim to get their revenge on Plas, but they have their hands full when Batman intercedes. Oh, and best of all— Plas takes on Woozy Winks as a sidekick!
REVENGE OF THE REACH – The Challengers Of The Unknown intro is so cool (teasing the big Starro arc) that you may resent switching to the main story; but it’s a good one too. Comics scribe J.M. DeMatteis penned this tale of Batman, Blue Beetle and the Green Lantern Corps taking on The Reach, who think they can exploit Beetle’s scarab.
AQUAMAN’S OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURE – If you love the show’s boisterous, tremendously gung ho, “Outrageous!” Aquaman, then this episode is for you. Aquaman, Mera, and son (cleverly dressed in an old, obscure Aquaman costume) try to take a vacation, but The Penguin and others get in the way. Once again, the kooky initial scene tries to steal the whole show, as Batman teams up with Enemy Ace in WWI, as they battle an alien invader.
GOLDEN AGE OF JUSTICE – This is the one that I was really waiting for, as my favorite comic book heroes, The Justice Society Of America, guest star. Better yet, the enemy here is Per Degaton, a classic 1940s baddie who was also featured prominently in a few 1980s comic book storylines written by Roy Thomas that I was very fond of. Black Canary and Batman, both protégés of the JSA, exhibit sibling rivalry while the old-timers insist on patronizing them both. It’s a fond look at the JSA, in a fresh take that nevertheless reminded me of the beloved but short-lived Justice Society Of America comic book series of the early 1990s. (I only didn’t care for the villain-ization of Professor Zee.) Detective Chimp co-stars in the teaser. Detective Chimp!! How awesome is that?
SIDEKICKS ASSEMBLE – It’s not quite the Teen Titans, but this tale of Robin, Aqualad and Speedy asserting their independence from their mentors is gold nonetheless. The episode’s opener flashes back to the JLA satellite days, with a look at the younger Justice Leaguers (including characters not seen previously) and a very young trio of sidekicks already wanting to be taken more seriously. Years later, they finally insist on being given more responsibility, and they end up taking on none other than Ra’s al Ghul, while their mentors struggle to keep up. I’m not sure how non-comic fans would look on an episode such as this, but I found it tremendous. There are just so many nice moments, from quarrelling between the heroes, to an odd sibling rivalry between Robin and Talia al Ghul, and ultimately Robin being convinced that he needs a new identity.
CLASH OF THE METAL MEN – Another Starro teaser starts this episode, this time with Aquaman being besieged by starfish-controlled hordes. Then we meet The Metal Men, who were never really favorites of mine, but they’re done justice here.
A BAT DIVIDED – A laboratory explosion separates Batman into three aspects of himself, but also combines two into a single new hero, Firestorm. I like that they used Jason as part of Firestorm, but having Ronnie as a dim-witted gym coach and Firestorm’s “floating head” really doesn’t do much for me. Booster Gold, always good for a laugh, guests in the teaser against The Riddler.
SUPER-BATMAN OF PLANET X – The Metal Men shine brightly in this episode’s prologue, where Doc Magnus shows why he’s not meant for working undercover with Batman. We get a rare glimpse of Batman out of his mask here, as he appears in his “Matches Malone” identity. This whole series clearly harkens back to the 1950s era Batman, and that’s no more evident than in the main story, actually adapted from a comic book story from that era. In what was apparently a coincidental bit of synergy, the same story was referenced in Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. comic arc at about the same time, which led to its being reprinted for not the first time, so current fans do have a point of reference. Nothing says “1950s loopy sci-fi Batman” like this plot, where Batman ends up on another world, gains super powers, and meets a Batman-like alien hero. Adding to the fun is pitting Batman against a Lex Luthor analog (who is voiced by Clancy Brown and whose name is “Luthor” spelled backwards), while a female reporter with Dana Delaney’s voice switches her allegiance from “her” Batman to “ours.” The whole thing is so Silver Agey that it is impossible to watch the entire episode without smiling constantly. Oh, and Green Arrow is around, too, in what basically amounts to a framing sequence that incorporates the wonderful rivalry between GA and Batman.
POWER OF SHAZAM – A much bigger Starro teaser starts off this episode, with more heroes falling before the alien starfish, before getting to the main event. What Captain Marvel fan can resist a show that features a team-up between not only Batman and The World’s Mightiest Mortal, but also Dr. Sivana and Black Adam? I’ll watch this one again a dozen times before I watch Superman-Shazam! again.
CHILL OF THE NIGHT – First, Batman and Zatanna take on Abra Kadabra. This is just an outstanding episode examining the origins of Batman, guest-starring The Phantom Stranger and The Spectre, who oversee the proceedings. Rather than just rehashing the “shot in an alley” scene we’ve now seen countless times, this episode adapts the classic 1950s comic book story The First Batman, which showed how Bruce’s dad inspired him to take on the mantle of the bat, as well as addressing the identity of the Waynes’ killer. It made for a fabulous story in the ‘50s, and it works great in the context of this series as well, especially with Adam West and Julie Newmar playing Bruce’s parents.
GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST – A team-up with The Spectre then gives way to a pretty “wild” episode, as Grodd wants to turn Gothamites into apes, and it’s up to Batman to stop him, aided by Detective Chimp (making his second appearance on this set—who would’ve thunk it?), B’Wanna Beast, and Vixen.
Is This Thing Loaded?
The discs unfortunately have no extras devoted to the show itself. Disc One does have a trailer of Young Justice when the disc starts up; and there are menu-selectable spots for the new Thundercats and the upcoming Green Lantern animated series. The second disc has a trailer for the DVD release of Mad: The Animated Series.
This release only gets a plain ol’ Amaray case, with no slipcase and no inserts. The episode titles are given on the back. The cover art is nice, but just as generic as the previous releases in the series, offering only a pretty boring Batman image and no hint of the excellent team-up action within.
Ink And Paint:
Wowie zowie, does this show look awesome. Aside from amazing character design, and beautiful production design, the DVD video transfers are simply top notch. As much as I’d go for this show on Blu-ray, it’s really hard to imagine it looking significantly better. The image is razor sharp, and the colors bold and solid. And thank goodness we’re getting the full, widescreen images in anamorphic 16:9.
The sound designers seem to be having as much fun as the artists, giving us a very energetic 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack. Dialog, music, and effects are nicely balanced, making the show as pleasant to listen to as it is to watch.
There are also tracks in Spanish and Portuguese, and subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
This is another very strong set of episodes from what is one of my favorite shows. Going through these stories is a joyful experience, though likely to be further enhanced by a familiarity with the source material. Video and audio quality is first rate as well, though we still get deprived of any bonus material yet again.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?