The original Batman: The Animated Series is one of my favorite cartoon shows of all time. Depending on which day you ask me, I might go ahead and say it is my favorite (the other times, I’ll probably mention X-Men or Johnny Bravo). It was the perfect blend of cartoon super-hero drama, with a dose of dark and foreboding circumstances. Enter 2008, Batman: the Brave and the Bold, another Batman cartoon but on the lighter side of the equation. Would this show hold up as much as the historic original?
Before the Dark Knight, Batman Begins, heck even before Jack Nicholson wanted to dance with devil in the pale moonlight, there was a Silver age television show of Batman. It was light-hearted and we always knew that Batman was going to save the day and foil some of the most oddball villains along the way with intelligence and an awesome utility belt. Somewhere, in Heath Ledger’s crooked smile and a really raspy squawk box for a Batman voice, we lost that wholesome value caped crusader.
Warner Bros as with many recycled ideas decided to revisit the idea of a kinder and gentler Batman with villains that didn’t necessarily look like they were going to show up on a sex offender’s report. The episodes would mostly be stand-alone (though we do get a reoccurring villain in each season to some extent) and would feature two parts. The first part would last about three-four minutes and be a small adventure where Batman would buddy with Green Arrow or the Atom against a small time foe like The Clock King or Felix Faust.
The idea here was to introduce a character (or villain) and see how well the audience took to it where they would later come back for the main adventure which would fill out the rest of the episode. Or simply, because they couldn’t think of enough material to carry the other eighteen minutes. A main theme among all the shows was that Batman partnered with another DC standout and usually not the old standby of Robin either (he does show here and there but not until late in the first season).
Among the list of Batman partners in these two discs include the Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, Atom, Aquaman, and Jonah Hex among others. There are notable villains too including the likes of Kanjar Ro, Black Manta, Owlman and even a minor appearance from the Joker in the last episode on the disc. However, the overbearing question here is with a lighter tone and the tendency for Batman to play buddy buddy with his fellow DC hero, is the show interesting for anybody above the age of 5?
Surprisingly yes. Somewhere in the silliness of the non-loner Batman and his stable of friendly counterparts are excellent stories and lots of sly wit. Batman might be truth, justice and all those good things but he is not above being his sarcastic self with some well timed one-liners. I was somewhat skeptical of Diedrich Bader voicing the caped crusader but it actually works out pretty well. Sure, he isn’t Kevin Conroy but realistically that’s not a fair comparison.
The other part I was worried about was the use of say the Blue Beetle or Plastic Man. For the most part, it works out pretty well. Plastic Man could have been a disaster but Tom Kenny provides the voice and he actually comes off as one of the more interesting reoccurring characters in the show. John Dimaggio as Aquaman was also one of my favorites (which is weird considering that I’m not a big fan of the dolphin lover).
The video is framed in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. As with the rest of the cartoon, the video has a very Silver Age feel to it. So, unfortunately it comes down to personal preference. The animation is clean and most fans will be happy with the color palette. I’m not so happy with it personally, but I like my Batman dark and gritty as previously explained and this is a little toon-tastic for my tastes. But overall, it does the job.
For the audio portion, we get a 2.0 English Dolby Digital Track (Spanish mix also included). Truth be told, I was expecting a 5.1 track since that since to be the norm for major cartoon shows these days. However, this 2.0 track has more life to it than many of the fancier tracks. Building explode, punches fly, and sound effects actually move from left to right and back again. It is definitely a fun track. Subtitles are included for English and French.
- Preview: Lego Harry Potter
As of writing this, Batman, the Brave and the Bold is entering the very last episodes of their run. They made it to forty one which is about fifteen more than a lot of cartoons have the pleasure of. Warner Bros wants to go back to the darker side of Batman which is to be expected. I just hope that they finish out this run of the caped crusader and all of the episodes make it to DVD. It was a welcome departure from the current darker Batman and introduced us to a bunch of heroes and villains that you normally don’t see on a DC super hero show.
The two discs do unfortunately come housed in a 2-disc eco case but they have suitable video and a very good audio soundtrack. The other bad thing is that this show has absolutely no extras except a promo for the new Lego Harry Potter game (they could have at least gave us a demo or something). Fans of the show will want to pick this one up (rather than the wasteful 4, 5 episode collections). Hopefully, in a few months we’ll see Part Two. Until then, we’ll just have to extract a roast-beef sandwich from Batman’s utility belt and wait. Recommended.
Rise of the Blue Beetle
Terror on Dinosaur Island
Evil Under the Sea
Invasion of the Secret Santas
Day of the Dark Knight
Enter the Outsiders
Dawn of the Dead Man
Fall of the Blue Beetle
Journey to the Center of the Bat
The Eyes of Despero
Return of the Fearsome Fangs
Deep Cover for Batman (Part 1)
Deep Cover for Batman (Part 2)