Friday, November 18, 2011


Tonight American audiences were finally graced with the final episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Beginning in 2009 on Cartoon Network, TBATB was a dramatically different take on animated Batman than what has been seen since The Animated Series began in 1993. It was a tongue-in-cheek show designed to be a love letter to the often silly and outlandish comics of the Silver Age, particularly the covers which, produced before the actual book, very rarely matched the content and featured one-panel bizarre scenarios. Much like the comic the series took its name from, each episode featured Batman teamed-up with heroes from across the DC Universe, some never prominently featured in animation before, including the Metal Men (Lex Lang, Bill Fagerbakke, Hynden Walch, Corey Burton, Brian Bloom and Dee Bradley Baker respectively), the new Blue Beetle (voiced by Batman Beyond veteran Will Friedele), the Weeper (Tim Conway) and Doctor Double X (Ron Perlman).

"Like, hey, groovy tights, man."
The show featured many homages to the comics, particularly from the Silver Age, and previous television incarnations that came before. "Battle of the Superheroes" saw Superman, finally cleared for use on the show, infected by personality-altering Red Kryptonite, resulting in him pulling off many of the gags found on Superman-related covers such as Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #30, Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #26 and Action Comics #311. "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" recreated the MAD Magazine parody Bat Boy and Rubin, featured Jiro Kuata's manga found in Bat-Manga!: the Secret History of Batman in Japan, and parodied The New Scooby-Doo Movies Batman team-up episodes. "The Super-Batman of Planet X!" featured the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh voiced by Batman veteran Kevin Conroy (Batman from TAS through Justice League), an alien that first appeared in 1958's Batman #113 and resurfaced in 2008 during Grant Morrison's run on Batman as a back-up personality for Bruce Wayne. "Chill of the Night," one of the most widely well-received episodes of the series, gives a retelling of Batman's origin inspired by Untold Legend of the Batman and features Batman veterans Adam West and Julie Newmar (Batman and Catwoman from the 1960s live-action series), Mark Hamil (the primary actor for the Joker from 1993-2011), Richard Moll (Two-Face from TAS), and Conroy.

"Never mind that I'm naked, stop your diminutive evil!
The final episode, titled "Mitefall" after the one-shot parodying the Knightfall storyline, features Bat-Mite (Paul Reubens) who is bored with the show as it is, feeling it has jumped the shark, and seeks to cancel it to allow a new, darker show to be produced. He does this by introducing every show-killing trope to Batman's world: giving him a family, creating a Scrappy-Doo-esque nephew for Batdog Ace, giving Batman toy manufacturer-inspired costumes and accessories, and replacing a long-standing voice with actor Ted McGinley (who is often credited with killing any show he's casted on, despite Married...With Children lasting an additional six years after). Ambush Bug, fittingly voiced by Henry Winkler (who literally jumped a shark on Happy Days as The Fonz), is aware of the plot and tries to save the show. Unfortunately, the network decides to cancel the show anyway, and Ambush Bug arranges for one final send-off from all the characters featured over the last three seasons. The episode was written by Paul Dini, one of the principals behind the DC Animated Universe, and of course featured some of the fourth-wall breaking situational commentary his Bat-Mite episodes have become known for.

"Let's go, Neon Talking Bat-Luge!"
Although the show stumbled a bit during the second season, it had often delivered classic characters in humorously enjoyable settings and stories. It managed to blend the sensibilities of the previous DC Animated Universe cartoons with that of the Adam West years, without often taking it too far into the camp and corn. Although not widely received by Batman purists, the show managed to find a strong enough following to last as long as it did. With 65 episodes, a video game, an ongoing comic series, and an outstanding voice cast to its credit, there's no doubt that TBATB will be fondly remembered in the annuls of the greater Batman mythos.

Only the end of the world can bring evil and justice together in peace and harmony.