By: Adam Basciano
Batman and the Blue Beetle attempt to stop an asteroid but end up on a distant planet fighting Kanjar Ro.”
I never watched “Batman: The Brave & The Bold” during its original run. Admittedly, it was due to my pig-headed snobbishness. I dismissed it as campy kiddie Batman and ignored it because it wasn’t the current comic book/Chris Nolan version of Batman. Seeing as how as I kid I absolutely loved the Adam West Batman tv series, this was a pretty dick move on my part. After listening to Kevin Smith reveal he was in the same boat and eventually changed his tune, I decided to give it a look.
This show presents us with superhero Batman. It echoes the Batman of the 1950’s who often teams up with super powered heroes and has no qualms about fighting aliens in space etc. While this show is anchored by Batman, instead of featuring his typical supporting cast week in and week out, this show has the Caped Crusader teaming up with his other DC Universe brethren. Which is very appropriate considering it calls to mind a comic book of a similar premise. This first episode gives us two team ups for the price of one. We get a quick sequence of Batman and Green Arrow battling Clock King. I really liked the interplay and competition between Batman and Green Arrow. Watching two similar characters try to one-up each other was pretty humorous. The rest of the episode features Batman teaming up, more like mentoring Jaime Reyes a.k.a. Blue Beetle on his journey to becoming a full-fledged hero. I’ve never read the super sci-fi Batman era comics, but this gets right to that point, worm holes, different ends of the universe, and an alien race dominate the majority of this episode. For a half hour show it gives a good summation of who Blue Beetle is, his origin, powers, and nemesis. There are a few things that make this episode cool. Batman’s mental monologue. We hear what Batman’s thinking as the action happens. That’s a comic book characteristic I’ve never seen done in animation. Despite Batman being the star of the series, he never overshadows Blue Beetle. Batman may be the star of the show, but Blue Beetle’s the hero of the episode. The discussion between Jaime and his best friend over who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman, with subtle references to the fight in “Hush” was pretty sweet to see as a fan of that book. Jaime’s idealistic almost worshiping fandom of Batman is the is great because the fans of the show share his perspective and can relate to what he’s feeling.
In terms of animation, fight sequences, and voice work, I really like the blend of different styles. You have Batman and Green Arrow drawn in the spirit of their 1950’s-1960’s comic book counterparts, while Blue Beetle is the modern version. Meanwhile, on the walls of Jaime’s room we see posters of comic books. We have the Justice League’s first encounter with Starro, as well as the classic cover for The Dark Knight Returns. The fight sequences have a sleek modern feel, especially with the slow-mo shots. Yet, it does have the biff, bam, pow feel to it, specifically during the Batman/Green Arrow segment of the show. The voice work continues the trend of paying tribute to different era’s of the characters history. Diedrich Bader has the calm, composed, mentoring Adam West thing going on, but also calls to mind the gravelly Kevin Conroy style voice at work. Adding to the nostalgia, is Will Friedle as Blue Beetle. Will plays a great newbie teenage superhero, and longtime Batman animated fans will remember Friedle’s portrayal of Terry McGinnis/Batman in Batman Beyond.
Despite my initial trepidation towards this series, I really enjoyed the series premiere. It’s straight up entertaining and fun. If you are a fan of the 50’s era of Batman, the more “superhero” type portrayal; If you have nostalgia for the Adam West Batman, or just in the mood for a change of pace from the Nolan films, give this show a look.