Watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold has become a weekly ritual for my son and I, and every episode, I'm surprised and thrilled by the appearance of some obscure old villain or a nod to some weird old Batman story. Ostensibly a team-up show, the writers manage to shoehorn in all kinds of fun elements into the most colorful, poppiest Batman show since that Adam West deal back in the '60's.
This is just the latest in a long string of excellent DC animated projects from Warner Bros. Animation, starting with Batman: The Animated Series and including Justice League Unlimited. What I've enjoyed about these projects, and especially about Brave and the Bold, is the way each show is allowed its own tone, design, and identity. The world of Brave and the Bold is based on the Batman comics of the 1950's, specifically those drawn by artist Dick Sprang, and it serves as a great gateway into the overall DC universe as well.
As a leading advocate of lame-ass supervillains, I love that the show is packed with cameos by guys like Zebra Man, the Eraser, Killer Moth, Polka-Dot-Man, Planet Master, and a couple of guys even I don't recognize, like the camera guy and the propeller-head guy. But oh, I want to know them now.
Also included: Bat Mite! One especially great episode featured Batman trying to rid himself of the interdimensional pest as he was whisked through a surreal gallery of Sprang-styled villains and monsters:
But is all of this too silly, too demeaning to the image of Batman? As Bat-Mite himself said in "Legends of the Dark Mite!":
"Batman's rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it's certainly no less valid and true to the character's roots than the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy."Hey, if it's good enough for Bat-Mite, it's good enough for me.
There's been a great array of guest stars too, with a focus on the obscure corners of the DCU, and so far, most of the characters are ones who haven't appeared in previous animated shows, like Plastic Man, both Blue Beetles, Guy Gardner, Firestorm, and many others.
The show also gives us plenty of something we don't see enough of in modern Batman comics: Bizarre transformations! Batman has been transformed into triplets, a gorilla, a plastic Batman, a Future Batman, a Green Lantern, a ghost, and the Justice Society of America even showed up in a recent episode, where age-altering antics gave us a geriatric Batman!
Upcoming episodes promise the Doom Patrol, the Rainbow Batman, and an all-Bob Khaniger episode, featuring the Creature Commandos and G.I. Robot. Coming next week we'll see an animated Batman of Zur En Arrh in, the "THE SUPER-BATMAN OF PLANET X!"
If you're not watching Batman:Brave and the Bold because it looks too kid-centric, don't be fooled. It is 100% kid-friendly, but there's a lot for fans, too. The Black Casebook has been opened...and it's animated!