Monday, October 15, 2012

Retro Review: Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Image drawn from
There is a list of reasons why I shouldn't like this show. As an adult, the "classic" Adam West Batman makes me cringe, though it was my favorite show as a kid. When writers can't get past the camp, or try to use "it's a comic-based TV show" as an excuse for terrible scripts and acting, it pisses me off. So, naturally, when I heard the premise of this show I wanted none of it. Batman is never in Gotham? Tons of guest stars? Throwback to the 50's Bill Finger stuff? Yikes. Really?!

I was totally wrong.

The writers have put together something brilliant, hilarious, and a beautiful homage to how FUN comics were when I was growing up.

The cameos are fantastic and don't overwhelm the series. So far I've seen Atom, Fire, Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman. Half of them show up in 007-style intro shorts where Bats is already at the end of a previous adventure. This allows us to see some favorites, set up the DC Universe, and still only focus on one main story at a time without falling into the "too many supervillains/heroes" problem that plagued the Tim "I've never read a comic and never will" Burton Batman movies.

On other fronts, the music is up-beat and reminds me of Saturday mornings in front of the TV eating cereal. I just now realized it's the Johny Quest-like style!

The silliness is high but they've created a bizarre internal consistency to their universe that makes everything work.

To top it off, the writers know their DC universe. Their spin on characters like Aquaman is definitely different, but they keep the heart and soul of the characters which is the most important part. Classic comic characters are archetypes, ripe for interpretation, and they take full advantage of that. Their knowledge and love of the material shows in the little details, like an opening scene where Batman is fighting the Gentleman Ghost in Brazil. I prepping to explain to my wife that G.G. is from the Hawkman rogues gallery. Hawkman is able to fight the incorporeal villain because of the Nth metal based technology which is the basis for the Hawk's harness and weapons. Nth metal has several properties, including anti-gravity effects and the ability to affect objects in other dimensions. Before I could get any of that out, Bats pulls out Nth metal brass knuckles and cuffs. Awesome.

So, despite my reservations about the silliness, villainous monologuing, over-the-top death traps and space adventures, this show is the best, most unique Batman adaptation since The Animated Series. If you know me well, you know how much of a compliment that is.

"Agreed on all Fronts"
Originally posted on in January, 2010

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