REVIEW: Batman The Brave and the Bold: The Complete Second Season
For today’s comic book readers, there’s an appetite for one flavor of Batman: brooding, angry, single-minded and largely one-dimensional. But for those of an earlier generation where the interpretation of Batman varied by editor and medium, there are other varieties to tickle the fancy and entertain the soul. After years of the unrelentingly grim animated fare, Cartoon Network and Warner Animation came up with a breath of fresh air in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. James Tucker and Michael Jelenic developed this series to mimic the days of Batman being a premier hero and collaborator, operating in a bright, colorful world filled with costumed heroes and crazy villains.
The show lasted three seasons and 65 wonderful episodes and late in 2014, Warner Archive finally released Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray. There are 26 gloriously goofy half-hour episodes here and they are at the least fun to watch and at their best, creatively satisfying. The conceit usually features a cold opening with one team-up ending as the main story develops. Whereas season one created the over-arching threat of Equinox, season two is all about Starro the Conqueror. Additionally, the emphasis has been on the full DC Universe, from the Justice Society of America to newer heroes such as the third Blue Beetle. While the more familiar Justice League colleagues are around, it’s been a lot more fun to see the first generation of heroes or lesser lights like B’Wanna Beast.
This season we see Bats partner with Plastic Man, Booster Gold, Zatanna, the Spectre, Black Orchid, the Atom, Firestorm, Enemy Ace, the Haunted Tank, Detective Chimp, the Question, Dr. Magnus, Sgt. Rock and the G.I. Robot, Kamandi, Dr. Canus, the Challengers of the Unknown and the Outsiders, most animated to resemble their best known four-color version. The most radical revision remains the blowhard Aquaman, but is done with such gusto and good humor it can be forgiven.
Similarly, the full rogue’s gallery (Kite Man ,Shaggy Man, Evil Star, Blockbuster, Black Manta, Catwoman, Gentleman Ghost, Steppenwolf, Per Degaton, the Gas Gang, Chemo, and the more familiar Joker, Penguin, Riddler) has been well mined for fodder and put to excellent use.
While Kevin Conroy might be the animated voice for the slightly more adult animated adventures found elsewhere, Diedrich Bader does a fine job here. There were some lovely touches in the guest casting such as Conroy voicing the Batman from Zur En Arh while Adam West and Julie Newmar handle Thomas and Martha Wayne in one flashback. Conroy is back as the Phantom Stranger, paired with Mark Hamill’s Spectre which is cool. Then there’s the first television Flash, John Wesley Shipp, as Professor Zoom.
The scripts include ones from comic veterans J.M. DeMatteis, Greg Weisman, and Gail Simone among others and they often have homages to stories from throughout DC’s 75 year history which is just a bonus for longtime fans. One example would be one with Firefly and his Rainbow Creature in a homage to Detective Comics #241 and Batman #134. None, though, can beat the Paul Dini written “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” that includes a recreation of the Mad magazine parody “Bat Boy and Rubin”, Jiro Kuwata’s Batman featured in Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, and New Scooby-Doo Movies.
While the set lacks any extras, to be expected from Warner Archive releases, it does come complete including “The Mask of Matches Malone!” which was never broadcast stateside thanks a harmless sexual innuendo in a musical number. The version we get is the edited one with revised animation that still didn’t master CN muster.
The high definition transfer is strong accompanied with a good DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix.
The two-disc set of Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Complete Second Season includes the following episodes:
1 Death Race to Oblivion
2 Long Arm of the Law!
3 Revenge of the Reach!
4 Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventur
5 The Golden Age of Justice!
6 Sidekicks Assemble!
7 Clash of the Metal Men!
8 A Bat Divided!
9 Super-Batman of Planet X!
10 The Power of Shazam!
11 Chill of the Night!
12 Gorillas in Our Midst!
13 The Siege of Starro! Part 1
14 The Siege of Starro! Part 2
15 Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!
16 The Last Patrol!
17 The Mask of Matches Malone!
18 Menace of the Madniks!
19 Emperor Joker!
20 The Criss Cross Conspiracy
21 Plague of the Prototypes!
22 Cry Freedom Fighters!
23 The Knights of Tomorrow!
24 Darkseid Descending!
25 Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!
26 The Malicious Mr. Mind!