dvd review: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, Vol. 2

brave and bold

Some people are upset by the fact that Warner Brothers has thus far chosen to release Batman: The Brave and the Bold as a series of individual discs with four episodes per disc, as opposed to one big multi-disc collection with the entire season. I’m not going to weigh in on that topic, nor am I going to review Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Volume 2 as anything more than the four episode collection it is. And for what it is, this a great collection of episodes from what has turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining animated show.

I was a fan of the Batman: The Animated Series, watched a few episodes of Batman Beyond, and never got into The Batman. When I first heard about Batman: The Brave and the Bold, I cynically felt this latest round of animated adventures of the Caped Crusader was little more than an opportunity to sell more action figures (and in all honestly, to a certain extent, that’s what the show is). But when I saw the character designs that looked like a cross between the art of Dick Sprang, Bob Kane and just a hint of Jack Kirby, I must admit I was curious to at least see how the show looked. Recalling the Brave and the Bold comic book series that teamed up various DC superheroes, often in ridiculous and bizarre stories, this new animated series combines the often outlandish pairings that populated the pulp pages of the original series, while infusing it with a hip contemporary quality that defined Batman: the Animated Series in the 1990s. Most episodes of this new series starts with a brief teaser that finds Batman finishing up some adventure with another hero. This little trick allows the Dark Knight to team up with more than one character per episode, and often times results in the most entertaining portion of an individual episode. The opening teasers are seldom tied into the main story, but rather opportunities to show Batman in action side-by-side with other heroes in the DC Universe.

As is stands, Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Volume 2 offers four solid episodes from the first season (Episodes 5-8). Yes, there were some weak episodes in the first season, but they aren’t on this disc.

Day of the Dark Knight starts Batman and Green Lantern Guy Gardner in a brief adventure, before teaming the Caped Crusader with the original Green Arrow. Magically transported to Camelot by Merlin, Batman and Green Arrow join the wizard to battle the evil Morgaine le Fey, and help retrieve the legendary Excalibur. This is the sort of ridiculous episode that defined the original comic book series back in the late 1950s and 60s, and although it is absurd on many counts, it is entertaining.

Enter the Outsiders begins with Batman battling Black Mamba with the aid of B’wana Beast. After that, our hero joins forces with his former mentor, Wildcat, who helps him take on a team of teenage villains that call themselves the Outsiders. Comic fans will recognize Black Lightning, Metamorpho and Katana, who didn’t start out as villains originally, but make that transition for the sake of the show. Of course, before the adventure is over—which includes the Outsiders being used as pawns by a mutant slug crimelord—the teens have embraced truth, justice and the American way and joined up with Batman and Wildcat.

Dawn of the Dead Man has one of the best opening sequences of the first season, as Batman is in the distant future, fighting along side Kamandi, the last boy on Earth. Back in the present, Batman has been buried alive by the Gentleman Ghost, and only has a short time before his oxygen runs out. While astral projecting (seriously), Batman meets Deadman, the ghost of murdered circus performer Boston Brand. Deadman, who can possess the bodies of the living, teams up with Batman, and together they team up with Green Arrow and his teenage sidekick Speedy, in a rush to save Batman before he dies, and stop the Gentleman Ghost from attacking London with an army of skeletons.

Fall of the Blue Beetle starts off with a flashback revealing Batman’s adventures with the second Blue Beetle. As the main episode kicks off, we are reintroduced to the current Blue Beetle, a wisecracking teenager who has inherited the special powers, and was the first hero to team up with Batman in this series. Hoping to learn more about why he was chosen to be the Blue Beetle leads to danger, and Batman must come to the rescue and help the inexperienced crime fighter stop an army of deadly robots bent on taking over the world.

The four episodes presented on B:TBATB – Volume 2 are an entertaining mix of action, adventure, and outrageously ridiculous stories that are pure fun. Fans that prefer their Batman to be a brooding loner that battles crime in two-fisted tales will want to avoid this show because it is seldom nothing more than silly fun. I mean come on, Batman fighting alongside Merlin? Astral projecting himself into the body of Green Arrow’s sidekick? This is all outlandish even by comic book standards. But at the same time it is really fun.



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