Batman: The Brave and The Bold
Episode 30 “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!”
Many fans of this series have decried that the very best thing it has going for it is the character of Aquaman. After several appearances in the Superfriends where the King of the Seven Seas needed a scooter to get around and in Justice League where he was more like Marvel’s Sub Mariner than DC’s Aquaman, I was curious to see how he would be handled here. The Brave and the Bold cartoon is like placing the Batman universe in the realm of Looney Toons, something that the comic book series came close to in the 1950′s under artist Dick Sprang. Whereas previous versions of the character in animated form have been realistic and gritty, this version is absurd and able to accomplish anything that the animator can dream up. This has resulted in one of the most unique and visually entertaining Batman cartoons I have ever seen.
When adapting Aquaman to the Brave and the Bold cartooniverse, the series producers turned him into a kind of Steve Reeves Hercules-type. Forever chasing down adventures and even titling his exploits in his head with a bumper screen and everything, the character bore no resemblance to any version seen before. He was also wildly successful with garnering an avid following with viewers who wanted nothing but more more more. After co-starring in a few noteworthy episodes, this is the first cartoon of Brave and the Bold that actually centers on the aquanaut of the deep.
(For an entertaining and revealing interview with Producer James Tucker, please visit the Aquaman Shrine)
The story opens with a typically wacky adventure in which Aquaman thwarts the nefarious schemes of the Fisherman (an apt villain if ever there was one). He is wrenched from the action by calls from his wife and is soon back to reality, driving a Winnebago down an interstate with his family.
Throughout the episode, his wife Mera tries in vain to keep her husband’s mind on their vacation on the surface world and away from adventure with little success. Even his son, the glum tween Arthur Junior is more interested in playing videogames than taking in the sights. Desperately seeking escape from the monotony, Aquaman continually calls his buddy Batman to see if there’s any action in Gotham City. As it turns out, the caped crusader is in the middle of a caper with his arch foe the Penguin (I think this episode marks that villain’s first appearance in the cartoon) but is reluctant to receive any aid. This fits in perfectly with their relationship from previous episodes where Aquaman appears overly eager to join anyone anywhere in an adventure and no one wants him tagging along due to his overzealous and obnoxious behavior.
Clip from Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure
As the episode continues, Aquaman finds adventures just out of earshot of his family and zips away for brief moments to participate in what he views as legendary team-ups. These are absolutely hilarious moments as he envisions a 1970′s era Superfriends title screen in his head as he joins forces with his fellow heroes. Eventually he is found out, however, and is compelled to drop the action hero bit and just be a father on vacation for once. Seeing how much this upsets his wife causes Aquaman to rise to the challenge and he boldly swears off adventure like an alcoholic swears off drink… and just as tragically finds himself surrounded by heroes and villains duking it out, even the Atom strikes the windscreen of the Winnebago but Aquaman just sighs and tries to ignore it.
When Batman’s communicator accidentally goes off cuing Aquaman to his friend’s plight, all bets are off and Aquaman sneakily steers the Winnebago to crime-ridden Gotham City appearing to be innocently unaware that it is Batman’s turf. Finding the Penguin’s hideout, he is soon trapped in the villain’s trap alongside Batman with seemingly no escape. Using his telepathic abilities to attract help from a bunch if crabs, the Aquaman family enters the fray as a fighting force, all three admitting that this is what they have craved all along. Mera begrudgingly admits that her husband is a spectacular hero before a family man and the she just has to learn to understand that. Bewildered, Batman watches the family drive off for more excitement.
This episode has to be one of the standout best so far and really speaks to what the audience has wanted to see all along. I hope that the quality of Brave and the Bold continues to hold up to this high mark in the coming weeks.
Tonight’s episode will feature the Justice Society of America in what may be their first animated appearance. The JSA will be depicted as aging superheroes who are forced to contend with their nemesis Per Degaton recently revived from suspended animation.
The opening adventure will feature a team-up with Detective Chimp.