Batman The Brave and the Bold- Mitefall
Batman has a long standing relationship with cartoons. From the days of the 1968 Batman/Superman Hour to the much vaunted award winning Bruce Timm-helmed Batman The Animated Series. Throughout Batman’s long association with animation, the character has undergone several interpretations ranging from the campy to the grimly dramatic. The latest cartoon version of the caped crusader has, in my opinion, been the most dynamic and far-reaching as it delved into the most absurd material one week and investigated some of the heaviest material ever the next. Teaming up with every superhero this side of the B’Wana Beast, Brave and the Bold has been a wild ride from start to finish, blending computer imagery and traditional animation into a colorful program the likes of which we will likely never see again.
All that said, it’s not to everyone’s liking, especially for the many fans that feel the cartoon life of the dark knight ended along with the Batman Animated Series. But the intention of Brave and the Bold is something entirely different from the Bruce Timm version. While the animated series explored the noirish world of crime, Brave and the Bold featured a hero who fought crime underwater, in space, throughout time and in other dimensions as well. This Batman was more of a cartoon character who broke the laws of logic whenever the adventure suited him.
Case in point, the opening of the final story Mitefall…
Batman and Abe Lincoln vs John Wilkes Booth
Batman The Brave and the Bold has run for three successful years with some really outrageously silly outings (“Invasion of the Secret Santas!”, “Invasion of the Secret Santas!”,”Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!”, and “Triumvirate of Terror!” come to mind) in addition to some impressive less-absurd adventures (“Dawn of the Dead Man!”, “Deep Cover for Batman!”/”Game Over for Owlman!”, “The Last Patrol!” and “The Siege of Starro!”) along with the stand out genius that is “Chill of the Night.” In “Chill of the Night,” Batman’s soul hangs in the balance as the Spectre and Dr Fate watch our hero hunt down the man responsible for his parents’ deaths, Joe Chill.
For the finale of Brave and the Bold, the 5th dimensional imp watches a goofy adventure where Batman and Aquaman are battling Gorilla Grodd at sea. Disappointed and bored with the cartoon that used to make his Friday evenings worth waiting for, Batmite wonders why the series can’t just be more like “Chill of the Night.” What he wants is a return to the dark and edgy Batman of the Bruce Timm animated series. In order for that to happen, though, Brave and the Bold has to be cancelled.
Batmite uses his strange reality-warping abilities to make Batman: The Brave and the Bold the worst cartoon ever made. Toy tie-ins, a precocious kid and an awful soundtrack are just the first steps into the awfulness, though.
Gleefully altering the program to by relocating the series from gritty streets of Gotham City to sunny surf of Malibu. Donning swimming trunks, the caped crusader hangs ten for justice along with Aquaman, Ace the Bat-Hound… and his puppy cousin bearing a not dissimilar resemblance to a certain other cartoon pup.
Enter the meddlesome Ambush Bug, a zany comic book character capable of breaking the 4th wall. Watching the demise of the Brave and the Bold at the gym (what gym shows that on their monitors instead of CNBC? I want a membership there!!), Ambush Bug can see where all of this is headed and implores Batmite to alter his plans. But it is too late, leading to a war between the two characters as Batmite steers the program toward doom with the super sonic bat-luge just as Ambush Bug tries to save it with senseless violence.
Despite the intervention of Ambush Bug, Batmite accomplishes his goal and Batman The Brave and the Bold is pulled from the screens. Too late, Batmite realizes that he too is doomed as his reality fades away, replaced by a computer generated action cartoon starring Batgirl.
For all of the ‘meta-commentary’ the Batgirl trailer struck a particularly strong cord as the upcoming 2012 cartoon ‘Beware the Batman’ will be the first CGi Batman series. I’m not sure if the joke was meant to be so spot on or if it’s just a coincidence, but it felt incredibly ominous.
The final moments of the program are somber and bizarre as Batman joins a farewell party already in progress in the Batcave. The obscure heroes that he had teamed up with chat and clink glasses; Woozy Winks, Kamandi, the Metal Men, the Haunted Tank crew, OMAC, Prez Rickard, G’Nort and more are in attendance, harkening back to a time when DC Comics was a colorful and inventive world of possibilities.
While the heroes mingle, stagehands deflate the Bat-computer and fold away the backdrops. In a final post-modern moment, Batman thanks the viewers for watching and gives one last clamor for justice.
The last hoorah
Batman: The Brave and the Bold could be the most unwatched amazing cartoon ever made. While The Batman was an award-winning series, it still suffered from Bruce Timm fan backlash, but at least it was still an action series. Brave and the Bold was a madcap program that embraced the possibilities of cartoons and stretched Batman’s character into realms so absurd that Dick Sprang would think it weird. It was weird, brazen and new… and it’s gone.
Missed out? Buy the series on DVD.