<i>By <a href=http://twitter.com/#!/pittsed_off>Lan Pitts, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Batman has had numerous TV incarnations, from the wacky and campy '60s live-action show to the universally acclaimed <i>Batman: The Animated Series</i>, which is still what many consider to be the most faithful adaptation of the character. <p>The character's most recent series is Cartoon Network's <b>Batman: The Brave and the Bold</b>, which debuted in 2008 and polarized diehard Bat-fans with its all-ages approach to the Bat-mythos. He wasn't the lone hunter of the night that wallowed in tragedy, and instead was actually enthusiastic to be Batman and to fight crime in all its forms. <b>Batman: The Brave and the Bold</b> was a tribute to Bat-history as a whole, covering Silver Age-type scenarios like heroes and villains in a drag car race, but also touching on DC's Golden Age history... and a couple of musical numbers. <p>It introduced younger fans to the more obscure DC characters (B'wana Beast!), including some that had never been seen in an animated program before. Following last week's season finale, here's a look at the 10 best episodes of <b>Batman: The Brave and the Bold</b> during the show's three-year run. The episodes on this list embody the best that this show had to offer; ones that made you excited to be a fan of DC mythology and realize there's more to Batman than a brooding dark avenger. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
This really isn't Batman-centric, but explores the history of the Flash. Barry Allen has disappeared and even his villains are lamenting his absence. When Batman, Kid Flash, and Jay Garrick see what they think is Barry's ghost, they hop on the Cosmic Treadmill (a time machine that's been a part of Flash history since the early '60s) and land in the 25th Century where Flash arch-nemesis Professor Zoom has taken over the world. <p>It has a bit of influence from Mark Waid's <i>The Flash #79</i>, but with a slight twist. The episode is a good example of educating its audience on not just Batman, but the DC Universe as a whole. It echoes the <i>Justice League Unlimited</i> episode Flash and Substance that answers the question what's the big deal about Flash? and delves into Flash history without being overbearing. <p>As a bonus, the episode also featured former TV Flash John Wesley Shipp (Barry Allen in the '90s CBS series) as Zoom.
Another episode that looks into the future one that actually has Bruce Wayne die. In this future, Bruce has retired, married Selina Kyle and fathered a son, Damian. Dick Grayson assumes the Bat-mantle and Damian is inspired by his parent's death to become the new Robin and assume his birthright. From beginning to end it just exudes classic Batman and Robin, even if the people under the masks aren't the traditional duo. <p>The intro summed up the history of Batman and his need for a Robin in numerous nods from a sequence that mirrored the '66 show, to the famous <i>Detective Comics #38</i> cover. Damian isn't as insane/bratty as he is in the comics and has a more responsible outlook on the role of Robin. <p>The ending caught some viewers off-guard, but is just another nod and wink to the lesser-known parts of Batman's history.
This episode combines two great things about Batman: Ra's al'Ghul and Nightwing. While the latter doesn't come in until the last moment of the show, the fact that they gave Dick his old disco costume is just something many never thought they'd see on a Batman program. <p>The intro features a past scenario of young Robin, Speedy, and Aqualad training against computer simulations of infamous rogues, and you really get a sense of who these kids are. Jump to the future and the three sidekicks still don't exactly get along, but that changes when they go against Batman's immortal foe, Ra's and his daughter Talia. <p>The young heroes prove themselves and with Dick revealing his new identity as Nightwing hints at the formation of the Teen Titans, but that sadly never came into fruition, but it acknowledges that part of Dick Grayson's legacy. <p>Fun note: Jeremy Shada (<i>Adventure Time</i>'s Finn) did the voice of younger Robin.
Another episode not centered on Batman, with recurring character Plastic Man taking a starring role. Plastic Man hasn't been around much in contemporary cartoons there was a pilot a while back that was supposed to launch a show, but it was never picked up. Yet in <b>Batman: The Brave and the Bold</b>, he almost had as many appearances as Aquaman. <p>This episode explores Plastic Man's history and even touches on the Plas-family (yes, Plastic Man's wife, Ramona, and Baby Plas are mentioned). It also touches on Plastic Man's past with Kite Man, since ole Plas was once his henchman (first touched on in an earlier episode). Plastic Man, often considered a throwaway character throughout the years, really gets a chance to shine and do his thing. <p>Plas is voiced by Tom Kenny (aka SpongeBob Squarepants), who was also involved in the Plastic Man pilot.
With the show having a mix of characters sporting some interesting choice of attires (Robin having his Earth-2 costume, Green Arrow in his Golden Age apparel, etc) and the show having Jaime Reyes being the Blue Beetle there are things you assume you'd never get to see. <p>Then this show proves you wrong and has the intro with Batman fighting along side Ted Kord (voiced by Wil Wheaton) in his Beetle regalia being as awesome as ever. This episode actually covers the history of the Scarab and the Beetle mantle (first Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, can be seen briefly in a flashback) and Jaime Reyes is tricked by Jarvis Kord and learns what it means to be a Beetle.
There have been a few instances where the Joker has taken center stage on Batman episodes, and this one truly treated him as the protagonist, complete with a Joker-fied the theme song. The intro had Joker travel to the future and defeat Kamandi and overtake Tiger City and from there, like any sociopath, he blows up the planet. <p>Just because he could.
<b>The Brave and the Bold</b> presented an all-ages take on Batman and usually stayed away from the darker aspects of his origin. But in this episode, not only does the script take a trip down crime alley, it gives a glimpse of Batman still being that scared little boy that saw his parents gunned down right before his eyes. While the show had been deemed too kiddie by some, this episode showed that there could more than one version of Batman in the show. In addition, as this is a Paul Dini-written episode, Zatanna (in her only appearance in the show's duration) and Batman go up against Kadabra in the intro. <p>Batman confronts Joe Chill for the murder of his parents and actually unmasks so he could see the man he's become. This is the first time we see Bruce without his mask, which would later to prove to be a rarity as the show really did concentrate on Batman adventures and not Bruce Wayne stories/subplots. <p>Written by Paul Dini, the episode was layered with heavy amounts of Bat-mythos, with some scenes taken from Jim Aparo's <i>Untold Legend of the Batman</i>. In addition to that, it has cameo voices from Adam West and Julie Newmar (who play Thomas and Martha Wayne) and also <i>Batman: The Animated Seires</i> alums Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, who voice the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre.
Another episode written by famed Bat-scribe Paul Dini, who is not afraid to go beyond meta and tear down the fourth wall. Also, Henry The Fonz Winkler as Ambush Bug? Yeah. They went there. <p>The episode is fueled by Bat-Mite's rant about how he's tired of this interpretation of Batman in the show and how he longed to see a darker, more intense Caped Crusader. Over the course of the episode, Bat-Mite keeps trying to get the show canceled so his vision of Batman gets to be seen. Of course that goes horribly awry since in a grittier, darker Batman, there is no place for his type of cartoonish antics though to see Batman as a Dick Van Dyke-like sitcom was all sorts of hilarious. <p>Cartoons really don't have proper finales and this was one to remember. It made sure to remind viewers that this was a one of a kind show and something that might not be seen again.
Aquaman on a road trip with his family? Outrageous(ly amazing)!
Batman's rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it's certainly no less valid and true to the character's roots as the tortured avenger, crying out for mommy and daddy." Bat-Mite <p>In that statement addressed to a room full of Batman's fans at a comic convention, Bat-Mite pretty much sums up the entire feel of the show. The main complaint that was constantly heard from fans is that it's not <i>Batman: The Animated Series</i>; the Batman they grew up with. This show never tried to be TAS and set itself apart by taking a different route on where to take Batman. Yes, as mentioned they did have some darker moments and they stood out because they were so rare. <p>The episode also goes into a sort of trippy sequence where Bat-Mite as Batman is confronted by his rogue's gallery and you get a glimpse of the most obscure villains and even a Mr. Freeze prototype, Mr. Zero. It's an adventure down '50s and '60s nostalgia and gives the audience an understanding that anything really can happen in this Batman's world. <p>In Christopher Nolan's universe, you have the Tumbler, and it's pretty tough looking. Here, the Batmobile turns into a jet <i>and</i> a giant robot. That, friends, is just plain awesome.