If you ask Mike Jelenic, the second season of Batman: The Brave & The Bold, is starting off just fine.
Newsarama Note: This interview was conducted prior to the first airing of “Revenge of the Reach”
“I think we’re a bit more comfortable in our own skin with the second season,” says the series co-Supervising Producer and lead storyman. “We understand what the show is. We have a lot more confidence in what we do.”
“When we started, we weren’t sure if things were going to go over or not. We are now taking bigger risks with the second season. We are really not afraid to push the tone. So you are going to see our darkest episodes as well as our goofiest episodes. That’s what I like. You got super-serious, people dying episodes one week. Then you have the silliest thing one after the other. You’ll never know what to expect.”
For instance, the last episode aired in 2009, “The Long Arm of the Law,” inadvertently played with the teaser/main adventure formula. It ended up with Plastic Man guest starring in both segments.
“There’s an interesting story behind that,” says Jelenic. “That Plastic Man teaser was supposed to be on the ‘Music Meister’ episode. Because the ‘Music Meister’ went long, we cut the teaser. Being we were planning a full Plastic Man episode for the second season, it just made sense to attach the original teaser to ‘Long Arm.’”
We should expect more breaks in the B&B formula, starting with this past week’s episode. The teaser is actually the launch of what’s going to be a 12-part story arc featuring a rather well-remembered villain from the DC intergalactic rogue’s gallery.
“One thing that might be of interest about the Reach episode is the teaser will be the Challengers of the Unknown,” says Jelenic. “It’s a fun intro to them. It also starts an extended story arc that will go on for the next 12 or so episodes. It will feature Starro. I won’t give anything else away, although I will say you might see some familiar comic book cover/homage in the future.”
That shouldn’t be too hard a stretch on most DC fans imaginations. It should also be noticed that future episodes of B&B are going to introduce the likes of such teams as the JSA, Metal Men, Doom Patrol…and what possibly could be a prototype of the Teen Titans.
More on those in the near future. This weekend saw the main story expand on Jelenic and Tucker’s concept of the Blue Beetle.
“He’s our main kid character,” says Jelenic. “When we conceived him, we wanted to make him the novice superhero. So we put him in a lot of situations that called on that. With this latest episode, called ‘Revenge of the Reach,’ we learn the origin of the Scarab. Not Ted Kord, we learned about him in the previous episode. We learn more about the implications of the Scarab and how it was developed to fight the Reach’s sworn enemy, the Green Lantern Corp. He’s going to be in the middle of that.”
That’s right. “Reach” saw everyone’s fave emerald law enforcers back, with one particularly bombastic member of the Corp in the lead.
“It’s mostly going to be Guy [Gardner]. You will get cameos of about all the other Lanterns still there. No Orange Lanterns, not yet,” Jelenic laughs. “I think by the end of the episode, he’ll still be a goofy teenager. He’ll probably that for the run of the series. Still, at the end of the episode you’ll see he’s earning his stripes. He’ll almost be a peer to Batman.”
In the meantime, Cartoon Network announced the next episode will feature one certain King of Atlantis. In fact, one could say they drew from the experience of “Long Arm” to develop what’s now being called “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure.”
“Because Aquaman has been such a breakout character for us, we decided to have him in a whole episode,” says Jelenic. “We had a lot of fun with him teaming up with the Atom in the first seasons, so wanted to see him team up with other heroes in the Brave and Bold catalogue, which we then divided up into vignettes.
“The premise is Aquaman decides to take his family on a vacation. He also decides it’s time to explore that mysterious 25-35% of the continent called dry land. Well, he just hates it! He’d rather be doing superhero stuff rather than look at the world’s biggest ball of twine. His wife says he has to enjoy it. Yet every stop he makes, there is another crime taking place. It allows Aquaman to ditch his family and team up with Blue Beetle, Green Arrow and, eventually, Batman in the last segment. Batman appears very briefly in Act 1 and 2, [and] then comes in all the way in the last one. It’s one of the ways we keep things fresh.”
That’s right; the Caped Crusader ends up primarily doing cameos in his own show. Jelenic won’t disclose the villains, desiring to keep some surprise going. On the other hand, he’s more than willing to talk about working with John DiMaggio, best known for voicing Futurama’s ever-loving mechanical misanthrope, Bender. As B&B fans know, DiMaggio is a key reason for Arthur’s emergence as a top B&B guest star.
“I always try to sit in or at least go through the rehearsals of all the show,” says Jelenic. “John’s a genius in this show. He’s created so many iconic characters. He goes from Bender to Aquaman with ease. He also has made Aquaman a fully realized character. He also can say anything in Aquaman’s voice and make it sound funny. Yes, part of it is the writing, but a lot of it is John DiMaggio’s performance.
“In fact, in Aquaman’s second appearance ever, he improved most of the most memorable lines. A lot of the lines where Aquaman comes off as slightly dim? Those were DiMaggio’s improvs. Also, whenever DiMaggio, Diedrich and Kevin Michael Richardson are in the booth together, very little work gets down. Those three start improvising, trying to top each other, and it really is fun to watch. Luckily, we know what we are getting into though.”
As for the future, the month is chock full of new characters, including the JSA, the Metal Men, and an episode devoted to the Sidekicks, including Robin, Aqualad and Speedy. You’ll have to wait for the next installment for more on those.
That should be proof enough that Batman: The Brave & The Bold is off to a truly fine start.