Batman: The Brave and the Bold -- "Sidekicks Assemble!" & "Clash of the Metal Men"
Oh. Well with that quote, I guess I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but I can see where they are going with this Starro ordeal now. The past episodes had one of the best and one of the most...boring, I guess, of the new season. I understand they can't all be "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure", but I've put this show on a pedestal and now realize not every episode can be gold (Metal Man pun intended). So to begin this double-hit of, what myself and friends are calling this show, "Batman: Awesome," will be "Sidekicks Assemble", which showcases Robin, Aqualad (not to be confused with Arthur, Jr., for you non-comic-reading fans) and Speedy.
It starts out with a shot of the Watchtower, so I guess we can assume the Justice League is active to a degree in this show's canon, which I can dig, I just don't want this show to fork off into another Justice League show as I've mentioned before. With boys being boys, the young trio of sidekicks argue and work out their much needed experience in team work. Batman starts up a hologram training scenario and the boys don't do well at first, but I love the cameos from the super villains used in the training exercise. Of course the boys talk about forming their own team, but Robin is put off by the idea until he wins the role as leader. Simply put, this is a great start to a fantastic episode with hints of the things to come.
With the snazzy theme song out of the way, we flash-forward to years later with the boys, now young men, trying to stop a theft at STAR Labs by Ra's al Ghul's men. The young heroes seem to have it under control, however, their respective mentors show up and al Ghul's thieves make off with the scientific equipment. Among the team there is some squabbling, mainly between Batman and Robin about how Robin is not ready and that the getaway was in fact his fault. I really have a hard time with this Batman's view on younger guys out in "the field." You raise them, train them, but they are still not good enough. He had a similar reaction to Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle) a few episodes back with "Revenge of the Reach."
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice...wait, did I just say that? Yes, I did. They actually show a glimpse of the Hall of Justice (and flashbacks of myself playing with my Super Powers Team collection and the Hall of Justice playset) and inside, Batman informs the heroes about Ra's al Ghul (voiced by Peter Woodward, who did his best trying to channel David Warner) and gives the young heroes a choice of their mission. With one being apparently more dangerous/serious, and the other being rather boring, Robin and company take the one that appears less action-packed because Robin thinks he has outsmarted Batman. The truth is, the young heroes are on the more difficult mission while Batman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow become trapped by al Ghul.
Back with Robin and company, they realize that they are now on the more dangerous mission and deem it "awesome" as they are surrounded by the League of Shadows, and Talia, Ra's seductive yet sinister daughter. The trio of heroes easily take down the twenty or so warriors, but Robin has a bit of a problem with Talia much like how Batman and his cronies are having a problem with al Ghul's man-eating plants as well as a scene that mirrors the problems the young heroes had in the training session. Though Robin's problems only get worse as Ra's finally makes himself known and takes the sidekick trio out with a gas bomb, all the while Batman is trying to wrangle with a giant piranha plant.
When Robin and the gang comes to, they are tied to a machine while Ra's announces his plot. Basically he's an eco-terrorist to the 20th degree. First city on Ra's wrath? Coast City. Al'Ghul also tries to persuade Robin to become his heir since "the detective" has rejected the offer on a multiple occasions. Of course Talia is none too pleased with this offer, viewing it as a demotion, and Ra's continues to belittle her. Too bad. Robin declines the insane offer and al Ghul plunges the three young heroes into a chamber where they are to be "grounded into fertilizer".
Back on the other island, Batman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow continue to fight the mutated plant until Aquaman gives it a one-hitter-quitter and knocks it out. The scene was quick and the editing of the two plots could have been better handled. So, back to Robin, he and Speedy and Aqualad have escaped the grinders thanks to Talia who is frustrated with her father's obsession with a male leading his organization and not her. She even tosses the idea to Robin about stepping out of the Bat's shadow.
Then the ground starts to shake.
The island the young heroes are on is actually a flying island that is headed towards Coast City, with an armed weapon ready to bring Ra's "paradise" to life, though I don't see how giant flesh-eating plants are paradise, but whatever. The young heroes try to shut down the cannon which is creating the plant creatures and actually work together, but first...here comes Ubu, al Ghul's bodyguard.
Meanwhile Batman has hitched a ride on the floating island and has a duel with Ra's using some sort of light-blade from his belt. Man, Batman literally thinks of everything. Back in the control booth of the cannon, Robin is dealing with Ubu as the other teammates try to destroy the cannon's weapons system. Robin eventually takes out Ubu and the young team uses cryogenic arrows to stop the cannon, all the while Batman is still dueling with Ra's, until Ra's reveals he has an ace up his sleeve: the island also acts as a bomb filled with the chloroplast. So without delay, Aquaman summons whales to aid the heroes and using grappling hooks, the whales stall the island's movement towards Coast City as Ra's is rescued by Talia. The island explodes just as everybody lands to safety. Outrageous indeed, Aquaman.
The end of the episode is what fans of the show have been waiting for. With the former sidekicks getting the merit they deserve, Batman wonders where Robin is. "Robin has left the building", says an offscreen voice coming from the hallways. And in steps Nightwing. He has the classic <a href="http://www.comics.org/issue/38861/cover/4/?style=default">George Perez/Marv Wolfman design</a> with slight tweaks, but you know what they were going for. My one problem is that Batman has the last say in his new name. Makes me wonder what Dick was thinking of for a name before Batman cut him off. It was still a strong episode with a real threatening villain worthy of having six different heroes to try to stop, but the editing was a bit choppy going back and forth between heroes and sidekicks.
So, after that episode, I found myself excited for the Metal Men since their characters seem appropriate for this show's demographic. It worked for the first half, and then, I think it was just a little too over the top even for this show. There was a part of the show where I actually asked myself out loud "What the hell am I watching?" At least the intro made sense, as it continues with the Starro plot with it taking over another ensemble of heroes Batman will more than likely fight against. Hrm. Batman vs. the entire DC heroes roster. Sounds pretty cool to me.
So the intro starts with Batman and Aquaman fighting off some generic pirates and easily taking them down. Aquaman returns to Atlantis only to find his kingdom under the mental reign of Starro and the <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faceless_Hunter>Faceless Hunter</a>, who serves as Starro's herald. Aquaman is outnumbered and becomes one of the brainwashed legion. Things aren't looking good for the rest of the world.
The main part of the story begins with Batman trying to take down the nuclear behemoth known as Chemo, but soon plummets down a crater Chemo makes out of the street. Luckily, Batman is saved by the Metal Men. They team up on the spot to take down Chemo (who sounds awfully similar to a certain Japanese monster), which they do via creative means (Gold and Platinum formed a cannon while Iron was the cannonball). Batman deduces that they could have been created by only one man: Dr. Magnus, and speak of the pipe-toting devil, he arrives on the scene and decides to give Batman a behind the scenes look on how the Metal Men were made back at his lab. For some reason, Doc's name is Milton in this episode and not Will. There was a creepy moment where Batman wants to take a seat and wouldn't you know, it's actually Platinum. Best seat in the house. Double entendre. Magnus puts on a film reel (which you would think would be outdated for a man of science such as himself) and explains that a disastrous lab accident led him to go down the path of nanotechnology to create the Metal Men and how his dream of a better world lives on through them.
The doctor excuses himself to deal with a carbon dioxide alarm going off. Once down examining his levels, he is jumped by the <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Gang>Gas Gang</a>, and Batman is too late as they flee with the doctor in their grasp and Batman himself gets gassed by Chloroform. Batman wakes up surrounded by the Metal Men and he informs them that Doc has been kidnapped by gaseous creatures and they use Nitrogen's half-life trail to follow it. The Metal Men try to figure out who could have done this since everybody liked Doc. Platinum tells Batman that she actually is encoded with Doc's backup files so there might be a clue within her.
Back at the Gas Gang's hideout, it is revealed that they are in fact his former co-workers and that the lab accident is responsible for turning them into the villainous vapors that they are now. However, they are dissipating and their current forms are quite unstable, so they need Doc to make them bodies, similar to what he did with the Metal Men. After all, he does sort of owe them. Batman shows up on their radar and they go deal with him and the Metal Men and leave the Doc to his work. The Gas Gang basically gangs up on the group of heroes and succeeds in taking them down.
Batman again wakes up (is he a narcoleptic in this episode?) to find himself and the Metal Men in an energy cell leaving the Metal Men powerless and incapacitated. Magnus sees his captive friends and rushes down to see them. His creations are very thankful to see him alive, but that soon turns to fear as the Gas Gang debuts their new bodies and they are -- hideous, bordering on laughable. Now as a fan of this show, I understand a lot of these characters come from the Silver Age and that in this show almost anything is possible. However, the imagery that came with these bad buys was just comical and I was surprised Batman and the Metal Men did not die from laughing. I get that Helium is shaped like a blimp and Nitrogen is a block of ice, but it just wasn't working for me and took me out of the threat of these guys.
Anyways, turns out these assistants weren't the victims after all, but using Doc's lab to make a gas that can be used to trigger volcanoes, because they would sell the gas to dictators and such for money. Of course experimenting with such gases backfired on the gang, but in their vaporous states they were able to perfect the weaponized gas, which they have tied to the Doc to dump him in a nearby volcano. Batman is quick on his feet and uses part of his dioxide scanner to trigger an electromagnetic pulse on Iron, which wreaks havoc on their prison and breaks them free. They spring towards Doc only to be blindsided by the Gas Gang yet again. Their powers seem to be more concentrated and powerful now that they have their containment suits. However, Batman has an idea: have the Metal Men become his armor, similar to what they did in the comic book series <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_(DC_Comics)></a> a while back. Now, I'm not really sure what the thinking process of this was since they just got their respective cans kicked, but somehow with Batman in control it works. For a moment, anyways. The Gas Gang form up like Voltron and looks like they have the battle won, until Batman throws a flare at their collective shell. Science, kids. It works. Except the fact I'm sure Lead or Mercury on Batman would have killed him.
Just when Batman goes to free Doc one more time, he is interrupted yet again by the Gas Gang who have taken on some sort of acidic gas form. The Metal Men assure Bats they have the Doc situation under control and that he should go after the Gang, which he does. Now, here is another scene that just had me puzzled. Apparently the Metal Men are interchangeable and since they are all taken out at the moment except for Tin, who has his head screwed into Gold's body to rescue the Doc, which they do just in the nick of time.
Meanwhile, Batman is dealing with the gang's super-atomic form and is going to use his Bat-plane to ignite the cloud, dispersing their atoms and neutralizing their threat. From a distance, it looks as though Batman doesn't survive the ordeal, but of course it's his show and he is Batman after all, so he makes it through and meets up with the Metal Men at sea. Back at the the lab, all the team congratulates Tin on a job well done and notes that it's all about what's inside and not what you're made of that counts, which is good because he is one insecure little metal. There's another comedic moment at the end with Batman suffering the after effects of Helium and now has a squeaky, bitty voice. It probably would have been funnier if they didn't already do that early in the episode.
I know it's not fair to compare to back-to-back episodes, but "Clash of the Metal Men" seemed forced and with six characters, their creator, six bad guys, and Batman himself, there was a lot going on, and that's probably why it seemed rushed. Though the writers might have had a damned if you do, damned if you don't have all Metal Men instead of three or four. It seemed cluttered and probably would have been okay if they just went up against Chemo, but I admire the task the writers had on juggling almost fifteen characters in a single episode with origin story and all.