Well…so much for Warner Bros. announcement that this weekend was going to be a repeat. It’s as supervising director James Tucker told us, he just squeezes the lemons, he doesn’t make the lemonade.
As it turns out, this week's surprise new episode, “Death Race To Oblivion” is the debut episode of the second season. A full throttle homage to Roger Corman’s “Death Race 2000,” the episode finds Batman, Guy Gardner, Plastic Man, the Joker, Steppenwolf, Black Manta and more being kidnapped by Mongul.
From there, Mongul puts all the DC heroes and villains into his own version of a totally turbo grand prix, one that would have Speed Racer soiling his whitey tidies. While the wreckage is a lot of fun, the real highlights are provided by the Joker’s non-stop racing commentary. Jeff Bennett, still voicing the Clown Prince of Crime, may not have the sense of manic hysteria that Mark Hammill brought to the role, but he sure knows how to make the most of the lines provided.
Still no sign of Superman or any other Green Lantern, but Tucker and partner Mike Jelenic get away with it. As always, this episode will air at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 20 with a repeat on Saturday. From there, Cartoon Network will be taking a break to debut the new Ben 10 live action movie, “Alien Swarm,” so I don’t think we’ll have another episode until December 4. [continued after the video]
In the meantime, these next two columns are as good a time as ever to review Brave & Bold’s first season. Tucker and Jelenic, overall, did a highly commendable job; managing to come up with a more kid-friendly version of the Dark Knight, but not forget to throw in some solid tension and dark elements, when appropriate.
They also managed to be pretty darn audacious. Not many shows can do such self-referential episodes like “Legends of the Dark Mite” on one hand, magnificently campy as “Mayhem of the Music Meister” on the other. Did every episode work? Honestly, no. Overall though, the general quality level, both from the writing and animating sides, were consistently high, especially when you consider the WB team had to grind out 26 episodes in less than a year.
That said, here’s the first half of a complete breakdown of the first year of “Brave and Bold.” We will conclude the list next week.
Season 1/Episode 01: Rise of the Blue Beetle
U.S. Debut: November 14, 2008
Director/Writer: Ben Jones/Michael Jelenic
Guest Stars: Teaser - James Arnold Taylor (Green Arrow), Clock King (Dee Bradley Baker); Main story - Blue Beetle (Will Friedle), Kanjar Ro (Marc Worden)
Overview: The basic formula is rapidly established in this episode. We have GA and Bats have a quick shoot-out with Clock King, nice, breezy, to the point. From there, it’s a coming-of-age story for the new Blue Beetle. The longer segment stretches it a little bit, but a good start.
S1/E02: Terror On Dinosaur Island
U.S. Debut: November 21, 2008
Director/Writer: Brandon Vietti/Steve Melching
Guest Stars: Teaser - Plastic Man (Tom Kenny), Fire (Grey DeLisle) & Gentleman Ghost (Greg Ellis); Main - Plastic Man; Gorilla Grodd (John DiMaggio)
Overview: Plas & Fire help Bats with some ghostly issues. From there, it gets fairly dumb when Grodd tries to turn all humans into Gorillas. It’s still early.
S1/E03: Evil Under the Sea
U.S. Debut: December 5, 2008
Director/Writer: Michael Chang/Joseph Kuhr
Guest Stars: Teaser - Atom (James Sie), Felix Faust (Dee Bradley Baker); Main - Aquaman (John DiMaggio); Black Manta (Kevin Michael Richardson).
Overview: Bat fakes some magic to stop Faust with the aid of one Tiny Titan; From there, John DiMaggio puts an indelible stamp on Aquaman as he and Batman thwart Manta and Arthur’s jealous brother. Love the scene where Aquaman dictates his memoirs to a silent Aqualad.
S1/E04: Invasion of the Secret Santas
U.S. Debut: December 12, 2008 Director/Writer: Brandon Vietti/Adam Beechen
Guest Stars: Teaser - Blue Beetle; Sportsmaster (Thomas F. Wilson); Main – Red Tornado (Corey Burton); Fun Haus (Gary Anthony Williams).
Overview: Sportsmaster strikes out against Batman and Blue Beetle in the teaser while Fun Haus tries to ruin the holidays for everyone. In the end the Red Tornado gets an idea or two about the Christmas spirit; Batman too. Sentimental without being overly mawkish.
S1/E05: Day of the Dark Knight
U.S. Debut: January 2, 2009
Director/Writer: Ben Jones/JM DeMatteis
Guest Stars: Teaser – Guy Gardner (James Arnold Taylor), Kilowog (Diedrich Bader); Main – Green Arrow; Etrigan (Dee Bradley Baker), Morgan LeFey (Tatyana Yassukavich), Merlin (David McCallum).
Overview: Batman bails Gardner out when he messes up in the teaser. Then Merlin calls Batman and GA in to help him with recover Excalibur to combat LeFey and the mind controlled Etrigan. The teaser gets annoying thanks to Gardner, but the main course is magic.S1/E06: Enter The Outsiders
U.S. Debut: January 9, 2009
Director/Writer: Michael Chang/Todd Casey
Guest Stars: Teaser – B’wana Beast (Kevin Michael Richardson), Black Manta; Main – Wildcat (R. Lee Emery), Metamorpho (Scott Menville), Katana (Vyvan Pham), Black Lightning (Bumper Robinson).
Overview: Batman & B’wana Beast take on Manta in one of the most forgettable teasers of the season. This is made up handsomely by the main episode, where Wildcat and Batman must turn the Outsiders from teen crooks to new heroes. Gotta love them salmon smoothies.
S1/E07: Dawn of the Dead Man!
U.S. Debut: January 16, 2009
Director/Writer: Ben Jones/Steve Melching
Guest Stars: Teaser – Kamandi (Mikey Kelly); Main – Dead Man (Michael Rosenbaum); Green Arrow; Speedy (Jason Marsden) Gentleman Ghost.
Overview: Batman assists Kamandi against a race of monsters in the teaser. The main episode is memorable when Gentlemen Ghost traps the Caped Crusader in a coffin, and it’s up to Deadman to get GA and Speedy to save our hero AND stop the Ghost from raising an undead army.
S1/E08: Fall of the Blue Beetle
U.S. Debut: January 23, 2009
Director/Writer: Brandon Vietti/James Krieg
Guest Stars: Teaser – Blue Beetle II/Ted Kord (Will Wheaton); Main – Blue Beetle III/Jaime Reyes; Jarvis Kord (Tim Mathieson).
Overview: One of the rare episodes where the teaser ties directly to the main story. We first see Batman and the first Blue Beetle work together to save the day, then move to the present where the new BB learns the demise of his predecessor and if he measures up to the name Blue Beetle.
S1/E09: Journey to the Center of the Bat
U.S. Debut: January 30, 2009
Director/Writer: Michael Chang/Matt Wayne
Guest Stars: Teaser - Plastic Man; Elongated Man (Sean Donnellon), Baby Face (Tom Kenny); Main – Atom, Aquaman, The Brain/Chemo (Dee Bradley Baker)
Overview: Plas and Digby are trapped until Batman saves the day. Then the main event finds Chemo, under control by the Brain, poisoning Batman. So Atom and Aquaman must do their own fantastic voyage inside Batman’s body in order to save him. The banter between the ultra-serious Atom and the ever-jovial Aquaman is priceless.
S1/E10: The Eyes of Despero
U.S. Debut: February 6, 2009
Director/Writer: Ben Jones/JM DeMatteis
Guest Stars: Dr. Fate (Greg Ellis); Wotan (James Arnold Taylor); Main – Guy Gardner; Hal Jordon (Loren Lestor), Sinestro (Xander Berkley), Despero (Kevin Michael Richardson), G’nort (Alexader Polinsky).
Overview: Wotan breaks into the Library of Infinity putting Batman and Fate to the test. From there, Despero decimates the GL Corp, and it’s up to Batman, Gardner, G’nort and Sinestro to stop Despero from taking over Mogo the Living Planet. It’s at this point where the series truly starts to feel like it’s hitting its stride. Kind of interesting to see Batman in green, too.
S1/E11: Return of the Fearsome Fangs
U.S. Debut: February 20, 2009
Director/Writer: Brandon Vietti/Todd Casey
Guest Stars: Teaser - Jonah Hex (Phil Morris); Main – Bronze Tiger (Gary Anthony Sturgis); Fox (Phil Morris), Vulture (Eduardo Ballerini), Shark.
Overview: Batman winds up in the Wild West and teams up with Jonah Hex to take on the Royal Flush Gang. From there, Batman must get Bronze Tiger out of the jungles to avenge the death of their wudang master by the Terrible Trio.
S1/E12: Deep Cover For Batman
U.S. Debut: February 27, 2009
Director/Writer: Michael Chang/Joseph Kuhr
Guest Stars: Red Hood (Jeff Bennett), Owlman (Diedrich Bader), Silver Cyclone (Corey Burton), Scarlett Scarab (Will Friedle), Blue Bowman (James Arnold Taylor).
Overview: For this episode, Tucker and Jelenic throw out their usual format and actually do a 2-part episode. In this one, the Red Hood, the alternate universe version of the Joker, recruits Batman to take on our hero’s alternate universe evil counterpart, Owlman. They leave Owlman in the Batcave and take on the Injustice Syndicate.
S1/E13: Game Over For Owlman!
U.S. Debut: March 6, 2009
Director/Writer: Ben Jones/Joseph Kuhr
Guest Stars: Owlman; Joker (Jeff Bennett), Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Blue Beetle.
Overview: While the Bat’s away, the Owlman plays. While Batman and Red Hood were saving the alternate universe from the Silver Cyclone and the Injustice Syndicate, Owlman escapes from the Batcave, grabs one of Batman’s uniforms, and goes on a crime spree. So when the true Dark Knight returns to Gotham, he not only has the GCPD after him, but all his (former) allies. The only one who believes he didn’t do it? Why the Joker, of course. A team-up for the ages by any standard.