I have always had a lot of respect for cartoons based on DC characters. From the days of “Superfriends” to the new “The Batman,” the animation team at Warner Brothers has rarely let me down. And following in their fine tradition, DC gives us “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”
If you are a comic book fan, then you know the origins of “The Brave and the Bold.” The original series began in 1955 and continued through 1983. The first stories acted as a spotlight for random super heroes, including Robin Hood and Silent Knight, but it eventually found its focus with Batman, teaming the Caped Crusader with other DC heroes. Though the title fell into obscuring, it was resurrected in 2007, and concentrated less on Batman and more on the team ups of the other heroes (although Batman did appear in the first storyarc of the new series.) The new series featured a number of great writers in the industry, including Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, and Dan Jurgens. With so much great writing and the popularity of the series, it’s no surprise that DC would option the premise for a cartoon series.
The first episode I watched featured Batman teaming up with Blue Beetle and the Huntress. What I like most about the show is that they use lesser known super heroes, and are not just constantly throwing the likes of Superman and the Flash at as. Even though writers can make some interesting stories with the characters, but if you are always using the heavy hitters, it just gets too easy. When you throw Superman and his God-like abilities into the mix, there is no sense of danger for the heroes. And Batman becomes a secondary regardless.
One of the most attractive things about the show is the animation itself. The look of the characters are very sleek and stylish; they are a far cry from the nineties’ “Batman: The Animated Series,” but that is in no way a criticism. I enjoy the bright colors. I also like the blending of current cartoon sequences and the fun campiness of the past. Batman in this series looks more like Adam West than any other Batman incarnation. To add to the campy nature, the Batmobile even transforms into a Mecha-Robot. A lot of people would be turned off by this, but I find that it adds to the fun.
The writing is also witty as hell. All of the situations the heroes find themselves in unravel in a very fluid way, showing that the writers know and care about these characters. The snappy dialogue is enough to warrant a few laughs, even if the audience finds nothing else positive about the show (just imagine Blue Beetle uttering the phrase “I’m sorry but your hotness distracted me” in the midst of peril. How can you not laugh at that?)
Another benefit of the show is the voice casting. There are quite a few big names doing the voices for these characters, the most notable being Diedrich Bader as Batman. I was quite surprised to learn about Bader lending his voice talents as the Dark Knight, having seen him in “The Drew Carey Show” and Office Space. In addition to him, you have Kevin Michael Richardson, who voiced the Joker in “The Batman” and Bishop in “Wolverine and the X-Men,” as well as Will Friedle, better known as Terry McGinnis in “Batman Beyond.” Even Paul Ruebens, a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman, makes an appearance (well, his voice does, at least.) Talent oozes from every episode of the show that it becomes exciting to learn who I will hear next.
When I first heard about “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” I didn’t expect much. I just kind of thought it was another Batman cartoon, of which there have been plenty over the years. When I finally found the time to sit down and watch it, however, I kicked myself for not getting into it sooner. The show may not win any awards for writing or animation, but it is definitely a fun ride. I may be wrong about the awards thing, and I hope I am, because “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” deserves as much recognition as it can get. I can’t wait to see what’s in store in future episodes.
“Batman: The Brave and the Bold” airs Saturdays at 10:30 AM on Cartoon Network.