Batman the Animated Series (TAS) is kind of like the Ocarina of Time of Batman cartoons. It’s from the 90s, it’s hella nostalgic, and it’s been showered with praise. Also, and in a more negative sense, everything else that came after it will forever be compared to it. With such a massive appeal, it’s hard not to look down at its sequels and say confidently they are inferior to the original.
I was unfortunately one of those uptight nerd boys. My stick-in-the-ass attitude towards following Batman cartoons can be credited to my love for Batman TAS. As such, when Batman: the Brave and the Bold (BatB) came out, I was offended by the nature of the cartoon and did not give it a second chance.
It wasn’t until my girlfriend forced me to watch BB that I slowly but surely came round to it. At first I watched maybe an episode here or an episode there, but soon we would watch several in a row and then I would watch them without her around.
This was a series I should have hated. Campy, with a pooooor focus on villains (especially on Two Face and alike), and a carefree attitude.
Yet BatB’s approach to the Batman formula was so breath freshingly different that it won me over. I guess in this case if TAS is like Ocarina of Time then BatB is like Windwaker.
Here’s what I like about it, the characters. I love how DC flexed its superhero catalogue and gave BatB a whole host of them. It’s like someone at DC was like “Who’s going to be in BatB? Well, who was in Justice League? Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh….hmm…okay…how about fuck all these guys…LET’S GET BLUE BEETLE AND B’WANA BEAST.”
Oh yeah, and Blue Beetle? Nice. Love him and his previous incarnation. I love it how the second Blue Beetle was voiced by Wil Wheton. I also loved how he and Batman were just the best of buds, it’s great! And they brought him back for another episode with Booster Gold!!
Red Tornado is also a plus. I had never heard of him before until this series. I like him, he’s kind of a unique superhero. The episode featuring him and his son was good. He was certainly treated better here than in Justice League: Unlimited where he was blown up and nobody batted an eye.
Some of the best episodes are when Batman teams up with a rather dubious partner. Plastic Man for instance acts as a great foil to Batman’s do good attitude. He is also animated so hilariously that his elasticity rivals Jake the Dog from Adventure Time. Guy Gardner is another good example and I also have to give the writers credit for mainly using him to represent the Green Lantern Corps and not John Stewart or Hal Jordan. Booster Gold is probably the best example as his greedy attitude usually causes more trouble than it fixes (also bonus points for BatB reusing Dee Bradley Baker to voice Booster Gold’s robotic comrade Skeets).
Favorite episode by far…Mayhem of the Music Meister, there’s just no other episode! Neil Patrick Harris just nails it with this one note (heh) villain and his songs are hilarious with the bonus of being catchy. I sometimes can’t help but sing these songs, especially the “World is Mine.” This was the first time I saw Brave and the Bold and I couldn’t believe it, I found it way too campy. But now, being the changed man that I am now, I find it great and it works so wonderfully well in this kooky universe.
There are a lot of other episodes to talk about or mention but that would take too long. I want to end this article by saying, I’m glad I gave BatB a chance. It really kind of broadened my narrow point of view on who Batman was. It really showed that not only can you appreciate dark Batman but light Batman as well. And not only that, you can apply this lighter shade of grey to other superheroes as well. The recent Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers movies are great examples of that. It just feels so nice to just kick back, munch on some popcorn and enjoy these fun movies. And the best part is we will see another light interpretation of Batman via the Lego Batman Movie! I’m super looking forward to it. That Batman was awesome.
But until then…
“The Music Meister sings the song that we all want to shaaaaaare…”