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Friday, April 1, 2011

Top ten awesomest Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes

Deciding that I don't put up enough stuff on this thing I've decided to throw out my usual pre-planning thinking and just do a new top ten list of the top of my head. And the first thing that came to mind was Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes, mostly because I'd just watched the episode where Superman guest stars.

For those that don't know BTBATB is a fairly new cartoon series, around two years old, that focuses on Batman, of course. But unlike the grim, gritty, adult and "mature" Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman the subject of this indulges itself in the silliers aspects of the Batman mythos, and indeed the superhero genre itself, while presenting it all with a perfectly straight and serious face. The results is one of the most hilarious and awesome cartoon shows I've seen in a long time. Think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on crack and steroids and you've got the mood down... that's probably a horrible analogy but it sounded weird enough.

In each episode Batman is joined by another character from the DC comics universe and they go on adventures where they do stuff like battle talking gorillas riding pteodactyls, particiapate in Wacky Races style races to determine the fate of the earth and, naturally, sing innuendo filled songs!

The series has its fair share of detractors claiming that it isn't an accurate representation of Batman and his world. The series has answered these concerns with a statemate made by the fourth-wall breaking 5D imp Bat-Mite.

"Batman's rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it's certainly no less valid and true to the character's roots than the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy."

As should be obvous by now I agree with this statement and wish to celebrate the series with this top ten list. It should be noted though that this list is ordered merely by my whim of the evening and that I have not managed to see all the episodes. Also I'm probably forgetting one or two that I have seen. So take this with a massive grain of salt. Now let's get to it.

10. Inside the Outsiders
Summary: The Psycho-Pirate has kidnapped the teen team the Outsiders and plans to turn their weaknesses into his strength. Batman's only hope of saving them is to enter their dreams.

Thoughts: I always like when we get to go into a character's head through some weirdass sciencey thing so this episode was a natural fit here. What makes it stand out to me is how the mood switches between each of the Outsiders. Katana's flaws is pretty predictable but provides a fun yet totally serious scene. Black Lightning's problems however turn out to be quite eyebrow raising and sort hilarious. Then it's all topped off with Metamorpho's very realistic and almost heart-breaking insecurities and rage. The interaction between Batman and th Outsiders is always golden for me. Put it all together and you've got a fun episode all around.

9. Journey to the center of the Bat
Summary: As Batman has been stricken by a dangerous disease it is up to the Atom and Aquaman to shrink down and enter Batman's body to cure him of his illness so that he can stop Brain's diabolical schemes.

Thoughts: I just had to have an Aquaman centered episode here. He's easily one of the most entertaining supporting characters on the show and this is probably my favourite of his episodes. His adventurous attitude and positive bravado plays off hilarious against the Atom's no-nonsense science hero. The bond they build after a tragic sacrifice makes me look forward to more episodes with these two. And Batman gets major props for going into battle while almost unable to stand up and with spikey things growing on him. His battle against the immobile Brain just makes me smile.

8. Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster
Summary: Two years after the apparent death of Barry Allen, the second Flash, his ghost appears screaming for help. To solve the mystery Batman, along with Jay Garrick, the original Flash, and Kid Flash travel 25th century where they must do battle with Professor Zoom.

Thoughts: What's not to like about this story? It has three of the four incarnations of one of DC's most notable heroes guest starring. The plot is about the convoluted mess that is time travel. There's some honestly serious and emotional moments between Kid Flash and Jay. And the rogues at the beginning and end of the episode just steal the show. Good old fashioned superhero buisness. I love it.

7. Fall of the Blue Beetle
Summary: Jaimie Reyes, the current Blue Beetle, is trying to figure out who he is as a hero. But when Batman won't tell him anything about his predecessor Jaimie takes things into his own hands which leads to him putting a destructive army in the hands of a supervillain.

Thoughts: This is one of those episodes I'd point to if anybody ever says that this show only deals with silly and childish matters. The flashbacks that show Batman's friendship with the original Blue Beetle are really touching and greatly build the sadness to his demise. And you really feel for Jaimie as his searching for his roots as a hero. The end of this episode brought about a tiny sniffle of happiness when I saw it the first time. Of course I had to put it on the list.

6. A Bat divided
Summary: During a battle with Doctor Double X, Batman is split into three versions of himself that posses seperate aspects of his personality. Helping the caped crusader pulling himself back together is Firestorm, a hero created from the mix of a brilliant student and his dimwitted coach harnassing the power of atomic energy!

Thoughts: One of the funniest episodes in the series. The three Batmen are just hilarious to listen to, especially the one that is what remains of Batman once you've stripped away his logical side and his crime-punishing side. What you get is a easy going slacker that likes to eat nachos with melted cheese. Yeah. The episode also works very well as an origin-story for Firestorm as it gives us the basics for the character and this series version of him/they... whatever.

5. Hail the Tornado Tyrant
Summary: Android hero Red Tornado builds a son to ease his loneliness, he even manages to give the boy human emotions. Saddly this leads to the son developing a hatred for humanity and it is up to Batman and Red Tornado to put him down.

Thoughts: Another one of the serious episodes of the series. This time dealing with themes of fatherhood, justice vs vengence and emotions. The tale of Tornado Champion, what the boy is named, is a sad one indeed and I just can't help but be moved by it. And even in the sorrow of his defeat the show somehow still manages to make things seem bright at the end without making it lame. Just a great episode.

4. Battle of the Superheroes
Summary: When Superman suddenly starts acting like a jerk it's up to Batman to stop his old chum before the man of steel starts using his incredible powers to take over the world

Thoughts: Freaking awesome and hilarious. Those are the words I would use to describe this episode. It's basically a love letter to Superman adventures as they were in the 60s, incredibly silly and weird. There's references to stuff like the old Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comics, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and even an old Doctor Doom cliché pops up. Not to mention that the battle between Superman and Batman is pretty damn impressive. For those that know their comic book history this episode is a treat.

3. The Eyes of Despero
Summary: With most of the Green Lantern corps MIA it is up to Batman and the three remaining Green Lanterns, the arrogant blowhard Guy Gardner, the why-the-hell-is-he-even-here-guy G'nort and the so very obviously a bad guy Sinestro, to stop the mighty Despero from conquering the universe.

Thoughts: Batman... IN SPACE! That alone is awesome. Throw in the most ragtag GL team I've seen a reference to one of the most hilarious "fights" in comics and mix all together with above par epic space battles, good humor and some nice character moments and you got an all around great episode. And Batman does look cool in his GL space armor.

2. Mayhem of the Music Meister
Summary: Through his litterally enchanting singing voice the Music Meister plans to take over the world and make Black Canary his bride. Can Batman defeat this melodious miscreant?

Thoughts: From a story structural standpoint this a very basic plot. A new villain appears with a diabolical plan that threatens everything. Batman shows up, they fight and Batman saves the day and drives off into the sunset. Only difference. It's a musical episode. And the songs are honestly really good. Just listen to these Drives us Bats and Death Trap. I especially tend to sing the former one silently during work. Oh and you know... Neil Patrick Harris plays the Music Meister. That is just too awesome really.

1. Darkseid Descending
Summary: Batman assembles a new Justice League to combat an approaching invasion from Apokolips. But can even the combine might of seven superheroes stand up to the might of the master of Apokolips, Darkseid?

Thoughts: EPIC! Here we have classic superhero action at its best. A ragtag team (with a membership that harkens back to the JLI days) facing off against a dark god and his personal army. I love the episodes when multiple heroes appear at once and in this one we get many of my favourites in one go. At the same time we're introduced to a version of Martian Manhunter that is more bothered by the AC malfunctioning at the team's satellite HQ than by the impending invasion. That's funny. Other funny parts include the heroes hideout being discovered because one of them was tweeting about it. And the final battle against Darkseid is indeed EPIC. This is basically an ur-type of superhero stories and I love every second of it.

And there you have it. Ten of my favourite episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The order I put them in no longer corresponds to my opinion and there are several that should probably be there instead. But I don't care about that. The show has entered its third and final season, because the world is stupid, and I just wanted to talk about it.

Until next time GO WATCH THE SHOW!

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