DVD Review: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Season One, Part Two

Hi all!

Batman. He’s an iconic DC Comics character who’s been around since 1939. He’s undergone a few changes over the years, though he’s always been a superhero tough on crime who chooses not to kill criminals, but hand them off to the authorities instead.

In popular media, Batman has been played on television in a campy way by Adam West, seriously on the big screen by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and most recently Christian Bale. When animated, he’s also been fairly serious for the most part. That is until 2008 when Batman: The Brave and the Bold debuted on Cartoon Network.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold treats itself as more of a campy kid’s show, with Diedrich Bader offering the voice of Batman and Bruce Wayne. But where most of the earlier animated series have shown Batman saving Gotham City by himself or with a few trusted friends, Brave and the Bold pairs the Dark Knight with other superheroes on a much more regular basis. And they’re all treated a bit less seriously and larger than life just like Batman is.

Each episodes features a mini-episode before the titles roll, and then the main adventure after that. Most of the time the two adventures are not interlinked. But it’s fun to see more of the DC universe come to life in a lighter style than we’ve seen in previous series.

Now in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Season One, Part Two we get to see the final 13 animated adventures of the second season. These adventures feature Aquaman, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Wildcat, Deadman, Bronze Tiger, and Atom to take on a variety of comic book bad guys from Gorilla Grodd and Equinox to Solomon Grundy, Bane, the Joker, Catwoman, and many more…

This collection on two DVDs features my favorite episode of the show so far – “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” The Music Meister (Neil Patrick Harris), mad conductor of crime, harnesses the power of song to mesmerize heroes, villains, and ordinary people into stealing things for him. The whole episode is done as a musical from beginning to end, with all the main characters – Batman, Green Arrow (James Arnold Taylor), Aquaman (John DiMaggio), and Black Canary (Grey DeLisle) – fighting crime through song. It has to be one of the craziest, yet most fun episodes of any Batman cartoon I’ve seen anywhere.

Also included are great episodes where Aquaman helps Batman settle disputes on a different planet (“Mystery in Space!”), where Batman goes back in time to help Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve a supernatural crime (“Trials of the Demon!”), and much much more. Though I initially was put off by the humorous take on Batman, I came to realize that the writers and animators were honoring the spirit of Batman and increasing his audience at the same time by making the whole DC Universe more fun to watch.

Beyond the episodes themselves, there are no extras on the two DVDs included in the package, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the campy humor. I’ve enjoyed trying to figure out who some of the lesser known characters are like Plastic Man, Wildcat, the Outsiders, and more. With season 3 of Batman: The Brave and the Bold kicking off soon, don’t you want to catch up on what happened with season 2? Be sure to pick up your copy of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Season One, Part Two today!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up the Batman: The Brave and the Bold DVDs below!

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DVD Review: Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Season One – Part One

Hi all!

Though I’d seen a few comic books in my youth, my first exposure to the Batman phenomenon was in 1989 when I saw Tim Burton’s Batman on the big screen. From that moment on, Michael Keaton captured the duality of Batman for me – playboy by day (as bazillionaire/tychoon Bruce Wayne) and crime fighter (Batman) by night.

Then in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series really drove that home the comic legacy of the Batman character. Paul Dini and around 30 other writers took the Gotham City from the pages of DC Comics and breathed life into the heroes and villains that walked its streets. It was really the series’ four seasons that Batman graced my television screen that made me appreciate the depth of what DC Comics and Bob Kane had created from the late 1930s to today.

In 2008, a new chapter of Batman animation would unfold as Batman: The Brave and the Bold. But where previous incarnations of the world were portrayed in a serious vein, this new series amped up the campy, fun nature once seen in another Batman television product starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin in the 1960s.

The Brave and the Bold uses Batman (voiced by Diedrich Bader – The Drew Carey Show) as the straight man while still managing to incorporate the classic heroes and villains of the DC Universe with humor. Now DC Animation and Warner Brothers are releasing the first 13 episodes of season one in a two-DVD set – Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Season One – Part One.

In the first 13 episodes, we see an amazing array of heroes share the stage with the Dark Knight… We meet the Blue Beetle (Will Friedle, Batman Beyond, Kim Possible) as he’s just getting used to his alien powers; Plastic Man (Tom Kenny, SpongeBob SquarePants) who’s constantly struggling with his criminal side; the Red Tornado (Corey Burton, who seems to have been in 100+ different cartoons over the last 30 years) who is an android trying to understand what it is to be human…

We also meet:

  • Green Arrow
  • Wildcat
  • Deadman
  • Bronze Tiger
  • The Atom

But Aquaman (John Di Maggio, Futurama, Penguins of Madagascar, Ben-10) is by far my favorite. He manages to be endearing and annoying at the same time. Larger than life and willing to tell of his adventures to anyone who will (willingly or unwillingly) listen.

Not to be outdone, we also see many of the classic villains appear along with some I had never heard of… Kite Man (Jeffrey Combs, The 4400, Justice League, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), gliding thief, nemesis and former employer of Plastic Man; Black Manta (Kevin Michael Richardson, The Penguins of Madagascar, The Cleveland Show), a surface dwelling criminal who seeks dominion of the sea; Gorilla Grodd (Di Maggio in another role), super-intelligent gorilla from Gorilla City seeking revenge over the human race; and many more…

  • Kanjar Ro
  • Gentleman Ghost
  • Fun Haus
  • Morgaine le Fey
  • Slug
  • Chemo
  • Despero
  • Terrible Trio
  • Clock King
  • Owlman

Honestly, when I watch an episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold it’s a very guilty pleasure. It’s fun to see how cheesy some of the lines can be (deliberately) and how the bad guys inevitably foul up and let the good guys win. These are definitely simplified hero vs. villain stories, but they’re great for kids and adults who want to become kids again for a little while.

Other than the episodes and a game trailer, you don’t get any extras, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying any of the 13 great episodes in this collection.

So if you’ve seen an episode or two and want to catch up or simply want to have a good time, be sure to check out Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Season One – Part One. I’m very excited to see when Part Two comes out so I can enjoy my favorite episode of the series so far – “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” starring Neil Patrick Harris as the Music Meister!

This article first appeared at Blogcritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Batman: The Brave and the Bold today and enjoy some campy fun!

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DVD Review: Superman: The Complete Animated Series

Let me tell you a little story…

In 1992, at a science fiction convention in Denver, Colorado, I had my first glimpse of Batman: The Animated Series. That night we watched footage from “On Leathery Wings,” which focused on a battle between Batman and the Man-Bat in Gotham City. From that point on, I was addicted to the DC Animated Universe as produced by Warner Brothers Animation. Over the next few years, I watched Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.

Each of these series proved not only that a cartoon could be more adult in nature and still appeal to kids, but that it could deal with more serious themes of love and loss, dedication, sacrifice, and justice. No longer were these kiddie cartoons, but something deeper.

So when Superman: The Complete Animated Series was released in November 2009, I was very excited to see it – spread across a 7-disc collection, all 54 episodes plus commentaries, making-of features, trivia, and more. Not only could I see these episodes again, but I could show them to my daughters and share these great stories with a new generation of animation lovers.

Starting with the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El’s parents sending their only child to an unknown life on a distant planet, the series begins with a bang. I hadn’t seen the original three episodes (“The Last Son of Krypton” parts 1-3) in many years and was happy to find that they were still emotionally relevant and packed a punch to start the series right.

Some of my favorite villains of all time are in these episodes – Lex Luthor, Braniac, Lobo, Darkseid, Bizarro, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and many many more. You even encounter many of the heroes like the Flash, Batman, Supergirl, Green Arrow, etc.

It’s also interesting after all these years to go back and listen to the many different voice talents involved in production. Tim Daly (Wings, Private Practice) as Superman, Clark Kent, and Bizarro… Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Lex Luthor… Dana Delany (China Beach, Desperate Housewives) as Lois Lane… Michael Ironside, Gilbert Gottfried, Lisa Edelstein, Joely Fisher, Ron Perlman, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Dorn, Lori Petty, Brad Garrett, William H. Macy… the list goes on forever. It reads a virtual “Who’s Who” of actors and actresses from then and now.

Since all of these series stopped airing new episodes, I have to say that the number of animated shows I still catch regularly has dropped dramatically. The style of Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series and all the rest hearkens back to the Max Fleischer Superman series from the 1940s mixed with modern techniques for the time. There’s something about the style that WB Animation used for all of them that can’t be matched by more modern, CGI or mixed media animation these days.

Fifty four episodes aired over the course of a bit more than three years between September 1996 and February 2000. And though they may have run out of stories from the original comic books, I probably would have continued to watch!

In addition to the episodes themselves, which I really enjoyed watching again, there are a number of extras scattered through the seven discs that really make the collection worthwhile. Creator commentaries, making-of featurettes, trivia tracks, and more are distributed across the main six discs.

For me, the feature on Disc 7 – “The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman” – really shows the difficulties faced by writers trying to come up with viable villains for the hero. Darkseid is definitely a worthy villain from outside the normal Superman universe. The writers and directors involved in the animated series talk at length about Jack Kirby and the contributions he made to comic books. Darkseid brings a true evil, fascist dictator – almost an Anti-Superman – with great strength and intellect to the DC Universe. Suddenly Superman could be hurt and the whole world is in peril.

If you were a fan of Superman: The Animated Series when it originally aired in the late 1990s or have been catching it on Toon Disney, I think Superman: The Complete Animated Series is an amazing collection. Having all of these episodes in one place makes it entirely too easy to fall back into the habit of watching them after schoolwork!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Superman: The Complete Animated Series and other awesome animated titles from Amazon below:

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