We liked where the art direction for Batman ended up by the end of the Bruce Timm era. We are talking about the final season of Justice League Unlimited. The long ears, dark cape-cloak, and the streamlined color scheme. We especially liked Kevin Conroy’s voice work. The Batman came out very soon afterward on Saturday mornings and we were not quite ready for a Batman reboot. Though that show self-admittedly evolved too over its five seasons to bring Batman more into his square-jawed dark knight mode.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold seemed like a radical departure from both previous series. At first it seemed more a homage to the 1960’s live action show than anything else. (While we do like the 1960’s show, we probably do so in a whole different section of our brains.) However B: TBATB quickly became a whole lot more. If you get past the initial culture shock you will be treated to episodes with ever increasing intensity.
The season starts out with a third tier rogue’s gallery exemplified by the likes of Clock King and Gentleman Ghost! Batman is also joined by B-list heroes like Blue Beetle and Red Tornado. We are wondering what we are doing wandering the disused file cabinets in DC’s basement. However we will also be the first to say that some of the lesser know villains and even heroes can be quite interesting. (More so the crazy villains in our opinion, but we digress.)
While the intensity and pacing increases episode by episode the show is not afraid to poke fun at itself (sorry Plastic Man), take famous quotes from old political debates and allow Batman a good number of dry-humor witticisms. It is solid entertainment from each episode’s Bond-like opening scene to end credits. By mid-season we were won over, and by the last epic two-parter we were big fans.
That last arc involved the thorn in DC Comic’s side, parallel Earths. (Remember how Crisis on Infinite Earths was supposed to end that?) It was quite interesting to see bad versions of the seasons heroes and good versions of some villains. There are some twists and turns. The finale will not disappoint. Also, you may have waited the whole season to see him, and by the end you indeed will. We are talking about Batman’s arch enemy. But the encounter will not be straightforward!
The art direction subtlety evolved over the course of the 13 episodes in our opinion. It got a little darker. The dutch angles and other dramatic camera work were great homage and effective. You will see Batman wear more costumes this season than you could throw a bat-a-rang at. You will smirk when you see the “evil” Batman turning good Batman’s costume into something very much like the last season of Justice League! Ha.
Some notable appearances: Hal Jordan as Green Lantern; the classic returns. Black Manta; we remember the ancient Aquaman show, and have always liked Manta’s creepy voice. Well it is indeed back. How about a pre-evil Sinestro? Yes, before he became the ultimate Green Lantern villain. And hey, a shout out to Doctor Polaris. Who? Nevermind. But his costume is almost as cool as his name.