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Batman: The Brave and the Bold

An animated television series that features Batman's team-ups with other DC Comics superheroes.

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A Refreshing Take on a Beloved Franchise

  • Sep 1, 2011
Rating:
+4

There are many comic fans, a group that includes yours truly, who feel as though Bruce Timm’s 1992 Batman The Animated Series Batman: TAS) so thoroughly covered (and accurately portrayed) the franchise that further animated incarnations were simply no longer necessary.  Over time, the next decade in fact, the team responsible for Batman The Animated Series would somehow manage to evolve the property enough to keep it fresh and in many cases, even improve upon the formula.  We would enjoy Batman Beyond and the “caped crusader’s” legacy again as a staple of both the Justice League series (and to a lesser degree in Justice League Unlimited).  Even to this day that incarnation of Batman lives on in the form of the DCAU’s frequent animated feature films such as Batman Under the Red Hood, Justice League Crisis on Two Earths, Superman/ Batman Public Enemies, Superman/ Batman Apocalypse and so on.

However, and banking on the success of the live-action Batman film reboot (with Christian Bale), Warner saw fit to give viewers another animated version of the franchise, this time opting for a weekly Saturday morning affair.  What resulted was The Batman (2004-2008); a brighter, younger take on the Bruce Wayne character that, while true to many of the characters given their proper due in Batman: TAS, was generally rejected by fans for its light hearted take on dark material and inconsistency (especially in the Rogues Gallery).

As such I, like many, feared for the worst when news broke back in late 2007 that Warner Brothers was going to reboot the animated Batman franchise once again.  This latest incarnation, which would be known as The Brave and the Bold, would be a brighter incarnation than the last with even lighter underlying tones.  Teaser shots at the time depicted Batman back in his bright blue, yellow and gray motif, eerily reminiscent of the get-up worn the 1960s Adam West live action series, or more disturbing still, his 1970s/ early 80s Superfriends persona.  This one would have to be an absolute disaster right? Wrong!

After just a few episodes (which were now appearing in a Friday primetime slot in Cartoon Network’s lineup), Brave and the Bold managed to obliterate any and all preconceived notions of failure.

For starters there is the show’s unique format to consider; each episode actually consists of a small self-contained team-up adventure before the opening theme then a full length adventure to follow, usually containing an entirely separate hero for which to be teamed up with Batman and villain(s) in need of some justice.  Episodes are structured as stand-alone although there are hints of ongoing story threads explored here and there (as well as a few two-parters for good measure).

Just as had been forecasted, the look of the show is extremely bright and crisp, with color pallets seemingly directly from the pages of a comic book.  Interestingly, neither Kevin Conroy’s (Batman: TAS) nor Rino Romano’s (The Batman) voice talent was utilized for this show, instead calling upon Diedrich Bader of Drew Carry fame to provide the vocals for the titular character.  Many of the secondary characters from the past Batman franchises mentioned above do make frequent appearances here however.

So just what makes The Brave and the Bold formula work despite doing away with nearly every aspect of what made Batman: TAS so incredible you ask?  It actually manages to prevent falling into a pattern of overusing its hero and villains for that matter by structuring each episode as a team-up.  In a very legitimate sense, the show has more in common with say Justice League than it does the other Batman incarnations.  Among the notable team-ups in this collection, expect Blue Beetle, Red Tornado, Atom, Green Arrow, (and a truly hilarious take on) Aquaman to mention a few.

Next up, it may approach matters lighter than the earlier incarnations but it doesn’t do so at the expense of Bruce Wayne/ Batman’s intelligence and nor does it overlook his dry, ironic wit.  There is humor scattered about here but no child-like slapstick involved in effort to try and gain approval from the younger set.  Most of the conflicts require brains and Batman’s abilities as a detective to thwart as well as the brawn often provided by Batman’s episodic sidekick.

The look of the characters (both hero and villain) comes straight out of the 1960s-70s comic pages as well, but don’t let the lack of updating throw you, they are portrayed in the absolute best possible combination of their original persona blended with modern-day depth (no fear of Superfriends-style group laughter to fade endings here).

DCAU alumni James Tucker is the producer of the show and brings with him an apparent deal of respect for the character as a whole as well as their past efforts in Batman: TAS and seems to literally go the extra mile in not attempting a redo of what has already been accomplished there.  Instead, Brave and the Bold brings a much-appreciated modern take on the classic characters out of the comics from yesteryear.

Warner Brothers tried initially to pacify fans of the show by dropping 4-episode releases (meaning 6-sets would have to be purchased to have one full 26-episode season) but quickly followed that poor decision up with double disc 13-episode releases.  At the time of this review’s writing the first season has been released on DVD entirely as well as the first half (13-episodes) of the second season.  The show is still running on Cartoon Network and is currently broadcasting its third season.

In all, I came away from this show very pleasantly surprised.  There is a subtle rhythm to the episodes that is terribly addicting once the viewer becomes accustomed to the format, style and era being represented.  Be forewarned though, completion of this set will lead to having no choice but to acquire the rest.  Here’s hoping Warner wastes little time in bringing the rest of the seasons to DVD.

A Refreshing Take on a Beloved Franchise A Refreshing Take on a Beloved Franchise A Refreshing Take on a Beloved Franchise A Refreshing Take on a Beloved Franchise A Refreshing Take on a Beloved Franchise

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September 07, 2011
This show surprised me as well. Great review.
September 07, 2011
Thanks for the all the reads buddy. I'm trying to dig myself out of the perpetual hole!
 
September 01, 2011
For me this one is just too cartoonish and light-hearted. It's kind of similar to the pre-O'Neil/Adams Batman of the early '60s. It also reminds me of the horrid campy '60s TV series, although nothing could ever be quite that bad (unless they one day decided that Batman and Howard the Duck should team up)..
September 02, 2011
Orlok, so true man! I've caught a few 60s reruns on a late-night channel called "The Hub"- HORRID! However, if you want to know the real secret to appreciating The Brave and the Bold, borrow one of my Superfriends DVDs- suddenly this will look like sheer brilliance lol
September 07, 2011
Orlok, I would agree with you, the art feels a little more campy, but some of the stories had a more mature flavor.
September 07, 2011
Jay, Superfriends?


September 08, 2011
Hahaah oh the humanity! I had such fond memories of this growing up that it was a sad day indeed when my Superfriends DVD box sets arrived and the reality that some things are better left to the hallowed halls of memory sank in. All I can say is thank goodness for Justice League!
September 08, 2011
Funny how some of those old shows don't stand up in retrospect. I felt that way about a lot of '80s cartoons.
September 09, 2011
So true! He-Man, Silverhawks, Thundarr, TMNT, I can't believe how many sets I purchased on nostalgia only to realize the '80s were a period I would have been wise to leave within the recesses of memory. Kids today (and that includes us) are very fortunate.
September 09, 2011
The Turtles hold up pretty well in retrospect. I've got the first two seasons and still watch them every now and then. I don't know why, but for some reason it seemed like the animated series for kids just got so much better in the early '90s. Maybe it was because of Nickelodeon creating competition for the other channels or maybe it was the growing popularity of anime for adults after the advent of "Akira". Who knows, but right around 1991 or 1992 animated series really kind of grew up and matured.
September 09, 2011
Did you ever get into the refreshed Turtles that came out in the 2000s? I remember buying the DVDs was a disaster in trying to watch the shows chronologically, but sort of like Superfriends to Justice League, the new incarnation was a lot more mature. I'm just about due to revisit that show come to think of it!
September 11, 2011
No, I didn't see the most recent series. But I did catch a few episodes from the late '90s (maybe '97 or '98) where they introduced the female turtle character Venus de Milo and the show was done in live-action.
 
September 01, 2011
Can't really comment that much since I've only seen a few episodes of this series. I would have to say that the animation style is reminiscent of the classic series in the late 60's....which I didn't like but understood. Some episodes were more in-depth than I expected which was a nice surprise. I did appreciate the episode with Jay Garrick and Aquaman....
September 02, 2011
Absolutely true! Just saw that one last night in fact! The origin of Gentleman Ghost (with Sherlock Holmes)- WAY darker than expected. It's a decent show for sure but all over the place in terms of theme. I liked it more than I thought I would though for sure. Thanks for the read bro.
 
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More Batman: The Brave and the Bold reviews
review by . August 22, 2010
Eantertaining at Least
I grew up in the 90s with the original Batman Animated Series and was reluctant to pay too much attention to this after watching that crappy "The Batman" series that came out after Batman Begins. However, after seeing a handful of episodes of this with my kid I gotta say, it's not too bad. Some will say the only good batman stuff is where he is dark and brooding and sometimes only teams up with children that live with him for some reason but this series has him written in a different …
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Ranked #10
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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