Review: Batman, The Brave and the Bold

Once again DC kicks Marvel's animated ass with its latest Caped Crusader television show, "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" on Cartoon Network. I don't know why DC can't make a decent live action film while Marvel's are awesome, but the reverse is also true -- I have yet to see a Marvel animated show I liked, while DC just keeps cranking out hit after hit.

And this one's no exception.

Taking a break from the Bruce Timm-designed "DC Animated Universe" style, "B:BB" hearkens back more to a Jack Kirby, square-jawed dynamic. This is super-heroes by way of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", non-stop action with just enough character and plot to keep you interested. The creative team has put together a very tight product, starting with the nifty device of an opening scene featuring a mini-adventure with Batman and some other character different than the episode's main "Guest Star". This confused me at first since I am, when you get right down to it, just barely above the "low-functioning imbecile" level on most standardized intelligence tests. I kept checking my TiVo to make sure I hadn't screwed up the times, accidentally recording the last minute of the previous episode. But once I figured it out, I really dug it, kind of like getting a super-cool toy in your box of Lucky Charms.

I also like the opening theme music, it's got a toe-tapping, hard-driving beat that keeps me socking bad guys all night long.

I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.


Moving on, like in the classic comics series, each episode of "B:BB" features Batman teaming up with another super-hero to tackle a case. Typically companies do this to give a boost to their B-list (or C-list, or in some cases -- I'm looking at you, Kamandi -- D-list) characters, hoping to drive sales a bit. But it also works from a story-telling perspective, letting someone else take the focus for a while so the writers don't constantly have to think of what else they can put poor Bruce Wayne through. Because honestly, after a bazillion comics and half a bazillion movies and a quarter bazillion animated series, the ground's been pretty well churned, you know?

Batman in this world is pretty much a Superman analog in terms of his sheer bad-assery and fame. Everyone knows him and wants to work with him, but he's clearly the top dog. You don't get much of the peripheral stuff in his life -- no Alfred or Robin or billionaire parties -- so you're dealing with pure, distilled Caped Crusader and whatever tagalong also-ran he's hanging with that week.

The stories are punchy and engaging, only occasionally too-preachy, and consistently fun. The art takes a little getting used to, but eventually you warm to it and really hooks you. I hope it has the same longevity the Timm-led series did, because I've enjoyed every episode a lot so far .

If you're not watching it, you've only got two new episodes left, so be sure to tune in on Fridays nights on Cartoon Network. Otherwise you might only have a hundred chances a day as, I am sure, they will run it into the ground like an Impala strapped to a Jet-Assisted Takeoff rocket.

14 Responses to Review: Batman, The Brave and the Bold

  1. Frankie says:

    I saw most of an episode this week. Not my type of show, but i might look at it every now and then to see some of the different characters i like.

    Currently I’m watching Wolverine and the X-Men (and by currently, i mean right now while I’m typing this comment) It’s pretty good, the artwork is better than Brave and the Bold, in my opinion atleast (I don’t care much for the Kirby style)

  2. Joshua says:

    Kamandi relegated to the D-list? Jeff, you wound me. 🙁

  3. Jeff Hebert says:

    I admit I liked Kamandi when I was a kid (somehow I had a 10 cent edition of his adventures), but he’s not exactly a top-tier guy. No slander meant to him of course, he’s a neat character, but DC pretty much has had him in the “who the hell is that” file for a long time.

  4. Jeff Hebert says:

    Actually Frankie that’s a good point, I saw one episode of Wolverine and it was pretty decent. I need to try and catch that one again.

  5. Tracy says:

    “I don’t know why DC can’t make a decent live action film while Marvel’s are awesome”
    I cannot recall ONE Marvel live action movie nowhere near as good as The Dark Knight! Spider-man?? Please!!! X-men??? Don’t make me laugh!
    Give me one Marvel live action movie that’s 0,01% as good as the Dark Knight (or as praised by fans and critics) and I’ll eat my own shoes!

  6. Jeff Hebert says:

    Tracy, you’re of course right, my apologies. The two most recent Batman films, the first Tim Burton version, and the first two “Superman” films were excellent. It would have been more correct to say that DC has a LOT more duds that hits (except for those noted, all the rest of the Superman movies, all the rest of the Batman movies) and is pretty much a two-trick pony (Superman and Batman), while Marvel’s been a lot more consistent, with a wider stable of characters (Spidey, Hulk, X-Men, Iron-Man).

    Also, I’d say Iron-Man is a better super-hero movie than Dark Knight, although I think Dark Knight is a better movie overall. It’s just a mob film, is all, while Iron-Man is pure super-hero entertainment.

    Finally, what I really meant to get at was that DC makes great animated tv shows while Marvel has mostly put out crap.

    But yeah, I blew it on the too-broad statement about the movies, good call. Guilty as charged!

  7. DJ says:

    Oh man do I miss American television. 🙁

  8. The Icedaemon says:

    One would disagree. ‘Batman Returns’, while not as good as the ‘Batman’, was still a pretty good movie and a good deal above most of your crummy USAmerican action movies.

  9. Tracy says:

    You’re absolutely right, Jeff. I also believe that the Marvel movies are better overall, I actually like Spiderman 1 and 3, X-men 1 and 2 and Ironman! Hehee. My rant was just about Dark Knight, that is to me one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. But I agree, it’s not so much of a Superhero movie, it’s more of an epic tale of a city.
    I do believe that the 2 first Batman and Superman movies are good as well, especially considering the time they were made. After those, however, dear heavens, I felt embarassed for DC. More even so after Joel Schumacher, that destroyed Batman almost to the point I thought there would be no more Batman movies at all.
    And Marvel, you are dead on. Besides the first Hulk and X-men 3 I can’t recall one movie that I disliked.

  10. XStacy says:

    …you never saw the Captain America movie, did you?

  11. Cavalier says:

    In regards to Batman movies I would like to add that I thought the On-Star commercials were the nail in the coffin. Seeing the Dark Knight locked out of the Batmobile was just painful. It took a relaunch to bring credibility back to the name.

  12. bryan says:

    How can anybody possibly have anything good to say about this garbage. & i thought “The Batman” was bad! This new batman cartoon is an absolute insult. theres absolutely no plausibility in the characters whatsoever, everything is extremely outlandish & colorful, & the stories have nothing to do with Gotham or Batman whatsoever. Im surprised this garbage made it off the drawing board. Joel schumachers batman movies look awesome by comparison! Thats how bad it is! batman doesnt look like the Dark Knight, he looks more like “The Jolly Warrior”. The people behind this cartoon should be ashamed of themselves for how much they butchered batman in this cartoonish colorful crapfest!

  13. Jeff Hebert says:

    The look of The Batman is a deliberate departure from the darker and grittier Timm style stuff. This is more Golden Age Batman, stripped down to the bare essence of the pure crime-fighting super-hero rather than the “realistic” angst-ridden modern loner anti-hero the character’s become since “Dark Knight”.

    It’s a different Batman used for a different purpose. Not everyone will like that, which is fine, but it works for me. I’m kind of tired of the Dark Knight, it’s nice to see this kind of take on him.

    Plus the whole premise of the comic and show is that he’s teaming up with other heroes. Hard to do that with the other kind of Batman, you know?

  14. Darkton says:

    Eh, too PC for me.

    I prefer Batman: The Animated Series.