Friday, April 27, 2012

"Batman: Under the Red Hood" (Brandon Viette, 2010)



Directed by Brandon Vietti
Written by Judd Winick
Based on the DC Comics Characters Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Adapted from the Graphic Novel by Judd Winick

Executive Produced by Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan and Sam Register
Produced by Bobbie Page, Alan Burnett and Bruce W. Timm

Main Title Design by Erin Sarofsky
Art and Character Design by Dusty Abell and Vince Toyama

Storyboards by Christopher Berkeley, Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery and Jay Oliva
Editing by Margaret Hou
Original Motion Picture Score Composed by Christopher Drake

Bruce Greenwood … Bruce Wayne/Batman (Voice)
Jensen Ackles … Red Hood (Voice)
John Di Maggio … The Joker (Voice)
Neil Patrick Harris … Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Voice)
Jason Isaacs … Ra’s Al Ghul (Voice)
Wade Williams … Roman Sionis/Black Mask (Voice)
Kelly Hu … Ms. Li (Voice)
Jim Piddock … Alfred Pennyworth (Voice)
Alexander Martella … Kid Jason Todd/Robin (Voice)
Vincent Martella … Teen Jason Todd/Robin (Voice)
Kevin Michael Richardson … Tyler Bramford (Voice)
Gary Cole … Police Commissioner James Gordon (Voice)
Brian George … Ra’s Assistant (Voice)
Robert Clotworthy … Leon/Thug (Voice)
Phil LaMarr … Rick/Bulk (Voice)
Dwight Schultz … Freddie/Drug Dealer (Voice)

A mysterious new player called the Red Hood sets off a firestorm of gang violence in Gotham City, drawing the attentions of underworld figurehead Black Mask, the murderous Joker and Batman.


Following the conclusion of “Justice League: Unlimited” in 2006, several fans were left to wonder what would come of DC Comics animation.

The regime had begun with 1992’s “Batman: The Animated Series” and flourished with subsequent follow ups including “Superman: The Animated Series,” “The New Batman Adventures,” “Batman Beyond” and “Justice League: The Animated Series.”

For many, this animated DC Universe was and still remains in a league of its own in terms of narrative quality, character development and visual aesthetic.

That being said, it was admittedly a hard pill to swallow that the potential successor to the series was to be found in the likes of “The Batman” or “Batman: The Brave and The Bold.”

As tremendous as those shows are in their own right and by their own rules, the foundation of this production team was built upon stories more grounded in the dramatic than straight up kid’s fare and, rightfully so, Warner Brothers along with longtime producer Bruce Timm saw fit to offer a possible solution with “DC Universe Animated Original Movies.”

Enacted with 2007’s “Superman: Doomsday,” this line of home video releases culminates in the participation of several original influences from the DCAU including Timm, voice director Andrea Romano and frequent collaborators Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami and current participants such as Sam Register and Duane Capizzi.

The films, separate from the DCAU continuity, range from original stories to adaptations of classic stories straight out of comics and are often liberated from the regulations of broadcasting with the bestowing of PG-13 ratings.

To date, Batman holds the title of most appearances with his involvement in the narratives of eight films out of the current list of thirteen. Given his current tidal wave of popularity, I don’t see that changing for the forseeable future.

While “Batman: Gotham Knight” was the first solo Batman endeavor in 2008 to capitalize on the anticipation for “The Dark Knight,” it wasn’t until 2010’s “Batman: Under the Red Hood” that the character received his first feature length film both under the “DC Universe” banner and helmed by a single director for its entirety (“Gotham Knight,” while feature length, was split between six filmmakers as opposed to one).


Adapted from the 2005 comic arc of the same title (technically, the comic is titled “Under the Hood”) by Judd Winick, “Under the Red Hood” tells the story of a new menace manipulating the gang landscape of Gotham City.

Becoming the newest custodian to a long-running alias used by everyone from petty thieves to a certain Clown Prince of Crime, the new Red Hood (Jensen Ackles) pits the various mob elements up against underworld baron Black Mask (Wade Williams) to a mysterious end.

With violence mounting, Batman (Bruce Greenwood) and Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) rush to counter the Hood’s efforts before things go from bad to worse; all the while Bruce is conflicted with the death of former Robin Jason Todd, who was lost in a battle against the Joker (John DiMaggio) five years prior.

As the dark knight encounters Gotham’s newest menace, however, things take a shocking turn when Red Hood’s identity becomes all too tragically clear.


For many people, the very thought of resurrecting Jason Todd was a bad idea from the get-go. Sure comics are a realm of heightened reality and fantasy, where the laws of life and death might not (and certainly never do) necessarily apply. But “A Death in the Family” is sacred ground for many fans, symbolizing Batman’s greatest defeat and ranking among the greatest Batman stories ever told. Doing a follow up is just asking for trouble to begin with, but bringing Jason back to life is still a matter that splits fans in debate.

The difference with the character in regards to the supposed fatalities of other DC heroes is that his death was by choice on part of the readers themselves in the notorious fan poll of the time. Where Superman’s death was created by the teams on his books as a large-scale event that never intended to keep him dead for long, actual readers willingly voted that Jason die at the hands of the Joker.

As harsh as it can be interpreted, the decision can ultimately be argued as the right one for several reasons.

The character wasn’t popular to begin with. Having said that, he was clearly a perfect candidate to demonstrate the reality that Batman’s crusade would be suspect to casualty and having him remain dead for so long created a foundation of reality for the “Batman” books.

Sure this Batman still interacts with Superman, but for the majority of the time Batman’s is a world of actual consequences and repercussions. If you’re going to make the effort to attribute Batman to a more grounded realm, you’re obligated to keep that aesthetic going by doing everything from using scientific explanations for scenarios to having people caught in the crossfire stay dead like they actually would in real life.

It’s definitely a double-edged sword, to be sure.


The film adaptation of “Under the Hood” is played straight forward in its faithfulness to the source material with one exception, namely that of Ra’s Al Ghul’s hiring of the Joker, which never happened in the comic.

Other than that, it’s loyal to the emotional weight of the story and molds it fairly successfully for a PG-13 animated venture.


I love Bruce Greenwood’s approach to Batman. An older character actor most recognizable for his performances as the President of the United States in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” and most prominently that of Starfleet Captain Christopher Pike in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” Greenwood rightfully plays Batman older, more refined and weathered.

This is certainly a Batman I can believe in, both in terms of his actions and reactions. It’s odd; there’s weight to his presence here and yet there’s also just as much flight to it. It’s a Batman that comes with experience without losing youthful edge and that’s a terrific way to take the character with this story.


Neil Patrick Harris delivers as Nightwing and, despite having little to do beyond the first conflict with Amazo, he somehow embellishes Grayson with the same qualities Greenwood does for Wayne.

The odd duck for me here is John DiMaggio as the Joker; like Kevin Michael Richardson in “The Batman,” the voice might be just a bit too low in pitch for my taste.

This, however, brings to light a larger issue. Well not so much an issue as it is a point of interest and a refreshing rarity.


“Under the Red Hood” is one of the few instances where I’ve found myself genuinely more invested and interested in a villain other than the Joker during a story in which the Joker is an active participant.

Now I’m fully aware that nearly all of Batman’s prominent rogues are intriguing and engaging characters with the right approach and material. Being his greatest adversary, however, lends itself to the Joker quickly and most often becoming a show-stealer if he’s involved.

Here, nothing of the sort happens and yet one of the flaws of “Under the Red Hood” reveals itself with the narrative almost acting as if it’s trying to force it to happen.

I’m fully aware of how integral the Joker is to the Jason Todd story, but I found myself disappointed that all of the intrigue and effort Red Hood puts into his plan is deflated when the plan is just reduced to getting closer to the Joker and killing him in revenge.

The moment is saved when Jason attempts to force Batman to make the kill but to me it just feels like the movie wants me to focus on the Joker when I don’t want to.


When I say I don’t want to, it’s because I found a far more interesting villain in the film with Black Mask. I loved how he was handled, both in Wade Williams’ performance and his operations within the narrative. The only shortcoming is his actual design; they should’ve gone a little less Tony Montana and a little more Al Capone.

Aside from that, Mask is just a treat to watch. His attitude, his mannerisms and his temper are all wonderfully conceived and calibrated in this showcase.

"I hope you understand the trouble I've gone through to arrange this little get together here. A lot of money. A lof of dead meat."  

I don’t know; maybe it’s all residual and I had just been building up all this time as far as story after story feeling pressured to fall back on the Joker that I was ready for another rogue to get the limelight.


The visual style of the film is great and rightfully dark and moody, combining contemporary urban landscape with gothic flare such as the monstrous cathedral as part of the film’s climax. Other stand out locales include Black Mask's high-rise office, rich in its color palette and especially the Batcave and Arkham Asylum, which came out great. I suspect that this version of Arkham was somewhat inspired by Rocksteady's mega popular video game version from the year before.

I also love the approach to Ra's Al Ghul's mountain based citadel; it fits the longevity of the character and is wonderfully rendered.

The action is intensely paced to say the least.

The rooftop chases between Batman and Red Hood are kinetic and have incredible rhythm.


And there’s also the awesome confrontation with the Fearsome Hand of Four as Batman and Red Hood team up to take them out.

But of course my favorite scene HAS to be the finale of the piece, in which Batman faces Jason in a rundown apartment before being given the ultimate decision. This scene is exceedingly emotional and I love Jensen’s performance here, despite some of the hokey dialog.

“Why? I’m not talking about killing Penguin or Scarecrow or Dent. I’m talking about him. Just him. And doing it because…because he took me away from you.”

And one thing I have to say; I love that the film takes us through this horrible tragedy with Jason before ending it on a note of fateful optimism as we watch a flashback of him donning the Robin costume for the first time.

What's interesting here is that in the context of the scene, there's a moment when Jason encourages Bruce for them to get going on patrol.

Looking at it within the context of what happens to Jason and how Batman feels about him and their bond before and after his death, one can almost interpret it as if it's actually the ghost of Jason Todd. But not just Jason Todd; rather the Jason that he wants to remember. The young child with a bright future, uncompromised in his youthful innocence with becoming Robin for the first time.

It's as if it's an apparition Bruce might see nightly. Just as he's suiting up, the ghostly figure of Jason leaps into action with metaphorically as he holds the memory of the boy in his heart.

“This is the best day of my life.”


It’s just heartbreaking.

If nothing else “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” like several of the Animated “DC Universe” movies, is a great way to introduce a broader audience to concepts and characters from the comics like Jason Todd and the idea of there being multiple Robins.

With its approach as far as adaptations, the format can also help introduce viewers to the iconic DC stories we all know and love and I think that’s a positive thing.

Who knows; maybe someone’s interest got piqued enough that they went and bought the “Under the Hood” trade. That would certainly justify creating these films more than anything.

One can only hope that outcome is the one most favored.

Whatever the case, “Under the Red Hood” is a decent watch and certainly worth a look for diehard fans of the character.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Batman: The Brave and The Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister: Original Television Soundtrack" (Neil Patrick Harris and Various, 2009)


Composed by Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter

Vocals Performed by Neil Patrick Harris, Grey DeLisle, James Arnold Taylor, John DiMaggio, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, Jeff Bennett and Diedrich Bader

"Batman: The Brave and The Bold" Theme Composed by Andy Sturmer

Produced by New Line Records

Track Listing:

1: "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" Theme – Andy Sturmer (0:32)
2. "I'm The Music Meister" – Neil Patrick Harris (5:55)
3. "Drives Us Bats" – Neil Patrick Harris and Various (1:46)
4. "If Only" – Neil Patrick Harris and Grey DeLisle (2:35)
5. "Death Trap" – Neil Patrick Harris and Grey DeLisle (1:49)
6. "The World Is Mine" – Neil Patrick Harris (3:33)
7. "If Only" (Reprise) – James Arnold Taylor and Grey DeLisle (2:03)
8. "Drives Us Bats" (Mayhem Of The Music Meister End Credits) – Neil Patrick Harris and Various (0:32)


It’s a testament to the creativity and ambition of the producers and show runners responsible for “Batman: The Brave and The Bold” when they can take the format of a half-hour super hero cartoon aimed at young children and incorporate the beautiful gift of music into it.

Of course episodes of the show had featured score beforehand thanks to the talent and effort of longtime collaborators Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter. But the Season 1 episode “Mayhem of the Music Meister” raises the bar tenfold, creating an episode build upon a foundation of orchestration and vocals that works wonders for creating an incredible atmosphere of cultural appreciation.


Introducing young children to music is highly commendable and the fact that it’s Batman makes it that much better!

Created in the tradition of musical stage production and attuned to the recent surge of its popularity with shows such as “A Chorus Line,” “Jersey Boys,” “West Side Story” and “Wicked,” the soundtrack to “Mayhem of the Music Meister” is infectious and theatrical, given even more quality with the participation of cast members such as the welcome Neil Patrick Harris and the lovely Grey DeLisle.

Let’s take a look at the tracks individually:


"Batman: The Brave and the Bold" Theme


Composer Andy Sturmer’s theme for the television series echoes the flight and whimsy of the 60s television series with its brass instrumentation and percussion. To tell you the truth, the theme reminds me of a lot of the music specifically from Nelson Riddle’s score to the ’66 movie, especially the material for when Batman and Robin take to the seas in the Batboat in search of the Penguin’s submarine. It’s delightfully zany and sets the mood for this animated Batman each episode with a heroic undertone that plays up his inability to lose.


"I'm The Music Meister"

NOTE: Ignore the Video; the Point is the Song.

As we open the episode, a collection of foes including Black Manta and Gorilla Grodd find themselves inexplicably forced into a need to express themselves through the power of song as they come under the spell of the one and only Music Meister, voiced and performed by Neil Patrick Harris. I think Harris, with his background in theatre and previous experience in that community as both an active participant and recurring host of the Tony Awards, lends himself perfectly to the character. The concept of the character works very well with the aesthetic of the show and its tone and this opening number is a reflection of that with its wonderful vocals.


"Drives Us Bats"

One of my two favorites off the album, this is just fun and theatricality at its most infectious. The tempo is rollicking as Batman gives chase throughout Gotham City in pursuit of the Music Meister and the lyrics are a wonderful homage to the caped crusader himself, and how he’s so proficient that he drives both friend and foe berserk. The track is full of swagger and beat; very 80s eclectic in its pace and presentation and I love the guitar work that plays in undercurrent. Of course the song works exceptionally well when perceived from the point of the view of the villains but I find it charming that even other heroes like Aquaman and Green Arrow get in on the fun, commenting about how no matter how hard they try, they can never reach the level of respect and popularity that Batman holds. It’s funny because it’s true. I love DC Comics super heroes, but they’ve all got a point on this one.


"If Only"


No Broadway exhibition would be complete without a full blown romantic ballad. Somewhat campy and deliberately relatable, “If Only” sings a tale of what one might call unrequited love that befalls a collection of our characters. The Music Meister sings his portion for Black Canary while Black Canary sings hers for Batman. It’s a tender moment of vulnerability for these mythic figures as they vocalize their possible yearnings for one another. However, the song’s true intent unveils itself as each performer reveals their true love; fighting villainy and being villainous as per the individual character. Harris’ vocals are tremendous here, demonstrating the aforementioned vulnerability and it’s a touching, albeit comical song.


"Death Trap"


Capped with a hard edged foundation of percussion and guitar that picks up its tempo from the get-go, “Death Trap” is a playful tip of the cap to the precarious scenarios the villains always had a knack for placing Batman in throughout their history. This idea carries with the Music Meister as he lyrically describes what would possibly be the moving parts of this omnipotent contraption (“Gears Grindin,’ Ropes Bindin,’ Coils Windin,”) and the resulting fatality of their operations. The exponentially rising pace wonderfully metaphors the concept of death inching itself closer and closer, building tension as a result as we sit in awe, wondering if Batman will make it out alive.

"No encore for you THIS time, Batman."


"The World Is Mine"

My other favorite track from the collection, “The World Is Mine” plays as a hypnotic counterpoint to “I’m the Music Meister.” The track has a wonderful sense of pitch and beat; it’s not too fast and the fact that it’s a bit slower, more methodical lends itself to the villainy of the Music Meister very well. The brass work is generous and brilliant, flourishing with immense boldness and brevity. It’s a delightful ode to the villain of the episode and it’s over the top in all the right ways.


"If Only" (Reprise)


Keeping in the Broadway tradition, the album comes complete with its own reprisals. As Batman leaves to fight crime, Black Canary reiterates her feelings for him while looking up to the Bat-Signal. However, another voice adds itself to the mix, creating a duet between Canary and Green Arrow. This is a great nod to the comics, where Dinah and Oliver are well recognized for having a romantic relationship with one another which eventually blossomed into marriage with their “Wedding Special” published by DC Comics in 2007. Personally, I find James Arnold Taylor’s voice a better match for DeLisle and they play off each other’s emotional fluctuations tremendously.


"Drives Us Bats" ("Mayhem of the Music Meister" End Credits)


The album and episode end on a high note with the reprise of “Drives Us Bats,” which I suspect was meant to be the highlight for the show runners since it’s given the final word so to speak. Just as great as the full track, condensed and shortened for the end credits of the show.


With the gimmick of the Music Meister, the soundtrack to the episode fits seamlessly with his interpretation and approach.

It’s just an incredible feeling to know that a property like Batman can so easily and passionately lend itself to a concept like an episode packed with Broadway style numbers; again, that just goes to show how durable the character truly is.

Slightly criticized for its briefness (imagine that; criticism because there isn’t enough music!), the soundtrack was critically acclaimed and went on to win “The Brave and The Bold” an Emmy award for musical excellence in a half hour program.

A worthwhile addition to any Batman music collection to be sure!



 Neil Patrick Harris

 Grey DeLisle

James Arnold Taylor

Andy Sturmer

"Batman: The Brave and The Bold" (Sam Register, 2008 - 2011)



Episodes Directed by …

Ben Jones (25 episodes)
Michael Chang (17 episodes)
Michael Goguen (15 episodes)
Brandon Vietti (9 episodes)

Episodes Written by …

Steven Melching (11 episodes)
Thomas Pugsley (9 episodes)
J.M. DeMatteis (8 episodes)
Joseph Kuhr (7 episodes)
Todd Casey (6 episodes)
Paul Dini (5 episodes)
James Krieg (5 episodes)
Adam Beechen (3 episodes)
Jack Cole (3 episodes)
Paul Giacoppo (3 episodes)
Michael Jelenic (2 episodes)
Dean Stephan (2 episodes)
Greg Weisman (2 episodes)
Matt Wayne (2 episodes)
Dani Michaeli (1 episode)
Jake Black (1 episode)
Marsha Griffin (1 episode)
Stan Berkowitz (1 episode)
Kevin Hopps (1 episode)
Alan Burnett (1 episode)
Gail Simone (1 episode)
Alexx Van Dyne (1 episode)

Based on the DC Comics Characters Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Series Executive Produced by Sam Register

Series Produced by ...

James Tucker
Michael Jelenic
Linda Steiner
Amy McKenna

Series Art Direction by …

Lynell Forestall

Casting and Voice Direction by Andrea Romano

Series Editing by Christopher D. Lozinski

"Batman: The Brave and The Bold" Theme Composed by Andy Sturmer 

Original Television Scores Composed by …

Kristopher Carter
Michael McCuistion
Lolita Ritmanis
Diedrich Bader ... Bruce Wayne/Batman (Voice)
James Arnold Taylor … Green Arrow (Voice)
Dee Bradley Baker ... Clock King (Voice)
John Di Maggio ... Aquaman (Voice)
Jeff Bennett ... Captain Marvel (Voice)
Greg Ellis ... Gentleman Ghost (Voice)
Tom Kenny ... Plastic Man (Voice)
Will Friedle ... Blue Beetle (Voice)
Kevin Michael Richardson ... Black Manta (Voice)
Corey Burton ... Doc Magnus (Voice)
Jason Marsden ... Paco (Voice)
Grey DeLisle ... Black Canary (Voice)
Jim Piddock ... Calendar Man (Voice)
Tara Strong ... Billy Batson (Voice)
Zachary Gordon ... Young Bruce Wayne (Voice)
Gary Anthony Williams ... Mongul (Voice)
R. Lee Ermey ... Wildcat (Voice)
Lex Lang ... Dr. Polaris (Voice)
Stephen Root ... Woozy Winks (Voice)
Armin Shimerman ... Ace (Voice)
Oded Fehr ... Equinox (Voice)
Scott Menville ... Metamorpho (Voice)
Bumper Robinson ... Black Lightning (Voice)
Clancy Brown … Mugger (Voice)
Kevin Conroy ... Batman of Zur-En-Arrh (Voice)
Mark Hamill ... Spectre (Voice)
Neil Patrick Harris ... The Music Meister (Voice)
Alexander Polinsky ... G'nort (Voice)
Jeremy Shada ... Young Robin (Voice)
Crawford Wilson ... Robin (Voice)
Tom Everett Scott ... Booster Gold (Voice)
Marc Worden ... Kanjar Ro (Voice)
Thomas F. Wilson ... Cat-Man (Voice)
Jennifer Hale ... Poison Ivy (Voice)
Andy Milder ... Jay Garrick (Voice)
Nika Futterman ... Catwoman (Voice)
Phil Morris ... Jonah Hex (Voice)
Paul Reubens ... Bat-Mite (Voice)
Billy West ... Skeets (Voice)
Vicki Lewis ... Wonder Woman (Voice)
Adam West ... Proto-Bat (Voice)

Batman defends Gotham City, the world and the universe at large everywhere and in any time with the assistance of various DC Comics Heroes, historical figures and intergalactic entities.


Key Episodes:

“Rise of the Blue Beetle!”
“Evil Under the Sea!”
“Enter The Outsiders!”
“Journey to the Center of the Bat!”
“The Color of Revenge!”
“Legends of the Dark Mite!”
“Last Bat on Earth!”
“When OMAC Attacks!”

“The Fate of Equinox!”
“Mayhem of the Music Meister!”
“Death Race to Oblivion!”
“The Golden Age of Justice!”
“Clash of the Metal Men!”
“A Bat Divided!”
“Sidekicks Assemble!”
“The Super-Batman of Planet X!”
“Chill of the Night!”
“The Siege of Starro! Part 1”
“The Siege of Starro! Part 2”
“Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!”

“The Last Patrol!”
“The Mask of Matches Malone!”
“Emperor Joker!”
“The Criss Cross Conspiracy!”
“The Plague of the Prototypes!”
“The Knights of Tomorrow!”
“Darkseid Descending!”
“Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!”
“Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!”
“Shadow of the Bat!”
“Night of the Batmen!”
“Battle of the Superheroes!”
“Time Out for Vengeance!”
“Bold Beginnings!”


As a fan who’s been suspect to the genesis of Batman from cornball cultural powderpuff to vengeful Dark Knight, it’s always fun to see the concept of multiple interpretations take root in actual practice.


When “Batman Begins” hit movie screens with a darker, more grounded iteration, television offered lighter fare with “The Batman.” It was as if Warner Brothers could sense the widespread appeal and sought to give everyone a Batman they could enjoy depending on which way they wanted to go.

It’s a smart move on part of the studio, ensuring that no one be made to feel left out of the fandom while making the effort to aid in the education of fans that there’s no right or wrong way to interpret Batman.

The approach worked so well at the time that it was used once more in the height of appreciation for the character in 2008.

Although, interestingly and in hindsight, extremity was the way to go both ways.

“The Dark Knight” created a bleak portrait of Gotham City that was plagued by chaos and hopelessness privy to the Joker’s madness as it corrupted the proceedings, destroying everything in its path in a swirl of death and tragedy. This darkness was only hinted at in “Batman Begins,” pushing the envelope even further.

And simultaneously, the same emphasis was put on part of the televised caped crusader as 2008 introduced fans to “Batman: The Brave and The Bold,” which is far and away lighter and brighter than “The Batman” ever actually was.



Named after the popular DC Comics book of the same name that ran in uninterrupted publication from 1955 to 1983 (with a subsequent mini-series from 1991 to 1999 and a new ongoing title that’s been going since 2007) The series follows the framework of the comic by partnering an established Batman with a number of fellow DC Comics heroes including Aquaman, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Metamorpho and several others.

What I immediately love about this idea is that the show uses Batman’s popularity as a catalyst for introducing viewers to B and even C-level DC characters they might have otherwise never known.

It still retains the focus on Batman, sure, but now kids could walk away from an episode with a newfound fondness for someone like B’wana Beast or Deadman or Elongated Man; or, at least, knowledge of their existence.

The show’s tone is often labeled to be in line with the mid-60s television series starring Adam West, and I can definitely see that. But it’s far more in sync with the Silver Age in the comic books more than anything.


Because of that approach, it’s just amazing to find a Batman heavily influenced by Dick Sprang’s design aesthetic in the same year of Christopher Nolan’s haunted urban soldier.

Hell, a child growing up on a Silver Age visualization of the DC universe is in and of itself incredible.


From donning Catwoman in the classic costume complete with a green cape to dressing Mr. Freeze in the sci-fi spaceman tone he originated in, the visual approach can also easily lend itself to the treatment of the characters in the Filmation cartoon series.

This liberation of whimsy breaks the mold of previous animated encounters, creating a world where there were no bounds to hold the dark knight or his adventures back.


From travelling to distant colorful galaxies to being thrown back into the throes of time to encountering alternate dimensions and parallel universes complete with their own Batmen, it’s such a wonderfully amped up comic book zaniness that you can’t help but fall in love with if you allow yourself to.

What really sets “The Brave and The Bold” apart is that, for several episodes more specifically towards the end of its broadcast run, it became incredibly self-conscious about the source material, even more than “Batman: The Animated Series” or “The Batman.”


This is demonstrated in one of my favorite episodes, “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!”


Overseen by Bat-Mite, played in a very clever casting choice by Pee-Wee Herman himself, Paul Ruebens (who’d previously enjoyed a small cameo as the Penguin’s father in “Batman Returns”), the episode pokes fun at the bizarre and irreverent within Batman’s pantheon.

First, of all things, it opens with homage to “Batboy and Rubin,” the Batman parody that showcased frequently in MAD Magazine specifically during the heights of the character’s popularity with the 60s show and the Burton/Schumacher movies.

Can you imagine? The idea of a “Batman” show being so open and receptive to the character’s history in ALL its aspects that it would willingly acknowledge something like that is just fantastic.



From there, we’re given a hilarious romp that hits everything from “Bat-Manga” and the wild interpretation of the character in the land of the rising sun to a satirical mockery and parody of the legendary team up of Batman and Robin with Scooby Doo, rushing to beat Joker and Penguin to a buried treasure left behind by a long passed mobster in an abandoned theatre.


There's even an inexplicable cameo from Weird Al Yankovic. WHAT!??


Bat-Mite is rightfully impish and obnoxious when he pops into the show, not unlike his predecessor from the Filmation show, and Ruebens does a terrific job with him.

I love the moment of mischievous deviancy when he tries to convince Batman of how glamorous his battle with the Joker has been through the years. That moment when he nods to the death of Jason Todd as a result of calling in to vote, which actually happened with the comics in reality, really hits home just how crass the character is.



“Guess how I voted...”


The homages didn't end with Bat-Mite, as the show sought to pay dividends to several incarnations on multiple occassions, such as the wonderful scene that features Batman battling against a brain-washed Superman while armored in the supped-up Batsuit straight off the pages of their conflict at the end of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns!" 

Given the aesthetic with this incarnation, we’re given a Batman that exudes overconfidence to a point that’s almost frustrating; I love the character, but it’s clear that he wins the day because the scripts demand it.


Even so, Diedrich Bader lends his pipes very well to this authoritative caped crusader and he clearly dominates the show as it rests on his broad, caped shoulders.

“The Brave and The Bold,” as with all animated projects from DC Comics, gained the advantage of having a tremendous laundry list of guest stars and talented recurring voice actors.

As a long time Kubrick fan, it was great to hear the iconic grizzled edge of R. Lee Ermey, perfectly suited for the boxing legend turned hero Wildcat.


Neil Patrick Harris, stemming from his roots both on Broadway and in fan favorites such as Joss Whedon’s film “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” lends his delightful theatricality to the lovably villainous Music Meister in one of the show’s most critically acclaimed episodes.

The legendary Kevin Conroy returns to the booth to provide the voice for the galactic Batman of Zur-En-Arrh and Adam West, still going strong after over forty years, plays the role of Proto-Bat. What’s interesting here is consider such longevity; how bringing Adam back into the Batman property with the Grey Ghost when Kevin was starting out has now translated to Kevin as well with his cameo work both in “The Batman” and here.

The show even manages to scoop up a two-episode performance from the Clown Prince of Crime himself, with Mark Hamill lending his talents to the otherworldly Spectre.


The music of “The Brave and The Bold” is admittedly one dimensional and cartoony but given the mold of the show, it’s no surprise. The theme composed by Andy Sturmer is delightfully infectious in its own right.

In spite of the darker psychological layers added to the character over the years, Batman is, in essence, a creation of comic books. Comic Books are built upon a foundation of being fun and “The Brave and The Bold” is just that.

Zany, colorful, bombastic FUN!



Chas Blankenship's 'Bat-Mania' 2012 is Proud to Present "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" from "Batman: The Brave and The Bold."