Simply put, if you’re a comic book fan that isn’t watching this show, you’re missing out.
In the post-Justice League Unlimited era, comic book cartoons have been lacking. I heard quite a bit of praise about ‘Wolverine & the X-Men’, but the show struck me as weak. It could be said that I’m out of touch with the kids and what makes a good cartoon now that I’m 30 years old, and I’ll concede the possibility. And everyone lauds the cartoon heyday of the 80’s, its the whole ‘back in my day the grass was greener’.
I’m not a stats guru, but I think its safe to say that in order for a cartoon of any genre to be popular, it has to appeal to adults as well as kids. Sponge Bob Square Pants can attest to this.
I really was a giant fan of Justice League Unlimited (and ‘Justice League’ before it, to a certain extent). The animation was crisp and modern (a few obviously rushed frames notwithstanding from time to time). The library of characters was huge, and they were all faithfully adapted or spruced up appropriately. And the stories were not episodic, self-contained and had no real continuity between them. Sure there were often individual solo stories, but there were larger plots being worked out throughout the seasons, reaching their expected climax in the season finales as with adult dramas.
Oh right, Brave and the Bold…
When I first heard about this show, I was pretyt blazay about it. “Oh look, another revamp of classic material. Can’t we come up with new ideas?”
Man, what a good show. The kitschy & campy fun of the ‘Silver Age’/1960’s with a modern flair. Again, characters are faithfully adapted from the comics, their roots respected with few variations. Aquaman is the only one that stands out in my mind as getting the biggest overhaul, and thank goodness. Gone is the stoic/bitter “Namor-Lite” with as much personality as a gold fish. What we get is a grandiose, over the top “Tick” type of character, finally making me interested in Aquaman while being a little disappointed that when I go back to reading him in the comics I know he won’t live up to the new hype.
Green Arrow gets a bit of a make-over. The angsty-hippie is dispatched in the place of a fun, cocky hot shot. While it’s not one of the better remakes, his competitive rivalry with Batman is very entertaining (besides, I suspect they probably figured that topping the fantastic Ollie of JLU just probably wasn’t going to happen, and it was better to try something else).
Guy Gardner is jerk. Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle) is an eager and wet behind the ears newb. Dick Grayson was done wonderfully, getting two episodes over 2 seasons, the first of which showing an awkward-teen ‘Robin’ of sorts kicking and screaming his way out from under the Bat-Shadow to becoming his own man, finally moving into the Nightwing persona by the end of the second episode. (Protecting Bludhaven, I might add, the run-down ghetto neighbor to Gotham, which is very comic accurate).
And then there’s Batman. Whatever disappointment I had when I found out he wasn’t being voiced by ever-Batman Kevin Conroy was gone within 5 minutes of listening to the new guy.
Diedrich Bader, best known as Oswald from the Drew Carrey Show is a fantastic Batman, dispensing classic fists-on-hip-chest-out corny-tongue-in-cheek lines as “Crime doesn’t take a holiday, and neither do I.” and “True, uppercuts and body slams are no substitute for having the proper tools when it comes to crime fighting. But they are a whole lot more fun.” And my new favorite “Looks like I’m robot proof! Lets see if they’re Batman-proof!”
He’s a lighter Batman, “for the kids”, I’m sure, but in this age of Dark Knight and dark dark dark, its completely refreshing to have the fun brought back to comics without insulting my intelligence.
Plus, there’s enough nods to the past shows to make me nerd-squeal from time to time. In the obligatory ‘Batman Origins’ episode where Batman finally tracks down Joe Chill, his father Thomas Wayne is voiced by non-other then Adam West, which got two thumbs up when he called his pseudo-time traveling son “old chum”.
In the alternate Earth episode where our Batman travels to the world of France Herron created, Grant Morrison modern resuscitated ‘Batman of Zur-En-Arrh’, the rainbow Batman is voiced by fan favorite Kevin Conroy, and Lex Luthor is voiced by JLU’s Lex, Clancy Brown, only this time he’s drawn with more neck fat.
The show hits all the right notes. There’s a ‘Death Race 2000’ sort of episode where everyone shows up in character specific cars. Green Arrow drives a big Green Arrow. Huntress drives her classic purple motorcycle. Catwoman and Joker get their own ‘Batmobiles’, complete with attacking cat-claws and Joker-face-on-the-hood respectively. Guy Gardner drives a ring created green drag racer with giant rear wheels, and Plastic Man is his own car. Brilliant. My only real complaint about the show is their use of 3D Animation within the show. Made popular with Futurama, throwing 3D into 2D cartoons is nothing new. It just seems lazy to me. It takes you out of the moment a little bit, I stop watching the show and start just looking at the cars and noticing how different they look from everything else. Its distracting.
There’s even a Green Lantern trip to Oa episode that features Sinestro still in the green’s, clearly setting him up for the turn to the yellow. Sinestro with a yellow ring is nothing new, but the show pays enough attention to modern events that I anticipate a Brave and the Bold episode with the Sinestro Corps in the near future.
I could go on all day, but in closing I’d just like to add that this is a show you need to be watching. It’s as family friendly as it gets, all ages will appreciate it. The show is often hilarious, the action is kick-ass, and the theme song is really, really catchy.