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Batman: Brave, Bold and timeless.

September 26, 2011 8 comments

Batman is the David Bowie1 of super-hero comics. By which I mean that Batman is constantly re-inventing itself to appeal to a newer generations, whilst maintaining a core appeal and creditability, rather than anything to do with laughing gnomes.

This does mean that Batman has a different sort of appeal to different sorts of people. Some prefer the grim, brooding Batman of the Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight, other’s the tongue in-cheek campiness of the 60’s TV show. Over the years we’ve seen Batman as a cowboy, as an eco-warrior, as a brooding psychopath and as a jolly policeman. Each iteration is instantly recognizable as Batman, but surely, all this identity shifting would make it hard to retell the classic Batman stories?

Not really, as it turns out. The trick is to bring together all these different facets of everyone’s favourite crimefighter into one bundle. To bring a lighter tone but still draw upon the vast wealth of storytelling that come under the label of Batman.

(c) Time Warner.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Animated in a style that reminds you of 60's comic books.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold squares this circle quite neatly. Not only is full of two-fisted super hero fun, suitable for children of any age, it also uses the full range of the world Batman inhabits to bring rip-roaring stories. The Brave and the Bold prefers to use less well known characters from the DC Universe (the world Batman inhabits), so we get to meet villains such as Kite Man, Eraser and Planet Master as well as the more familiar villains such as Catwoman and The Joker.

Most of the shows work on multiple levels. In addition to excellent animation and some fantastic vocal talent2, the show re-tells classic Batman tales in new ways. Those who are new to Batman won’t notice or care, and most fan-boys will make a little happy sound.

Of course, I’m a sucker for this sort of thing. Without giving too much away, one of the recurring villains in the second series is one of my all time favourites: Starro. For those who don’t recognise the name, I don’t blame you. Starro, a giant starfish from outer space. Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but silly looking things can disarmingly horrible. Starro’s gimmick is to spawn thousands of tiny, face sized starfish that attach to its victims faces, turning them into mindless drones. Sound less silly now? As a child, Starro horrified me. A thing that doesn’t take away your possessions or home, but takes away your sense of self? Scary.3.

So how does this horror fit into what’s essentially family-fare? Very well, and again, on multiple levels. The truly scary ideas keep the adults amused whilst those not reading too deeply into the tale get to see a tale of heroism and two-fisted justice. The result is a show where one week we have Batman battling monsters from a future-gone-wrong one week, and then the following episode having a sing off with Doctor Horrible, Doogie Howser, the Music Meister, without it seeming odd or jarring, which is credit to the show’s producers and the timelessness of the lead character.


1: They are of course, more differences than similarities. As far as I am aware, Batman has never worn a ridiculous blonde wig and a codpiece. At least not yet.
2: Both Kevin Conroy and Diedrich Bader nail the voice for me. Batman has husky yet firm voice, one that is as comfortable telling villains to stop being evil but could also stop a child from eating too many cookies. The ultimate in firm, fatherly voices.
3: At least Zombies get to be dead. Being a mindless drone gives me the heebie-jeebies far more than the body horror of being walking dead.

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