Premiering on the Cartoon Network in 2008, Batman: The Brave And The Bold is basically an animated version of the long running DC Comics title in which the caped crusader teamed up with a different superhero each month to stop a common menace. Team up books were popular throughout DC's history, with this and World's Finest being the two best examples, but a lot of times the writing seemed a bit sloppy and the titles nothing more than an excuse to cash in on different characters' existing fan bases. This makes it all the more surprising then that this animated series is, in a word, awesome.
Considerably lighter in tone when compared to Batman: The Animated Series, each episode of the show starts off with a prologue allowing the series to play with big DC Universe stars in the main chunk of the show but still banter about with some more obscure guys in the opening sequences and test the waters with them for episodes to come. It's an interesting experiment that works well, letting the series work more and varied players into the Batman mythos without forcing it.
Drawn in a style similar to the previously mentioned Batman: The Animated Series, the show has a nice vintage look to it without ever feeling dated or past its prime. There's a nice attention to detail paid to the costumes and the action scenes are portrayed quite dynamically and with loads of exciting style. A very colorful series, it brings Batman out of the shadows enough without changing his character too much or playing him for laughs like in the sixties era live action television series.
So who does Batman team up with here? The Question, Adam Strange, Aquaman, The Demon, Sherlock Holmes and Watson, Black Canary, The Huntress, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Wildcat, Robin, Ace The Bat Hound, Bat Mite, Green Arrow, Red Tornado, The Outsiders, Jonah Hex, Mr. Miracle, Kamandi, Hawk And Dove, OMAC, Dr. Fate and a few others. Bad guys appearing this time around include Equinox, Scarecrow, Scream Queen, Gentleman Ghost, Solomon Grundy, Babyface, Mrs. Manface, Bane, Crazy Quilt, Mongol, Gorilla Grodd, Two Face, The Music Meister, Catwoman and Psycho Pirate. More often than not, the guest characters, both good and evil, are really and truly in keeping with the spirit of their original four color counterparts, making the series all the better.
The complete list of episodes that make up Batman: The Brave And The Bold Season One Part Two are spread across the two discs in the set as follows:
DISC ONE: Mystery In Space / Trials Of The Demon / Night OF The Huntress / Menace Of The Conqueror Caveman / The Color Of Revenge / Legends Of The Dark Mite / Hail The Tornado Tyrant
DISC TWO: Duel Of The Double Crossers / The Last Bat On Earth / When OMAC Attacks / The Fate Of Equinox / Mayhem Of The Music Meister / Inside The Outsiders
Those who enjoyed Batman: The Animated Series may be disheartened to learn that Kevin Conroy does not provide the voice for the Dark Night Detective this time around, but you have to give his replacement, Deidrich Bader, credit for doing just as good a job as his predecessor. The voice acting in general is great (listen carefully for R. Lee Ermy as Wildcat!) but Bader really makes the role his own and his voice suits the animation style used for the series quite well.
Batman and his pals, along with their respective rogues galleries, have never looked better than they do on this DVD, presented for your enjoyment in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. Black levels are rich and inky, never breaking up, while detail is as good as it can really get given the show's animation style. There are a few scenes where the fine line art looks a little stair-stepped but no problems with noticeable edge enhancement or heavy compression artifacts even if some minor ones do pop up in a couple of scenes. That's a minor complaint, however, as generally the image quality on this release is nice and strong.
Dolby Surround Stereo tracks are provided in English, French and Spanish with English language closed captioning and French subtitles also offered. A 5.1 track would have been aces, but the 2.0 mix here gets the job done well enough. Dialogue is clean and clear, the levels well balanced, and the score nice and punchy.
Aside from episode selection and static menus, the set is bare bones.
You don't have to be a Batman fanatic or DC Comics junkie to appreciate this series (though it helps, what with all the references and oddball appearances) as Batman: The Brave And The Bold is just an enjoyable show all around. Action, humor, excitement and even some drama here and there make it a well rounded series while the animation used is slick and stylish and entirely appropriate. Warner Brothers' release of Season One Part Two looks and sounds very good and comes highly recommended despite the absence of any actual supplements.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.