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DVD Review: Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Season One, Part One

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Written by Hombre Divertido

On November 14th 2008, the Cartoon Network returned the Caped Crusader to television in a series well behind its time, and thankfully so. In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Dark Knight is back to the Batman of an era long since past. He has a personality, a sense of humor, works well with others, and yet still manages to be the mysterious Batman.

Based on the DC comic book, The Brave and the Bold in which Batman is partnered with other superheroes, Warner Home Video brought the first thirteen episodes of the twenty-six episode first season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold to DVD on August 17th, 2010. The chemistry within the partnerships is reminiscent of the Super Friends cartoons of the seventies. The significant difference being that we get to see some lesser-known stars of the DC universe work with the winged avenger. In the animated series of the seventies Batman was primarily teamed with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Though we do see Aquaman in this series, the characterization is much different than that of the Super Friends. In the new series we get to see Batman work with the Green Arrow, Red, Tornado, Plastic Man, and many more.

Ultimately the series is about relationships. With each episode opening with what is usually the conclusion of an adventure where just enough of the story is delivered to engage the audience, we get a small teaser of Batman working with another superhero. Then the opening credits roll and we pick up a whole new story. For the most part this teaser technique works, but there are a few episodes where there is not enough story to make it worth the time. The relationships within the teasers and main story are enjoyable, but ultimately many of the stories are over written. Keeping it simple in many cases would make the show more enjoyable to watch.

Though the creators and writers of the series may have embraced Batman’s personality of the past, they certainly did not embrace the simple storytelling of the past. “Invasion of the Secret Santa’s” is a perfect example. The opening segment has Batman and the Blue Beetle battling the Sportsmaster (voiced wonderfully by the always fun Thomas F. Wilson) who is trying to rob a bowling tournament. This may be one of the silliest storylines in the series to date. It’s poorly written and poorly executed. The main story has Batman and Red Tornado battling Fun Haus who is out to spoil Christmas. The Christmas storyline tries to be poignant and witty, but fails on many levels. Other episodes such as the two-part “Deep Cover for Batman” (Part one) and “Game Over for Owlman!” (Part Two) are too busy, and end up just being a mess.

Along with the focus of relationships. Batman: The Brave and The Bold also excels in animation and vocal talent. The animation has a sharp look to it that allows the characters to jump off the screen. Diedrich Bader voices the Batman and captures the character better than he has been in years.

There is no bonus material on the new release, and splitting a season into two releases is generally frowned upon by the public.

Recommendation: Fun for the whole family. Enough action for the kids, and character development for the adults, combined with a style of animation that is sure to appeal to all.

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