When Batman: The Brave and the Bold premieres [Fridays, 8/7C], long time Bat-fans may be surprised to see a Caped Crusader who bears more than a slight resemblance to Dick Sprang’s version of the character which ran in the comics from the mid-‘40s to the mid-‘50s. The stories will also remind of this period as they combine mystery with science-fiction, which leads to episodes like the series premiere, Rise of the Blue Beetle, where we are treated to two team-ups – Batman [Diedrich Bader] and Green Arrow [James Arnold Taylor] take down the Clock King [Dee Bradley Baker] as a warm-up to a galaxy-spanning adventure in which Batman teams up with the newest incarnation of the Blue Beetle [Will Friedle].
In each instance we see a difference side of Batman – the friendly squabbles with Green Arrow, an equal to the Dark Knight, and a more mentorly approach with the Beetle. Each is appropriate to the partner involved, and each leads to unexpected action – especially in the Batman/Beetle clash with dreaded Justice League of America villain, Kanjar Ro [from all the way back in the original JLA #5].
Considering the amount of action and characterization contained in this episode, it’s amazing that it doesn’t feel overcrowded – but it doesn’t. Instead the quips fly fast and free; the action involved in taking down a rather mundane [for Batman] villain generates laughs, while the Kanjar Ro beef is considerably more serious [he’s found using a sentient lifeform to fuel his ships].
The writing on Batman: The Brave and the Bold is sharp and concise. It mixes a bigger dose of humor into the adventures, while knowing when to get serious. The animation is as series specific – and right for the series – as that of each of the previous Bat-shows. Plus, the series will find Batman working with a lot of interesting characters, such as: Red Tornado [Corey Burton], Aquaman [John DiMaggio], and Plastic Man [Tom Kenny]. Scriptwriter Michael Jelenic and director Bon Jones may have used Rise of the Blue Beetle to introduce the series to make it clear that it’s a different Batman series – if so, they’ve certainly succeeded!
Final Grade: A-