Thursday, January 03, 2013

Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Shadow of the Bat – review

Directed by: Michael Goguen

First aired: 2011

Contains spoilers

Batman: the Brave and the Bold brought viewers a lighter side to Batman (Diedrich Bader, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Nos-4-A2) and the DC universe. A world that perhaps owed much more to some of the comic books of yore and the Adam West era of Batman than the darker Batman franchises.

As such the episode starts with a vignette of “Jungle Batman” (complete with Bat Ape), a campy little aside with a poignant lesson for Catwoman (Nika Futterman).

vampire detector
The episode proper starts with Batman and Jason Blood (Dee Bradley Baker) hunting a vampire called Dala (Grey DeLisle, Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The Secret Serum, What’s New Scooby-Doo? The Vampire Strikes Back & Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron). Jason has a handy dandy Nosferatu tracker and Batman wonders if it will work. Jason assures him it will, despite being created in a lab, Dala has the same unique energy signature as an undead vampire – a nice little DC vampire lore snippet.

Dala in human form
The tracker has worked and Batman fights the bat form Dala. Indeed she readily shifts from the (wo)man-bat form to a more familiar human form and back, eventually overpowering Batman. To end the fight Jason transforms himself into the demon Etrigan. He is to take her to the lab, to look for a cure, but is concerned as Batman seems weakened by the fight. The bat ensures him that he is fine but as he drives away we see the bite marks through the cowl.

eye mojo
At first he continues to fight crime. He takes out the Black Mask (John DiMaggio, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) but then feeds from him. Having subsequently fed from Alfred (James Garrett) he muses that he tried to fight the hunger but will now embrace it. He knows where he can get the finest blood: the Justice League Watchtower.

welcome my guests
There are several members of the Justice League in residence, having been alerted that Batman wants a meeting. The lights go out – a malfunction they suppose – when Batman appears atop a set of stairs holding a candelabra. He leads them to a room for dinner. J’onn J’onzz (Nicholas Guest, Night Hunter) seems suspicious, suggesting they keep an eye on Batman.

no reflection
During the meal we note that Batman has no reflection when he doesn’t show in a makeup compact held by Ice (Jennifer Hale, Spider-Man). With the league members unable to leave due to the 'malfunction' they must stay overnight in the Watchtower. The question, of course, is whether the combined force of the Justice League could actually overcome the none-super-powered Batman at the best of times… as for a Batman fuelled by vampiric thirst and cursed with all of a vampire’s power…

smoke form
There is loads of lore, the episode is jam-packed with cool vampiric stuff. Wall crawling on the outside of the Watchtower, turning into a man-bat form as well as a crap bat form, eye mojo, wolf form, turning into mist and a swarm of rats. It’s all there. We do discover that garlic does not affect vampires, though sunlight does. The real bonus of this episode was, however, the very appearance of vampires within the Batman franchise. Cartoon wise we have had the film The Batman Vs Dracula and the hyper-campy Super Friends: Voodoo Vampire. The comic book Elseworlds series offered us Batman: Nosferatu and the three volume Batman Vampire series. More Bats, more vampire is always good.

caught in sunlight
The pay-off at the end was a little flat, however. Despite this, 6 out of 10.

The episode's imdb page is here.

Thank you to Sarah for giving me access to the DVD.

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