The 10 Best Batman: Brave and the Bold Episodes

By Matthew Catania in Cartoons, Comics, Daily Lists
Friday, March 2, 2012 at 8:04 am
Batman: Brave and the Bold certainly lived up to its name. Not just as a cartoon where Batman teams up with another DC superhero, in the vein of DC's classic team-up comic, but in content. It was brave in the sense that it presented a Batman universe that wasn't always dark or gritty or super-serious, but instead harkened back to the craziness of the Silver Age -- a Batman that hadn't been seen since the '60s. It was bold because instead of segregating Batman to his Gotham City comfort zone, it immediately threw him into the whole of the meta-human filled DC universe -- often while spotlighting obscure DC heroes and villains, from B'wana Beast to Kite Man, and making them as entertaining as Batman himself. Also, the show ended every episode title with an exclamation mark, which was also pretty bold.

After 65 episodes over three short years, Brave and the Bold ended, having proved it was far more than just an exercise in silliness; it could be dark, it could be epic, it could be hilarious, and it could be meta, but it could be and always was entertaining. Here's our pick for the 10 greatest episodes from the Batman cartoon that wasn't just the one fans deserved, but the one they needed, too.

10) Terror on Dinosaur Island!
Batman teams up with rookie superhero Plastic Man in both the teaser and the main story of this early episode. Plastic Man, a former henchman of evil aerialist Kite Man, is torn between living up to Batman's high expectations as his sidekick du jour and his inclination to pilfer the ill-gotten loot of supervillains for himself. The episode starts off with Gentleman Ghost tearing up the streets in "Dia de los Muertos" on a skeletal horse while wielding twin ectoplasmic flintlocks, until Batman punches him in his nonexistent face with anti-magic Nth metal knuckles. The main villain of the episode is Gorilla Grodd, whose scheme is unbridled lunacy -- involving gorillas riding pterodactyls to harpoon a cruise liner and transmogrify its guests into apes. Thankfully, there are absolutely zero attempts to ground the proceedings under a veneer of realism, and even Batman is turned into a gorilla for a bit. This early episode set Brave and the Bold's tone perfectly, eschewing darkness and grittiness for anything-goes Silver Age insanity and massively entertaining weirdness.

9) The Mask of Matches Malone!

When Bruce Wayne catches a bit of amnesia in his Matches Malone gangster guise and he decides he's a real gangster, it's up to Catwoman, Huntress and Black Canary to help Batman regain his memory. While the overall episode is simply good, it will forever be remembered as "the one where the Birds of Prey sing a song about the sexual prowess of various superheroes," and for that alone, it deserves to be on this list. We're still boggled that this amazingly unsubtle, innuendo-laden song actually aired on Cartoon Network... in a good way.

8) Journey to the Center of the Bat!

Aquaman was undoubtedly the breakout star of Brave and the Bold. The show's creators made this perpetual butt of fan jokes into the greatest, most entertaining hero in its world. This installment is the best showcase for the swashbuckler of the seven seas, as he and the Atom shrink down and enter Batman's bloodstream to save the poisoned Batman, Fantastic Voyage-style. The straight-laced Atom is the perfect foil to Aquaman's infectious bravado. Meanwhile, Batman stubbornly refuses to let his wasting health stop him from hunting down Chemo and the Brain, although Batman thwarts the Brain in the least dignified way he can: by fainting on top of him. Did I mention Aquaman rides one of Batman's lymphocytes like it's a giant seahorse? Or that he names it "Platelet"? It's outrageous that this BatB Aquaman wasn't made into the official Aquaman in the New 52.

7) Legends of the Dark Mite!

In the first of the show's meta episodes, nigh-omnipotent fanboy Bat-Mite stalks Batman in order to make Batman "cooler," much to his idol's chagrin. A wide swath of Batman incarnations and stories get acknowledged, ranging from Batman & Robin to A Death in the Family. This allows for a sequence where the show's creators, thinly disguised as fans at a comic convention, vicariously tell off fans that think Batman should only be humorless and dark. This sequence could've come off as obnoxious, yet it manages to be hilarious and sincere. Bite-Mite's magic allows for some of the show's trippiest visuals, including an appropriately insane homage to the classic Looney Tunes' cartoon "Duck Amuck." Bonus points are awarded for featuring the criminally underused Killer Moth. This episode also features the only time that Calendar Man will ever be cool.

6) The Siege of Starro! Parts 1 & 2

After several Starro the Star-Conqueror teasers early in season two, we finally get a full-on Starro invasion. Batman only has a handful of second-string heroes, including the comedic duo of Booster Gold and Skeets, to remove a ton of mind-controlling alien starfish from the faces of every other superhero in the DC universe. The episode even spices up the standard Starro plot by having a giant monster fight between a massive pile of agglomerated Starro spores and the amalgamated Metal Men. The story takes another turn when goofy D-lister B'wana Beast nobly sacrifices his life to end the alien infestation. This is easily the show's most affecting death (there's about six permanent deaths that happen throughout the course of the series) as it comes out of left field in a story that wasn't set up at all like a grim tragedy. The fact that it even got people invested in B'wana Beast at all is a testament to the quality of the series.

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