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
5) Deep Cover for Batman! and Game Over for Owlman!
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The early episodes of B:BatB were light on Batman's iconic rogue's gallery so they could broaden viewers' DC Universe horizons. That's why it was already a special occasion when we were finally introduced to the Joker. He first appears as the noble Red Hood from a parallel universe ruled by an evil Crime Syndicate, including Batman's doppelganger Owlman. It's a keen twist that's artfully handled with shadows in the teaser, especially if you weren't aware of the Joker's origin as the Red Hood. Batman infiltrates this mirror-verse to help the Red Hood free his captured superhero teammates (all counterparts of Batman's rogues gallery in the main reality) while preventing Silver Cyclone's universal genocide. In the second episode of this unofficial two-parter, Owlman pops over to Batman's universe, steals Batman's original costume, and goes on a crime spree in regular Gotham City. The impostor also assembles a gang of Bat-villains to put Batman's allies into a series of custom tailored deathtraps. Upon his return, Batman has no choice but to team up with the Joker (this time, the insane arch-nemesis version) to clear his name and vanquish his criminal counterpart. And when that goes poorly (go figure), he brings in various Batmen from other universes to defeat the Batman gone bad.

4) Chill of the Night!

Many people wrongly believed B:BatB was pandering to kids, but this dark, vengeance-fueled episode clears up any such misconception. The story revolves around Batman hunting down his parents' killer, Joe Chill, while being supernaturally observed by the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger. Not only do we get to see Batman's parents gunned down without any sugarcoating, we also get a flashback to one of his parents' costume parties, which helps flesh out Thomas (wearing a proto-Batsuit) and Martha Wayne as real characters. In the present, Batman tracks down present day Chill just before he's about to auction weapons off to Arkham's finest, and lets him know exactly what he's done to him. Batman chooses justice over vengeance, but when Chill asks the villains to protect him from the hero he inadvertently created, it goes as badly for him as you'd expect -- and Joe Chill gets his just deserts without Batman having to break his anti-murder oath. This episode is a great Bat-nostalgia trip as it combines voices from B:TAS, including Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, and the '66 TV show, as Adam West and Julie Newmar from portray Thomas and Martha. And because this is a Paul Dini episode, we're treated to Zatanna in the opener.

3) Mayhem of the Music Meister!

It was likely no coincidence that Brave and the Bold decided to do an all-musical episode right when Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was at its most infamous as a superhero musical debacle. Thankfully, "Mayhem" is leagues above Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. with catchier songs and ad a terrific performance by Neil Patrick Harris as the titular Music Meister, a former marching band geek turned hypnotic supervillain, who is much more interesting than DC's usual sonic super-criminals. He even possesses the power of the mid-song costume change! This is just a fun romp that you don't need any knowledge of the DC universe to enjoy (but it doesn't hurt either). It was so successful that the show added musical numbers to later episodes, proving you don't need a special occasion to mix superheroics and songs.

2) Battle of the Superheroes!

If there's one thing that's absolutely true about comics, it's this: Superman abusing his powers to humiliate his friends will always be hilarious. While Superman had a wide variety of excuses to be an asshole back in the Silver Age -- as chronicled by the wonderful website Superdickery -- "Battle" simply gives Supes a dose of red kryptonite and let's the fun begin. Batman and Krypto the Super-Dog try to keep Superman busy until the kryptonite wears off, while Superman re-enacts some of his most famous asshole moments from his Silver Age comic covers. The episode ends with Batman in armor that would be familiar to anyone who's read Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, except BatB doesn't throw Superman under the bus as a cheap way of making Batman the ultimate badass. It's got everything you want out of a Superman-centric story, except Lex Luthor stealing 40 cakes, which is as many as four tens. And that's terrible! But luckily everything else makes up for it.

1) Mitefall!

This series finale kicks off with Batman and an alt-verse Abe Lincoln kicking the ass of steampunk-cyborg John Wilkes Booth. Meanwhile in the 5th Dimension, Bat-Mite feels B:BatB has become stale and tries to get it canceled in favor of a grim and gritty reboot. To ruin the show, he gives Batman a wife and precocious child, puts him in ludicrous outfits and incarnations like a surfing, gun-toting Batman and Street Strike Batman with a talking Lightning Luge, and, most direly, recasting Aquaman with Ted "Show Killer" McGinley. The only being capable of thwarting Bat-Mite's mad plan is the Fourth Wall-breaking Ambush Bug as voiced by the original shark jumper, Henry Winkler. (AMBUSH BUG TALKED DIRECTLY TO ME! IT WAS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE!) Bat-Mite's victory proves pyrrhic, as he (and the audience) are unable to see the cool looking CGI Batgirl cartoon that replaces B:BatB. The show ends with a bittersweet wrap party featuring numerous guest stars and a personal address from Batman himself. An old proverb goes, "Good to begin well, better to end well." Batman: Brave and the Bold certainly goes out with style.

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