Image via WikipediaThere is no prouder moment in a GeekDad’s life than when his first child discovers the uber-nerdy world of traditional comic book heroes. Thankfully, my son’s transition into the realm of superheroes occurred at approximately the same time as the debut of Cartoon Network’s latest take on the Caped Crusader himself, Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Taking its name from the long-running DC team-up series The Brave and the Bold, this show streamlines the concept by inserting fan-favorite Batman into the primary role, with one or more secondary heroes joining forces with Bats to combat the evil du jour. But traditionalists beware: this is not the brooding Dark Knight to which you’ve become accustomed in shows like Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, or The Batman.
This kinder, gentler Batman, now voiced by comic actor Diedrich Bader, is complimented by a bold, bright animation style that’s obviously geared toward younger viewers. And while his temporary teammates might not be on par with Superman and Wonder Woman, they too seemed handpicked to appeal to the playgroup set.
The debut episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold opens in medias res with a blue and gray clad Batman and an equally dapper looking Green Arrow in the clutches of a laughable (and ultimately disposable) supervillian. It’s a none-too subtle nod to the unbridled cheesiness of the 1960s live-action series, but thankfully this Batman is no Adam West.
This team-up, however, proves to be little more than a teaser, and the meat of the episode concerns the exploits of Batman and the new Blue Beetle as they attempt to liberate a peaceable alien race from an interloping tyrant. These amorphous ETs revere Blue Beetle, as his predecessor has apparently died in their service, and insist that Batman is his sidekick. Sure, it’s a running gag that wears a little thin, but your kindergartner will love it.
If this edition is any indicator, there’s a lot to love about the series. Kids will dig the action and the introduction of new (at least to them) heroes, while parents can rest assured that the violence has been significantly pared down. The final fight sequence between Blue Beetle and Kanjar Ro, for example, is more or less limited to a series of wacky still frames, as opposed to the anticipated fully-rendered throwdown.
This more comical take on crime fighting, coupled with an intentional pop art style and brassy soundtrack, gives the show enough retro appeal to differentiate it from the rest of the pack, but doesn’t dull an otherwise modern sensibility. In fact, the only portion of episode one that I didn’t find wholly enjoyable was the occasional inclusion of the now obligatory CGI elements. My son, on the other hand, seemed totally enthralled.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold whitewashes over those pesky elements of angst and vigilantism, and again paints Batman as a hero for all ages. It’s the kind of series that seems custom made for GeekDads and their brood. Just be aware that next week’s episode will feature both the wisecracking Plastic Man and super-intelligent simian Gorilla Grodd, so, y’know, there’s probably going to be some poo-flinging jokes.
WIRED: Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
TIRED: A dash of pointless CGI.