Monday, February 02, 2009

Brave and The Bold: "Journey to the Center of the Bat!"

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Aquaman made a return appearance to Cartoon Network's Brave and the Bold series, as this time he brought The Atom with him!

Like all the episodes of the show so far, it opens up with a short, pre-title sequence, and this one mirrors the story that follows--it features three heroes, Batman, Plastic Man, and making his Brave and the Bold debut, The Elongated Man!


But the episode proper starts with the current Atom (Ryan Choi) in the middle of a scientific experiment. His phone rings, and on the other end of the line is...Aquaman!:

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Turns out Aquaman and Batman have been fighting Chemo, the malevolent blob of toxic chemicals, and Batman took a big shot of Chemo in the face, making him very sick. Hence the need for a scientist.

Using the old traveling-over-phone lines bit, The Atom arrives and says the only way to combat the rogue cells in Batman's body is to venture inside him and take them out in person. Aquaman volunteers to join him, and in they go:
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The Atom makes Bats promise no to do any strenuous activity, since that will help spread the disease. Bats agrees (yeah, right), and we find that Aquaman and The Atom don't exactly see eye to eye on how to go about the mission.

Aquaman is a man of action, and The Atom is a little more cautious, leading to a moment where The Atom explains a scientific theory in the same tone he would talk to a child with ADD, even going so far as to referring to the diseased cells as "cooties":
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...this leads to a moment that made me genuinely laugh out loud, where Aquaman goes "Ah, yes, cooties" before getting really quiet, as if realized in that moment he's been condescended to.

Later, while being a chased by a horde of Chemo cells, they find their way into Batman's blood stream, where they are in danger of being swept away by the current. But Aquaman's powers work in mysterious ways, and he's able to call a collection of red blood cells to use as a steed:
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Using his new steed Platelet, they manage to escape being killed by the Chemo cells. While they take a moment to regroup, we get another aspect to this version of Aquaman I really enjoy, his love and appreciation of the animal kingdom, even when it isn't an animal. He gets a big "hug" from Platelet, and returns it right back:
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Meanwhile, Batman jumps in his Bat Jet, and helps the Navy try and fight off Chemo. He does some investigating, and discovers who the brain is behind the mindless Chemo...the Brain!:
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Soon after, Batman destroys Chemo, and then turns his attention on a nearby sub, which is where The Brain resides.

Inside Bats, Aquaman and The Atom make an assault on the nasty creature that is spawning all these nasty Chemo cells (it looks a little like mother face-hugger from Aliens). Atom has brought along a weapon that will destroy it, but it is currently surrounded by a swarm of the Chemo cells:
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The Atom isn't sure what to do, so Aquaman makes a command decision by kicking The Atom off Platelet, and make a sort of suicide run at the Chemo cells.

He rides right into the center of them, attracting their attention, giving The Atom the chance to attack the head creature directly. During the melee, the Chemo cells attack Platelet, "killing" it. This act of murderous savagery enrages The Atom, who drops his cerebral reserve so he and Aquaman can kick some cellular butt:

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The Atom sticks his doo-dad into the head creature, destroying it, and that's the end of the Chemo cells.

While Batman is sneaking onto The Brain's sub and dealing with him directly (knocking him over, rendering him helplessly rolling on the floor, which again made me laugh out loud), Aquaman and The Atom mourn the loss of Platelet:
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Aquaman and The Atom learn to appreciate each other's approach to super-heroing a little more, and Aquaman vows to honor his steed's sacrifice by making sure they are as selfless and heroic as they can be.

Like the moment earlier in the show, I think this is a nice touch they give Aquaman, one from the comics that was one of my favorite elements to Aquaman's personality--his deep concern for all life forms, not just humans.


Having cured Batman, The Atom says the plan is to head up Batman's neck, and escape via his tear ducts:
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"But surely", Aquaman responds, "Batman doesn't cry!"


We've now all had the chance to see about half a dozen Brave and the Bold episodes, and so far I can say I'm thoroughly impressed. These shows are so fun that they feel like Silver Age issues of the comic series from which the show takes its name pretty much put onto the screen--I mean, wow, an episode featuring Batman, Aquaman, and The Atom vs. Chemo and The Brain? Are we all living inside Bob Haney's head or something?

Aquaman is a little more of a headstrong doofus in this episode than he was in his debut show, but I still get the sense that a lot of that characterization is a sort of a put-on--there's just something I hear in the quality of actor John DiMaggio's voice as Aquaman that tells me this is partly an act of Aquaman's, conscious or not.

Maybe I'm reaching, but all I know is, as this devout Aquaman fan watches this version of the character, it makes me smile. This version of Aquaman reminds me a lot of the way Marvel's writers used to write Thor and Hercules--headstrong guys who maybe weren't as swift as, say, Captain America, but were brave and courageous, and a lot of fun to read about.

(Also, extra credit to whoever's idea it was to give The Brain that voice he had in the show. Hearing what sounded like Inspector Clouseau coming out of a green, glowing brain sitting in a pan with a skull on its front made me, again, laugh out loud)

But back to Aquaman--from the limited market research I've done (read: my 11-year old nephew) this version of Aquaman is a winner to the show's target audience. And if this Aquaman becomes as beloved to young kids as the Super Friends version was to my generation, then the makers of Brave and the Bold are doing the character a great service.

Oh, and if Mattel can find some way to make a Platelet accessory for their Aquaman figure, that'd be awesome.

13 comments:

Brian Knippenberg said...

Great stuff...

AQUAMAN: (to cell creature) Good boy! You were magnificent! Yessss, big hug.
ATOM: He's not hugging you. "He" is merely interpreting you as a foreign body, to be surrounded and destroyed.
AQUAMAN: Sure FEELS like a hug to me. And since we found you in Batman's bloodstream, I think we'll name you "Platelet."
ATOM: Except that's a lymphocyte.
AQUAMAN: "PLATELET" IT IS!!

Brian Knippenberg said...

Here are the remaining 'Season One' episodes...

Friday, Feb. 6, "The Eyes of Despero!": The Green Lantern Corps is MIA after a battle with Despero and Batman must team with G'Nort, Guy Gardner and Sinestro to defeat Despero before he turns the living Green Lantern planet into a weapon.

Friday, Feb. 13, "Return of the Fearsome Fangs!": Batman and a reluctant Bronze Tiger fight to prevent Fox, Vulture and Shark from invading an ancient Chinese temple and stealing the sacred animal totem from within.

Friday, Feb. 20, "Deep Cover for Batman!": Batman swaps places with Owlman -- his criminal counterpart in an alternate Universe -- to stop the Crime Syndicate from taking over the world.

Friday, Feb. 27, "Game Over for Owlman!": On Earth, Owlman has been perpetrating crimes disguised as Batman and assembled all the villains to join him.

Anonymous said...

I loved Aquaman's character in this series. His way of speaking is entertaining ("I will call this adventure..." and his musing in mid-action to reflect on past adventures, and "I am King of the Sea!"). Great Stuff! My 7 year-old son loved him.

Wings said...

This is a great, fun show. Such a relief to all the "ugh" in the comics now.

Maybe it 15 years, when the kids who are watching this now grow up, there will be a new comic book renaissance !

One can hope...

wich2 said...

Fun stuff.

(I miss Ray Palmer, though...)

Great week!
-Craig W.

BentonGrey said...

You know, I had my reservations about the first Aqua-episode, but enjoyed it overall. He was portrayed as a bit too stupid, but heroic and powerful nonetheless. The current episode, however, left me more than a little disappointed. Just when this show was starting to grow on me....this episode had a GREAT premise...I mean, pure superhero awesomeness. Batman is being eaten from the inside by a nano-virus, and the Atom and Aquaman have to shrink down and go inside him to kill it. Meanwhile, Bats is constantly trying to stop Chemo, who is on a rampage. How could that possibly go wrong? For starters, they've apparently decided that Aquaman needs to be a complete and total IDIOT. He's not just a little brash, which I had convinced myself was the case from his first episode, he's stupid. Stupid to the point of endangering their mission. Yeah, yeah, he saves the day in the end, but he still can't understand simple ideas. I take my heroes a bit more brainy than that. Also, Elongated Man's voice for the opener? Just about worst voice casting ever.

Still, I'm hoping they will improve this in the future.

fullbodytransplant said...

Thank you so much for the screenshots.

It was mad fun to watch, and I want to blog it really badly!

Amazing entry, Rob you are the man.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

I visited the Shrine this morning and I've been composing my "comments" all day. Looks like BentonGrey beat me to the punch, though, since he made my biggest point much better than I could have.

See, I, too, was looking forward to this episode despite my concerns regarding Aquaman's portrayal the last time out. With the gravity of the situation (a micro-mission inside a dying Batman!) I was hoping that we might see a different side of the Sea King. Nope, we got the same clueless buffoon from Evil Under the Sea only ramped up to 11.

To add insult to injury for this fan, we didn't even get the real Atom. No, we got the all-new Atom, DC’s latest ill-advised attempt at fixing what ain’t @#$%ing broke!

And finally, the Brain should have been played really creepy. He’s got such a great design and casting it all in black with the glowing green brain, well, he just looks wonderfully evil. Instead, he’s an object of derision, at one point being knocked over and struggling to right himself like some demonic turtle.

The whole thing has too much of the JLI sensibility about it for my tastes. And look, Guy Gardner and Gnort are guesting next week! I think it’s time for this 42 year old to stop watching cartoons. :-)

Right after I dig out my Superman:TAS DVD and re-watch Fish Story. Now, that’s Aquaman!

Frank Lee Delano said...

I wait for the trade AND the DVD, but I'm growing impatient to see this series. It sounds like great, unpretentious fun. For that reason, I'll forgive it Ryan Choi and a clueless Aquaman, if only because I'm so pleased to see the latter played as happy for the first time in decades. Besides, isn't this the animated debut of Bronze Tiger? YAY!

BentonGrey said...

Thanks Vincent, but to be fair, Ray Palmer was pretty well and truly broken when he was replaced...DC had spent the last twenty years making sure of that. Ryan Choi didn't bother me so much because his series actually was quite good. It bothers me in a much more general way about what happened to Ray, but Choi exists as a valid character for me despite that.

Anyway, like I've said Frank, the fact that Aquaman is being portrayed as a happy adventurer is GREAT, but it doesn't have to be either happy and stupid or serious and a jerk. There is a middle ground to be found.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

Okay, Benton, I'll admit that poor Ray Palmer has seen better days. I just find it really hard to embrace a Ryan Choi (or a Kyle Raynor or a Arthur Joseph Curry) after how shabbily their predecessors were treated. I'm very petty that way. Besides, like Hal Jordan, there's nothing wrong with Ray that a big, splashy 6 issue miniseries can't fix. In that sense, in the sense that he's a fictional character living in a super-hero world where crummy storylines can be undone with a keystroke, then I really feel like he wasn't broken. Don't replace him - just find a writer who cares about the character and give him a few issues to make things right.

Regardless, that's comics and this is cartoons and the producers of this cartoon have decided to use the most recent versions of the DC characters. Fine. But where's Arthur Joseph? Surely, he was the one true Aquaman when this series was being planned, right? Why a Silver age -ish Aquaman, albeit a doltish one with a beard, but a modern Atom?

And, back to the comic book version for one last dig at DC, why, why, WHY, would anyone think it was a good idea to redesign a Gil Kane costume?

Frank Lee Delano said...

Benton, I actually disagree about Ray Palmer being "broken." Sure, that sordid business with Jean was awful, but so was her adultery twenty-some years prior. I LOVE the crazy roller coaster ride Ray Palmer has been through, and that's the primary reason I can't embrace Ryan Choi. It took too many years and too many bold new directions applied to Ray for Ryan to ever catch up in the gonzo department and still be half as sane.

As for the dimmer Aquaman-- wasn't addressing the "punch first/think later" attitude of the Skeates/Aparo days the whole point of the 1986 mini-series? It isn't entirely out of Aquaman's character-- just reflective of a specific time in his life. Again, I haven't seen the show, and may well hate its interpretation, but it isn't completely whipped up from whole cloth.

Anonymous said...

I like this Aquaman. He's OUTRAGEOUS!

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