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Monday, March 16, 2009

Brave and The Bold: "Mystery In Space!"

Aquaman made his fifth--and presumably final--appearance in last Friday's episode of Brave and the Bold, the penultimate episode of the season.

Batman is waiting on a remote island, for what we're not sure. But while he's waiting, he hears what sounds like a whale's distress call. He follows the sound to the other side of a rock formation, and he sees
...its not a whale, its Aquaman!

Aquaman is in the midst of some horrible depression, but he won't say why. Initially, Batman doesn't take it too seriously, but when he lets it slip he's waiting for a Zeta Beam to carry him 25 million miles across the galaxy to help his friend Adam Stranger, he expects Aquaman to insist in tagging along--after all, it is an adventure, frought with excitement and danger.

But when Aquaman doesn't ask to join Bats, he rethinks his position, and requests Aquaman to come along. He reluctantly agrees, and they are soon zapped by the Zeta Beam, and teleported across space.

They rematerialize high in the atmosphere above the planet Rann, in the middle of a giant space battle! They begin to plummet, but are snatched out of the sky by Adam Strange, and all three of drop into a hover car piloted by Adam's wife, the beautiful Alanna
...turns out a race of beings named the Gordanians have declared war on Ranagar, Rann's biggest city. Alanna's scientist father Sardath warns the heroes that the Gordanians have taken control of a weapon that could destroy all of the city!

Batman, Aquaman, and Adam Strange sneak in the ship carrying the weapon, and engage the Gordanians. Aquaman is still in his depressive funk, and he goes through the motions of being a hero:
...I love that look on the Gordanian's face. Priceless.

Anyway, the lead Gordanian traps all three of them in a heat-beam, which begins to roast our heroes. Batman uses Adam's jet pack to burn a hole in the floor, and they escape.

They try another route, this time attacking the Gordanians' underwater base. They ask Aquaman to call Rann's equivalent of his finny friends to help, and he initially obliges:
But he then calls off the group of whale(ish) creatures that respond, saying its all hopeless anyway.

Batman has had enough, and he demands to know what is wrong. Aquaman then tells his tale, about how a few days ago he was responding to the distress call of some whales being hunted, in a brilliantly-executed sequence lit by the flashes of lightning:
...Aquaman arrives, but is too late to save some of the whales from being killed by the whale hunters. He watches in horror as they are dragged out of the water into boats.

He can't forgive himself for failing his friends, and he's been wracked with grief ever since.

Batman tries to reassure him that it wasn't his fault, but it doesn't seem to work.

Adam, Alanna, and Batman go on the attack anyway, and Alanna is captured. Just as Adam is about to rescue her, his Zeta Beam wears off and he is transported back to Earth! What next?

Back on Earth, Adam finds where the next Zeta Beam is schedule to hit, and he almost gets himself smooshed by an oncoming freight train catching the next one. But catch it he does, and he returns to Rann to be told that the Gordanians are wreaking havoc with the weapon, and they have Alanna as their prisoner.

This time, its Adam's turn to feel that he has failed, and its all hopeless. He sits on a rock, having given up.

This sparks something in Aquaman, and he suddenly feels that sense of adventure he has been so sorely lacking. He gives a pep talk to Adam and his fellow Rannian(?) forces:
Aquaman forms a plan--since the weapon the Gordanians are using is solar-powered, all they need is an eclipse.

But that's easier said than done, since Rann has no moon. Aquaman's crazy plan is to boost the power of the next Zeta Beam, which they'll point at Earth's moon, long enough to transport it to Rann(!) and cause an eclipse.

The Zeta Beam needs a massive power influx, so Aquaman grabs one of the Zeta Beam machine's power cords, and drags down, down into the deep, to harness some of the power of the core of the planet:
The Zeta Beam gets the power boost, Batman aims it right at Earth's moon, snags it, brings it to Rann, and causes the eclipse. That shuts down the machine just long enough for Alanna to free herself, and Adam smashes his way in, knocking out the Gordanians. He grabs Alanna and heads back.

Aquaman makes his way back, too, riding two of the whale-like creatures he summoned before:

Adam Strange and Alanna smooch on the roof of Sardath's headquarters, while Batman and Aquaman watch, satisfied they helped their friends fight the forces of evil:
...the end!

I will admit,
as this episode hit the halfway mark and Aquaman was still a mopey bastard, I started to get concerned. I knew what his character arc would be in this episode, but they were taking so long to get to it I was afraid the whole thing would be reversed with a quick joke, and it would make Aquaman look really lame.

But--I found the sequence where he tells Batman why he's so sad to be fantastic, both in its story and its look. I felt it really conveyed how closely Aquaman is with the creatures of the sea, and how personally he takes it when some of them are hurt by the Surface Dwellers. Seeing one of whales being dragged out of the water dead is pretty grim, and to me it gave this episode a slightly edgier feel than the series has had so far.

If, in future shows, Aquaman is still the same goofy lunkhead that he has been in previous episodes, than in the end this episode will not have had much of a point. But if we see a slightly more serious King of the Seven Seas after this because he's been put through the emotional ringer, then it'll be a nice little bit of development of the character.

On a separate note, I would've liked to have seen what Aquaman's beloved oceans looked like in the aftermath of being without the moon, if even for a few seconds. He probably has a lot of cleaning up to do...

The show's take on Adam Strange and Alanna is pretty faithful to their comic book origins. One of the
most distinctive things about Adam and Alanna was, unlike Superman and Lois, Barry and Iris, Ray and Jean, or even Hal and Carol, those two seemed to have real passion for one another, and showed it (or, as much as they could in early 1960s comics). That passion is conveyed here, which I thought was a nice touch.

This week's episode featured The Question in the opener, and next week will feature both the Golden Age Flash and The Demon. So between those three and Adam Strange, Mattel should have a pretty decent Brave and the Bold Wave 2 of action figures on their hands!


Plaidstallions said...

I got a real 1980's Flash Gordon movie vibe from this one, especially with the operatic guitar.

This works really well with the Brian Blessed/Aquaman thing they got going on here.

chunky B said...

I missed this episode and the one previous, no thanks to Tivo, I think it's out to get me!

Adama said...

I loved that mopey Aquaman expressed his depression through sad whale song. It just fits for some reason.

I also liked the scene where Adam Strange makes a joke, and Aquaman says "Joking in the face of adversity? Does he not know what's at stake?"

For some reason, that just killed me.

Dixon said...

I absolutely loved this episode, and I was thrilled that Aquaman was the character at the center of it all. This one had it all! In fact, this has to be one of my favorite episodes of The Brave and the Bold to date. I just couldn't be happier with what they're doing with the King of the Seas week to week.

Of course, I can't stand to wait any longer for an appearance from one of the fastest men alive, so it's a good thing that Jay Garrick is on his way!

Anonymous said...

I know the consensus on this blog is more in favor of the more serious, more deeper Aquaman, but I am a grown man and love "Outrageous!" Aquaman too. He's one of the characters I look forward to seeing on BATB.

Is he deep? No. Over the top? Yes. Entertaining to me? DEFINITELY.