Batman is the dark avenger of the night, prowling and lurking in shadows wherever evil may be afoot in Gotham. He sulks and scowls in his secluded Batcave, hiding Bruce Wayne’s tortured soul behind a black mask and cape. At least, that’s what Christopher Nolan and most modern interpretations of Batman would have us believe. There was a time when Batman was more about silly puns and high adventure than about soul searching angst, and that’s where Cartoon Network’s latest Batman animated series takes us. Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 2 Part 1 released on DVD this week and recalls the caped crusader’s classically styled crimefighting with half a season’s worth of capers.
Each episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold runs around 22 minutes and features two different adventures. The first mini-story happens in the teaser, prior to the opening sequence, and the remainder of the episode focuses on the main story, usually bringing other members of the DC pantheon into the spotlight. Like the original comic book from which it takes its name, The Brave and the Bold brings a new DC hero into the fray to team up with Batman in each new installment. Rather than featuring the usual DC mainstays like Superman and Wonder Woman, this show delves deeper into the DC archives to bring forth some less obvious fan favorites like Booster Gold, the Metal Men, and Firestorm. Many of the heroes who team with Batman hail from DC’s Silver Age in a nod to the distinctly lighter tone of the show.
While the series is much lighter in tone than most of its contemporary Batman predecessors, it does manage to strike a good balance between storytelling and humor. The end result is a superhero show that is faithful to the histories of Batman and DC but that is great for the whole family to enjoy without worrying about storylines turning too bleakly dark. Diedrich Bader voices Batman, as well as a number of secondary characters. In addition to the show’s main cast, the rotating gallery of heroes and villains allows for a great assortment of other voice talents to make appearances. This second season brings a number of great guest voices, but the most impressive lineup comes in what ends up being one of the season’s most engaging episodes.
“Chill of the Night!” goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crimefighter he would become. The original Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s dad Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, best known as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mom Martha Wayne. Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from the Bruce Timm animated series and beyond, voices the Phantom Stranger. As if that were not enough, the Spectre is voiced by Mark Hamill, most famous as Luke Skywalker but more significant to Batman fans as the definitive voice of the Joker.
All twelve episodes from the first half of season two are collected across two discs in this new DVD release. Batman fans young and old all should find something to enjoy here in this new take on the hero that borrows both in tone and content from bygone eras of the Batman.