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Terror on Dinosaur Island!
Original Airdate - November 21st, 2008
Batman and Plastic Man thwart Gorilla Grodd's plot to devolve humans into primates.

Written by Steven Melching
Directed by Brandon Vietti
Animation by Digital eMation, Inc.
Review by Scott Lochmoeller/"Style"
Media provided by Warner Bros. Animation
Diedrich Bader as Batman
Grey DeLisle as Fire
John DiMaggio as Gorilla Grodd
Greg Ellis as Gentleman Ghost
Tom Kenny as Plastic Man

Theme Written and Performed by Andy Strumer
Music by Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter

The Brave and the bold launches its sophomore effort with stylish aplomb, as Batman and Plastic Man (later joined by Fire) team to defeat Gentleman ghost at a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. This sequence is colorful and kinetic, with a great amount of energy and satisfying action. One also admires the design of Gentleman Ghost, allowing us to see his visible self on occasion. His villainous shtick also intrigues, with his taunts to Batman to join him in the realm of the dead. Much more so than the previous episodeís use of the Clock King, I would very much appreciate Gentleman Ghost getting a starring villain role later in the series line. His design coupled with this M.O. suggest he may have an interesting origin story to share with us.

Speaking of interesting origins, I enthusiastically enjoyed Plastic Manís story and Batmanís involvement there in. Let it be known that I do not know Plastic Man from Adam, but as laid out here his story finds nice situations and thematic variations on the superhero/villain profile to explore. It is enjoyable that he started as just a costumed goon to an existing villain. Those guys never get much attention. But even though his powers origin is derivative, recalling the Joker and The Batmanís take on Mr. Freeze, I found what came after a very good moment for Batman. It says a lot about this Batmanís character that, rather than just fish him out of the soup and take him to the hospital and wash his hands of it, as previous animated incarnations of the character might have, This Batman takes the time to make sure Plastic Manís condition is stabilized, help him get back on his feet, and even take him under his wing and try to make him a Superhero. I have never seen a Batman be so invested in a villainís attempt to reform, (unless that villain was a friend of his.) Letís face it, The BTAS version of the character regarded both Poison Ivyís, Riddlerís, and Jokerís attempts at rehabilitation with paranoia and suspicion. The fact that he was justified hardly seems to matter. (Okay, he went easier on Harley Quinn and Arnold Wesker, Iíll admit.) This new version of Batman taking such personal attention in Plastic Manís character really impressed me.

What didnít quite impress me was Gorilla Grodd or his plan. So far in the series history, if it has one major flaw itís the vapid and thin villains. (The Golden rule, after all, is to put more effort into your villain than your hero if you are going to cut corners. The series is inverting that to itís own detriment.) Grodd is just standard in his personality and plans. His ultimate goal of turning humans into apes is reheated from JLU. In JLU, this revealed interesting things about his character, (that, despite his view of humans as a lesser life form, he liked the company of humans better than the intelligent apes of Gorilla City.) This does not really come across in the new version of the character. Why is this his goal? He does get one good line with an interesting view point about humanity being an evolutionary dead end determined to destroy earth, but lets face it, that a fairly standard cynical view of human achievement by now used in many such stories. And it doesnít really excuse the sloppy lose ends of his plans: Why steal the cruise liner and other treasure? Was there a reason? Why set up on Dinosaur Island? Was it just strategic location? Was the presence of Dinosaurs just incidental? Were those other Gorillas helping him intelligent gorillas, regular gorillas, or something in between? None of these questions have clear answers, meaning they are just there for ambiance. Still, Iíll give Grodd this compliment: he is voiced by John Dimaggio, and he finds a voice for Grodd that is neither Drakken nor Bender, and I appreciate that.
Let me also say that Diedrich Bader continues a strong performance as Batman. Bader by now seems to understand what the point of this Batman is, how this Batman is being played, and has supplied a confident voice for the character. It works in that he just comes across as just being Batman, where as, Iím sorry to have to say, Rino Romano went to the end always sounding like he was trying to be Batman. (But to mitigate that, it should be noted that that whole series had issues with how to play Batman. Brave and the Bold has just clicked right out of the gate.) But I will also mention that there seems to be a consensus among some fans that this episode played Batman ďdarkerĒ than the previous episode. I very much disagree with that assessment. Batman hasnít changed between episodes, heís just reacting to Plastic Man differently than he did Blue Beetle. If it is true the series is aimed more at children, the point seems to be about what tough love is and why itís important. Otherwise, the series seems to have a fairly good handle on the character, and Batman as presented here has some interesting quirks. He seems to have a trait where he can come across strange phenomena, quickly generate a theory to explain it, and use that theory to project an aura that he knows more about a situation than he actually does. In this episode, Batman explains that Dinosaur Island is a mystical island with unique properties that exists outside the regular time continuum, and when Plastic Man asks how he knows this, Batman just shrugs and points to ďa giant Dinosaur,Ē (Compare this to the line from ďRise of Blue BeetleĒ when Batman internally admits, ďOf course, thatís just a fancy way of saying ďThatís weird.Ē)

But in summation, Terror on Dinosaur Island is an enjoyable action piece with well drawn heroic characters. But one would hope that future entries would put more effort into the villains that Batman and his Justice League friends face.

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