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The Masks of Matches Malone!
Original Airdate - June 19th, 2012 (Home Video Debut)
Batman, Huntress and Black Canary are after Two-Face -- and so is Catwoman. While incognito, Batman gets amnesia and believes himself to be a real gangster -- now the girls must stop him AND Two-Face!

Written by Gail Simone
Directed by Michael Chang
Review by Andrew
Cast
Diedrich Bader as Batman
Grey DeLisle as Black Canary
Nika Futterman as Catwoman
John Mariano as Henchman / Mobster
Vanessa Marshall as Poison Ivy
James Remar as Two Face
Tara Strong as Huntress

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

Media








Review
Although Brave and the Bold has had a fairly consistent team of writers that seem to divide up the episodes among their group, the show has occasionally enjoyed the writing of exceptional guests. The one that springs to most peoples’ minds is Paul Dini, one of the genius minds behind the illustrious Batman: The Animated Series and the writer of some of the finest Brave and the Bold episodes. This time we dip into the pool of actual comic books for its famous writer, Gail Simone. Frequently heralded as one of the most remarkable writers to helm the books of the Birds of Prey, the Secret Six and Wonder Woman. For this episode, Gail Simone brings us to her familiar territory by giving the first introduction of the Birds of Prey to the Brave and the Bold universe. Unfortunately, this new medium for the femme flock doesn’t fly as well as one would expect.

The teaser opening manages to be the best part of the episode given one its best uses of a new female hero (and villain) introduction for the series, in that neither are awkwardly lusting after Batman like naïve schoolgirls that have discovered their first crush. This is Poison Ivy’s first actual use on the show, and honestly this is about the best way to use her. It has seemed very difficult for most writers to accomplish lengthy stories involving the toxic hippy, but she’s pretty great for short stories such as this. One important notation is that her henchwomen actually seem to be dressed in Ivy’s original look from Batman: The Animated Series. It was a bit too generic for her at the time, but for mere lady thugs it works nicely. The highlight is the introduction to a hero that I had never heard of before: Black Orchid. Although I’ve been quite ignorant to the previous existence of many characters featured on Brave and the Bold, they’re most often villain than hero so it’s always nice to have another hero introduced. Especially when she’s used as interesting as this and not simply brought in to mindlessly lust after Batman, as has been a problem with the show.

Its treatment of female heroes has been mostly grating, some of them have had their shining moments but unfortunately when it comes to the big name superheroines such as Black Canary and Huntress, they’ve been pretty much dumbed down to simply lusting after Batman. Huntress has been the worst scorned in this regard, considering her sole previous appearance involved her practically lusting after Batman the entire time. Black Canary has been mostly used the same way but at least has been given a decent story featured in “The Golden Age of Justice” which actually treated her as a character rather than a running gag. Apparently females are discouraged from being used on the show since that might bring people to expect merchandise featuring them, as studio and toy company execs continue to believe that boys don’t want icky, cootie-infested girl action figures. But, I digress.

The main story unfortunately doesn’t manage to keep up with the quality of its teaser, and suffers from feeling like two stories shoved together without any attempt to really tie them together. It is an interesting to watch due to the significant lack of Batman with 90% of his involvement being under the guise of Matches Malone, an unmasked undercover persona that doesn’t get featured much in the animated medium. It serves as a great turn from the norm with Batman being the unexpected (amnesiac) villain of the episode rather than the hero, and even leads the way for a Bruce Wayne/Matches showdown vs. Batman in a twist right out of a popular story from the comics. This alone would have made a great episode, with other heroes only becoming slightly involved in order to eventually reach the climax. Unfortunately, the Birds of Prey treatment throughout tends to get in the way, and they ultimately feel shoehorned in. It’s nice to see Catwoman actually in her element which is something that has been vastly missing from this show despite her having appeared several times by now. Along with that, it was unexpected but cool to see Two-Face show up. He does feel slightly shoehorned in, similar to the ladies, but his involvement eventually gives the episode a decent twist and makes it worthwhile.

The most baffling about it all is why we they didn’t simply use this episode to form the Birds of Prey, especially considering that we’ve already seen the formation of the Teen Titans previously. Black Canary and Huntress could certainly use some more worthwhile screentime, and it would have been a chance to get Batgirl involved in the show some more. Unfortunately, this version of the Birds of Prey is incredibly confusing given that they spend the entire time resenting Catwoman’s company, but all of a sudden are willing to consider her part of the group. …Why? Furthermore, this leads to Catwoman actually seeing Bruce unmasked. Granted, his disguise includes a cheesy mustache and sunglasses which is more than Superman takes the effort to do for Clark Kent, but this works in the context that nobody has seen Superman dress up in a similar outfit. And given Catwoman’s infamous proficiency at her catburglar ways, it’s hard to believe that she wouldn’t be able to recognize Bruce Wayne instantly. Given that she’s considered a despicable criminal by Black Canary and Huntress, this seems incredibly stupid to suddenly trust her.

The episode features some very unexpected dark elements to it akin to “Emperor Joker” in that we see Batman, or rather Matches, go through various deaths including being shot, driving off a cliff, and thrown off a building to pancake a car below. Surprisingly these are shown pretty blatantly, although with the predictable lack of bloody mess and he’s revived quickly due to Catwoman’s coveted McGuffin, which is actually the cloak of Nefertiti. Honestly, it’s a bit of an overpowered plot device and I think there could have been a far more interesting use for it had it not been shown as actually having power, but this feels minor compared to the rest of the episode. The cloak plot is lazily ended with Catwoman simply managing to get away with it, which makes me want to expect to see it again, but we probably won’t.

Overall, it’s not a terrible episode. The Matches Malone story would have been fantastic had they not tried to shove the Birds of Prey into it, whose presence seemed to solely exist for a completely random song and dance number. The song was very entertaining, I’ll give them that. However, it completely throws off the entire episode. Adding insult to injury, the song has also managed to keep the episode from being aired in America as of this writing. Apparently it’s fine as-is for audiences abroad, but it seems that a single line is being changed for American audiences - supposedly not out of censorship, though. I hope to see more of the Birds of Prey in the future, but I’m not certain if an animated TV show is the best medium for the writing efforts of Gail Simone. I Recommend seeing this once, and that’s about it.

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