Time Out for Vengeance!
Original Airdate - September 23rd, 2011
In order to save Batman in the present time, the Justice League International must travel to various eras in time and aid that era’s Batman who is being hunted down by the minions of Batman’s old foe, Equinox.
Written by J. M. DeMatteis
Directed by Michael Goguen
Reviews by Andrew, klammed
Media by The World's Finest
Creator Q & A with Producer James Tucker
The World's Finest: "Time Out for Vengeance!" features an enormous cast of both heroes and Batmen! How did you settle on using specific versions of Batman and then pairing them up with specific heroes, such as Blue Beetle and Green Lantern with the Pirate Batman?
James Tucker: J.M. DeMatteis, the writer of the episode, came in and sat with me and Michael Jelenic and we just kind of beat out the story on the spot. We knew we wanted a Caveman version and a Pirate version based on the Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne storyline that Grant Morrison was doing in the comics at the time. Those seemed like the most ripe for fun scenarios to play the JLI against and I believe Jelenic came up with the idea of a Roman Batman. We improvised the name, Batmanicus, at the record because I was a huge fan of the Spartacus TV show. As far as deciding the team-ups, we knew we wanted to tease a relationship with Guy and Ice, so they made a natural pairing, and of course Beetle and Booster have to be teamed up. Aquaman and Fire made comedic sense together because we’d established that Fire doesn’t think too much of Aquaman in the episode "Shadow of the Bat" from earlier in the season, so they’d have an interesting chemistry that was different than the other pairings. I think we were more concerned about how the two heroes played off of each other more than how they played off of the different Batmen, though Aquaman in a Roman setting was definitely an idea we enjoyed playing around with and probably could have done a whole episode on.
WF: Do you have a favorite among these different Batmen? What were your inspirations behind them?
JT: I enjoyed using all of them but my favorite was Batmanicus, the Roman Gladiator Batman, because we kind of invented him for the show. However, there’s Silver Age Batman story called "Batman’s Roman Holiday" where Batman time travels back to Ancient Rome, so that may have something to do with my preferring him as well. Diedrich Bader really got into voicing the different versions of Batman in this episode, but I particularly enjoyed what he did with the Batmanicus voice.
WF: As a follow-up, were there any different versions of Batman you were considering for this episode (like Puritan Batman from Batman: The Return of the Bruce Wayne, for example)?
JT: We toyed with doing a western version of Batman, but decided on the scenarios we ended up with because we hadn’t used Batman before in those settings, whereas we’d had Batman go to the old west in a Jonah Hex teaser in the first season. Puritan Batman didn’t come up because we agreed that just didn’t seem as easy to translate as the other scenarios, especially for our younger audience members.
WF: Batman: The Brave and The Bold allows you and your team to tell some very...far out tales, including ones like this one. How are you able to go from one epic – such as a very straightforward action episode like “Scorn of the Star Sapphire!” to an episode like this that involves time-travel and an assortment of different Dark Knights?
JT: I really wanted to set up this series as a show where anything can happen and not have it locked down to any specific tone besides one of action and humor. Luckily, our boss, Sam Register, pushed us in that direction from the very beginning. On Justice League we initially ran into some criticism about putting Batman in certain super-hero settings that he seemed out of place in, which is pretty silly to me. Batman fits in anywhere! Michael and I agreed from the start that we wouldn’t limit ourselves or Batman because frankly, the show wouldn’t have worked if we had grounded it like that. It would have been a series where every hero would have to have happened to be in Gotham for Batman to interact with them, and that’s been done before. Michael and I had worked on more ‘structured’ Batman series and we had no real interest in doing yet another one. Once we committed to the direction it became a lot of fun to produce and actually was kind of effortless (not accounting for the incredible amount of extra work that goes into a series where anything can happen!).
WF: The Creeper is featured in the opening teaser of this episode. Care to run us through why you chose to use the character, and how this version differs from other versions (such as the one who appeared on Batman: The Animated Series)?
JT: The Creeper was always on our list of characters we wanted to use and I specifically was remembering the original Batman and Creeper team up from the old the The Brave and the Bold comic where they fought Hellgrammite. It was kind of a no-brainer. As far as differing from the Batman: The Animated Series Creeper, he doesn’t differ at all really apart from the fact that Brian Bloom voiced him and not Jeff Bennett who did it originally on Batman: The Animated Series. But it’s the same character basically. If I had had more episodes, I wanted to use a few other Steve Ditko drawn characters like Shade, The Changing Man and Odd Man.
WF: Finally, any last thoughts on the episode? Any in-jokes or easter eggs fans might want to try and catch?
JT: This episode was a lot of fun and I think the highlight of it was the opportunity to bring back the JLI again. We really fell in love with this particular group of heroes and if we’d been able to spin-off a show from from Batman: The Brave and The Bold, it probably would have been one featuring the JLI. As far as Easter eggs, the final Batman that is revealed in the episode is based on a very unique version of Batman that appeared (where else) in a Silver-Age story entitled "Robin’s 50 Batman Partners." Don’t Google it until after you’ve seen the episode (if you haven't already) if you don’t want to be spoiled!
This teaser opens fairly abruptly in the middle of a battle between Batman and the incredibly disgusting villain Hellgrammite. It’s unexpected, and not just due to Hellgrammite’s obscurity, because a villain such as that seems as though he has a lot of possibility for a full length story, yet he’s kept to this brief debut. Better than nothing, I suppose. Other than showing off his strangeness, the battle is fairly pointless as it serves as meager fodder to introduce an even more obscure hero, The Creeper. Oddly enough, The Creeper seems to go on being a hero that very few stay aware of despite this not being his first animated debut. There’s not much to say when it comes to this teaser since it only serves to highlight The Creeper and Hellgrammite in a pretty standard fight, but despite that it’s still a fun time.
The main story of this episode delves into recent comic book shenanigans as opposed to taking its cues from the golden, or silver, or bronze, history of the DC universe, specifically, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. However, it’s adapted strangely (not that the original source material isn’t strange itself) but they manage to fit within the context of Brave and the Bold. It also helps that the design of the ancestrial Batmen are well translated. Most importantly, the story manages a decent pacing as it goes to each pair of JLI team members and their particular adventures in protecting the ancient Dark Knights. I’m torn as to whether or not I would have liked a better introduction of Rip Hunter, since he seems like a very complex character and DC characters that are specifically time-travelers are fairly rare. Although it tends to be that when you try to explain time-travel, or time-travelers, once it gets to a certain depth it walks a fine line between fascinating and headache-inducing, so it does seem best for this episode to have ignored the details of Hunter.
It was very interesting to see them resurrect the Libra-based villain, Equinox, and give him a fate that would allow for further stories involving him over the course of the series. If this weren’t the last season, at least. Had they been able to continue the series past this point, the various shards of Equinox would have made a great series arc even though I don’t particularly care for the character. Hopefully this won’t be left hanging and can be picked up in a Direct-to-DVD movie release. Unfortunately, the conclusion for the episode felt poorly thought out and ultimately didn’t make much sense as to why any of it tied together, especially with the future’s robot Batman.
Overall, this episode is something of a mixed bag with great moments and others that are just dull or just bad. On the plus side, it was the only time I’ve enjoyed the Equinox character, but on the down side they didn’t really seem to have any idea where they truly wanted to go with the various Batmen. They ultimately just given off a vibe that with this being the last season, the powers behind Brave and the Bold or the external powers driving them wanted to introduce people to some of the things going on in modern comics. At the very least, I recommend this simply for the JLI experience.
Teaser: We are introduced to Hellgramite, a roachy looking humanoid with roachy punch lines to boot. Unknown as he is, this isn’t the first time he’s appeared in animated media, turning up in Justice League Unlimited as part of both Meta-brawl and the Secret Society afterwards. Fun fact, now go spot him when you go through those DVDs. Batman once again plays the straight guy in any double act he’s placed in when interacting with the other hero of the short, who, in this case The Creeper. Here, I felt the timing was slightly off in terms of delivery and banter, but it was still a commendable short, and Brian Bloom certainly sounded crazed enough, with just enough smoothness to remind folk of the news personality he is as Jack Ryder.
Main Episode: Within the first ten minutes we’ve already got the plot moving quickly. The episode begins with a fight between Catman and Batman (seen with the giant robotic cat from Detective Comics v1 #311). This is just filler, as Batman mysteriously disappears and the scene shoots to the Watchtower. Sufficiently humorous interaction between the members of the team as viewers get reacquainted with them covered that scene. I appreciated how the writers made the effort to include a quick round of each character’s quirks, which helps the episode work more like a standalone without too much background knowledge of the characters through the series, though that might of course deepen ones appreciation of their presentation.
Another thing worth noting, once again, was the soundtrack. Sure, it’s not the epic noir darkness of the Batman Animated series, but I felt like each scene had its own little character, greatly helped by the music. The cheery fight scene music in the first, followed by the patriotic one during Rip Hunter’s general/commander like pep talk/speech, and even the transition as they travelled through time, all had their distinct sounds. As they were travelling through time, and through various eras, the music changed drastically along with it as well. This, I think, remains one of the great things about this show: it takes various clichés and generics of pop culture, condenses it, and uses it very specifically, to immediate recognizable effect.
Rest of the plot wise though, for those who’ve read Grant Morrison’s recent run of Return of Bruce Wayne, this episode follows it loosely. Where Morrison attempted to justify all the appearances of Batman through time during the wacky Golden Age comics, this show however just rolls with it, Golden Age style. However, I felt at times that the era related jokes or quirks did not stand out as much, or fell flat. Homage is appreciated, but after the first act, felt a bit weighed down by it. As for the villain, it was nice to see Equinox again, though I wonder if they intend to use him for the show’s finale villain. Also I noticed that for someone meant to balance chaos and order, he’s not quite all there, and the visual cue of the ying-yang sign representing him not truly balanced in black and white (where the white spot should be it’s yellow), shows that brilliantly. Something I hadn’t noticed before, but props to production for including this sort of detail.
Overall verdict for this episode is that if you wanted to watch it purely for homage, then it was fine, and passable as a Brave and the Bold episode. It didn’t reel me in as some other episodes did, but it’s certainly not horrifically bad either.
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