Original Airdate - October 21st, 2011
Batman’s team, the JLI, lose their powers!
Written by Greg Weisman & Todd Casey & Kevin Hopps Directed by Michael Goguen
Reviews by Andrew, klammed
Media by The World's Finest
Creator Q & A with Producer James TuckerThe World's Finest: This episode opens with the "Batmen of all Nations" facing off against the "Jokers of all Nations." Is it safe to say the "Batmen" are inspired by both the original 90s appearance by some of these Batmen as well as the recent Grant Morrison works? What inspirations did you take for the Joker's rival gang?
James Tucker: Actually, I based this version of The Batmen on the original 50’s version for the most part combined with some of the more recent versions. It wasn’t specifically patterned after Morrison’s version though. The Jokers of All Nations were picked based on what kind of humorous outfit we could put them in. Basically we picked countries that weren’t represented by the Batmen of All Nations already.
WF: Captain Atom is the spotlight hero in this episode. Could you explain your influences with this particular version of the character?
JT: The basic idea of this episode was what does a powerful superhero do when their superpowers are gone. Is it the man or the Superman that makes the hero? Originally this was conceived more as a showcase for Captain Atom, but I wanted to refocus it to include the Justice League International because we wanted to give them a certain amount of spotlight this season. Michael Jelenic and I wanted to make this version of Captain Atom a bit of a jerk to set up the theme of the episode, so he does get a bit humbled by the end. Or does he?
WF: Aquaman sings in this episode. Can you take us through his song, the assorted costumes, etc.? Will this be Aquaman's last big moment in the series?
JT: Well the script was a bit story-lite really, and we needed to fill up some time and rather than just add another fight, our default mode is now to add a song. The song served the story purpose of defining what the episode was really about and it also provided some much needed empathy for Captain Atom as well as a chance to give some easter eggs to the fans in the know. And who better to sing a song about heroism than Aquaman? John Dimaggio was such a great singer and we love Aquaman, obviously, so Michael and I whipped up some lyrics, and our great musicians, Dynamic Music Partners, did their magic and actually made it a song and I story boarded the sequence. This was done a while after the story had been written and the majority of the show had started being storyboarded, if I’m not mistaken, so we were under the gun. I designed the costumes on the board and then our character designers had the unenviable task of drawing most the different versions of Aquaman in the various costumes. But fear not, Aquaman has a few more spotlights coming up this season before we’re done!
WF: The JLI has made multiple appearances in the series so far. Can you run us through this team why you chose these particular cast members. And if there's a JLI, is there also the traditional Justice League somewhere in this universe?
JT: We wanted to use roughly the same version of the JLI that was in the comics during it’s creation, so Fire, Ice, Martian Manhunter, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle (the current living version) and Guy Gardner were obvious choices. Michael Jelenic wanted Aquaman on the team and of course, who am I to argue with that? My only regret is not putting in a joke about Aquaman’s brief stint as leader of Justice League Detroit in the series somewhere. That would have been hilarious. Our continuity on this show was malleable to say the least, so Justice League International is our defacto name for any version of the League that has appeared because that’s the name we had the legal right to use at the time we were producing the show. But I will say that there is no other version of Justice League operating right now besides this version. However, later on in the remaining episodes, new heroes will have joined. Also, there was never any plan of elaborating on what broke up the original League. The reality of a group splitting up just isn’t that important to us. Especially given we’ve covered that type of story ground in our Doom Patrol episode.
WF: The episode tackles the idea of heroes with an without powers, and which are better. Care to chime in with your thoughts on this debate?
JT: I don’t have any opinion either way. There’s one scene in the story early on where Captain Atom really breaks down what would really happen to a Batman in a world really populated with super powered villains and it’s really hilarious. I can’t say I disagree with him. But this is why we love Batman because in some ways, as far as comic books go, he’s the most unrealistic character of all because he’s human and can be killed potentially, and yet, his brains, athletic ability, will power, wealth and gadgets keep him alive and let him win. He’s the ultimate symbol of American capitalism if you want to take it to an extreme comparison.
WF: As always, we wrap up this mini-Q & A with the same question - why should fans check out this new episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold when it airs on the 21st?
JT: Aquaman Sings! Again. ‘nuff said.
Batmen, as opposed to a singular Batman, outside of a multiverse reasoning is a fairly new concept to the universe of DC Comics brought the establishment of ‘Batman, INC.’ The various Batmen idea was touched upon previously on Brave and the Bold in “Time out for Vengeance,” though based on a Bruce Wayne-centric story that dealt with various eras of history, whereas ‘Batman, INC.’ exists within a single timeframe. Expanding on this idea, this episode’s teaser gives each of them their own clown of crime with an invading army of Jokers attacking as the various Batmen huddle together as our Dark Knight’s personal Legion of Narcissism. Personally speaking, the idea of Batmen isn’t one that seems right with the idea of Batman, especially each with their own Joker. But, for a quick teaser story it’s not bad. I’m sure there would have been an entire episode devoted to the concept were season 3 longer, but this seems the best way for them to have handled it anyway. Another plus for the teaser is the animated versions of these new Batman are very well done and adequately translate their unique and, for the most part, very cool designs.
The main story shifts its focus away from pandering to the ego of a singular hero and instead finds focus on the history behind the nuclear-fueld superhero, Captain Atom. The Captain isn’t new to the existence in animation, having been used in various series with even prominent roles in some episodes. This time, however, his story is finally touched upon and even delves into the actual humanity that lies within Captain Atom, as well show what makes a hero truly a hero. Unfortunately, they miss the mark ever so slightly with the de-powered Captain Atom being far whinier than is necessary. This has been a problem in Brave and the Bold where a character that is being depicted as frustrated with themselves or others is overdone, the most notable have been Robin in “The Color of Revenge!” and the Outsiders in their first appearance. In contrast, this concept has been done well previously on the show with Jaime Reyes losing his Blue Beetle scarab in the series premiere, “Rise of the Blue Beetle!”
However, despite the disappointing overabundance of angst in the character, Allen Adam (the de-powered Captain Atom) still manages to come across as a decent character for the most part, especially as he attempts to take on the villain, Major Force, without any powers at all. Although, that bravery does end abruptly as he easily gets his powers back, perhaps a little too easily, and returns to being Captain Atom. It would have been nice to have seen him struggle and overcome, but it would have been difficult given how overpowered Major Force was at the time given that he managed to take down the rest of the JLI shortly beforehand. Still, the overload was a bit too convenient.
Overall, it has its faults but it’s a decent episode and gives some much needed limelight to Captain Atom, who frequently makes it into animated form but is left as only a supporting role in episodes. Of course, a grand highlight of the episode is that it further involves the JLI, which continues to make me yearn for a JLI-spinoff show that could continue on the quality set by Brave and the Bold. Last but not least, it has to be mentioned: Aquaman’s hero song. It’s completely random, as has become the staple of this Aquaman, but it’s nothing short of brilliant. The song itself is catchy with decent lyrics, and it manages to fall in the perfect length where it’s not too brief, and not too long that it throws off the episode. Highly Recommended watch!
Teaser: Introducing ‘The Batmen of All Nations’, a concept made familiar again to modern audiences during Grant Morrison’s run. Of course, this incarnation is more reminiscent of the 50s version that our modern, darker take. Through the series we’ve had various alternate Batmen team ups, so this version, with requisite naming after a failed political counterpart in history (there’s irony in there somewhere, I’m sure of it), isn’t much of a surprise and fits right into the BatB world. Now, what’s a ‘tribute society’, as our appearing fiend says, without a mirrored Joker one? Visually and verbally, this teaser treats us to the gags that Batman: The Brave and the Bold is known for, and wouldn’t be without. I particularly liked Highland Joker.
The teaser, while as incongruous with the main plot as it usually is, links thematically with both the episode’s title, ‘Powerless’, the theme most explored in in the main. After all, what are we shown but a conglomerate of non-superpowered heroes, all modelled after the ‘Greatest Superhero’, himself, who… has no superpowers: Batman. And in this episode… our focus hero is de-powered, and has to learn to be a hero anyway.
‘Be a hero, by remembering you’re not’, opens up the episode, in what Captain Atom calls a Public Service Announcement, and what certainly reminds us of the educational tone of cartoons of a previous era. Batman, who through this series has indeed, been portrayed almost in a Bat-god light, however light-hearted, is summarily dismissed by Captain Atom because of his lack of powers. Aquaman brings in the requisite humour in his defence of Batman, ‘’Cause it’s true! [gasp]’, and frankly the scenarios Captain Atom comes up with the prove the improbability of Batman’s ability to function as a superhero are both hilarious and horrifically true. Interestingly, this portrayal of Captain Atom is one who revels in his powers. A sharp departure from most recent portrayals where his angst is caused by his non-fleshly existence, this time the angst is derived from being ‘merely human’. Not an expansion on the character which you would expect, given his history in comics and animated medium alike. This about turn seems rather like Ryan Choi’s portrayal in ‘The Sword of the Atom’ episode, but doesn’t detract from the episode itself. Nate’s realisation that ‘I’ve just become my own P.S.A’ was a fitting comeuppance.
Angst here, in its overblown, over the top, and over-everything manner, seemed to me a friendly poke at the sometimes/often self-indulgent nature of ‘emo’ moments in the current comics mainstream. Here, it’s just rendered ridiculous. The extended battle with the pickle jar, exaggerated facial features and all was the stuff of broad anime humour, or something out of Genndy Tartakovsky’s reel, one of the greatest gags of the whole episode for me. Tucker describes Aquaman’s Rousing Song of Heroism as standard BatB time filler, but what great time filler it is! In fact, where Batman was the more serious edged mentor for fledgling heroes turned JLI in the first season, Aquaman is slowly becoming his stars and bubbles alternate, an interesting development in this season, intentional or not. That in itself is tremendously subverted with ‘that was just a song! This is real life!’ coming from Aquaman himself.
I thought the use of CGI was particularly effective in this episode, better than what we have seen in previous episodes or shows like JLU. The jet Captain Atom flew was rendered well in its melding with the style of the rest of the scene. This is something to be appreciated, given the often incongruous nature of the CGI elements that seem to plague Saturday morning television. The JLI get a suitable cameo, which is fine since the focus is meant to be on Captain Atom himself. Plot and progression do seem at times merely there to link the gags together, and be a bit overly convenient, but this is after all what BatB excels in to great effect. The hero is restored, the villain defeated, and we get an enjoyable, gag filled episode in the process. Sounds like a successful episode to me.
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