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Longtime The World's Finest community member Faisal Al-Jadir (aka Cortez2301) shares his thoughts on the biggest episodes and events to happen in DC Animation, focusing specifically on the DC Animated Universe (a term coined by The World's Finest itself!) and Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Offering a unique, new spin on cartoons we know inside and out, continue below for more!
"A Bullet for Bullock"
A Cortez Corner review by Faisal Al-Jadir:
There is no such thing as a disposable character. Some of the best stories in any medium have dedicated an ample amount of time to fleshing out (on the surface) stock characters, revealing much more dimension than otherwise expected. Batman is a multifaceted character viewed through multiple prisms throughout the series. With episodes like "P.O.V.", "Joker's Favor" & "Almost Got 'Im," its nice to see a story that allows him to be a secondary character, and merely shadow the protagonist(s) of the tale, thus revealing something new about both parties in the process (if ever so subtle a detail).
The first thing that comes to mind, when I think of Detective Harvey Bullock, is the image of an aggressive, unkempt donut-munching man who will go to great lengths to get the job done. It's always a treat to see the more modest aspects of the character, like his sorrowful visage when he and many Gotham citizens believed Sid "The Squid" actually killed the Batman in "The Man Who Killed Batman," or his act of Christmas kindness towards the child of a criminal he once arrested in "Holiday Knights." But here, in "A Bullet for Bullock," when a mysterious figure supposedly tries to assassinate him, the audience finally get to see the sad truth behind Bullock's cocky demeanour: his desperate need for a friend.
Harvey Bullock is essentially a loner, who, on the outside, does not seem the least bit bothered by it. He is comfortable with living in a messy, roach-infested studio apartment, and seems to occasionally hang out with his partner, Detective Montoya, more than anyone else. While not a corrupt officer of the law, his aggressive, pushy attitude has not made it easy to be liked by many (including the mafia and the media), although Commissioner James Gordon knows him well enough to respect and trust him, warts and all. Batman leaves all the socializing to his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, and is more interested in being an obsessive vigilante, than one who could easily spend the rest of his days hanging out with friends, or even settling down and having a family (hopefully moving on from his troubled history with Andrea Beaumont, as seen in "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm"). Both Bullock and the Batman have harboured suspicion towards the other, while at the same time, sharing mutual respect, even if they do not like admitting it. Bullock believes that an officer's badge is what is needed to bust crime, but Batman feels that working outside the system may achieve better and faster results if done in moderation. Their philosophies clash, and that is why vigilantism and organized law enforcement do not seem to mix perfectly (although with guys like Gordon around, they have their moments).
The series has boasted quite a variety of episodic narratives, with stories ranging from old fashioned pulp adventures, to horrifying gothic operas and to lighthearted comedic romps. This one is a hardboiled, crime noir, with Batman and Bullock as reluctant partners, who prove to be an effective duo. Batman tolerates Bullock's angry attitude, to an extent, before letting him know who's really in charge. Bullock allows himself to be less sarcastic and more respectful when he realizes that Batman has a meaningful purpose to serve. With a great jazz-infused score by Shirley Walker, and a refreshing change of atmosphere, the story manages to weave the classic buddy-cop trope with some very absurd and dark humour, and allows its pacing to leave room for enough intrigue and suspense.
One of the great trends that fans of the Batman mythos have picked up on is how nearly every relevant character can be a twisted reflection of Batman in some respect – though, on a philosophical scale, one can argue that no two people in the world are without their similarities. Bullock may be Batman's image of how routine and reckless his lifestyle could be. Harvey is stuck in his own hellish purgatory, doing his daily, repetitive detective work, but unlike Batman, seems less interested in his own image and reputation with his process. Both men are aware that they are filling a void in their lives, and use their crime fighting personas to compensate for that emptiness. Bullock may not be overly bothered with that notion, but it does seem to concern Batman, who has made it his business to study human behaviour and psychology. After the mystery would-be assassin is revealed (with a twist that's as funny as the one in "Hot Fuzz", I can promise you), Bullock makes it clear that he owes Batman for saving his life. Batman remarks "Forget it Bullock. You've got enough problems", before flying into the night (as per tradition). By being Bullock's guardian angel, he is able to slip him one last casual, but stern piece of advice, that can probably be applied to himself. He may hope that Bullock can push himself to move on and better himself, because he realizes that not only would he not be able to do that, but he just does not want to.
The "Timmverse" era of DC animation (1992-2006), the comic books that began in 1939 and the Christopher Nolan trilogy (among many other stories) have brought out the "meta" aspects of Batman, showing what he means to both the audience and the in-universe characters. He chooses to live his life as a myth and a symbol, using that two-dimensional, mysterious persona to his advantage, going to extensive lengths to get the job done, no matter how dangerous and illegal they are. All so that other innocent people will never have to. He is what he feels he must be, and works towards the day where he will no longer be needed, and that maybe everyone else can be inspired enough to work things out on their own ... even if one is a cynical, bad-mouthed slob like Harvey Bullock.
B.A. Honours, Film Studies
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