My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Based on the Brave and the Bold comic book, which debuted in 1955, this series teams Batman with one or more other superheroes each week in lighthearted adventures aimed at preteens. Its style is very reminiscent of the Batman comics from the 1950s and early 1960s: campy fun with a minimum of violence. Diedrich Bader hams it up as the voice of Batman, and the art direction is bold and blocky. This is a man-of-action Batman who has all the bat-gadgets one could ever want.
Each week’s episode follows the same pattern: a two-minute teaser with Batman and a partner finishing up a case, then the main story after the opening credits with a different partner and a different villain. This gives us a chance to see obscure fan-favorite heroes, if only for a couple of minutes.
The series is in its third and final season. I don’t know how the ratings have been, but my guess is that they aren’t great or they would keep the series going. A show like this is also ripe for lots of merchandising opportunities, so that’s another reason to think the show’s popularity hasn’t been very strong. I can understand that Cartoon Network would want a series that was simpler and lighter than their previous DC series that were more for teens (and adults). In my opinion, though, they’ve dumbed it down too much. Today’s kids are used to harder edged cartoons. There’s almost never any question that Batman and his allies will survive, removing most of the tension from the stories.
Nevertheless, there are some wink-wink moments aimed at adults. In the recent episode “Scorn of the Star Sapphire” Wonder Woman arrives on the scene to the theme music from the 1970’s Wonder Woman live-action series. Another subtle nod to long-time fans was the appearance of The Creeper fighting with Batman against Hellgrammite in “Time Out for Vengeance!” based on their 1968 appearance in Brave and the Bold #80. The same episode featured Rip Hunter, Time Master, and members of Justice League International searching for alternate Batmans throughout history, based on the 2010 series The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison.
Just good enough to keep me watching, I won’t be disappointed when the series ends. There is a new CGI Batman series in the works as part of Cartoon Network’s announced DC Nation block of programs that should more than satisfactorily replace Batman: The Brave and The Bold.