Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
This week: Miracles Mistered, Kamandis commanded, and Grodds clobbered! Just another Friday for ol’ Batman.
Look at those come-hither eyes.
“Last Bat on Earth!”
Written by: Steven Melching
There comes a time when every DC cartoon feels the need to pay homage to the great Jack Kirby, and we got a double dose of the King tonight on Brave and the Bold. Our cold open this time features some tandem death-defying on the part of Batman and Mister Miracle (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal); the pair’s nonchalant escapism and idle chit-chat while on a roller coaster of doom really bring the fun– I loved when they discussed the relative quality of this particular deathtrap to others. The storytelling economy here plays fantastically; we’re getting some exciting action/adventure whilst everything one needs to know about Mister Miracle is expounded through breezy dialogue: his super-escapism, his relationship with Barda, and, of course, aero-discs. Scott Free’s patented last-second escape gives way to a reveal that the whole thing was for charity, and we get funny cameos from pint-sized Oberon and huskier-than-the-Timm-version Big Barda, the one person Scott can’t– and won’t– escape from. Cute stuff.
Flash forward to the post-Great Disaster era, where shirtless teen adventurer Kamandi (Mikey Kelley) and his anthropomorphic dog professor friend Dr. Canus are hoping to free some dim-witted, Planet of the Apes-esque human slaves, but get caught up in a battle between the ape-men and the tiger-men, with the tiger-men’s superior Roman strategy defeating those damned dirty apes. Cue Gorilla Grodd (John DiMaggio), who has arrived from the past (with Batman close on his heels, and a cameo from the super-obscure Prof. Nichols, time scientist!) to achieve apely dominance over the Earth. Kamandi, Canus, and Prince Tuftan (also voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) try to free some slaves, but get caught by tiger soldiers– so it’s Batman to the rescue! They all end up captured, however, and King Caesar decides his son the Prince is a poor excuse for a tiger.
Meanwhile, Grodd invades, using his mastery of the technology of the past to take out the more primitive future animal people with relative ease. The (Light) Dark Knight puts those escape skills into action, of course, and breaks free, sneaking off into the sewers with Kamandi and Canus to find– dun dun dun!– the Batcave! “What a dump,” remarks Kamandi, before– awesomes of awesomes– they get attacked by a bunch of Man-Bats. With a mighty bellow– “Get out of my cave!”– Batman and Kamandi send them packing, and then fix up the Batmobile/jet for some score-evening. Honestly, at this point, the rest of the episode could have been complete static and I would’ve had my mind sufficiently blown so as to not even notice or care. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a small montage of Batman and Kamandi hangin’ out in an abandoned, run-down future Batcave and blowtorchin’ stuff. It only would’ve been better with some ’80s power ballad out of Rocky IV.
It all ends with a giant battle, of course; Tuftan returns with the full force of the lion-men, bear-men (oh my), snake-men, and … rat-men (?) armies behind him, Batman and Kamandi make a beautiful entrance in the Bat-Plane with some missiles in tow, the Man-Bats become inspired enough by this “Bat-Man” to join the fray, and everybody ends up scrappin.’ Kamandi and Tuftan take down a giant gorilla named “Tiny” with the old “tie the shoelaces together” gag and Grodd ends up stampeded by his own retreating apes. Caesar learns the errors of his ways– “You were only a traitor to our intolerant views toward humans!” he tells his son (really)– and Batman’s off with a wink, and possibly a promise to seeing Kamandi come and visit his era someday.
The Moral of the Story: Don’t be a speciest– humans are people, too. Every cub must become a tiger-man.
Verdict: Brain-melt on a bagel. In the good way.
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