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B&B TV: “Last Bat on Earth!”

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.

Comments:

  • Line of the night: “My obsession is with justice, Grodd– Come get some!”
  • Kamandi’s face when he knees that Man-Bat in the head? Hilarious.
  • I loved Grodd and his ape buddies’ great offense at being called “dirty monkeys” and “chimpanzees.”
  • I also dig how Grodd can smell Batman coming.
  • Next week: Even more Kirby goodness, ’cause OMAC’s on his way! Are you ready for the world that’s coming!?

31 Comments

Man, I love this series. It make me laugh, lots.

Awesome!

If you can handle the Dick Sprang styled artwork, this show is fantastic.

Why is it that nobody seems to take Mr. Miracle seriously? That certainly wasn’t the approach of the series as Kirby presented it. Talking while on a deathtrap, jokes about being married… sheesh.

That said, IF they are going to go with the silly aspect, at least they did it well. Nice to see Bats working for charity, too.

As for “The Last Bat on Earth” was I the only one who noticed that Batman didn’t seem bothered *at all* by the way the Earth turns out in Kamandi’s future? To him it was like visiting another dimension. They could at the very least thrown in a “I hope this future can be prevented” comment on his part.

Other than that, this was a VERY well written episode, and (unlike the Mr. Miracle teaser) really captured the flavor of Kirby’s Kamandi work.

Sijo: Batman’s been to this future before; it’d be redundant for him make a statement like that now.

Looks like Kamandi is about to grab on to the Bat-pole.

-“Sijo: Batman’s been to this future before; it’d be redundant for him make a statement like that now.”

I know that. But that was in one of the teaser “mini-episodes” which didn’t give us his first reaction to this dark future *at all.* In other words, a cop out. They did that with Jonah Hex too. I find it annoying.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it weird that DC cartoons tend to do more Kirby tribute episodes than Marvel’s?

DC has a separate Kirbyverse of characters. A Kirby tribute episode of a Marvel show would tend to just be…we,, the Fantastic Four, or Captain America, or Thor, or Hulk, or… I especially think of the Fantastic Four and its cosmology (Negative Zone, Galactus, Watcher, Silver Surfer, the Inhumans, etc, etc) as being Kirby’s Marvel world, and that’s all invoked whenever the FF are used.

Yeah, there’s the Eternals/ Celestials/ Deviants corner, but, well… those aren’t the most exciting or interesting Kirby creations.

“I know that. But that was in one of the teaser “mini-episodes” which didn’t give us his first reaction to this dark future *at all.* In other words, a cop out.”

How is “They haven’t yet shown the part of the story -I- want to see!” a cop-out?

Then again, you’re the guy who actually wrote an entire TV tropes page on how the show sucks because it’s unrealistic. *smirk*

I know that. But that was in one of the teaser “mini-episodes” which didn’t give us his first reaction to this dark future *at all.* In other words, a cop out. They did that with Jonah Hex too. I find it annoying.

You have to realize this is based on Bob Haney’s Brave & the Bold largely, and in the old Haney stories one of the trademarks was that the weird or nutty would happen and be treated as perfectly normal, with no explanation. Things would happen like Batman teaming up with Captain Rock in WWII in one issue, then Batman teaming up with him again in present day. Haney was not very big in explaining away weird things, he just wrote whatever he wanted to write.

Mike Loughlin

June 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm

I love that they didn’t have some line about preventing the terrible future, and just got on with the goofiness.

-“How is “They haven’t yet shown the part of the story -I- want to see!” a cop-out?”
That’s not it. It’s the “leave out the parts most people would notice missing” that I mean. You know, things like UNEXPLAINED TIME TRAVEL?

-“Then again, you’re the guy who actually wrote an entire TV tropes page on how the show sucks because it’s unrealistic. *smirk*

No, I wrote a TV Tropes page on the logic holes in the show; it doesn’t mention all the stuff I enjoy on it, that, you know, KEEPS ME WATCHING IT.

Oh, and the only reason you even know that was me is because I always *sign* my work with the same nickname, Mr. Anonymous Critic. *Smirks right back* :)

The time travel doesn’t need an explanation. He’s Batman. That’s all the explanation you need. It’s what I loved about that Old West cold open with Hex.

It’s a kids show. Kids don’t care about that shit.

I disagree that the Mister Miracle opener wasn’t in the Kirby vein. That deathtrap was vintage Kirby MM. the fact that he’s talking is because it’s TV and they can’t have the thought balloons, but Kirby had MM narrating his way through the traps. And to Kirby, the MM and Barda marriage was so important that he made sure it was in his last issue of MM.

What rang totally false to me was Oberon’s voice. That was NOT the voice that I’ve had in my head all these years. and since Kamandi has always been one of my favorite Kirby DC creations, I loved the rest of the show too.

-“It’s a kids show. Kids don’t care about that shit.”

Right. Kids NEVER discuss their favorite shows. Plus, only kids post in this thread. ;)

It’s a kids show. Kids don’t care about that shit.

No no no, I already gave you guys the answer. It’s a series based on Bob Haney’s work. THAT’S why they don’t bother explaining things like Batman not being shocked about the future or how Batman ended up in Jonha Hex’s time…because a trademark of Bob Haney’s stories were that the illogical or improbably constantly happened with no explanation. When the show does it, it’s a tribute to Haney.

Google the terms “Bob Haney Logic” and read the results if you don’t believe me. Also Google “Bob Haney Super Sons.”

Read this and you’ll understand why the show doesn’t explain things sometimes:

http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com/2009/02/godlike-genius-of-bob-haney.html

I *did* read some of the Haney/Aparo Brave & The Bold comics. However, I felt that what they were doing- disregarding continuity to suit their own purposes- should not be done with a series that was supposed to be in-continuity. They didn’t own the characters, you know. They could at least have labeled those stories “imaginary tales” like they did on Superman. (which I hear is basically what DC ended up doing anyway.)

That said, the Haney B&B comics were pretty good. Certainly better than most DC stuff these days.

Also, homage or not, you don’t do that on a new series. I’m pretty sure that many of the new fans are often left scratching their heads about the hows or whys of many of the cartoon’s stories, especially the mini-episodes in the teasers. Also, some of the the cartoon’s episodes only WISHED they had the quality level of the comic.

Clearly adults do indeed watch the show. But it’s not marketed at adults. It’s not on during primetime, it’s on Saturday morning, with all the other kids shows.

Huh? The new episodes premiere on Friday night along with Clone Wars, etc. It’s not geared toward adults because it’s on Cartoon Network and not part of Adult Swim.

The biggest complaint I have about the show is the Joker’s voice. Luckily it sounds like Mark Hamill is in the new Batman video game.

Huh? The new episodes premiere on Friday night along with Clone Wars, etc. It’s not geared toward adults because it’s on Cartoon Network and not part of Adult Swim.

My point is that it doesn’t matter whether or not its geared toward adults when it comes to figuring out why it can get wacky or illogical. It’s wacky and illogical because it is a homage to the work of Bob Haney.

http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com/2009/02/godlike-genius-of-bob-haney.html

Nah, I can’t let it go. From the above link.

You want proof? Ok, how about Brave & The Bold 84, where The Caped Crusader teams up with Sgt. Rock. Batman lives in the modern day, right? And Sgt.Rock? His adventures take place in the environs of World War Two, yeah? So the only way these two could feasibly meet would be through some sort of time-displacement, wormhole doohicky thing. Yeah, for any other writer. Bob? He just has Batman say: ” Oh yeah, back when I was in World War Two, I met Sgt. Rock. Here’s the story. “, thereby contradicting 40 years of comics’ continuity.

Well, not quite dude. From the letter column in B & B 87.

“Nothing happened unless your eyes deceived you. We intimated that Bruce had just graduated from college, and Neal necassarily took special pains to depict a slimmer and more youthful Batman, basing him on the character as originally conceived by Bob Kane, ”

Which would, given that the story was published in 1968, put Batman in his mid-forties, which doesn’t feel exactly right, but it’s within the realm of sorta-possible. Or you can assume a sliding timeline like current Marvel comics and just go with it.

And, really, the B & B cartoon doesn’t feel much like Haney’s Batman anyway.

(1) The cartoon sports a 180% different take on the Batman… Haney’s Batman was probably the most outwardly emotional and yelly take on Bats in any media, ever, while the B&B cartoon Bats is impossible to shock.

(2) They tend to mine different genres: The cartoon gives us a lot of high fantasy and space opera and paralel world while Haney’s Batman was mostly spy or ghost stories, or medical thrillers, or straight-ahead crime capers. I can’t see a plot for one being directly adapted for the other without feeling WAY out of place.
(Although Haney did write a couple Batman/Kamandi team-ups, both quite faithful to Kirby continuity.)

3) I hate to call Bob Haney’s stuff “realistic” but it was quite a bit more down-to earth, more intracately plotted, and… gah! not LESS comedic, exactly – They’re both pretty tongue in cheek, but their was a veneer of realism over Haney’s insane plots that the cartoon doesn’t really try to capture.

(That said, I love ‘em both.)

“Nothing happened unless your eyes deceived you. We intimated that Bruce had just graduated from college, and Neal necassarily took special pains to depict a slimmer and more youthful Batman, basing him on the character as originally conceived by Bob Kane, ”

Yes, but as you point out, their explanation doesn’t exactly work. And the reason why, I think, is because it’s not what Haney intended. I think Haney just wrote what he wanted. Super-Sons is proof of that. Any insane thing he wrote, the explanations usually came from others like editors, or later writers trying to make his stuff fit into continuity. Maybe the editors are telling the truth, who knows? But my gut tells me, based on the other wacky stuff Haney wrote, that they weren’t. They were just trying to satisfy a bunch of confused fans writing in.

Now as far as B&B cartoon not being strictly like Haney’s, this is true. The creators of the show in their interviews said that they are drawing from numerous Bat-influences, not just Haney. But Haney is a major influence though, as well as Dick Sprang and as well as some of the later-era darker Batman books. I didn’t mean to imply that Haney was the only source they were drawing from. I do think though that when it comes to the anything-goes nature of the guest stars, with things like Batman popping up unexplained in the old West, THAT comes from Haney.

Here, I found the interview I was speaking of with James Tucker, Supervising Producer of the new Brave and the Bold cartoon here:
http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=530483

Here’s what he says about Haney:

“With this, I take my inspiration from Bob Haney’s zany, crazy Brave and Bold issues, where anything can happen,” Tucker continued. “There is no grounded in logic. It’s pure fun. All that those Brave and Bold comic writers were concerned with was telling a great story in that issue. It wasn’t layered in continuity. A story that appeared one issue might be contradicted the next. I wanted to be free of having to do everything logically. I wanted to have something that is purely superhero without the heaviness of reality. There’s an annoying trend in the media in general that everything has to have some sort of ‘reality’ to it — some grounded dreary basis in reality. It’s fine. I loved working on those shows. I contributed to the dreariness. But I didn’t want to do another Batman show that tried to be that. There is just no way to win that contest, Batman: The Animated Series has that title hands down. Batman’s been around a long time. He’s been treated every kind of way, he’s a malleable hero. You can interpret him in a lot of different ways.”

Tucker noted, “For Brave and Bold, I went back to my first, original introduction to Batman, the cartoons of the ’60s, the Adam West Batman, the SuperFriends and then comic books. I wouldn’t want to have had that Brave and Bold comic book with The Joker be my first introduction to Batman — the first page was a dead family! But I did have the TV show and the SuperFriends, which were things that led me into comic books. I love comic books. I’m not insulting comic books. But if we want fans, we need an entry level. I wanted this show to be that! This is the show I thought I was watching, when I was a little boy seeing those crappy cartoons. It has better animation, writing and voices. This is the epitome of the show playing in my head, instead of what was in front of me when I was watching it on Saturday mornings.”

“This is geared towards comic fans who enjoy the purity of comics,” he continued. “This is the comic based show that is the least ashamed of being a comic based cartoon. The idea was to make a show that had the ’50s style done now, but we’re not doing a show set in the ’50s. I wanted to have something that feels old fashioned — nostalgic, but doesn’t feel dated or rooted in a specific era; just influenced by the art styles then. I don’t want to single out any one Batman artist, but most of the primary artists from the ’50s and ’60s influenced the look of [the square-jawed] Batman. I’m influenced by all of them to a certain point. That ’50s and ’60s look simply drawn made for a strong graphic.”

So he says Haney is the primary influence and any gaps in logic are intentional homages to Haney, but that they are also pulling from ALL eras of Batman including later comic interpretations, hence the darker aspects of Batman being represented some as well.

http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com/2009/02/godlike-genius-of-bob-haney.html

AND ANOTHER THING!

Earth 2 was explicitly referenced in the Cardy drawn Black Canery story in Brave and the Bold # 91, 7 issues after the Sgt. Rock story in # 84, so Haney was almost certainly aware of Earth-2.

And, hey, had the Earth-2 Batman even appeared in 1968? I’m thinkin’ no. (Robin did, so we know there was an Earth-2 Batman.) But I don’t believe the Earth-2 Batman was an established character. Right?

Yes, but as you point out, their explanation doesn’t exactly work. And the reason why, I think, is because it’s not what Haney intended.

Quite possible. But both the artist and the editor were trying to make it fit, and I can really see Haney’s Bats bein’ sort of old and curmudgeonly. He’s the MOST 45 year old Batman of all the non-Frank Miller Batmen I’ve ever read.

I think Haney just wrote what he wanted. Super-Sons is proof of that. Any insane thing he wrote, the explanations usually came from others like editors, or later writers trying to make his stuff fit into continuity. Maybe the editors are telling the truth, who knows? But my gut tells me, based on the other wacky stuff Haney wrote, that they weren’t. They were just trying to satisfy a bunch of confused fans writing in.

OK, here I gotcha. And I agree, but I don’t think this was atypical. Haney certainly wasn’t alone in that regard. Most of the old guard that worked in the late Silver/Early Bronze age didn’t seem to care to much either. (Including Kirby!) When Haney started on Brave and the Bold in ’63, there wasn’t much of a “shared universe.” There were a bunch of editors who didn’t acknowledge each other’s work. The DCU kind of built itself up over the… 15, 16 years that Haney was on the title, and he was stuck dealing with it, after most of his contemperaries quit or got fired or walled themselves off in their own little fiefdoms that didn’t require direct responses to other books.

I do think though that when it comes to the anything-goes nature of the guest stars, with things like Batman popping up unexplained in the old West, THAT comes from Haney.

That’s not Haney logic though! When Batman travelled through time in B & B 120, it was damn well explained! (I think it was astral projection. It wasn’t an IMPORTANT part of the story, I’m sure it took up like two panels, but it was explained.)

Haney was a little loose with continuity of character (which the B & B show seems to be fairly anal about, actually) but he was all about setting, which was way important to his plots. It was always clear WHERE the characters are, WHY they’re there, and HOW they got there. I’m violently anal about the proper application of Haney logic.

“With this, I take my inspiration from Bob Haney’s zany, crazy Brave and Bold issues, where anything can happen,” Tucker continued. “There is no grounded in logic. It’s pure fun. All that those Brave and Bold comic writers were concerned with was telling a great story in that issue. It wasn’t layered in continuity. A story that appeared one issue might be contradicted the next. I wanted to be free of having to do everything logically. I wanted to have something that is purely superhero without the heaviness of reality.

OK. That makes a lotta sense. But other than (obviously) the name and format, I never woulda figured there was much influence from the comic on the show. They use very different illogical logic systems… If that makes any sense. Still, aside from the patently obvious name and format similarities, I wouldn’t have guessed there was any direct influence from the comic on the show if you hadn’t quoted that inteview. They use different illogical logical systems, if that makes any sense.

It’s on Saturday morning here. Cartoon network isn’t available to watch, cable corp doesn’t carry it. Regardless, it’s a kids show.

It’s on Saturday morning here. Cartoon network isn’t available to watch, cable corp doesn’t carry it. Regardless, it’s a kids show.

Nobody’s saying it isn’t. I’m just saying it’s irrelevant to why there are logic gaps in the show.

And MarkAndrew, I defer to your superior knowledge of all things Haney. To be honest, most of my knowledge of Haney’s Brave and the Bold comes from reading reviews of the material in blogs. I’ve always wanted to try it but refuse to get the black and white showcase books. But your points on how it fails to capture true Haneyness make sense.

Nah, I see what the producers are going for here, now. I’m just really, REALLY into (A) team-up books in general, and (B) Haney’s mid-to-late-period Brave and the Bold work in particular, so I’m gonna be…

OK, like how Sijo is all anal and annoying about continuity? I’m all like that about Haney comics.

(Worth pointing out: The B& B stories from the first showcase often DON’T make much sense, and most of the first 30-or-so issues just aren’t very good, even in a “Silver Age Whacky” sorta way. The “classic” Brave and the Bolds don’t start till Haney pairs up with Jim Aparo in issue # 99, (Reprinted in SHOWCASE vol. 2) although some of the Nick Cardy and Neal Adams issues before that are pretty great as well.)

PUBLIC SERVICE ANOUNCEMENT: The original format the Brave and the Bolds can be kind of expensive, but both LoneStar Comics, and Mile High are having big sales right now, and you can score some of the issues between 100 and 150 for less’n a buck in beat to crap condition.

LoneStar:

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?tid=179431&pgi=101

Mile High:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=list&title=12762915872&publisher=DC&snumber=121

(I have a 50 dollar order coming from Lone Star.

Nah, I see what the producers are going for here, now. I’m just really, REALLY into (A) team-up books in general, and (B) Haney’s mid-to-late-period Brave and the Bold work in particular, so I’m gonna be…

OK, like how Sijo is all anal and annoying about continuity? I’m all like that about Haney comics.

(Worth pointing out: The B& B stories from the first showcase often DON’T make much sense, and most of the first 30-or-so issues just aren’t very good, even in a “Silver Age Whacky” sorta way. The “classic” Brave and the Bolds don’t start till Haney pairs up with Jim Aparo in issue # 99, (Reprinted in SHOWCASE vol. 2) although some of the Nick Cardy and Neal Adams issues before that are pretty great as well.)

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