Saturday, March 26, 2011

QUANTITY is good: World's Finest on B:B&B

Really, if you're not a fan of the "Batman: Brave & the Bold" series on Cartoon Network, something is seriously wrong with you. In fact, being too serious is probably what is wrong with you... I have to paused to publicly appreciate the most recent episode, in which Batman teams up with Superman. I could talk about how it's a fun and clever story that uses both characters to their full advantage, showing them both as well-rounded people with different but complementary personalities. Which, really, is already more than I have a right to expect from a "kids' show". But instead I'm going to focus on the sheer QUANTITY of good old-fashioned comic book fun in the episode. This thirty-minute show (and that includes the copious kiddie commercials) had all of the following. In began with John Di Maggio's passable impression of Victor Buono portraying King Tut (or, as he is wisely renamed, "The Pharaoh") turning citizens into zombie mind-slaves, as he did using the chemical Abu Rabu Simbu Tu on the Adam West series. Plus, you got to see the Pharaohmobile. In a brilliant mash-up, Pharaoh's bank heist by thwarted by Batman and Robin dresses as mummies, an homage to this cover: It even had Vicki Vale there to take photos, just like on the cover. The bandages were soaked in buttermilk "the one thing that repels 'Pharaoh Rays' ". Bat-fans will remember that coating his stomach with buttermilk was how Batman inoculated himself against Abu Rabu Simbu Tu on the '60s show. That's all pretty much in the first two minutes. Oh, and then some other things happened...

  • Jimmy pretends to be dying in order to trick Superman into revealing his secret identity.

  • A Lois Lane dream sequence of herself super-married with children on a picnic, exactlly reproducing the cover of Lois Lane 23:

  • Batman and Superman go to Kandor to fight El Gar-Kur (Jimmy Olsen's evil Kandorian lookalike from Action #253).

  • Krypto clobbers Superman.

  • Jimmy Olsen, Super-Freak from Jimmy Olsen #59:

  • Batman saves Superman from Metallo... by using the Whirlybat.

  • Jimmy Olsen Super-Genie from Jimmy Olsen #42

  • An attack by Mr Mxyzptlk, foiled by a knock knock joke.

  • Jimmy Olsen Human Octopus from Jimmy Olsen #41

  • Lex Luthor in his Black Business Suit outfit.

  • Jimmy Olsen the Wolfman from Jimmy Olsen #44

  • Just as in the Superman movies, Lex Luthor stealing kryptonite meteorites from museums.

  • References to Lois's ridiculous Silver Age schemes to trick Superman into marrying her.

  • Jungle Jimmy Olsen and his Gorilla Bride from Jimmy Olsen #98

  • Red kryptonite.

  • Superman calling Lex Luthor a "diseased maniac" as he did in the original Superman movie.

  • A dead-on Noel Neill imitation for Lois Lane.

  • Jimmy Olsen, Human Porcupine from Jimmy Olsen #65

  • Lex Luthor wandering around in his Prison Greys, even though he's not in prison.

  • Bizarro Jimmy Olsen

  • A reprise of the King Superman story from Action 311, complete with an exact reproduction of this scene.

  • Lex Luthor using his kryptonite ring just as he used during the Frank Byrne run on Superman.

  • Jimmy Olsen, Super-Brain from Jimmy Olsen 22.

  • Superman getting hit with a tomato.

  • "Don't call me 'Chief'!", "Great Caesar's Ghost!", and "Well, what are you waiting for?!"

  • Lois Lane typing while wearing those damn white gloves she used to wear in the Silver Age.

  • A bank heist by the Toyman.

  • Lex Luthor's all-seeing monitors that he used to use in Challenge of the Super-Friends.

  • The containment devices that Jor-El used to send Zod & Co. into the Phantom Zone in the movie "Superman II". Including the mirror thing.

  • Superman stranding a little girl's kitten in a tree. I had to pause the recording until I stopped laughing.

  • Krypto's Dog-House of Solitude.

  • This hilarious scene from Lois Lane #26:

  • The climatic battle between Batman and Superman from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight". Yes, really. With exact poses from the fight.

  • Jimmy Olsen, Giant Turtle Boy from Jimmy Olsen #53.

  • A "Superman is a dick" reference; or at least, exactly as close as you can get away with on TV. I almost fell out of my chair.

  • This wonderful scene from Jimmy Olsen #30:

  • The robots that Superman fought in the Fleischer cartoon "The Mechanical Monsters".

  • "Luthor's Lair", complete with statues of famous villains from history.


  • Metropolis's "Mayor Swan".

  • Superman himself actually giving the "Faster Than a Speeding Bullet" speech.

  • Super-ventriloquism as a plot point.

  • An attack by Silver Age Brainiac, complete with his original motivation and his space monkey, Koko.
And the best thing about the above list is that it isn't just a fanboy nostalgia-fest. Any kid can understand and enjoy the episode without getting a single 'reference'. Writers of DC comics could take a clue from the writers of the Batman: Brave & the Bold cartoon when it comes to giving us bang for the buck. In an era where DC is trying to squeeze stories into fewer pages, they need every lesson they can get in abandoning decompression and embracing fast-paced, old-school plotting.


Bryan L said...

Yep, loved it. And thanks for the annotations. I got most of them, but they were coming so fast and furious that I would think, "wait, isn't that ..." but it had already moved on. Plus it's even more impressive to see them listed out.

VJM said...

I think Batman got the "diseased maniac" line. What a great list of references! There was so much going on this episode my head started spinning!

Sleestak said...

Hell yeah Krypto! What a great episode.

Scipio said...

VJM, if you think a little more closely about what happened -- not what you saw-- you'll realize that Superman said that.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me you've seen "The Mayhem of the Music Meister!" I watch it when I'm in a bad mood and it never fails to cheer me up.

As a wise man once observed, give children crap to watch and they'll watch it, but offer them quality and they'll gravitate towards it. Not every kids' show needs to be a film noir study in man's essential corruption (actually probably NONE of them should be that), but you don't have to go completely in the opposite direction either to the likes of "The Superfriends" or "Rickety Rocket".

SallyP said...

God, I was so glad that this was back on again...I have missed it so.

It's true, that everything was coming so fast, I was still laughing at something from a minute ago, and almost missed some of the new things. This is an episode to be be cherished.

Exactly WHY are they not making this show forever again?

Tom Bondurant said...

One other annotation: Luthor's aircraft was a purple version of the Supermobile, complete with extending tentacle-arms.

Dave said...

To say I loved this episode doesn't come anywhere close to the feelings I felt. This was, like, the best half hour of television ever. It was worth Philo Farnsworth being born just for this show.

Oh, and next week, we get the Mad Magazine "Bat Boy and Rubin." The hits just keep on coming.

Anonymous said...

Hey, there was a JLU reference too! Remember the final episode of JLU, where Superman is fighting Darkseid immediately after his "world of cardboard" speech? Superman punches Darkseid through a skyscraper, flies around to the other side of the building before Darkseid arrives, and does one of those interlocked-fist punches to knock Darkseid into the ground with a cratering impact. This time around, it was Batman who got clobbered.

Redforce said...

You also didn't mention the classic "Superman & Batman switch costumes to fool the villain" gag, which they've done about 100 times (though you did mention the super-ventriloquism part of the plan).

I loved the episode, and I probably didn't even get half the references.

Scipio said...

Redforce: didn't mention it directly because I was trying not to spoil the ending!

Anonymous: you know, I thought that seemed familiar, but just couldn't place it; thanks!

Itinerant smartypants said...

"Lex Luthor using his kryptonite ring just as he used during the Frank Byrne run on Superman."

Hey I read that story, and it was by John Miller!

Scipio said...

?? I'm not sure I know what you mean, Pants...

Belatedly Repentant Smartypants said...

It means two things:
1/ Something that looks funny as hell to me at one moment might look pretty flat and dumb the rest of the time, and to everybody else.
2/ Proofreaderly jokes about getting the names of authors right have a worse chance than all other types, by dint of being not all that funny in the first place.
3/ The world is just not yet ready for my high level of pedantry-driven comment-thread humor. Wait, that' three things; scratch that last one.

Scipio said...

Ah. Yes. My apologies, I mean "John Byrne".

Redforce said...

My apologies to anyone for whom I spoiled the ending...