Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season Three on Blu-ray
This final season only had 13 episodes, contained here on one Blu-ray disc, but there are some real gems, with many inspired by famous comic stories or nostalgia for a certain style of storytelling. The season begins with “Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!”, an episode from the villain’s perspective as he teams up with his inspiration, the Golden Age villain the Weeper (voiced by Tim Conway).
“Shadow of the Bat!” is a “what if” where Batman becomes a vampire and takes out the Justice League, international version, with Fire, Ice, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Booster Gold, and Blue Beetle (the kid one). Each episode has an opening teaser with a different adventure; this one begins with the Jungle Batman taking on Catwoman and her panther. Who would have thought we’d ever see that on TV?
“Night of the Batmen!” has Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Green Arrow, and Plastic Man impersonating the hero when he’s in the hospital. In “Battle of the Superheroes!”, a love letter to Silver Age Superman stories, Batman has to defeat a red Kryptonite-infected Superman. There’s also a whole bunch of weird Jimmy Olsen transformations.
“Time Out for Vengeance!” visits Batman throughout history, with Cave Batman, Pirate Batman, Batmanicus, and Robot Batman. The opening for “Triumvirate of Terror!” evokes those goofy strange sports stories as the JLI plays baseball against the Legion of Doom. “Bold Beginnings!” has Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Plastic Man reminiscing about when they first worked with Batman.
“Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!” remembers what used to be a yearly tradition: the Justice League meeting the Justice Society of America. The JLI hosts the JSA at a party in their satellite, but the teams don’t get along as well as planned. “Four Star Spectacular!” evokes an old anthology comic, with separate stories for Adam Strange, the Flash, the Creature Commandos, and (believe it or not) ‘Mazing Man.
Other guest-stars include Kamandi, Etrigan, a singing Vigilante (performing “The Ballad of Batman”), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (in “Scorn of the Star Sapphire!”), The Creeper, the Atom (two versions in “Sword of the Atom!”), Captain Atom (in “Powerless!”), and Space Ghost (!).
Batman: The Brave and the Bold ends with “Mitefall!”, with Bat-Mite complaining about how the show has jumped the shark and trying to get it cancelled. He complains about repetitive plots and forced catch phrases and muses over the conflict between dark and campy Batman. The episode is full of meta-humor about fandom overreaction and TV trends, like forcing a cute kid onto a long-running show and using new costumes and gadgets just for toy company tie-ins.
The animation is gorgeous on Blu-ray, with atmospheric art, expressionistic effects, and evocative styles in keeping with a variety of source material. I’m sorry to see it go. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a cartoon that’s fun for all ages on a variety of levels.
Note that the content of the disc doesn’t match the previous DVD release. This Blu-ray set has “The Battle of the Superheroes!”, which appeared on the season 2 DVD set instead of the season 3 DVD, and it doesn’t have “The Mask of Matches Malone!”, which is on the season 2 Blu-ray set. All the episodes are covered if you get all DVDs or all Blu-rays, but you can’t mix and match. (The studio provided a review copy.)