While Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave the the Bold has been fairly well-received by fans and critics, it did take me a while to warm to it. The first time I saw the pilot, and a later episode featuring Aquaman, my feeling was that the cartoon was being consciously marketed to a younger audience than Batman: The Animated Series or The Batman. While I certainly understood that urge on the part of the studio and DC (after all, hooking kids in early is rarely a bad thing), it didn’t appeal to me as an older fan—and one who came to comics fairly late in his youth. At 13, I was brought back into comics after a few years away by the Doomsday! storyline in Superman, and don’t have the warm, fuzzy memories of young-childhood comic reading that most fans do.
That said, by the time the show’s first season was ending and Booster Gold appeared in “Menace of the Conqueror Caveman,” I watched the show and really dug it. At the time, I thought maybe it was just my natural pro-Booster bias coming out, but August 17 saw the release of Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 Part 1 on DVD from Warner Home Video. Not only did the Booster episode not make the cut for this two-disc set (which collects the series’ first thirteen episodes), but neither did the great J.M. DeMatteis-penned “The Eyes of Despero,” an episode that featured Bats teaming up with Guy Gardner and G’Nort, aped the famous Justice League International “one punch” gag and was overall so entertaining that I bought a picture book version of the episode to read to my infant son.
In spite of not having either of the episodes that would usually make me buy the show, an open-minded re-watching of the first dozen or so episodes yielded pretty positive results. Jaime Reyes’ much-ballyhooed role as Batman’s de facto #2 is justified by how well the character is handled (although anytime you get Jaime and not a lot of his brilliant supporting cast, it’s too bad—WB network take notice) and how much basic juvenile escape fantasy is implicit with a kid who gets powers–it’s a bit like Captain Marvel, especially since Jaime may physically appear as old as he is in the comics but something about him screams “kid” to me.
This show should really appeal to the fans who are forever complaining that there’s not enough fun in mainstream superhero comics anymore, and that everything is too dark. Not entirely unlike the aforementioned Justice League International books, Batman: The Brave and the Bold takes well-rounded characters who are fun and maybe even have a sense of humor and plunge them into terribly dangerous situations–but rather than the danger corrupting all the characters’ innocence, the show allows the characters to brighten up their bleak situations. Escapism at its best, and since I got my discs late you can own it on DVD today!