Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recap/Review: Batman TBATB, "Day of the Dark Knight!"

 In my ongoing efforts to not always show the best of DC and the worst of Marvel, here's another "meh" episode of Batman: the Brave and the Bold. Not exactly Hulk and the Agents of SMASH bad, but "meh" is the worst that this series has to offer.

A Wednesday, to be precise.
This episode's teaser opens up on the planet Oa, home of the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps. Hoping to see Hal Jordan? Well, too bad! We see Batman supervising Guy Gardner as he keeps a prisoner subdued.

And what do we know about Guy Gardner?

I have taught you well.
Guy kicks the prisoner into his cell as Batman muses on the Guardians contacting him personally to supervise Gardner in case he makes another mess out of things. When Kilowog comes in with a 1’ tall prisoner, Guy starts making fun of him and pours coffee on his head. That was a mistake. Batman pulls him back and reminds him that K’Vellians (like the prisoner) grow huge when they touch water. So, the K’Vellian grows to about thirty feet tall and gets giant teeth, muscles, and the other things that you get when you turn into a giant monster.

It tosses Gardner into the GL mess hall, and begins a fight with all the present Corps members, kicking their butts until Batman distracts it with an exploding Batarang. Gardner starts bashing it with his constructs (including an entire cruise ship), and Batman plants a device on his head that drains it of water. The K’Vellian shrinks back down and is taken into custody by Batman using a bucket.

Batman: “This mess, Gardner, you're cleaning up.”

Kilowog hands Guy a broom, and he starts sweeping the floor in a way that won’t clean anything, and the teaser ends.

It was an okay teaser. Not too short, not too long, and it introduces characters quickly so that in later episodes, they don’t need to be introduced to the audience. After the opening credits, we open on Iron Heights Prison, where an alarm sounds before a wall explodes and the stripe-wearing inmates (most of whom are cameos of minor villains from the Adam West show; King Tut, Louie the Lilac, the Archer, and more) start escaping. Now that's showing your work.

Out of nowhere, the Batmobile rolls up and Batman gets out, only to see Green Arrow’s Arrowcar rocket its way in. Batman and Green Arrow begin to bicker about who’s better than who, because that’s the least professional thing for them to start doing. They are easily taking down all of the inmates, so I’ll cut them a bit of slack, for now. Batman knocks a bunch of them out, and Arrow traps more in hardening foam.

Green Arrow: “Afraid that I’ll show you up again, Bats?”
Batman: “’Again’?”
Green Arrow: “As in ‘Always!’”
Batman: “As in ‘In your dreams.’”

This is kind of at odds with this Batman’s later characterization, like in “Legends of the Dark Mite!”, where he says he’s all about the job, not the glory. After they take down all the inmates, they tally up their takedowns, like they’re Legolas and Gimli or something, and they both arrive at a total of 26. Batman monologues that maybe he and Green Arrow are “a little” competitive, but that they don’t get carried away with it. Yeah, and I’ve got a bridge in Gotham I want to sell you.

A white-haired, bearded inmate starts running to the exit. The heroes launch their projectiles, but he deflects them with what appears to be a magic shield and teleports the three of them away to a cloudy, mountainous region.

Green Arrow: “Okay, doc, where are we?”
Old Man: “Better to ask, ‘when are we?’”

I will let that cliché line go, because it hasn’t been established that they’ve time traveled yet. And now it is.

The old man tells them that they’re in Britain, 5th Century AD, and that he’s really Merlin. Green Arrow doesn’t believe him, so Merlin turns one of his arrows into a bird.

Batman: “I’m convinced.”

Merlin apologizes for abducting them, and begins to explain the situation. A while back, King Arthur’s half-sister, Morganne LeFey wanted to take the throne from him. Her army attacked and defeated the knights of Camelot, and Morgan defeated Merlin. Everybody inside the castle was turned to stone, including Arthur himself. As this is shown in flashback, the knights all just standing around doing nothing while they transform in front of each other. I’d make a "Run away! Run away!" joke, but I'm doing my best to not quote that particular version of the Arthurian legend.

In the clouds, making it harder for me to not quote that certain film, Merlin shows Batman and Green Arrow a vision of the sword in the stone.

"Batmans. Batmans everywhere."
Green Arrow: “Excalibur…”

Well… no.  Excalibur was the sword given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake, Nimue. The sword in the stone was the weapon of Uther Pendragon, Arther’s dad. It was put in the stone and only removable by Uther’s heir. However, in condensed adaptations, the two swords are combined into one. Oh, don’t worry, that’s not the only wrong thing with this episode.

Merlin exposits that he hid the sword away years ago. (Remember that; he "hid" the sword.)  The prophecy says that “the one who is worthy” shall draw the sword and use its magic to restore the kingdom. “The one who is worthy,” near as Merlin can tell, is either Batman or Green Arrow, but he’s not sure which. Morgan watches them from Camelot using her magic mirror, presumably before ordering a huntsman to go kill Snow White. She tells the manservant she took from Merlin, a guy by the name of Jason Blood, that Merlin must be stopped from reaching the sword.

Blood: “Jason Blood lives to serve.”
LeFey: “It’s not Jason Blood I’m interested in.”

She begins to chant a spell, releasing Jason Blood’s demon alter ego.

Change, change, O form of man!
Release the might from fleshy mire!
Boil the Blood in heart of fire! 

Gone, gone, the form of man!
Rise, the demon… Etrigan! 

Etrigan growls at the audience, and… on second thought, let’s check back on Batman. Camelot is a silly place. …Dang it, I was trying not to reference that movie.

When we return, the heroes ride off to Excalibur’s hiding place, as Merlin exposits how he turned to the mystic runes to find the person who would free the sword. The runes weren’t clear on whether Batman or Green Arrow is worthy, apparently. He thinks that it’s Batman, because Batman’s awesome.  As Green Arrow expresses his displeasure with that assessment, the horses get spooked.

Suddenly, Etrigan bursts out of the ground and tackles Batman off his horse. An assortment of trolls, goblins, and orcs ready themselves to attack Green Arrow. Batman kicks away Etrigan, who threatens Batman in rhyme, because Etrigan speaks in rhyme; it’s one of his little quirks. Batman delivers three solid punches to the demon, who shrugs them off and lands one on Batman. Merlin magicks up some a cold iron axe and shield for Batman to bypass Etrigan’s damage resistance, and zaps the attacking Etrigan with lighting. Meanwhile, Green Arrow shoots exploding arrows at the monsters, saying that he’s at 14.  Batman takes down what appears to be a two-headed golem (15, he says), and Etrigan breathes fire at Batman's shield, only to be tossed away by Merlin. Merlin exposits that Etrigan was once his servant, and begins to undo Morgan’s enchantments. Etrigan responds by teleporting behind Merlin, to negate any attacks of opportunity, and punches him in the face.

Meanwhile, Batman’s at 25. Green Arrow uses a trick arrow to taze the rest of the monsters, and claims 31. Etrigan gets angry over the fact that they’re not taking this seriously, and throws a gigantic rock at them. Batman and Green Arrow try their tricks at Etrigan, but he disappears. The two heroes check on Merlin, and he’s fine.

Morgan, who watched the whole thing, is not happy with her returning demon. She goes to stop them herself, pausing only to caress, then scratch King Arthur’s stone face. Boy, is he not going to be happy when he wakes up with claw marks on his face. Also, there’s some definite romantic vibes between her and her half-brother, and there’s good reason for that. According to some accounts, Morgan LeFey had Arthur’s heir, but other sources disagree. I guess incest is relative. I have no regrets over that pun.

Anyway, she teleports away with Etrigan. Meanwhile, Green Arrow and Batman are arguing over whether it was the arrow or the Bat-Grenade that took down Etrigan. It still seems out of character for Batman. Merlin quiets them down, and they arrive at the lake. In the lake, there’s a stone spire jutting out, shaped like a sword. Merlin informs them that he hid the sword there. “Hid,” Merlin? You marked it plain as day!

Merlin tells Batman that he alone can enter and remove the sword, but Arrow gallops off to get there first. Batman races him, and they bicker some more, repeating the “As in” bit from the beginning. Slowly, a gigantic hulking monster appears from the lake. Boy, Nimue got ugly.

No, the 50’ tall monstrosity is one of a pair of ogres that guard the sword. The smaller one. An ogre that must be over 100’ tall rises up behind it. Well, one of them tries to eat Green Arrow, but gets a mouthful of sleeping gas arrow. A timebomb arrow takes him down, and Batman Bat-Grenades the larger one down. Pillars rise from the water to lead to the tower of Excalibur, and Merlin congratulates Batman on his victory, ignoring Green Arrow.

Suddenly, Morgan and Etrigan show up.

"Leaving my stronghold.  This was a good plan."
Merlin tells her that she has no power to prevent “the one who is worthy” from getting the sword, and she agrees. But she does manage to use her magic to turn Batman evil. He’ll get the sword, but he’ll get it for her. Armor appears over his Batsuit, and it looks a great deal like the armor of the Tangent Universe Batman mixed with the Justice Bat-Armor.

Awesome. Sauce.
Also, it starts to thunder, because evil’s happening. Batman kneels before his new mistress, then he goes to retrieve Excalibur.

Green Arrow: “Can someone please tell me why everyone just assumes that Batman is the worthy one?”

Merlin and Etrigan begin to fight using magic, and Merlin tells Arrow to stop Batman from getting the sword. Arrow shoots a zipline to the top and zips straight there. Arrow unsheathes his sword, and the two begin to duel. The two are evenly matched, but Batman gets in a lucky punch and knocks over Green Arrow.

Meanwhile, Etrigan is sent to finish off Merlin while Morgan goes to Batman. Batman’s about to send Green Arrow to the churning waters below, and Morgan appears, encouraging him to drop him. He does. He enters the tower of Excalibur, and Merlin manages to shoot a small energy bolt at him from the ground. Batman looks visibly shaken, but shrugs it off when Morgan asks him about it. Batman and Morgan enter the tower, and Excalibur rests in the stone in front of them. She commands him to remove it, but he quickly turns on her, thanks to Merlin. He removes his helmet, and Merlin shows up to take credit, alongside Jason Blood, freed from Morgan’s mind control.

Outnumbered and outmatched, Morgan decides to rip off the climax of Sleeping Beauty and transforms into a dragon, breathing green fire. Batman tries to pull the sword, but it won’t budge. Merlin fears that all is lost, since Green Arrow was thrown off of the tower, and Morgan goes after Jason Blood. He says the words and becomes Etrigan, who breathes his fire at Morgan. Morgan flies away, and destroys the tower. Merlin saves the sword in the stone with his magic, and Morgan demands that they all surrender before turning Merlin and Etrigan to stone with her green fire.

Could be worse, she turned me into a Newt!

Okay, I said I wouldn't, so no more.
Suddenly, an arrow hits her face and explodes. Green Arrow shows up and tries to pull the sword, but it won’t budge for him, either. Batman shows up, and offers to help.

Wait, what?
Batman: “Maybe the ‘one who is worthy’ is really two!”

Um, no. That’s stupid. Really stupid. I refuse to believe that “one” can also mean “two”. How would that work? Why would that work?

She breathes her green fire, and the two are saved by Excalibur, which Batman holds, because they're both worthy!

Sorry, sorry....
Batman tosses the sword to Green Arrow, who shoots it into Morgan’s heart. Well, looks like Smaug Morgan is finally defeated. And Green Arrow did it!  No, not “both of them,” Green Arrow. He defeated her. He was the one who shot her, Batman just helped him get the sword. Batman helped, but Green Arrow did the deed. Not that the episode will figure that out.

Anyway, Batman asks the newly-freed Etrigan what he’ll do from now on.

Etrigan: “When will you foolish mortals learn? A demon’s fate’s not your concern!”

He teleports away in a burst of fire. Merlin later tells them that they’ll likely both be knighted. Again, the two start bickering, repeating the “As in” exchange, and Merlin sighs and teleports them back home. The two heroes decide to tone it down… before they hear a report of a break in at the Bank of Star City. They both race away to untie the score, and the episode ends.

In the immortal words of Crow T. Robot, We hope you've enjoyed "No Moral Theatre!"

Final Thoughts
This episode was... okay. No complaints about the animation or voice acting, but it doesn’t have that 110% that later episodes would give. Still, it’s not a bad episode, but it’s not a great episode. Batman’s out-of-character competitive moments kind of make it a bit jarring, as well.

Still, I can think of worse ways to spend half an hour.

Until next time!


  1. "Merlin magicks up some a cold iron axe and shield for Batman to bypass Etrigan’s damage resistance"

    Yes, folks, he managed to magic up something made from anti-magical materials...

    "Batman: “Maybe the ‘one who is worthy’ is really two!”"

    One suspects that sounded really good in the writers head. Now, I can buy Batman and Arrow only having enough worthiness between them, but why did Meryln/the writer go for Arrow, not Knight and/or Squire?

  2. I don't know if the weapon's actually cold iron. They don't specify in the episode, and I botched my Appraise check.

    Now, it's interesting that you mentioned Knight and Squire, because I had the same thought... in a DIFFERENT episode, "Dawn of the Dead Man!" where Batman looks through London for a hero and runs into, you guessed it, Green Arrow.

    Also, you mention something interesting.
    "Now, I can buy Batman and Arrow only having enough worthiness between them"
    Is worthiness cumulative?
    If you got enough people, could a combined effort lift, say, Thor's hammer, which works by the same principle?