Monday, November 11, 2013

Recap: Batman TBATB, "Dawn of the Dead Man!"

Well, October’s upon us! ...and it's gone now. Despite that, let’s look at a spoooooooky episode of Batman: the Brave and the Bold! ...and another one to make up for this one being so late.

Oh, don't worry, I won't run out of Halloween-themed episodes. I've got enough for next year. Without further ado...

There were budget cuts on the latest Romero flick, so we only get one zombie.
The teaser open on New York city, after the apocalypse. There’s a scenic waterfall running out of a building… somehow. Where is that water coming from? Is it being actively pumped up, or is it falling down from an as-of-yet-unidentified origin source? Let's just say "Pureland Water Entity" and move on. A long-haired blonde guy who seems to have used up the last of Earth’s shampoo leaps over the waterfall onto the next building, and knocks down a billboard to make a bridge.

Guy: “We’re almost to the time fissure! Try to keep up, old man!”

Batman and a humanoid dog named Dr. Canus, follow the guy (identified as Kamandi). Batman is holding a capsule-thing that looks important. As the three make their way down to ground level, they get chased by a group of other animal people. As the ani-men cross Kamandi’s bridge, the Batarang that Batman placed there explodes, sending them splashing into the water below. They emerge, and Batman hands Dr. Canus the canister and tells them to go, then he runs off to fight the rat-people. Because Batman didn't go to all the trouble of going to the future and not punch rat-people. He uses gas to take most of them down and escapes into the grody New York sewer.

Batman emerges out of a drainpipe and jumps onto the emergency raft that Kamandi and Canus are paddling to the mostly-submerged Statue of Liberty.

Unfortunately, rats can swim, and one emerges from the water to attack, only to get a swift knock on the head from Kamandi’s oar.

Batman zooms in on the shoreline with his Bat-noculars, and sees the rest of the rat-people paddling an old Mustang out to sea. Yeah, good luck with that. I’ve seen both episodes of Top Gear where they tried that; cars are not inherently seaworthy.

This truck is not as seaworthy as it looks.
The heroes redouble their efforts, and make their way to the Statue of Liberty, which has glowy energy in the torch.

Dr. Canus: “There it is! The time portal that brought you here! You must hurry before it closes!”

Can you tell that the Kamandi stories were "inspired" by Planet of the Apes?
Batman starts to go, but the ratmen are quickly approaching from the shore. Batman wants to help his two friends fight, but Dr. Canus insists that Batman must get back to the past with the vaccine that Batman just created in the future to stop some virus of some kind in the past. Batman runs up to the time portal, but before he enters, he tells them to check the statue’s left nostril.

Batman goes back to the past, and the portal disappears. As the ratmen approach, Kamandi runs up to the left nostril, and finds a little something that Batman left in the past: a super Jack Kirby weapon. Kamandi fires it up, warns Dr. Canus, and fires as the teaser ends.

It wasn't a bad teaser; like I've said before, it does what it needs to. It introduces characters in an interesting mini-adventure to establish them for later episodes.

Anyway, after the intro, the episode proper opens on a London clocktower, which fades into…

Batman’s grave. Well, this was a short episode.

But before confused viewers can change the channel, a translucent Batman floats out of the grave. Uh oh, did the Joker gain infinite power? Batman narrates the situation in his head.

Batman: “You’re probably wondering who finally got me."

The World's Greatest Detective, ladies and gentlemen.

Batman: "The thing is, I’m not dead. Not yet, at least.”

I’ll tell you what, then, he’s doing a very good impression. We fade to a few hours ago, where a ghostly tuxedo, top hat, and monocle with no apparent occupant runs across a London rooftop. Suddenly, Batman’s voice booms out from the tower above.


…really, Batman? You're gonna go with that? Worked all night coming up with that one, did ya?

Batman: “I’m the man who haunts you, Gentleman Ghost!”

That's a bit better.

Gentleman Ghost shoots some pink energy out of the skull on his cane, which Batman blocks with his cape. He holds up the quill in his hand and boasts that he only needs two more artifacts to raise an undead army. I didn’t know it was that easy. Batman throws a Bat-gas capsule at Gentleman Ghost, who gets knocked back. GG tries to blast Batman again, but Batman counters with a Batarang. Instead of going through the ghost, like one might expect, it whacks him in his suddenly-appearing face.

Too much pink energy is dangerous.
GG exposits that Batman’s gotten a few more “nth metal” weapons to fight him. (For those of you not in the know, “nth metal” is an alien metal that disrupts magic. It has other uses, but that’s all that’s relevant.) GG floats away, but Batman grapnels onto his leg and gets lifted away. After floating into the sky, GG cuts the cable, and Batman grapnels a nearby building. He begins to swing away to safety, but GG swoops down and cuts this cable as well.

"Dude! Not cool!"
Batman hits a series of awnings… actually, no, he bounces off of a couple buildings, hits a dumpster, and lands on the ground. Ouch. No wonder Batman's dead, he must have broken every bone in his body.

But no, Batman comes to, and he’s in his grave. Gentleman Ghost gloats, and slams the coffin shut, booby trapping it and covering it with six feet of dirt. Batman activates his nightvision as GG drapes Batman’s belt over his gravestone. Why did you do that, Batman? You've gone from not being able to see... to being able to see nothing.

Thinking quickly, Batman slips an air capsule in his mouth to give him enough air to last until midnight, and he uses a meditation technique he learned in Tibet (where he trained with the Wu-Tang Clan, or something) to astrally project his consciousness. A long shot, but I’ll suspend my disbelief for this one, despite the plot holes. Back in the present, as Batman stares at his grave, a pale corpse in a dark cloak floats down to greet him.

Batman: “Are you the grim reaper?”
Dead Man: “Grim, maybe, but I ain’t no reaper.”

The Brooklyn-accented ghost says he’s just a ghost wandering the Earth. A dead man, like Batman. Except Batman insists that he’s not dead, he was buried alive. He’s got two hours of air left, but that’s it. The dead man offers to help, and he demonstrates his abilities by possessing the body of a nearby pedestrian. He offers to dig up Batman’s body, but Batman says that the booby trapped coffin’s too dangerous for a civilian. Batman floats away, and the dead man follows him.

Meanwhile, a “fortune teller” is scamming a guy out of his money by “contacting the dead” and using a mechanism to shake the table. Suddenly, Gentleman Ghost floats up from the table and tells the man to keep his money. He floats over to the old knick-knacks and magic-looking doodads that the fortune teller has lying around her parlor, and finds the only thing with any actual power: an old key.

Just passing through.
We then fade back to Batman and the dead man as they float through London, somewhat aimlessly. Batman suddenly gets distracted by a light that only he can see. The jealous dead man tell him that it’s "the other side." If he goes over there, there’s no going back. Batman’s silhouetted parents call out his name, tell him they’ve missed him, and extend their hands toward him, as Batman floats over to them. He almost gets there, but stops himself at the last second. They tell him that he’s earned a rest, but Batman insists that it’s not his time. Dead man bitterly calls Batman a fool; he’s waited for that light for years. Batman ignores the theological implications of denying heaven's pleasures, and gets back to the task at hand: looking for a hero to help them.

Heroes in London? Well, there’s Knight and Squire, the Beefeater, Tim Hunter, John Constantine, Jenny Sparks, Bicycle Repairman…

I'd sell both my kidneys to see Batman team up with Bicycle Repairman.
But who do they run into stopping an international art thief?
None other than Green Arrow and his golly-gee-whillikers-sidekick Speedy. What a missed opportunity. Batman tries to talk to them, but his cloaked friend reminds him that the living can’t see them. He pushes Batman into Speedy’s body, and Batman tries to explain the situation for a second before giving up and exiting Speedy.
Speedy wonders what just happened, and Green Arrow tells him he was doing a Batman impression. And not a very good one. Green Arrow launches into one of his own.

Green Arrow: “I am vengeance! I am the night! I am Batman! And these are my Hammers for Justice!”

Hey, internet. Make this a thing.
Huh. You know, you might not do a good Batman either, but that was a pretty good Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Batman re-enters Speedy and grabs Green Arrow by the throat.

Bat-Speedy: “Listen to me, you smug jerk. I’m Batman.”

I think that should be Batman’s new catchphrase.

Batman explains that Gentleman Ghost buried him alive at Brigand’s Hill cemetery, and he needs to be rescued within the hour. Batman exits Speedy’s body (get your mind out of the gutter) and Green Arrow and his ward run off to Brigand’s Hill. Batman’s dead buddy interjects that Batman never said anything about Gentleman Ghost. Turns out, he hates Gentleman Ghost. No specific reason is given, so I'm just going to assume Gentleman Ghost is that big of a jerk. Batman tells his dead pal to stop feeling sorry for himself; he apologizes and goes into his backstory.
He was once an acrobat. One night, during his trapeze act, he was shot down by a guy with a hook for a hand. Didn’t even make the papers. No one cared. Geez, first Robin's parents, then this guy? Who's going around killing all these trapeze performers? Batman identifies him as Boston Brand, aka “Deadman.” Batman tells him he’s been working the case for years. He also gives Boston a choice.

Batman: “Drown in self-pity, or help me find Gentleman Ghost.”

Meanwhile, it’s 11:30, and Green Arrow starts digging up Batman’s grave. Over at the Museum of Torture, Gentleman Ghost takes the noose that he was hanged from. Batman appears and confronts him. GG whips out twin ghostly guns, and fires bolts of energy that Batman deftly dodges. The two have a ghostly scuffle, and Gentleman Ghost teleports behind Batman, sucker punching him down. He promises Batman a fate worse than death as Boston shows up.

Boston: “So are we gonna stand here and twiddle?”

He whips off his cloak, revealing his old circus outfit.

Boston: “Or are we gonna get down to business?”
Batman: “Nice entrance.”
Boston: “I was in the circus.”

The three fight, but Gentleman Ghost escapes on a skeletal horse. Batman and Deadman follow him under Brigand’s Hill cemetery to a room filled with skulls. The rest of the skeletons are MIA for now. He uses his artifacts, and begins the ceremony. He draws a symbol with the quill (which was used to sign death warrants), turns it with the key (to the Tower of London), and uses the noose to draw out he spirits of the dead (it was used to execute criminals).
The spirits rejoins their skeletal remains, and form an army of the undead. Batman tells Deadman that he needs his tools from his belt, and Deadman floats off as the undead slowly drag Batman down. You know, as an aside, that's how awesome the Batman is. His reaction to seeing an army of the undead? "I need my tools." With such a nonchalance like he's a plumber looking at a particularly backed up toilet. Undead army? Just an annoyance. Awesome.

"Go get my stuff, and I'll have this finished in a jif."
Back at Batman’s grave, green Arrow and Speedy reach the coffin, but a lasers pop out and destroy the shovel. Green Arrow sets down a small mirror array, destroying the lasers, and they wrench open the coffin. Deadman takes over Batman's body, and gets up, no doubt fully shattering the bones that were broken in Batman's earlier fall.

Green Arrow: “Looks like you owe me one, Batman.”
Deadman: “I ain’t Batman, I’m just borrowin’ ‘im fer a minute.”

He puts on Batman’s belt, and uses Batman’s explosives to blast a hole into the chambers below.  He jumps down, and Gentleman Ghost jumps up.

GG: “Stand aside, fools! Or I shall cast you’re broken bodies into the Thames!”
Speedy: “Oh, yeah? You and what army?”

Said army begins to rise from the graves. 
Nice going, Speedy.

Deadman rescues Batman from being dragged to hell, and reluctantly gives Batman his body back. Up top, Green Arrow and Speedy are fighting skeletons. Deadman, with permission, takes over Speedy for a second and kicks some epic butt. GG’s horse gets taken out by Green Arrow’s nth metal arrow, and Deadman exits Speedy.

Speedy: “Holy involuntary acrobatics!"

Deadman smashes his way through skeletons, and Batman goes one on one with Gentleman Ghost, managing to get in one good punch. GG’s hat goes flying, and the items stored within fall to the ground. Batman uses an exploding Batarang to destroy them, and the undead army turns on its master, dragging him down to Hell. Batman tries to save him, but can’t manage to pull him free from the grasp of a thousand cursed skeletons.

The skeletons crumble, and Batman thanks Deadman for his help. As Deadman floats away, he sees the light leading to the other side.

Three months later, Batman’s chained up on a Japanese cargo ship about to be executed by a member of the Yakuza. Before the executioner's katana can remove his head, though….

Yakuza Guy: “So I was thinkin’, Mac. Maybe you were right about there bein’ a reason I had dese powahs."

Yes, the amazing powers... of being dead.

Yakuza Guy: "Maybe I am supposed ta find my killah. An’ have a little fun along da way.”

He frees Batman, and the two rush the Yakuza as the episode ends.
Now let's take a closer look at this brush with death.

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