Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Recap: Batman TBATB, "Journey to the Center of the Bat!"

Well, it's been a while since we've taken a look at Batman's adventures with his numerous allies, all of whom are brave and/or bold.

The most it has in common with the similarly titled book is rocks and French people.
The teaser for the episode opens on an establishing shot of a candy factory. I can only assume that to be what it is because of the Candy Cane striped smokestacks. I bet the pollution given off smells like bubblegum! Inside, some gangsters blow up a safe filled with money. The boss, sitting in a chair with his back to the audience, speaks up in a stereotypical 1920’s bank robber voice.

Boss: “Okay boys, grab the loot! And maybe a couple o’ those suckers, too.”

Not sure which collar's more exaggerated....
They start scooping up the money and the candy as a voice cries out, “Not so fast, Babyface!” and another joins in with “You’ve been caught by the long arms of the law!” As that’s said, Plastic Man and Elongated Man (both stretchy-powered superheroes) stretch into the room. The boss turns around, revealing that he actually does have a baby head on his shoulders. Um… ew.

Babyface: “Ahhh, if it isn’t Plastic Man and ahh…. uh, and uhhh….”
EM: “Elongated Man! You know, the ductile detective?”
Babyface: “Ahh, never heard o’ ya.”

Babyface whips out a Tommy Gun and starts firing, but the two heroes stretch and dodge each and every bullet. The gang exits through the side door into the factory floor as the heroes run after them and begin to bicker. It seems that Elongated Man, even though he’s a better hero, isn’t as well liked as Plastic Man. Plastic Man claims that even Batman likes him better, and they split off to fight different mooks. After a few rounds of insults tossed back and forth between the two, as they take out gangsters, one of the gangsters runs around a corner and runs right into Babyface, who punches him out. As Plastic Man rounds the bend, Babyface shapeshifts, revealing that he's actually Elongated Man in disguise.

Let me explain the problem with that. Plastic Man can full on shapeshift. Hands into scissors, body into a toilet, foot into an anvil, etc. Elongated Man, like his name suggests, can only stretch. Not only that, but he can’t change color. You know, like he just did when he shifted into Babyface. So… fail. Don’t get me wrong, it was a clever use of shapeshifitng powers, but it was a clever use of shapeshifting powers that the character doesn’t actually have.

Anyway, Plastic Man quickly picks up the bags of loot that the gangster dropped, and Elongated Man admonishes him for the fact that he tends to skim a little money from the robbers he catches. The last criminal left, Babyface himself, runs across a tall catwalk, and the heroes stretch over, under, and around each other to reach him. But they only manage to get in each other’s way and both fall over into a rather inconveniently placed taffy puller. As Babyface taunts the trapped heroes, the two still fight over which one of them Batman likes better.
Guys? Time and a place!

Babyface makes a getaway, but runs right into Batman, who knocks him out with a single punch. Babyface falls over the rails onto the taffy puller controls, freeing the shapeshifters. Batman looks down at them and firmly states that he’d rather work alone. Dang, that’s harsh. Really, really harsh. And as we’ll see in the episode itself, issues tend to arise when Batman takes on more than one partner at a time.

Heroes unable to work together due to distrust and rampant egos? What is this, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.? ...pun semi-intended.

Anyway, after the opening tiles, the episode proper opens on a high-tech lab, where SCIENCE is presumably happening. Given the blue glow emanating from some machinery, I’m guessing it’s Quantum related. Remember, science is color coded to make it easy! In fact, here’s a cheat sheet!

Red- Lasers
Orange- Time Lord Regeneration
Yellow- “Energy”
Green- Radiation
Blue- Quantum
Purple- Plasma
Pink- Psychic Energy/Kinetic Energy

Anyway, as a lab-coated scientist puts on his goggles and activates his glowy machine, he monologues to himself (with a very slight, very endearing lisp) about all the work that went into it. Uh oh, that automagically means that something or someone’s going to interrupt him. What do you know, the phone rings. Annoyed, the scientist (named Dr. Ryan Choi) shuts down the SCIENCE and answers his phone.

Dr. Choi: “Doctor Choi, hello.”
Aquaman: “Doctor, Aquaman here. What’s new, old friend?”
Dr. Choi: “I was just in the middle of conducting a tachyon detection experiment. …old friend.”
Aquaman: “Tachyons, eh? Splendid! Attaboy!”

A nearby Batman tells Aquaman to get to the point. Aquaman tells Dr. Choi that Batman’s “shipping a bit of bilge.”  From what I can see, though, rocks are growing under Batman’s skin. Ew. Aquaman tells the good doctor that he and Batman were fighting Chemo, when it blasted some toxic gunk at him, and now he’s not doing so well.

Chemo is, for all intents and purposes, a gigantic, man-shaped plastic bag filled with toxic chemicals and assorted radioactive materials. It was originally used to dispose of dangerous substances, but gained sentience (likely from the radiation, if not just by way of SCIENCE) to the degree that it can be given simple directions.

It looks like Aquaman and Batman didn’t defeat it, because it’s wandering around the ocean behind them. Dr. Choi, meanwhile, sets the phone down and activates his size-changing belt, becoming the mighty Atom, his costumed alter-ego. Atom shrinks down into the phone and rides an electron through the phone wires to reach Batman and Aquaman’s payphone location.

Aquaman: Outrageous! What miracle is this!?”
Atom: “As the Atom, I can shrink down to the size of a subatomic particle and ride the electrons along the phone wires.”
Aquaman: “Do it again!”

"Again, I say!"
The Atom kneels down and takes a cotton swab to the inside of Batman’s mouth, coating it in green goo. He unshrinks a microscope from his belt and examines Batman’s mouth goo.

Batman:  “Silicon-based microorganisms?”
Atom:  “Specifically, fast-replicating monoclinic phyllosilicates.”

Okay, time for science, boys and girls.
“Monoclinic” refers to the shape of a crystal structure.
“Phyllosilicates” are the most abundant kind of mineral in sedimentary rocks. “Replicating” means it’s making more of itself.

So, Batman’s body is being attacked by living rocks…. that are somehow making more rocks.
But wait, it gets even less scientific! Humans are carbon-based life forms. So normal microorganisms like bacteria can get into our bodies and make more of themselves by using us as a source of carbon, that’s why our bodies don’t like germs. So… where in the human body is a silicon-based germ going to find more silicon to use to reproduce? Does Batman regularly eat sand?

Aquaman: “What kind of medicine shall we prescribe, doc?”
Atom: “…you don’t know what kind of doctor I am, do you?”
Aquaman: “A hero doctor! Through and through!”
Atom: “A physicist. And this goes beyond medicine. Batman’s cells are mutating. Before long, they’ll overwhelm his central nervous system, causing a loss of motor control, then paralysis, and finally….”
Batman: “Then we don’t have much time.”

Oh, boy, let’s dissect that mess some more.

First, why are Batman’s cells mutating because of rocks growing in his body? It’d make sense within the realm of sci-fi if you said that it was the mutagens in the Chemo gunk, or radiation, but you didn’t. You said rock germs. Second, no curable affliction goes “beyond medicine.” If it does, it’s automatically INCURABLE (unless you count faith healing, or suchlike) because the definition of medicine is something that cures or heals or alleviates symptoms or whatever. If you can fix it, it’s not “beyond medicine.” So let's chalk that up to "hyperbole," and move on.

Let’s keep going. Batman says that they have to stop Chemo from going after the nearby Biyalian nuclear test site, but Aquaman tells him to sit this one out. Atom agrees, saying that Batman needs to rest while Atom shrinks down and goes in to destroy the rock germs from the inside. Aquaman volunteers to go with, and Atom tells Batman to stay put and say “Ahhh” as he and Aquaman shrink down into Batman’s body. Batman immediately gets up to go fight Chemo as soon as the two men are inside.

Meanwhile, Aquaman and Atom stand inside Batman’s lung, taking in the local scenery. Atom names all the things he sees, and Aquaman’s just playing with random cilia. Ew. Then he swings on them like Tarzan. Makes my lungs hurt just thinking about how that must feel.

Atom tells Aquaman to get back on task finding the silicon compounds. At the same time, Batman speeds off in his Batboat to go stop Chemo, noting that he’s getting weaker and weaker. Various battleships are attacking Chemo with missiles, but it just shrugs them off. Batman joins the fight with his own missiles, but he begins to lose motor control like Atom predicted. Chemo smashes the Batboat down into the ocean, and Batman switches it to voice command and tells it to surface.

As that’s going on, Atom and Aquaman are swimming through Batman’s body while holding a conversation. I was wondering how they talk and breathe, and other science facts…. But I’ll repeat to myself  “It’s just a show; I should really just relax.”

Anyway, they talk.

Atom: “As we travel through the villi, the CP-4 Barium Sonar Wave will indicate any monoclinic phyllosilicates in the vicinity.”
Aquaman: “English, man, English!”
Atom: “…this little… doohickey beeps when the cooties are near!”

Oh, I see, it goes “ding” when there’s stuff.
Moving on.

The device does indeed begin to beep, and Atom follows the signal to a small, spiky, fanged, metallic worm that’s spewing green goop that creates purple toxic crystals everywhere.

Well, I give up. Let’s just take it as read from this point on that normal physics and biology have both been replaced with their cheaper Wal-Mart counterparts for the rest of the episode.

Atom briefs Aquaman on the danger of the rock germs. At least, he tries. Aquaman dives in and summons a sword made out of water which he uses to bisect the rock germ. Unfortunately, each half grows into a new rock germ.

Atom: “It’s replicating!”
Aquaman: “Yes, and it’s making more of itself, too!”

Aquaman decides that the best thing to do is to keep a-slashin’, and he does until Atom knocks him away. They bicker over the merits of thinking vs. feeling, and they try things the Atom’s way. Atom’s way is to zap them all with electricity, and he does so with a shock gun. It works, but more suddenly appear. Atom deduces that if there’s that many of them, then Batman must be exerting himself. Atom and Aquaman flee, and go to enter a blood vessel. Atom warns Aquaman that at their size, blood vessels are rivers of death, but Aquaman decides to use his powers of commanding fish to get them a ride. To Atom’s surprise, as well as my own, Aquaman successfully summons a white blood cell, and Aquaman and Atom ride it way from the rock germs.

Meanwhile, the Batboat dodges Chemo’s blasts before Chemo starts ripping apart an offshore oil rig to combat Batman.  Batman, who really looks like crap now, sets the boat to plane-mode, and flies around. He barely manages to force out “Concussive… grenades, full power,” and said grenades attack Chemo, before Chemo knocks the plane back into the water.

You, uh, got a little shmutz on your face there....
Back in Batman’s body, Aquaman hacks and slashes at rock germs while riding his white blood cell steed. Atom fires his shock gun as well, taking out a few. After an epic escape, Aquaman starts petting the blood cell (which actually whinnies like a horse).

Aquaman: “Yes, big hug!”
Atom: “He’s not hugging you. He is merely interpreting you as a foreign body to be surrounded and destroyed.”
Aquaman: “Sure feels like a hug to me! And since we found you in Batman’s bloodstream, I think we’ll name you ‘Platelet!’”
Atom: “Except that’s a lymphocyte.”
Aquaman: “Platelet it is!”

As an aside, I really love the banter between these two this episode.
They hear a roar from above, and see more rock germs than they can handle, so Atom plans to go find the “seed cell.” Atom tracks it to Batman’s brain, and off they ride! Meanwhile, Chemo’s path of destruction gets even worse as he grabs a nuclear missile from a Biyalian aquabase and eats it. Batman wonders why Chemo specifically targeted that single nuke, and wonders who the brain behind the brute is. Batman then receives a video call from the super-villain known as… the Brain. The Brain is… well, a French-accented brain in a cylinder.
Pinky, however, is nowhere to be found.

The Brain broadcasts to the country of Biyalia that Chemo’s acidic insides will eat through the bomb’s housing, causing a nuclear detonation (FYI, not how nuclear bombs work, but this is already a long recap) and he prepares to destroy the country. But before that, Chemo tries to destroy Batman’s craft, and Batman ejects right down Chemo’s throat.

Inside Batman, the heroes arrive at Batman’s brain and find the “seed cell.” Atom readies his gadget to destroy it, but it takes note of them and its swarm of rock germs begins to mutate. Atom deduces that Batman must have exposed himself to Chemo again. Chemo, meanwhile, is rampaging through Biyalia’s coastal city like Godzilla through Tokyo as Brain demands that the country surrender to him. Batman, in scuba gear, begins the process of removing the nuke from Chemo. Naturally, he does this by blowing a hole in Chemo’s side. Chemo falls over, and Batman rides a wave of toxic goop onto the coastline. He’s looking really gross at this point. Batman scans the ocean coast, and finds the Brain’s submarine.

Inside Batman, Atom struggles to come up with a plan, so Aquaman demands it’s a time to ACT! Aquaman rides off to distract the rock germs and give Atom more time. Outside Batman, the Brain fumes over his plan failing as Batman intrudes in his control room. Brain taunts Batman’s ability to barely stand, and Batman falls over onto the Brain, knocking him over and causing a stalemate.

Inside Batman, Aquaman gets his butt kicked, and the rock germs actually kill Platelet. That was the last straw. Atom snaps and rushes the rock germs without a plan. Aquaman joins in, and the two start bashing rock germs together. Atom rushes the seed cell and takes it out with one of his gadgets, and it blows up. All the rock germs start withering and dying.

Batman begins to regain his strength, but the Brain manages to get up first. He taunts the still-weak Batman, and prepares to behead him… but Batman comes back at full strength and Batman defeats the brain with ease, ripping his braindome from the rest of his body. Aquaman compliments Atom on his heroics, but the two mourn the loss of dear, dear Platelet. They then go to exit Batman’s body through his tear ducts, to Aquaman’s incredulity.

Aquaman: “But, surely, Batman never cries!”

And with that, the episode ends.

And the review begins.

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