Monday, November 25, 2013

Recap: Batman TBATB, "Return of the Fearsome Fangs!"

I’m sure that by now, regular readers of the NewtCave have noticed that I have a bit of a soft spot for Batman cartoons, particularly Batman: the Brave and the Bold. This is true. Is this why my Marvel reviews have seemed overly negative while my DC reviews have seemed overly positive?
Well... maybe a bit.

What I’ve been doing, I recently realized, is been reviewing the better episodes of DC’s productions while not doing the same with Marvel. As such, I will now be turning the tables a little bit. Today, I’ll be recapping and reviewing an episode of my favorite Batman cartoon that I actually dislike.
I know! Shocking!

So, ladies, gentlemen, Daxamites, let us take a look at episode 11, “Return of the Fearsome Fangs!”

So... where did they go, exactly?
The episode opens on an Old West train station sign bearing the name “Sergio Station.”  Named, of course, after the man who almost single-handedly created the Spaghetti Western with the “Dollars Trilogy,” as well as turning Clint Eastwood into a star.

Anyway, we then pan down to a bad-lookin’ hombre who tells a local bounty hunter that he’s about to be executed for trying to bring down “the Royal Flush Gang” before cutting to the bounty hunter he’s referring to: Jonah Hex.

His little face flap bugs me. Also, dude's got huge teeth.
No, this isn’t Two-Face. Jonah Hex was a cowboy whose face was scarred in various incidents, depending on the origin, but he’s basically Clint Eastwood with a resemblance to Two-Face (possibly hilarious in hindsight if you know that Clint Eastwood was the considered actor to play Two-Face in the Adam West series). And, for those of you who’ve seen the film, he can't talk to the dead.

Speaking of “dead,” all four of Hex’s limbs have been tied to a separate horse. The big bad desperado (named Ace), surrounded by the rest of the similarly named gang, says that when the clock strikes noon, the train whistle will spook the horses and rip him to pieces. (Interesting to note, this was once an actual method of legal execution. You may have heard of it, it’s called “being drawn and quartered.”)

The guy in back's my favorite. Nice beard.
Ace: “Any last words?”
Hex: “Sure do, but ain’t none of ‘em fit to be spoken front of a lady.”

Well, the clock strikes noon and the whistle blows. The four horses run off in four directions, and the coiled up rope begins to uncoil. Suddenly, a batarang flies out and manages to cut three of the ropes, leading Jonah to be dragged off by a single horse. Hey, it’s an improvement. Everybody looks at the stranger in the Batsuit with the poncho and sombrero, who, after catching the returning Batarang, whips off the poncho and sombrero, revealing himself as Batman.

Batman: A jugar con el crimen no paga!”

Helpful subtitles reveal this to mean, “To gamble with crime doesn’t pay!” Ace tells the gang to vamoose, and they begin to ride off. A classic whistling-and-whips Western theme plays as Batman throws a Batarang at the sign from the beginning, taking out King. He kicks Jack off of his horse and onto a cactus, and rides it. The horse, not the cactus.
"This was a good plan!"

Hex, meanwhile, is still being dragged by his horse, but he jumps up and onto the saddle, and rides alongside Batman. He thanks Batman, who goes off to lasso Queen off of her horse. Batman and Hex ride alongside Ace before Hex throws over a lasso, which Batman catches. The two use the rope to trip Ace off his horse. With the villains defeated, Hex looks at Batman and assumes that he wants a share of the bounty. Batman says he fights for justice, not money, but Hex tosses him a coin and tells him to buy a proper cowboy hat.

Batman rides off into the distance (aimed right at a cliff, for some reason) and the teaser ends.

It’s a “meh” teaser. It’s nice to see Batman teaming up with one of DC’s Western characters, but I’m just wondering how he got sent back in time. And besides the fact that Batman’s in it, it’s just a short, standard Western escape scene. It’s well-done, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really nothing special. The biggest kick I get is the fact that Queen looks like Wonder Woman, and she ends up getting lassoed. Anyway, opening titles, then the episode begins.

The moon is against the sky.
Cut to a dojo.
Old Man walks into court yard.

Old Man eats a ball of rice.
Arrows block out moon.
Are the Persians invading?

Old Man punches at arrows.
He deflects them all.
Five ninjas leap behind him.

They all go down in one hit.
He eats some more rice.
He chuckles and exposits.

“Night after night,” the man says.
That’s when they return.
He asks when they will stop this.

Camera pans to the villains.
Vulture, Fox, and Shark.
They all wear animal masks.

Fox answers him, “When you’re dead!”
Mentions “totem” too.
Apparently, they want it.

Master says, “Could be long time!”
Holds up ball of rice.
Asks them if they want a snack.

Fox tells them to “Finish him!”
They enter the fray.
Master starts to kick their butts.

Shark attacks with a hammer.
Master taps shoulder.
Shark goes flying up the stairs.

Master makes pun as Shark lands.
Bites more than can chew.
Then, the next of them attacks.

Vulture wields twin scimitars.
Minus two, both rolls.
Double wielding penalty.

Master knocks Vulture to ground.
Makes another pun.
Wings are so easily clipped.

Suddenly, a FOOMF is heard.
Master screams and turns.
Poison dart sticks out of neck.

Master falls; breathing labored.
Fox was a cheater.
Slow sunrise, goons become ash.

Fox exposits on the sun.
They have to leave it.
Otherwise, they’d kill him now.

Instead, the poison dart will.
Next night, they’ll come back.
Totem will be theirs, they vow.

Sun rises over dojo.
Bad guys stay shaded.
They leave before sun hits them.

Master rasps for some air.
His body is still.
Zoom out shot of the dojo.

Now, before we get to the next part of the episode, you may be wondering why I did that part in Haiku? Simple. The rest of the scene was so stereotypical that I didn’t want to feel left out. I mean, come on, evil ninjas stealing an artifact of great power from the dojo of their old, bearded, former master? During a full moon? And people wonder why I don’t like ninja episodes of Batman cartoons.

You may also be wondering why all the haiku are done in 7-5-7 syllable format, rather than 5-7-5 syllable format. You know, like haiku are supposed to be. Well, the reason for that is simple. You see, Western pop culture (such as this show) appropriates traditions of other cultures (such as various Native American and Asian cultures) and bastardizes them into unrecognizable forms that are "more pleasing" to the Western audience, and this is my subtle parody on the exploitation of other cultures for the amusement of the hoi palloi.

...just kidding. The reality is that my reference source for the structure of haiku had a typo, resulting in my 7-5-7 structure. I will be keeping the "wrong" format for reasons of posterity, and reasons of "I don't have the time to change the structure while keeping the comments and jokes relatively intact".

Anyway, we then cut to an alarm going off as we see the exterior of “The First National City Bank of Gotham.” And to think that I always thought “First Third Bank” was overdone. Although, this may be a reference to all the incongruous banks that have been robbed in Gotham over the years. Depending on the writer, it may be the “First Bank of Gotham,” “Gotham National Bank,” the “City Bank,” or others. If this is a jab at the numerous banks of Gotham, then nicely played, writers. Shame I dislike the episode itself.

There’s an explosion, and a green tornado spins out of the bank. No, it’s not a lime-flavored Tazmanian Devil, it’s the Top, who you may remember I redesigned. He’s quickly taken out by Batman in less than three seconds by an energy net. Geez, that’s faster than the Flash could’ve done it. Batman grabs him, and slams him against the side of a building. He aims a fist, and Top cringes. Aww, don’t hit him, Batman; he looks so scared.

Voice:  “Disgraceful!”

Batman looks around, but can’t spot anyone.

Voice:  “I know I did not teach you such sloppy form!”

Suddenly, we zoom in on Batman’s eyes as he has a vision. Well, the stereotypes are back, so back to (not-quite) haiku.

Batman floats in a pink void.
Clouds surround Batman.
His old Master then appears.

“Master Wong Fei!” says Batman.
Wong Fei teases him.
Asks, “Do you fly with that cape?”

Wong Fei chuckles, but then coughs.
“You’re ill,” says Batman.
“Never mind me,” says Wong Fei.

He briefs Batman on the haps.
Fox, Vulture, and Shark.
(Turns out Batman trained with them!)

They are after a totem.
The “Wu-Dang Totem.”
“Wu-Dang?”  Thought they were rappers.

If they get the totem, bad.
Totem’s powerful.
Can give them “limitless” strength.

But they do have a weakness.
Fox’s shadow-clan.
They cannot go in daylight.

Batman must reach the temple.
Then guard the totem.
Sundown, shadow-clan returns.

Batman says he’ll get some help.
Guy named “Bronze Tiger.”
Wong Fei tells him not to, though.

Says, “He is too fat with pride!”
Batman counters this.
“He’s also your best student.”

“See you at sundown,” he says.
Reply: “No, you won’t,”
Wong Fei hands Batman a scroll.

But, wait, that doesn’t make sense!
This is Batman’s mind.
The scroll’s not real. What’s it for?

Wong Fei’s journey is “complete.”
(This means that he’s dead.)
Vanishes in logic puff.

Batman open’s Wong Fei’s scroll.
Drawing of… werewolf?
Why is scroll here? Rule of Cool.

Batman looks at the drawing.
Does it mean something?
Nope; but it seems all “mystic.”

Why did he give him a scroll?
Why not use his words?
Oh, right, Rule of Cool, sorry.

And with that, we cut back to the real world. Batman punches poor Top in the face, and flies off in the Batplane, saying to himself that he must save the Wu-Dang Temple. He flashes back to the time he trained with Wong Fei.

Bruce Wayne in candle-filled room.
A wall filled with masks.
He picks the bat-mask, of course.

He meets back with his master.
Wong Fei explains Fox.
Rich guy; came to seek some thrills.

Then he mentions Bronze Tiger.
Has nothing to lose,
But has ev’rything to prove.

Shark? Vulture? We’re told nothing.
I guess they don’t count?
I think there’s favoritism.

He asks Bruce why he is here.
Bruce lost ev’rything.
He wants to take it all back.

Wong Fei tells him to fight blind,
‘cause he chose a bat.
Nice to see you, Chekhov’s Gun!

With that, Wong Fei starts the fight.
Bruce does pretty good.
Especially blindfolded.

After Bruce is on the ground,
Fox starts to kick him.
Wong Fei says, “Enough!” at this.

Bronze Tiger hits Fox in gut.
Tells him to stop it.
Bruce Wayne gets off of the ground.

“Dreadful!” Wong Fei tells them all.
He also hits Fox.
Tells him not to take pleasure.

He even yells at Tiger.
Says, “Do not help him!”
Bruce must fight his own battles.

Tiger gets very angry.
Bruce says thank you, though.
Tiger won’t help again, though.

We then fade to the present Batman, who treks through the jungle until he finds a bamboo cage, where Bronze Tiger expertly beats up another man and wins. The crowd cheers, and then Batman walks up.

Bronze Tiger: “What a nice surprise, an old friend just volunteered to be torn apart in the tiger cage!”

Batman tells BT that he’s not here to fight, but he needs to save the Wu-Dang totem. BT says that Wong Fei can handle it, but Batman tells him that Wong Fei’s dead. BT still insists that since he walked away from Wu-Dang, it’s not his fight. Batman takes off his cape and jumps in the cage.

Batman: “If I win, you fight by my side. No matter what.”

BT shows Batman his winning streak (65 wins, no losses), but still accepts. Looks like Wong Fei was right about Bronze Tiger’s pride, he changed his passion for glory. They fight, and I will admit that the choreography’s very impressive, for the five seconds it lasts. The two fighters back off and study each other, and Batman tells BT that he left before he could learn Wong Fei’s most important lesson: When outmatched, cheat.

Cheat, kids! Batman says it's okay!
Batman throws marbles at BT, who trips on them, then he tackles BT to the ground, pinning him down with his arm behind his back. BT taps out, and they head to Wu-Dang. The temple is at the top of a mountain, and they stand in front of it as Batman tells Bronze Tiger that Fox joined the legendary shadow-clan, and they’ll be unstoppable with the totem.

BT: “Ghost ninjas, magic totems…. Now I remember why I left this place.”

Hey, guess what? Another flashback. You know what that means.

Wong Fei tells students to fight.
But this time, fight him.
Fox plots to kill the old man.

Wong Fei wins the fight, easy.
Tiger lasts longest.
Wong Fei chews him out, still, though.

Tiger gets fed up at this.
He decides to leave.
Then he does, saying he’s done.

Back to the present, the two climb to the temple, and enter it. Right behind them, seemingly in violation of the shadow-clan’s explicitly stated “they only exist at night” rule, Fox, Shark, and Vulture are behind them. A fight scene ensues between them all, and Bronze Tiger is quickly subdued by ninjas. Fox makes fun of him for his pride. (Mr. Kettle? There’s a call for you on line 4 from a “Mrs. Pot.”) Batman was also apparently subdued, and Fox takes the totem from the statue holding it.
"One again, Mr. Batman, we see that there is nothing
you can possess which I cannot take away."
The villains three activate the totem as Batman and Bronze Tiger overpower the ninja mooks subduing them. In a flash of light, the three transform into half-animal, half-man versions of their spirit animals.The three abominations quickly overpower Batman and Bronze Tiger, and Vulture picks up Batman and drop him off the side of the mountain while BT fights Fox. Fox tells BT to bow before him, but BT refuses. Then he gets his butt kicked by Fox.

Fox stupidly decides to let Tiger live, so he can live with his shame, and then goes off to attack Hong Kong. Batman flies up in the Batplane, and tells Tiger they’re going to Hong Kong. Speaking of which, the three were-animals are using the totem’s power to summon a gigantic storm filled with mystic boats filled with animal men from beyond this realm to invade Hong Kong, as Batman points out. Okay, now this episode’s looking good!

How come Shark's the only one without pants?
Suddenly, Vulture attacks the Batplane and rips off a wing. The two heroes eject, and land safely near the three villains, just as the boats land. As Batman gears up to fight, Bronze Tiger surrenders, as long as Fox promises to spare his village. Fox does, but only as long as BT bows down before him. BT apparently learns a lesson about pride, and bows down, as he tells Batman to remember Wong Fei’s most important lesson.

BT uses his chance to kick the totem out of Fox’s hands, and he and Batman use it for themselves.  Bronze Tiger becomes a tiger man, and Batman becomes a Man-Bat. And they all fight, and Batman uses his newly-enhanced Bat-hearing to use Wong Fei’s blind-fighting lesson to the fullest.

Finally, Tiger and Fox stare each other down, and have their final showdown, as Batman un-summons the magic boats. Bronze Tiger gets in a few good blows, managing to use pressure points to make Fox’s limbs numb one-by-one. Bronze Tiger lets out one final punch... that doesn’t actually connect. He stops it an inch from Fox’s face, but the force from it was so great that it kicked up winds that knocked Fox over. Let’s just say that a wizard did it, because not even the Hulk has ever punched the air that hard. Bronze Tiger wants to stay as an animal man, but Batman’s eager to change back, so they do. Back at the Wu-Dang temple, they put back the totem, and Bronze Tiger tells Batman that he’s going to stay and train his people in the ways of the Wu-Dang school.  …whether they want to or not, I presume. Sucks to be the people who don't want to leave their village and learn martial arts.

Well, good for Bronze Tiger anyway. He rose up, straight to the top, had the guts, got the glory, went the distance, now he’s not gonna stop. Just a man and his will to survive.

Before they go their separate ways, Bronze Tiger tells Batman that he owes him a rematch. Batman accepts, and the two lunge at each other, as Batman rises up to the challenge of his rival. And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and he’s watching us all with the eye...
...of the tiger.

And then the episode ends.
So, what did I think?
Well, let's review it, shall we?


  1. I thought haikus were 5 syllables-7 syllables-5, not 7-5-7.... but I'm no expert.

    1. No, but your information is more accurate than mine. Haiku are indeed 5-7-5 and I have updated the content accordingly. Kinda.

      Good catch! You get a cookie.

    2. OM NOM NOM NOM Thank you. I got my info from Avatar (the Last Airbender, not the James Cameron one, natch).