Monday, November 11, 2013

Recap: Batman: TBATB "Trials of the Demon!"

Now that we've seen Green Arrow dig into Batman's grave, let's dig into the next Halloween-themed Batman: the Brave and the Bold episode!

Sorry for that lame excuse for a pun above. You probably didn't dig it. ...I'm so sorry...
The teaser opens up on what appears to be the Wal-Mart brand version of Dr. Wily’s castle. Inside, the Scarecrow and some chick called the “Scream Queen” seem to be doing evil chemistry! Suddenly, Batman arrives with the Flash!

Yes, Batman and the original Flash have teamed up to defeat the Scarecrow’s evil plan! Scream Queen goes to unleash her sonic attack, but is stopped by Scarecrow.

Scarecrow: “Oh, w-w-whoa, wait, Scream Queen…. Let’s first offer our trick-or-treaters some candy.

Um, that is quite clearly not candy. That’s a pumpkin. For a guy named Scarecrow, you need to go brush up on your Halloween. He throws the pumpkin at the two heroes, who just kind of stand there, and it explodes into a puff of gas. Uh-oh, Green Goblin gon’ sue somebody!

Batman identifies the vapors as fear gas, and the whole world starts getting trippy. Scarecrow exposits that the town is filled with these special jack o’lanterns that will emit fear gas when exposed to the heat of a candle.

Flash, who suddenly decides to actually do something, spins away the fear gas. Batman dons a gas mask, and Flash runs off to grab every jack o’lantern in town. Batman starts fighting Scarecrow’s mooks, who you’d think would be freaking out from the fear gas. Batman takes them down easily, and Scarecrow jumps into the fray with his scythe.

Meanwhile, Scream Queen chases after the Flash, who dodges her sonic attacks.

Hey, it's Ms. Pac Man! Wakka wakka wakka.
He goes around and nabs every pumpkin he can find, no doubt ruining some kids’ Halloween because they don’t know why the Flash stole their pumpkins. Flash take one of his nabbed gourds, and stuffs it into Scream Queen’s oversized mouth before she starts freaking out from the fear gas.

Hey, it's Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt!
At the same time, Batman decks Scarecrow, who runs outside to find all of his pumpkins piled up in a heap with a smug Flash standing on them. Flash causes a pumpkin-valanche, and Scarecrow get buried in his own pumpkins.

Guy: “There’s the guy who swiped all of our pumpkins!”

"No pumpkin for you, Tiny Tim!"
Flash turns to Batman to get his help in handling this, but he’s long gone.

Flash: “The only guy I know with a faster getaway than me.”

Barring a few minor issues (which I’ll go over in the review), this was a pretty good teaser. I’m wondering why they made up the character of Scream Queen as opposed to using the similar Silver Banshee, but I’m guessing that it has to do with rights issues.

Anyway, after the theme song, the episode proper opens on Victorian London. A woman walks along in the rain, but a carriage pulls up and the gentleman inside offers her a lift. She accepts, and we cut to a few… unexpected characters walking along a different street.

Watson: “But Holmes, are you certain it’s not that ‘Moriarty’ fellow?”
Holmes: “Stop being an imbecile, Watson; Moriarty’s weapon of choice is a unique air-rifle assembled by a blind German mechanic.”

Ah yes, there’s no group of highly meticulous and precise craftsmen in the world more skilled than the blind! Wait, what?

After Holmes muses that the latest rash of killings may be supernatural in origin, they hear a scream and rush off to the source. Arriving too late to help, they find the desiccated body of the woman who accepted the ride earlier. She’s not dead, but she is under some sort of trance, just like the “others.” No one saw who did this, but the townsfolk seem eager to pin it on the local occultist named “Jason Blood.

Hmm, where have I heard that name before?

Holmes: “I’ll thank you to leave the detective work to me, sir.”

Wow, the guy voicing Holmes is really good. He managed to make that sentence sound exactly like “Shut your mouthbreathing facehole.”

But Sherlock fails to convince the crowd, and they all grab their torches and pitchforks that they were saving up for just such an occasion, and go to storm Blood’s townhouse.

Blood simply walks to his books, opens one up, and begins drawing a circle on the floor in chalk as the rabble-rousers break in. He begins to change his form of man, but is stopped halfway through when the townsfolk subdue him with iron cuffs. Sherlock Holmes barges in, but the townsfolk take Blood to pay for his crimes of witchcraft.

After the townsfolk leave, Holmes takes note of the book Blood left on the ground. Watson admits that Blood looks quite guilty, and Holmes responds as nicely as he can.

Holmes: “What did I tell you about being an imbecile?”
Watson: “To stop?”
Holmes: “Precisely.”

Holmes states that Blood is left-handed, but the prints at the murder scene showed a cane being used in the murderer’s right hand. Holmes pours out a potion he got off of Blood’s person onto the chalk on the floor, which just happened to be the correct thing to do. The circle activates as we cut to the present.

Crazy Quilt, a blind art thief (the most meticulous and precise kind of art thief) is stealing a painting from a Gotham museum, only to be knocked out in one punch by Batman. Suddenly, Batman is warped to the past. Being Batman, he just rolls with it.

Watson believes this bat-garbed man to be a demon, but Holmes corrects him.

Holmes: “He’s a hero. It’s obvious by the bright blue and yellow in his costume. The mask means he must be well-known, perhaps a wealthy entrepreneur with ample free time. Square jaw indicates strong lineage, perhaps a doctor’s son. And the bat-motif was surely inspired by some childhood trauma. ‘The Masked Bat,’ perhaps?”
Batman: “Actually, it’s 'Batman.'”

You know, I love that they threw in the fact that Sherlock thinks that Batman’s awesome jaw proves that he had good parents. That’s indicative of similar racial profiling that was in the original stories. I’m not saying I approve of racial profiling, I approve of the attention to detail in the types of deductions Holmes makes, politically incorrect though they may be nowadays.

Batman: “Sherlock Holmes, I presume.”

Yeah, not as fun when they do it to you, is it?

Holmes: “How did you deduce my identity so quickly?”
Batman: “The hat.”

Holmes brings Batman up to speed on the supernatural murders and the wrongful accusation of Jason Blood.

Batman: “Jason Blood? Where is he?”
Watson: “In a spot of trouble, I’d say.”

If I may quote JonTron of the Game Grumps….
“In Trouble” is not a location!

Blood’s actual location is being burned at the stake, right outside. Funny how neither Holmes, Watson, nor Batman were actually trying to do anything about this. Batman leaps down and frees Blood, freaking out the townsfolk, and no doubt inspiring the tales of Spring-Heeled Jack with his grapnel getaway. As they run across the rooftops, they discuss the situation.

Burning a demon to death. Irony?
Blood: “They think I’m some kind of monster.”

You are a monster. Batman backs me up on this, but Jason insists that neither he nor Etrigan are responsible for the recent attacks. Batman and Blood met back up with Holmes, and Holmes tells Batman that there have been 8 attacks so far, with all the victims ending up in trances. The only clue was with the seventh victim on Dorset Street, where the following note was left:
The Granite Demon crumbles in your City’s bloody Frame,
When Ten o’Clock strikes, I’ll never sleep again.
From Hell

Okay, I added the “From Hell.” Holmes proudly states that he deduced that it’s a reference to certain stone gargoyles somewhere, but Batman tells Holmes that “Granite Demon” is an anagram for “Demon Etrigan,” Blood’s alter ego. “Bloody Frame” means to “frame” Jason Blood, and “Ten o’Clock” stands for the number of victims. Uh-oh, Batman. You've proven yourself to be at least as good of a detective as Holmes. You know what this means?

S*** just got real.
Before Sherlock can respond to being out-Sherlocked, they hear another scream, and run off to investigate, with Etrigan in the lead. Boy, it’s a good thing that Sherlock’s always within earshot of the attacks. How else would he be able to get to the crime scenes so quickly?

Oh, that's how.
Over at the site of the scream, the cloaked gentleman from the beginning loads an unconscious woman into his carriage as Etrigan shows up, mad as Hell.
The gentlemen shoots pink lightning out of his cane, and transforms a nearby lamppost into a giant snake. While Etrigan tussles with the snake, Batman shows up too late to stop the gentleman from sucking the woman’s soul into a phylactery. Batman recognizes the gentleman as Jim Craddock, the Gentleman Ghost. And now you know why I've been referring to this guy as a "gentleman" this whole time.

Craddock zaps Batman with pink lightning, and speeds off in his carriage while Batman’s cape turns into a giant evil bat that flies away with Batman. I'll give Craddock this, he's creative with his usage of dark magicks.

Batman grapnels down to the ground quickly, taking out the bat for a second, and Etrigan breathes fire at the snake until it dies of too much fire. He does the same to the giant bat, and magically gives Batman a new costume to replace his old one. Said costume looks just like the one wore in the Victorian Elseworlds comic “Gotham by Gaslight.” And by that, I mean that it looks awesome.

I would wear that out and about.
Etrigan reverts to Blood, and Holmes and Watson round the corner as Batman informs everyone that Jim Craddock is behind the attacks. Watson goes to have the police protect the streets, and the rest go to Blood’s house to look up more information about the powder horn Craddock used to steal the souls. Except for Holmes; he goes off alone to solve the case and keep Batman from upstaging him.

At an old windmill, Craddock monologues into a mirror about how he needs just one more soul to complete his goal. Surprisingly, green flames appear in the mirror, and a pair of eyes says that it feels the presence of the interlopers in Whitechapel, also revealing that Craddock’s goal is immortality. Well, I can’t see that being fulfilled in a horrifically ironic fashion.

Craddock: “Yes, Astaroth.”

This guy?

Boy, he must’ve gained a lot of power after gaining Soul Edge. Back at Blood’s place, they identify the item as “Wager’s Horn,” from which they deduce the involvement of Astaroth, and the goal of immortality. Astaroth, in turn, will use the souls to escape his infernal prison. But before Batman and Blood can rush off to prevent another victim, Watson rushes in to tell the two about Craddock’s location, and Holmes’s journey there. Watson, you snitch.

Over at the windmill, Holmes scoops up some dirt and confirms it to be the same type of dirt left behind by Craddock’s carriage. Suddenly, Holmes whips a sword out of his cane and deflects Craddock’s sudden attack.

Holmes: “Ha! You’ll find my reflexes are as sharp as my mind!”

Was this before you started doing heroin, Sherlock?

The two scuffle, and a well-aimed Batarang prevents Craddock from taking Sherlock’s soul. Craddock throws down a gold ring and summons a purple demon to fight the heroes as he prepares to take Sherlock’s soul. Etrigan tells Batman that he needs to rip the gold ring out of the ogre’s nose to bind it back to Hell, and Batman does so. It makes a horrifying sound as Batman rips the ring through noseflesh, which goes mostly unseen. The ogre disappears, but Craddock manages to get Sherlock’s soul, despite Batman’s warnings about his ghostly future.

Mostly unseen.
Craddock walks thorugh a doorway into Hell, and is followed by Etrigan and Batman. Etrigan Fastball Specials Batman into Craddock, and the two fight as Astaroth approaches Etrigan. Wait, this does look like the Astaroth from Soul Calibur!

Am I the only one who sees this?
 Etrigan breathes hellfire on Astaroth, which, shock of all shocks, does nothing.

ETRIGAN used HELLFIRE! It's not very effective....
Astaroth: “Fool! I was born of flame!”

Over with Craddock and Batman, Craddock wonders how the time-traveling Batman recognized him, and Batman tells him it’s because he’s a ghost in the future. An outraged Craddock zaps Batman and quickly offers up the souls for his immortality. Astaroth submerges Etrigan in the magma of Hell, zaps Batman, and promises that Craddock’s soul “shall never pass from the Earth.” Uh-oh, that's some "exact words" monkey paw crap, right there!

Etrigan attacks Craddock, who counters with his cold iron cane. More scuffling ensues, the souls switch hands a couple times, Astaroth reveals that Etrigan imprisoned him in Hell, and Etrigan throws Craddock’s cold iron cane down Astaroth’s throat, turning him to ash. Etrigan releases all ten souls, and they leave Hell. Yes, of course Holmes didn't die.

Later, as Blood prepares to send Batman back to the future (without a DeLorean), Sherlock has a question.

Holmes: “How did you really deduce my identity?”
Batman: “Everyone knows who you are. You’re the World’s Greatest Detective.”

The World's Greatest Detective, everybody. He knows pants are optional.
Sherlock smugly accepts this, and Watson informs a curious Blood that Craddock was hanged for his crimes. Later, at Craddock’s grave, Jim Craddock rises as the Gentleman Ghost and vows to take revenge on Batman, no doubt by burying him alive.

And with that, the episode ends.
Let's take a closer look at this PG adaptation of a real life murder spree.

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