Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Batman:TBATB "The Rise of the Blue Beetle!"

This show is loosely based on a team-up comic called "The Brave and the Bold." Like this show, it was noticeably less dark and edgy than the rest of DC's fare. This love letter to the Silver Age was produced by James Tucker, who was also responsible for storyboarding and designing the Silver Age throwback bit for B:TAS's "Legends of the Dark Knight."

And it shows.
Tucker's love for DC history shows all over the place. For example, as Jaime and Paco channel surf, they pass an ad for "Plastino Cat Snacks." Not only is Streaky the Supercat the mascot, but it's also a shout out to Al Plastino, the man who drew the Batman comic strip in the 60's.

And yet, I hated this show when it first came out. But I chalk that up to ignorance more than anything. I went into this show wanting to hate it. As such, I ignored all the obvious love it had for DC history. While this show might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's far from the travesty that many feared it would be.

Now let's review the episode.

Batman and Blue Beetle rescue some aliens as a test to see if Blue Beetle has the heart of a hero. It's as simple a setup as you'd find in comics from the 60's, and the episode pulls it off by filling it with good action, humor, and character moments. It's a nicely "typical" (if you can call it that) adventure to let the audience know exactly what brand of madness they're in for.

If I had to sum it up in a platitude, I'd say that "Anyone can be a hero." There's Jaime's non-suited victory against Kanjar Ro, Jaime living up to his predecessor's legacy as wells as Batman's expectations, and the scene between Pace and Jaime where he asks just that.

The goal is to bring Batman back to his roots. Gadgets for everything, chick magnet, blue cape. Diedrich Bader, an actor primarily known for playing somewhat goofy characters, gives us a serious Batman in a ridiculous world with a dry wit. And it's probably my second favorite animated Batman portrayal after Kevin Conroy. Having said that, I must admit that Batman seems a little too... "hip" in this episode. Later episodes will not have him use words like "bummer." To be fair, this was the first episode made. As such,some of the details weren't ironed out. While he's having a few growing pains, he'll be the TBATB Batman in almost no time.

But once again, hearing Batman use words like "bummer" didn't help matters when audiences were trying to figure out if Batman had been kiddified.

Blue Beetle
Good ol' Jaime Reyes.

He's young, he's not very experienced, but he's got a heart of gold and shapeshifting armor. It's a respectful, accurate portrayal that sums up the character quite well. Jaime could have easily been made into an annoying "I wanna be the guy, too!" character, but this episode manages to tone that down without completely eliminating the character's main goal: Be like Batman.

Blue Beetle will experience notable growth over the series, and this is a good establishment of his character. An unexpected choice for the first episode, but that's oddly appropriate given the nature of the team-ups in the show.

An original creation for the show, the Gibbles were probably the whitest, cutest, and squishiest thing in fiction until Big Hero Six was released. They were less annoying than you'd think, and actually gave us a funny moment or two. Although they're not very memorable, save for their name that has an entry in the Urban Dictionary claiming that it refers to a specific part of one's nether region. Much like every entry in the Urban Dictionary.

Kanjar Ro
I'm going to just have to say it.... Kanjar Ro was simply passable. I mean, you could have used any DC alien in his place with only minor tweaks. Larfleeze is selling them as batteries to get more money, Mongul is turning them into weapons, or Despero is powering his planet-killer. Nothing makes Kanjar Ro special. Although, to be fair, the same could be said of the character in the comics.

Still, could be worse.

Holy crap, yes.

The animation is fluid, the colors are vibrant, and the character designs have a modern style while keeping that classic Dick Sprang design.

Actually, I'd say that sentence sums up everything about this show. The animation, writing, and acting all come together to create one glorious whole. While this episode doesn't live up to later ones, it's still a solid first outing that's better than I remembered.

Next time, monkeys and dinosaurs. See you then!


  1. I would say there is one thing memorable about Ro: guy's a sadist. He uses aliens as fuel, tortures scarab away from Jaime and seems to be quite happy while doing both. And then there is his small glee when he sees that Beetle is some new guy, and that he did kill the previous Beetle after all.

    Though it makes me wonder who was that guy and how Scarab ended with Jaime afterwards.

    1. True. His goals and methods are pretty memorable. I just wish they were a bit more unique, you know? He never really does anything unique to him. Nothing really screams "Kanjar Ro" about his nefarious deeds.